This article is based on our experience of replacing an open fireplace with a Stanley Erin stove in a 4-bedroom single-level detached house, how the various coal products compare (plus a few to avoid) and how I light a smokeless fire.
Besides improving our house’s insulation, one of the best investments we’ve made to reducing our heating costs is replacing our living room’s open fire with a stove. The former fireplace had a back boiler and the replacement is a Stanley Erin free standing stove, also with a back boiler. For the first few days after the stove was fitted where it could not be lit due to the wet cement, the living room was noticeably warmer and the floor draught disappeared. In the evening, it felt as if we had a fire lit earlier in the day, but in actual fact the room’s air was no longer being sucked up the chimney.
Losing the open fireplace
The main concerns we had in the beginning were that the stove would not look as nice as the open fire and that the free standing stove would take up space in the living room, however, once we started using the stove, neither concern ever bothered us at all, apart from a short period where we tried burning regular coal which kept dirtying the glass. If the open view is a concern, it’s worth thinking – Is it worth forking out €1000+ a year in additional heating costs just so there is no glass in front of the fire? There are also many stoves with a large glass door giving as clear view of the fire as with an open fire. For the space usage, our stove comes out just a little past where the old mantle was and the former space couldn’t have served any other use anyway other than for a fireguard, which is no longer required.
Experience of running an open fire
When we had the open fire, we burnt roughly a bucket (approx. 8kg) of smokeless or regular coal an evening. It had no problem warming the hot water tank, but could only warm the radiators lukewarm, approx. 35C and no more than approx. 45C with the firebox full and a large blazing fire. Once the fire was up, the living room was quite cosy, but by the following morning it was as if no fire was ever lit. Even if a blazing fire, there was always a cold draught on the floor which was noticeable when not wearing footwear, especially on a cold or windy day. Due to the fire’s inability to properly heat the radiators, we ran the oil for 6 to 8 hours a day and went through over 2000 litres of oil a year with our old boiler. I estimate we would still go through about 1500 litres with our new condensing boiler had we replaced the boiler before getting in the stove.
How the stove changed the way we heat our house
With the stove, we now generally burn between a bucket and a bucket and a half (approx. 8 to 12kg) of smokeless (Ecoglo) coal a day, sometimes mixed along with a few logs on very cold evenings. As for the heat, the stove does not radiate as much heat outwards, but it sure warms the air in the room far more than the open fire ever did and we have to keep at least one door open. While the stove could warm the hot water tank, we had the plumber configure the fire such that the stove warms the upper part of the tank and the oil heats the whole tank. With zone valves on the radiators, we have the radiators cut off from the oil and very rarely heat them with the oil (few days a year at most.) On very cold days, we just burn more coal. With the stove running the radiators, I estimate we go through about 500 litres of oil a year with our condensing oil boiler, at least that’s all we ordered each year over the past two years. Over the winter, the temperature usually reaches 23C in the living room and 20C in the bedrooms.
With a full bucket of Ecoglo coal, approx. 8 pieces of kindle and a firelighter, the following process takes place:
- For the first 10 to 20 minutes after lighting the firelighter, the coals gradually light up. We leave the top damper half-open the entire time and thermostat damper at #2 (of 4).
- By about 30 minutes of lighting, the top of the stove gets too hot to touch and the flames die down as the stove’s boiler causes the thermostat damper to close itself.
- After about 45 minutes of lighting, the thermostat for the radiators cuts in, which causes the stove’s boiler to cool down again. This results in its thermostat damper opening and the fire starts growing in size until it becomes a good blaze across the coals.
- 15 minutes later, the radiators get warm, usually 40C to 45C going by my IR Thermometer. If it’s a very cold evening, we now turn the thermostat damper up to 2.5 or 3.
- By roughly 90 minutes of lighting, the stove is fully warmed up and the coals are all glowing red with the dancing flames, giving a nice pleasant appearance. The living room at this point is cosy and warm. The radiators’ temperature varies depending on how much we open the thermostat damper. Based on readings with my IR thermometer and using Ecoglo, the setting numbers on our Stanley Erin results in the following typical temperatures – 2 : 50-55C, 2.5: 55-60C, 3: 60-65C, 4: 70-75C. For comparison, the oil heats the radiators to roughly 65C.
- After about 3 hours of lighting with the thermostat damper setting on 2.5, about half the coal has burned away and we usually add either a half a bucket of coal or a few logs at this point. As the stove and radiators are already hot, this additional fuel burns much slower and will usually keep the fire going for another 5 hours and then at a reduced rate with the radiators lukewarm for a few more hours.
Despite having the oil cut-off from the radiators, the house remains reasonably warm the following morning, usually dropping to between 18C and 19C from about 20C-21C the night before. The living room itself stays a little warmer, usually 20C until the afternoon. Before we got the stove the living room was the coldest room in the house and we had to run an electric heater if we didn’t light a fire.
Stove maintenance is much the same as with an open fireplace – we usually empty the ashes every day or two and then scrape the soot off the inside surface using the coal shovel before lighting. Every month, I lift the lid off and unscrew the top to scrape the soot off the upper sections using a paint scrapper. This process takes about 30 minutes. We then use an ash vac to remove the scapped the ash and scrapped off suit, including from the chmney pipe out the back.
As for cleaning the front glass, we generally use ordinary window cleaner. If the staining is bad, we dab a wet cloth in ashes and rub this on the glass. Another method that works well is by burning a hot coal or wood fire, which usually results in the soot being easy to wipe off the next day.
