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A bit disappointed - Maybe my expectations were too high - any options?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by hfjeff, Sep 15, 2007.

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  1. hfjeff

    hfjeff New Member

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    Nights have been dipping into the low 40's/high 30's as of late so it has been a perfect opportunity to test out the new insert, and also get the paint baked on. I have to say that I am disappointed in its ability to warm the house. As feared, I am really regretting not getting the larger 3100. At 2,200 sq ft i realize I am pushing the rating of my insert, but was hoping for better results. Last night we got down around 39 deg and the highest I could get the living room was 75 deg with a full load of seasoned oak, full open damper, and fan on high.

    Now I agree 75 is plenty warm for a living room, but we are only in Sept, and 39 is not cold for a winter night in WI. My brother and sister in law have a Quad 5100 in their 1800 sq ft house and last Dec they had to open the windows when it was 10 deg outside because they got it too warm. I can see now that mine will not be able to do that.

    So the question is are my expectations too high for this unit? My house has a pretty open concept with a large open living room and dining room, with a family room off to the side. It is going to get much colder in the near future and I can see I am not going to be happy with it. But I don't know what to do because it is now a used unit. If I try to sell my 2400 and buy the i3100, I will loose a lot. Or I just live with it and learn to accept it.

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  2. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    I may be reaching here but hoping for a non-stove explanation. What do you mean by "seasoned" oak? 1 year, 2 or 3 years? If it''s still a bit moist inside it might be lowering your heat output.
  3. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Forgive me all for my ignorance......I'm a pellet head....
    But wouldn't having the damper wide open cause more heat to leave the stove up the chimney?
    I'll stay out of the thread now cause I know nothing about it. :p
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's not reasonable to compare the performance of a small stove to a big one. The 5100 is a large 3.1 cu ft stove. The 2400i is not, it burns less mass. As noted you are pushing the limits of the stove. That's usually OK in a mild climate, but not in New England.

    Was the blower running on the insert? Try closing down the damper to about 50% once the wood is thoroughly charred to see if it boost performance a little.
  5. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    Is there a block off plate at the flue? How far does the insert project out into the room?
  6. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    Has Wisconsin joined New England now? :p
  7. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I wouldn't sell it just yet, give it some time. It will take some trial and error figuring out a new stove.
  8. hfjeff

    hfjeff New Member

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    The oak was dried in the sun 2 years then moved into the garage. I do not have a block off plate as I ran a full length liner up the chimney. I sealed the rain cap with high temp silicone. I was running the blower on high. I loaded it up at bed time and closed the damper to 50% and was happy to discover I got a 7 hour burn last night, fan still running. Got up this morning and threw another log on the hot coals and she took right off again.

    I realize it is not a fair comparison as the inserts are different sizes and so are the houses. Mine is bigger with a much more open layout. I also still have old drafty windows (so does he) and still have the screens on. Putting the storms back on will help quite a bit to keep the heat in I'm sure.

    So maybe my first conclusions are a bit premature.
  9. pearsall

    pearsall New Member

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    I second Todd. Give yourself a few weeks to learn how to operate the unit to its potential. It took me that long to figure things out on my new stove.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I sure hope not! In New England - AKA northern climate :coolsmirk:
  11. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I am far from an expert, but I found I had to manage the heat in the house, not just burn a load of wood. Through trial and error found I could move the air around some and really improve things. Pushing cold air into my room with the stove forced warm air to leave the room and better heat the rest of the house.
  12. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    Jeff: I suggest you try not running the blower on maximum speed. Ifyou have an oven thermometer, set it up to read the air temp coming out of the insert. You will see that it is hotter with the fan running slower. Don't try to use the convection blower to move the air around in the house. For that you need the ceiling fans and another way to get the air moving (if you have forced air, run just the blower to move the air around). Running the convection fan slower increases the amount of time the room air spends in the heat exchanger and it should leave hotter. This way, the flue gasses going out the chimney will be cooler, which is the goal, right ?

