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Going in circles trying to pick out a stove.

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by bmanMA, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. bmanMA

    bmanMA New Member

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    Jan 26, 2013
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    Loc:
    Lunenburg, MA
    Hey everyone, total newb here coming out of lurk mode because I need to stop going in circles while trying to decide on a pellet stove. Driving the wife nuts...

    I have a 2500+ sq ft. Colonial with a 1.5 level great room. In there, I have a 0-clearance fireplace that we sometimes use for some warmth, smores, stuff like that. It's pretty drafty on these cold days in northern MA when we're not burning.

    This is my first decision to make: Do I go with an insert or do I keep the fireplace and get a free-standing unit (would be in the same room).
    1. For inserts, I was looking at the Quad Mt. Vernon and the Accentra. This is the pricier option, given I'd have someone do the install.
      1. Quad dealer near me is "reputable", and does a full-chimney install with a cap. They remove the firebox from my 0-clearance, keep the shell, and line up and out. I've been reading things here that make me hesitant on this unit.
      2. The Harman representation around me is crap. I don't think there's a reputable one anywhere near me. None that I would trust with the installation or expect repair service.
    2. For free-standing, I am looking at Harmans. There seems to be some overlap though that's confusing.
      1. Accentra. Says it's 40K BTU. It has a 12" side-clearance requirement. Does this mean that the sides get very hot?
      2. XXV. This is a 45K BTU unit. Pretty close to the Accentra. Same clearance requirements. These two seem to overlap each other in terms of BTU capability. What differentiates these units from one another?
      3. P61A. Here I like the 61K BTU. I would think it would give me a nice gradient of heating capability. This has a 18" side-clearance requirement with no shield. Again, do the sides get that hot?
    So my main deal here is whether to go insert or not. It's muddied by the Harman dealer situation. I need a stove that the wife can operate when I'm on the road for a week here and there.

    Thanks for reading my ramblings... :)

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  2. stoaf88

    stoaf88 Member

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    If you want to heat your whole house of 2500 x feet you will have to go with the P61.

    If you just want to supplement go with an insert.

    I have a P61 and yes the sides do get very hot when the stove is cranking.

    Very much like a wood stove.
  3. Bob Sorjanen

    Bob Sorjanen Member

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    I think you need to figure out what you want it for. Do you want to use it as a primary heat source, or supplement your current heat source. If you want it to heat the whole house and your current heating system as back-up I would think that the Harman P61A or the P68 would do the job. Bigger is better.
  4. Hoot23

    Hoot23 Minister of Fire

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    I use my p61 for a primary heat source heating a 1950 sq foot colonial. Works great. 77 downstairs, 71 up. The sides do get very hot(18" clearance), but great for radiant heat.
  5. thedude110

    thedude110 Feeling the Heat

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    Nothing in your post matters more to me than this sentence. If your dealer will do the install, the repairs, and the annual maintenance, then you have to be able to trust the dealer. If you have a reputable Quad dealer and a sketchy Harman dealer, go with the Quad -- they're both great stoves.

    If I were you, I would go free standing -- more bang for the buck. Are Quad free standing stoves not an option?

    If you can find a reputable Harman dealer, the XXV is 50k BTU with a 65 lb hopper and the Accentra is 40k BTU with a 50 lb hopper. This, and the fact that the XXV is sexy, explains the $200 difference in MSRP.

    I wonder if anyone else can help this guy find a reputable Harman dealer in northern Mass?
  6. Woody1911a1

    Woody1911a1 Feeling the Heat

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    northern mass is pretty vague .
    P38X2 likes this.
  7. john193

    john193 Minister of Fire

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    Considering the square footage and that you are in MA, I would personally forget about the XXV, and the accentra (insert or free standing). I'm also going to assume that between the two brands, your primary concern is to heat the whole house, rather than just supplement it (though on cold days you still may have to). With that, your only option for an insert is the Mt. Vernon. That's what I have. I'm enjoying it and it does throw out plenty of heat. Is there anything in particular that you are hesitant about with the Mt Vernon? If you did a google search on the stove you may have seen people complaining about issues primarily between 2006 and 2009. If so, these issues have now been addressed in todays model.

