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About to take the plunge and would appreciate some insight; Jotul, VC or ?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Black Locust Burner, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Black Locust Burner

    Black Locust Burner New Member

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    I am looking for some advise as I am about to upgrade my little Lopi Sheffield with a 2000+sf capable stove. From what I've been readin this is a very respectful and knowledgeable group who help answer questions without being rude (I didn't think you could find that on the internet!).

    Here's where I'm at:
    I added 1300sf last year to a 1000sf house, did not upgrade the oil burner and my little Lopi is undersized. The old portion of the house is very OLD and DRAFTY. Originally a tavern in 1770 or so and a schoolhouse was (moved a litlle over a mile) attached to it in 1832. Too bad there is no video of that.

    Below are the basics:
    • Stove is located on 1st floor Great Room (32'x16') in a corner of the new addition
    • 6' + of single wall pipe to ceiling, then about 14' of Selkirk Chimney through house-attic-roof
    • Slate Pad 58" x 58", will have 12"-13" from corner of new stove to wall (3/8" slate over 1/2" cement board)
    • 9' ceilings in great room w/ceiling fan
    • open floor plan between new/old leads to 18' ceiling w/ceiling fan in existing house (open kitchen/dining area/living room) plus hallway to office and bathroom, hard to reach with stove heat
    • Upstairs has 2 bedrooms, one bath above great room and one bed/bath in existing
    • Lots of windows, doors especially in new portion
    I have a quote on a Jotul F600 w/blower, delivered, $3300. I am about to go look at the VC Defiant but hear mixed things about VC's stability and product quality in recent years. What is important to me is ease of use so when I'm out of town my wife can add wood without having to restart from scratch, burn times to allow easy starting in morning (10 hrs would be great), delivery and move the stove into position, and 2200'sf + capacity.
    We hit -6F a few mornings ago in Upstate NY so I am in need of a good heat source for the space - I burn alot of locust and other hardwoods, no pine. I figure on burning 5 cords/yr with the new stove.
    Please Help!

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  2. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    sounds custom made for a Woodstock Progress Hybrid. Have you looked at the Woodstock's? Check them out on line. Heats 2200 feet with ease, in excess of 12 hour burns, easy twice a day 24/7 burning, easy to control, very comfortable heat, miserly in wood usage, capable of putting out a wide range of heat as demanded, beautiful stove, well built, will last a lifetime, moneyback six month warranty, fabulous customer service.
    Pallet Pete likes this.
  3. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, sound like an ideal setup for a Porgress Hyrbrid. I wish my 2000 sq ft was like yours!! My house is upsdie down, great room on top instead. A PH would heat your entire house, easy with very little wood from what I have seem this thing do. (my PH is only 3 weeks old now....).

    PS- Where are you located?
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    You're on the right track getting a 3 cu ft stove. In this class there are several contenders. The F600 and the Quad Isle Royale being the established standards, with the Hearthstone Manchester replacing the Bennington. Newcomers worth checking out are the Woodstock Progress Hybrid (soapstone cat), Lopi Cape Cod hybrid (cast iron cat), unless you need a blower. That's not an option for the PH.
    firefighterjake and BrowningBAR like this.
  5. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I agree with BeGreen (and he listed a good portion of the stoves that will fit your needs). A stove in the range of a 3 cu ft firebox is needed.

    From Jotul you have the F600, but the F55 is also an option as the firebox is nearly the same size as the F600.

    As it regards the VC Defiant? I run the previous design for Defiants. They will provide 14+ hours of 300+ degree heat. The new designs are less expensive to maintain than the previous generation. But, VC stoves do require more maintenance than other stoves. The Defiant has run great for me, and I bought mine used. It puts out a ton of heat and it is very efficient. But the catalytic system is not the best and it is behind Woodstock and Blaze King in terms of temperature control.

