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Considering BK but Wondering...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by DWIGHTTBP, Feb 16, 2013.

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  1. DWIGHTTBP

    DWIGHTTBP New Member

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    Hello- I'm relatively new to this forum but have learned a great deal reading probably hundreds of posts (thanks to all of you for being so free with your opinions!). I have a few questions and wonder if some of you would be willing to offer some of your sage advice to help me decide on a wood stove make and model that works for our situation.

    I've narrowed wood stove options to the Blaze King Princess (classic) because of its long burn times, heat output, its relatively large wood box volume, its by-pass feature, stove pipe size (compatible with existing setup), and because it's pretty simple-looking and features a pretty big window. We like to see the fire and are used to cleaning the glass on our insert multiple/many times during the burning season (though with the BK's long burn times I understand that may not be possible very often).

    Here are my questions (with background information about our situation below):

    1. From reading this forum, the owner's manual, and the guy in town who wants to sell me the BK, this stove and its catalytic system appear to be very picky as far as things you can burn in it. Most of the things they tell you not to burn we don't burn anyway. But two no-burn items surprised me: paper with color ink and wood with nails. Is that for real?

    2. Are stoves with catalytic systems high maintenance? There's so much back and forth in this forum it's hard to tell. We don't mind the idea of vacuuming the cat a couple times in the burning season and replacing it every three or five years or so. If that's all there is to it, no big deal. But I'm reading quite a bit about people's various and meticulous-sounding burning techniques in BK stoves. Is it really that complicated to achieve long burn times once you get used to how it works?

    3. If I wanted to go the straightforward wood stove route, is there a simple-looking non-cat wood stove out there with the capability of ~16 hour burn times (assuming the use of decent hardwood)? Or is the cat stove really the best way to get those long burn times?

    If these questions are already well-covered by other posts, please feel free to refer me to those links.

    Background

    We live on the southern Oregon coast where it gets wet and cold in the winter but not AK-style cold. We currently run a Morso 5660 insert pretty much 24/7 to heat our ~2,000 square foot house that features a ~23 foot cathedral ceiling (w/ceiling fan) and a loft . We like the Morso. It kicks out pretty good heat (esp w/fan), the fire always looks very pleasing through the large glass even when closed way down, but it does not cut it as far as burn times go and it's not enough for when it gets really cold for where we live (low 30's/high 20's)(I know, many of you will laugh about conditions we consider "cold"....). The Morso's got a 1.5 sq. ft. firebox and peters out after about 6 hours; maybe 8 hours at best. We knew this when we got it but were not thinking straight about how 6 or 8 hour burn times would fit our schedules- pretty stupid when you consider we've been running wood stoves for years. So I'm really tired of starting fires almost from scratch virtually every morning in the winter (or when really cold, tired of getting up in the middle of the night to feed the fire). We burn well-seasoned fir when we're around to feed the fire because that's what we have in abundance (we harvest from our property every spring). For when we're at work during the day and for overnight burns we use wax myrtle, a really nice long burning wood (and madrone when we can get it).

    We want to replace the insert with a clean and simple-looking wood stove (looks are important to us) and have the space for pretty much anything we want (there's no fireplace for the insert- it's sitting in its own Morso zero-clearance insulated metal box waiting for us to build the fireplace surround which isn't going to happen since we want to switch to a free-standing wood stove). We have about 15 feet of straight 6" internal diameter insulated stove pipe and probably about another 6 or 8 feet above our steep-pitch roof. We want to be able to throw "splits" onto burning coals after being out of the house for as long as about 16 hours. We don't mind a little wood smoke in the house from time to time- comes with the wood stove experience. The Morso is pretty smokey early in the burn sequence (could actually use a by-pass), but it's not the end of the world.

    Thanks for your help!

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  2. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    The Princess will definitely fill your needs if you have some decent insulation. The 23' ceiling makes it a big space to heat. Don't expect to see much thru the glass, though. There are supposed to be a couple of other 3 cu ft BKs on the market soon.

    You don't want to feed a bunch of junk thru the cat. Some materials can react with the precious metals of the catalyst in a not so positive way. Maintenance is pretty much as you mentioned.