    If you do not want to go with an insert, your options are Mt Vernon free standing, p61 or p68. I'm personally with the mentality that you should get a larger stove to battle those really cold days, or just turn your house into the Caribbean in the middle of January, if you like.

    So if i've assumed your situation correctly so far, at this point you need to ask yourself how much heating capacity do I want? The Mt. Vernon and p61 and very comparable in output (60K and 61K, respectively), while the p68 will give you a little more capacity (68K). Having owned a harman before, you will need to be pretty good with cleaning the burn pot, as after a full week of nonstop burning, you will get some clinkers that will have you scraping the burn pot. With the Mt. Vernon it does it's own cleaning of the burn pot, thought it is no substitute to what you have to do, it does cut down on the number of clinkers I need to break by hand. You will be really happy with any 3 of these stoves, just a matter of how much heat you want (assuming price isnt an object).

    edit - must have missed where you said you dont have a reputable Harman dealer, this personally would sway me more to the Quad.
  8. john193

    john193 Minister of Fire

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    That's a damn steal!
  9. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Perhaps you should ask your bride how much work she is willing and thinks she can do.

    Then could you please tell us what your current primary heating system is and how large it is.

    If that zero clearance unit is a draft maker when you aren't burning something isn't quite right with how its damper closes or someone is forgetting to close it.
  10. P38X2

    P38X2 Minister of Fire

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    Where in northern MA are you? I can think of 2 Harman dealers just over the border in NH, one of which sells Enviro who makes, IMO, some of the nicest looking stoves. If you've only done online research, and never saw a pellet stove in action, my suggestion is to go to a dealer and check em out. At least on Harman FS's, the sides get VERY hot. Heat shields are available for at least the P series...not sure about the others. If you have a child in the house, and that's where your concern lies, heat shields will solve the side issue but you'll need some sort of FP screen or gate system in the front. Actually, I've seen several gate systems that will take care of the front and sides.
  11. 3650

    3650 Member

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    I'm a two stove guy and I only have 1200 sq ft. I like peace of mind that I have an immediate back up on single digit days. Bosca is a fair priced good stove. You could get two for the price of a mt Vernon or p61. Cab 50 is another two-fer.
  12. bmanMA

    bmanMA New Member

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    Jan 26, 2013
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    Loc:
    Lunenburg, MA
    Thanks everyone! Woke up to some great feedback. This is a great place. Reminds me of my BBQ forum. Common thread being FIRE!

    I'm in Lunenburg MA, a stones throw from the NH border. I see Stovekeepers in Brookline NH, Heart Line in Jaffrey NH, and Higgins out by Quabbin (like an hour from me though). I went to the place down in Shrewsbury and while he had the Harmans, I wasn't thrilled with some of the answers I was getting when I queried the dude about how they would install the Accentra insert (and this is after he makes faces about how "far" away I am... like 40 minutes dude). Then the online research (including BBB) seems to back up my impression.

    I went to Enchanted Fireside in Woosta to look at the Enviro M55 Cast and got steered to the Mt. Vernon. The M55 looked nice, but when I walked in it was making all kinds of noise (like a rattling noise). So this was the place that I was calling "reputable", based on my impression of the guy there, again backed up by my online research (again including BBB). As for Mt. Vernon, I was reading some recent posts here about the units being unable to recover from what sounds like very frequent self-cleaning cycles. And other online reviews at WiseHeat are largely negative also. The takeaway I get is that these things seem to be lemons. If they have fixed these issues, that's great. But man for the price I am not a huge fan of taking the chance. Hell, I still can't get myself to believe that Hyundai now makes a good car!
    I am going to head up to Stovekeepers today since they're open.

    As for my intentions, I am of the mindset where I'd like to replace the oil burner (forced air - not sure of specs) as much as I can. I am assuming I'll find out what I can actually do in practice.

    And finally, as for the existing 0-clearance fireplace... we have the damper closed, but its still a bit drafty. As I understand it, the design of these things is basically a fireplace shell inside of a metal shell, so there's an empty cavity. It's cold in that cavity when the fire's not lit. Not sure how to get beyond that, other than blocking the thing off.