Our experience with different types of coal
When we first got the stove in, we decided to try most of the varieties of coal we could get hold of, trying each type on their own for at least a week. As we don’t live in a smoke-controlled zone, we started with Polish premium coals which were the most popular coal people burnt around here and settled on “Doubles” for a few months. After a few full stove cleanings and seeing the pile of soot collecting each time in the pipe behind the stove, we decided to try the various smokeless varieties of coal as well as mixes of coal and wood. The reviews of the two Polish premium types below are based on two years ago before we went decided to only burn smokeless coal. Ecoglo, Ecobright, Anthracite and Union Nuggets are all smokeless coals.
The prices below are based on 2010 for Polish coals and at this time of writing (February ’12) for smokeless coals.
Polish Premium – This coal completely varies in size with pieces varying from the size of size of peas to chunky mug-size pieces weighing half a kilo. It is very easy to light even without any kindle. The coal is best lit from the top to reduce the amount of smoke it produces. After about 20 minutes, it is a bright hot blaze. Due to the heat, it has the radiators hot (approx. 50C) roughly 60 minutes after lighting and a bucket of coal lasts about 3 hours. Adding coal results in the front glass getting dirty, even with the top damper fully open. This coal was €14.50/40kg bag when we last purchased it in 2010.
Polish Doubles – This coal is about the size of tennis balls and is very easy to light just like with the Polish Premium. While much easier to shovel and cheaper than the Premium, the coal produces a lot more smoke from our experience and is also very difficult to keep the glass clean. Adding this coal to an already lit fire will result in the glass going completely black and the only way to at least partially clear it is by turning the thermostat damper up to max (setting 4) for 5 to 10 minutes. This coal also puts the most soot on the upper section boiler parts, requiring weekly full cleanings for the radiators to fully heat up. This coal was €13/40kg bag when we last purchased it in 2010.
Ecoglo (See update below) – Unlike the Polish coal varieties, this coal is made up of the same size pieces, ovoids about the size of tennis balls. Like Polish doubles, this coal is easy to shovel out of the bunker, although not as easy to shovel with the small fireside shovel. This coal needs kindling to light, as it generally will not light with a firelighter on its own. 8 pieces of kindling usually gets this coal to small blaze after about 20 minutes and the whole bucket of coal is fully ablaze roughly 45 minutes after lighting.
The flames are not as bright as with the Polish coal and gradually thin down over the next 45 minutes, at which point the coal is glowing red with light flames dancing about. The flames completely disappear about 2 hours after lighting. To keep the glass clear, we need to keep the top damper halfway open and the glass generally remains clear even when adding further coal. The first bucket of coal will last us about 4 hours, so generally we add coal after about the 3rd hour to keep the radiators hot. This coal leaves a thin layer of soot on the upper inside surfaces, so we usually fully clean the upper section every 4 to 6 weeks depending on the amount of coal we burn. This coal is €17/40kg bag delivered here and is the main coal we burn.
Ecobright – Like Ecoglo, this coal is made of same size pieces, but about the size of small eggs. It is also easier to shovel even with the small fireside shovel. This coal needs plenty of kindling to light and is practically impossible to light using only firelighters. 8 pieces of kindling brings this coal to a small blaze after about 40 minutes and a whole bucket of coal takes about 60 minutes to fully light. Due to the slower lighting period, this coal takes about 90 minutes to warm the radiators and about 2 hours from lighting to get them hot. This coal is very clean burning, giving off very little to no smoke even when adding more coal.
This coal does not burn as hot as Ecoglo and can easily left to burn overnight. Once fully lit, it gives of bluish-yellow flames much like an open gas fire. The coal glows much brighter than Ecoglo, much like the Polish coal after the flames have died down. It also leaves very little soot. This would be our next preferred coal after Ecoglo and is by far the cleanest to burn after Anthracite, leaving little to no soot stuck to inside surfaces. I reckon that if we exclusively burnt this coal, we would only need to clean the upper section once to twice a year. Besides giving few flames, our local coal delivery service does not stock this coal, making it less convenient for us than other varieties of coal. This coal is €16.50/40kg bag from our nearest supplier, FDR tyres near Donegal.
Union Nuggets – This coal consists of hexagonal shaped pieces about the size of tea cups. Like the Polish Premium’s chunky pieces, this coal is cumbersome to handle and is best loaded using tongs. This coal is quite easy to light, although kindling does help it light up quicker. It reaches a blaze state in about 20 minutes and has the radiators lukewarm in roughly an hour after lighting. This coal continuously burns with flames until it has mostly burnt out. Like Ecoglo, it gives off only a small amount of smoke and the glass generally remains clear as long as the top damper is open half-way.
Like the Polish coal, this coal burns with a good bright blaze at this point, but despite the impressive looking blaze, it does not burn as hot, leaving the radiators roughly 10C cooler than Ecoglo for the same thermostat damper setting. The first bucket of coal will fully burn out in about 3 hours, so we usually need to add coal after about 2 hours of lighting and add further coal 3 to 4 hours later on. We need to 1.5 buckets of Union Nuggets (approx. 12kg) for the equivalent amount of heating as a single bucket of Ecoglo or Ecobright. This coal also produces over double the amount of ash of most other coals, requiring the ash compartment to be emptied every day. This coal is €13/40kg bag delivered here.
