* Prices may differ from that shown
When we purchased our home, we inherited with it the most hideous looking fire surround, and gas fire. To appreciate the full horror of it, you really had to see it! It just had to go. I am pleased to say that in its place is a Hunter Compact 5 multi fuel stove, which looks fantastic and works brilliantly. Here is how we decided on this stove and our review of it.
In our lounge, we had the existing gas fire, but because of the rising cost of gas, we wanted to rip this out and put in an open fire. However, the more we looked into this, the more we realised just how ineffective open fires are, with most of the heat going up the chimney rather than into the room. We started looking at wood burning stoves and found that they pump out far higher temperatures, are easy to clean, and are safer.
Initially, we did a lot of research on the Internet and then armed with all the information that we had obtained, we then went to The Fireplace Warehouse, which is within walking distance from our home. They were extremely helpful. We chose the stove we liked, which was the Hunter Compact 5. Originally, we thought our budget would only stretch to the wood burner, but unlike a lot of other models, the multi fuel was actually only £10 more - it would have been rude not to buy it!
We were given a quote for supplying the stove, the liners (if we needed them) and the cost of installation. Normally, we do all our own DIY, but if we had installed the stove ourselves, we would of then needed to pay £150.00 to have the stove inspected to ensure its safety, so we decided to opt for installation which would ensure all the relevant safety checks were performed and the necessary paperwork supplied at the end. Once we had shopped around a bit more to make sure we were happy with the price, we placed our order.
The price that we were given was £600.00 for the stove, £450.00 for the liner kit etc, and £450.00 for the installation. On top of that, we then had the cost of the hearth.
We had an inspection of the property, to ensure that we did required the liners (which we did), and then a date was set for installation in the first available slot, which was approx 3 weeks later.
There was quite a bit of work to be done before the stove could be installed, all of which, we did ourselves, but it is possible that you would prefer to get a builder in to do this for you. The work that we had to do was as follows:-
· Get the gas disconnected - a local corgi registered plumber did this for £20.00.
· Remove the gas fire and smash out the surround - I enjoyed that part!
· Remove the dead pigeon behind the old gas fire - yuk!!
· Increase the fireplace opening to comply with regulations. You may need to replace the lintel in your fireplace if it is not long enough or high enough for the new opening - luckily we did not need to.
· Rendered the inside of the fireplace.
· Instal the hearth
· Paint the inside of the fireplace.
With bigger stoves, you may also need to have an air vent installed but because this is a small stove, it is not necessary.
We were now ready for the stove.
On the day of installation 3 guys turned up at the house at 8.20 in the morning and by just after midday, they were finished. There was no mess, everything was tested and all the relevant paperwork issued. They even installed 3 additional chimney flues that we had purchased for our other chimney pots to prevent any other pigeons taking a nosedive down into the house. We were given a demonstration on how to use the fire and were left with an instruction book. A fantastic service that we were really pleased with.
What followed, were the two longest days ever. We had been told not to use the stove for two days to allow the fire cement to dry out, without forcing it. So for two days, we stared longingly at our new stove. It looked great, but we were desperate to try it out.
Finally, we could light it, and might I say how easy that was. With the stove, you control the airflow with various vents and so it makes it really easy to light. You can also turn down the airflow to control the rate at which your fuel burns. This means that you can actually turn up or turn down the heat of your fire. You can't do that with an open fire! Because of the doors on the stove, everything is safe. You do not get spits of wood from the fire pinging out onto the carpet and you can leave the house while the fire is burning, without any worries.
I normally light the fire before collecting my children from school and half an hour later when I get home, I can already feel the benefit. If I keep the doors open, this fire heats the whole of the house, so I have no need for central heating at all when it is on. We live in a semi-detached 3-bedroom house, so I think this shows just how effective the Hunter Compact 5 is.
With the external riddle, you can make the ash drop down into the ash pan with the doors of the burner shut, so there is no mess. Then simply lift the ash pan out and empty it, it is so quick and easy.
