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Does anyone run a Magic Heat reclaimer off an Encore?

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by VCBurner, Mar 2, 2011.

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  1. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    I know this forum seems to be against heat reclaimers. However, I feel that some people on this earth still may chose to run one. I believe it would be helpful to have threads on this site that deal with operating one of these properly and SAFELY!

    Whatever the general consensus may be, they are still available on the market. So, this brings me to my title question. Does anyone run a heat reclaimer off an Encore?

    Here's a link to my other "dead" thread concearning these things, in case anyone has any questions about one!
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/51519/P44/#835380

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  2. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Too bad that one got closed, I just don't get the call on that particular one. I had written a detailed response to the issue of appliance-induced negative pressure, but then had nowhere to post it. Ya, ya, the thread had drifted a bit... like almost every other one on here after a while. That's OK, I don't mind. I'm old and my time has little value anymore. %-P

    I have nothing to add about the Magic Heat but to say, "To each his own." I don't feel they are appropriate for a modern stove, but they aren't the Devil to me like they are to some others. You gave it a fair try and found it was worth the trouble, but in the end, got rid of it. Not sure exactly why, but I'll assume your logic told you it was a small gain for a lot of effort in maintenance. Stove testers have all the real-world facts and figures about heating efficiency in their products, and I feel most will tell you that only about 20% of your heat goes up the flue, and that 19.5% of your heat is needed in your flue to drive the entire process. If you have excess draft and a short stack (usually mutually exclusive), then I can seer the benefit of such a device. With today's stoves being as restrictive to air flow as they are by design, I think a draft inducer is needed in more cases that the other way around.

    As far as the actual effectiveness of the unit... the claims of 30,000 BTU reclaimed? Per hour? BS on that if that is the case. Per cord? Well then, who cares? That's like 5 pounds of wood at 25% MC... a single split.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Have to ask why this is being brought up again and why the Encore? There are lots of devices available on the internet and in stores that may be unsafe or simply rip-offs. One can still buy an EdenPure heater and get taken to the cleaners, so?
  4. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    The reason why I brought up an Encore is because I have a #2190 sitting in my garage awaiting an install. May I ask why this thread was moved to the pre EPA section? The Encore was originally purchased in 1994 and is certainly an EPA rated catalytic stove! I was wondering if anyone has used a MH on them and if so has it reduced the draft any?

    In response to Battenkiller's reply, I took the MH off the Dutchwest in order to learn how to burn the stove in an ideal chimney set up. I felt as if I had to have a pure set up and see how it works first. This winter I moved the DW upstairs into the fireplace and had no chance of hooking up the reclaimer in the basement. But, now with another stove in the works, I may reclaim again! Oh, and by the way BK, I don't get why the thread was taken out of circulation either. I guess it is up to the Moderators to make these calls and they may feel as if heat reclaimers don't belong on this site? This is too bad, some people running these things would benefit from reading all the comments and concearns posted about these units here on the site.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Moved because these units shouldn't be used on a modern stove. However, if you can find a single, EPA stove manufacturer recommending one of these unit to be put on their stove, that kind of endorsement would be worth discussing. To answer the question, any device that is put on the flue, diverts it through multiple channels, and cools the exhaust temps by a couple hundred degrees is going to affect draft. I can't tell you how much without proper testing and suspect very few other folks are going to be able quantify how much either, especially on a modern stove. The prime application appears to be on older stove users with hot flue pipes and that like to brush them out a lot.
  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Over the years I have stated my two concerns with the things.

    1. That they have a device in them to try to knock the creosote accumulation off of them, thereby admitting that they are creosote traps.

    2. The instructions on what to do in a power failure to keep from frying the damned thing. Anybody have in their DayTimer when the next power failure is gonna be?
  7. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    You guys both bring up some valid points.
    I am not trying in anyway to promote the use of the reclaimers. I just think there is a place for everything that is hearth related. If for nothing else, to expose potential users to valid points such as the ones both of you mentioned. Then, if someone wishes to still use the things, they at least have had a chance to hear those negative concerns. Most people who are thinking of using these probably have no idea of the negative affects that they cause.

