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Review of HearthStone --- Bennington (Cast Iron) -- Freestanding Stove burning Wood only

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Review of HearthStone --- Bennington (Cast Iron) -- 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): 500 | House Size (Sq feet): 2500
Bought in 0000 , Price Paid: $3300
Location : Pekin, IL 61554, Cetral IL
Purchased from: Fireplace Retail Store - The Stove Shop

Likes:

Dislikes:

Comments: HearthStone Bennington Stove.
Purchased Jan 04. $3300 with tax and bower
Cast Iron (double wall)
Enamel finish
Blower fan option
Living in Central Illinois
Re-burn secondary air for efficiency (not catalytic)

This is our first cast iron stove. All past stoves have been steel.

I like the look of this stove. Ornate with a “parlor stove” look.

LIKES –
1.) Looks – ornate, enamel mocha brown
2.) Large Firebox
3.) Front loading and side load – both. We mostly use side load.
4.) Even heating – does not drive you out of the room. This can be a negative also. I like the intense heat of steel stoves in some situation. If you want heat fast, this cast iron does not have the intense heat you may want in a cold house or very cold temps. But the heat still radiates out of this stove for hours after the fire is out (large mass with good heat retension)
5.) Large viewing windows (double glass doors) in front. They also stays very clean if hot fires are used intermittently.
6.) Fairly efficient, with average burn times. The burn times are a lot less than the manufacture advertises, however. But then again, have you ever had a stove that does burn as long as advertised?!!??

DISLIKES –
1.) Does not draw as well as the steel stoves we’ve had. I would call it a little “temperamental”. Have to “baby” this on a little more when first lighting to get it drawing and burning the way we want. After the fire is burning, seems that if you don’t add wood at the right time and the BTU’s are falling off, the stove is very slow to respond and come back up to higher output. The new fuel added to the fire takes BTU’s from the fire and the BTU’s fall even faster and takes forever to get back up to a hot burn. Need to add wood while the fire is hot to keep sustained BTU’s up. Operates best with a hot fire. Slower, cooler fires have less draw and heat output drops rapidly. With trial and error we have gotten the hang of it and are better able to make it perform the way we want. Just not as user friendly as other steel stoves we have had in the past.
2.) Air Damper – only single foot pedal control that adjusts primary and secondary combustion air. I wish it had separate dampers for primary and secondary air. Then you could “tweak” the flame the way you want.
3.) Blower option – poor design in my opinion. Does not make good use of blowing air over top of stove. Lots of air escapes out the top where the chimney leaves the back of the stove. Bottom line is that the blower does not increase heat output into the room as much as it could if designed better. Kind of seems like the blower was an after thought.
4.) Owner’s manual says that since it is cast iron, you need to “season” the stove with smaller, cooler fires when first used – to avoid thermal stress or cracking. I can understand that when you initially break the stove in. But the manual says that if the stove has been cold for several days, another seasoning fire should be built. I don’t want to build a seasoning fire every time I have had the stove idle for a week or so!!! Sounds like a major disadvantage of this particular design.
5.) Heat Output – it is adequate for our needs, but like another rating someone else wrote, it is not nearly as high as what the manufacture advertises!
6.) Ash Pan – Very small not well designed. I don’t even use it. I just use a scoop to remove ashes directly from the fire box. That works much better than the ash pan.

Overall, this stove is satisfactory. I got it to fill a particular, ornate look we wanted for a rustic sunroom with a brick floor. It’s appearance fit perfectly and looks GREAT. Operationally, however, it is not the best performing stove we have had. I’d rather have a steel stove, but they are not as nice looking.

We also have a corn burning Harmon PC-45 corn/pellet stove (see my other write-up). We use the corn stove as our primary heater and this HearthStone Bennington as a weekend/real cold night augmenting heat. Works great for that. But I am glad it is not our SOLE burning appliance!

If you want to contact me – email: 60745@myswa.com or call 309-648-7847 and I’ll be glad to provide more info! – Dan written Apr 2004


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