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Rayburn 355SFW Info

Hi there,

I wonder if you can give me some help / advice before I make the jump in to the world of rayburn users!

I am looking at the possibility / feasibility of installing a rayburn stove in my semi-detached house in – South Wales. Below is a detailed summary of my current heating / cooking / DHW systems at home, along with current energy consumptions, living / working patterns and any other information that you may need to make an informative reply.

My current installation system:

• Worchester Bosch Highflow Electronic RSF (Room sealed fan assisted) mains gas fuel, non-condensing 24kW Boiler with an efficiency of approx. 78.8% (probably less now as this is the manufacturer figure, the boiler now being 10+ years old)
• The boiler is used for central heating and domestic hot water (DHW)
• No. Radiators Downstairs: 6 (x4 large double convectors – approx. 1400mm x 400mm and x2 single convectors – approx. 1400 x 400mm)
• No. Radiators Upstairs: 6 (x4 single convectors - approx. 1400mm x 400mm and x2 small - approx. 500mm x 500mm)
• Domestic Hot Water: fed from the Worchester Bosch combination boiler with internal storage tank (heat bank)

My current usage –

Please note gas usage:
• These figures are approximated and based upon years 2012/13, on a British Gas Standard tariff (now switched to First Utility for cheaper rates)
• The boiler heating function is used on a timer i.e. 1 hour of heat during the morning, and 4 hours in the evening = total 5 hours per day for x7 days a week from September – March i.e. 7-8 months.
• Since installing (thermostatic radiator valves) TRV’s to every radiator, the boiler is only used to heat occupied rooms i.e. x4 rooms (Bedroom, Bathroom, Childs bedroom and Lounge - Wood burner in kitchen used most evenings to keep kitchen habitable!
• Currently when on, the heating will bring room temps from 14 deg C to 20 deg C, in the 4 hours it is on, but will quickly lose temperature as soon as the heating is turned off (rooms with external walls dropping from 20 deg C to 15 deg C in a few hours!).
• In the next 2 weeks we are having cavity wall insulation fitted so hopefully this will help this situation

Please note electric usage:
• Currently using an electric oven to cook meals nearly every evening for approx. 30 mins each evening
• Oven specification – Electric Hotpoint SHS33XS Single Oven – A rated, 2.4kW, 13 amps
• Other main uses : Fridge freezer, TV, and washing machine, dishwasher (no tumble drier etc)

Annual Gas: 20,000kWh approx. - £1000 per annum
Annual Electric: 3,500kWh approx. - £500 per annum

Total Energy Spend: £1500 per annum or approx. £125 per month

Our House Specification:

• Semidetached house built 1950’s
• Double glazing
• Loft insulation
• Draft proofing where possible
• 8kW multifuel stove (without boiler)
• Cavity wall insulation due to be fitted in next few weeks
• Approx. Floor area = 200m2

Our query:

Both my partner and I would really like a rayburn stove/boiler. Reasons for wanting it:

1) To have the heating on more often than current, i.e. a generally warmer house
2) To be cheaper to run than our current system – although we need to be realistic and expect to pay more if we want our heating on 24/7, lots of hot water, cooking and our house to be ‘cosy’ instead of an ice box, but we are on a tight budget
3) To cook wonderful food!
4) The look and aesthetics of it (more so for my partner i.e. a center piece of the kitchen)
5) To get free fuel as and where I can, i.e. sourcing wood, chopping it, storing it to below 20% Moisture content (I already do this with the current wood burning stoves)

The model we are looking at:

We are looking at the Rayburn 355SFW with a 40,000 Btu/h boiler – in the rayburn specification it says that it will run x8 radiators (it used to say that the boiler was 55,000btu/h and run 12 radiators but have since revised this I see?), and run a DHW tank of 190 litres (40 gallons). Please see the full specs below

Questions for you to answer if possible please:

1) Would the 355 SFW be adequate? If not, what size rayburn would you recommend for our size property or any other makes etc.

