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Harman XXV or Quadrafire Mt. Vernon

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by ensoll, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    We just sold our beloved Dutchwest wood stove, fixing to get a pellet. So far, it looks to us like the Harman XXV and Quad Mt. Vernon AE are the heavy hitters on the traditional style freestanding stove market right now. We looked at the Harman and I thought I was attracted to the bottom feed (freedom of pellet choice) but the temperature control system was unimpressive, as demonstrated by the dealer. It claims to hold any temp you tell it to. Big whoop. My toaster does that. The Harmon also looked crudely constructed with robot welds all over the place. In function, it looks like some kind of industrial heat treating plant.

    Then we looked at the Quad. It is top feeding, but has an automatic pot cleaner, negating the advantage of the bottom feeding Harman. It also has an (just what I was looking for) electronic programmable temperature controller. I want to maintain minimum temps during the day while at work, and come home to a toasty house at 5. On the same controller, you can select what fuel you are burning. You can burn any fuel available for pellet stoves. You just scroll through a list and pick your fuel. It even differentiates between "utility pellets", "hardwood pellets", and "softwood pellets".

    The Quad salesman also boasted about how this new Mt Vernon has been reduced in complexity and has a very short parts list, even compared to its older little brother, the Castile. Although I was fully aware to filter out all of the sales pitching, it sounds like Quadrafire is attempting to turn over a new leaf in its stove design with the Mt. Vernon. The electronic temp controller is a big thumbs up, as is the airfoil heat exchanger plate design. It also sounds daggone quiet in operation. It looks like a real nice little package.

    I'd like to hear suggestions of competitive stoves and/or criticism of my impressions of the Harman and Quad. Please, don't hold back. I'm new to pellet stoves and need all the info I can get.

    Chris P

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  2. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    I have been very impressed with the Mt Vernon AE, we have a few out in the field and one in our show room. It is whisper quite compared to the other Quad pellet units. Today we fired our showroom model up with straight corn for a customer to see, lit right off with the auto igniter. The thermostat has the ability to hook up to a computer (by the dealer) to upgrade the fuel tables or add new fuels if they come out with specs for them. I don't know about the parts list... it is 10 pages long just like all the other pellet units. Same basic parts, control board, vac switch, few snap discs, two blowers, auger and motor, etc... Another advantage is the whole system is 12v DC motors so with the battery backup cables you can hook it right to a 12v DC battery with no inverter. You just have to light it manually. The new airfoil system they designed not only gets more heat out of each load but holy cow is it easier to clean than previous Quad units. The old Mt Vernon you have to take out 3 Alan bolts and fight with 4 heavy baffle panels. Now all you do is rotate two clips with a screwdriver and it slides right out.

    There are a few people on here who HAVE the harman unit, I'm sure they can comment on that. Any other questions about the Quad and I would be happy to give real answers. Even though I work for a dealer I don't see the point in holding back or misrepresenting something just to make a sale, in the end the customer will just be unhappy.
  3. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

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    My suggestion would be the Harman P68. I owned a Quad 1200 and hated it. flimsy, it rusted inside, needed clenaning 2x per day for mega clinkers (I burned at least 6 brands of pellets), hopper intake would get brdiged by large pellets or sawdust fines, glass smoked up in a day, house temperature was all over the place despite a digital thermostat, should I go on? I bought a p61A and am totally satisfied. The Harman may not be the prettiest stove out there, but if you want reliable heat, there is no comparison. Quad just bought Harman for a reason. here is a link you may find to be of interest.

    http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate1252.html
  4. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    I should have been a little more clear on one thing, we are only looking at the traditional style freestanding stoves. I can't stand the look of the contemporaries and it's not even a remote option for my lady...She's all about form and I'm all about function, no big surprise I'm sure.

    Chris P

    EDIT 10/5/07: I was made aware that this may sound offensive to the ladies out there - Apologies! It wasn't meant to. It was just something I've noticed in other threads in the forum as well as in my own experience. I don't mean to fault the ladies. Without them, the world would be a much uglier place and I don't mean that it is the ONLY thing they care about, just the FIRST thing they notice, in general.
  5. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky New Member

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    Quad (HNI corp) is flush with cash and Harman was basically going out of business.

