Wood burners and water heating

I believe that some wood burning stoves also heat the water -does anyone have any experience of these?


Hi Robert:

www.nortons.co.uk +44 (0)114 272 1294

Of course those soft teuchters in cattle-rustling country (with their reliable electricity supplies) embraced the laird's offers. Up in the Grampians it was a lifeline to have an independent source....ahh the memories of searching for the milk under a fresh blanket of snow and just 'sitting tight' for few days(if you get my drift).

It is no coincidence that I now live 750miles south!

Your probably right…same as some of the islands when they introduced electricity…my first perception is all my lovely heat is going up the chimney and not heating my water nor my radiators, my second perception is I’m paying a fortune for electricity…my last perception is if anyone is rummaging through the midden in St Boswells and foes across an auld cooker…give me bell please…x

Funny how perceptions change. Years ago, the workers on one estate in the Scottish Borders were jubilant when the laird agreed to replace the "old-fashioned" Rayburns in their cottages with electric cookers. If anyone's looking to import a cheap Rayburn, they could do worse than sift through a rubbish tip near St Boswells and probably find a dozen of them.

Hi, I have a house about 10 minutes from Beziers 75m2 on three floors with a chimney running up through the floors. I want to have a Pellet burning fire put in the kitchen with a fan going to the other two floors above. Does anyone know of a reputable firm/person.


Thanks again John, I’m ok with Rayburns, having used both wood and kerosene, I bought the wood fired Rayburn fir £50 from a school, it went like a small power station, a bugger to keep clean and great for heating underneath the kilt (work that one out!) I’ll give him a ring tonight and see if he’ll make a visit, I’m also going to track down your suppliers in Sheffield, I’ll keep you posted…


Well, I can't speak for the man, but there's no harm in asking Sean if he'll travel further afield. His daily round trip to us took him +/- 3 hours per day, and on a few occasions he was still here late into the evening (wrestling with pipe runs).

Approach others with caution. I was impressed that our fellow spent time polishing the insides of the pipework to reduce friction / resistance, for example, and as mentioned, our French tradesman confessed he was unfamiliar with the system. Even the local concessionaire with showrooms in Morlaix & Rennes was unable to offer any details for installation. Their costs were quite impressive, and not in a good way! You can download the installation instructions in French or English from the website.

We find the fire is easily rekindled in the morning (shut-down the damper and air-vents), but on really cold nights a decent hardwood log or 'buche longue duree' kept the house snug overnight - no need to load-up with much.

The end result is most satisfying - the oven produces some of the best food we've had in a long time (it's a dry heat, so your Yorkshires will impress) and the house stays warm and welcoming - and in the time it takes to shake off the wellies and towel-down the dogs, the fire picks-up nicely. Being independent of electrical and gas fuels adds a level of security too.

Just one thing, though - if you're baking something "sensitive" in the oven, be wary of taking a shower / bath at the same time - the oven temp can drop as the boiler receives cooler water; - practice will make perfect.

We have an Esse Iron heart cooker wood burner which does everything it says it does plus a wood gassification stove for the central heating the Iron heat uses 1 log every 1.5 hours the gassification unit load it up and forget it for about 4 hours

Many thanks for your reply John, I’ll give you a bell if that’s ok. Just read Geoff Cox’s comments re using 5 chords a year…that’s a Forrest! I have a 12 kW double doomed burned which is wondeful but it breaks my heart with all that lovely heat going to waste…no back boiler…my only worry is how or where I fit the tank…hence the need for some solid advice…ta once again for the help …


This is a really useful discussion for me. I had been thinking about a chaudiere a bois combined with solar water heating and a big (maybe 1.5 cu m) storage tank to provide heating and hot water. And a wood stove in the main kitchen/living room for pleasure. The theory was that firing the chaudiere once or twice a week would provide all the heating and water needs.

It sounds like a Rayburn would do all that and cook as well. I just looked up the combustion efficiency and found this table: http://www.hetas.co.uk/appliance/aga-rangemaster-ltd-rayburn-heatranger-355sfw/. Refueling it every two hours sounds a bit demanding. Do you really find you have to do that?

