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First few fires with the Jotul 550 Rockland insert...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Fiziksgeek, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. Fiziksgeek

    Fiziksgeek Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    108
    Loc:
    Oxford, CT
    I had the Jotul 550 insert installed in late winter/early spring last year. Paid full price for the stove, but got a special, $99 install (including single story double wall SS liner). Had a couple small break in fires, but it got so warm so quickly, we didn't really get a chance to do more than that.

    When the temps dropped this weekend, I knew we would get to start it up. I bought 2 pallets of Envi Blocks to supplement what little seasoned wood I have for this year. Trying to keep the fires small, since its not really that cold out. Its been 50's to near 60 for the high and near 40 for the low here at my place, not much sun. Here is my experience so far:

    Sunday, I started a fire around 7am. Super cedar, kindling, 1 envi block. About 1-1.5 hours later I added another envi block. About 4 hours after that (after I ate lunch) I added 1 more Envi block. All together, that made the house more than warm enough for the day. Still had heat coming out around dinner time.

    Monday was similar I believe, I worked, wife and kids were home.So I started the fire before I left for work, but don't know exactly what happened after that, but the house was plenty warm when I got home.

    Tuesday, I got home from work about 5:30. Started up a fire the same way, added a second envi block around 7. Still plenty of heat when I headed up stairs at about 10:30.

    When it gets colder, maybe by Thanksgiving time, I'll start morning fires too during the week. My house has 3 heating zones, 2 downstairs, 1 upstairs. I suspect I'll still use the oil heat (with baseboards) upstairs to keep it comfortable at night for us (my wife and I, 5 year old girl, 1 year old boy). The insert is in the family room, and I keep a fan blowing into it, pushing cold air toward the stove. I wish I had better heat distribution, but lets face it, we spend probably 85% of our awake home time in the family room.

    So if our house is split 60% floor area 1st floor, 40% second floor, and I heat the first floor with the stove, maybe I can save 60% on my heating oil this year?
    OldLumberKid likes this.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    South Puget Sound, WA
    That insert is barely idling with just a single Envi block burning. Once it gets below freezing daytime temps you will be able to let it burn decent fires.
  3. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    5,158
    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    We found some issues with the 550 that you may want to be aware of. One is that when you reload after a substantial burn, make sure you turn off the blowers before you open the door, especially if any ashes have piled up near the glass. The problem is that the ash lip is not very deep & any ashes that fall from the firebox get sucked into the blower & get pushed out into the room. Second is that if you've got this installed in an exterior fire place, you may not get as much heat from it as you want during the coldest days of the winter. The insert radiates a LOT of heat thru the firebox into the surrounding cavity walls & the colder they are (ie exterior masonry construction) the less heat you will realize in the living area... The heat is great from interior built fire place installs...YMMV
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Have you insulated any fireplace interiors because of this or does Jotul say no?
  5. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    We actually fabricated a four-piece, insulated shroud with the aluminum side towards the insert and 1" thick liner wrap attached to the outer side with RTV Silicone. It's kind of a PITA to work around the liner attachment area & it's not TOTALLY sealed, but it leaves a 2" airspace between the insert & the aluminum & it directs the heat towards the back of the surround. Jotul casts standoff tabs on their surrounds to keep them from sealing tight against the face of the surrounding brick. Any reflected heat escapes into the living space thru that gap. I don't have the actual measurements readily available, but I'll see if I can get them & post them here...
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  6. Fiziksgeek

    Fiziksgeek Member

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    Jan 3, 2012
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    Loc:
    Oxford, CT
    HAHA thanks, I have already learned two things when reloading:

    1. Open the door slowly
    2. Turn off the blower

    The chimney is in the garage, so its not quite as bad as a full exterior chimney, but not great either. I went out and felt the block on the garage side the other day while burning, and it didn't feel warm to me. Might be more noticeable when its colder out. Even on the coldest days, the garage stays above freezing. I am hoping to insulate it, but not this year.
  7. cp20855

    cp20855 New Member

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    Nov 19, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    What are Envi blocks? You certainly are getting more heat than we are with identical model.
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Compressed wood products that some folks burn in their woodstoves in lieu of actual cord wood . . . some folks find them useful when they cannot get truly seasoned wood to burn.

    Attached Files:

  9. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Loc:
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    They probably burn very nicely, however, last I knew, Jotul has NOT tested any of their wood burning appliances for the use of these compressed wood products. According to the dealer rep that I dealt with, if you burn them & something DOES happen to your wood stove or insert, you will VOID the warranty. Something to think about...
    OldLumberKid, jotulguy and zap like this.
  10. Fiziksgeek

    Fiziksgeek Member

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    Loc:
    Oxford, CT
    I use the envi block to supplement my less than perfect wood. So far it hasnt been cold enough to require me to really try and load up the stove. I have not put more than 2 envi blocks in at a time. I've heard that about Jotul not have "approved" any compressed fuel, but assuming I take it easy and stuff the firebox with 8 blocks at a time, I am not so worried.
  11. cp20855

    cp20855 New Member

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    Nov 19, 2012
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    Thanks for you input, gentlemen. The last 2 days (chilly by Maryland standards, oh my, could it be down in the 30's?) fireplace insert has worked really well -- except for the start up problems. Husband now in charge of starting fire, wife in charge of keeping it going.

