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2.2 cu.ft box vs. 3.2 cu.ft. box - Practical Difference?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Mr. Kelly, Nov 7, 2009.

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  1. Mr. Kelly

    Mr. Kelly Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm hours away from purchasing my first stove... WOO HOO!!

    All along, I've been thinking of a 2.2 cu.ft. Lopi Republic 1750 to heat as much of our "broken up" 1650 sq. ft. saltbox farm house. Can't afford much more (I think...).

    In a idyllic world, I'd want to burn 24/7, and burn fairly hard. However, sometimes we are away from about 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.. That's 10 hrs. The stove is rated at 10hrs. max burn. The local dealer laughs at the thought that I will be able to get anywhere NEAR 10 hrs. burn time on a 2.2 cu.ft. stove. He says more like 6-8, if I'm lucky. He says the stoves are rated by unrealistic standards.

    Anyone here heat 24/7 under circumstances similar to this, with a box around 2 cu/ft? Is my dealer correct, or is he under selling a medium-sized box? I've heard all the expected things... like... need good dry wood... need to load the box full, etc..

    Also, some on here have really liked boxes that have a bypass damper. The size higher than the Lopi I'm looking at has a bypass damper. Is the main convenience difference that w. the bypass open you wouldn't have to wait around as much with the door cracked to help get cooler fires going? Does bypass damper remove having to crack the door upon start up??

    Hope you're looking forward to cool weather!

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  2. Rockey

    Rockey Minister of Fire

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    We heat our house with 100% wood heat. Our insert has a 2.5 cu ft firebox and I think your salesman is pretty accurate on getting 6-8 hour burn time. We can get 10+ hour burns but that is under ideal conditions with a packed firebox, avery dense hardwood that is very dry and the intake just about fully closed. 10+ hours is the exception and not the rule. This heats our house well until it gets below 20 F.
  3. learnin to burn

    learnin to burn Feeling the Heat

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    Last year unless it was above 40 degrees The best I could do with a 2.3 cf box was 4-5 hours. Above 40 the coals would last for a few hours but it was pretty much done after 7 hours. If you want to heat 24/7 go for the bigger stove so you don't have to burn it as hard when it gets cold. Remember you can always build a smaller fire in a big box but can't build a bigger fire in a small box.
  4. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    I've got the Endeavor with the same fire box. Sorry, but you ain't gettin' 10 hours out of that stove. Lopi makes a great product. But these aren't cat stoves.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Your dealer could be telling it the way it is, if he is referring to burn time as the time of meaningful heating out of the stove. In that case, a bigger box does help to extend burn times. But I wouldn't write off a 2 cu ft box if that's what you can afford. FWIW, PE's 2 cu ft stove can hold a fire for that long. The stove may not be all that hot after 10 hrs, but it will have plenty of hot coals for a quick restart.

    How large is the room where the stove is and how open is the floor plan. If this is a closed floor plan, a big stove could be a detriment.

    Haven't had a bypass damper on the last 3 stoves we've owned and haven't missed it either. We did have a flue damper on the Jotuls and it helped a bit in extending burn times. Depends on the flue.
  6. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    Whoops, totally missed your bypass damper question. It's a very, very handy feature. It allows the smoke to bypass the baffle and go right up the flue when you're starting from a cold stove or reloading. Since I've never operated one without a bypass, I can't offer any insight as to how much easier it makes starting a fire and establishing a quick draft. It's also hella handy come cleaning time.
  7. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    The smaller stove should be big enough to heat your house, but yes, after ten hours you may be building a new fire. That doesn't mean your house (or even your stove) will be ice cold after 10 hours, however. My house and stove are similarly sized and often I will come home to no fire but to a very comfortable house. At coldest temps of the winter, though, you may need to push the stove hard and be a little chilly when you return.

    Which make and model is the larger stove that you are considering?
  8. Mr. Kelly

    Mr. Kelly Member

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    Thanks everyone...

    Branchburner... We're always a little chilly in here when we get home nowadays, as we're pretty stingy with the oil heat, so it wouldn't likely be a huge detriment to have a cool house after 10 hours, if we know a nice warm fire is beckoning to warm us up!