I'm in Brittany, 56, near Ploermel, so any tips on sources of advice, and competent installers would be very welcome. Does anyone in the area have a successful chaudiere/solar water heating system, and if so who installed it?

John thats one of the greatest advices I have read here on SFR. Do you think the "delightful Cornishman" would like to take a few days off to make vacation near Uzes, Gard? We are not in hurry, but its June and December it should work. We have an old DeDitrich, a French multi purpose but need to reinstall all. Combined with solar on the roof this can pay (we store and do not feed into the edf grid but kept edf line for the night charge accumulator if there is not too much sun during rainy winter).

We have a big Broseley Hercules 30 woodburner which heats the water and drives 10 radiators in our rambling 16th century farmhouse in central Brittany. We also have planning permission for solar water heating panels - not yet fitted, but we have been advised that once they are up we'll have 'free' hot water nearly all year, though our tank also has an electric element (and connections for a 4th system should we decide to also fit say an air-source heater).

You have to have a big wood fire to get all the radiators, including those furthest from the fire, really hot, and the Broseley is not as good as other woodburners I've had at keeping in overnight - but in general we are very happy with the system. We do use about 5 chords of wood over a winter - so it could cost 1,000€ a year - still far cheaper than our old oil central heating + small woodburner system - and in fact we always get some wood 'free' from our own and neighbours' trees.

Hello Robert,

We sourced our stove from a company in Sheffield which we found on the internet / eBay and it being pallet sized, cost only £100 to ship to us here on the 22 / 56 boundary south of Loudeac ; quite close to you.

Sean Hendicott (02 98 93 55 89) is the chap to talk to about installation and he is closer to than us, geographically speaking. A delightful Cornishman who takes pride and care in his work; book him early!

You'll need a register plate in the fireplace and I'd strongly advise a flue insert -

The stove is a delight, andjust make sure you're using dry wood to achieve best results.

Call me / us on 02 97 38 50 90 if you'd like to talk it through further.


Hi John, just noticed your comments after a search re "Rayburns" I'm looking to put in a Rayburn (355SFW), however I need some advice on my chimney area etc, any chance of the builders details? I live in Dept 56, near Plouray, about 10 miles from Gourin. Did you buy your stove in the uk and have it shipped over?

Thanks for any help you can give me

Robert Carruthers

Salut Ray,

We opted for the Rayburn Heatranger 355SFW model for our (relatively) modest longere of +/- 80m.sq habitable. It drives four radiators (we didn't have anywhere else to put more) plus mixed electric / HW towel rail in the bathroom; keeps a new / insulated 200ltr water tank fully replenished and the stove itself, weighing +/- 450kg keeps the open-plan kitchen /living room very comfortably warm;- so much so that we're wondering what it's going to be like when the jam-making begins in earnest next summer!

The fire 'stays in ' overnight on only a modest fuelling (one decent hardwood log), which makes these cooler mornings much more agreeable - our dogs would voice their wholehearted endorsement.

Rayburn are now joined with AGA - they have a very good, but occasionally difficult to navigate website ;- make sure you visit the English / UK version.

We found installation took some time and research. Our favoured local company admitted they were a bit 'out of their depth' with the difference in water pressures (the Rayburn works on gravity / heat circulation: - hot water rises up the pipe, displacing less hot water back down the "cold" feed), so the only pump needed is for the central heating.

We took some local soundings and engaged an Englishman's business for the full installation (am I allowed to name names here?), despite his daily round trip to taking three hours; a very hard-working and competent / skilled "engineer" . We're in Brittany, by the way.



Merci John

A good idea -the Rayburn -does yours have a particular number/reference?

We are looking for both, small wood burners for each fireplace, but also a boiler combination, for the cuisine fireplace. The local bricolage places have plenty of small wood-burners, but have not seen too many boiler combinations, that have aesthetic value also.

Our recently installed Rayburn wood-burning stove produces plentiful hot water,provides central heating and because the oven is a 'dry' heat - the baking has improved no end - including the best Yorkshire puds we've had in years! It worked out considerably cheaper to buy the unit in England (second hand units available on e-bay etc), and have it shipped than to buy from the local franchisee.

There are plenty of wood-burning stoves with boilers available - installation by a properly qualified plombier - chauffagiste is essential, particularly if the flue is to be replaced.