What can I say, we love it and it's like a drug, the more we use it, the more we want to use it, especially with the cold dark nights drawing it.
During my research I read time and time again how Hunter stoves are one of the best on the market. If you are thinking of buying this one, I would one hundred percent recommend it. If you would like to know all of the technical stuff, then visit their website www.hunterstoves.co.uk.
Hunter Hawk 4 Stove.
~ Multifuel Stove - What's all that about? ~
Well to put it in simple terms, most multifuel stoves are able to burn a few different materials and then heat your room/house, and in some cases have a back boiler, which can also heat water and/or radiators.
With the way that Gas and Electricity prices are now moving, people are now looking at alternatives to heat their houses, and these are an excellent option if you have a fireplace with chimney in your property.
We moved into a typical mid-terrace Victorian house in March 2005, and being the sort of person I am, I wanted to be able to have an alternative heat source other than Gas - and the fireplace we had was hideous.
So, we went exploring - and I found a rather nice small but functional inglenook fireplace hidden behind the rather nasty looking Brick 1970's throwback we had.
So we began to look for stoves, and we eventually went for the Hunter Hawk Multifuel 4 Stove, which is why it is being reviewed, but I'm also including more general information about stoves because I think its important to review this information to help understand about the stove in more general terms.
~ Some important considerations to make if installing a stove. ~
How things have changed in just a few short years. When we first installed our stove, people thought we were nuts and didn't think it was worth the effort. Nowadays, people are desperate to find alternative ways to heat their homes. But, there are some factors that have to be taken into account when thinking of buying a stove and installing it, otherwise it can become a fairly expensive mistake to make!
First of all, think about what heating requirements you have - do you want to simply heat the room, or do you want to heat water and radiators as well?
Then you need to think about what type of fuel you are going to burn - particularly important if in a smokeless zone.
Finally, you need to know the space and proportions of not only the room you are going to heat, but also the area that your fire is going to fit in to.
~ Room size. ~
Every Multifuel stove has a Kilowatt rating. This means you should know what size your room is so you can make the best-informed choice of Stove. This also changes if you want to run a Back boiler off the stove, because it takes more effort to heat that and the room.
To help, I just googled for a Kilowatt converter, and the first one I found is here:
~ Why not just put in an open fire? ~
Well, it is likely to be a cheaper option for some, but overall, placing a stove in place of an open fire does save you a lot more in the long run.
For example, for every pound of fuel burnt, a stove will give back around 3 times more heat. Not only that, but the draught usage on a stove is completely different than an open fire. Now this might not seem like much of a consideration, but in fact an open fire needs more draught to operate. This means that it will 'suck' air from the very room you are trying to heat. It also means that heat produced from other sources (say a central heating radiator) is also then drawn up the chimney and so isn't as efficient.
This also means very often a stove will be perfectly capable of heating more than just the room it is placed in, but also other rooms in the house.
~ Different Fuels you can burn ~
Well, the different fuels you can burn will depend on whether you are in a smoke free zone or not. However, most Multifuel stoves are now so well made that even burning wood means you get a smoke reduction that means if used properly can be used and not produce smoke from the fire, unlike an open fire.
Wood - As mentioned, this is a great fuel. In fact its about the best to use if you can because if taken from managed woodland, it becomes an environmentally friendly method of heating your house, and as long as the supply is from somewhere close to where you live, you should be carbon neutral. It is also a renewable source.
The downside is - you need somewhere to stack this wood if buying in bulk. Some companies will deliver in sacks, but again you will need some storage space. Not always an option if you have a small yard for example.
Coal - This comes in a variety of different options, from basic coal to smokeless options. It is often in bags, although you can buy loose from a coal merchant. Again you need to find out if you are in smokeless zone before making the choice of which coal to buy, and also if your stove is suited to coal burning? Coal is often more expensive than Wood, but it is generally easier to store and source. It can also burn at a better temperature and last longer than wood might do, so ultimately often the benefits gained outweigh the initial costs.
