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Afraid of TOO MUCH heat...please advise

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Nudge, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. Fod01

    Fod01 Feeling the Heat

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    2 cents time... wish my stove was a little bigger, though not for heat output. My 1.5 cu' insert gets the livingroom toasty, and the layout of the house makes it hard to move the heat around. A longer burn cycle would be nice. Right now I'm burning shorts, so I get maybe 3 hrs when I'm actively burning on the weekends. When I get to the full size splits, that will increase, but still....

    Gabe

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  2. Nudge

    Nudge New Member

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    OK, so taking in some more of what's been commented on...

    1. I DO hear you on the cat thing...I'm just not going that way. Good points, and I understand the efficiency, but I'm just not going that way.
    2. Thanks to the couple of you who pointed out the difference between turning down a large fire too far, and just making a smaller hotter fire. I can see now that that gives the larger unit more versatility.
    3. I haven't brought THIS aspect up yet...so here's something new to chew on (new for this thread). Given the dimensions of the living room, the "Chairwoman of the Board" prefers a flush insert. But I've read, and it certainly makes sense, that one that sticks out a bit might offer better heat dispersion. If you buy that argument, do you think it matters enough for me to make the case that it's WORTH losing the space in favor of a non-flush unit? Or are the better flush units going to do all we need?
    4. Given point #2 above (i.e. "go bigger"), the two units I've really liked thus far are the Jotul Rockland (3cu box, 70k claimed BTUs) and the Quadra-Fire Voyageur Grand (2.35 cu box, 52k claimed BTUs). You'll recall from my OP, that our fireplace is LARGE...41in wide at the mouth, so clearly we could fit that bigger box no prob. I like the solidity of both units (can NOT say that for the build quality on the VC Montpelier), but I wonder whether that mid-sized box, in conjunction with a fan in the hallway, might offer a better balance of heat vs livability. Even IF it means needing to keep the baseboards warm in those far rooms. Thoughts on these two, both in terms of size, and quality?

    Suggestions of others would be great, but please not CAT or free-standing. If you feel a non-flush unit makes more sense too, even given the Boss's dimensional desires...please make the case.

    - Nudge
  3. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    All I know about inserts I've read here. But, here's a couple of thoughts.

    - Go bigger! Don't forget you have a good size home in a cold climate and a large stove room. Do not fear the heat. I'm afraid if you get a 2.35 cft firebox, you'll end up wishing you had a bigger one. Also, useable firebox sizes are often different than what the manufacturer claims (just to confuse you more). I'm not sure on those two. If you can, take a tape measure with you when you check them out. If you don't hear from any owners of those models in this thread, start a new with the stove names your are considering in the title. That will probably stir up some comments from owners.

    -Keep the Boss happy!

    Good luck.
  4. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    Get as big of a firebox as you can have in that house. This will give you long burn times, easier to load oversized or irregular shaped pieces, and max heat for cold nights. If you have too hot of a stove room, point some box fans from the colder areas to that room, and the heat will even out some.

    Catalytic is going to requiring very dry fuel. You can get away with less than perfectly seasoned with some inserts / stoves. This is something that on this forum you will never be encouraged to do, but in reality for those, especially getting started, it is not easy to have wood that has been c/s/s for 2 - 3 years.
  5. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    There is a link "Stove Reviews" at the top of the page. It's a good resource to see what other folks think about the stove they own. The list can be sorted via Manufacturer and model. I found it to be useful .... but then again.... one person's opinion is just that. I look for a pattern of similar likes or dislikes before I give any of that information any credence.
  6. Nudge

    Nudge New Member

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    Actually wood-wise, we're ok. We bought this home last summer, and prior to that, we had rented just down the road, and that home had an old-fashioned wood burner. We had bought 1-yr seasoned wood there and were using it, so when we moved I made trips back and forth with my new tractor and wagon, bringing it here and stacking it...about 1 1/2 cords were left at the time we moved. So at this point that wood is probably 30 months seasoned. There was also about 1 cord of unsplit wood here that the previous owner left...I think it was about 12 months cut, so I split it and re-stacked it.

    So what we have in total is probably 40% cedar, 40% oak, and 20% maple. You can tell me whether those are "great," "good" or "just ok"...I dunno. But it's what we have.

    We can buy would if we like, but given about 5 acres of our 11 acres is solid woods, and there's a LOT of fallen old growth from Irene last year and Sandy this year (probably 75% oak, 25% maple + birch)...come spring I reckon I've got plenty of firewood that comes from clearing just what's fallen. Tractor w/skidder + chainsaw + gas-powered splitter + wagon + sore triceps.

