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General question regarding Cat vs Non Cat and stove brand

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by swalgin, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    Let me primer this question by saying we have used a 100 year old parlor stove for our primary heat in a 200 year old farm house (stone and wood addition). Old bessie is hot and hungry so two years ago we bought an Equinox soapstone. We read reviews, directions and had the dealer come to test it. It never worked properly and we ran our pellet stove almost every day that winter (it was one of the warmest on record). So the dealer did take it back and prorated our return.

    We re-installed Bessie. We get about 4 hours of burn time with a full load (3-4 cu ft firebox). We burn a variety of wood, black locust, hickory, oak and elm. Bessie is not sealed so the soot and fly ash is all over my dinning room. I have nasty sinus issues all fall and winter.

    So, we started looking again. Decided to try a few small local hearth shops. We found a left over DutchWest by Vermont Castings XL 2462. It is catalytic which is one of the concerns after reading a ton of reviews as well as cat vs non cat.

    The side load door is just about a deal breaker for me when choosing a stove. Bessie has side load. At this point we are extremely nervous about buying and don't want to blow 4Gs again. The 2462 is on sale for $1700 but they are new store owners looking to unload it.

    I have read that the catalyst has to be replaced but the reviews were all over the board, some at each year and some at 5 or 6 years. Bottom line is I need some sound advice.

    I should also state that the 10" chimney is interior and draws like a monster. Bessie has a 6" flue. The 2462 has an 8. We've been burning wood as our primary heat for 6 or 7 years and use a multi-fuel Magnum Pellet stove (3:1 pellet/oats or wheat) for supplemental heat.

    I am a researchaholic so I am on info overload. I have read multiple threads here and else where. I hope I have given all info needed to give me some pro advice. Thank you for any advice!

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  2. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Just my opinion . . . but I was steered away from the Vermont Castings line up when I was looking due to the past problems with that company. Some of their new stoves may be a bit better today though compared to when I was looking.

    Cat vs. non cat . . . Non-issue in my book. You will have to eventually replace the cat . . . but then again all stoves will need some maintenance at some point and many folks feel the longer burn times with a cat and reduced wood consumption is worth the small expense of replacing the cat in a few years.

    One thing I will mention . . . before Backwoods mentions it . . . all of these new EPA stoves (whether cat or secondary burners) like very well seasoned, dry wood. Wood cut, split and stacked this Fall to be burned this winter will not result in a very fun burning experience.
    Backwoods Savage and swalgin like this.
  3. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    Wood is well seasoned, downed 1-2 years ago. Split and stacked over summer. I am all over my guy constantly about getting it done so it is seasoned and dry! Plus good exercise stacking!

    Also, have looked at a Drolet from NorthernTool, yes it is cheaper but does have some good reviews. I would like to get a 6 hour burn time. He is up at 5 to milk cows so if he could get a good 6 hours of sleep I would be happy.

    I will say I have been spoiled by the literal lack of maintenance needed on Bessie!
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Can you clarify? Are there two stoves running on one 10" chimney?
  5. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    no sorry! Wood stove in one room and pellet in another. Separate chims
  6. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    So what was it that the Equinox didn't do? That's supposed to be a pretty good stove.

    Danger is, of course, you'll have the same bad experience all over again.
    jeff_t likes this.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Is the 8" flue thimble on the 10" chimney?

    The 2462 cat stove is pretty reliable. But if you want to save some money, a $899 Englander 30NC will do just as good a job and will hold a good long burn. The only problem is that it wants a 6" flue. That's why it's important to understand the flue that this stove is connecting to. Is this an independent flue with no other appliances or fireplaces connected to it? Do you know the inside dimension of this chimney?
  8. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Before anyone else mentiones it...

    You didn't say what kind of wood you're burning, but even for pine that's a pretty short time to season. Wood won't really start to season until it's cut split and stacked. Test it with a moisture meter. Under 20% I read is good, we're burning pinet hat's 9-14% and THAT is good, the Lopi is finally happy (this is our third year wioth a stove and first with really dry wood).