    As I have explained in threads related to pellet stoves, convection stoves (and your insert counts strongly in that category) have 2 sets of efficiencies to deal with: 1) Combustion efficiency (what % of the wood is turned into heat) and 2) Heat exchanger efficiency (how much of the heat can be extracted from the flue gasses ?). I would expect that with your stove, the combustion efficiency should be about on par with other EPA stoves, maybe a little lower, since the heat exchanger will "cool" the combustion chamber which always results in more unburnt hydrocarbons being released.

    The heat exchanger efficiency is dependent on many factors including 1) size of the heat exchanger (inserts are always space constrained compared to full size stoves) 2) operating principle: Ideally cold air enters the heat exchanger at the point where the flue gasses are coolest and the heated air exists on the side where the flue gasses are hottest. This design allows for the greatest temperature differential all the way through the heat exchanger and enhances efficiency. 3) Turbulent flow on both sides of the heat exchanger, since laminar flow has molecules that are virtually stationary at the wall of the tubes. In reality, few heat exchangers feature turbulent flow, since it requires more expensive "textured" surfaces, quite unlike the smooth bores of conventional tubing. 4) emissivity of the tubing itself. If it is black, it will absorb radiant heat and contribute towards higher efficiency.

    Based on this summary, your insert would have a smaller heat exchanger than a conventional stove, purely because of the package size constraint. The tubes would be black, which is good for absorbing radiant heat, but would be smooth, thus laminar flow would reduce efficiency within a few multiples of the tube diameter. Furthermore, just considering the general design, radiant heat is only able to leave the front face of your unit. It it is installed on an outside wall, 4 of the remaining 5 surfaces would be radiating heat that would only heat the external wall of the home or the chase that it is installed into. If it is installed into a chase that is more central to the house, the radiant heat going into the chase/wall would ultimately be re-radiated on the oposite side.

    A regular stove the same size as your insert would be a more efficient heater,but presumeably you had good reason to go with the insert in the frst place.

    **edit** Just had another look at your pictures since I had forgotten.... Was the original fireplace masonry or is it a facade ? If it is genuine masonry, it will take some burning to get it heated up. Adding some specialized insulation in there (fiberfrax) will reduce the heat loss in that direction considerably compared to just the brick surfaces, so there is still some optimization possible. "proper" high temperature insulation has thermal conductivity a fraction of firebrick and similar materials.
  13. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Without a tight seal no blockoff plate I winder how much heat is escaping up that chimney. By sealing up both the top and bottom you effectively create a dead air space

    that will enhance your draft and over all stove performance. Stoves will also draft better when temps outside are colder that will allow you to cut inlet air damper down more,
    that keeps more heat in the stove longer and transfers more into the room A few loads of woood is not indicative of burning 24/7 where heat is constantly being added.

    I think you are being a bit hard on your self to start I would seal up the chimney opening particularly if located on the outside wall. You have to prevent it from going into the chimney cavity where it is only lost to the outside
  14. nshif

    nshif New Member

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    My thought exactly Elk, hes heating up the entire flue and chiminey without a bottom block off plate.
  15. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Perhaps a bit "premature".

    Yes it might be wise to follow the other suggestions about the block off plate/heating the chimney.

    Most importantly though you answered your own question above.

    Using a "room heater" to "heat the whole house" is expecting a lot and maybe not exactly a "realistic" expectation. Secondly...as with any insert, stove etc... One night is not a good measure. "Intermittent" use is not going to give you the kind of heat you are looking for. A few "hot fires" are not going to give you the heat you are looking for versus a continous "normal firing". You have a lot of area to "warm up".
    After some continious use I think you will be closer to what you expected...but as with any stove...The heat is not "instant" to say the least.
    Try firing it "continously" (say over a weekend) with smaller fires during the day and stoke it up real good at night.

    Whatever you do...just keep your expectations "realistic"...it's not a furnace.