    Might also want to check out Woodstock's Progress Hybrid, or wait for their new stove, which we may see for next winter.
  3. kwikrp

    kwikrp Feeling the Heat

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    I have a king ultra best decision I ever made for a wood burning stove. I burn about 6+ cords a year I am on my 4th season.
    There is not much more maintenance than other stoves. Just vacuum the cat 1x/ year and empty the ashes. There was someone on here that states that he cleans the ashes usually after burning a cord. I can see that.One very good feature which impressed me was that when the professional chimney sweep comes out he has noticed very little creosote in chimney more is in firebox where you want it. I use to have a old defiant but I noticed with this stove there is not much heat differential as compared to the defiant. I even burn less with the king and get a higher output! You can obtain a much even temp for a long time. You can easily get 48 hours on a full load. Even when the temps have dropped into the teens.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If looks are important you may be sorely disappointed. BK King and Princess are not beauty contest winners and you will be looking at black glass a lot of the time. That said the Princess will do the job. But if you want looks I would check out the Woodstock Progress Hybrid, Lopi Cape Cod and maybe a PE Alderlea T6.
    John_M likes this.
  5. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Man you must have a small house or super insulation..or both.
    I can do 12 hours easy enough with the king with temps in the teens..noway 48.
    Maybe 40 in the shoulder for me at times but usually 24 hours.
    I would also like to add I burn about 3-4 cords a winter..way less then you..go figure.
    Cheers!
  6. aansorge

    aansorge Minister of Fire

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    Add the blaze king chinook 30 to that list. Similar to princess in terms of flue, output, size, and burn times, but more modern in appearance. Slightly longer burn times, actually.
  7. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I got consistant 24hr burns with the King. I could only get the 40hr burn in the shoulder season as well. So don't expect this with the princess, consistant 16-18 burns are gonna be more realistic.

    You mentioned the big window, compared to other stoves on the market it's average if not a little small. The glass will be DIRTY! This was the only disappointment for me with the BK. I love clean glass and the BK was my first stove that didn't have it. ;sick
    The Cape Cod was mentioned above. I couldn't be happier with mine! Huge clean glass, long burns, nice looking!:cool:
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I live in a similar climate (700ft ASL, marine, long burn season) and burn lower quality local wood. This time of year, well usually, I do true 24 hour burn cycles to keep my 1700 SF 1963 built house well into the 70s all the time when temps are 35-45 outside. Forget about whether or not the fire will be burning in the morning, it will be burning until the same time tomorrow. I don't need kindling, just rake the coals forward and load it full with 8-10 splits of alder, willow, or whatever you've got.

    Burn firewood, not trash and not lumber with metal in it. The only time I've had to restart from scratch is when I do a full ash cleanout. I use a little chunk of wax firestarter from walmart. I have burned quite a bit of lumber but it is clean and only wood. Works really well since you can get a lot of scraps into the firebox. I only burn it because I am framing a shop and don't want to waste the kiln dried lumber scraps.

    1) The stove is not picky. Certainly no more picky than any other cat stove. You shouldn't be burning trash and metal anyways. Just burn firewood.
    2) It is very easy to accomplish long burns. This stove is boring to run. Load it, engage cat, set stat, and ignore it for 24 hours. There are no tricks, you just load it full. Understand that the long burns are at lower output, if you want high output then your burntime will shorten. At no time will burn time be less than a same sized non-cat at the same output level.
    3) No. The only way to get dependable 16 hour burns is with a cat stove. If you want 12 hour burns and relatively high output during that burn then there are some non-cat options. Non-cats don't do low and slow.
    Hiram Maxim and webby3650 like this.
  9. ernie

