How do wood fuelled heating systems work?

You can choose between different biomass fuelled heating systems depending on whether you'd like to heat a room or your whole house and which fuel you'd like to use.

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Technical information made simple

There are two main ways of heating your home with wood:

  1. A standalone stove; Typically heating a single room, stoves can be fitted with a back plate to provide hot water too.
  2. A boiler; Like a traditional boiler they would be connected to the central heating system to heat the home and provide hot water.

Types of Wood Fuel

There are three main types of wood fuel that can be used in your home:

  1. Logs – These are cut directly from the tree, but need to ‘season’ for about a year ideally before burning. They are generally easy to get hold of, but are bulky and heavy.
  2. Chips – This is clean, untreated waste from saw mills and forests. They are typically used in larger systems so not often seen in domestic homes.
  3. Pellets – These are manufactured from timber waste that would have normally gone to a land fill site. They are treated and compressed making them denser and dryer so that they are less bulky and burn with uniformly high efficiency.

Stoves and boilers that burn logs have to be filled with wood by hand, but there are some pellet and chip burners that use fuel feeders, which automatically add the fuel at regular intervals.

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Installation

In order to qualify for the How does the RHPP work? the system must be fitted by a MCS accredited installer. Find out more about the Renewable Heat Incentive and RHPP for wood fuelled heating systems.

It is also important to use an installer that is HETAS accredited, but if not then you should notify your council’s building control department who can arrange to check the installation.

FAQs

Are biomass systems automatically controlled?
Then can be either partially or fully automated if desired, using a control system which allows you to regulate the temperature, fuel and running of the boiler. Check the manufacturer's specifications for specific details.
Can you burn plastic for heating?
Yes, this is possible, but you will NOT be allowed to due to Environmental Agency policies.
Can you burn sawdust as biomass for heating?
Yes some models can, but check with the manufacturer
How do I buy wood pellets?
Wood pellets come in 10 - 15 kg bags or can be delivered loose per tonne. We have more details on how to find a suitable supplier on our Biomass pages.
How often do biomass systems need filling?
This would depend on how often the boiler is used and the heat demand. The hopper may need filling anywhere between every couple of days if the demand is high to once a week if it is just ticking over. Attaching the boiler to a fuel store means filling less often, and you can buy automatic (self-filling) systems with a hopper.
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