    Can I recommend a Defiant? The answer is no. I have no problems to report on the Defiant or the Encore other than the increased amount of maintenance. But, there is a long line of people that have had problems with the stoves and you can not ignore that. I do feel the new designs are cheaper to maintain and offer greater efficiency to a stove that already gave you 14+ hours of usable heat. But, VC's track record is still dodgy at this point.
  6. eyefish2

    eyefish2 New Member

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    I am into my second year burning with an Jotul Oslo 500. This stove is installed in our 20' X 20" addition that has a 14' opening into our 12'x30' kitchen/dining area. Addition has 10' ceiling with 8' in the kitchen. The stove has no issues heating this area and the three bedrooms on the other end of it. I have to be careful I don't heat us out of the house.(burn oak). Easy to push 75 degrees when it is 10 degrees F outside. I can get 8 hr burn times without too much trouble. Air control on the Oslo is just one lever on front and is easy to control. Fire responds good to it. Also a very cool stove to watch burn with the secondaries rolling and rolling and rolling.
    With that said, I would consider a catalyst stove in the future to have longer burn times and hopefully not so hot of a stove. No experience with these.
  7. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    We did all the research. Wife wanted something that looked good, I knew we had 3000 sq ft to heat. So far love our Quadrafire Isle Royale. Still learning about it, but it heats the whole house nicely. It has a huge fire box, I can get in 24 inch logs, I can fit 5-6 in there for all night heat.
  8. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I can second Brownings experience. My encore heats just fine if you take care of it but is more touchy in operation than Woodstock/BK appear to be. Its quite easy to have it run into over fire if you are not careful about the load and draft.


    BTW, are you willing to share house photos? 1770 and 18ft ceilings sounds intriguing.
  9. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like a beautiful setting. You probably want something really pretty to go with the old northeast vibe of the place which both those stoves will give you for sure.

    The Jotul wins my vote with the simplicity award. But I wonder with your need to make it easier for the Mrs. and give you LONG burn times why not consider a Blaze King Princess. They are easy to use, regulate the heat and give very long burn times. Maybe not quite so pretty as the pretty Jotuls and VCs.. but you'll get plenty of heat. :)
  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Between Jotul and VC . . . Jotul. That said . . . BeGreen offered some other viable alternatives to consider as well.
  11. slindo

    slindo Member

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    I would take a Jotul over a VC any day. You just can't trust VC to stand behind its stoves.

    We have an Oslo now and its a good stove but not perfect by a long shot. It always makes it through the night, but just barely. That's the tradeoff for not having a cat. While its a lot less fussy to operate than, say, a VC Encore, it is not fool proof . Getting a fire going again takes a certain amount of finesse, and the ash tray requires cleaning every other day. This is not a simple job because, unless you do it when the fire is almost out, the stoves goes into a runaway combustion mode while the ash door is open, roaring and pulsating like a chimney fire. Worse, ashes falling in the back of the pit often block the box from going back into position, so the door can't be closed until the ashes are removed with an appropriate tool, which can be a quite intimidating job while the stove is in its runaway mode. Once you get used to it its pretty easy to deal with, but not a job for the timid or inexperienced.
    It's also a relatively filthy stove to operate - you cannot open the front door without making a mess, and most Oslo owners take great pains not to.
    But on the other hand, its a solid, simple device and should last a long time without needing service.
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Slindo . . . what are you burning and how are you burning? Emptying the ash pan every other day seems to be quite a bit. Burning 24/7 here I end up emptying my ash pan every 3-4 days.
  13. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    A few questions/comments:
    1. Why are you emptying the ash pan every day?
    2. Why aren't you keeping ash in the firebox? This would eliminate the "runaway combustion" when the ash pan is open.
    3. The issue with getting the fire going seems to indicate a weak draft or wet wood, which could also be the reason why you are emptying the ash pan every day.
    4. Every stove with an ash pan has ash that fall behind the stove. The Encore does this. So does the Defiant and the Heritage.
    5. Most stoves are messy when opening the front door. The 30 is. So is the Encore and Defiant. So was the Heritage. The Oslo seems no different.
    Joful likes this.
  14. Black Locust Burner

    Black Locust Burner New Member

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    2011-12-15_19-48-21_118.jpg
    A few quick pictures from the construction time last year. I really need to update with the finished work, at least you can see how the stove is situated. The opening into the old part of the house is about 8' long and turns a corner at the new stairs shown below, with another 5' opening. The TV is in the right corner in the above picture so there is a chair and sectional located close to the stove, facing the TV.
    Can anyone weigh in on the possibility that a Cast Iron stove will be overwhelmingly hot at 4-6' distance for seating, compared to steel? I have gotten away from the soapstone but am still looking at the Jotul 600 and some steel stoves. I really feel strongly about the TOP LOAD stoves as the 600 is a side load and may be just at the limit with a corner install, eve if I face it more toward the left wall.

