There are many things to consider when choosing a stove. Quality issues are of course important and this is one of the reasons that What stove stove reviews should be useful.
Perhaps you want some cosy secondary heating. Here the look of the stove will be very important, with as large a view of the flames as possible.
Maybe rising fuel prices are making you think of heating your whole house with wood using a stove with a backboiler. One of the main considerations here will then be what sort of output the stove has. Remember to ask your supplier what the max output is – only the nominal outputs are now listed and these figures are usually useless because of flaws in the way the test is done – so ask a stove expert about sizing your stove.
Some people will want a range cooker stove that you can cook on, with an oven and the ability to provide hot water.
If you like in a smoke control area (most UK cities) and would like to heat with wood you will need to choose a stove approved for burning wood in smokeless zones.
Stoves are generally traditional looking. You may want a stove which is rectangular and fairly low; a contemporary and tall stove with a very large window; or a stove that is somewhere in between.
A multifuel stove has a grate which means you can burn coal or wood. A dedicated woodburning stove will generally not have a grate because wood burns best on a bed of ash. A dedicated woodburner will generally burn wood more efficiently than a multifuel stove although this is not always true.
Remember that coal is a fossil fuel – burning coal results in the release of a lot of CO2 which drives climate change – the responsible choice if practical would be to choose a dedicated woodburner so you are not tempted to burn coal.
Historically steel was once a poor material for stove manufacture so you would end up with warped steel stoves. However steel quality has now greatly improved so there really is not that much in it anymore. In some cases cast iron stoves are built more heavily than steel stoves and may have the quality edge.
As with many other things you do generally get what you pay for with a stove. There are some bargains to be had but in general the more you pay the better the stove. When you set your stove budget do remember that you are also likely to need to spend out on flue pipe and possibly flue liner and insulation – this can often come to as much as the cost of the stove.