    I'm still inclined to go with the smaller (more affordable) 2.2 c/ft. box. As BeGreen implies, a big box could overpower the nearest rooms in our very closed-concept house. That's what you were referring to, right BG? Is there any other detriment to a bigger box in a smaller closed house?

    What are the detriments of pushing a smaller box to its limits? If I cram that thing full on cold nights, shouldn't it be running peak and lean? I would think that would be a good thing, right? Rather, in a big box, we'd be running it on low power a chunk of the time, and not as efficiently, I suspect.
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Mr. Kelly, a 3.2 vs. a 2.2 is a big difference in the amount of wood you can put in the stove (almost a third). Therefore you will get more heat from the larger one. However, that says nothing about how long that heat will last. Also, as BeGreen stated, it will depend upon your layout. The larger stove could be good or it could be bad. You don't want to roast everyone out of one room but hopefully you can circulate the air by placing a fan in a hallway or doorway of adjoining rooms. Blow the cool air towards the hot room rather than trying to move the heat.
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    It sounds like you're interested in starting a fire in the morning and going to work at 7 am. Well, it won't make it to 5pm. If you have a nice fire going in the evening with a good bed of coals and you can time your big reload right then you can get a long burn but in my experience waking up in the morning and getting a fire going before leaving for work doesn't result in the long fires.

    Your house may not need the stove running all day for it to be warm when you get home. Meaning, so what if it goes out so long as the house is still warm enough for you when you get home to start a new fire.
  11. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I've got a Lopi Freedom (non-bay) with a 2.9cf firebox. 10 hours? No way. If I stuff to the gills with good wood I'd say I've got a warm stove with some hot coals left over, but the blower has shut off, putting an end to any meaningfull heat output. I think the "Heat up to 2,250 sq. ft. for 12 hours on one load of wood." statement is an extrapolation of the amount of heat in 3 cf of hardwood divided by the typical heat loss of a 2250 sqft house taken at about 70% efficiency in a reasonably well insulated house in not too rough a climate.

    That being said the boiler hasn't kicked on yet.

    Today was about 35 degrees. Last night was a pretty good frost down to about 25. When I woke up the house was about 68. My house is about 3000sqft. Started the stove at 7:00 AM I filled the stove 1/2 way at 10:00 AM and left. I got home about 6:30 PM and the house was still 70 degrees. The stove had a few coals left, but the blower was off and the stove surface was warm not hot.
  12. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Mine does and I'm not even burning oak.
  13. Mr. Kelly

    Mr. Kelly Member

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    Please explain, Big Redd,

    Do you get good burn times? How long, and what is your stove/house layout?

    Please do tell!
  14. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Keep in mind, there is no good standard definition of "burn time". With a stove on low air it may go many hours with a dwindling bed of coals. At some point the coals are not producing usable heat for the house but they are alive enough to keep the stove warm and ready for a quick restart.

    To quote Gerry100 from another thread, "At some point the problem becomes distribution of the heat over the square footage, not the stove." To that, you could add the problem of distribution of heat over time. I think the most logical way to get long burn times (if they are important to you) without overheating a smaller square footage is to use a catalytic stove. In that respect my non-cat downdraft stove is perfect for January and February, but the ideal for Oct, Nov, Dec, Mar, Apr and May would be a cat.

    Have you considered a Woodstock?
  15. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Stove - PE Spectrum Classic (2.1 CF)

    House - 1300+ SF with vaulted ceiling and no roof insulation

    Fuel - Doug Fir


    I can load my stove, shut down the air, and come back 10 hours later with a moderate coal bed and a stove that cannot be touched.
  16. wellbuilt home

    wellbuilt home Minister of Fire

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    A 3 CBF fire box is much better for 24/7 burning .
    I use 1 or2 book of matches a year. Its a pita to start 2 fires a day every day .
    I just added some fire bricks in my Equinox to make the fire box smaller for the spring and fall , next month ill remove them for 24/7 burning .
    John
  17. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    What's best for 24/7 burning is the size/type of stove that gets the most efficient burn while giving the best distribution of comfortable heat over time for the layout of the house.
  18. Mr. Kelly

    Mr. Kelly Member

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    I agree, BranchBurner,

    I just wish that there was a little more certainty involved in choosing a stove size. It would be a very expensive mistake to go for a box size that under serves the house, and conversely, to spend too much for a stove that we may not really need. A conundrum, if you will.

