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Home » Product & Planning Guide » Heating » Solid Fuel Stoves on
Canal Boats & Narrowboats


Thank you for visiting our Solid Fuel Stoves page. Our aim is to supply you with relevant, comprehensive and impartial information relating to Solid Fuel Stoves.

Features: Considerations:
The most reliable heating solution Regular manual lifting & sourcing of heavy solid fuels
Can be very economical Poor or inefficient combustion will generate CO
Extremely effective localised heat source Localised heat source, can leave cold spots
Low cost, low maintenance Hot, exposed fire is a burn hazard
Cosy ambience on cold winter nights Regular maintenance is required for efficiency & safety
Optional back-boilers for some models  
Solid fuel space heaters, commonly know just as solid fuel stoves, are the traditional and most commonly used form of canal boat heating.

Often installed as a primary heat source they are also a great secondary form of heating, useful for an occasional fire during chilly summer evenings.

Solid fuel stoves evoke times gone by with their design & function. Highly versatile, some types can be fitted with a back boiler to provide hot water for feeding into radiators or for running through a calorifier to provide domestic hot water.

Consideration needs to be given to handling and storing bags of fuel during high use seasons. Simple to use and maintain, they are a lot more controllable than many people think.
Some stoves are classified as multi-fuel in that they are constructed in a way that enables them to burn wood as well as household coal/smokeless fuel. To avoid damage to the appliance it's worth checking with the manfacturer to confirm the correct fuel type for your set up.

Smokeless Fuel
Smokeless fuel is commonly used as a fuel and heating source for a stove, and is essential in any ‘Smoke Free Zones’. Smokeless fuel can be a variety of solid material which can be used as fuel for a stove but doesn’t create smoke.

Smokeless zones are declared by local councils and are most likely in to be present in towns and cities around the country, it means it is illegal to burn fires that produce smoke, with the exception of garden fires and BBQ’s. Smoke free zones were introduced as a result of the London smog of 1952. 

Examples of smokeless fuel includes:
Anthracite – sometimes known as hard coal, it is a naturally occurring fuel that is burnt for heat. It is black and shiny in appearance. Anthracite has the highest carbon content of all coals and lowest moisture content. It produces no smoke and is an efficient, economical and environmentally friendly form of heating. 
Coke – the smoke producing constituents of this type of coal are removed by the coking process.
Charcoal – this burns hotter and cleaner than wood. Often used for cooking and gives of no smoke when burned. 
Wood should be seasoned for at least 6 months before burning to prevent the build up of combustible tar and creosote in the flue pipe. Look to burn smokeless fuel specifically designed for enclosed solid fuel appliances.

Bituminous or household coal burns with a long flame which can damage the top deflector plate or in extreme cases ignite residue in the flue pipe. Other types not approved for enclosed stoves can burn too hot damaging the grill or riddle plate.

Efficient Burning
Cast iron designs will outlast steel plate so you generally get what you pay for. Fuel needs fresh air to burn efficiently so ensure there is adequate fixed open ventilation on your boat. British Standards recommend a fixed open ventilation of 550mm² per kW of output. Use our Boat Ventilation Calculator for guidance for the amount of ventilation your boat should have in accordance with the Boat Safety Scheme.
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