    My take ... in the end with these two ...it comes down to looks and a few features .. think Lexus or BMW 7 series.
  6. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    Jabberwocky,

    Could I ask who you use for a dealer and your impression? We visited Enchanted Fireside in Worcester, Ma. The salesman was very informative (as indicated above). He had me sold until I asked him for a printed quote. He said 'sure'. We sat down. He asked for all of my contact information. In a weak moment, I gave it to him. A few minutes later, he turned his monitor around and showed me the quote. I said great, I'll take the print out of it. He said he couldn't print it without a deposit. I said, I wish I'd known you were going to pull that trick before I gave you my contact info.

    I now have no desire to do business with them for that reason. I bleeping hate that crap! If they aren't honest and open from the beginning, how will they perform when you need real service? (rhetorical question)

    On the other hand, the Harman dealer/salesperson at the Stove Place in Shrewsbury, Ma was much more normal with no punches being pulled.

    Thanks in advance,

    Chris P
  7. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Places don't usually like to "print" computer generated quotes because people will just use it to go someplace else and shop around, especially if it has all the part numbers and everything on it. What we do to get around it is make hand written quotes with basic info and prices. Great for the customer because its personal and gives them the info they need, good for us because its less of a tool to show another dealer (but still could be done).
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    A minor cautionary note on Harman - As you know they are apparently getting bought out by Quad, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty on the deal. It might not go through. What will happen to the existing dealer network is unknown. What will be done about existing warranties is unknown. What will happen with the entire model line is not definite, let alone parts and such. Hopefully all will turn out well, but until there is more definite knowledge about the deal and what it will entail, I'm not sure that a Harman is a safe investment.

    (There are LOTS of rumors going around, not much solid info, some of the rumors say things are much worse than the press releases on either side are letting on. Some of the members here with heavy duty inside contacts have been trying to find out more details, but so far anybody who knows anything isn't saying...)

    Gooserider
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    This is a strange setup Quad (HNI corp) is planning to buy out Harman,but at the same time is closing down some of their current operations plants

    To me that is not a situation flush with cash.

    when the newest Mt Vernon was released no dealers had the laptop program to diagnose operations errors They had initial problems and issues

    Hopefully by now they have been worked out. So many problem, many dealers were refusing to sell them and even shipped them back.

    That was at least a year back and hopefully all dealers have been trained and equipped to repair there stoves.

    My first question to the selling dealer would be to, ascertain if he has the necessary training computer program to deal with this new stove.

    Even replacement parts were an issue. Quad was charging the dealers a lot of money for the computer program and cable connector,

    needed to service these stoves. Also these stoves required a firmware upgrade to fix operations issues. (Extremely hard to do without the cable and software
    upgrade and programed into the lap top to accomplish)

    My next question to the selling dealer would be has the firmware been upgraded
    I also would ask the build date
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I don't think your experience is typical rich. Quad sells a lot of pellet stoves and has many happy owners. Your experience is very much the opposite experience I had with the 1200i. The stove was a gem. Really light maintenance, once every two weeks. Never any sign of rusting in over 5 years of usage. This sounds like another issue entirely. I'm suspecting you were burning standard grade pellets. In that case, yes, the Harman is more flexible.
  11. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Definitely if you get a Quad Mt Vernon AE make sure it was made recently. Supposedly all the old units with problems were sent back to Quad quite a while ago to get the upgrades in them. I need to order a new control board and wall stat for our showroom since its the original version.
  12. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    After checking around a bit, I found a more interesting dealer than the one close to us. The personnel at this dealer was pleasant, accommodating, and helpful with our questions and their pricing was better. We decided to go on a road trip and pay them a visit today since the terrible weather had killed the original plans we had made for the day. Once we met the people, we couldn't resist getting the Quadrafire. Our minds were made up, thanks in part to the responses received on this forum. By the time we left the store, they were like friends (I know, I know, of course - we just smashed their quota for the day).

    It was an interesting trip home as the weight of the stove felt like it was taking the front wheels off of the ground but we made it without incident. So far, we've managed to get it out of the back of our SUV and into place in our house. Tomorrow we will get the ducting hooked up, route the thermostat, and whatever else is needed to complete the installation. I feel very confident that we made a good choice. I really like the construction of this Mt. Vernon AE. Oh, and the manufacturing date is Sept 2007 so I'd have to presume we got as recent a model as possible - thanks for the mention.

