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Going Crazy Trying to Decide Which Stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jugarf, Nov 17, 2009.

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  1. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    I think you could lose your mind trying to figure out which stove to get. After reading on-line and going to dealers, I still don't know which stove to buy. The problem is the one I really want probably won't fit (Hearthstone Mansfield) and the Equinox I think is too big, also. Here's my info. I live in Southern NY. House built in 1948. I have old Anderson windows and don't feel cold blowing in around them. But, on cold windy days, you really feel the cold. The stove will be a fireplace install into a 34' X 25' LR (8' ceilings, except at the top of the sunroom which is 9.5'). The fireplace is 7' from the front door in the center. Across the room on the south side is a 10' X 25' Four Seasons Sun Room integrated into the room, which gives off heat when the sun shines, but radiates cold when no sun. One one side of the room is a 16' X 33' kitchen/dining room. And, on the other side is a 17' X 23' bedroom, which we leave closed off most of the time. If you add the tiny bathroom, it comes to just under 1800 sq. ft. We have another 1200 sq. ft. upstairs, but like it cool. There is a stairway opening on one side of the LR and one in the kitchen, so the heat will rise on both sides of the house. I have extreme conditions because of the glass sunroom. My heat doesn't run during the day when the sun shines, but on cloudy windy days, my house is cold, especially the kitchen which faces the north side. I know I will have to use a fan to pull the heat into the kitchen. My fireplace hearth is 20" from the front of the stone to the opening. The fireplace opening is 46 3/8" W X 30 3/4"H. I will have 14"D into the fireplace at the top opening. This means that I have a total of 34" from the front edge of the stone to the back of the fireplace. The Mansfield won't work because of the top flue and the Equinox is 25 5/8" plus the stovepipe (8") plus the elbow. I have started looking at other options. The Woodstock Fireview (talked with the company) is too small. The Jotul F600 Fireview is big enough, but is it too big? Will it blast me out of my LF? Just found out yesterday that Hearthstone makes a cast iron Bennington and it didn't get great reviews. I looked online at Napoleon, PE T6, Vermont Castings, and many others. I even thought of buying the Jotul and getting a piece of soapstone for the top just to have soapstone. How do you decide? I really need help and advice. This is a big decision. I've never owned a wood stove before. I had a Buck insert years ago, but I don't want an insert because if you lose power, you've got no heat. That's why I think if I could get a Mansfield or Equinox into my fireplace, I would lose a lot of heat in the fireplace. I think I might go out of my mind with no experience to draw on. HELP?

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  2. vtburner

    vtburner New Member

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    I was in the same boat as you. Spent MONTHS wading through all of the information on this site, visiting dealers, etc... I finally made my decision recently and am about to order a new stove. I decided to go with napoleon, and I posted a thread on this forum to share my deciding factors, which might interest you. Here is the thread: http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/45801/

    While my budget would allow for pretty much any of the steel or cast stoves out there (<$3k after tax), the Soapstone Mansfield was just out of my price reach. I am pretty sure with unlimited money I would have gotten the Mansfield or Equinox, mostly because I am very partial to soapstone and they get great reviews here. If you can afford it and/or could somehow make it work, I don't think you can go wrong with those stoves.

    However, I just plain couldnt afford it. So, When looking at all of the other stoves, I found that a lot of them seemed like great stoves, but none seemed to offer the value of the Napoleons in my final opinion. (Quality to Price Ratio), AND the Napoleons had some distinct features that made it stand out in a crowded field of stoves that can seem all the same.

    If you are worried about not getting enough heat out of the fireplace, that is another good thing about the napoleons; They have a full convection shroud to move air out into the room, and with a blower you will obviously make that shroud really work... Might allow you to heat your house better than with a purely radiant heat model like many of the cast iron and soapstone stoves are.

    Keep in mind, These are just my opinions having done TONS of research, reading these forums thoroughly, studying dozens of schematics and technical drawings, and spending all kinds of time in showrooms working and opening and looking all over all kinds of stoves. I have not yet operated a Napoleon, so as far as valid functional opinions, I have none.

