WhatStove?

Review of Charnwood Country 4 stove

Charnwood Country 4 MKII Multi-Fuel Review (Nov. 2015)

Keith Butler 3 years ago

Charnwood Country 4 MKII Multi-Fuel Review (Nov. 2015)

Our Charnwood Country 4 MKII was installed in early December 2013 so we have now had 2 years of ownership.

Let us say first off – we are very happy with our purchase and only wish we had made the decision to purchase a multi-fuel Stove earlier. We’re still amazed at the control that you can achieve, the warmth generated and the look and feel of a real fire in your own home. (we did have an open fireplace where we lived previously).

Somewhat bemused by the number of Stove manufacturers, prices, and range on offer we eventually chose this on the advice of a friend who had purchased the same model.

We have tried most of the fuels available: Wood, Coal, Smokeless and combinations of all three – our favourite is Wood as we find it cleaner and more convenient to use, handle & purchase. Provided you have both kindling and firelighters available we found the Stove extremely easy to start. After the first winter season we found that we can now start it with almost anything really - if wood is used as the main fuel. We never buy kindling (too expensive generally) and rarely buy firelighters. Cardboard, and notwithstanding the current issues with some forests of removing stuff, well dried Cones are absolutely fantastic natural firelighters. We also often collect a few bits of old tree branches whilst walking the dog.

As a test, within the first few months of ownership we managed to keep the fire going overnight. We did find that to be bit of an art initially, with Wood and Coal mixed being the easiest option. Shortly afterwards, we kept it going for 7 days non-stop. On this model we have found that the low settings required to keep the fire going overnight do mean that the glass becomes discoloured – but it soon burns off when you get the fire going again! Initially, we used Jif and similar products to clean the glass almost every day, we still do but far less regularly probably every 10 days, if that, or so nowadays.

We live, just the two of us nowadays, in a 1960’s 4 bed semi which has been extended and is pretty much open plan downstairs. Being approx. 500M from the South East coast we do live in a generally warmer part of the UK. Though of course it can get windy here and, during 2014 we recorded a minimum temperature of -9C.

For us, the decision to have the Stove was mainly financial. Though we have both cavity wall and loft insulation in place, our CH combi gas boiler is under 10 years old, and most of our lighting has been updated to LED, our projected combined energy bill for 2014 was just shy of £2000. Our aim was, in the main, to rely on the Stove for our evening heating (we do occasionally switch on the CH for the first hour or so) whilst still relying on the gas boiler CH to heat the radiators for a couple of hours each morning. Our conservative estimate is that we save between £300 - £400 p.a. since having the Stove installed which should mean that the Stove will have paid for itself in around 5 – 6 years. In addition we now enjoy the glorious feeling of real natural warmth whilst sitting in the lounge.

The Stove is fitted in the lounge, there is a door leading to the rest of the house and an open-plan staircase leading to the upper floors. As the main bedroom is directly above the lounge it does mean that the Stove meets our needs very well as it warms both the lounge, the main bedroom and adds to the warmth in the bathroom, and generally, on the first floor. We do tend to run the Stove at a very high heat most of the time to achieve this. An additional (delightful) advantage of the Stove is that the residual warmth can still be felt in these main areas at 06:45 the following morning. It does mean that we have to forego some warmth in the dining room which is the closest room adjacent to the lounge – the purchase of (large) Pasta dishes mean we tend to eat more often in the Lounge than we used to, in the Winter months!

We were fortunate in that our Hetas engineer was known to us and we were given a very good installation price. We ourselves purchased the Stove, fittings and liner and also completed the Stove surround and fireplace work. We paid a local builder to have the fireplace width extended as many different sources had mentioned that it was important to get plenty of air space around the Stove as this would assist in circulating heat in the room.

We are indebted for the instructions and advice we found at this link which we followed pretty closely: http://www.stovefittersmanual.co.uk/articles/lining-a-fireplace/

I will say we could find no real advice from the Internet as to what paint to use on the surround – there does appear to be some reluctance to specify anything in particular apart from the heat resistant types in limited colours. We have used water based emulsion on the Hardibacker board installation suggested at the above link to no ill effect, and at times believe me, the Stove is HOT! – though, of course, you do this yourself at your own risk.

Rope replacement we have found to be very easy – but do remove the door first as per the instructional video at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYLS9AEcajQ

We buy “generic” Stove rope of the required size rather than the manufacturers own and we find that you do need to replace this every year to retain the Stove heating control to its full capacity.

Though we often read that the Stove should be swept every 6 months we get ours done yearly, in Autumn, which seems adequate for our usage.

We have recently been experimenting with Stove Baked Potato – delicious!

Like most things in life there are allowances and considerations to be made which will effect a decision. The Stove ashes do need to be emptied and the area swept; it takes time to get the Stove going and it’s certainly not as easy as turning up the CH thermostat.

Are we glad we purchased our Stove? – damn right we are!

Our Project Stove – before and after: www.keithb.org/stove.pdf

Stove expert replied: Generic rope may not be the correct diam. and density as manufacturers do not give this information out so do be careful if you do not purchase a genuine spare part. Otherwise a great review of living with a stove.

Overall rating:

4.5 flames

Build Quality 5 flames (avg 4.3)
Quality of finish 5 flames (avg 4.6)
Value for money 5 flames (avg 4.2)
Ease of use 4 flames (avg 4.5)
Ease of lighting 5 flames (avg 4.6)
Firebox size 4 flames (avg 4.1)
How well does the airwash work 5 flames (avg 4.1)
Controllability 5 flames (avg 4.4)
Handle operation 1 flames (avg 4.4)
How likely are you to buy it again? 5 flames (avg 4.3)
What is your overall satisfaction? 5 flames (avg 4.2)