Are wood fires good for the environment?
When you purchase a Scandia wood fire you can be confident in the knowledge that you are purchasing the only sustainable and most affordable renewable source of home heating available.
As a supporter and sponsor of Landcare Australia we are mindful of any impact on the environment so it’s reassuring to us to know that 98% of hardwood burnt in Australia is sustainably sourced and by choosing to burn this firewood in a Scandia wood fire you will generate no additional CO₂ emissions than if that same wood was left to rot naturally in the bush.
To control the amount of emissions released into the environment Scandia design all their combustion wood fires with a two stage primary and secondary air system the latter of which hyper heats any excess carbon during the secondary burn phase, converting the majority of residual emissions into energy which is stored in the firebricks and firebox improving overall efficiency of the heater and minimising any impact on the environment.
As an organisation Scandia are committed to helping the environment through the promotion of renewable energy, sustainable harvesting practices and a commitment to programs that focus on reducing carbon emissions.
However, like all things there is a “but”; older style wood stoves were not manufactured to the same rigid specifications and can be very inefficient. In many cases old stoves can use twice as much fuel to produce the same amount of heat as a Scandia combustion heater which is why it is important to replace any wood fire manufactured before 1999 with a modern variant.
Convection or Radiant - Which one?
When selecting a wood fire the decision requires a number of considerations but in essence the decision to go with either a convection or radiant wood fire in the main comes down to personal preference, the following is a brief outline of the differences and the considerations you may want to give when making your choice.
Convection is simply the tendency of a substance, which in the case of wood heaters is air, to rise when it is warmer as it is less dense because it contains less moisture and fall as it cools resulting in the transfer of heat. Convection wood fires leverage this natural phenomenon to provide a very consistent, controllable ambient warmth throughout the home.
Scandia convection heaters are each fitted as standard with a three speed electric fan which draws cool air in from the bottom of the room and circulates it between the outside of the firebox and outer casing of the wood heater gently warming it before expelling it back into the room where it rises to the roof pushing cooler air down where it is again drawn into the heater and the process begins again.
The heat from a convection heater is often considered gentler and more even than that of a radiant wood fire and with a number of layers around the firebox little hands are less likely to be burn if they inadvertently come in contact with the top or sides of the wood fire.
When considering a radiant heater it is prudent to understand that the external surface on the wood fire is actually the outer skin of the firebox which “radiates” heat to warm objects around the fire, the closer in proximity to the fire the warmer the object, which is why radiant heaters are great for both indoors and outdoors and preferred by those who like to “feel” the fire whilst watching the flames.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a radiant wood fire is the increased requirement for clearances to combustible items, often the mistake is made to buy a small radiant for a small room when space is limited, in fact in many instances it is better to install a mid-size convection wood fire with reduced clearance requirements where space is at a premium.
To achieve natural convection with a radiant wood fire we suggest leaving open a number of door within the dwelling to promote natural air flow and a more consistent and comfortable warmth to radiate throughout the home. Celling fans also offer another means of promoting convection within the home as does the installation of a heat transfer system which extracts the heat from the room where the fireplace is located and re-distributes it through the house via ducts in the wall or ceiling.
What are the benefits of firebricks?
Firebricks are integral factor in the efficiency of the Scandia wood fires. Firebricks act as an additional layer of insulation and store the energy produced by the fire. A lined firebox minimises carbon emissions as stored energy mean less fuel is required to heat the area and retained heat maximises the secondary burn phase which dissipates carbon emissions before they get a chance to reach the flue, using less fuel also means less cost.
A firebrick lined firebox also maximises overnight burn times and optimises the life of the firebox.
Replacement firebricks are very affordable and should be changed on an as required basis.
Are all flue kits the same?
Not all flues are equal and an incorrectly installed or poor quality flue can significantly impact the performance of any wood heater. Scandia wood heaters are independently tested for emissions, efficiency and thermal clearances using the relevant Scandia flue kit. To ensure you get the best possible performance we recommend all Scandia wood fires be installed using the recommended Scandia Default flue kit and extensions.
How do I stop smoke coming in to the room when I open the door to top up the wood?
All wood fires will release a little smoke when the door is opened, we suggest opening the door slightly for a few seconds before you open it completely to add logs to the fire.
Opening the door slightly will promote an increased draught in the flue which will draw the majority of gas and smoke out of the firebox and up the flue.
Wood fires with bay window are renowned for releasing small amounts of smoke into a room, this is because smoke accumulates in the protruding section of the bay window and requires great draught to extract it from the firebox.
Following the aforementioned procedure will minimise instances of this occurring but will never stop it completely as this is a characteristic of bay window models.
My new wood fire is smoking and smells like paint, is this normal?
Having familiarised yourself with your new wood fire by reading the owner’s manual it now time to light the fire.
It is important to season the high temperature stove paint correctly to ensure you get maximum life from the initial application, to do this:
Begin by lighting a small fire and progressively build the fire unit it is well alight at this point reduce the amount of airflow until the fire is burning at a moderate rate allowing the fire to continue to burn until out and completely cool before lighting again.
Repeat this process building the intensity of the fire each time for a total of 5 fires before reverting to a pattern of regular use.
During the curing process you may experience some smoke and a smell emanating from the painted surface, this is a normal part of the curing process. We recommend opening a window or external door for additional ventilation.
