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Front to Back or Side to Side Loading?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by velvetfoot, Dec 16, 2005.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Opinions on which is best? The front to back seems safer, but I think you would have more extension onto the hearth. It also would seem that you can pack more wood in the firebox with front to back loading. My brother-in-law, who hardly uses his fireplace, had a log roll out once and ruin his carpet.

    We really love the quadrafire on the current house, and it loads front to back. On the new place the wife seems to have a hankering for a more flush look, but I'm liking the q-f 3100i.

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  2. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    What i was told by my P.E. dealer and it makes sence is when you load front to back you get 2 things . #1 the air inlet is in the front base of the stove and when you load front to back the air gets to all the logs and in between the logs for an over all better burn , if you load side to side the air only hits the front log and has to go around the pile and dont get between the logs # 2 is so a log has less chance to roll and hit the door . Well #1 totaly made sence to me
  3. Willhound

    Willhound Feeling the Heat

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    I was told the same thing by my P.E. dealer/installer. Especially as the front firebox lip on the Summit is failry low, in my opinion., so you need to watch for "rollers", but maybe why they breath so well. I can also tell you that I did end up placing a relatively large birch split side to side last night because it was a little too long, and by the time I realized that the door was going to be a little tight, the bark had already lit off, so I ended up just flipping it sideways with the poker. As a result, I had to burn with my damper a lot further open than usual to get the same burn. I could see how the air was coming in the front inlet and having to go up and over, instead of through.

    Willhound
  4. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Roo, In general I agree with you, and that's how I load my stove mostly for overnight burns. During the Day I use a sort of random criss cross pattern as I (my wife also) load single logs at a time.

    Here's a thought, as I experimented with this very point a bit with this over the past week. If loading side to side, and the stove is at proper operating temp before loading, the fire box is so hot, that the logs almost immediately begin to give up their gasses and kick off the secondary burn, thus keeping the firebox at the proper operating temp. The primary air burns only the first log and directly, and the secondary burn works on the top of the load. This way the primary air effects less wood directly causing longer burn time.

    I think it works, but I'll have to experiment many more times to see. Variations in wood are too great, and burn times due to that can vary. Overall, if there is any effect in burn time or efficiency in a properly operating EPA sotve, I'd bet it's pretty minimal.

    All that said...intuition tells me that front to back may be slightly better because of the reasons you state, but if you have any logs with slightly too much moisture as some Apple I have does, it can really leave a nice black spot on the glass for a few hours.
  5. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Roospike pretty much explained that you need to know and understand how your unit works to make that call. I've seen it mentioned a couple times Pacific Energy's work better loaded front/back than side/side and the way Roospike explained it, it makes sense. My unit heats best the hotter I can get my sides. I have air heating channels with a blower, that forces my living room air to go in channels that runs under my unit, then up the sides, over the top in the back, and then out the top front. The back of my unit doesn't have these channels. To maximize heat, I need the sides as hot as I can, for as long as I can and that happens best with logs side/side. Having the heat and flames directed towards the glass by putting the logs front/back focuses the heat where these channels don't run and are not only non-condusive to my units heating, but worse those logs front/back on the very sides cover and protect them from the fire & heat for pretty much the entire burn so my unit doesn't heat as well. Also, if my wood is on the rather wet side, water comes out the ends, covers my glass in condensation, and until it evaporates collects particles and crap which turns into a thick black coating. When my wood is dry, doesn't cause that as bad.

    The best scenario for me is to have the logs piled side/side and have the fire start from the outsides and burn towards the middle. I do that when I reload, I rake all the hot coals into a pile on each side. Reload, leave the door open, both sides light, I shut the door, the entire time my sides are in flames or exposed to heat, and I get a lot more heat. Any insert that doesn't have a heat shield or air channels in the back, will benefit most from side/side loading and following the technique of burning fires from the outside in. You need to understand your unit.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    On my QuadraFire there is a startup air vent in the front and middle of the box, so if I put a little lump of firestarter in front of it things get going pretty quick. I have found that I can pile as much wood as I can in that box and it works well. I would think if it was a side to side design, you wouldn't be able to load it up as much because of the 'roll off' factor.

    So, which other inserts load front to back? Pacific Energy is one, I believe.
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