There's something undeniably idyllic about chugging along the tranquil waterways of a canal. But let's face it, all that serene water surrounding you can also act as a powerful heat sink, leaving you yearning for warmth on those chilly evenings.

Fear not, fellow canal enthusiasts! This guide will equip you with the knowledge to install a toasty solid fuel stove and its trusty companion, the chimney flue, on your canal boat. So, let's get your narrowboat ready to embrace all seasons!

Key Takeaways

  • Choose a stove that meets safety standards and regulations (BS 8511:2010) and consider factors like clearances from flammable materials and ventilation.
  • Twin-wall insulated flue system is a must for efficient performance and safety in narrowboats.
  • Install CO detectors, smoke detectors, and consider getting Building Regulations approval for complex installations.
  • Prepare a stable and fire-resistant hearth using marine-grade plywood, insulation board, and sheet metal.
  • Professional help is recommended for cutting the roof penetration for the flue.
  • Regular maintenance is crucial for safe and efficient operation. Schedule annual flue sweeping and check the system for damage.
  • Store fuel properly, maintain ventilation, never leave a lit stove unattended, and ensure proper extinguishment before leaving the boat.

Installing a Narrow Boat Stove: Planning & Preparation

Meticulous planning is paramount for a safe installation of a boat stove. Here's what you need to consider:

  1. Stove Selection: Choose a stove that adheres to the British Standard BS 8511:2010 for solid fuel burning appliances on board vessels. Opt for a "narrowboat specific" model designed for the limited space and weight restrictions.
  2. Flue System: A twin-wall insulated flue system is mandatory in the UK for narrowboat installations. It ensures efficient performance, prevents overheating of surrounding surfaces, and complies with safety regulations.
  3. Location & Clearances: Carefully select a location for the stove, keeping in mind clearances from flammable materials like curtains, furniture, and the boat's hull. Refer to the stove manufacturer's guidelines for specific minimum clearances.
  4. Flue Route: Plan the flue route, ensuring a straight ascent with minimal bends. Check for any obstructions in the way, such as beams or ventilation systems.
  5. Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is crucial for proper stove operation and carbon monoxide (CO) safety. Identify existing ventilation points or plan for additional inlets if needed.

How to Check Your Canal Boat’s Ventilation?

Ventilation is a vital aspect to consider. Solid fuel stoves require a good supply of fresh air for efficient combustion and, more importantly, to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Here's how to assess your boat's ventilation:

  • Existing Vents: Identify any existing ventilation points like hatches, vents, or air bricks.
  • Air Flow Assessment: If your current ventilation seems limited, open a hatch or window slightly while operating the stove to gauge air flow. Ideally, the flame should burn steadily without flickering. This indicates sufficient air intake. If the flame flickers or appears sluggish, you'll likely need to increase ventilation.
  • Calculating Air Vent Size: A simple formula can help you estimate the minimum required ventilation area (VA) for your stove. While consulting a qualified professional for specific recommendations is highly advisable, this formula provides a starting point:

VA (cm²) = (P x F x 1.3) / 22.5


  • VA = Minimum ventilation area in square centimetres (cm²)
  • P = Rated stove power output in kilowatts (kW) (refer to the stove's specifications)
  • F = Factor based on fuel type (use 5 for wood and solid fuels)
  • 1.3 = Safety factor
  • 22.5 = Conversion factor from kW to cm²/s (assuming a standard air velocity of 0.15 m/s)


Let's say your stove has a rated power output of 3 kW and you'll be using wood as fuel.

VA = (3 kW x 5 x 1.3) / 22.5

VA ≈ 8.67 cm²

This calculation suggests you'll need a minimum ventilation area of approximately 8.67 cm². Remember, this is just an estimate, and a qualified professional can help you determine the exact ventilation requirements for your specific boat and stove setup.

  • Additional Vents: If insufficient air flow is evident, consider installing additional air inlets, strategically placed near the stove. Consult a qualified professional for advice on the proper placement and size of these additional vents.

Safety First: Regulations & Considerations

Before we dive into the installation process, let's address some crucial safety aspects. Understanding these regulations and considerations will ensure your cosy canal boat remains a haven of warmth, not hazards.

  • Building Regulations Approval: While not always mandatory, consulting a qualified person and obtaining Building Regulations approval is highly recommended for complex installations or significant alterations.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors: Install CO detectors in your narrowboat for early detection of this potentially fatal gas.
  • Smoke & Heat Detectors: Smoke and heat detectors are essential additions for overall fire safety.
  • Gas Safe Register Engineer: If your stove uses LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), ensure a Gas Safe Register engineer carries out the gas connection.

What Chimney Flue to Choose for Stove Installation?