    Our small but segregated 2 story house is a hard bet, with either box. Some say that 2.2 cu/ft should do the trick, if run constantly and efficiently, others say that a bigger box would be a better place to go. Given that the wallet feels awfully tight these days... the smaller box seems appealing, especially if the bigger box will likely eat even more wood. Sound indecisive?

    What little money there is is burning a hole in the pocket!
  19. Dirtgrain

    Dirtgrain New Member

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    I'm in a similar scenario. I can't decide between an Avalon Olympic and a Lopi Revere (and the prices are close--the Avalon dealer is selling at 20% off).
  20. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Another angle to take: are you more inclined to enjoy a balmy room in shorts and a t-shirt, or a cool room in a sweater. Even the smaller stove will give you occasion for the former.
    Put another way, would you prefer the room with the stove to be hot and the rest of the house comfortable, or the room with the stove to be comfortable and the rest of the house to be cool-ish? Either stove may give those options, depending on layout and outdoor temps, but your inclination may push you one way or the other.
    The fact you say your house is segregated means to me it is not the open floor plan that would call for a big stove. The smaller one may be better suited if it's going to be a challenge moving the heat around. Personally, if it's performing as designed and burning dry wood efficiently, I think a bigger stove may be overkill (unless it is a cat).
  21. Mr. Kelly

    Mr. Kelly Member

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    Thanks for your thoughts.

    BB... I am also thinking the bigger stove might be a bit of an overkill. It will also likely GOBBLE down wood.

    Our house is a bit of claustrophobia. It's a smaller house, with very few straight lines. Typical saltbox farmhouse of 250 years ago. We'll have the box fans lurking.

    Worse-case scenario... we have the 2.2 c/ft box, and if it's unsatisfactory, I suspect I could unleash it on craigslist next fall and take a bit of a hit, but move up. I'll likely go with the 2.2, but I'll consider again when I'm at the dealer tomorrow or Tuesday.

    Wish me luck! I've been looking forward to it for awhile now!

    Best.
  22. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Good luck, and the good news is that whichever of the two stoves you get will be workable. The thing you don't want is a 1.2 cu ft or 4.5 cu ft firebox!
  23. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    It sounds to me like you've already made up your mind, but I think your desire to spend little money is going to cost you more in the long run. Given your house size and work schedule, you really should consider a cat stove. Cats have the ability to burn longer and lower, plus do so very efficiently. In the end you'll get much longer burns and use minimal wood. With a 2.2 cu ft non cat, you're going to be relighting fires every day, and in the depths of winter you'll be coming home to a cold house since the stove will need to be pushed harder to maintain the temps (which will further decrease burn times). So while you might think you'll be okay with this smaller non cat, I think you'll find it's going to be a long term PITA to keep the house warm 24/7 as winter progresses. Not to mention the hit in the wallet you'll take if you later decide to upgrade to the stove you should have bought in the first place. Remember, you're going to lose on reselling your stove and you can only use the 30% tax credit ONCE. I'd do it right the first time... Buy the WS Fireview or the BK Princess.
  24. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    Practical differences:
    1. You will be walking to the woodpile less frequently, but carrying heavier loads with the larger box.
    2. Fitting larger rounds or splits in a larger box will be easier.
    3. Effective heating time will be longer in the larger box.
    5. Fewer "restarts" of a cold stove after long hrs away.
    4. Warmer House

    If you are in new england, I would not hesitate to spend a few bucks more now, rather than regret it and wish to upgrade next yr, and realize that your hearth, stove pipe etc needs modifications for the larger unit.

    Regarding gobbling wood in the larger box, I would think this point could be argued as incorrect.
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