It can be quite daunting when you’re looking for a stove for your home. Not only have you got to choose the right shape, style and output, you’re contending with acronyms and regulations that can sometimes send you round in circles.

One of those acronyms you’re likely to come across is DEFRA. Its relation to a stove is quite significant and relatively easy to understand, once somebody explains it. Make yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and relax as we reveal all about DEFRA and its implications for stove buyers.

What is DEFRA?

First things first: DEFRA stands for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a UK government department looking out for the environment, among many other things.

Now, there are parts of the UK, such as London, where you cannot burn smoky fuels, like coal and wood, in an attempt to help improve the air quality. These are called smoke control areas and came about with the Clean Air Acts that followed the Great Smog of December 1952 in London, where some 4,000 people died when a downward draft forced the chimney smoke from factories and homes to linger in the air, forming a dirty and corrosive fog.

The Great Smog of 1952, London
The Great Smog of 1952, London

Can I have a stove in a smoke control area?

Yes. The easiest alternative is to buy an electric or gas stove, which have no emission. However, all is not lost for those living within a smoke control area and wish to burn wood or coal.

There are stoves that are approved to be used in these smoke control areas, that have been tested and reach the approved, safe level of emissions.

A DEFRA approved stove is capable of burning fuels that wouldn’t normally be allowed in the smoke control area, such as wood. Thankfully, due to the stove’s high levels of efficiency, nearly all of the particulates are burnt off, meaning you get more heat from your fuel and a piece of mind knowing you aren’t contributing any dangerous gases to the atmosphere.

What’s the difference between DEFRA approved, exempt, and SE stoves?

When looking for a stove you may encounter many variations of indicating approval. You may come across DEFRA exempt, smoke control exempt (SE) or DEFRA approved. It all means the same thing – you can use the stove in a smoke control area. We list them as DEFRA approved stoves on our website simply to make the process less confusing for our customers.

The Varde Ovne Aura 2 is a DEFRA approved stove
The Varde Ovne Aura 2 is a DEFRA approved stove

Can I use a non-DEFRA approved stove in a smoke control area?

Yes, but it’s not recommended. The alternative available for potential stove owners who live in a smoke control area and are looking at a stove that is not DEFRA approved, is to burn approved, smokeless fuels, such as anthracite or semi-anthracite. If this is the case, you will need to buy a multifuel stove – you must never burn wood.

A list of approved fuels can be found on DEFRA’s website.

Be warned: if you get it wrong and are found to be emitting smoke from your chimney, you could face a fine of up to £1,000, so we’d suggest opting for a DEFRA approved stove where possible.

We have made it easy to find your ideal DEFRA approved stove, take a look at our DEFRA category.

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