A Detailed Comparison of Clearview Vision 500 / Pioneer 400 vs Contura 51L woodburning stoves

I’m a massive fan of Clearview Stoves.  They are build like tanks, are easy to use, controllable and crucially the glass at the front always stays clear.   My parents have had a Clearview stove for a long as I can remember and I had one put into our last house.  We used it for 4 years and loved it.

cleaview-vision-vs-contura-51lThe Clearview Vision 500 vs Contura 51l

We recently moved house and it didn’t have a wood burning stove.  I wanted to put one in.  The natural option would have been to put in a Clearview Pioneer 400 or a Vision 500 but our new house is quite modern and the Clearview’s has very traditional appearances.  If you talk to a woodburning stove sales person, they always say  ‘every stove now has the same system as the Clearview and the glass always stays clean…’.   I know this isn’t true because I have a number of friends and relatives with a variety of brands which don’t burn cleanly.  So, I did lots of research and I found the Contura 51L (Note: This stove used to be known as a Handol 51l).  It has got hardly any reviews online but most say it’s excellent and after much deliberation we decided to go with this stove.

Now after using the Contura 51l for a little while, I thought I would write a direct and detailed comparisons of Contura and Clearview  to help someone else make the decision.  I will keep updating this post with additional comments as I use the Contura stove.

Glass Cleanliness – Both the Contura 51l and Clearview stoves have similar levels of glass cleanness.   The Clearview used to ‘mist’ up slightly around the corners when shutdown really low (for example when wanting to keep the stove running overnight).   This misting would clear as soon as the stove was fired up again. The Contura doesn’t seem to do this.  The Contura glass does get slightly dustier than the Clearview and so I tend to wipe the glass every 2 weeks (burning each night).

Ease of lighting – Both stoves are easy to light.  I found the fastest way of lighting both stoves is to load them up with paper and kindling.  Then put a log on the top and light the paper.  I tend to leave the door open a tiny bit so that the air is drawn into the stove really fast which quickly grows the flames.  Once the log is burning nicely then I would close the front door properly.  The Contura door lock is actually designed to do this while the Clearview isn’t.

Build quality – The Clearview and Contura have similar build quality.  The Contura is mostly cast iron.  The Clearview is made of heavy steel with a cast door.  The Contura has a slightly smoother finish than the Clearview and feels less agricultural.  The details on the Contura are more refined.  For example – the air flow control slider at the bottom of the Contura run smoothly while the Clearview air venting handle grates a little as you pull it back and forth.  Contura are a very large company mostly making sheet steel stoves for the continental European market.  You can see a video on their factory here.

Handle and Door – The Clearview has a handle on front left hand side.  The Contura handle is on the right side.   The Clearview handle is not removable.  The Contura is optionally removable.  Both get hot.  I have kept my Contura’s handle fixed because I don’t want to loose it or scratch it.


The Contura stove handle is fitted on delivery. To make the handle removable, replace the screw for the lock hook with the shorter screw supplied

There are two main differences between the two doors:

  1. Contura door is sprung loaded which means it tries to close all the time while it is open which means it’s a two handed operation loading and generally messing with the fire.  The Clearview door isn’t sprung loaded and can be left open which is much more convenient.
  2. The Clearview handle locking mechanism is a little more agricultural than the Contura.  The Clearview handle is on a screw and you can vary the door tightness but unwinding the handle. It’s quite easy to accidentally over or under tighten the door. On the odd occasion, when the Clearview is really hot, I could barely open the door and had to use a log to bang the handle open.  The Contura door handles isn’t adjustable and works slightly more smoothly.

Installation – The Contura 51l is rated at between 3-7kw with a nominal output of 5Kw.   This means that you can install the Contura 51l without an air vent but you can run the stove up to 7kw.  This is a bit of number fiddling on Contura’s part.  Our house isn’t very well sealed and so I wasn’t worry about not having a vent.  If you choose the Clearview Pioneer 400 then it doesn’t need an air vent but can only reach 5kw.  If you choose a Clearview Vision 500 then you need an air vent but can’t achieve 8kw.

Multi fuel – Clearview stoves are multifuel while the Contura 51l isn’t.   This wasn’t a problem for us because we only like to burn wood.    If you really want to burn coal then you would need a Clearview.  However, you should be aware that the sulfur in coal can damage our your chimney lining.

Log Size – The Clearview Vision 500 has the best of log length at 380mm.  This is closely followed by the Contura 51l with a maximum log length of 350mm.

  1. Clearview Vision 500 Max Log Size – 38cm (15”) approx
  2. Contura 51l Max Log Size –  35cm (14″) approx
  3. Clearview Pioneer 400 – 25cm (10”) approx.

Viewing – The Contura 51l has the largest viewing windows and is about 20% larger than the Clearview Vision 500 and 50% larger than the Clearview Pioneer 400.  Here the rough measurements.

  1. Contura 51l window size – 29 cm (12″) wide by 33cm (13″) high
  2. Clearview Vision 500 – 34 cm (13 1/2″) wide by  24 cm (10)” high
  3. Pioneer 400 Window Size – 26 cm (10 1/4″) wide by 24 cm (9 1/2″) high

Cleaning out the ash – I found the Clearview stove easier to keep clean.  The Contura seems slightly harder to clean out because ash can build up on the front ledge of the stove.  I have found the best way of clearing off the front edge is to pull the ash tray out a little bit then sweep the front edge directly into the ash tray.

Price – Both of these stoves are at the upper end of the market.  The Contura 51l is roughly £200 cheaper (15%) than the Clearview.


The Contura 51L is an excellent alternative to a Clearview stove and having used a Contura – won’t be going back to Clearview.  If you are a Clearview convert but need something more modern then the Contura 51l is the stove for you.  It would seem sensible for Clearview to produce a more modern range using their stove technology to avoid losing sales to their competition.

I hope their helps someone. Please leave a comment if you want more detailed info or have feedback.

6 thoughts on “A Detailed Comparison of Clearview Vision 500 / Pioneer 400 vs Contura 51L woodburning stoves

  1. The current Contura 51L although shown as 5kw is rated up to 7kw and the Clearview 5kw so how can you compare the two.

    1. You don’t just buy a stove based on the rating. You look at cleanness, viewing angle, style, door systems etc etc. In any case, the Contura nominally runs at 5kw and can we stretched to 7kw which nicely covers both clearview products.

  2. Thanks for such a helpful comparison. We have two clear view pioneer 400s and are very loath to “downgrade” to anything else. However we need a modern cassette stove and in view of your comparison think we might have found the solution we are looking for.

    1. Great. I’m so pleased this post was useful to you. You won’t regret getting a Contura 51L – it really is a Clearview for the 21st Century 🙂

  3. Hi Thanks for your clear and detailed review. Just wondering why, if the Contura cannot burn coal as you say, does the picture above show it burning coal? 🙂

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