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Breckwell vs. Harman Opinions

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by snowrider, Dec 5, 2007.

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  1. snowrider

    snowrider New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    Messages:
    26
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    I have had numerous problems with my Harman Advance for the last two years, squealing augers, feed motors, igniters, smoke in the hopper, banging noises, outside air problems, etc... After reading threads on Harman, many people are having the same issues. There is only one dealer in my area, and he has been useless. He likes to sell them, but not service them. Harman said the only one who can help me is the dealer as they do not service stoves.. I have just about had it. Harmans warrantee is only as good as the dealer honoring it. He will not exchange the stove, and tells me that things are normal. For the squeal I should remove and de-bur the auger, smoke in the hopper is normal at times, feed motors go, (he gave me a new one but I had to put it in myself!!), the banging is a pellet getting caught (it wakes us up two floors up and gets the dog barking), etc.. I'm getting no where at all.

    The only reason I got this Harman is because my father in law is friends with the dealer... long story, don't even ask....one would think a connection with a dealer would be helpful but this isn't the case. According to the both of them the sun rises and sets on the Harman brand name. I am the only one having issues according to them....

    There is Breckwell dealer not .5 mile away from me and they sell, install and service.. I am looking at the P2700. Can anyone let me know how the Breckwell brand is? Or, could anyone reccomend another brand.

    I cannot wait to back the truck up to the Harman Dealer and kick it off, I am that frustrated. I'm not happy about dropping more $$$ on a stove, but for peice of mind, it will be worth it.

    You folks have helped me in the past, and I would appreciate any feedback you might have.

    Thanks

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  2. latichever

    latichever Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Messages:
    78
    I have a Breckwell p2000 insert. This is its second heating season and it has not skipped a beat. Your mileage may vary. You can find complaints about every brand here. The only problem is that it's difficult to keep the big bay window clean.
  3. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    Messages:
    2,019
    Loc:
    Oakhurst, California, USA, Earth
    My picks
    Enviro Empress, milan or Meridian
    Avalon or Lopi Atoria/Yankee Bay

    Harmon
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,289
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    What a shame, F7. That is a LOT of money to drop on a stove and not have it work decently. In fact, it borders on criminal.....or at least the county consumer satisfaction agency (if you have one), the BBB, etc.

    Personally, I would fight, fight, fight.......even to the point of waiting for the "changeover" from Harman owning the company to the new buyer. I get pissed off just thinking about it - you are ready to spend another 3K after already spending that much or more????

    Now, I don't mean that you should aggravate yourself, just that you should file formal complaints with consumer agencies and let the dealer know you are doing so.

    Our shop had about 3 of these complaints in 20+ years, and we were (honestly) already addressing the problems when the letters came....and even phone calls (from the county consumer affairs dept.)......but you can bet we didn't want to have "marks" against us.

    My advice - first of all, post a review of the stove here int the ratings section. Name names - the dealer, etc. and also post your email on the rating (so perhaps the manufacturer will see it, or the dealer)....

    I'm not familiar with the exact laws in Ma., so perhaps some more educated forum members can fill me in - BUT, doesn't UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) say that products sold or intended for a certain use MUST BE ABLE TO BE USED THAT WAY?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_warranty

    Do something with ultimatum....such as sending a letter that says (in effect):

    1. Here are the problems
    2. Here is what you didn't or did do to fix them
    3. Therefore, this particular stove must be a lemon
    4. Replace or fix it by "this" date......(up to you whether you want to give them a chance to fix it, or whether it is already screwed up beyond repair in your opinion).

    Oh, please PM me or email webmaster@hearth.com with your email, and I will try to put you in touch with some higher up Harman folks...although that may do little good since they may have just been fired (don't know!)
  5. snowrider

    snowrider New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    Messages:
    26
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    Thanks Webmaster. I just PM'd you...
  6. buildingmaint

    buildingmaint Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Messages:
    459
    Loc:
    Oil City PA
    This is my third heating season with my Breckwell Big E stove and I have had no problems requiring new parts yet. I use the stove as my main heat source . I heat 600 sq ft first floor and a 250 sq ft second floor . I use 4 ton of pellets.
  7. MrWinkey

    MrWinkey New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2006
    Messages:
    146
    Loc:
    Eastern Washington
    I'm with the Craig.....