    "...Slow and steady...Wins the race"
  16. Larry H

    Larry H New Member

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    I'll second what Keith O said about not running the blower fan on high. If I'm running my little Lopi in the living room I find that the best fan speed for generating really warm air is just above the lowest setting on the rheostat. The faster the air speed the less time the air has residency within the housing of the unit to pick up the warmth. Mentally it seems like it would take longer to heat up your space with a low fan setting, but I really think it is actually shorter over the length of time of a continual firing.
  17. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    I assume you have some type of stove thermometer (probe or surface)? How hot is the stove getting? Are you getting the surface up to the maximum temps you'd expect?

    If you're not getting the stove surface up to 600+, it would seem that you need to look at your wood quality and draft setting to get it to that point.

    If you're holding the stove at high temperature for an extended period and you're still not keeping the room hot enough, then you may have to think about how to either tighten up the room (including block-off plate) or a larger stove.

    -Colin
  18. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    When I get the Beast going, I'll send ya some heat, plenty here :)
    As the others said, you haven't even gel'd with your stove yet. You & the stove must become one LOL.
    Give is some time to find the sweet spots, and get to know your stove.
    You can't expect it to put out all you want on the first date, without you knowing it all that well ;)
  19. hfjeff

    hfjeff New Member

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    Thanks for all the responses and suggestions. Sounds like I need to be more strategic and methodic about my burning than those guys with bohemoth heat machines that have BTU's to waste. I am going to need all of mine and find ways to get them. The official low last night was 30 not 39 as previously stated, so if I ran at a cozy 76 with all my present inefficiencies, that probably was not too bad after all. The stove had only run about 7 hours, not several days. And still having single pane windows without the storms on doesn't help either. The chimney is in the center of the house and not on an outside wall, but a blocking plate would probably not be a bad idea. I am new to the wood heating world and that's why I am here. It will take some time to "become one" with my stove and find how to fine tune things to get the most out of it I can. Maybe this thing will become my closest friend this winter after all. You guys (and maybe gals) have been a big help so far. Thanks.
  20. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Def. do the block off plate as Elk suggested. Thats a big space for heat to go up & out of.
  21. Robbie

    Robbie Minister of Fire

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    It takes several hours to get your "whole house" warm as others said. One you get it warm, it will hold and continue to build heat within the walls....unless you are losing a lot through your windows etc.

    As they also said, blower on low or one quarter is best to get really hot air moving out from stove.

    Mine is so hot on low it feels like it will almost burn your skin.........let that box heat up......then gradually remove the heat from it and transfer it into your home.

    Just think about all the nooks and crannies under couches and book cases etc. you need to bring up to about 76 or so.........it takes a while.


    Robbie
  22. hfjeff

    hfjeff New Member

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    On to the blocking plate.... Supposed to be back up the 80's this week - one extreme to the other - so this might be a good opportunity to get a blocking plate in. Is it basically just a piece of plate steel split in half with a hole in it, that sits on top of the damper? Does it have to be fastened in place and does it need to have a gasket or seal around the liner and against the damper? I have a brother in law who is a welder so if I come up with a cardboard template I'm sure he can make it.
  23. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Hog...
    "As always" you always find the best words to "get the point across"...lol
  24. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    ...As any "veteran" wood burner would tell a "newbie"...You're on the right track.

    Heating with a wood stove isn't just a "fire and forget" process. It takes a season or two before "you get the hang of it".

    A little time and patience is all you need. You'll do fine.
  25. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    You have the basic idea, there is a lengthy article on blockoff plates in the Hearth Wiki that goes into the details a bit more. However you normally do attach them w/ screws or tapcons in order to hold them in place, seal around the pipe with furnace cement, and around the outside with either cement or high temp silicone. It is also a good idea to throw some Kaowool or other mineral insulation on top of the plate before you nail it down (don't use regular fiberglass, it isn't rated for the temps) - the plate is an air barrier, but doesn't do a lot of thermal insulating - the kaowool is good insulation but won't block air, the combo is the best of both worlds.

    Gooserider
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