How do I light my fire?
Establishing a good fire requires a really good platform to start with and there are many schools of thought on how best to achieve this but the one thing that is unanimous is the fact that you must have good quality, dry wood to start with.
This is how the team at Scandia like to light a fire.
You will need:
Check that the air slide is in the maximum open position, open the door and place lightly crumpled newspaper on the bottom of the firebox, placing a firelighter in the middle.
Never use petrol, kerosene or any other accelerant fuels.
Loosely stack small kindling in a cross hatch pattern on top of the newspaper leaving at least 1 cm in between pieces to ensure there is adequate air flow.
Light the paper with the door open watching as the fire becomes fully involved, at this point add a number of medium sized logs (about the size of your fist), close the door with the air slide still fully open and allow these to establish a good coal base before adding larger logs in a front to rear direction.
*Be careful, logs placed left to right direction are able to roll forward towards the door.
Continue to leave the air slide in the full open position for at least 20 minutes to allow the fire to establish and larger logs become fully involved.
The glass on my wood fire is black, what can I do?
All Scandia combustion heaters are manufactured with a “clearview” glass air wash as a standard feature which is designed to minimise the amount time spent cleaning glass.
If you notice a build-up of soot occurring the first course of action is to increase the intensity of the fire by opening the air slide to maximum for a short period of time which should burn off any residual particles.
If this fails to rectify the situation there are a number options available to you.
The traditional method involves dipping a damp piece of newspaper in the ash bed and wiping the glass in a circular motion, repeating until all soot is removed, then wipe over with a clean damp cloth. This should only be done when the fire is completely extinguished and the unit completely cool.
Alternatively there are many glass cleaning products on the market that are specifically designed for the purpose each delivering varying degrees of effectiveness.
To minimise a build-up of soot on the glass, only burn good quality seasoned hardwood. Poor quality wood with a high moisture content is the single largest contributing factor when it comes to the build-up of soot and creosote.
Choosing the best firewood
You should only use sustainably sourced, dry, seasoned hardwood in a Scandia wood fire. Wood that hasn’t been well seasoned will cause a build-up of creosote in the flue which can lead to fire and wet wood seriously impedes the performance of the heater as much of the energy and heat created by the fire is wasted burning of the water from the wood producing steam.
Sustainably sourced Firewood varies somewhat around the different states.
In Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia River red gum is the preferred and most prolific species of sustainably sourced firewood. In Western Australia it Jarrah and Wandoo, in Tasmania, Brown Peppermint is the firewood of choice and in Queensland, Ironbark and Box are the preferred species.
The best choice of firewood also depends on the intended use. Red Gum is excellent in a slow combustion heater but does not burn with a lot of flame, however for an open fire one might choose a species that burn at a higher rate with a larger flame.
Some species are known to not burn well at all, Turpentine and White Stringybark being two of these. Each species has its own characteristics of burning rate, flame, coal and ash generation, which mainly relate to wood density and the chemical composition of tannins etc. Perhaps the best thing to do is to try a range of the available species and pick the most suitable, which may be a mix of quicker and slower burning species.
Why should I replace my old open fire?
Everyone loves an open fire but the reality is they are inefficient, plagued with excessive fuel consumption and uncontrollable heat levels sending much of the energy produced straight up the chimney as carbon emissions.
Scandia’s series 3 range of inbuilt wood fires are an ideal and sustainable solution for existing homes with an open fire seeking a cleaner, warmer, more sustainable solution.
Optional floor mount fascia’s are available for the Warmbrite range of inbuilt wood fires which when installed are proven to significantly reduce carbon emissions and firewood costs by converting any existing open fireplace into an efficient, temperature controlled and environmentally friendly combustion heating solution.
I like the look of an in-built wood fire but I don’t have a brick chimney.
Scandia’s series 3 range of inbuilt wood fires are an ideal and sustainable solution for the new home builders or renovator looking for the warmth, ambience and style of an inbuilt wood fire but not wanting to build or don’t have a masonry chimney.
The 200i-S3 & 300i-S3 are supplied as standard with a mid-mount fascia, which when combined with one our zero clearance kit can be installed into a timber stud wall as the perfect wood fire solution for homes up to 30 squares.
Scandia are one of the few manufacturers that offer a zero clearance option for their entire range of in-built wood fires.
Is there any local product support ?
Scandia is a family owned business based in Victoria, our Dandenong South customer administration and showroom offers advice and information on all our products to homeowners, plumbers, installers and architects.
Our Seymour distribution centre ships a wide range of parts and accessories suitable for most brands of wood heaters all over Australia.
See contact page for details:
If you have a problem with your installation or flue we recommend first contacting your or original installer or calling 1300FIDDIT or visit fiddit.com.au
Why doesn’t the air slide on my heater shut down completely?
The Australian standard 4012/13 currently required particulate emissions (pm2.5) produced by a wood fire to be less than 2.5g per kg. In 2019 this measure is to be reduced further to reflect a maximum 1.5g per kg.
To reduce emissions a fire must burn hotter, this means adding oxygen to the fire. The factory adjusted gap in the primary air slide is pre-defined to ensure that every Scandia appliance conforms to the Australian Standard for Emissions and efficiency.
To control the amount of emissions released into the environment Scandia design all their combustion wood fires with a two stage air system: