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Review of Vermont Castings --- WinterWarm Large Model 1280 -- Fireplace Inserted Stove burning Wood only

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Review of Vermont Castings --- WinterWarm Large Model 1280 -- Fireplace Inserted Stove burning Wood only
Installation Type: Wood/Coal - into masonry chimney
Date Reviewed: 2011-02-03 16:55:01

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): 230 | House Size (Sq feet): 2100
Bought in 1996 , Price Paid: 1300
Location : New Holland, PA 17557, usa
Purchased from: Fireplace Retail Store - Bowman's Stove Shop, Ephrata PA

Likes: Very attractive unit, very good heat output, fairly easy maintenance for a skilled DIYer.

Dislikes: Poor instruction manual. Newer, better manual is available now on VC web-site. Fans are a bit noisy on higher speeds.

Comments: I purchased the WinterWarm Large 1280 in 1990.

The WinterWarm is installed in the center of the house in a hearth designed for this insert -- the house and heat pump system was built around a central wood stove. A 6x9 foot block chimney carries the Winterwarm flue and heat pump return air channel in an adjacent run so that flue heat warms the return air to the air handler in the basement. Most of the stone covered, block chimney is inside the house (up to cathedral ceiling) so it acts as a heat sink. The WinterWarm was intended to supplement the heat pump and serve as a back-up for power failures.

In this installation the WinterWarm has been a reliable and efficient heater for over 2 decades. I have replaced the catalytic combuster about every 5 to 6 years. This winter I overhauled the unit and replaced all of the gasketing. Bowman's Stove Shop did a nice install in 1990 and has been very helpful over the years with parts and advice for a DIYer.

Burning mostly oak and maple, I can load the fire before bed and get 8 hours run with a 3" bed of hot coals in the morning. The glass does get somewhat sooty with a low fire, but doesn't need to be cleaned -- the next hot fire will clean it. The air dividers only vibrate if installed wrong. The old manual was vague on this. When installed correctly the air dividers are tight and silent.

With temps above 20F, the WinterWarm tends to make the house too hot -- we just use the heat pump. When temps drop between 20F and -5F, the heat pump quickly loses efficiency and the WinterWarm provides cozy heat, which prevents the heat pump 2nd stage electric from running and minimizes heat pump cycles -- just enough to circulate warm air through the house. In electrical outage, the WinterWarm is adequate to maintain heat (a bit unevenly) and protect water pipes until power is restored.

Overall I'm very pleased with the unit, not so pleased with Vermont Castings as they have changed owners over the years, but I haven't needed them for much other than a better manual.

Most of the problems people cite here are likely due to poor installation.

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