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Anyone want to help me narrow down my choices on my first Pellet Stove?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Zackb911, May 10, 2008.

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  1. Zackb911

    Zackb911 New Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    Loc:
    Weymouth, MA
    I have a 120yo 1500sq foot house that is currently heated using forced hot water radiators and oil heat ($$). All the living area is on the main floor with an unfinished basement and attic. I had cellulose insulation blown in 3 years ago but still have the old, original, and drafty windows...

    I looked yesterday at my local Harmon dealer which is only 2 miles away and they only carry Harman. I've heard good things but the model I liked most was the Advance, which they sell at MSRP and since they have one in stock from last year they're selling it for 2007 pricing at $3101 I believe. I do want something thermostatically controlled, auto-igniting, and quality. (Do it once, do it right)

    Now in looking up the Harmon Advance on here all I heard of were problems for the most part, now I know you usually don't hear from all the trouble free people, but it still got me concerned. I see many with the XXV and P68 any reason they're more common? Cosmetically I like the fireplace look of the Advance since this will go in my living room, looks classy, and I do not have and always wanted a fireplace.

    So my questions:
    1. Are there other models/manufacturers I should be looking at?
    2. Is the Advance a good stove and typically trouble free?
    3. Do these usually sell at MSRP or can you shop around and get a better deal?
    4. They want $350 for the vent kit, $500 for installation, $350 for a hearth pad... Sounds absurd to me! Hearth pad I can do, but are there other places to buy the Harman vent kit and is DIY install advisable?

    Any other insight you guys have just let me know!

    FYI: I'm in Weymouth, MA 20 minutes south of Boston so if there are other stores to check out or pellet suppliers please let me know as I'll definitely be buying one this summer!

    Thanks!!
    Zack

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    South Puget Sound, WA
    You might also want to look at Quadrafire and Enviro pellet stoves. But the best return on your investment at this point would be to tighten up the house. Addressing the windows, even if just with tight storm windows, fixing leaks around the sill (in the basement) and then insulating it will pay off no matter what you are heating with.
  3. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    New replacement windows have to be a priority.
    John
  4. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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    While I certainly agree replacing the windows would save some energy, I would suggest thinking twice before changing them.

    I have a 100+ y/o house in New England as well. I changed the windows the first year I bought the house to save on heating costs. Looking back, I now regret doing this. I hate the fact that the replacement windows don't have as much glass area (probably 15-20% less) so there's a loss of ambient light. Much more importantly, I regret tossing the original windows. The house lost a lot of its original charm and historic feel. I suspect the value of the house probably decreased as well for the same reason since buyers of historic houses usually want original windows.

    If your house wasn't so old, I'd say change the windows. In your case, I'd suggest buying some good quality storm windows instead...
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Harmans are usually close to retail (list) price, although certain models at certain times may be a little better. I would say you cannot go wrong with a Harman if you can afford it. They are very heavy duty and now well backed by one of the larger stove companies (same company as Quadrafire).

    If you like the style, I say go for it.
  6. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    580
    Loc:
    Shokan, NY
    Well, those prices you mentioned seem very good. But then, it's all relative right? I sell all those things for quite a bit more in my market.

    There no such thing as a trouble free pellet stove. You must first recognize that fact and then resolve yourself to what is involved in owning and burning a pellet stove. I've been selling, repairing, burning, and maintaining pellet stoves for over 15 years. Haven't found one I like more than Harman. As pellet stoves go, it's the easiest to deal with. Easy to clean, easy to repair, burns any grade pellet. It's worth the extra money.

    BTW, I also sell Avalon and Lopi at well over $3000. That's what a good top of the line pellet stove costs. We tried selling lower priced stoves. It didn't work out too well. Stick with the high end and your chances of success are much higher.

    Sean
  7. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
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    Zack I'm two towns over from you.
    You must be shopping at that stove
    shop over on Columbian? I shopped
    around the local places (in 2005) and everyone
    wanted $500'ish for installation and
    $400 or so for the vent kit.

    There's a stove shop over on rte 138 in canton. >
    Stove Depot Hearth & Home
    1049 Turnpike St
    Canton, MA 02021
    (781) 821-0777

    Russo in Randolph sells pellet stoves
    and they carry Enviro. Their web site: http://fireplaceseast.com/07_pellet_stoves.htm

    Woodstoves & Fireplaces Unlimited on 28 in Middleboro sells pellet stoves
    if they are still in business I'm not sure but my brother knows a guy who bought
    an Enviro from them 5 years ago:

    193 E Grove St
    Middleboro, MA 02346
    (508) 947-8835

    I don't know how reputable any of these places are. Just forwarding
    the info to you. Hope it helps.
  8. Alan

    Alan Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Northern California
    I have an Advance. As a first time pellet owner it took time to get used to the noise...be aware these things are not exatly quiet.

