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Cat stoves are no good

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jeff_t, Mar 22, 2010.

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  1. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    But out of your five stoves which ones did you like? The one you don't have yet doesn't count.

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    BB, as you well know, a cat stove is fully capable of either a smoldering fire or a great show. The best of both worlds. Your choice.
  3. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Ok - the only non-cat stove I operated was the Encore so it is a poor comparison for me on this count (it too had considerable pre-heat times etc and then had other issues in my install that made it far more complex than it should have been).

    However, don't you have to allow other non-cat stoves to get up to temp before bring the air down to achieve optimal secondary burns? If so, how is this necessarily any less/more complex than waiting to get a cat stove up to temp and flipping the lever? (other than the obvious lever to flip which I think everyone can agree isn't THAT complex).
  4. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Funny how I go away for awhile and come back to the good old cat vs non cat debate with Brother Bart stirring the pot. :lol:

    CATS RULE!!! :coolgrin:
  5. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    Bart, I used an Elmira cat, and had the Cat Elm for 15 years in Maine. Neither stove smoldered. The Elmira employed two cats, one in each side.
  6. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    The other stoves were a smaller, non-cat Elmira, and the 700 pound Hearthstone, which I sold after one season. I also used a 24" Cat Elm for a little while before getting the 36" unit.
  7. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    And Dennis doing his dangdest to convince folks it isn't complicated. It will always be a fact that cat stoves are more sensitive to fuel and more complicated to run. Preheat this, time that, throw thirty different levers at precisely the right time, etc. My non-cat can be run with about any fuel and only has one lever to mess with.

    That said, I welcome the additional operational effort since with it comes longer burn times and lower output settings. I would love to have a cat stove.

    Just don't be bullied into thinking a cat stove is not more complicated than a non-cat.
  8. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Well Highbeam, where have you been all this time. Oh, you are moving those 30 levers.... Have you got a new stop watch yet to time them? lol
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    30 levers? Sounds more like a CAT D5 or a 416E. :)
  10. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    I am curious how going from one lever to two becomes a matter of complication.
  11. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    It's twice the work?

    Bottom line seems to be that it is different. One has to develop different operating habits and if you are used to one then the other will be uncomfortable. I imagine that if I were to operate a good non-cat stove I would find it awkward the first few times and would not run it optimally for some period of time now that I'm used to my FV. I don't think it would be "hard" but I didn't find learning the FV to be hard either.

    Some folks will likely never be convinced to like or recommend either technology. I think I've said it before, but it is worth saying again in this thread: The technology alone doesn't make the stove - the satisfaction you can get depends on the overall stove design and construction as much as whether it is cat or non-cat. Then the real performance results on any stove will come from the fuel, chimney, and operating habits.

    All of this can be as complicated as you want it to make it.
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Think about cutting some meat on your plate. You could do it just with a knife (one lever) or use a fork and a knife (2 levers). Either way you would get the job done but most times the knife and fork work good together and is not complicate (to most folks).

    If you don't like that analogy, how about driving a car. Can you imagine how complicated this job has been all these years. You have to press an accelerator while holding onto a steering wheel (two tasks) at the same time! Then we can throw in some radio adjustments, maybe some mirror adjustments, sun visor up or down, and God forbid, using a telephone or texting all at the same time.

    Conclusion is that God designed these bodies to be able to do many different things. It is the mind which prevents most folks from making good use of what they were given.
  13. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    My question was sort of rhetorical, but I appreciate the logic in the answers.

    I'm not certain how cats got the bad rap they have gotten. I suspect it came from ads or things stated by non-cat stove manufacturers. I cannot see that pushing in a bypass arm or dropping a bypass lever when the cat reaches light-off temps, is any different than adjusting intake controls when a stove reaches cruise temps. No stove is free of adjustment in a burn cycle.

    The whole cat/non-cat discussion seems out of place for people who love burning wood for heat. I know cat stoves work well. Apparently EPA stoves work well to do the same thing - burn volatiles. But I have not found my Homestead to be easier to use than former cat stoves. Too the contrary.
  14. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    REF1, you must also realize that some of the posts are made in jest. Highbeam always tries to rattle me a bit but never seems to because I usually answer him with logic. Sometimes he understand and sometimes not. lol (Said in jest.) It is sort of along the same lines as the debate over burning pine. You will run into lots and lots of posts about burning pine and you will also find lots of comments about your house burning down and other bad things. It simply is not true.

