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Review of Vermont Castings --- Encore -- Freestanding Stove burning Wood only

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Review of Vermont Castings --- Encore -- Freestanding Stove burning Wood only
Installation Type: Wood/Coal - Freestanding into metal Chimney
Date Reviewed: prior to Nov. 2004*)

Satisfaction Ratings from 5 stars (best) to 1 star (worst)
Satisfaction with unit = ✰✰✰✰✰
Satisfaction with dealer = ✰✰✰✰
Satisfaction with manufacturer = ✰✰✰✰

Other Information about the Home and Stove
Room Size (Sq ft): 750 | House Size (Sq feet): 1400+
Bought in 0000 , Price Paid: 2003, $1699 plus
Location : Golden, CO 80401,
Purchased from: Fireplace Retail Store - Energy Experts, Evergreen, CO

Likes: The best feature is that the stove warms up the house (our main living area of dining, living room and kitchen, approx. 750 sq ft) without us having to rely on our lousy forced hot air propane heat (which is so expensive!). We live in a VERY leaky log house (the furthest thing from airtight-- we can see daylight in a few cracks here and there-- but we're working on caulking it). On a 28 degree day (today ;-)) the stove is running alone, without the heat going on as a back-up, and our main living area is 68 degrees! I suspect we'll recoup the costs of this whole project (including labor for installation, a glass heart pad, all the parts, etc.) in about 2 seasons.
Well worth it for 2 people who have frozen every winter for 7 months (at 8600 feet) and paid out the nose for propane.

The top loading feature on this stove makes life so easy. It's most convenient for placing a log on the fire (once the fire is already going). I cannot imagine having to open a front or side door on a stove and trying to maneuver the logs around inside the stove.

Aesthetics. This is a pretty stove. It's more traditional in styling than some of the others we initially thought of buying (eg - Scan, Morso, etc).

I think the catalytic combustor will prove to be a plus. We were skeptical about getting one because we were afraid of having to replace often because we're running the stove as our primary source of heat. But I have read that if the stove is going 24X7 all winter you'll have to replace it every 4-5 years (of course, it requires inspection and some cleaning for soot build-up every 60 days or so). It makes us feel good that we are doing our part for the environment. A catalytic combustor burns the woodsmoke (which normally would escape from the chimney and contains soot, free hydrogen, carbon monoxide and other organic materials) and instead releases carbon dioxide and steam. Do your research on cat vs. non-cat though.

Dislikes: No deal breakers here, just a couple of nuisances: 1) I find the knob on the stove's top loading grill a bit small to handle. 2) the damper bypass, grill knob and air control knob all get very hot when you're running a 500+ degree fire (no kidding!?!). My advise is to get gloves. 3) Haven't figured out how to keep the glass clean (we've been running this puppy for 2+ weeks now). They say the soot build burns off in hot fires, but I have not found that to be the case. I cleaned them once with a special wood stove glass cleaner which restored them to their original state, but it required some elbow grease to get it off. 4) The fire/stove maintenance is a double-edged sword. It's fun to build fires and get them going, but I can see it being a little bit of a pain to keep up with cutting/buying wood, keeping the stove/chimney/living area cleaned and maintained. Like anything it's a slight lifestyle adjustment.

Comments:

* Dates that reviews were submitted were not recorded prior to Nov. 2004