    As to address the comments I'll say the following, again not to be argumentative, only to present a different side of the story:

    BrotherBart:
    1. The creosote does not cling on to the pipes that go through the reclaimer as long as the stove is being used with good dry fuel and not being smoldered to death. The cleaning device is there mostly to clean off fly ash and make it a more effective piece of equipment. If a person smolders their fuel to the point of creating the dangerous sticky peanut butter like creosote, the scraping tool won't even work! The sticky stuff is just stuck in there! Furthermore, all stoves and chimneys have a maintenance schedule that is to be followed as per the manufacturer and so does the MH.
    2. The power failure issue is a real problem. It should be addressed by anyone who uses one of these units. If the electrical components were to fry up during a power failure it would be sure to cause problems when the power does come back on. The question is how hot does the flue need to get to damage these components? Many people have blowers attached to their stoves, that are very similar in nature to the blowers on a MH reclaimer. What happens to these blowers during a power failure? Are they in danger of being damaged by the extreme heat? I also want to add that I burned my stove for a full burn cycle with the MH unplugged just to see what happened. In my case it was fine.

    BeGreen:
    I am not endorsing the use of the product. I'm merely asking if anyone has used it on a particular stove. If this question has any chance of being answered, it would have to be exposed to other such stove owners on the correct forum. The Encore 2190 is an EPA rated stove and I fear this question will only live in obscurity in the pre EPA stove forum. Again, I need to state that in my case the MH cooled the flue temps by about 75 degrees. I found while running the DW with a MH attached it did not greatly affect the operation of my EPA rated catalytic stove or add to the amount of creosote in my chimney. You are right about manufacturers not endorsing the use of this product. They don't.

    Again, exposing stove owners to issues such as this does not mean endorsing this product. It is a valid hearth related issue and should be treated as such. Thank you for answering my questions, I greatly respect your expertise and value your opinions on all hearth related problems. I have learned a great deal about stove operation in the past year, largely due to the contributions you and other experienced members of this site. I am still a proud member and will continue to be regardless of what happens with this thread.

    I'd like to add one more remark on this long winded post: The Magic Heat is a UL listed heat reclaimer 915U. Which means that if operated and installed per intruction guidelines it is safe to use according to Underwriters Laboratories testing.
  8. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Can't answer anything but the blower thing. With my old insert the way it was designed it pulled enough convection air through the fans that during 21 years of power failures those plastic fan blades never had a problem. With my free stander in the fireplace now since the blower is actually mounted in the rear convection heat shield you can put your hand on top of it when the stove is at five hundred and the top of it is cool to the touch. Without the blower running. There is that much convection air being pulled up through the heat shield.

    In fact the damn thing died from a bearing failure and I am just gonna leave it back there.
  9. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Just figured I'd update the forum on this most hated subject.

    I sent the following email to Nelson Products last night about concerns on their heat reclaimer:
    "I have a Magic Heat reclaimer model MH-6-R. Last year, it was being used on a pre EPA wood stove. I bought an EPA rated catalytic wood stove that burns more efficiently and hooked up the reclaimer to it. However, due to some concerns voiced to me on a hearth related forum, I discontinued using it. I also wanted to learn how to operate my new stove with a flue that was uninterrupted by anything that could cool off the gasses and potentially slow down the draft. I later decided that I would enjoy having the reclaimer hooked up again the following year. This year came and I brought the stove to the fireplace upstairs from the basement install where it was last year. There it was connected to the fireplace flue and had no way of connecting the reclaimer. I now have another EPA rated catalytic stove, which will be taking place of the other stove in the basement. It is a Vermont Castings Defiant Encore model 2190. I have a couple of questions regarding the Magic Heat. Is it ok to use on modern EPA rated catalytic stoves? Or will it cool gasses off too much and cause creosote and slow down the draft, thus deminishing the efficiency of these modern stoves?
    Another question is regarding potential power failures. What happens if I run my stove while I'm away from home with the reclaimer hooked up and a power failure happens? If I'm not home to remove the electrical components will they become damaged and cause a fire? How hot does the flue need to get and for how long, in order to damage the electrical components if they are left in during a power outage?"