    Pine is fine. It just got a bad rap from some of the old timers. Years ago with the old stoves folks used to cut their wood and burn it in the same day. Naturally this caused all sorts of creosote problems. I even recall one time a fellow came on the forum and stated that there were only two kinds of wood burners: those who have had chimney fires and those who haven't had one yet, but soon will. He was old school and old school thinking. You can imagine if the flue is partially clogged and someone burns a hot fire made with pine. Pine is a hot and fast burning wood which in those cases could start a chimney fire. With today's stoves and with seasoned wood, there are no worries about that sort of thing.
  15. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    I can see alot of the discussion runs around taking shots at each other. But it seems odd the discussion exists from a more serious wood burning viewpoint. Ignorant or misinformed people may always say something which causes confusion, but after all these years it seems people would just let people use what they want to burn with and not hassle about what variety of stove they use. Especially a dealer. If he doesn't want to carry any cat stoves, so be it. But running down a longstanding, viable technology is foolish.

    They don't put cats in automobiles for nothing. Or, if I went to some auto forum would I find some raging discussion thread there about cats? Probably would.
  16. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    And soapstone stoves can't get above 400 degrees and don't heat as well as steel or cast iron. Those facts are just as proven as 'a cat stove is not more complicated than a non-cat'.
  17. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Hmmmm . . . got me thinking . . . I wonder what a car with secondary combustion looks like . . . I'd like to see that light show . . . for some reason I'm picturing a hot rod with flames shooting 25-feet out of the tailpipe. ;) :)
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I honestly think that cat stoves are more complicated to run. Always have and always will. Dennis might try but he will never be able to change this simple fact.

    I look at it from the teaching point of view. My 7YO daughter can run the non-cat, I tell her that the lever goes one way for hotter and the other way to settle it down. To teach my 7YO to run a cat stove would be, well, more complicated and I would put it past her abilities.

    We are all genius woodburner enthusiasts on this site. It is easy to hold our noses up and say that we are masters of fire and that the additional difficulties with running a cat stove are no problem. We need to remember that not all woodburners are so smart or even care to learn how to properly run a cat stove. They like the simple stove with a single lever, hot one way and cold the other. I hope we all can appreciate this point of view.
  19. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Oops, one last item, thank you dennis for understanding and not getting upset over our little ongoing "debate". I am convinced that I personally would love a cat stove and this is in large part due to your vigorous approval of them.
  20. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    Highbeam,
    You could tell your 7 year old to push both the levers down before he/she opens the door. Load the wood in. Close the door. Go eat 3 cookies and drink a glass of milk. When you are finished with the milk and cookies (don't eat too fast) push the big lever back up until it clicks and push the little lever back up to just past the #1. Repeat this every 6-10 hours or until your lazy father finds the energy to deal with two levers. :)
  21. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I will never understand that.
  22. daleeper

    daleeper Minister of Fire

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    So far, all you have taught her to do is turn the air supply up or down, which is exactly the same for either a cat or non-cat.

    Loading either stove will take additional steps which can be simple or complex depending on several factors for both styles of stove.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's not really a big challenge. But it seems with people's busy lives, the more tasks one needs to remember over a period of time, the more likely it is that there are going to be forgetful space-outs. I've been guilty of this myself running a bypass stove and when needing to check the flue damper on the 602. It happens. At least with a single control I can peek back at the stove from my office and visually know roughly where the damper is set for the given period of the burn.
  24. grommal

    grommal Feeling the Heat

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    What's not to understand? I've had both. My non-cat Oslo has one lever only. My old VC cat had two levers. When I reloaded the cat VC, I had to remember to open the bypass, or I'd get smoke in the house. Don't need to do that with the non-cat Oslo. With the cat VC, had to remember to close the bypass or I'd get nuclear overfire in short order. While overfire with the non-cat Oslo is possible, I suppose, you'd need to leave the single air lever wide open for an extended period, and it would be less severe anyway.

    I don't think anybody is saying that cat stoves are complicated pieces of equipment to operate. The only claim is that they are, or at least can be, somewhat more complicated than non-cats.
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    When a stove shop sells a non-cat they don't have to worry about the buyer taking the time to learn about dry wood, the wood may not burn good but it will burn, and people clogging cats and stuff like that. Ya wanna sell it, install it and never hear from the buyer again. If somebody wrecks the cat they are gonna want it replaced for free and there is a good chance the dealer will have to end up eating the cost and not getting reimbursed. Hard as it is for forum members to believe, burning wood isn't a passion with the majority of people that buy wood stoves. They just want a nice fire every once in a while.
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