Anthracite – This coal is made up of various shaped pieces varying around the size of Polish Doubles, which is also easy to handle even with a small fireside shovel. This coal is the most difficult coal to light based on our experience and is practically impossible to light using just firelighters. With plenty of kindle (around 15 pieces), it will be glowing alight at the surface in about an hour. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the point where the radiators get lukewarm and about 2 hours from lighting for a bucket to be fully glowing red, at which point it is ablaze with dancing blue flames. Once the kindle burns away, this coal gives off absolutely no smoke, but does crackle and spit when further coal is added, so is unsuitable for an open fireplace.
Unlike most solid fuels, this coal burns with a blue flame similar to that on a cooker and gives the impression of it being a gas fire. Like Ecobright, anthracite does not burn as quickly and can burn over a long period of time. Unlike most other coals, anthracite requires at least a bucket worth to burn properly and will easily go out, especially if there is less than a half a bucket worth left in the fireplace. It also needs riddling every few hours to clear the ash below it as otherwise it will smother itself, regardless of the amount of coal in the fireplace.
Based on our experience, Anthracite needs to be burnt 24 hours a day to be worthwhile using, at least in our stove. As this coal leaves no trace of soot, it would be the most economical to burn continuously, especially over a lengthy very cold period. We have successfully burnt this as a mix with Ecoglo as well as Union Nuggets, 2 parts to 1 part of anthracite on top, which helps run the fire longer than either coal alone. This method leaves just a few pieces of clinker in the morning, which we throw on top of the next fire.
Due to the difficulty we have burning anthracite on its own in a similar way we burn other coals, it is difficult to compare the quantity for the equivalent amount of heat, but when we burnt it around the clock over a few days, we used about 2 buckets per 24 hour period with the radiators kept around 50C. Like Union Nuggets, this coal produces a lot of ash and needs the ash compartment emptied at least once daily and sometimes twice daily when burned continuously. This coal is €17/40kg bag delivered here.
Wood – While we burn wood intermittently, so far we have not burnt wood on its own for more than a single day. We generally either use wood to quickly heat the radiators or in addition to coal. When chopped to reasonable size chunks, it only takes about 10 minutes for wood to reach a full blaze and will bring the radiators up to about 60C in about 60 minutes from the time of lighting. The main time we burn wood is if we were away for a day or longer and need to get the chill out of the house when we return. With a smokeless coal fire, we occasionally add a few logs in the evening instead of adding extra coal. This gives a nice blaze, while also giving a good boost to the radiators for a few hours.
As we never burned wood on its own for more than a day, it is difficult to say what it is like for soot. However, whether we burn Ecoglo on its own or as a mix with wood, the amount of soot in the upper section seems to build up by the same amount each time I clean it out. One thing we can confirm is that wood does not burn well when damp or wet and have had bad experience of it leaving a sticky sooty mess due to trying to burn damp scrap wood.
Wood logs with few to no knots do have one advantage in that they can be easily chopped into sticks for use as kindle. A bag of logs will produce several equivalent size bags of sticks, which works out at under half the price of kindling sticks.
Update – 30th September 2014:
I just received an e-mail from someone who had their Serenity 4 Inset stove ceramic glass ruined after just a few months use of Eco Glow fuel coal supplied in Sligo (white bag on right). In just 4 months (Nov ’13 to Feb ’14), the ceramic glass started going opaque and could not be cleaned. By March, the flames could not be seen at all. The door on the right shows the resulting damage, i.e. the wooden panels visible on on the left of the door are just barely visible through the right of the glass.
He contacted his stove manufacturer and supplied them with some samples of this Eco Glow coal. The manufacturer then checked the coal with the ceramic glass manufacturer who then tested the coal. This coal was found to have a sulphur reading of over 5%, which is over 7 times the legal limit for coal in Ireland!
The coal had also corroded the metal inside the stove and likely the chimney liner also according to his stove manufacturer. He reckons if he burned this coal for two more years, he would have had to replace his stove.
When sulphur burns, it turns into sulphur dioxide. If this gas mixes with moisture, such as if the coal is damp or is burned with wood, the result is sulphuric acid, a highly corrosive acid as found in car batteries. The higher the sulphur content in coal, the more sulphur dioxide is produced and in turn the more potent the acid becomes.
For those who import coal from Northern Ireland, it is worth noting that their sulphur limit is 2%, but even still, this person’s coal still had nearly triple that limit. Unfortunately, without a lab, there does not seem to be any way a for a consumer to test the sulphur level in coal.
The Eco Glow coal I burn is from a different supplier (green bag on right), so it’s quite likely that different suppliers use different grades of coal to manufacture their nuggets. Since posting this review two years ago, the lower half of the glass on our stove has started getting fairly speckled, but has little impact on the visibility the flames. With the variety of coals we burn (often to test), it’s hard to say whether our stove glass started speckling due to the coal or just with regular use over the years.
If you choose to use Eco Glow coal, if the bag looks like the upper white bag on the right, do not use it in a stove or enclosed fireplace!
Update – 10th March 2015:
Now that I’ve a faster 10Mb Internet uplink at home, I recorded a video showing how I light the smokeless coal using just two pieces of kindling. Basically, the trick is to add a layer of coal on the grate with firelighter placed on the grate in the middle. Light the firelighter, place two pieces of kindling directly above it and build a pyramid of coal up.
In this video I used a large shovel where possible to reduce the recording time, followed by a time-lapse video to show how the fire progressed over the following hour. At the end of the video, you can see the state of our stove’s glass after several years of burning the Ecoglow. It’s coming to the stage where we’re debating whether to change the glass for the following season.
