Wood burning stoves are certainly one of the 'must haves' of the age. From the tiny croft in Scotland, to the grand Georgian mansion in Chelsea, everyone must have their wood burning stove.
For me, their main asset is that one can light up, then leave the house knowing that the fire is 'contained'; something we could never do with our open fire.
But as far as efficiency is concerned, I have my doubts. Ours, for example, needs to be FILLED with logs before enough heat is generated to notice the difference. Once everything is really hot (this takes at least 20 mins) it works very well. With the old open fire, the heat was almost instantaneous, with a large area of warmth being created within minutes; although probably about 80% of it eventually went skywards.
Another advantage is that a wood burner will burn just about anything. We mostly use Chestnut because it's half the price of oak, but in fact most dry wood will do (except pine).
So, which do I prefer? Well it has to be the stove, and I think the dogs would agree with me; but there was something so nice about a couple of metre-long logs resting on a pair of ancient fire-dogs, and the haunting smell of oak smoke.