    We can't wait to get it running and pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate! I'll reply back with an update following. Now we just need to find a good source for pellets. I plan to buy premium grade to save from any possible hassles (auger jams, cleaning intervals, etc). Thanks for coming along on my adventure!

    Chris P

    Attached Files:

  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Congratulations Chris. You have a really well equipped garage. Keep us posted on the install and first fire. And keep taking the great photos.
  14. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    Thanks! That's actually our (she calls it "my") barn which is up on a hill. I'd tell you in detail about how we got the stove out of our small SUV and ultimately into our house, but it would be a long story. Suffice it to say it was like pyramid building practice.

    Also, I thought I would have better pictures to share but the digital camera we got recently has turned out to be junk. It's a Panasonic TZ3. I had read some reviews about it that made it look like a million bucks, right up there with Sony and Canon but even on a tripod, the pictures often come out blurry. Perhaps there is just something wrong with just this exact unit, but it's going back! Moments like these can't be sacrificed to an undependable trustee.

    Chris P
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    BTW, I have the same Camera as my "2nd" camera. I also bought it based on the reviews and am not incredibly happy with it - although I don't think it is defective. Just that I expected more. I had a Canon Elph before that - also not really happy....despite reviews. Yet I had $99 Fujis that took GREAT pics,

    My main camera is over 5 years old - a BIG Sony F707 - I can't find any reason to replace it!
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscf707/

    I think the lesson learned is that once you are used to something good (long lenses and optics), it's hard to go back.

    BTW, did you buy that Stove from Gabe? (Pres. Trading).
  16. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Unfortunately, that reason is that Harman could not continue in business. They spent too much and made too little (in comparison) - Economics 101.

    Sad thing after 25+ years of building up a business, but a mistake a lot of sole proprietors make - looking back, Harman should have just said "let 'em wait" to increased demand after Katrina, but instead went on what was perhaps the largest spending spree in stove history. 250,000 sq. ft addition, plans for their own foundry and many millions of dollars of new machinery. Then they built up a vast inventory of stoves. Sales settled back to normal (still good, just not incredible) and that was the nail in the coffin. That's what I can piece together anyway.

    HNI is a public company, which means they have a lot more controls in place. At the same time, public companies like this are beholder to the shareholders, so they are going to consolidate manufacturing and increase distribution without thinking too much about the workers or the dealers (unless it benefits all of them)....that's the story of manufacturing.
  17. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    We got the stove all set up today, plumbed it in and temporarily routed the thermostat across the room. We took some pictures because we knew the stove was Never Ever going to look like this again (with our 'gooder' camera).

    The stove slowly woke up and came to life with quite a few strange stumbles at first, but we eventually got it to breath its first breath after about 20-30 minutes of scratching our perplexed heads. One of the more comical stumbles happened when we finally got the stove to manually burn some pellets, the dang thing started an autoclean cycle completely at random. The barely burning embers were all dumped into the ash pan as if the stove was defiantly and stubbornly refusing to light.

    One thing that made it so difficult to diagnose the situation was that the stove is SO quiet. It's barely audible. The only time you notice anything is when the convection fan revs up to a higher speed due to a larger flame in the pot (we have the system on 'automatic').

    Long story a little shorter, we've spent most of the evening enjoying our new Quadrafire Mt. Vernon AE with nothing but satisfaction. The only wish we realized after the installation was complete was to have known that there is an optional kit to convert to a top venting exhaust instead of the standard rear venting exhaust. We very much would have liked to be told about this. Oh well, I'll call the dealer and see about ordering it. Then, it will just mean tearing down the chimney and starting over. Grrr. This kit will help us to get the stove closer to the wall and have the chimney centered behind the stove instead of off to one side.

    Enjoy the pics and have a warm winter! Thanks to everyone and any questions are welcome.

