Review of Charnwood Country 4 stove

Great little stove, simple, well built & glows bea

Mr. Yeates 13 years ago

I've being using my Charnwood Country 4 (made in England on the Isle of Wight) for a couple of months now, almost daily; often twice daily. It's very simple to use, easy to light and more controllable than I expected - perfect for our small living room -- and I sometimes turn it up & leave the living room door open to help warm the dining room and/or upstairs; it's not overpowering though. One key feature is the 1/4" thick throat plate which can be easily be removed without tools (although one is provided) for cleaning the chimney & throat plate -- no need for a door in the flue). \n\nI have the woodburning-only version, which gives me more space for logs & ash than would the more expensive & more complicated multi-fuel option (which basically just adds a rather fancy riddling grate for burning coal). Even the wood-only version is not cheap but the design & build quality it very good, with thick, strong sheet steel used throughout with a nice even finish (the most expensive part, the chassis warranted for 10 years I believe - although Dorset-made Aarrow Acorns are warranted even longer, for life I believe). The Country 4 is wider than most 4kW stoves (the only wider one I found was the Bohemia 40 which is significantly wider although very thin) & its use of ceramic liners rather than fire bricks also provides more room (as does my lack of multifuel option), in practice it takes all but the biggest bulkiest logs. You can even burn logs with the door open, if you have odd shaped logs for example, as I sometimes do.\n\nI found that after daily use for about a week, the ash builds up (you barely notice this) and need to remove some to keep the fire lighting easily (so it doesn't block the rectangular slot at the front, which sits behind the lower rotarty control. Often I run the stove will all controls full on. It produces a lovely, bright yellow flame light as the wood gas burns, thanks to the clean burn warmed air inlets that come from low down behind the stove & up behind the throat plate, and are controlled by the top pull-out brass level (I think). It the flames get too high, I just throttle back the top control, otherwise I use the lower control to manage the burn rate. Neither control is particularly smooth & both can be hot but I figure that is normal. The front handle is, surprisingly wooden, and so can be opened without additional protection (good). All parts can be ordered on-line, so I hope to be using this for many years to come.\n\nPhysical size was not an issue for us, we have a huge inglenook fireplace and were more worried that this compact little stove might look too small. We need not have worried, it looks great, especially when lit. I light it most nights & some mornings, as it is very quick and easy to get glowing. I tend not to stack it up for overnight burning, not wanting to creosote/tar up the chimney on my thatched cottage, unless it is particularly cold out (we have oil-fired central heating but it goes off during the night). It tends to burn out overnight, although I have on occasion found glowing coals in the morning. I'd probably need more practice to get that right - probably stack up chunky logs & turn the controls down (they recommend that you don't close the top control completely to avoid creating tar).\n\nRe. clear burn & airwash, both work well but if you slip a newer log or wet log in, the glass will quickly blacken. Sometimes you can just burn it off by opening up the top clean burn control but occasionally you'll need to clean the glass (when cool), they recommend using a non-abrasive glass cleaner. The stuff I used gets the most but by no means all off (seems to be vinegar based - I suspect an ammonia based cleaner would work better). Well seasoned, dry wood is no problem though - super clean burning. The throat plate, clean burn & airwash features make this very energy efficient, with wood gas usually being burnt above the main fire with a very attractive light show (better than most TV!).\n\nCould it be improved? Yes of course but I'm perfectly happy with it as is. If pushed, I would say make it a tad wider (fireplace space is not an issue for me -- it might be for others though), make the controls a bit smoother & cooler to the touch. Reduce the price (but not at the expense of quality) -- it was twice the price of my initial budget and some competitors but in the end I am glad I purchased this model. The design (both technical and aesthetic) and quality give me confidence in the purchase.\n\nThe previous owner of my cottage had a larger but far less expensive woodburner and told me that it was too hot to stay in the living room when it was on. That's rarely the case with this stove as one can easily control it.\n\nIt arrived well packed, securely screwed to a mini-pallet, on top of a slightly larger mini-pallet. Initial impressions are that it is even smaller and heavier than expected. The delivery man was impressively able to bring it right into the living room on his mini fork-lift trolley, through the french window. Otherwise, I would strongly recommend 2 people carry this, although once unpacked & emptied I could lift it and shuffle it myself (I'm quite big & strong), it is safer and better not to. The generous lip around the top & the rail around the bottom make it easily to hold.\n\nYou can run the flue out of the back (default) or out of the top. We could have used either. As I had not purchased the option Charnwood back flue angle, we opted to use the top, which should also simplify cleaning. You just unscrew the blocking plate from the top & move it to the back hole. However, we decided to move the fire away from the back wall to allow more heat circulation by tilting the 120cm long flue pipe a little, it works fine but perhaps better to purchase the optional rear outlet (using the optional Charnwood-designed rear-adapter allows the flue cleaning through the stove, a normal flue bend/angle-piece would not).\n\nThe stove comes with a small bag of fire putty, more than enough to seal the flue pipe into the stove (& seal the blocking plate against the stove, if you feel it necessary, as recommended). Use a damp sponge or finger to get a smooth professional finish to the putty. Top-Tip: Wipe the stove with damp newpaper to remove any chalky or soapy white residue, this works unbelievably well.\n\nI highly recommend this simple, attractive and easy to use, well designed, well built and easy to maintain little English-made stove.

Overall rating:

4 flames

Build Quality 4 flames (avg 4.3)
Quality of finish 4 flames (avg 4.6)
Value for money 4 flames (avg 4.3)
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 4 flames (avg 4.1)
Controllability 4 flames (avg 4.4)
Handle operation 4 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 4.3)