2) My partner works three days a week and leaves the house at 7.30am and returns at 4pm (approx. 9 hours without tending to stove for x3 days a week that she works) – will this be feasible? i.e. will the stove stay alight - and house warm? What internal temperatures could we realistically expect to achieve if we ran x8 radiators a full output, and also if we just had the rayburn ticking over (I realise this will depend on the room size so just an approximation would be great)

3) If the appliance is not able to stay alight, is the appliance able to be used for a few days a week during the winter period, i.e. from Thursday evening right through until Tuesday morning when my partner returns to work (she works Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) – or will this constant weekly cycle of being switched on and off be detrimental to the appliance and be too inefficient?

4) We would obviously like to use the stove for cooking as well as DHW and heating – can we realistically do this if she returns from work at 4pm, will the oven be up to temp by 7pm, or maybe is it best to use slow cooked dishes?

5) Will the stove be able to cope with the DHW usage – at present, approx. 1-2 baths a day (I shower at gym!) but could sacrifice on baths and have a shower at home if required?

6) Will the stove be able to cope with the heating demand, i.e. the radiators mentioned above – if not then I am happy only to switch on the radiators in the rooms that we use, i.e. bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and living room?

7) In the summer months we will utilise our electric oven and also keep the current gas boiler installed for the DHW during summer – it seems silly to be running the rayburn during the summer for cooking and small amount of DHW that we will use, is this a common practice for solid fuel users?

Cool Being a mechanical engineer, I am quite handy and will be able to do most of the installation myself, i.e. lining the chimney with a flexible liner, fitting the register plate, fitting the copper pipework for the flow and return boiler pipes, fitting the heating pump, thermostats, copper cylinder, feed and expansion tanks etc. I understand that I will require a HETAS engineer that is qualified for boiler stove installations to check that the work conforms to code. Realistically, what sort of price am I looking at for all the fittings and fixings to install (rough estimate) and what would a professional installer charge for the job?

9) Are there any grants available, i.e. the domestic RHI is coming into action March 2014 – will the rayburn stove be eligible, or eligible for a £2,000 grant? I presume not because it is a solid fuel appliance and not specifically designed for biomass hence the term ‘renewable will go out of the window’. If not – have you had any experience with people getting help from the government ‘green deal’ scheme, i.e. a loan that is paid back through energy savings?

10) The last and most important question; FUEL USAGE - to satisfy my demands mentioned above, realistically how much fuel am I going to need to run this appliance for say 8 or 9 months of the year. I understand that that appliance will not be economically feasible if I was to purchase the wood, hence a good supply of free wood is needed – which I am currently able to meet, but I think this demand will be so great that I will also need to rely on anthracite or solid fuel? I have researched prices local to my area: with seasoned hardwood being approx. £110 per m3 (not willing to pay) and anthracite being approx. £300-350 a ton, what should I expect to burn on a weekly / monthly basis during the coldest months i.e. average temps of 0 deg C, if I was running it on ‘wood only’, ‘anthracite only’ or a ‘mixture of both’.

I would be so grateful if you could answer my ‘burning’ questions. I am really after a straight answer as the last thing we want to do is spend £3,000-£4,000 on a stove, and then pay for installation (£500-£1000), only to find that it is not practical because of lifestyle, and not economically feasible because it will cost an astronomical amount to keep it up to our needs / demands. And have to revert back to our old system?

Many thanks,

Hi and welcome aboard. I don't know the answers to your questions I'm afraid but I've moved your post to 'Energy Efficiency and Construction/Major Projects which seems like the best place for it.
Cheers, Sean

Thank you for moving it. Furst time ever using a forum. Thanks again - i'll await the mass response!!! Hopefully Smile

If you're out all day would wood be feasible?

I had a smallholding in North Wales, we had an oil Rayburn Royale, did a very good job of being the heart of the home.

As you are on gas, can you consider gas? I know there are arguments against fossil fuels I don't know what you think.

Welcome anyway Very Happy

I can't answer the tech questions without a lot of grind and a spreadsheet, I am sure that there are other people who can do that more effectively. However, as someone who has had various heating systems with a variety of shonkey solid fuel appliances, I think as gz says, if you are out all day, keeping it going on wood alone might be an issue.

