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Drolet HeatMax Review/Install

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Goatguy, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Mid-Michigan
    Hey All!

    Figured I'd report in on that new furnace from Drolet....

    First, how about some background, I live in a 2200 sqft 1.5 story house, with a 1500 sqft basement (3700sqft total). The House was built in '78 and was built as efficiently as they were able at the time, 6" walls with full fiberglass, with 1" styrofoam on the outside before the siding, the basement is also fully insulated, There are a lot of windows (8 are considered "picture" windows byu the insurance comapny) however, most are newer thermopanes at least.

    The house has electric baseboard for the primary heat, and the previous owner had a RiteWay 73 furnace in teh basement with one giant duct straight to the kitchen which is in the middle of the first floor. I burned with that riteway for 2 years. It heated the house... but it took a LOT of wood, with a 7.3 cubicfoot firebox, that it could burn through in 4-5 hrs... you can only imagine how old that go.

    So this year I decided to upgrade, I searched around, Kuuma, PSG, Blaze King (I used to have a princess insert in my last house and was happy with it), Boiler system, The Napoleon HMF furnaces, etc. I eventually decided on the Drolet Tundra #1 because of the price (I got it for $1599 on sale last week at Family Home and Farm), and 2# because of the raving reviews of the PSG Caddy.

    I am not entirely sure if the stove has the grunt to heat the whole house when it starts getting real cold... but since the price for something larger, like the Kuuma (>$4k) and the MaxCaddy (quoted by my "local" dealer at $4700), I decided to go for the MUCH cheaper tundra.

    Took me all weekend, but I managed to get the old stove out, and the new stove in and hooked up, I wasn't sure if it would draft that well, (the manual says no more than 2 90° turns before the chimney and I have 2 plus another 45°. But it sure looks pretty in place.

    I fired it last night just for the fun of it, I completely smoked up the house due to the curing paint, but that's expected. The stove started easily enough and teh chimney drafted just great ( even with all the bends, it's still a 30' interior chimney, so it's got some heavy pull when it's hot).

    I't's going to take some getting used to, as the damper system is either fully on or fully off, I've never run a stove like that before. But once it was up to temp, I shut off the primary damper and the secondaries flared right up and the heat poured out. The other great thing is when I woke up this morninger and checked (12 hr's after startign it) there was plenty of coals to restart a new fir, no heat.. but LOTS of coals, that is something my RiteWay would never do.

    So far the negatives I have found...
    -I am not a big fan of the wingnuts closures for the heat exchanger and ash drawer. They look cheap and tacky and will probably be a pain to use and have a good potential for losing the wingnuts by dropping them. I understand it was a cost saving measure to get the unit to the 1599... but I'd have paid more to get nice hinged doors with over-center handle locks.
    -The on/off switch for the primary air is on the back of the stove, it is very inconvenient to hit, especially when the unit is hot. I'll probably eventually remoting wire the switch to a better place.
    -The blower is pretty nice and pretty quiet, but I'm not sure it'll have the grunt to push air all the way to the second floor when I get around to ducting the house (to be fair, I haven't changed the setting from the "medium-low" default setting and it could potentially push much more when switched to high, we'll see)

    Anyhow, that's I got for now, I hope it works out, so far I really like it and I think it was a fantastic value at the price point. Especially if I can get the tax credit at the endo f the year.

    I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

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  2. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Does the install manual specify a chimney draft spec? Might want to get a manometer to check it and make sure you're within spec. I've got a 30' chimney also and it will pull way too much draft without being regulated by a barometric damper - especially with any wind blowing at all. I got a Dwyer manometer & keep it hooked to my smoke pipe all the time - although likely not necessary to keep it there all the time once you have a barometric damper tuned in.
  3. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

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    Sep 15, 2010
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    Loc:
    Mid-Michigan
    Maple1,

    I have a barometric damper installed from the last furnace/stove, but I do not yet have a manometer to verify it's proper adjustment. The manual is also very specific with regards to plenum pressure, so I'll need to check that too when I get a chance. Thanks for your input
  4. KL3540

    KL3540 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
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    Any photos?
  5. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    1,881
    Loc:
    Ashland OH
    Yeah, you'll need the baro. We have a 32' exterior chimney and it's too much without one. If you don want to mess with the switch, add a thermostat to the furnace. This way you can regulate it via thermostat (on and off damper), or let it regulate with a set temp in house. The secret with these is seasoned wood and letting the furnace get up to temp before closing the damper. You will get a bit of heat from the coalbed, but when the damper is open. Having it connected to a thermostat allows it to ramp up the coals for heat then close when not needed. I thought our furnace wouldn't put out much heat either at first, but when it's allowed to stretch it's legs, it will put out alot of heat. Congrats and keep us posted, maybe a few pics?
  6. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    771
    Loc:
    Kitchener, Ontario
    +1 on what Laynes said. A thermostat can be had for about $25 nowadays. You got a killer deal on that unit BTW.

    You're trying to heat a lot of house (3,700) with this wood furnace. Unless your house is extremely well insulated it will likely have a hard time heating all of it. Even a Max Caddy is rated for about 3,000 Sq ft max. Keep that in consideration as you design your ductwork, since adding extra lenght will eventually max out what the blower and furnace can actually do.


    I'll pass your comments on to our design team but you are right... In order to make it cost effective in hardware retail outlet we had to change some things.

    BTW, you can claim 10% of your installation up to $300 on the federal Govt rebate.