    ernie Member

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    The BK's I have observed did have dirty glass around the edges but the center of the glass seemed to stay fairly clear.
  10. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    If it's ran higher that the "normal" range. I, and most people, run them on med-low a good part of the year.
  11. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    It's not a big deal to most people. But if you are wanting to view a beautiful fire, you aren't gonna see it! Even if the glass is clean, there isn't much fire to see.
    I think it's a great stove, overall I enjoyed my experience with the King. I like to mess with the fire and see the fire, it doesn't happen with the BK very often.
  12. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    We can turn up the air any time to see a fire...I don't get why people say that.
    I also get a neat blue light show a few hours in at times on low burn. Cheers!
  13. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Ya, but it's not the same fireview that a non-cat or hybrid stove has.
  14. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Sometimes I miss the King. But I'm loving the best of both worlds with the Cod!
  15. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Mine stays pretty clean besides the bottom corners this time of year. Shoulder season you can forget about it. Your climate is pretty warm so I have a feeling your glass will be dirty the majority of the time. With that said if you want a hassle free wood heating experience you can't go wrong with a BK stove. I see flames with every load for the first half hour or so that gives me my fill for the day. ;)
  16. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    I was in your exact shoes just a few months ago. New to stoves, no background.... I have a 2000 sq ft house, wanted to replace an outdated in-efficient fireplace, but wanted to keep the ambiance of the fireplace "show", but heat the hosue with it instead of watching my oil bill go UP when I lit a fire. After some research here and everywhere, I ended up with the Progress Hybrid I have now been burning pretty much 24x7 for two months now. I have yet to get an oil delivery this year, normally I'd be on my 2nd or 3rd delivery. LOVE THAT!! Anyway, I just (11:30am) loaded my Progress after an overnight burn which was loaded at 10:30pm last night. I loaded about 3/4 the way with mostly red oak, with 4 medium splits, and 2 large splits (6 total). It was 17::Fout here last night, with 30-40 knot COLD winds. The stove room (1000 sq ft) is 80 this morning, and the oil burner does not come on. Did I mention the oil burner does NOT come on anymore? :) So that is/was a 13 hour burn, and I had a nice 1 or 2" coal bed across the entire bottom of the stove when I loaded. The stove top was 180, which with the Progress, means it's still CRANKING out the heat. The realy nice thing about the soapstone which I think is under-rated around here, and not talked about enough is, it releases tons of nice even, slow heat over a long period of time. And it does this, for hours after the fire is almost out and down to some small smoldering chunks of coals and ashes. Most stoves will be almost cold at this point, but the soapstone is still releasing the heat it built up 2 hours ago when the fire was still blazing. The downfall to this is, it takes a while (1 to 2 hours) to start getting real heat from the stove when lighting a cold stove. It steals that heat, to be released later at the end. If you don't let the stove get cold (keep reloading), you don't have this issue.


    As far as the CAT. Forget it. I was concerned about the complications talked about around here running a CAT stove, and the maintenance of it. It's a joke really. If you are smart enough to find this site, register and post a message here, then you are well above the knowledge base required to run a CAT stove. After my 2nd fire with this stove, I chucked and said "THAT is what they were all talkign about!". It really is a joke to operate. Load it, wait 10 minutes, turn the knob (to close the CAT bypass), then shut down the air damper in 2 or 3 steps (1/2 down, then 3/4 way down, then either leave there for lots of heat, or shut down for less heat and longer burn). DONE. If you can't do that, you should NOT own a stove, period. In fact, you should not own a house! ;) To select a stove, choose the proper size stove for your size home, choose a stove with the required BTU output (high output fast burns, low output slow burns, both...) and burn times, choose a stove that matches your decora as best you can, and choose a stove in your budget. DONE. Whether or not it has a CAT, Hybrid, or no cat is a mute point. However, you'll find the cat stoves have higher ouputs, and longer burn times for the same size stoves. The hybrid technology like the Progress and Cape Cod have the advantage of both long burn times, fast burn times, and a mix of both with nice fire shows. Check Youtube for some Progress Hybrid fire displays.... it burns georgious!

    Another nice thing about the Progress, is the hidden cooktop under the top soapstone. I LOVE that. One of the reasons I got a stove was we lost power for a few weeks in the Sandy storm here on Long Island. We were freezing! It dropped to 20 and 30 each night after the storm and I was up all night loading my fireplace every 20 minutes with a few logs. We had to sleep right in front of it on the floor. So I wanted heat when the power goes out, and the ability to cook. Well, I got enough heat to heat the neighborhood, and I've been busy cooking on it! Check this thread out: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/recipes-for-the-progress-hybrid.94828/

    Good luck!
    Highbeam likes this.
  17. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I like almost all of machria's post, the PH really does have some cool features. I want to make clear though that not all stoves with a cat element are capable of really long burn times. You don't get 30 hours from any stove except a BK. You can get 12-16 hours out of the other models. You mention burn time as being important so you ought to know that to get the max, you'll need the BK. The cape cod is reportedly doing well with 18+ but that's like half of the BK. In our moderate climate those low and slow burns are pretty awesome.

    On the BK glass, I think it is large and it doesn't stay clean but surprisingly it doesn't get totally dirty either. The center 50% (an upside down triangle) stays totally clear and most of the rest is coated with junk that allows a glow but not good enough to inspect the fuel load. So it is a drawback but it's not like the window goes away. I've grown to appreciate the glow of the coals and the cat, the flameshow of a non-cat or hybrid is really nice too.