    So maybe we're 2 years away from being on our own cut cycle?

    Can anyone give me a rough idea of what the split/stacked yield from say, one single 30 ft oak is?

    - Nudge
  7. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    If those are full cords (128 cft), you've got a nice start. If those are face cords, not so much.

    Most wood needs to be split and and stacked a minimum of one year (2 years is better). Oaks needs a minimum of 2 years (3 years is better).

    Oak is great wood when dry. There are tons of different kinds of maple and they range from decent to great depending. I've never burned cedar, but I'm sure it will burn up fast and not leave many coals. However, it all counts towards heating your house.

    You should probably plan on 3 to 4 full cords (not face cords) a year burning 24/7.

    A 30 ft tall tree isn't very big and must be pretty skinny. A full cord is 128 cft feet of STACKED wood. Accounting for air space in the stack, you need around 90 cft of solid wood to make a cord. There are calculators online if you do a search or you can just use some math to get a rought estimate. It all depends on how much of the small branches you keep for firewood, how many branches, etc. A small tree like 30ft tall isn't going to be much wood at all. However, 5 acres of woods that already needs a lot of clean up should keep you in wood for several years.
  8. Nudge

    Nudge New Member

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    Wow, great info. I know a true cord is 4x4x8, and that's what we have.

    Your comment has me thinking, though. As I clear my woods, and then even select some to cut down...given it's my property and I can replant any damn thing I like, so I guess I should do some research on what to plant. Clearly some things burn better, some season faster, the cost of planting varies, and what grows best in the southern NY climate needs to be taken into account.

    I read somewhere that certain birches as considered almost ideal, and that there was some royal guy in Germany a few hundred years ago who went out of his way to seed huge sections of the Black Forrest with it specifically for fire wood.

    I'll search the forum for thoughts on this after all these helpful people have helped me decide on the right insert.

    - Nudge
  9. dorkweed

    dorkweed Guest


    Don't dismiss a quality scrounge if'n it comes alone also!!!! Free and close and/convenient are almost as good as getting it off your own property!!!
  10. whit

    whit Member

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    Southern VT
    Two thoughts here: 1. There's a serious difference between the feel of radiant heat and the feel of convective heat. Wood stoves are primarily radiant heat. To most of us, the difference in feel is substantial. Radiant heat in my experience has a much wider comfort range. It's like the heat of the sun. Putting aside differences in humidity, it can feel as comfortable at 65 as at 85, or anywhere in between. Same with being in the room with the woodstove. By contrast, convective heat has a far narrower comfort range. Get down to 68 with convective heat and you'll be looking to add a layer; get up to 75 with convective heat and you'll find it stuffy. At least if you're like me. So "overheating" with a woodstove to the low 80s in close proximity is not at all the same as the uncomfortable feeling from having the thermostat that high on your central heating.

    2. Humidifiers can be serious problems. They not only are often breeding grounds for bacteria and molds, but in an older house their moisture will perfuse through the outer walls, causing them to become damp(er) inside. That leads to less insulative value, more rot, and peeling paint on the exterior.
  11. simple.serf

    simple.serf Feeling the Heat

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    I understand the boss situation. My solution was to have my wife come down the the stove shop with me, and I got her input on the stove. I now know that she doesn't like the big old cast iron stoves like I do, because she likes to see the fire. Our final selection had was the stove with the biggest firebox and the biggest glass (with the best glass replacement warranty) that could use a 6" stack.
  12. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    I appreciate the difference between radiant and convection, though both stoves ultimately heat the air inside of a room and that is the goal of any stove inside of one's home. Here is a link that I thought goes into some helpful detail regarding the difference of radiant and convection heat (for anyone who is interested. I can't argue what kind of stove anyone prefers. That's not science but a personal preference. Back to my original post. There is no such thing as dry heat. Heat is heat.

    http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/horadiantconv.htm

    Also, wouldn't suggest not using a humidifier because it might cause mold for the same reason I don't suggest to avoid driving an automobile or using a wood stove because of their inherent dangers. Indoor air gurus would argue that low of humidity can cause sinus infections and respiratory complications. Indoor air quality is a subject unto itself and humidity levels are a fraction of that subject matter!