A lady recently e-mailed me mentioning this Ecoglow coal produces a strong sulphur smell in her house and is irritating her eyes. While it’s due to smoke somehow making its way back into her house, this is another confirmation that this coal has a high sulphur content, at least in some areas. So far I haven’t had any issue with any smell from it, although we don’t have any issue of smoke making its way back into the house, even years ago when we burned the smoky doubles coal. My brother next door says it does not seem to burn as hot this year as last year.
Update – 25th June 2015:
The Irish manufacturer of Eco-Glow contacted me to say that their official product is only sold in the bag shown on the right and that they manufacture it to the Irish Standard and contains less than 2% sulphur. They went on to say that there are various other products being imported as cheap copies that do not adhere to the Irish standard.
49 thoughts on “Stanley Erin stove review and which coal works best for us”
very informative, thanks for the detailed analysis.
Again I have found your notes very detailed and most helpful. I have been using a combination of ‘Blaze’ smokeless ovoids topped off with Welsh Anthracite ‘small nuts’; great heat output, low ash.
Tip for lighting, I use a couple of handfuls of premium Columbian house coal directly above rolled newspaper and a little kindling then on top of this I place ‘Blaze’ and finally Anthracite.
Easier lighting + much quicker to temperature.
Beginning tomorrow I shall be substituting ‘Ecobright’ for ‘Blaze’ but all else will remain the same.
I am experimenting to see if I can reduce ash even further whilst maintaining heat and extending burn duration.
Best to you all.
I am considering buying a used Waterford erin stove and would like to know what the actual size of the firebox is in cubic feet. So far I have not been able to find that info anywhere. Does anyone know? Thanks in advance!
Just for your information, Eco Glow in the green bag is intended for open fires only ! There are other products which are specially manufactured for stoves with glass doors. Have a look at: http://www.tallaghtfuels.ie
The coal delivery service that comes our way started carrying the red Eco Stove bag which we now burn and indeed it does not smoke up the glass like the green EcoGlow coal does. I’m not sure if they since changed the formulation of the EcoGlow, but the last time I asked the coal man, he said it was for open & closed solid fuel appliances while the Eco Stove coal he started carrying could only be burned in closed stoves. It’s quite possible the EcoGlow coal produces smoke when burned in a closed stove, which would explain the glass going dark.
I’ll later update the article once I’ve burned the Eco Stove coal for a few months, but so far it appears to put more heat into the back boiler than the equivalent amount of EcoGlow in our stove.
I have a Stanley cara + with a backboiler, By far the best I have used is Flamers logs.. Rads are really hot.
Hi this very informative. I’ve just in the last week had an insert boiler stove fitted and I’m trying to figure out the most cost effective fuel to heat the house. I was initially going to get turf but now I’m thinking I’ll buy in a load of dry hard wood and mix it with the red bag eco glow.
We have had an Erin with boiler for 16 years. We have burned everything in it, but the best for us is PHURNACITE and a dry log on top for overnight with thermostat turned to ‘0’ this gives us lots of hot water for showers and dishes; a warm house, and on opening the thermostat, remains of log will blaze up. We try to use seasoned wood, we have had oak, ash, lime, beech,hawthorn,and last winter cut some of our own hardwood Sally trees (I think these are sallows) all pretty well burned at night with PHURNACITE or other coal products. We used to have to go to NI for it, Derry or Fermanagh! But it can now be bought at BMG Hardware in Bundoran and they
deliver. It is in 40kg bags. While we have had the Erin we have replaced the grates 4 times; the glass once (speckled) the thermostat system once (safety cut-out was originally improperly installed), and new rope to the doors and top section a couple of times, which we think is OK for 16 years of
It is a great stove…
Great article, proud owner of a Stanley Eirn for the last 15 years or more. Only had to replace glass as I cracked it closing the door on a log. Original grate still in good order. Think the thermostat has to be replaced but it’s working fine. Does about 11 rads easily on EMERALD SINGLES from A Northern Ireland company. At €270 a ton delivered works out good value. It’s a smoky coal as I,m not in a smokeless region. It’s burns quickly with a good heat output and heats the rads within 30 – 40 minute. I have another thermostat on the hot pipe to my circulation pump I set at 80c while the stove heats up I then turn that down to 60c to allow the pump to come on and the radiators are piping hot within the 30 – to 40 minutes. Would like to following your blog but I don,t see a link to do that…
Great article. I have just purchased one of these but I think there may be a part missing or broken. Could someone send me a photo of the top of there stove with the top panel removed?
I have recently moved into a house with a stanley stove although I don’t know which model. This is a silly question BUT whilst cleaning there is obviously the pipe/flue behinnd the stove but I cannot find where inside the stove the smoke goes in to it. No hole or opening? Any ideas?
If there is no model number on the stove, what you can try is checking through the Stanley website to see if there’s a very similar model. Alternatively you can try searching ‘stanley stove’ in Google images and looking for one that’s like your stove to see if the image mentions the model. Once you have the model, you can then try searching for a guide or mention the Stanley model here and I’ll have a look.
If it’s a Stanley range (with an oven), these channel some of the smoke below the oven to provide heat to it. With a dedicated fireplace (or with a boiler), the smoke goes out the main fire chamber towards upper-front and then down through a baffle at the top and finally out the back. With the Stanley Erin we have, the top panel lifts off which reveals a top access plate, held down by four 11mm bolts. With this top panel lifted off, I can clear the creosote leading to the back hole that goes to the chimney.