    Perhaps in a few years they'll have these hybrids dialed in to allow long burns. Maybe a new technology will come along. Fun stuff. People thought I was weird to change stoves after 5 years with my hearthstone but different technologies are really amazing.
  18. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    I changed after only 2 years and could easily see myself changing again. I could afford to replace a stove every other year and still be saving a bunch of money since propain is so darn expensive. If/when a hybrid that burns slow and low like a BK is capable of hits the market, I'll be one of the first to try it out. :)
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Nah. Just sick like the rest of us stov-a-holics. ;)
  20. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I think 26 years on the non cat Bk..I'm thinking this cat one will out live me..lol.
  21. DWIGHTTBP

    DWIGHTTBP New Member

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    Thanks very much for all your really helpful responses! This forum is really great.

    I now have a much better feel for the level of babysitting one needs to have with a BK stove (not much) and how visible the fire is likely to be through the stove window (similar to what we're used to- want visibility, run hot; visibility goes away with prolonged running on low setting).

    I have a few lingering questions...

    1. I am still unclear whether burning paper with colored ink or wood with some metal in it is okay in the BK. We start our fires with a little paper, peanut shells, and salvaged cedar shingles as kindling. These days virtually all newspaper includes color ink and our shingles still have some metal staples and the occasional old nail in them. I'd rather not have to sort paper and remove nails as part of the fire lighting process. Am I asking for trouble? Or is this question better posed to the BK folks directly?

    2. Thanks to Jeff_T who mentioned that a couple new 3 cu ft BKs may be on the market soon; and to Aansorge who mentioned the BK Chinook 30 may have longer burn times than the BK Princess. Can either of you tell me where I can find out more about the new BK models and the actual burn times for the Chinook 30 (perhaps elsewhere on this forum?).

    3. As I think I made clear, we're looking to replace our perfectly good Morso 5660 insert and zero-clearance enclosure with a free-standing wood stove that will work better for our situation (especially longer burn times). Is there a particularly good place online to advertise wood stoves for sale, or does everyone just use their local craigslist site?

    Thanks again very much!
  22. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    1. Just use super cedars to start a fire.
    Most burn 24/7 anyways and you probably will also if you're looking to buy this stove.
    The BK can run almost all the time in the shoulder and not heat you out in most applications.
  23. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    As far as question # 1 goes, last I knew, all BK stoves come with a SuperCedar fire starter. They are highly recommended. 1/4 (or less with practice if you feel stingy). For the money, they go a LONG way and simply work well. http://www.supercedar.com/

    For a long slow burning stove like these, you won't be having to relight too awful many fires either.
  24. eddy_currents

    eddy_currents New Member

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    You cant go wrong with a BZ, either princess or king. I have been using a princess model for 13 years. The model with cat, bypass door and thermostat. I cant say enough good things about it. I light it up mid/late Oct and it does not go out until mid/late march. I never have to relight it, and I do not split my wood.I can fit logs up to8 or 9 inches in diameter through the door. After about 5 years of use I got tired of emptying the ash every 4-7 days so I built a base out of 1/4 checker plate steel, maybe 14 inches high, I lined this base with stove brick set the blaze king on it, and cut the bottom out of it. This gives me a huge stove. I can let the ashes build up 12-14 inches before having to empty them, so twice a winter max, really makes using the stove more enjoyable. At this time I also built a hot water tank for it so now my domestic hot water is heated with it.
    I pulled my cat out after the first year as I just did not need the extra heat it produced. I can put the cat back in and use it that way if I wish but at this time I dont need extra heat, as I run the stove very low (unless-40).You can also increase the burn time a bit by taking a pop can, and cutting a plug for the hole in the thermostat control (on the baffel). I love my BK, will never be without one, I was so happy with it that after I got it heating my hot water I had the gas company come in and shut the gas off,and pull my meter, as I will never go back, and this year I did one more thing to it, I build a 5.5 inch extension for the glass door that mounts on the original hinge pins(no drilling/bolting or welding), and this now lets me stick 24 inch logs straight in.
    I suggest you get the King model, you will be very happy!
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Not sure where the info came from but all of BK's 3 cf stoves (high 2s actually) are all rated for 30 hours on low. None are better than the princess.
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