    GOOD LUCK!
  3. Chargerman

    Chargerman Feeling the Heat

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    You may already know this but bigger steel stoves like the Buck 91 or Country Flame BBF can be bought as an insert or freestanding stove. My BBf is an insert and while it won't give off near the heat when the blower isn't on it still heats up the room it is in well.
  4. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    You have a lot of good options. That's a good thing!
    With the size of that room, I would think either a Jotul F600 / 500, or PE T6 / T5 could work (going bigger has both advantages and drawbacks). It sounds like on the occasional day when the sun is in and out you could easily end up too warm or too cold (or both). So maybe a cat stove is a good idea.
    Although the Woodstock Fireview sounds small, I bet it could work (when you talked with the company, did they actually talk you out of it?). It certainly would be the minimum size to consider.
  5. Jotulf3cb

    Jotulf3cb New Member

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    JOTUL JOTUL JOTUL
  6. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    Here's my thoughts back to you guys. I like the looks of the Napoleon, but I don't think they make one big enough. Love the Hearthstone, but I don't think it will work. Still waiting for one dealer to come with his template of the Mansfield. When talking to Woodstock Fireview and describing my situation, he said that it probably wouldn't be big enough, especially when he heard the room dimensions and the sunroom story. No one around here has the PE Alderlea T6, but looking at the specs on-line, it might be too big for my fireplace (comparable in size to the Equinox). That leaves the Jotul F600 Firelight. I like the looks, saw it Saturday, but it wasn't fired up. Dealer kept telling me that was the one for me. He also had the Equinox and Mansfield. He wouldn't say, but I think he liked the Jotul best. His Hearthstones weren't hooked up. With all this said, and the tax credit, I'll go for the Hearthstone if I could make it work. I think at this point, if I could just keep my downstairs toasty warm in a noreaster when it's 15-20 degrees outside, I would be happy. What I need is a stove I can damper down when the room is warm and crank it up on those noreasters. My biggest fear is to pay all that money and get one that's too small or too large and not be happy with it. At this point, I'm really getting tired of reading, going to shops, and talking to people on the phone. If it were a small ticket item, it wouldn't be so bad to make a mistake.
    vtburner, in all your research, what would be your top 5 picks if price were no object?
  7. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    Hey Yaron2,
    Sounds like a song. Why Jotul? Do you own one, or are you a dealer? I live in Putnam Co, not too far from you. Same weather, mostly. Tell me your thoughts!!!!!
  8. polaris

    polaris Feeling the Heat

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    Any big cast stove like the Firelight can hold a small fire but it's a lot tougher to build a big one in a smaller stove. I think far fewer folks have come to regret buying a stove that may be a bit too large vs. one that is deemed to small after installation.
    Joe
  9. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    I am curious as to what the features are that napoleon has that others do not that make it stand out?
  10. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    I live right across the border from Putnam County, neighbor.

    Because Jotuls are beautiful, efficient, well put together heaters. I have a Castine and I love it. What a great stove. I can only imagine what great heaters the bigger models [500 and 600] are. If you want a radiant stove, I would not hesitate with the Jotul.

    I just want to clarify that while inserts may not be quite the radiant heaters that others are, they do quite a damn good job in heating with no blower. I really do not even turn my blower in until it gets very cold out on my Olympic. I get plenty of radiant heat. And then when it gets frigid, I have the fan to crank out some heat. i think inserts get a bit of a bad rap...
  11. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    Howdy neighbor, CTwoodburner, I'm close to the CT border. Can you recommend a knowledgable wood stove dealer or installer in our area? I've been from Danbury to Middletown to look at stoves and so far there's a world of experience and knowledge out there. Scary isn't it? Where are you getting your firewood? I need to find someone with good wood. I lost my guy's phone number. I've had bad luck with the landscapers. They bring you a lot of dead stuff that burns like paper. I went to a place yesterday, and they ignored me. I had to go up to them to get help. I really don't like attitudes! I've got one more place to go that carries Jotuls. They were closed yesterday.
  12. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    Huh? I'm not following you. Are you pointing me large or smaller?
  13. High_Iron

    High_Iron Member

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    I believe he is saying larger.

