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25 yr woodburner girl switching to pellets

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by pb1285, Apr 9, 2011.

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  1. pb1285

    pb1285 New Member

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    Oh my! Much to learn. Replacing 1980's BUCK freestanding woodburner with pellet (I think!).(1000sq ft. house) Looking for RELIABILITY, high efficiency, as quiet as possible. Pad is 1980's vintage fake rock so would need to be creative with pedestal but have been told it can be done. Legs preferable as 4 square ceramic tiles presently hold this old Buck surrounding the uneven rock presentation. Will be totally dependent on a good dealer. Not a mechanical whiz.

    Originally chose Harman XX5 - pricey. Then looked at repairs over time with Harman models and customer service issues so I've bowed out. Harmans' seem to go thru igniters and augers. Checking out current Lennox Montage or Winslow(Country). Bella has legs but seems overly pricey unless I could get a deal. Also really interested in Pacific Energy's Warmland PS 45 & hope to find. 2 listed dealers but 1 chose Harman pellet over PS 45. Also will be checking out Enviro -- Stainless or Cast Iron? Empress was suggested. Last but not least was Cumberland 3800. However I'm not a fan of it's appearance.

    HVAC has ratings for everything--they don't recommend much but they liked Lennox Montage and if I was going wood I'd pick Pacific Energy.

    What I've figured is that pellet stoves are like little furnaces & need much more parts maintenance than wood stoves & because of this won't save much money. But I'm close to 60, do everything myself in regards to woodburning--including up on the roof cleaning chimney every 4-6 weeks and I can't imagine wanting to do this when I'm 70!!!
    Coal has also been suggested but I'm into recycling if possible.

    Any commentary?

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  2. CJ-SR4ever

    CJ-SR4ever New Member

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    Harman is a good well built stove line. Stoves are very reliable. Most of all the issues people have with the harman stoves is because they neglect to do proper cleaning. The ignitors fail because they dont get cleaned on a regular basis. The stoves dont burn correctly because people dont put a cover on right or they burn 4 tons without cleaning the vent pipe or plugging it into a surge protector. 99% of all issues are caused by lack of cleaning or user error. Parts will fail if they are not cleaned. If you let your blowers build up with a large amount of dust it is certain they will fail. There is a chance of a part to go bad no matter what but that applies to all stove brands. So I wouldnt stop looking at the Harman stoves. I have a Harman P-38 and a lennox Montage. Love both of them. The Harman is alot easier to clean and maintain than the Lennox. I would recommend 3 stoves.....The harman P-38 (if you dont mind lighting it manually) The P-43 ( same as the P-38 just without the ignitor) or the lennox Montage. Both of the Harman stoves have a little better price tag than the lennox. Plus Harman is offering a 100 dollar off coupon from their website. Lennox has no sales that I know of right now.
  3. CJ-SR4ever

    CJ-SR4ever New Member

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    Im sorry i made a slight mistake.....The Harman P-43 is the same as the P-38 but it has an ignitor. The P-38 does not have an ignitor. Sorry about that. I confused myself when I read my reply after I posted it. LOL.
  4. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    to be fair, Harman did have ignitor issues, clean or not, in years past. the latest series of igniters seem to be very reliable, unlike a few in the past. As for augers, I dont see issues there. maybe with the old 5-hole-at-the-bottom burnpots there were problems causing auger erosion, but thats been fixed for about a year now.

    I dont know enough about the Lennox to compare...sorry.
  5. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Your one statement about relying entirely on your dealer scares the crap out of me because in the same post you are worried about parts costing so much. Finding a good dealer is a definite chore and then paying him for his services for every little thing that can happen, will eat you alive. It sounds like you've done your research very well, but these are machines and not just receptacles for wood, like your Buck. People will try to talk you into all kinds of stoves, of course, but they ALL will fail eventually and with any bad luck, more often than you want.
    My suggestion is to either upgrade to a new wood burner and pay a chimney sweep (cheaper than the pellet stove dealer visits) or swallow that recycling hang-up and buy a coal burner like a Reading Coal Stove. You can store the coal more easily than wood in a much smaller place, it's much cheaper than pellets, not as dirty as wood and can be as clean as pellets if you do it right, and it is much cheaper per btu than pellets. You will also have more steady heat than you'll need. Just my humble opinion.