    Attached Files:

  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    And I thought the 1200i was easy to clean. The new Mt. Vernon looks really slick. They've cleaned up the interior of the stove a lot compared to our 1200i.
  19. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    Congrats Chris. Good luck with your new stove. Looks great. BTW, you write very well. Was fun reading your saga.

    swimmer
  20. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    That top airfoil is all that has to come off to clean it. It pops off with two latches, you just jam a screwdriver in and rotate. Way easier to clean that previous pellet units.
  21. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    I was reading back through the thread and there are a couple of points I'd like to revisit and questions I never answered.

    1- JTP10181, regarding the Quad dealer who duped me into not giving a printed quote, I wouldn't care if they didn't want to give out a printed quote for competitive reasons in-and-of itself. What ticks me off is him asking for my contact info with no intention of giving me what I ask for. Anyone who does that rubbish is immediately and forever on my **it list, regardless of any other benefit to me. I won't do business with them. Period.

    2- Webmaster Craig, the dealer we went to and highly recommend was All Basic Stoves in Merrimack, NH. They are good people, mainly family run it seems. We talked with them about Harman vs Quad. Rick's first answer was "They are both excellent stove manufacturers". (That is one way a sales person gets my nod of approval.)

    3- Webmaster Craig, I drooled over the DSC-717 for about a year. I wasn't in a position to justify the $700 to get one at the time (still not, really) but I immediately fell head-over-heels for the offset layout and interchangeable Carl Zeiss lens. I just knew that I'd be constantly wanting something smaller.

    4- Masterswimmer, thanks for the mention of my writing. It means a lot to me. I try to write like I like to read...which is rarely found in this day of fast paced electronic messaging. The declining level of literacy in this country is frightening.

    5- JTP10181, Yes, this stove seems ridiculously easy to clean. There is a DVD included that shows it in action. They even have soothing background music to distract you from the $$$$$$ you just smattered buying the stove. (Just kidding, we have no regrets and are extremely happy)

    6- Regarding the 20-30 minutes of startup woes, this all happened because when I plugged in the power and the stove began the startup procedure (automatically), the ash pan was ajar. After the automatic pot cleaning cycle, the electronic controller gave an error message telling us the ash pan was not in correctly. We fixed that but the system didn't seem to have the ability to recover or get back on track. To the defense of Quad, if we had just installed the ash pan correctly, the stove probably would have started right up. I eventually unplugged the stove and started from scratch, hoping it would behave normally and it did. Everything worked fine although we did have to induce the fire manually just by putting a handful of pellets in the burn pot. The stove did the rest.

    I think that's it...Chris P
  22. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Yeah the thing can be hard to get going from a cold start with no pellets in the tube and half ripped apart. It wants to do its thing and wont let you bypass it. I wish there was a manual control mode where you could tell it to not autoclean and just aug the fing pellets until the fire starts going. Its too smart and automatic for its own good in some situation.
  23. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky New Member

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    Chris,

    I bought from Enchanted in Worcester and had no problems. They featured zero down, zero % financing for 1 year which another dealer in Littleton, MA did not. Mine came with a big chip in the base and it was handled quite efficiently on a warranty basis. I plan on keeping my servicing with them because I liked the technician.

    I think the dealer is just looking not to get screwed as a later poster explained.

    You kinda jumped the gun a little at start up, you'll go thru the same thing if you unplug it for a long time. The beast just takes 20 minutes to figure itself out. I just run the thing on auto because this thing produces so much heat I'd be afraid of melting the paint off the walls.

    Be sure to push your ash pan in tight, otherwise the air flow gets screwed up.

    I like how the glass stays clean for a whole week or more even though my machine is creeping along on low most of the time.

    So, everyone hold their fire on slamming this dealer ... he is one of the good guys.
  24. ensoll

    ensoll New Member

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    I wish I could agree with you but this guy pulled his little trick with a smirk on his face. Not even an apology for the misunderstanding. He could barely be bothered to let me have a pen to write down his overpriced quote.

    I'm not trying to bash him, I'd encourage anyone and everyone to visit the shop and get their own impression. I did say that the man was knowledgeable. I enjoyed my conversation with him about the stove. I just don't like someone taking advantage of me. For those who don't care about where their personal information goes, jump right in and have a ball.
  25. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    How did your inspector like the installation. you dis get a permit I hope, my next job may be the first state mechanical inspector

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