    I also has smoke problems due to exhaust piping. Immediately after the the exhaust I had a 90 degree elbow which connected to 21 feet of pipe going strait up. Since it is more than 15 feet in total length, the manual states to use 4 inch pipe rather than 3 inch. The dealer installed a 3 inch elbow, followed by 3 to 4 inch adaptor, then the 21 foot pipe which exhausts through the roof.

    To make a long story short, the elbows leaked...several of them. The dealer used Simpson Duravent, which I'm not impressed with. Then the elbow joints were coated with silicon, which helped but didn't eliminate the problem. Finally the 3 inch elbow was replaced by a 4 inch, and a 4 to 3 inch adaptor was attached at the stove exhaust. This seems to have solved my smoke problem, although I don't know if it's just luck of the draw in finding a non-leaking Simpson elbow.

    The final issue I have is a "stove smell" that starts only after the stove gets hot -- after burning for a half hour or so. The hotter I burn the stove, the stronger is gets. (It's hardly noticeable at the lowest burn rate.) I don't know if its still paint curing or residual oils in the stove, or if I have an internal slight stove leak. I've used the stove since last Oct, but living in California, I only burned about 1.25 tons of pellets. The smell is different than the smoke I saw/smelled leaking out of the elbow. It's a bit like the smell of unburnt pellets...but not quite. It's hard to describe.

    --Alan
  9. Alan

    Alan Member

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    Loc:
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    One more thing I forgot to mention about the Advance. The left-side glass gets fogged up quickly. From all I gather, this is part of the design.

    --Alan
  10. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    I used Selkirk Metalbestos brand and I`m not impressed with that brand either. The 90 degree elbows were loose and they twisted easily . However the hi temp silicone and aluminum tape strengthened the pipes and are now very solid.
    John
  11. Alan

    Alan Member

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    Loc:
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    John, do you also have the Advance? Do you have the "stove smell" I described? Thanks, Alan
  12. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    No Alan , I do not have the Advance. Mine is the P38. I don`t get any smoke or smell since I am vented into a 2 story stainless steel interior chimney that produces excellent draft.
    John
  13. jchick

    jchick New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
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    Loc:
    planville,ma
    hey Zack,
    I did go to the Mansfield Harman dealer and the price they have listed for the Advance was 2849.00. I dont know if this is last years model or not. I was not thrilled with the service (to busy to talk to me), but the price seems to be reasonable. The other posative note is that they run an ad in the local paper once every couple of months for a couple of hundred off that listed price. Maybe it would be worth the phone call (Kirley Masonry and stone 508-339-3700). I wish you luck in your search I seem to be in the same boat as you with so many questions, brands, and comparisons. jeff
  14. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    South Coast MA
    If you are not thrilled with the dealer by just talking with him, IMO move on.
    If/When there is a problem with the stove, you will need to rely on that dealer
    for service.
  15. giggs222

    giggs222 New Member

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    Loc:
    Vermont
    Watch Harman. I've had problems for two years. Harman will note answer letters. Dealer has stopped trying to fix. I know have an $3500.00 anchor.
  16. Turbozcs2003

    Turbozcs2003 New Member

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    Care to elaborate on model, installation and what the problem is???

    What did the dealer attempt to do to fix??
  17. TboneMan

    TboneMan Member

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    That's too bad. There are many quality window manufactures out there, most are able to make a window that would more closely match the historic look with the added benefit of greater efficiency.
  18. giggs222

    giggs222 New Member

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    10
    Loc:
    Vermont
    It's the Accentra-2. Dealer installed. WHEN it runs, it runs rich. Pipe clogged twice. Side of house brown. When it stops it shows 6 blinking lights (out of fuel). It takes about 8 times of trying to start, then it may run. Ash bucket fills in 2 days with unburnt pellets. The glass turns black in 2 or 3 hours after cleaning. I've had a blow back that cost MY insurance company $6000.00. The dealer has stopped coming after being here 10 or 11 times. Called Harman and they hung up on me. I sent a letter to Dane Harman and he never answered it. I'm know dealing with the Attorney General of Vermont. I hope this helps.
  19. JohnnyAsbury