Sean is probably going to shout 'bingo' if I mention a Dunsley Baker Neutraliser. But it might be worth considering, if you are prepared to change out your combi boiler as you do need to run it with a tank. You could then integrate the gas system with a solid fuel system. We had one in our house in Meifod linking both the oil boiler and the range and solar panels; and once we had it working properly it did a very good job of cutting the fuel bills. The solar kept the water in the tank at an ambient temperature (and very hot in the summer), the range heated it up from that in the winter; and the oil topped us up if we needed it. The radiators were also integrated to the system - solar panels don't do much for them, obviously.

Hope that gives you another angle, and welcome.

Thanks for the reply. I am just weighing up the possibility of using wood as the main source as the wood I get is 100% free and sustainable. The trouble is that I am unsure about what quantity I would require - and based on some responses so far, I am guessing that wood just wouldn't not last the 9 hours that we could potentially be out of the house.

So the two main factors are - if we burn wood - how long will it stay in for? And how often does it need to be topped up. If I have to use anthracite- then how much will I need to use based on my demands stated above? If I am looking at figures of 60 ton of wood per year, (one chap who has a similar model says he burns about a cubic meter per week during peak winter), then realistically I need storage for 120 ton to allow seasoning, and 60 ton is was beyond my guaranteed amount for free and definitely not viable to buy. So back to anthracite dilemma - how much would I have to use for that to sustain my needs, I.e. If It will need more than 2-3 tonne then that's going to cost about £1,000 so once again far too much.

Yes I have a gas supply, but I like the thought of being off the grid, and being able to source my wood fuel for free - although as I have said the amount needed for this rayburn may be way beyond what I can have for free.

Plus I like the fact that I am cooking with wood - it sounds daft, but there is something that makes it feel good!

Thanks all - I hope I get more response to the consumption rates. In the meantime I have found the Esse 990 CH, which in the brochure claims to be able to slumber burn for 24 hours on anthracite, and run for 5 hours on maximum output - I can't find any clear concise literature like that of the rayburn - which suggests that it may be inferior? Who knows? Anyone??? Wink

I used to have a Bosky woodburner..very good, efficient, and with a liftable could lift it up, stick some twigs to burn and have water for a cuppa, fast Cool

I think Mochyn has a modern Esse; but her internet is crummy atm. I will give her a poke on fb to come and have a look at the thread.

Here I am!

Right. Our Rayburn Royal was very old. Never worked very well for us. Our Esse Ironheart we bought a few years ago new.

Both have problems with weather. If they don't like the weather they won't heat up or, sometimes, even light. If the wood is a bit damp they won;t light. If it's a bit breezy they burn through a full box of wood before I get up. It's very difficult to get the oven for either hot enough.

If I had my way (and could live with myself) I'd have a gas cooker.

And if you're looking at anthracite as a fule why not just use gas?

And if you're looking at anthracite as a fule why not just use gas?

Are you channeling Molesworth again?

So it would seem Smile
Nicky Colour it green

I also have a wood fired esse - ironheart

its plumbed into a thermal store, which is also heated via a separate coil by a efficient gas boiler. We also have a spare coil to plumb in solar hot water if and when we get to it. This set up means we have mains pressure potable hot water - handy to fill up pans etc.

Although We are home a lot, we are not always in the house, and light the esse when we are in and feeling cold - makes the kitchen - which is the room we live in most - toasty, and makes lots of hot water and is easy to cook on

I don't find it hard to light or get hot at all - so I guess that comes down to how good the draw on your chimneys are. I can get it from unloaded and cold to frying on the hot plate in 20 minutes. Can easily get it hot enough to roast spuds on.

Other esse ironheart owners keep the fire in all night keeping the house warm and making hot water for the CH, but we don't, and allow ourselves to use the gas boiler for the times we are not in for long etc.

Previously we had a gas rayburn and the bills were killing us, even with letting it out in summer. We were going to go for a woodfired rayburn but liked the idea of being able to see the fire - and we haven't regretted the esse once - its just fab.

We haven't had the esse for a year yet, but over the winter months our gas bills are halved, and the house is a lot warmer.

Here I am!

Right. Our Rayburn Royal was very old. Never worked very well for us. Our Esse Ironheart we bought a few years ago new.