    I also think you should look at inserts. My Hampton can EASILY cook us out of the room if I wanted too. And she is a beuty to look at. I have similar weather to you.
  14. Jotulf3cb

    Jotulf3cb New Member

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    I'm having one installed on Thursday and am just excited ...... that's all ;o)

  15. vtburner

    vtburner New Member

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    Check out the thread I linked. In short though: Ash system, Vortex Reburn, Ratio'ed primary and secondary combustion air, Styling, and Convection design are the biggies. And the price is nice to boot.

    I mean, I guess a lot of them have something here and there that can differentiate them, but the Napoleon's features were all plusses to me. FOR INSTANCE, the PE Summit (which was a favorite of mine for a while) has a lot of unique features, like its big stainless flat reburn manifold and its "EBT". However, unlike with the Napoleon, I didn't count those features as plusses after researching them. My reasons (which aren't neccessarily valid): The manifold looks designed to put most of the reburn in the front of and above the firebox (out of sight), which obviously works fine and is highly efficient, but I wanted a friggin' light show, AND I wanted the reburn to happen as early as possible to allow the heat produced to have as much time inside the stove as possible to maximize transfer to the room and to maximize continued reburn. And, the EBT is pretty much assumed on here to be questionably effective if not downright useless (you can search for "EBT" and see what I mean). Also, if you want an ash system in a PE, you have to have a little ash plug, which is just awful. I would have gone without the ash system... OH and also, to get the nice PE Classic with the full convection shroud and nifty look would have been a ton more money, which I wouldnt have been able to afford, so I woulda had to have gone with the "big plate steel box" looking regular Summit. The Napoleon sorta has the look of the summit classic, but you can get it in flat black and save the money.

    I went through the same process of elimination with many of the other stoves I looked at that were in my top picks. I nearly put a deposit on a Harman TL300 before I straight up decided against going through the "adventure" of owning a downdraft stove. Had my heart set on Jotul (f600) for a while too, but decided against the tube-style reburn system and also against cast iron in favor of the more convective designs of steel (although I still would have loved a soapstone!)... and so on, and so on... You name a stove, I can tell you why I decided against it. That doesnt mean I'm right, and it CERTAINLY doesnt mean I think those other stoves are not awesome stoves. After all, as I pointed out before, My opinions on the Napoleon are ONLY as a result of massive amounts of research and some hands-on lookin'-at, AND NOT a result of actually using one. Once I get mine, I'll be sure to post with valid user experience as it comes to me :cheese:
  16. vtburner

    vtburner New Member

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    The Napoleon Vortex Series 1900 is 3+ CuFt Firebox and 85K+ BTU's, which puts it solidly in the "Large Stove" category with the T6, F600, Mansfield, etc.
  17. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    Is the Napoleon Vortex a steel or cast iron stove? I like the cast iron and soapstone because of their old fashioned looks. That's why I said I don't think the Napoleon (cast iron model) isn't big enough. Which brings me back to Jotul, PE T6, and Hearthstone Bennington.
  18. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    Which model did you get? Which finish? I saw the F600 in Middletown on Saturday in the Brown Enamel and it was a beautiful sight. Would you mind telling me where you got it? I'm still looking for a good knowledgable and experienced dealer in the area. I don't mind driving if they're worth it.
  19. vtburner

    vtburner New Member

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    oooh money no object, what a fun thing to think about... Let me start by noting again that I have ZERO experience burning a modern EPA Woodstove (have only used my big old Logwood (smoke dragon) to heat my house), so please have a grain of salt ready. However, I have done an inordinate amount of research and learning over the last several months so if you want my opinion, here it is... I would say my #1 pick would have been the Equinox - I am very biased towards a BIG FAT BEHEMOTH of a soapstone stove. The stove gets great reviews here with very few problems, but honestly since it was so far out of my reach, I didn't research it much more than that. I would have bought one hands down immediately though if I had oodles of cashola. Mansfield is in this same category... I didn't have the money so I didnt research too much... But still Number 1.