    Also, welcome!
    Bluezx636 and Oldhippie like this.
  9. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Oh, and I know Vermont Castings doesn't always get the best reviews although I've heard their quality is better now that for some previous years. I can say though, that you've picked the only other stove I had ever eyed while dreaming of a wood stove (ok, except the Thelin which doesn't have enough firebox to be considered as a only heat source). I didn't seriously consider it because of the side load as well, since we didn't have enough space on the side for proper hearth dimentions. Nice looking stove though!!
  10. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    I was just going to ask the same thing as Oldhippie, whatever caused the Equinox not to work properly has to be solved or you may have the same problem with whatever stove you buy.
    You said the wood was split this summer, depending on the species that really isn't enough time for the wood to dry properly, wood doesn't start to season until it's split not when the tree is cut or bucked. If the wood is oak or hickory it may need 2+ years split to season properly, these new wood stoves absolutely need dry wood (20% or below moisture content) to burn properly.
    webby3650 and jeff_t like this.
  11. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    I agree.
  12. Hardrockmaple

    Hardrockmaple Feeling the Heat

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    I would not shy away from the Dutchwest. I looked at the new ones closely last year and could find no discernible difference from my 17 year old work horse. (see signature) Mine works well with a strong draft. I get an honest 5-6 hours of heat from my small one with lotsa coals after 8 and even 10 hrs. to relight it.

    But...I agree with the above, what was wrong with the Equinox, would the same problem exist for any stove?
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum swalgin. Nothing to be ashamed of with good research before you buy.

    I too am amazed at the Equinox. Not sure what the problem cold be there but happy you were able to return it. The problem could have been the chimney or the wood or something altogether different.

    3-4 hours of heat, especially with a large 3 cu ft firebox is about unheard of and that also has me floored. I would not be concerned about a side loader at all. As for the cat needing to be replaced occasionally, that is no more than normal maintenance and you will have normal maintenance on any stove you buy. Even on the non-cat stoves, we read many times that while loading the stoves, the baffle is hit and then has to be replaced. All stoves will have maintenance costs and the replacement of the cats is not an outrageous cost.

    I do wonder if you would be wise to put a liner into that chimney as that can make a big difference, especially if it is insulated.

    You state, "I would like to get a 6 hour burn time. He is up at 5 to milk cows so if he could get a good 6 hours of sleep I would be happy." Wow! I would not be happy with this situation. I remember what it is like milking cows and the work involved. So if I could cut down on the amount of wood to heat the house that would really be a big help. And this is very possible. For example:

    We used to heat our home with a big Ashley stove. We burned at least 6 full cord of wood every winter and many times even more. I think 7 1/2 was about the most, but we were never warm and even had to close off part of the house every winter. When we started looking at new stoves, we wanted to shy away from a cat stove because of some bad things we had heard. Long story short is that we now have a cat stove. The best part is that we cut our wood needs in half, we no longer close off part of the house and in fact have added on to it, and we keep our house at 80 degrees or above all winter long. On that warm winter we used about 2 1/2 cord. Last year just a very little over 3 cord. We could not be happier.

    I will add that our stove was purchased direct from Woodstock Soapstone. It came with a six month guarantee. If not satisfied, a full refund would be coming. With that we figured we could not go wrong and we didn't. Woodstock has since added one stove larger than our Fireview and very soon will be introducing another stove even larger but at a much reduced price as there will be more steel in this stove vs all the soapstone of their regular stoves. You can look them up at www.woodstove.com or call them at 800-866-4344.

    Now on to that wood that Firefighter Jake said I would comment on. Most definitely you will benefit by having your wood drying for longer periods. We normally burn wood that has been split and stacked for 3 years and have excellent results with this. Especially with wood like oak and locust. Locust should be good in 2 years but in most places oak needs 3 years. Believe me, having that good dry wood will be like driving a Cadillac vs a second hand Ford.

    Good luck.
    swalgin likes this.
  14. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    Ok, the Equinox didn't reburn like it was suppose to, used almost as much wood to keep the house barely livable. The dealer sent us a damper because he felt that the chim was drawing too much. The damper didn't fix the issues. He came to the house with his own 2 year old seasoned wood. Started it up, loaded and waited (I took him trout fishing while it was burning and we caught two brookies). Got back about 4 hours later, wood was burned up and room was about 85. It was 55 outside.