Sean, Thank you for the wonderful article on the stove. We moved here from Switzerland and where we used to heat the house with a “Kachel-ofen” (wood burning) and it heats the whole house by convection. Currently we have 3 open fireplaces in the house for the reason that it is very inefficent and have been dreaming of converting one of them to a Stanley or similar brand closed fire with glass. Is Stanley the best around? It is completed to do the conversion. Who should i ask to convert it for me. Also thinking of getting the plumber to plumb the stove to heat the radiators or hot water system. Thank you once again. Michael
Stanley seems to be the most common brand of stove I’ve seen installed, probably due to many people having a Stanley range beforehand (solid fuel cooker). I suggest checking other stoves also. If you plan mainly using the stove to heat the house, look for one with 10kW or higher boiler output. The Stanley Erin gives up to 13kW to the radiators and up to 6kW to the room, i.e. 2/3 of its heat output goes into heating the water. There are some stoves with a higher boiler to room output ratio, which can put more heat into heating the radiators without excessively warming the room the stove is in.
For installation, plumbing, etc. I suggest speaking with the stores that sell stoves as each town/village will have its own local plumbers, fitters, etc. as well as advice such as if any work needs to be done with the existing chimney, hot water system, etc. Our installation excluding the stove price was around €3000 (roughly 10 years ago), which included fitting a new 300 litre hot water cylinder, new loft tanks, etc. as our previous plumbing system was inadequate for the stove.
For the time being, I suggest putting a chimney balloon in each fireplace, which temporarily blocks the chimney airflow. This should reduce most of the draft when there are no fires lit. If you cannot afford to go for a boiler stove, a cheaper option would be to get a dry stove fitted in place of one fire place. Although they don’t heat the water, they use about 1/3 the fuel of an open fireplace for the same room heat. With the room doors open, some heat will heat the adjacent rooms, which will cut back on how often the oil burner runs. As with a boiler stove, it will eliminate most of the draft in the house.
Also as a matter of interest, how many buckets of coal will you get from a 40 kg bag of coal?
Depends on the size of the bucket 😉 With our ~8 litre metal bucket, we get 5 full buckets from a 40kg bag of ovoid (egg shape) smokeless coal.
Sean, Many thanks, I have also seen that the prices of coal have gone up since you gave some indication in the bags of coal ranges from 13 to 17 were your numbers from a few years ago. I looked at one of the links a reader put up – tallaghtfuels.ie – it is more or less 100 for 5 bags of 40 kgs. (higher for some of the higher quality coal, i think, ie 4 bags for 100 euros.) M
Just a little tip on cleaning the glass of your stove.
I tried multiple ways to do this even using the overnight dust with a damp cloth which i saw on youtube and it was a struggle(and i’m 18 stone)
Now for the good news!
This is the easiest way to get your glass gleaming again. Use a soft scourer and vinegar and your glass will be gleaming in no time at all with little effort. This is the way I do it all the time now and it has had no bad effect on the glass.
On the topic of coal. I live in the Cork City and have just scoured the internet for the best deal on smokeless coal. The best price i have come up with is from a company called easyglow.ie (no affiliation) its €325 a tonne for smokeless delivered.
Hope this is of some help to people that read your article.
Its 27th sept today and the rain is bucketing down outside. Time to put the fire on.
Thanks for the tip on cleaning the glass, I must try it. I cannot seem to get the heat to heat up the radiators with the smokeless. It all lumps together and glows for ages but no heat. I use the other type, much dirtier but it throws off more heat. On the boarders of Mayo/Galway on the 27th and the rain is relentless.
Hi we are the same as you. We have a 20kw greens boiler stove. It’s supposed to fuel 13 radiators. When we burn smokeless we get next to no heat from the radiators and we are freezing. We live in an old cottage with no insulation and high ceilings which does not help but feel we should get better heat than this. We had been burning doubles and the last batch of coal we got was really bad it caused a complete chimney blockage and filled my cottage full of black smoke . It covered everything in black suit curtains, furniture, sofas the lot. It took us a week to clean it all up and my dining room walls are still black . So we have the sweep coming at the end of the month to see if the chimney can be sorted so we can put stove back into action. We have not used stove since it happened in January this year, so don’t know if the stove pipe flue is damaged or not. When we get it fixed we plan to get cosy glo smokeless coal as my parents used it and thought it was good. It costs about £14.40 for a 50kg bag here up north. Problem is we have to get it delivered to my parents and collect it from there which is 50 miles round trip from our house as they don’t deliver to our area, but it’s who my parents used to get it off and it’s cheapest around for smokeless coal. I hope it works this time. just need heat this winter ❄️. We do have oil but we use about 400 liters a month so can’t afford to run it, plus I want warm radiators and heat from stove which oil doesn’t do. I hope you have luck sorting your fuel. This is a great most informative page glad I found it the guy has given so much detail its great just what I needed to read.
I hope you get your heat sorted out soon! I burn the polish coal which is not smokeless and I know it’s not good for the environment. But once I close the stove door and get it going, it heats up all the radiators and I can then turn it right down to number one and it is lovely and warm. Prices here much higher 17 euros for a 40Kg bag or 10 euros for a small bag at the garage plus 4.80 for briquettes but then everything is more expensive here.
This old cottage (rented) has been modernized with a wooden upstairs and extension which makes it quite warm. It was a self built by a young lad, though and I make sure fire is out when I go to bed!!! On the oil side? It is very expensive 100 a week last year but no longer have to worry as the tank blew down in the storm!