    JohnnyAsbury New Member

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  20. compressedwoodsupplier

    compressedwoodsupplier New Member

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    I am currently selling Breckwell stoves seems like a very good line. I have gone to classes on the stoves and am very happy to say that they are a low end stove and seem like so far very easy to maintain and fix if the problem ever arises.
    any questions let me know
  21. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    you're likely sucking air, in my experience a firebox leak can produce what you describe and they can be the devil to find, look closely at all the seams of the firebox, see if you find one which does not have soot all the way into the joint where the two pieces meet, if you find any , push some furnace cement into the crack where the pieces join, this likely will not be a perminant fix but could show you where the leak (if it is one) is at. now , without being there and able to look at it , its a guess on my part but i think its a good one. after sealing any prospective leaks , refire the unit and see if the flame looks more active. if so its a leak in an area you sealed, if not either you didnt find it or im wrong. hope this helps
  22. Zackb911

    Zackb911 New Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
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    Loc:
    Weymouth, MA
    Wow thank you so much for the replies and please keep them coming!!

    1. Yes I am looking into replacement windows as well, currently leaning towards Anderson Woodwright replacements, with wood interior and clad exterior. ~$440/each with 13 to replace.

    2. I'll check out the place in Mansfield, $300 less is $300 saved or a point of negotiation with my local store.

    3. Quadrafire seems to be recommended fairly often so I will check them as well.

    I take it there are no definitive "worry free, best bang for the buck" models out there? In terms of noise how bad/good is the advance in comparison to other equivalent models? I am fairly handy so maintenance and occasional troubleshooting don't concern me if that's the nature of the beast, I just want to make sure I get a good stove and have no regrets down the road!

    Thanks and please keep the info coming!

    Zack
  23. mralias

    mralias Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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    I just bought a Quadrafire insert 1200i. I currently have a Qudrafire 3100i insert wood buring and have had good results with it for the last 12 years. Only had to replace the fan set once in 12 years. I went with the Quad because the woodstove has done real well. I'm tired of lugging wood thus the change. I bought the stove at the place in Canton, MA and they seemed very helpful and knowledgeable. They have a few on display and the 1200i according to them has been in their store for 12 years and still going strong. Got last years price however that deal is over. Paid about $3000 with the flue kit. Gonna install it myself as I put my own woodstove in and that is suppose to be harder to install than a pellet stove. I recommend going to the store and looking at them and ask what the most common part to be replaced to get a feel for how they work etc ... Good luck and let us know what you get. Oh and Kirley in Mansfield is getting $250 a ton on New England Pellet with $45 flat delivery fee. Seems to be the going rate in our area. Wish I lived more western MA, as you could get the same pellet for $205 delivered.
  24. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    This is unfortunate. Apparently your dealer does not know how to fix it. (And I am hearing only one side of the story so don't know for sure that this conclusion is correct). What he should have done is replace it with another unit. But many dealers, despite claims on this site to the contrary, are barely making any money and cannot bring themselves to pay the costs to correct these types of problems. It is short sited on their part, but it is a story often told. Many dealers may be nice folks but they are not yet very good business people and have not yet bought in to what it takes to satisfy customers. Many manufacturers are also behind the curve. How much better it would be if the dealer and manufacturer go out of their way to solve this issue instead of ignoring it?

    I sold a stinker of a pellet stove to a family a few years ago. We could not get the thing to work right. So, we apologized and offered to replace it with another brand that we knew to be of higher quality. They could pay the difference in cost for the stove only. We'd pay for all the labor involved. They couldn't afford to pay the difference, that's why they originally chose the cheaper brand. We offered to swap in our floor demo model as an even swap. They accepted and were very happy with the new stove even thought it didn't fit their room as nicely as the original stove. We sent the stinker back to the distributor and demanded our money back. We ended up with a happy customer and we ended up with no profit on the sale. We feel the happy customer will pay off more than the initial profit in the long run.

    Many dealers do not agree with me on this point. They tend to believe that they must preserve the profit from the original sale at all costs. At least that seems to be their position. Why else would they piss off their customer by ignoring an obvious problem and refusing to fix it? Dealers must figure out a way to respond to problems in such a way as to end up with satisfied customers and realize a profit at the same time. A business cannot survive without profit. But it most certainly cannot survive without customers. I believe that if you take care of the customer first the profit will follow - IF you structure your business correctly. The trick is learning how to profit even in the face of less-than-perfect products and human mistakes.

    Sean
  25. giggs222

    giggs222 New Member

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    Sean, thank you. I wish I was dealing with you. The things you mention are nuts on. The dealer is trying... but not hard enough. Harman... I just don't get it. I'm sure I'll win my suit, but it'll cost the dealer and Harman more this way. Where are you located? Thanks again.
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