    They responded at 9:45am this morning and are williung to discuss the MH.

    Chris
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I think they might work great on those non-cat everburns where the flue collars were glowing red!

    But, frankly, MANY more people suffer from draft problems than seem to have excess draft.... although that may change as more chimneys are lined and insulated.

    I would never make a blanket statement that a MH would never be apropos, but considering....

    1. Ugly - my wife would never go for it.
    2. Electricity - noise - plug...again, no go in my living areas.
    3. Draft problems...many people have.
    4. Some modern stove have (or should have) relatively low stack temps.....

    On the other hand, if I had a man-cave where anything goes and I had a Englander 30 in there with only a short pipe which was hitting 800 degrees regularly on the outside......and the chimney was overdrafting....and someone gave me one.....well, I might try it.

    I think what everyone is saying is that this is a niche product that might work in some cases, but surely does not require books to be written on....
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    To the above, you would have to add the fact that a MH might have a life of 5 years - blowers burn out, steel rusts, etc.
    Add to that the original installation, the monthly electric use and having a harder time cleaning, etc....and then, in the end, calculate what the real payback would be....

    In other words, the question/answer is not whether a MH can produce more heat from the same setup...because it can. The question is whether it is worth while!

    You could get more heat from most installations by running more single stovepipe - or having a fan blow over the stovepipe, or putting a rear heat shield on a stove pipe which enhanced convection....some companies used to make little sheet metal thingys that fit around you stovepipe and added more surface area...same deal..I

    In short, the MH should drop the name "Magic" from its brand. It is just a fan on the stovepipe.....
  12. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the thoughtful response Craig. All your remarks make perfectly balanced sence. The reason why I emailed the company, was to hear what kind of testing they do on these products or if they would back up their product with some scientific results that would change my mind about some of the concerns voiced on here about these units. I was impressed however, at how quickly they responded with a contact number. The rest remains to be seen.
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    My assumption is that there is not much science to be had about these......the same units have existed since way back.....

    I'd say you are going to be dealing with mostly one customers story or another.

    Way back, we did have an industry scientist named Jay Shelton who ran a test lab. He wrote some good books on Wood Heat Safety - using actual testing and science as a guide. My suspicion is that he thought somewhat along the lines of my above posts, but I will check inside the copies I have of his books.

    I do remember this much. He claimed...and I assume verified, that even blowing air around a stove firebox (typical fan on double wall stove) affected combustion inside the stove in a negative way! He had drawings showing how this worked - the flame might hit the side of the stove when no fan was used - thereby transferring the heat to the room - but when the fan was turned on the flame did not hit the (relatively) cold surface of the inside of the firebox, therefore sending more heat up the flue!

    The problem with all this stuff is that you are going to only get anecdotal information.......and, remember, a sugar pill in placebo tests sometimes scores as high as 70%.

    Without a test over vast amounts of time and conditions...taking electric use and chimney cleaning and product life into account....it would be impossible to reach a conclusion. I think, in this case, we have to use common sense and say that unless a particular stove is putting out a VERY hot and VERY clean exhaust into a strong chimney, the equation is probably on the side of even-steven or negative. If, however, said Englander (hot burning non-cat) was running at full boat and putting clean exhaust up a strong insulated chimney...sure, there are lots of ways you could get more heat from it. Heck, you could use a Y on the exhaust and break it up into two stovepipes and then back into one! There have been some units over the years which contained upright firetubes - effectively 6-8 3" pipes, which did the same thing....I can't find pics, but remember these......
  14. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    I had a customer buy one for an Encore up in the Warrensburg area, this is a good 20 years ago or so. I remember talking about the creosote with him and my pop and then decided that since that Encore really didnt make any creosote and considering it was a radiant stove and a little convection heat is nice, what the hell.