Good luck with the clean up. Yes agree excellent site.
Excellent site 🙂
Ahh thanks for the reply Carol yes I hear a lot about this Polish coal but think I will stick to smokeless like my stove manufacturer recommended as its safer will let everyone know an update as I have the sweep coming on Friday and them going to try cosy glo coal. The cosy glo is about £14.40 for a 50kg so not two bad except I will probably go through 3 bags a week as my stove is a big hungry beast. Sorry to hear things are so dear for you guys in the south but think it’s going the same here really. Good luck in your cottage hope you get a good deal on some coal this year and sorry to hear about your tank hope you can get it fixed xo
Just a quick update on the coal I have started using. It is cosyglo and we buy a half tonne from Meekin Coal for £140 which last us a month . So just wanted to give a review on it. The coal us fantastic we have a 20kw multi fuel stove that heats water and rads. The coal gives off great heat and is very low ash and coal mess and the radiators are roasting and it only needs a fill every four hours so it has a good long burning time. It’s the best coal we have ever had its good on heat price and lasting power and very clean burning. We will be using it from now on. We are just so glad to be warm this winter and not to be cleaning up so much coal suit and mess and it’s not costing us more than oil.
We have a Stanley Erin solid fuel stove with back boiler. I’ve noticed water is leaking at the back of the stove in the mornings when I’m cleaning it out. I imagine this is the boiler that is leaking, can we replace the boiler ?
Unfortunately the boiler is not replaceable as it makes up the sides and back of the stove. I suggest getting a plumber to have a look, just to rule out a leaky pipe joint. If the leak is inside the stove, it’s quite possible it’s from a weld joint. In this case it may be possible for someone like a mechanical fitter to reweld the joint.
I have a stanly erin stove that recently leaked. A stanley engineer gave me a price of €1450 to repmace boiler. A new stove costs €1650. Can it be repaired??? Thanks
I recently got an Waterford Stanley oil stove off a friend hard to figure out don’t know the make. My problems are Plummer said 3 chambers have to fill before lighting between 10 to 15 mins thing is when it finally lots within 10 or more mins it takes off with a huge flame can be seen down at the base of stove cool down when door is opened for a good few mins stinking with the smell of oil. Don’t know what to do would like to know the make all I know it’s an older version of what’s out now. Soot is a big problem to. Maybe if I change the coals to New it might sort that but what is the name of the coals I need. I really hope you can help. Thanks Rita
Unfortunately I am not familiar with using an oil fired stove. From the description, it seems like there is a problem with the fuel or it may not have been serviced. For example, it may need an additive if the stove was designed to kerosene with a higher sulphur content before the law on sulphur limits changed. If you have not had it serviced when it was installed, I recommend getting that carried out as the service involves removing the soot, replacing the nozzle and a flue gas analysis to ensure it is burning cleanly. The technician should be able to advise whether the fuel needs any additive.
Hi, I purchased a Stanley Cara inset (non boiler) stove In 2013 In 2017 I noticed that most of the bricks had cracked and when the glass cracked I contacted Stanley and they sent their engineer out to check it out. When the engineer checked the fire he informed me that the stove had been installed incorrectly and the chimney would need to be lined properly and all the internal parts would need to be replaced. The cost for this was €1200.00. I accept that when I originally got someone to install it i assumed it would be installed correctly but it wasn’t. Today 4 April 2019 after again noticing bricks breaking and the loose baffle had warped their engineer called again and advised me that the housing on the stove had cracked and I could not use the fire pending him handing in a report to Stanley. I Am devastated by this as it appears that the fire is now useless and there could be damage as well to the chimney lining. Has anyone else had a similar experience like this?
Great article, I have tried a lot of different fuels in my stove and have found ecoglow (the one in the green bag) works best for me. I find it lasts way longer than polish coal but still produces great heat. we get it delivered from these guys, tomphibbs.ie/Ecoglow
Hi I got a good price for a tonne of Glo therm. Does anyone know if it’s any good. I want it for my enclosed stove.
How do I regulate the settings on my Stanley stove please
If it’s a boiler stove, the dial at the back controls the stove’s burn rate and in turn how hot the radiators get. When the stove is cold and the fire is lit, it will let more air in to get the fire going. After about 10 minutes, the heat build-up will cause the thermostat to reduce the air intake. Once the thermostat for the radiators turns on, the stove’s thermostat will let more air in and the fire intensity will increase until the radiators warm up. Usually we keep this at 1 to 2 during the spring/autumn and 2 to 3 during the winter.
If the stove is a non-boiler model, there will be a vent on the ash door. This will control the burn rate. Set it midway for lighting the fire. When the fire is lit, close it to reduce the burn rate or open it to make the fire hotter.
The knob at the top front is for when burning wood, regular coal or semi-smokeless fuel. Close it fully when burning smokeless coal such as anthracite. Open it a quarter turn for semi-smokeless fuel (e.g. Union Nuggets) or half-way when burning regular coal. For wood, set the back knob to zero (or close the bottom damper for non-boiler) and this the front top knob to control the burn rate of the wood.
We have been using a Stanley Erin for 20 odd years or so. We burn a mixture of Calco and Ecobrite. Alternate shovels into the coal scuttle of which we have 5 so the filling is done for the week and a half. The Calco adds a little more pep to the Ecobrite. Pure Calco on its own will probably be too hot and warp the grate. I had to replace the grate once, maybe 10 years ago. We run the stove combined with OFCH. Come in and hit the 1Hour on OFCH, light the stove all toasty after an hour. Up until I read this post we always started the fire with briquettes (unquestioning tradition handed down, thanks Dad!). We are trying the kindling only method 2nd time tonight and that looks faster but we have maybe 5 sticks!