    We are working on opening door v...e....r......r.....y s...l...o....w....l....y.....

    Cheers,
    Carol
  12. cp20855

    cp20855 New Member

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    Now yet another question, sorry!

    We have one of those round thermometers but it is very difficult to read when slid into the place where the heat comes out. I added the wire from a twistie so I can pull it out and read it quickly before temp goes back down. (Turns out that the IR thermometer just doesn't do the job for whatever reason.)

    I would like to find a thermometer on a metal pole that I can put into the heat-come-out opening (does that have a name?). Please advise on specific brands and/or what qualities to look for in such a thermometer. I envision it as about 3-4" long spike with round thermometer flat on the end of spike.

    Thanks,
    Carol
  13. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Long Island NY
    Can't help with a thermometer on a stick but the one I have has two tabs that stick up at roughly 400 and five hundred. I keep my thermo in the heat come out vent thingy just like you and I can pretty much tell where things are relative to those tabs and don't have to move it. That thermo would be real hot to handle. Oh and I keep a flash light near the insert for when I need it.
  14. jnorthway

    jnorthway New Member

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    Nov 5, 2012
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    13
    Loc:
    CT
    I too have a new Jotul 550. I installed it on Thanksgiving morning. I replaced a Vermont Castings WinterWarm that was a little undersized for the house.
    Overall, things have been going well. Getting used to it. Tons of great info on this forum! I should be able to dial it in fairly soon as I get used to what it likes.

    Right now she's cruising at 550ish, blower's running at about 2\3 speed, 72 degrees inside, On it's way to high 20's outside. I can tell this baby is gonna crank when I get it dialed in. It's quite a beast!

    Stuffed the flue with Roxul yesterday. I'll be installing a metal block off plate to reflect some more of that heat to the stove surround. The Roxul made a difference, but I think adding some metal will reflect it even better. I have a completely exposed interior chimney with a very open floor plan.

    Couple minor things to note....
    1) The damn blower grate vibrates as the stove heats up past 350-400. Its fine at lower temps and pretty good after the initial "adjustment nudge" I have to give it as it heats up. Gonna need to adjust the tabs a bit or maybe put in a little spacer.
    2) I REALLY miss having an ashpan! The VC was not a perfect stove on many accounts, but boy it was really nice that it had an easily removable ashpan. For an insert that was designed as a whole house heater, it seems counter intuitive to not be able to empty ash when the fire is at cruising speed. I knew this before we bought it, but it will be an adjustment.


    Overall really pleased with our purchase, and again, this site rocks!

    Jon
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  15. Treacherous

    Treacherous Minister of Fire

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    WA state
    I can only speak for the products in my signature but they ensure I get a 11-12 hour burn every time. I just toss one in with my fir load. I know this is nothing for BK burn cycle but it still makes me plenty happy!!!
  16. jnorthway

    jnorthway New Member

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    CT
    I use the Envi blocks mixed with wood as well. It was a way to bump the heat output by an extra 100 degrees in my old insert (VC winterwarm). My wood supply is not perfect either, so I've been experimenting with different mixes of Envi blocks and wood to see what gets me the best output.

    Just wood is okay but it's tougher to get the temps where I want them. The blocks alone burn hotter but in this stove they don't burn as hot as they did in the old insert. When I combine them I get the benefits of both fuels. The wood provides a nice coal bed and the blocks stabilize and add consistency.

    I've tried several brands of compressed wood blocks. The Envi blocks are the best performers I've used bar none.
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  17. Fiziksgeek

    Fiziksgeek Member

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    Loc:
    Oxford, CT
    Burned most of the day yesterday, kept the house at ~75. Last night at ~10:30, I put in 3 envi blocks over a nice bed of coals, front-to-back orientation with an inch of two spacing between. When I came down this morning ~6:30, the house was ~68 degrees. Still had a little warmth in the stove, though the fan had shut off. It was about 28 or so last night. So until it gets colder, I am not going to start morning fires.
    jnorthway likes this.
  18. cp20855

    cp20855 New Member

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    Nov 19, 2012
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    How cold does it need to be outside before you would start fire in your stove inside?

    Thanks,
    Carol
  19. Fiziksgeek

    Fiziksgeek Member

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    Loc:
    Oxford, CT
    Depends on the day. If its cloudy, I would say low 50's I would start a fire, but small one and would probably let it burn out pretty quick. If its 50's and the sun is out, I would not need one, even now, the sun still has a little power to it, but its getting weak quickly.

    This past sunday, I think it got up to ~40 for a high, mid-upper 20's at night.

    Started a fire last night ~6pm. Burned some wood until the last load and once again, put in 3 envi blocks at about 10:30. It was 68 this morning, and 64 when I got home at about noon today. Early dismissal from school for my daughter, its been only slightly above freezing (and snowing) for most of the day. Started it back up when I got home, currently 75 in the family room, only about 68 on the other side of the house. I use a fan to blow air into the family room where the insert is.

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