The biggest drawback is that this is also not an unlimited fuel, and eventually coal will be unavailable to use.
Compressed paper, straw and wood pellets - These are recycled products and generally burn very hot so are best used with normal logs. They can be bought as logs or pellets, or if you want there are some tools available to buy to help you make your own versions of these.
The Paper log/Briqette maker can be found from various places online. We bought ours from this website:
Alternatively, you can use something simply known as the Logmaker. This allows you to use more than simply paper to make the logs, and you can find out more from:
Peat - This is a fuel I would urge people not to use simply because of the environmental damage it creates.
You might also need to line your chimney with a stainless steel liner. I would recommend this is done even if your fire doesn't appear to show signs of smoking, since most chimneys are damaged by the Sulphur produced by burning and can sometimes leak, but it isn't always obvious. This is particularly important if you use smokeless fuel. Linings can be fitted your self - or by going to a Chimney sweep or local coal merchant and asking if they can do it. Some gas fitters will sometimes fit a liner for you as well. Its well worth asking around for quotes because they can vary wildly.
The parts for lining the chimney your self will cost around £270-00 inc. depending on where you buy.
~ The Hunter Hawk Stove 4 ~
This is typical of stoves today. It has a steel and cast iron construction with large front glass door, and ours has a capacity of 4 KW, which is more than enough for not only our size of sitting room, but it does also effectively heat large areas around the rest of the house. We only use our central heating now on very cold days, and only then its in the furthest 2 rooms from the sitting room, which are also north facing.
The stove uses what it calls an Airwash system to help keep the glass front clear. These systems are all now used by other stove manufacturers, and while they all claim to do slightly better than a competitor, in truth there is very little between main suppliers, and the Hunter range is no different. My sister for example has a Stovax stove in her sitting room - and there is no discernable difference between the fronts on either stove.
It also allows us to shut the fire down at night, and allow it to smoulder slowly without the same risks you have with an open fire. Again, the Hunter Hawk performs in the same way as many other stoves out there.
The size of the stove (507mm high - exc. Flue if fitted on top plate, 342mm depth and 346mm width) also means it will fit nicely either just in front of an old fireplace or right into the hole where the fireplace and grate used to be. Remember, there are safety issues to consider when installing a stove, so if you are placing anywhere near a combustible floor you need to ensure that:
1) 250mm thick hearth is place under the stove.
2) 350mm from the front of a stove to the front of the hearth.
The stove itself has performed superbly now going into its third winter. We've used a mix of Smokeless fuel and seasoned hardwoods and, as mentioned we've found it heats the whole house pretty much all the time without a problem.
We have an external riddle, again this is something a lot of stoves will now have, and it allows us to shift ash build up without having to open up the door.
Another area you might spot when looking at different stoves is what is known as efficiency use. Now its impossible to actually compare stoves efficiency against another because manufacturers simply change a few variables on the stove - and this then changes the figures. The best way to gauge a stove working is to try and compare while in operation. Most good suppliers will have various stoves operating to show customers how they perform, or like us, we compare against other family members stoves, and the Hunter is no worse than any other they are using in a similar bracket.
~ Cost ~
The average price for a Hunter Hawk is around £400-00 to £425-00 depending on where you go to order one. Some suppliers online will offer incentives to buy from them, including free delivery. We use a local stove merchant, but know of one on Ebay who we would also recommend thestoveman. They are based in Hebdon Bridge in Yorkshire, and we know of a number of people all over who have used them and been more than happy.
Do a search for thestoveman and you should find them.
~ So final thoughts ~
While this is a review about the Hunter, one word of warning on a stove manufacturer who I wouldn't recommend to anyone - The Tiger series. They are a Chinese stove manufacturer and quite frankly they are awful! I know our local supplier now refuses to stock them because they are false economy.
As for the Hunter Hawk, they are an ideal option for smaller houses and so if you are looking at changing back to solid fuel - this is one stove I would recommend is looked at. There really is no fuel like an old fuel........