    Keep us posted and thanks for the review.
  7. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

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    Loc:
    Mid-Michigan
    Well... It's not 3700 sqft. all the time, I'm only in teh basement for enough time to make it worth heating... maybe once a week. With the last wood furnace, the fact that I was passively heating it (since I wasn't using a return air duct), and the heat from the exposed part of the chimney pipe was nearly enough to heat the basement, (remember, that is 6" studs with full insulation too, so it's not as hard as a load as one might think). Also with the last furnace, it was only ducted to the first floor, the passive heat movement and minute convection was enough to keep the 2nd floor heated to ~60 degrees, which since that is where the bedrooms are, and 60 is perfect lseeping temp, works great for me.

    So! If it is anything like the last furnace, all I have to do is heat the first floor, and teh basement and 2nd floor will get enough residual heat to keep them comfortable. Not to mention the window will alot more heat through radiation than the non-windowed RiteWay furnace.
    Anyhow, I'm hoping for the best, and even if it only heats 80%, or even if it heats everything except then 0 degree nights, I'll be happy. ANything to keep that electric heating bill down.

    Lastly, Fyrbug, I'm looking to get 2 more duct collars for the top of the furnace, where can I order those? Also, I need one special cut fire brick (it fell out and broke during the bumpy trailer ride home).

    Thanks!

    Pictures to come when I get a chance (and find teh camera)
  8. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

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    Hi Goatguy, if you look on page 45 of the manual you'll see using 4 outlets is not allowed. What you'll find if you do is there will be too much air flow (low static pressure) which will cool the firebox too fast (inefficient burn and danger of condensation on low fire) plus the air itself flows too fast to pick up enough heat.

    PM me which brick you need and I'll send you a new one...
  9. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

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    Loc:
    Mid-Michigan
    FyreBug,

    I realize that having more than 2 outlets open at a time is not allowed. I plan on having dampers on all four 8" outlets, that way I can direct the heat where I want while only using 2 outlets at a time. I am thinking I'll run 2 outlets to the main floor, 1 outlet to the 2nd floor, and one in the basement, that way I heat the floors or spaces that I'm using, while closing the dampers to the areas I'm not.

    (I could use T's and dampers to do the same thing... but it'd be easier to take it right of the furnace, plus I wouldn't take as hard of a hit on the air friction loss that one gets when going off a T

    Does that make more sense now?


    Oh! Also, I want the air filter adapter, is there an online retailer for something like that? I do not believe I have any nearby dealers to order from (Zip 48642)

    Thanks, and PM on its way.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  10. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

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    You can try these guys, they seem to specialize in parts. http://myfireplaceproducts.com/WelcomeScreen.aspx
  11. M1sterM

    M1sterM Member

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    First time getting back on Hearth.com for a while. Can someone highlight the key differences between the Tundra and the Heatmax? The Tundra is a new model from Drolet, correct? I've googled it quickly, but can't seem to find any details on what the differences are.
  12. Goatguy

    Goatguy Member

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    I believe the tundra and heatmax are essentially the same, the only difference is cosmetic. They made the two models so that different retailers aren't necessarily competeting directly with each other. For instance... Lowe's offers "price matching, plus an extra 10% off if you find it cheaper somewhere else" on all thier products. Well, if they carry the Tundra, but someone else carries the heatmax cheaper, then Lowe's has an "out" and won't have to price match because they aren't the exact same model. They do this trick with appliances all the time. Anyhow, I hope that made sense... haha, the take away is, they are the same, so pick the one that is closer/cheaper/prettier to you and enjoy.
  13. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu Minister of Fire

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    FYI, anyone lookin for a Tundra/heatmax, I just seen Menerds has extended their 11% rebate sale until Nov 2. (at least in my area, NE OH) That makes the Tundra just over $1600!
  14. KL3540

    KL3540 New Member

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    Looks as if Family Farm and Home has the same deal right now. It's marked at 1599. Thank you,I haven't checked the menards yet... I will take a peek over there. Hopefully these sales continue past November 5th
  15. Firefighting

    Firefighting New Member

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    Loc:
    Virginia
    Family Farm and Home hooked me up for $1599 +$150 shipping from Michigan to Virginia. I just got it a couple of days ago and love what I've seen. Just can't wait to fire it up!
  16. KL3540

    KL3540 New Member

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    Great news, I am keeping my JOB.

    Now that I am set on the Burner, I need to find and installer.
    Love the Heat and brenndatomu like this.
  17. spadjen

    spadjen New Member

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    are there any update on this furnace. looking to get one but not alot of info. I have the drolet ht2000 and love it. does anyone have any pics of the unit and the fire box? also was wondering how the auto damper and thermostat works. will be putting this in a basement that i would have to access from outside.
  18. lexybird

    lexybird Minister of Fire

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    I'm also curious on an update . Mine will be here in a couple days
  19. M1sterM

    M1sterM Member

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    lexybird. Any updates?
  20. KL3540

    KL3540 New Member

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    I am waiting on a call back from my estimate on price. With the rough estimate, they quoted 8000. That will be out if my price range which saddens me. I would still like to hear about others experience with the unit. If/when I build my barn, this will be the unit I choose. It will be much cheaper to install in there and I'll do that myself.
  21. lexybird

    lexybird Minister of Fire

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    Not to lead anyone away from here but FYI I put an update on arborist site . There are other ones who reviewed there as well along with pictures ..18 pages of info
  22. KL3540

    KL3540 New Member

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    Just thought I'd throw this sale I just saw out there for everyone to see.[​IMG]
  23. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu Minister of Fire

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    Cheapest I've heard of yet! Wherezat?
  24. KL3540

    KL3540 New Member

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    Almont, Mi. On the tag it says the sale goes until march of 2014
  25. KL3540

    KL3540 New Member

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    Family farm and home.... Sorry

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