I’ve just bought a house with a boiler Erin and am confused with the controls.
Is the controller at the back (0-4) for controlling the heat that goes to the radiators or total heat from the stove? Eg. @ 4 does it burn coal faster but room is warmer? Does this affect the heat split between living rooms and rads?
The front controller on top of the door just controls the air allowed into the stove so fully open allows more air and makes the stove burn faster and hotter and cleans the glass?
Closing this slows down the burn rate and darkens the glass?
How does this balance with the back controller?
What I’m doing so far is leaving the back controller @ 4 because I want the room to be hotter. The rads are hot but I feel the living room should be a lot warmer…
I am struggling with the front (secondary) one as I have tried different positions and can’t seem to figure out where it should be to get best heat into my living room.
I’ve been burning supertherm smokeless coal using kindling to start. When I light it first, I leave the secondary front contrller over the door open and then have been closing it a bit after a while.
any tips much appreaciated
The control on the back controls the total heat of the stove. It is thermostatic, which means the stove will run hotter until the radiators are hot and then regulates the air flow to maintain the water temperature.
The front control is for giving a more complete burn depending on the type of fuel you use. For 100% smokeless fuel, normally this should be fully closed. However, as you mention the glass darkens, I suggest opening it about half way when lighting the fire, then once the coal is lit, close it just enough such that the glass does not darken. It’s not really intended for controlling the burn rate as opening it too much will lead to more heat being lost up the chimney.
Try positioning the coal more towards the door. If the coal is piled up towards the back of the stove, it will put more heat into the back boiler. You can also try fuel that produces flames such as wood. Flames put more heat out the top of the stove into the room, whereas coal radiates most of the heat into the back boiler. With wood, the control at the back should be low (e.g. 0-1) as this is the one exception where you use the front damper to control the burn rate.
One final thing you can try is a stove fan. A lot of the heat that comes off the stove goes straight up to the ceiling, which can be a problem if you have a high ceiling. The fan will help distribute more of the heat throughout the room.
Thank you so much for that detailed reply. It was very helpful. I have taken your advice on lighting and also bought a stove fan. All in all, my house is much warmer now and I’m happier with the stove.
I still leave it at 4 throughout but feel I could have turned it down to 2-3 last night when the room was warm enough. I didn’t want to risk a drop in room temp though left it @ 4.
Great article, I’m in the process of getting a 30kw boiler stove fitted at the moment as my old grant boiler sprung a leak, we are living in a 4 bed bungalow and only ever used the back boiler for our heating,the heat was always fantastic from it,so I’m hoping that from no on our fuel bill will be cheaper with the new stove,I have been using polish coal with logs,I tried some of the smokeless coals but it never seemed to get the house as warm as it gets with the polish,I can get any type of coal at the moment so I will try eco glow with anthracite and see how I get on,hopefully we will have our first lighting tomorrow, it’s bloody well cold here at the moment with just two oil electric heaters.
Hi I’m thinking of taken out our Erin stove as I don’t seem to be getting what I should out of it heat wise unless I’ve been using it wrong for the past 9 years we use super term smokeless and logs I leave the front move over the door open well I think it’s open when it’s turned all the way to the left and the one st the ride up on 4 if I turn that one down at all the fire nearly dies so we use 3 40k bags is coal in a week and a couple of days so it’s costing us a fourtune we are pensioners so don’t know what to do and I’ve oil as well I’m on the 3rd trailer of logs since October last as well and now the boiler has packed in as well I don’t know if anyone has any answers for me ♀️
Thanks for the detailed article. It is a pity that I only got here now. The sulfur content really doesn’t affect whether the coal is hot or just warm. Unfortunately, there is no information on the calorific value of coal per kg on coal packages. That would be helpful with identifying the heating power of the coal and thus counting costs. I found a bit of information about that on FAQ [link removed due to posting via VPN] and follow that there is a quite detailed report on ec.europa.eu or just simply type “calorific value of coal in kj/kg” in google. It is worth to know I believe.
Hi Margaret, I’m not an expert and also struggle with my Erin so I’ll just share my thoughts which may not be the best….
I use Supertherm too and leave the back setting @ 4.
When lighting, I leave the front control half way and then after 10 -15 minutes, I close it in, so turn it clockwise. I find the key is to light it early as the supertherm takes a while to heat up and then for the first hour it’s only heating water for the rads and outputs very little to the room.
The issue I see for you is mixing logs + supertherm. I think for logs you’re supposed to leave the front control open (the opposite to supertherm) so maybe you just leave it in the middle or else or try using just supertherm to see how that works for you.
My electricity went last night and my Erin boiler stove sounded like it was about to explode. There was loud banging/shaking in the pipes and snapping sounds. I think the water was boiling but could no longer be pumped and the whole system was messed up.
I got very worried so shovelled the hot coal out of the stove and brought it outside. I wanted to cool the stove as quickly as possible as the electricity went just as the stove fan turned, so had hours of heat left and the noise was so violent, I felt it would do damage or potentially explode.
Was this the correct action?
Now thinking of removing the boiler stove for a non boiler version for next winter.