    I can't get coal down here in Georgia so I replaced my Buck insert with a Quad Castile. I did burn coal in Pa. for about 8 years. Knock on wood, the Quad's been a good one but if I were relying entirely on the dealer, I would have spent several hundred dollars just to have him fix very simple problems. I wouldn't recommend a pellet stove to anyone who is not mechanically/electrically inclined and willing to do simple troubleshooting and repair.....period.
  6. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Not to mention the splitting, stacking, and moving around of the wood, so pellets may be right for you. Though, I'd like to add if you are cleaning the chimney that frequently, you may not be giving your wood enough time to season. Some of our members who burn 24/7 clean their chimney once a year, if that, and get a cup or two of soot.

    As far as recycling goes, you will be left with many empty plastic bags at the end of the season. Many re-use them for other purposes, as do I. You can also check to see if your county recycle station accepts them. Welcome to the forum!
  7. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    At 60, I hope that you don't cut, haul, and split your own wood! I'm a 67 year old guy and I saw the 'light' two years ago, so if you stay with wood, you will be buying it already split and stacked, I hope. Homebrewz is right, though, that you should let your wood season for, if possible, at least 6 months. I used a 'soot remover' product religiously and had a chimney sweep do my chimneys and he actually said that I could go on a two year cleaning cycle if I continued to use the product. I burned wood for 25 years and coal for about 8 before going to pellets here in Ga.
  8. Alternative Guy

    Alternative Guy New Member

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    I am wondering if the frequent cleaning has anything to do with the age of her stove, but then I realized that the old stoves I have seen and used did not have that problem. I have a ca. 1995 Quadrafire 3100 woodstove, and I clean my chimney once every three years!

    A pellet stove would solve several of her problems, but there would be the maintenance issue. I love the fact that my gas furnace has run 10 years without needing service, while oil-fired furnaces I know of need it once every year or two. I DO NOT like paying my propane bill though. Everything has its pluses and minuses. After 16 years of wood burning, I am ready for something else also.
  9. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Welcome to the forum, ashesbynow. I've owned a Travis Indust. stove (Astoria) and highly recommend them. They make 2 stoves that have legs, the Avalon Arbor, and Lopi Leyden.....same stove with minor differences in appearance. Many happy owners on this forum, and few problems/complaints:

    www.avalonfirestyles.com/product_guide/detail.aspx?id=264

    www.lopistoves.com/product_guide/detail.aspx?id=249
  10. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I'd vote for the Pacific Energy’s Warmland PS 45 or something from the Enviro line up(I like the mini for small homes). We have a good crew here, that can help talk you through the repairs. They are pretty simple machines to clean and maintain. Sounds like you have done that already with your wood burner anyway!

    I agree with homebrewz, Sounds like your wood isn't seasoned enough(too much moisture). Same issue I had when I was relying on someone else to supply my wood. I never could get what I wanted(seasoned more than 2 years) from delivered wood. I did when I cut/split my own picker loads. But when the inlaws sold the farm house we lost the room to do our own wood. So had to get ours from the wood market.

    Can you keep the wood stove and add in the pellet stove in another spot? You will have the best of both worlds and a backup heat source.

    Welcome to the forum, ashesbynow. Keep us posted on your progress!
    Jack Morrissey likes this.
  11. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Heh, I wish more people said that! :lol:

    That is a great idea if you can do that. Best of both worlds, and you'll have a backup if the power goes out.
  12. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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  13. gfreek

    gfreek Minister of Fire

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    Welcome. Dealer support is important during and after warranty. Ask friends or neighbors for referrals. Shop, listen, compare.. Pellet heat is different from wood, which is different from coal. I burned wood and coal. Coal puts out alot of heat, long burn, lots of ash, no creosote, dirty even when washed in bags. I'd keep that wood stove for backup. You can always buy compressed wood bricks such as Eco-Wood. Don't forget when power goes out so does your pellet stove, unless you have battery backup, and or generator. Me I have a Harman P38+ which I would not recommend for you, its manual start, no ignitor, simple controls and if its quiet you want then this one is not for you.
  14. gyingling

    gyingling Member

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    I would recommend checking out the Enviro Empress. The Empress is the model that replaced mine, the Windsor.

    I bought my stove second hand, but it has been very good to us. It cranks out alot of heat, although not in the same way that a wood stove does.