    Regarding the use of a home humidifier, knowing what the appropriate range of indoor humidity (based on the outside air temps) and measuring and adjusting your indoor humidity is a simple process. I have a humidifier that is automatic (turns on and shuts off automatically) and use it effectively to keep my home's humidity at an appropriate level (always based on outside air temperature). It's a bit of a pain filling the 2.5 gal container twice a day and adding a cap-full of anti bacteria solution, but to me the effort is well worth the additional comfort it affords. As a matter of fact, I don't know how I would do with out it in the winter time! Here is a link to chart that shows appropriate indoor humidity levels based on outside air temps. http://www.improvinghome.com/content/correct-humidity-level

    I would go so far and say, if you've never experienced the benefits of a humidifier (and appropriate home humidity levels) in the cold winter months, you don't know what you're missing! Of course that's based on my personal preference! Cheers! Have a happy and safe new year!
  13. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    IF you have a big stove sometimes you can burn 12 -15 hours a day instead of 24 . i frequently dont load my stove till the evening hours from the night before as the house is still pretty warm. I lose about half a degree an hour with a cold stove at 35 outside temp.
  14. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Also, with a big stove, you can still get usable heat even when surface temps are at 200 degrees if the stove is over-sized for your needs. 200 degrees won't be enough to maintain temps, but it will slow down the cooling process of your house. With a stove that isn't over-sized you will need to maintain higher temps.
  15. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    And of course the wood splitter. ;)
  16. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I think thats is what is going on BB The stove will stay about 150-200 all day on coals from a load the night before. Still some useable heat that slows the cooling off . Without the stove warm id probably lose about 1 degree an hour or more.
  17. Nudge

    Nudge New Member

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    UPDATE

    First I should thank ALL who contributed to this now dormant thread. If there is one single greatest thing one could say about the internet, it's the ability to obtain candid information and opinions from such a broad swath of people. Never before could people share their collective knowledge so readily...and forums like this are a testament to that.

    OK, so I went with the Jotul C550 Rockland wood burning insert. It was installed a week ago, and it's been burning nicely since, only pausing to clean out the ashes and clean the glass...which we've only had to do once, thus far. (Which makes me think we're making fires of appropriate temps.)

    In any event, I have nothing but good things to say as yet. The build quality on this unit is EXCEPTIONAL. I may be new to inserts, but I'm not new in this world. It's heavy, the door is heavy, the latch closes like the door on a new car, the hinges are big and solid. The majolica enamel finish we went with looks very nice in our living room. (see avatar picture to the left)

    The guys who installed it did a great job fitting the lining in, and custom-fitting the top plate so we could keep our existing chimney cap.

    To date we're getting about 3-hour burns per load, bearing in mind that we're adding wood when the current fire looks about like it's weakening....NOT waiting until there are nothing left but coals.

    For overnight burns we've been loading up as much as we can about an hour before bed, at which time the fire is roaring, and we slam the damper all the way down. Going to bed at 10pm, if I wake up to use the john at 3am or so, there's still a fire full of bright orange coals, and the fan pushing good hot air out. When the alarm goes off at 7am, there's still enough hot coals (though mostly not orange any longer) to put a fresh load of wood in and it ignites after a couple minutes.

    As we are neophytes to this, we're still learning, so I imagine over time we SHOULD get even better burns. Our wood is well seasoned...mostly 15% MC as I've spot checked it. I bought one of those General moisture meters with the two prongs off of Amazon for $32 shipped. It's a pain to try and shove them all the way into the wood, but I quickly learned I don't need to, because given my split pieces are roughly all the same thickness, I realized the difference between simply touching the prongs to the surface, and pushing them all the way in, is about 3%. So now I just take a surface reading and add 3% to estimate the MC.

    Just one other thing. I had read elsewhere that Jotul (and other makers) were discouraging people from using bio-bricks in their stoves, and that Jotul specifically says it negates the warranty. Curious, I called them up, and the gentleman I spoke to in Maine CONFIRMED that this is indeed TRUE. They say the bricks have an MC so low that the stoves over-fire. That was a bit of a disappointment, as I'd like to at least have the OPTION of burning them...specifically the RedStone EcoBricks that Tractor Supply carries, which people seem to give rave reviews compared to others. Dunno...maybe they only say that because you aren't supposed to load 10 of them at a time in there, and they know someone will off course do this, even if warned not to...but really, using one under some not-quite-seasoned wood shouldn't be a problem. *shrug* I'm rolling the idea around.

    - Nudge
    ailanthus likes this.

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