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cast iron vs welded steel construction for stoves, pros? cons?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by michaelthomas, Feb 19, 2006.

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  1. michaelthomas

    michaelthomas New Member

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    Do any of you stove aficionados have input into pros and cons for these two construction types. Just wondering?

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Mike
    Steel stoves pros
    usually cheaper. heat up faster. usually lighter
    cons
    cool down quicker. lighter, less mass storage of heat.. Resales used, less value

    Cast iron Pros
    Much more mass, retains heat longer... Resales used, higher value. Heats relitively fast. Ceramic finish options
    cons
    Usually cost more. heavy..

    Soap Stone pros
    A combination cast iron soapstone.. holds heat longer. Releases heat more evenly gently
    cons
    Tend to be expensive.. Not the stove for instant heat... takes longer to bring it up to temp

    Cat combustor stoves
    pros. burns cleaner., Usually burns longer.. meaning using less wood less reloading and more heat output
    Third party combusters cost about 50% less
    cons
    The cat combuster needs cleaning twice a season at the start and middle posibly more depending on wood quality burned
    Cat will need to be replaces about every 5 years. If you can do the replacement the cost of the cat $175 on some stoves, some as little as $65
    Draft requirements: To use the combustor, the chimney and venting system requires stronger drafts, than non cat stoves
    More user involvement: Engaging the cat and dissengaging it, more fussing with controls
  3. TheFlame

    TheFlame New Member

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    In addition to what was written above, I would like to add that the overall durability of a steel stove is better then that of cast iron.

    With cast iron stoves, you always have to be careful about uneven expansion leading to cracking, whereas with a steel stove this is a non issue.

    My parents burn an old Fisher "big steel box" stove, that has been over fired more times then I can count in the last 25 (yes, 25 years), and the ONLY maintenance ever done to this stove is to replace the refractory brick inside the firebox.

    And on the other end of the spectrum, I have a friend who had the bottom plate crack on his 4 year old cast iron Jotul for no apparent reason.
  4. JAred

    JAred New Member

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    there are alot of hybrids out there that have plate fireboxes and cast suurounds, the best of both worlds.
  5. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    Steel stoves tend to burn cleaner then cast iron, at least thats with the brand of steel stoves that i sell, vs the main cast iron brand that i sell. That manufactures might have something to do with that and possibly nothing to do with the materials. Maybe someone here can elaborate on that issue. But over all, i think cast iron is the better choice. The heat is nicer, and its thermal properties are better IMO. The heat up pretty fast and they give off a bit softer heat then steel. Ever stove type will suit some one. Thats why they all exist. You should find out what your needs are, and your buget. And buy a stove that is good for your specific situation and not based on users and what they bought. I will say that for the type iof stove purcahsed. I think this forum would be better at giving you the pros and cons of the brands they choosed, and not the type/size they bought. some basic guidlines.
    A important factor is how long you want it to burn as well as how much it will heat. The smaller the need for square footage i would lean towards the cast and stone stoves. They will not run you out as fast and have some residual heat after the fire is out, so you will have a little less fire maintence. On the oppisit side of things, if you have a large great room that you want to heat qucickly you would maybe consider a steel stove with a lage firebox that will burn a long time, heat the space fast, and once again have less mantaince.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    A big difference for us was that many cast stoves offer the option of rear venting. Also a lot of the cast stoves allow top loading. When top loading is done right, it makes stoking the stove a real pleasure. The other reason is aesthetics. My wife was lukewarm to just ok with all the steel stoves we looked at. But she didn't hesitate for a second with the Jotul line.
  7. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    A lot of secondary burn stoves are rear vented as well, and you can top load one secondary burn style stove, the quadra fire isle royal. I dont mind cat stoves, i think the less maintenace, more user freindly, secondary burn stoves are better for most people. And you dont have to clean or replace the cat in that style stove. But once again, you need to buy what fits your needs and style. I think most of the big stove brans all make quality stuff.
  8. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    This is getting a little off topic, but from my exeperence cat stoves have higher set backs then secondary stoves. That might not always be true, but true from the lines i have sold.
  9. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    While shopping for small-to-medium-sized stoves, that was my experience also. Few if any steel stoves that I saw offered rear venting.

    Technically, there's insignificant thermal conductivity difference between steel and cast iron. But cast stoves may have better radiation efficiency, for two main reasons:
    1. Their outer surfaces are usually textured and sculpted, which increases the radiating surface area.
    2. Steel stoves use predominantly firebrick to line the firebox, while cast stoves use more iron that firebrick to line it. In fact, some use no firebrick at all (Jotul F602, F3, F100, etc.) It's been my experience that, while firebrick heats up faster, it is inherently a better insulator, and doesn't pass as much heat through to the outer surfaces as iron liners.
  10. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    One thing to add to Cat stoves. Cat stoves typically need a better educated grade of burner to run it. If whole family is going to be loading it, be careful of cat, unless whole family knows what they are doing.

    Joshua
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The Quad is a cast iron stove, right? VC's have had top loading models for as long as they've been built I think. Harman Oakwood too.
  12. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    Yes the quad is cast iron (the isle royal is). The vermont casting top loaders are all cats, unless they have something new in the last year or too. The harmon looks to be a non cat toploader as well. I stand corrected. Its a nice looking stove! i bet that baby is expensive.
  13. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    Yep non cat Encore & Defiant now. Top loading, and can put a blower on them. Encore is a nice stove.
  14. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I don't necessarily agree with this. I just switched from a non-cat to a cat and the Fireview is very easy to operate. Even for my 2 teenage kids. We are all still learning but when I had the non cat they still had to adjust the air intake and watch the stove thermometer.
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