    Operation is very quiet I think, and the cast enamel finish is beautiful to boot.
  15. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    Just a thought but you may want something multifuel . There are times when corn actually is cheaper than pellets even here is NYS. Being in Ohio you might find corn can be cheaper than pellets as everybody over your way seems to have cheap corn. You don't have to live in Iowa to get corn cheap for some reason. Multifuel gives you a lot of flexibility when which has saved me a lot of money on occasion. If you do go with something corn capable just be aware that the "GRINDER" type do make a lot more noise than the "CLINKER" TYPES. Clinker meaning you remove the little corn brick that grows in the pot every day. The other thing you definitely want is a remotely located thermostat which will save you big money over time. When it comes to noise of operation the best way to judge that is listening to one run in a showroom.
  16. aaronnoel

    aaronnoel Member

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    I can't speak for the other brands , but my Harman p68 has had some parts go bad since 2007 when I purchased it. But I have to say that I've been impressed with it's warranty policy, so far every part has been replaced at no cost to me , I could not ask for any more. Cleaning my stove is important but it's really not hard just learn the right way to do it. AS far as the green aspect of pellets that's why I got into it, bio fuel to me is important and the bags are rated #4 plastic in my town that's the # they recycle up to. The post that stated that coal is just has clean as pellets if used the right way, I don't think that's accurate in any way, pellets are the cleanest burn.
  17. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Sorry you feel that way about coal, noelp68, but I didn't sense that you ever used coal so your comments have to be taken with a grain of salt. If you use a modern stoker coal burner, there's no shaker grate and you empty the ash every 2-3 days. Loading the hopper is not different than dumping a bag of pellets, which have more than enough wood dust.. And you haven't heard my wife groan about how dirty the house has been the last two winters!!!! Soooo, your statement about coal was, I don't think, accurate in any way. :)

    You probably also think that modern diesel cars stink, smoke, rattle, and have no power....
  18. pb1285

    pb1285 New Member

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    First, THANK YOU FOR WELCOMING ME. This sure isn't easy! Let me comment. Regarding woodburning-My Buck is 1980 so I don't know what improvements were made in the 90's. At that time 8" pipe to ceiling & then triple walled 8" Dura vent was pretty standard around here. I'm in the city so wood has always been delivered--locust & hedgeapple only-seasoned 1 year prior to delivery BUT in a barn and not exposed to elements. I'm sure it could season more. And no I don't cut and split nor stack though portions are always dry in the garage. Usually 4-5 cords a year. Buck was actually holding its own until I had to replace motor & fan blade. Hasn't been even close to the same since(replaced 2010-2011) Maybe could get away with cleaning less but would need to know what is "normal". I get much more than 2 handfuls after 6 weeks. Sweeping down is $90+ a shot and I've called around - a real rip off.

    And someone commented that maybe pellets aren't great if I'm paying someone to service all the time. I also agree. No dealers servicing any of the pellet models I've mentioned are less than 30 miles away-the same with the ONLY coal guy. I can do little things if someone talks me through but don't have the confidence you boys have-
    I don't read maps well so I sure as heck don't make sense out of schematics!! Nor do I have anyone to show me, though my "honey do" friend does help sometimes.
    Now if you want to talk health, nutrition, medical massage, high end audio, and gardening, I'm your girl!!

    I just put in a 95% efficient gas furnace with air. One or the other--insulation or another heating device has to be accomplished before this coming winter. Finally have someone to help me finish running electric so I can get insulation. Live on very little $$ so generally have to get a loan for this stuff. Spent $5000 on doors and windows 2 years ago--worth every penny. Thank God my mother gifts $$ every once in a while. I love living in a money pit!!!

    Back to the Harman--thanks for the input. I'm glad to see that in the "last year or so" things are improving. I know the company was sold in the last couple of years. I also can go back & talk with 1 dealer about this--he basically has had very little to say about anything even when he came to my house. The other said she wouldn't sell to me because 30 miles was too far for servicing. The 3rd Harman dealer said they don't stock but stressed their service & knowledge of Harman pellet stoves. I have had much better communication with the Lennox folks and believe I have found 2 good dealers. One stated he could get a Harman or Pacific Energy but he believes the Winslow(Country) would be great and the other will be at my house on 4-11. So I do feel like I'm making progress in at least finding a few honest & forthright people. If I reconsider the Harman, the XXV model has feet and would fit easily. How different is that from the automatic igniter P43? Does anyone know? Same parts as the P43?
    Problems with the XXV? It seems to have more bells and whistles which translates to me possibly more problems. Ya know simple is better!! Last, as long as someone educates me on cleaning-thy will be done. Don't I seem a little anal? (Just a little too much Virgo, I think.)