Both have problems with weather. If they don't like the weather they won't heat up or, sometimes, even light. If the wood is a bit damp they won;t light. If it's a bit breezy they burn through a full box of wood before I get up. It's very difficult to get the oven for either hot enough.

If I had my way (and could live with myself) I'd have a gas cooker.

Many thanks for the reply. We did look at the esse ironheart. I think they are a particulary nice looking stove but a bit small for our needs. With it only being 2.6kW to water and 8 kW to space and once again you may be forgetting that it would be left for 9 hours a day three times a week. I can lay my hands on about 10-15 cubic metres of wood a year so hence why I dont want to go down the gas route. Plus As mentioned above - i like the whole feel of burning wood i have locally sourced and felled for free!

The reason why I was thinking of anthracite is perhaps because it coild help me out for over night burning???

I love the idea of a thermal store but what sort of money are you looking at for parts and labour to fit, on top of a £5,000 stove.

It seems to be somewhat of a luxury unless you have an endless free supply of wood.

Thanks for all the replies - bit what I need to know is consumption - how many tonnes, how many cubic metres of anthracite / wood are you guys using, and what size is your system? How is it set up etc.

Many thanks once again
Ty Gwyn

To be honest Jones,you are expecting a lot of performance from very little fuel.
It does`nt sound as if you have had a coal fire before by the questions on consumption,
An open fire would use 2 cwt per week,OK you could have a back boiler for hot water,say 1/2 ton per month to be sure=6 ton per year,

For a rayburn to cook on,supply hot water and central heating,it will be on full power for a good spell,Full Power = More fuel,
But of course you can supplement with wood when you are at home,so reducing your coal bill.
little blue duck

we have just had a Rayburn Royal MF (the older version of the SFW) fitted.
She ("Betty") runs 7 radiators, hot water & fabulous cooking facilities.

We can shut her down with a few mini-shovels of eco-coal and sometimes some logs on at night & just "riddle," open up her "flaps" and chuck on another shovel or three at 6am when I get up and she runs all night & day if its cold enough!
We use logs in the day eg for cooking.

You need a HETAS registered engineer to certify chimney work, plus any fitting bits - some won't do plumbing, or electrical work (pumps etc) so be sure you know what you need somebody else to do and get decent quotes. I think the certification on its own is £80-100, but I could be mistaken. We had quotes that were thousands of pounds different, so be aware!

And if you're buying second-hand - for goodness sake have a back up fund!! We've had to have a replacement boiler & new fire bricks (the ones it came with were wrong, possibly to disguise the boiler leak) plus fittings - hob screws, caps, insulation.
At least now we know how long the boiler is guaranteed for - and we're lucky enough to live close enough to a foundry (if that's the right word!) that make them for Rayburn - so a quick turnaround!
john of wessex

I've got what was a 3 bed - now extended 1963 built house.

I put - well had put a 5kw Morso Squirrel which also heats the hot water.

We have cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, double glazing, solar hot water & solar PV

gas bills are about 2000kw pa

We still have a gas boiler & radiators but rarely use them

Quite frankly I would be cagey about a rayburn - my experience is that unless its very cold the Morso heats most of the house just by convection - the chimney breast & Heatstore keep upstairs tolerable

I think that cooking on a woodburner especially if you have mains gas/electric is making life rather difficult for yourself.

If you want to PM me, I would be quite happy to talk on the phine

We had a 355 fitted a couple of years ago in our 3 bed bungalow (about 1400sq ft). It ran 5 rads , hot water and underfloor heating for an area of about 160 sq ft via a thermal store. We used it for approx 6months of the year

We ran it on wood during the day and anthracite - type fuel overnight and when it was very cold.
It used about £650 of anthracite each winter and 400cu ft of wood.

When running on wood it needed refuelling every 1 1/2 - 2 hrs so if you wanted to keep it in when you are both at work you will have to use anthracite.

As to whether it will stay in for 9 hours on just wood fuel that will very much depend on the draw on your chimney.
Stoves on some sites will suck more air than the same stove somewhere else & burn fuel faster.
With my old MF I have no problem keeping the fire in all night, if I use large well seasoned logs before I go to bed. Some mornings there are just a few embers left so it takes a while to get a kettle boiling after rekindling, but I rarely wake up to a cold kitchen.
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