    You should have your problems addressed....first thing I would send a certified letter to the dealer outlining your problems and explaining the situation.....this way the ball should start rolling and at least you have a leg to stand on later.

    See if they call and if that gets anything going? Just a letter outlining problems and that you expect them to be fixed may work.

    Should nothing happen you can bring a copy of that to the BBB or the the local SAG office.
  8. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,244
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    I have had my Big-E pellet stove going on my second season. its great but loud. the company is great to email and is helpful with my Question's.

    John
  9. kinglew

    kinglew Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Messages:
    97
    Loc:
    new york
    i have breckwell 2700 second year running stove.great stove .my buddy has a harman nothing but problems
  10. Michele

    Michele New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    Messages:
    14
    Loc:
    CT
    We have a Breckwell P2000 insert going on year three. We've had to have a tech out to replace the circuit board when it was less than a year old and still covered under warranty. No problems since then (knock on wood). My brother just bought a free standing Harmon pellet stove yesterday. -So far so good.
  11. timtreva

    timtreva New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    central ny
    My Harman P 38 (installed 10/05/07) also squeaks, but only while feeding and when the stove is hot. I had a Harman Invincible previously, which also squeaked but I could attribute that to auger damage caused by a rock in a pellet bag.(I'll never again just dump a bag into the hopper without examining the contents first.)
    When I tore apart the Invincible last winter, I called Harman directly as I wasn't aware of the "you have to talk to the dealer" rule. As I remember it, the guy I talked to at the factory was pretty helpful. But I think I'm going to follow the advice on this site and do a thorough cleaning before I do anything else. I sure as hell don't want to pay for a service call on a stove that's only three months old.
    Kind of disconcerting to read that they're so lax in the service department.
  12. gw2kpro

    gw2kpro New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    188
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    Just installed a P2700 less than two weeks ago.

    I can't speak for the longevity of it, etc. but the thing's been running basiclaly 24/7 since I got it and hasn't missed a beat.

    I wanted to go through the dealer in my area, who sold a different type of stove, but the way I was treated when I was SHOPPING for the stove (they didn't have the time of day for me the 3 times I was in there, begging to spend money -- I wonder how much time they'd have for me when I had a problem?) -- forced me to buy one online. It was significantly cheaper, I'm nervous to not have a dealer in my area, but honestly, I was envisioning the exact scenario you're detailing -- I didn't know if it would be worse to have a bad dealer the mfr would keep referring me to, or no dealer, in the event I have problems.
  13. sorka

    sorka New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Messages:
    35
    Loc:
    Merced, CA
    I also just installed a P2700 last week. I had a few issues. 1) The remote control thermostat which I bought as an accessory is dead. Spoke directly with someone at Breckwell and they sent a replacement out the same day. 2) Major vibration coming from combustion blower. It's clearly an out of balance blower wheel. Breckwell also sent a replacement out the same day. Should be getting it on Monday. So as far as customer service goes, I give them an A+ especially given they're not making me go through the dealer and they're *trusting* my diagnosis. I was temporarily able to fix the vibration by wrapping some 181 tape around the motor and applying some tension by attaching the other end of the tape to the bottom edge of the stove housing(it's out of site). That completely quelled the vibration making it nearly silent except for the exchanger blower.

    Other than that, the unit hasn't missed a beat. I'm on my 4th brand of pellets and so far all 4 brands seem to be about the same. No klinkers yet. I've also discovered that keeping the damper more closed than open results in a lower exhaust temperature and a higher room blower temperature output. I have a K type thermocouple taped on the exhaust just after the appliance adapter and I'm using a Raytek ST-80 Pro to look at the radiated heat through the glass and the heat exchanger output.