    Thanks for all the input, I have taken hard looks at all the stoves you mentioned.


    2011-12-15_19-49-34_608.jpg 2011-12-01_16-04-15_657.jpg
    ailanthus likes this.
  15. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    You might want to find a better way to have dry wood rather than having it sit on top of the stove.
    rideau likes this.
  16. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Open the front door an inch before opening the ash pan to avoid the blast furnace effect.
  17. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    In his defence . . .

    #2) Even with ash in the firebox opening the ash pan door does produce a wicked draft . . . but I always figure it's only for a brief amount of time to pull the ash pan out and then scoop out the ashes that have fallen behind the ash pan . . . less than a minute tops.

    #5) Perhaps many front loading stoves do this . . . but friends that have front loaders never seem to have half the mess I do when I use the front door. The Oslo seems to me to be more prone to letting the ash build up and then allowing it to fall out . . . not too big a deal . . . just mildly irritating since it is a very good stove.
  18. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I can't imagine it being any worse the the VC stoves and the Heritage. You open the door, and you get ash spilling out all over the place. And the VC stoves have andirons.
  19. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Are you opening the ash pan during a full burn? Why do that? Open the ash pan door right before a reload. No blast furnace effect.
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I always thought I had marginal draft... but even with a small bed of coals I can get the blast furnace upon opening that ash door for more than a minute. That's why I crack the door first - it breaks the suction.


    I get the same problem. I think that because the stove is designed to be used with the ash pan, the box is fairly shallow below the front door opening. I do use the ash pan and find I need to empty it every 2 days when 24/7 to avoid spillage.
  21. slindo

    slindo Member

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    Please note that my remarks were aimed at the OPs comment about wanting a stove his wife could manage while he was away, so I was trying to point out a few quirks of the stove that someone new to wood stove management and home alone might find intimidating. Have you heard the noise a Jotul makes when the ash door is open and the pan removed with two much coals left in the box? It sounds like a jet flying low overhead, like a chimney fire does, and the whole house seems to be vibrating. No, I don't mean this happens every time, but when it does it really gets your attention, and other stoves I have owned never did anything like it. Easily handled if you know what to do, but scary otherwise.

    Also I never said we emptied it every day. I said every other day. Because that's how often it needs emptying.

    Re ash in the firebox, my wife usually gets up earlier than me, so she gets to clean and restoke. She has different ideas about the virtue of ash in the firebox than I do and I often wake up to the sound of scraping.

    Yes all stoves with ash pans run the risk of getting clogged, but in 25 years of operating the Encore we never had it happen so bad we could not close the ash door, though it has already happened a couple of times with the Oslo. Ditto the spilling out from the front door problem. Sure it happened with our Vigilant and Encore, but not as badly as with the Oslo. With the VC a quick touchup with a whisk broom was all it took, with the Jotul we seem to be sweeping the floor a lot.


    Jharkin, I had not heard the tip about opening the side door before the ash door (it's not in the Jotul manual), but it makes perfect sense. I will have to ask the supervisor of the morning shift whether she has tried it.
    Black Locust Burner likes this.
  22. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I just thought of opening the door at the same time... not in my manual either. I think the manual writers assume you wont empty the ashes while the stove is lit.

    I get the exact same pulsating jet engine sound when opening only the ash door with hot coals.
  23. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    If you dont mind the price the Wood Stock Progress Hybrid is a soap stone that from what alot of people have written is very versatile as in will burn down low or give you alot of heat. Has a a very nice 14-16 hour burn time and backed by one of the best companies out there for service and support.

    I would take a look at it.

    http://www.wmur.com/Woodstock-Soapstone-Company/-/9858568/13090606/-/u1vrhmz/-/index.html

    I know you said you got away from soap stone but soap stone has its advantages as in stores twice the heat as cast iron or steel stoves and puts out the stored heat after the fire has gone out.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  24. Bub381

    Bub381 Minister of Fire

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    Stone sure holds the heat.24 hrs after loading, my stove was still 100 degrees.I know that doesn't heat a house at 100 but it's an example.I'll take the soft heat.
  25. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Heck no . . . after an overnight fire most typically . . . or before a reload in the evening.

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