To me, that indicates there is a significant sludge build-up inside the stove’s boiler or that it is not plumbed properly. When there is no electricity to pump the water or the pump fails, the hot water should freely circulate through a coil in the hot water tank. It is normal to hear some shhing or bubbling sound as this happens. If the hot water tank gets too hot, water will start to boil, in which case it would be normal to hear the pipes rattle with gurgling sounds intermittently as the boiling water gets pushed up into the expansion tank.
If there is excessive sludge, the pipes are not wide enough or not plumbed correctly, the natural flow rate will not keep up with boiler, causing significant steam build-up. Once the return water comes into the steam void, the steam will instantly condense back to liquid causing what is known as steam hammering, that loud banging sound you were hearing.
I recommend speaking with a plumber about this issue. If it’s over 10 years since you had your plumbing originally installed or power flushed, the plumber will recommend getting it power flushed. Based on getting our own system power flushed a few years ago when we had a similar issue, it cost around €500 and took the plumber a few hours.
If the power goes out again with the stove full of fuel, turn the stove’s rear thermostat to 0, fully close the front damper and leave its doors closed. This will minimise the burn rate. If the hot water gets excessively hot where you hear the pipes rattling, run the hot water taps until the water cools down. This will avoid steam going into the attic. If you have regular power cuts, another option would be to get an electrician to wire the circulation pump to a mains plug. This way you can power the circulation pump with a battery power station (230V power bank) during a power cut. For example, the 240Wh Jackery power station costs around €300 and fully charged would run the circulation pump for around 5 hours continuously.
Very thorough and clear guide. It’s surprising how many people there are with stoves yet there’s little to no information out there on how to get the most out of your stove e.g. how best to start the fire, characteristics of each type of coal: ash residue, which burns hottest, which burns longest, which coals are unsuitable for your stove, air control settings etc.
I’m a data analyst, so by nature I’m looking into every stove type, heating system configuration and coal type, trying to eek out every last 0.1% in efficiency in heating my home !
Living in Kerry, coal isn’t as much of a feature in home heating as in other parts of the country, I’m imagining this is because of turf being freely available. Ringing around to check for different coal types (Ecobrite, Phurnacite and Grade A Anthracite) the reactions you get are gas ! It’s either ‘What do you want that stuff for ? Would a bit of Polish Coal not do ?’, ‘Arra is that smokeless coal ? We have a few bags here but I can’t remember the name’. I can only dream of living near a decent coal merchant in the east of the country where you get the near full ranges of CPL and Stafford coals !
In the end I had to contact Staffords, CPL and Arigna directly. Some Phurnacite will be sent to my local coal supplier for me to try shortly. Arigna sent me a list of stockists close to home.
What’s really interesting and hasn’t been mentioned here so far is the composition of the smokeless fuels. Not all smokeless fuels are created equal. Most are a blend of anthracite fines, pet coke and bituminous coal. At the economy end, anthracite content can be as low as 60%. Pet Coke content can be as high as 20-30%. Many stove manufacturers warn against the use of pet coke – it can warp the grate due to the strong heat and lack of ash it generates, the ash acts as a protective bed between the fire and the grate. I was surprised about the bituminous coal though, I thought the whole point of smokeless coal was because you didn’t want smokey coal !
Data for UK coals and all Irish ones sold on the UK market can be found in this link: https://smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/fuels.php?country=all
For me, two on sale in the Irish market stand out: Arigna Ecobrite and Phurnacite. The Ecobrite is as clean burning as it gets: it’s composed of 96% anthracite and the rest is binder. Phurnacite is 85% anthracite and up to 15% pet coke – just enough pet coke to give it a bit more pep without putting the grate at risk.
I’ll be trying both shortly and using the fire starting techniques in the video uploaded by Sean. I’ll report back shortly with what works for me.
Just to point out: the link in the description from DEFRA shows the composition of each brand of coal sold in the UK, the ‘ingredients’ for want of a better term.
I have a Stanley Erin, what should the pipe thermostat be at please – the orange one that is on the pipe coming out of the top of the stove that causes the pump to click on and send water to the radiators?
This thermostat ensures the boiler in the stove gets above the set temperature – If it is too low, it can cause condensation on the inside of the stove, which could cause corrosion, particularly when burning wood. If it’s too high, the water in the stove can reach boiling point, which can cause gurgling and pipe noises as well as produce steam in the attic as the boiling enters the expansion tank.
I suggest setting it to 60C, which is what our plumber recommends. If the stove makes excessive gurgling (water reaches boiling point) or you hear pipes gurgle or bang, reduce this thermostat slowly until it clicks on, then repeat the next day when the noises start.
We just recently bought a Stanley Oisín stove we were not aware that polish coal would not be suitable and stocked up on it we have 8 40kg bags can anyone suggest an alternative for us.
If you want a flaming coal, I suggest trying either a bag of Eco Glow or Union/Lignite Nuggets, both of which are suitable for your stove. Eco Glow has a much longer burn time than Lignite Nuggets, requiring a top-up every 3-6 hours depending on the damper opening. Lignite nuggets produce the most flames, however, only last about 2/3 the burn time. Another good alternative for flames is hardwood or heat logs if you find them reasonably priced. If don’t mind using coal that produces less flames, Eco Stove or Ecobrite has the longest burn time from our experience and requires less glass cleaning.
There is a shortage of Polish coal at the moment with sellers that have stock charging €40+ a 40kg bag, so it’s worth selling it off to recoup the cost. If you burn it in the stove, it will likely blacken the glass within a few hours of lighting and cover the baffles with soot, at least with my past experience burning it in our Stanley Erin. It’s intended for open fireplaces.