    It never gave him a creosote issue (straight up Metalbestos 8" chimney thru the roof). It does NOT make 35K btus. It does add heat though and get the air movin a little bit. I think it lasted a few years, but the guy ended up buying a second one. I think they were about $100 bucks or something back then.

    As squeaky clean as those old cat Encores burned, I wouldnt see an issue with it, providing the customer understood that no stove manufacturer endorses it and it was an "At your own risk" type of purchase.
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Good info Franks, what are the typical flue temps on these stoves? This seems to be key. On a basement stove that burns clean and doesn't have a blower, it is an option, with caveats. For the reasons Craig outlined above (and with an emphasis on noise) these units are not ideal for a living room use on most modern stoves. On our stove (and on the Castine when we had it) flue gas temps are in the 4-500ºF range once the fire is burning at a steady state with the primary air closed. I wouldn't want to reduce that a lot. The concern being with the exiting flue gas temps once the classA exits the house envelope. I have yet to test the flue exit temps at the cap on our system to determine the differential between 24" above the stove and at the cap, but will do this sometime soon, maybe tomorrow. I want it to be well above the point of creosote condensation.

    I looked up comments from Shelton in the Woodburner's Encyclopedia and they confirm Craig's recollections. Shelton's main concern was that the units be kept very clean both for safety and efficiency reasons. He also thought it important that one understands how running the unit may reduce combustion efficiency in certain stove configs. He concludes stating that there are alternative methods that achieve similar results. Increasing the length of the stovepipe from 4-5 ft to 10 ft or blowing a fan across the top of the stove will bring a similar increase of 3-8% heating efficiency at a lower and quieter cost.
  16. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    Here is something I posted in another thread.

    When I moved in my house there was a Fisher Grandma Bear in the basement. Sitting behind it was a stove pipe heat reclaimer ( not a MH but essentially the same thing.) One day I figured I would install it and see how it worked. Well, with the MH the stove would not draft well at all. I could barely get a fire going, so off it came. It sat around for a while until I got tired of looking at it, and then threw it in the trash.

    This stove has a somewhat marginal draft to begin with, basement location, outside chimney, rear exit, 2 90*, the MH was just not going to work.

    On a another topic my oil furnace has a heat reclaimer ( it was there when I moved in) and it works quite well. It’s an older, not so efficient model and the reclaimer is able to reclaim some of the heat that would otherwise go up the chimney.

    As others have said, probably best to avoid using one on a EPA stove, I certainly would not put one on my EPA Regency stove. May work OK an older stove that has very good draft.
  17. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Wow! Some really stimulating posts made here on this subject. This site never fails to amaze me. I guess we can all thank the internet (and Craig,) otherwise, we may not have this conglomerate of knowledge and viewpoints.

    Thanks Franks, just the answer I was looking for when I posted the original question. An Encore with an MH.
    I found on the Dutchwest last year, it didn't create any more creosote than without it. It was hooked in the basement on a top exit then into a 90 and into the 8x8 chimney. It did not slow down the draft enough to make the stove operate differently. It did get the heat out very fast, due to the high flue temps the DW creates during ignition periods. I had way higher flue temps with the DW than with the old Surdiac in the same chimney set up. The chimney has above average draft and I could not burn coal in it because the draft was stronger than recommended for the Surdiac to burn coal.


    Thanks Craig,
    I'm hoping that they can give me some answers on how hot the stove pipe needs to get and for how long in order to damage the electrical components. There must be some sort of concrete testing done on this subject, some sort of number back up to their product. It had to be tested somehow in order for UL to list the product, right? I'm not familiar with the UL testing, maybe you can shed some light on this Craig? The creosote issue I'm not so concerned about, I can clean the chimney anytime I need to and there was not a problem when I had it connected in the past.

    Thanks for the input BeGreen!