    Thanks again everyone.
  13. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    They make pellet hot air furnaces that can be sistered to your existing hot air system.
    jtakeman likes this.
  14. movemaine

    movemaine Feeling the Heat

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    I have an Accentra insert, because we had the fireplace and I couldn't put a stove anywhere else. I assumed it would be mostly supplemental but it heats around 90% of my 2400 sq ft home (see the link in my signature).

    But since you have the great room, that's 1.5 stories I think you're going to have to go the with p61 or p68 because of all that vertical space if you want to heat most of your home.

    That being said - what type of person are you? (weighs heavily on stove decisions)

    Would you mind tinkering and fiddling with your settings a lot? including draft, etc. ?
    Or would you like to set it and forget it?

    Most stoves require some type of adjustment depending on pellets, draft, etc. and many people in this forum love doing that. Me, I am a tinkerer and fiddler, but I have better things to tinker and fiddle with, so my Harman is the perfect stove for me. I put in pellets, it burns the pellets, and I really don't have to adjust a thing.

    Also, I have seen a lot of people put their freestanding stove in front of the fireplace and get it as close as possible. Sometimes the opening was blocked off with metal painted stove black and insulation in the opening - other's i've seen had the insulation on the top side of the damper with the exhaust line up through.
  15. stoaf88

    stoaf88 Member

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    Didnt see that he was considering freestanding mt vernon.

    Yes mt vernon will also do the job just fine.

    Mt vernon is nicer looking I think around 50k btu? Maybe more 60k cant remember.
    .
    P61 is 61k btu. They are very similar in heat output its just a matter of preference . Both are excellent choices.
  16. Speed3

    Speed3 Member

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    The Mt Vernon's are not lemons and Harmans are overrated. I'm heating over 1800 sqft with my Quad without any problems and use 50% less pellets than my sister's p68. If you like the Quad dealer, pull the trigger. You won't be disappointed.
  17. bmanMA

    bmanMA New Member

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    I pulled the trigger on a P61 today! Thanks again for all the info on this site.
    Now for pellets... hopefully I can make a decision about that quicker than I did for this stove.
  18. P38X2

    P38X2 Minister of Fire

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    Sweet! Congrats. When's the install?

    Once you got the rundown on it, it was easy, wasn't it? ;)
  19. CD2011

    CD2011 Member

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    We bought our Harman at StoveKeepers in Brookline, nice guys there, we haven't needed any service yet so have no opinion on that aspect. but answered all questions both before and after we bought the stove. You can get pellets on 2A at Maki's, the rental shop next to Maki's and another stove shop (I can't remember the name) just past the rental place, as well as HD, Lowe's and Tractor Supply in Leominster.

    Good Luck!
  20. P38X2

    P38X2 Minister of Fire

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    As you'll find out, it'll burn anything you put in it. Certain brands are better than others as far ash goes, and certain pellets have more BTU's available for your stove to extract.
  21. MikeinRI

    MikeinRI New Member

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    You wont go wrong with Greene Teams from Lowed/ Fireside Ultra@ home depot. My P61A is 3 weeks oild and is awsone. You also are able to get the $300 accessory and a $100 off at store.
  22. Woody1911a1

    Woody1911a1 Feeling the Heat

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    Marblehead , Ma
    lmaooo .... yea good luck on that . maybe start a new thread asking ......... sorry but this forum has turned me into a cynical old fart .

    congrats on the new stove your journey to the dark side begins ;)
  23. Harman Lover 007

    Harman Lover 007 Minister of Fire

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    Good choice....
  24. john193

    john193 Minister of Fire

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    Congrats. You will be very happy with it. As for pellets, buy a few bags of what is available to you.
  25. save$

    save$ Minister of Fire

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    That stove should handle about anything brand you buy. Some will give more heat. Some will be more dirty. Some will have an odor. You can even have this in the same brand. So shop around. As suggested before, try some of these and some of those. Best not to buy a ton of any kind until you shop around and try some sampling. That's half the fun. The other half is getting acquainted with your new stove. Good luck with the install.

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