Can I use my stove with the door open?

The Importance of Keeping Stove Doors Closed:

Wood Burning Stoves are known for their superior efficiency compared to regular open fires, but surely you can have the best of both worlds by having a stove installed and running it with the doors open? In this blog post, we will explain the differences between a closed wood stove and a conventional open fire and why using your stove with the door open is not only is bad for the environment, it is also bad for your wallet.

Stoves & Open Fires The Differences:

While a woodburning stove and an open wood fire are both types of heating systems that use wood as fuel, they differ in terms of design, efficiency, and safety. Here are some key differences between the two:

1. Design: A woodburning stove is a self-contained unit made of cast iron or steel, designed specifically for heating purposes. It has a closed firebox with a door and a chimney or flue system to direct the smoke outside. On the other hand, an open wood fire typically consists of a firebox or hearth built into a wall or fireplace, with an open front and a chimney above.

woodburner with doors open
Double Door Woodburner with doors open

2. Efficiency: Woodburning stoves are known for their high efficiency. They are designed to burn wood at a controlled rate, maximizing heat output while minimizing the amount of smoke and particulate matter released into the environment. The closed design of a stove allows for better heat retention, and most stoves have features like air controls and secondary combustion chambers that enhance efficiency. In contrast, open wood fires are less efficient because a significant amount of heat escapes through the open front and up the chimney.

3. Heat Output: Woodburning stoves are designed to provide a concentrated and controlled heat output. The closed design allows the stove to radiate heat into the room more effectively, and some stoves have built-in fans to distribute heat further. Open wood fires, while they can provide warmth, tend to generate more radiant heat that primarily warms the immediate vicinity rather than spreading throughout the room.

stovax regency
Stovax Regency Wood Stove

4. Safety: Woodburning stoves are generally considered safer than open wood fires. The closed design of a stove helps contain sparks and embers, reducing the risk of accidental fires. Stoves are also equipped with doors and heat-resistant glass, preventing direct contact with the fire and minimizing the risk of burns. Open wood fires, on the other hand, pose a higher risk of sparks and embers escaping the firebox and potentially causing accidents or igniting nearby objects.

5. Environmental Impact: Woodburning stoves are designed to be more environmentally friendly compared to open wood fires. Stoves typically have better combustion systems, which results in more efficient burning and reduced emissions. This means that less smoke, particulate matter, and pollutants are released into the atmosphere. Open wood fires tend to produce more smoke and emissions due to the less controlled combustion process.

6. Air Supply: Open fires require additional room ventilation such as an airbrick installed in the room for them to work. Stoves less than 5kW often do not based on several factors including room size and level of insulation. So, if you install a 5kW stove and run it with the doors open, then you will be consuming more air than there is a provision for in the room.

Ecosy panoramic slimline
Ecosy+ Panoramic Slimline
wood stove door open
Contemporary Stove being reloaded

Chimney Challenges:

One of the main differences between having a stove and an open fire are the chimney requirements. Open fires in the UK need a minimum 200mm (8″) diameter in most cases (larger in some fireplaces) to ensure that an adequate draw is present to remove all of the smoke produced from the wood up the chimney and out of the room.

By contrast a UK woodburning stove can be operated on as little as a 125mm (5″) diameter, due to the regulation of the air entering the firebox. This has liberated stoves from being placed into pre-existing chimneys leading to a revolution in the design of woodburners. The trade-off of having a reduced chimney however, is that they are now not designed to be used with the doors open.

Benefits of Closed Doors:

Modern stoves often feature beautiful, panoramic views of the flames, allowing you to enjoy the aesthetic appeal of an open fire without compromising efficiency. Therefore, there is no valid reason to operate a stove with the door open and doing so will significant increase the likelihood of smoke coming back into the room.
Clock Blithfield 5kW Blue Brass
Clock Blithfield 5kW Multifuel Stove

Controlled Airflow:

The design of stove doors serves a specific purpose – regulating the amount of air that enters the fire. As the stove body heats up, it radiates warmth into the room. Many people believe that by leaving the doors open they will experience more heat. While there is some truth in this, the negatives outweigh this perception of more heat.

  • Yes, directly infront of the fire will be hotter, as long as you keep loading in the wood, which you will have to do more often with the doors are open as the fuel will burn much faster with unrestricted oxygen supplies.
  • The risk of smoke coming back into the room increases significantly compared to keeping the doors closed, an opening them once an hour to reload.
  • There is a high chance that you will over-fire your stove which goes against the manufactures instructions and will likely void the stoves warranty.
  • The heat produced is less likely to radiate out and warm the room as effectively as it would if you leave the doors closed and allow an adequate amount of time.

Manufacturer Recommendations:

Stoves offer superior control capabilities, surpassing those of open fires, making them highly effective and efficient at heating your space. However, it is crucial to understand that this efficiency is achieved only when the stove doors are kept closed. Stove manufacturers thoroughly test and approve their products with the doors closed. Therefore, it is important to follow these guidelines to ensure safe and optimal usage of your stove.
Rocal G450 2
Rocal G450 Built-in Guilotine Door Woodburning Fireplace


There are however a few stoves that we know of that are designed to be used with the doors open. These products in most cases have been designed to mitigate smoke coming back into the room and overfiring as a result of the door being left open (always check the manufactures manual for clarification before purchasing a product you intend to use with the door open).

Guillotine Door Stoves – these are effectively glass fronted open fires, however with the vertical door down they work just like a stove, but lift the door up and you have an open fire. Many guillotine door built-in stoves require larger 200mm -300mm diameter chimneys, which is how they can function with the doors open. However, some have auto close doors so worth checking the specific model to ensure the glass door will stay up when opened.

Historic Models- The Stovax Regency, or Franklin style stoves that have bi-folding doors. Similarly Dovre and Jotul have historically made models like this and all run on larger diameter chimneys to ensure adequate draught. However with new regulations on the way in 2022 it is unclear if these stoves will still be available going forward.


To maximise the efficiency and performance of your stove, it is crucial to keep the doors closed during operation. The controlled airflow and heat retention provided by closed doors ensure that your stove operates as intended. It’s also worth noting that local regulations and building codes may impose restrictions on the installation and use of woodburning stoves and open fires, so it’s important to check with local authorities before making a choice. By adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can enjoy the benefits of a woodburning stove while efficiently heating your room.
rocal oval with foot
91% Efficiency - Rocal Oval

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