    Other than that, If money was no problem I would have taken a chance on a Harman TL300. I loved the design of the stove, top loading, SMART bypass system, WICKED ruggedly built and the downdraft "firedome" reburn system intrigued me. The overall quality of the stove was very evident throughout, not to mention it has a freakin' GRILL INSERT you can put in the top loader hole! Awesome! Shoot, with tons of money, I would have even sprung for the ROTISSERIE!! LOL. HOWEVER, the downdraft system is notorious for being a real challenge. While the Harman's seem to do better than the VC's (based on reports on the forum), for such a large purchase, it wasnt worth the risk. With unlimited money, I would have been able to try it, and if I didnt like it, I could have trashed it and bought my next pick:

    The PE Alderlea T6. Beautiful stove, again absolute quality you could feel when you worked it. It also has a hybrid steel-cast iron design (Steel firebox, Cast Iron Outer Skin), its design allowed convection between the shell and firebox, but it still had the thermal mass and radiant properties of cast iron. Just aweseome. I would have been willing to accept the questionable EBT system and the big stainless baffle (which I mentioned before within this thread) to get this awesome hybrid design (as well as the sweet cooktop system). However, just too expensive for me.

    Now, that's only 3, but going from here it is almost pointless to take price out of the picture, because we are getting into the price ranges where you NEED to stack features against price to really figure out what you want. Otherwise, I would have just gone with the prettiest looking stove (maybe the Jotul F600), since I wouldn't be so obsessed with getting the best performance for my money. Obviously I have made it clear that the Napoleon won out in that regard, But other close contenders for price/performance/quality were the PE Summit and the The Regency F3100. (I had eventually ruled out full-on cast irons in favor of the more practical-for-heating-a-whole-house convection design of the steel stoves)

    Basically though, you may just need to actually go crazy figuring out which stove you want to buy. I mean, thats what I did, and look where I am today! ;-P
  20. jugarf

    jugarf New Member

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    VTburner, when are you getting your stove?
  21. vtburner

    vtburner New Member

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    Its a Steel Stove.
    I hated the looks of nearly all of the steel stoves I looked at as well. However in the end, being a pragmatist, I decided I just needed to go with a convective steel stove because I NEEDED a heater, but I didn't NEED a beautiful peice of furniture. The Napoleon was a good compromise on looks for me because IMO the convection shroud gives it some character and makes it look quite a lot nicer than most out there.

    Also, PE T6 is awesome because you get convection AND cast Iron (see my previous post)... There are some drawbacks, main for me is price, but overall it was in my top picks for dream stove.
  22. vtburner

    vtburner New Member

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    Not sure; I missed the last truck coming to the shop from whatever warehouse, and the owner said next one will be next week I think. SO, I still have afew days to chew on my decision before I have to really pull the trigger and flop my bennies down. Barring some kind of monetary catastrophe delaying my purchase, I'd say I'll have the stove within 2 weeks.

    OH, I should add, The model he had in stock was the 1400 (next size down) and that is the one I looked over. Same exact stove except the 1900 is several inches deeper
  23. Joey

    Joey Feeling the Heat

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    Vt,,,I love it when people do their homework. You seem like a research nut, just like me !! Before I make any big purchase, I research the hell out of it. I dont care what it is,,I always do a ton of reading on it. I remember over 25 years ago before I bought my first Bulldog, I read as many books as possible and did as much research as possible to find out about the breed. I think your making a educated decision and you will be very pleased with your choice, I know I was. Happy burning.....oh yea, the secondary combustion on the Napoleon is fantastic to watch, it spins the gases into tight circles, awesome.
  24. Ratman

    Ratman Feeling the Heat

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  25. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    Well, did ya buy a stove yet?

    If not, I'd say the F600 would do ya fine.

    I KNOW my Oslo will heat 1800 sq. ft., cuz that's what my house is on the first floor, only difference being my place is new and nicely insulated.

    That's why I think you should go with a larger firebox, 3.0 cu. ft. Sounds like your home is older and a bit drafty, so you'll need the extra heat for sure....and look, if it get's too blazin hot on a 50 degree day, you'll open the windows, and also, you'll quickly learn to build a morning fire, then not add wood, or build a smaller fire, or whatever it takes...

    but when the north wind blows and it's 12 degree's outside bet me you won't be grateful to have that big 3 cu. ft. firebox!

    So, any stove that's 3.0 will do you right, just make sure you have a liner installed that is to code.

    You could look at the quadrafires, and/or the Summit, but if you like the look of the Jotul, then go for it, that's what I did :)
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