    By the way, no other space or location for a 2nd unit.

    At least I seem to be in the ballpark with my choices & yes multi-fuel would be helpful as seasonal options can help $$. I REALLY APPRECIATE DEFINITIONS as well since I'm starting to get far enough in my search to begin asking what this & that term means.


    Finally I realize leaving wood behind means adding probably an extra $1-200 per year to my spending-comparison costs---but with some help from u folks--the time exchange and wear & tear on my body will make sense. Every heating commodity & service will continue to rise--just trying to be cost effectively warm & wise.
  19. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    You can't go wrong with insulation because without it, you are paying to heat Mother Nature no matter what system you use. Is your furnace LP or natural? Is your ducting for the furnace inside your house or in a crawl space? Just asking so you can use that calculator I posted above to see how it compares to pellets and coal.
  20. aaronnoel

    aaronnoel Member

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  21. aaronnoel

    aaronnoel Member

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    Your soooo right I don't use a coal stove, however I do drive a vw tdi on bio-deisel. I think you missed my piont , it's not the fact that your home is not nice and taosty, or that it's not all black and drity inside your house from some sort of coal mess. You see it's just that I don't much belive in the way coal is taken out of the earth thats all, I think there's better ways to heat a home,like pellets for exsample, I would much prefer using a bio-fuel I have never hered coal being called a bio-fuel, but I have hered of folks drinking water getting contaminated by the extraction of coal. In alot of cases pellets are made from the waste at lumber yards and hard wood floor factorys, to me that is a brillant way to heat a home and alot more americans should be using pellets for heat. You know in Europe they use way more pellet stove heat than we do here in the USA and they also run must of there cars on deisel.I belive and I take it you don't, that pellets after ng and nucular is cleanist way to heat your house.
  22. Frugalfreak

    Frugalfreak New Member

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    Well I had a coal stove (also drive an '04 Jetta TDI wagon lol) so I can say that having the P68/or like pellet stove doesn't give off the 'brute' heat a coal stove can ... I used to have it set on low and still had the windows open at times - in the dead of winter due to temps in the mid-80's in the house! ... the dust/black blanket on everything and the huge amount of ash it put off are the only drawbacks it had. The P68 (or pellet stoves) will heat well and burn cleaner/less ash -but- they can't hold a candle to a good coal stove as far as overall heating.
  23. CJ-SR4ever

    CJ-SR4ever New Member

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    If you are looking for simple, than the lennox cascade is as simple as you can get. Light the fire then set it on low or high. The control board consists of two settings for heat output and blower speed which is low and high, then you have a dial for feed rate adjustment. The Harman Accentra FS has an option for cast legs. Have you looked at the Enviro M55 Cast FS? That is a sharp looking stove also with 5,000 more BTUs than the XXV and it is a multi fuel stove with an agitator in the burn pot. Price is similar to the XXV.
  24. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Been to Europe many times and always drove diesels, since over 50% of the cars are diesel. I also never got less than 50 mpg with any of them hauling 4 people around. Many times much more than that. Here the problem is that our emission regulations are skewed to help certain groups rather than the environment. Heaven knows Europe is WAY greener than we are. We should adopt their emission standards which would allow realistic fuel mileage rather than the meek 40 mpg that VW 'boasts' for their diesels. I had them in the past but refuse to give them $5K extra for a simpler engine and only a 3 year guaranty.

    As for your noble refusal to use our largest resource, coal, China is still on course to start a coal fired electrical generator every week for at least the next 7 years. So how much of an impact do you think your coal stove would have on the environment? AND now they have so many generators that they are negotiating to buy their coal from US!!!!!!! So the coal you refuse to use is going to China to be used. Doesn't make sense to me.
  25. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    With Ohio having a good corn supply, I would be leaning to a multifuel unit. Another option is to sister in a pellet/multifuel furnace in with your new gas furnace. I assume its in the basement and this would let you keep the wood burner.

    This would give several fuel options for you. Wood and compressed blocks in the wood stove. Corn, Pellets, and other biofuels for the multifuel furnace. Then your gas. IMHO the more options you have is always better and you heat with whats cheapest.
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