    Thank you all for the comments. Very cool stuff we are doing here. Actually discussing the issues and not just shunning and discounting a subject! I look forward to speaking with Nelson Companies armed with all sorts of questions brought up by these posts.
  18. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    BG, I know that you must read at least a few of my posts, so you probably know I'm a big Shelton fan. He was a big believer in the fact that every "improvement" brings about some negative result as well. For example, heavily insulating fireboxes created higher combustion efficiency but worse heat transfer, so in the end, it was somewhat of a wash regarding overall heating efficiency. However, he also felt that pursuing secondary combustion as a way to clean up the burn was not very effective (he was a big cat fan). He was as wrong as wrong could be on that one, turns out.

    I'll have to look at the books later to verify what you are saying, but I see no difference in the method used to cool down the exhaust. Either the MH or the extra single-wall should theoretically affect the combustion efficiency if lower flue temps alone are the cause. Seems to be faulty logic at play here... or maybe the six beers I've had are affecting my own thinking.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    After 6 beers I stop thinking period. :)
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    1. I wonder if he was really wrong - he did detail out designs like the Jotul early non-cat models, but the problem was often stack temps. In my experience, the early...and many existing non-cats put quite a lot of heat up the flue! Remember, there is almost no such thing as a complete study of the actual efficiency of these in houses under regular use. We know they are cleaner than then old stoves, but not anywhere near as clean as they could or should be. Woodstock and VC and maybe others are coming up with hybrid cats.....for the reason that either a cat with no other tech, or the first non-cat designs...are not as efficient as could be and might not even pass future standards.

    2. I don't think BG is saying that the same problem(s) would not occur with extra stovepipe - but it has the advantage of lower cost, quite operation, no electricity, etc.....

    There has been as much BS thrown around in this industry as in many others! For instance, people will do calcs on wood heating using 8000+ BTU per pound and 75% efficiency, etc......when the real calc might be as low as 30 or 40% lower than that!

    It is possible to engineer a really efficient wood heating system - which would consist of a perfectly matched stove, chimney, room, operator, wood and other factors. Central heaters which burn only at high (gasifiers) probably come closest to this.

    I remember meeting the lady who was instrumental in the development (at Corning) of the first cat stoves. She really blew my mind...back in about 1984, with her understanding that the only way a cat would really perform properly would be with a perfectly stabilized chimney....which, of course, for most of us would be pure luck.
  21. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Guys, I'm glad that this has turned into a scientific discussion. I'm a big fan of science, though I'm really into simple science and not too complex theoretical stuff. I also like math, though I never made it past my third semester in college due to the birth of our first son. I had to become a man and support a family. I still think of going back to school someday. I think if science is made simple and practical it is often more enjoyable. Battenkiller, I've always enjoyed your posts here. I'll have to read some of the books by Jay Shelton and see what you guys are talking about. Sounds like a cool guy!
  22. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Well, I can't stop thinking, but I prolly oughta stop drinking. Or at least drinking and posting... a very dangerous combination.
  23. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Hey BK, is that pic in your Avatar of your Vigilant? I really like it! Hey drinking and posting may be dangerous, just watch the drinking and loading that beast of yours! :lol:
    Hope you have really long gloves! :bug:
  24. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I am always fascinated by the conversations on the forum trying to make a science of burning random chunks of very large random weeds in random metal or stone boxes with random chimneys in random building envelopes.

    Einstein would have said that you are nuckin futs to try to quantify any of it.

    Science is what led to all the other ways of heating. :lol:
  25. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    I am always fascinated by folks trying to make a science out of studying machines whose sole purpose is to burn random chunks of animal and vegetable matter, in squishy bags of organic material that are supported by frameworks composed of calcium and phosphorus, which vary randomly and quite dramatically from each other in size, design, efficiency and operating environment, and whose only commonality is that they are all tubes that put fuel in one end and exude waste matter from the other end.

    Both woodburning and medicine are practiced arts, but science helps in either case if you want to learn how best to practice them, especially when things aren't going quite right... unless you're still a big believer in blood-letting and leeches. %-P
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