    He didn't have any answers. He tried to trade a Blaze King for the Equinox but I declined. We took the massive stove out and when we were cleaning it to deliver back to dealer noticed that some of the stone in the top looked cracked. This may have been the issue all along but the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth! Moving it in and back out of the house was a feat all in it self.

    The chim is 10" with a 6" hole.

    Wood used is under 25% and as I stated before a mix of hickory, oak, black locust and elm. We live on a dairy farm so once every two years have some trees downed. Then we go cut and split and it is stacked in old poop spreaders. We usually work on it in early spring. So it sits all summer. I realize that it may not be IDEAL wood but hard to find time on farm to do everything, LOL. Burning it in Bessie right now with no issues, except the fact that she eats it like M &Ms.

    Dealer with the DutchWest is suppose to call us back tomorrow regarding price. We were thinking of offering 1500 as he wants to get rid of it since he just took over this store a few months back and may not be carrying Vermont Castings.

    I really appreciate all the comments, advice and opinions. Using this forum has been a great experience.

    Clarification...Bessie's box is 3-4 cf. and I love the side door on her that is why I am looking to get a side load door.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  15. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    From reviews on the DutchWest it does seem that a good draw is very important. Waiting 30 secs after opening damper to open door to load. Dry hardwood. There were concerns from some reviewers regarding the cat converter having to be replace but some reviewers addressed they by talking about not "overburning". I mean that "overburning" caused the cat converters to fail quicker
  16. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Are you using wood that's been sitting CSS for a few years? That would explain the lower MC.

    LOL, wood in honey wagons. There's a new use.

    A BK? Which one? Those are ugly (well, the new ones aren't) but they are work horses.

    We live across from one of the fields a BIG local dairy uses to grow corn for sileage. I have mad respect for you guys hanging on to a smaller farm these days, especially in NY with our property taxes!

    Hey, you changed your avi-is that Bessie?? Sweet looking stove. I'd have to keep that somewhere.
  17. lopiliberty

    lopiliberty Minister of Fire

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    Don't take this the wrong way but are you crazy? Why wouldn't you want a blaze king? Massive firebox and long burn times in the shoulder season. Cadillac of all stoves?????????????
  18. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Do you have a moisture meter? if so, are you checking a piece just after it was split?

    That would have been a sweet deal! You would have went from 4 hour burns to 40!

    These stones have a lot of natural grain that can look like cracks. Even if it was, it would likely not leak air, not enough to cause an Equinox to blow through a load that quick. The stones are 2-1/4" thick.

    These old stoves will burn anything! So, don't let this decide if the wood was the issue or not.
  19. Hardrockmaple

    Hardrockmaple Feeling the Heat

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    How tall is the chimney?

    (I warn you, I'm a slow learner) It took me a few winters to realize what I had when I first got my DW. But now, well I'm struggling with the new Drolet in the basement but cannot imagine not having my little, so easy to run, DW on my main floor.

    I've only bought 3 new cats over the 17 years and the last one I'm not sure I needed but wanted to try the new steel cats in the marketplace. IMO a good choice. Watching the supplied Cat probe thermometer closely will help a great deal with learning a DW stove. The ash pan works great, you'll rarely open the front door (mostly for cleaning the stove). IMO the DW is a good affordable heater.
  20. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    Yes that is Bessie, a Fernwood. We will keep her for sure. The BK was really ugly and I want a side load. I have a bad back and the front loads are so messy. The stove is in my dining room which is a pass thru for downstairs bath, living room and stairs so the mess just gets dragged everywhere. Wood hasn't sat for more than a year before being cut and split. Honey wagons are not for honey anymore just wood
  21. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    Chim is up at peak of second story and is an interior chim, it will suck a duck up it if you open damper and vents in stove. Sounds like a blast furnace.
  22. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Haha, had to be a king or princess. I couldn't get past the looks either, I do like the new Sirocco.

    Hm. Never had a side loader but I don't find the front loading too messy.

    Sorry, i should have clarified. CSS=cut split stacked. Do you burn the same year as it's split, or are you a few years ahead?
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    swalgin, have you looked at the Jotul F500 or F600 stoves? They are both side loaders. Also, take a look at the new Hearthstone Mansfield.
  24. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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  25. swalgin

    swalgin Member

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    Probably crazy because I let the look of it sway my mind and it didn't have a side load. It is in my dining room and Bessie is a focal point.

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