Choosing the right flue is crucial for efficient operation, safety, and compliance with regulations. Here's what to consider:

  • Twin-wall insulated flue: As mentioned earlier, this is the mandatory choice for canal boats in the UK. The double-wall construction provides excellent thermal insulation, preventing excessive heat transfer to surrounding surfaces and ensuring proper draft.
  • Flue diameter: Match the flue diameter to your stove's specifications. Using the wrong diameter can affect draft, leading to performance issues and potential safety hazards. Consult your stove's manual or manufacturer for the recommended flue diameter.
  • Flue length: Ideally, aim for a straight flue with minimal bends. Long flue runs may require additional support to maintain rigidity. Flue length can also impact draft, so consult a qualified professional or check our flue sizing guide if unsure about the optimal length for your setup.
  • Flue material: Stainless steel is the most common and recommended material for canal boat flues due to its durability, corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand high temperatures.

Materials & Tools Checklist

  • Stove (BS 8511:2010 compliant)
  • Twin-wall insulated flue pipe (appropriate diameter and length)
  • Flue bends (if necessary)
  • Roof exit flashing kit (designed for narrowboats)
  • High-temperature silicone sealant
  • Fire cement
  • Marine-grade plywood (for hearth base)
  • Non-combustible insulation board (for hearth)
  • Sheet metal (for hearth surround)
  • Rivets
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Jigsaw or hole saw
  • Screwdrivers
  • Spirit level
  • Metal snips

How to Install a Canal Boat Stove: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you've planned meticulously and gathered everything you need, it's time to transform your canal boat into a haven of warmth! Here’s the installation process - remember, safety remains paramount, so follow these instructions carefully.

1. Building a Solid Foundation: The Hearth

  • Create a stable and level base for your stove using fire-resistant materials.
  • Cut a piece of marine-grade plywood to fit the desired hearth size, as per the table below.
  • Place a layer of non-combustible insulation board on top of the plywood base.
  • Encase the entire hearth (base, sides, and back) with sheet metal, securing it with rivets.

Hearth Size Requirements (as per BS EN 13240:2001+A2:2014)

Stove Width (mm) Minimum Hearth Depth (mm) Minimum Hearth Width (mm) Minimum Distance to Combustible Material (mm)
< 300




300 - 500




> 500




2. Flue Installation

  • Cut the roof penetration: This is a critical step and should ideally be completed by a qualified professional with experience in narrowboat modifications.
  • Fit the flue system: Begin by assembling the flue pipe sections using fire cement at all joints. Ensure the socket ends face upwards.
  • Connect to the stove: Secure the flue pipe to the stove flue outlet using the provided clamps or brackets.
  • Route the flue: Carefully guide the flue pipe through the designated roof penetration, ensuring a good fit with the roof flashing kit.
  • Install roof flashing: Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the roof flashing kit to create a weatherproof seal around the flue pipe.

3. Stove Installation

  • Position the stove: Carefully manoeuvre the stove onto the prepared hearth, ensuring it's levelled and stable.
  • Connect the flue: Secure the final flue section to the flue pipe running through the roof.
  • Add final touches: Apply high-temperature silicone sealant around any gaps or connections to ensure a proper seal.

Testing & Commissioning

Before enjoying the warmth of your new stove, a thorough testing and commissioning process is crucial:

  • Inspect the flue system: Double-check all flue connections, ensuring proper sealing and clearances.
  • Carry a smoke test: Conduct a smoke test with a smoke pellet to verify proper flue draw and identify any leaks.
  • Carry a CO alarm test: Ensure your CO detectors are functioning correctly.

Keep Your Canal Boat Wood Burner Safe & Efficient

Regular maintenance is vital for the safe and efficient operation of your narrowboat stove:

  • Sweep the flue regularly: Schedule annual flue sweeping by a qualified professional to remove soot buildup and ensure proper venting.
  • Inspect the flue system: Regularly check the flue system and stove for any signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Replace the gasket: Replace stove door gaskets periodically to maintain a proper seal.

Additional Considerations & Top Tips

Once your stove and flue are up and running, you can truly enjoy the cosiness they bring. But to ensure smooth sailing on your canal adventures, here are some additional tips and considerations to keep your stove operating efficiently and safely.

  • Keep the fuel stored properly: Ensure safe and secure storage for your chosen fuel type (wood, coal, LPG).
  • Ventilate: Maintain adequate ventilation during stove operation. Open hatches or windows slightly to allow fresh air intake.
  • Don’t leave the boat unattended: Never leave a lit stove unattended on your narrowboat.
  • Remember about extinguishment: Always ensure the stove fire is properly extinguished before leaving the boat.

The Bottom Line

By following these steps and adhering to safety regulations, you can successfully install a stove and chimney flue on your narrowboat. This cosy addition will transform your narrowboat into a comfortable haven during the cooler months, allowing you to fully embrace the waterways year-round.

If you need professional advice on installing a stove and chimney flue, our team of experts at can answer your questions, and recommend the perfect flue for your canal boat setup. Don’t hesitate to contact us!