    Our house is 4000 sqft. We're using the stove to heat the main living area (minus the bedrooms) which is about 2000 sqft. With it hovering around 32F outside, it's able to keep the inside at 70F on the middle setting of 3 (ranges 1 to 5).

    My assessment of the engineering of the unit?

    Simple. Probably designed for longevity rather than efficiency. It has some major design flaws for efficiency.

    1) The heat exchanger tubes aren't baffled. Most likely this is to facilitate cleaning with the built in scraper.

    2) The exchanger tubes are not in the direct path of combustion air flow. In fact, the air is drawn out of the combustion chambers via two ports on either side. The exchanger tubes are not only not baffled, but they're not even in the direct path of the exiting air.

    3) There are only two rows of exchanger tubes. We're losing a lot of heat through the exhaust. Via thermocouple measurements and IR measurements, the most efficient use of the stove comes by closing the damper almost all the way. It produces more ash, but the slower airflow allows the heat exchangers to extract more energy resulting in a greater temperature difference between the exiting air from the exchanger blower and the exhaust. On setting 3, the exiting air from the exchanger is considerably hotter than when the damper is open 1/2 way and the flame is aggressive. Closing the damper down raises the temperature of the room blower air and lowers the temperature of the exhaust. It would be far more efficient to have the combustion air/fuel ratio ideal and have much much more surface area for exchange. If I had a secondary output heat exchanger, I could run the damper much more open and get more efficient combustion and more efficient heat exchange.

    4) The combustion blower is not variable. It's fixed at 3000 RPMs. Therefor it is necessary to adjust the damper at all settings. How hard could it have been to have a variable speed damper and an O2 sensor on the exhaust to adjust the air fuel ratio to optimum???????

    But I can't complain mainly because of the price. I called about 10 dealers in northern california and they all wanted between $2800 and $3500 for the stove with no accessories and no installation. I bought it online at one of Breckwell's authorized dealers www.ruralking.com. They're *regular* price on the P2700 is $1599. Shipping was $127.
  14. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,244
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    Sweet Review. good Luck.
    John
  15. Souzafone

    Souzafone Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    305
    Loc:
    Freetown, Massachusetts
    Owing a pellet stove is a lot like owning a specialty car, if you don't take the time to understand how it works or have the whereabouts to do the work yourself, be prepared to pay someone to do it for you. Most people who come here are of the DIY type. The only problems I've experienced were due to my own lack of knowledge and experience. Since getting squared away, and for the first year, I have had zero problems with my stove. It's noisy when the blower is on high speed during the coldest weather, but that just lets me know it's running right. Other than that it stays on high speed all the time and regulates it's speed based on demand. It's also my primary heat source. Now that I've figured out a maintenance routine I can live with, I have no use for the dealer and would base a future purchase on stove alone, but if I were purchasing for the first time or didn't do my own cleaning, I would buy based on dealer feedback. A lot of issues are caused when people buy their first stove at a box store and don't understand the maintenance aspect. The stickys at the top of the page should help with that.
  16. Pyro2

    Pyro2 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    NW New Jersey
    I have a rather old (not even sure how old...maybe 10 years or so) Breckwell P23FS. I picked it up for $500. It had not been used for about 5 years. It got installed Thanksgiving morning, and once I got the pellet clog out of the auger ( don't leave them in there for extended periods ;-) ) it has basically been running since. As stated above, being a tinkerer/DIY kind of person is a real plus with these machines. The first thing I did was download and read the manual. The next thing I did was tear it apart and clean and lubricate everything the book said to do. I do give it a quick clean daily, and a good brushing of the heat tubes about once a week. After burning a ton of fuel I cleaned the combustion blower. The end result of all of this? Keeping a rather large, high ceiling, uninsulated, 1850's vintage area quite warm. Today it is in the low 20's with a good wind and it's 70 degrees in here. Rather than try to explain the space, I figured a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. It used to be a general store, and those rather large store front windows are single pane glass. I did caulk them up which has had to help, but still you get the idea. This thing throws heat!

    Bottom line... I'm thus far happy with this old girl!

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