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Harmon or Lopi

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jwamps, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. jwamps

    jwamps New Member

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    Hello,
    I am new to this threads but not new to reading them, I have been on this site many times to read but haven't join until now.

    I have your classic masonry fireplace as seen on my profile photo, I burn it on weekend, not really for heat more for the ambiance of having a fire. Plus I have my TV and center speaker too close for let fire burn all the time. As many know burning an open fireplace, all the heat goes up the chimney, so not too efficiant. So I want to get a wood stove and use it next winter for heat. I have hot water base board (oil), and an electric heat pump that is hooked up to run at temps above 35ish degrees, below 35º the boiler kicks on. The HVAC return vent is in the room that has the fireplace, so heat from a stove should circulate around my 1800sqft house really well. I just bought an old oak beam that I am finishing to make a mantel to incorporate a new slimmer center speaker, and getting a slightly smaller TV so I don't look at the neat masonry and only see a large TV!! All in doing this moving everything up so mantel is out of the combustible area. Also going to mount a metal plate (mantel shield) under the mantel to keep heat off the wood beam.

    Enough about my house, lets talk stoves. I have an opportunity to get a used Harman Exception for $1000.00, I haven't gone to look over it yet but it appears in good shape, and seamed to heat the room well. I say that bc I saw it on craigslist, when I called the guy he wasn't ready to sell, one of those his wife wasn't ready to sell he listed it preliminary. He had an old Grizzly that I went to look at, I didn't really look at the Exception. Is 1000$ a good price? When I do go to look at it, what should I look for? I also looked at getting a new stove, specifically a Lopi, but for 2000$ more. Is it worth getting the new Lopi? Money is kinda tight right now, both stoves take a 6" pipe, and I could always sell the Harman and upgrade using the same pipe, once money is not as tight.
    Looking for opinions or suggestions?

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  2. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    When looking at the stove, look for obvious signs of over firing. Whitish or ash-ish looking paint. Get your head inside that thing (take a good flashlight). Look at the internal parts. Anything warped, cracked, etc. That stove is an "afterburner" type stove. You will want to take a good close look at those parts as well. They are the ceramic parts on the back side (inside) of the stove.

    Personal opinion - I am not a fan of the afterburner type stove. They just seem to be a maintenance issue with more parts (that can be fragile) with no gain over the tube type reburners. They are often reported to be more finicky to operate. Tubes and cats both have there places in the world of wood heat, I am just not sure where the afterburner fits in.
    Again - that is just my personal opinion.

    And welcome to the forum.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
    jaychino415 likes this.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    +1

    As you look at inserts or stoves, download their manual and check the clearance to the mantel. That clearance will be important with this installation. Note that in some cases a mantel heat shield can be installed to reduce clearances. What do you estimate the clearance will be from the fireplace lintel to the bottom of the mantel?
  4. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I would steer clear of the Harmon. Down draft stoves are most often troublesome and require additional maintenance. Not to mention when there is an issue with the combustion parts, the cost will be very high!
    What Lopi are you looking at?
  5. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    If money is tight right now and you are not sold on the Harmon, why not keep looking? Spring is starting and you have 6 months to potentially find another used one. And if you can't find one, there are new inserts other than Lopi which may come cheaper and can heat, too: http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/category_heaters-stoves-fireplaces wood-stoves 4294932529 Look at reviews and search the forum to find out more about those inserts. Take your time and keep asking questions.

    In the meantime, get your wood all split and stacked so it can dry over the summer.
  6. jwamps

    jwamps New Member

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    Awesome thanks all for your reply's!!

    To be honest I am unsure how the afterburner works? I tried goggling it but was unsuccessful, plus didn't have too much time to research. My local woodstove place didn't have a very high opinion on Harmon WOOD stoves either, but said there pellet and coal stoves are good.

    As far as the clearances, I looked at Lopi and Fireplace Xtrordinair manuals, clearance are around 20" from top of stove to bottom of mantel with use of the heat shield...so I an figuring 42" from bottom of stove to mantel, as most average size stoves are 20" high. I haven't looked at Harman clearances.

    Lopi versions I am considering are either the Freedom or a flush mount like the Declaration Plus. Not sure if I want something like the Freedom where it sticks out on fire place of a flush mount. Part of me is figuring I do have 6 or more months, I may be able to save and splurge a little for something that will not need replaced.

    Already cutting and splitting, have 2 1/2 cords mostly ash little poplar and stacked, going to get the rest of the ash tree this weekend which will give another 1 1/2 cord maybe more...now just need to build my wood shelter/shed. I know work is involved in burning wood, my dad burnt wood for years, I always helped cut and split. He retired to a pellet stove he says "its a different heat, it's more consistent but dose not burn as hot, but pellets are much easier." I am one of those wired sick ppl that enjoys a little hard work, when it pays back later!!! But I am obviously not the only one :)
  7. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Here is an "in-house" link that may explain the downdraft concept better. http://www.hearth.com/talk/wiki/downdraft-stove-operation/

    How big is your fireplace? That will also determine what kind of insert you can put in. The advantage of an insert protruding out from the fireplace opening is that you will get more radiant heat and less reliance on the blower to heat up your home fast. Is the fireplace at an exterior or interior wall? There are also plenty other options than Lopi such as Regency, Enviro, Napoleon, Pacific Energy, Jotul, Osburn to name just some.
  8. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    The Freedom has an available flush mount kit. It allows the insert to only protrude a few inches onto the hearth.
  9. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Rather than secondary combustion occurring right in the firebox as with most stoves, closing the damper forces the airflow through a rear chamber housing the AB. So the heat from the burning gasses is thrown from the back of the stove, making it less than ideal for a fireplace install (though that is where mine is, and a fan moves the heat out very well).

    These stoves work best with a narrower range of draft conditions (not too little, not too much) and really dry wood. They require a bit of babysitting to get the AB engaged, and are best suited for long, hot 24/7 burning in the dead of winter rather than for the occasional smaller fire.

    $1k for a used Harman would be a good deal, in my view, only if the stove was a few years old at most. Much older and the AB might need replacing, a $300 part. Also, make sure you have a good local Harman dealer, as the company itself does not get top marks for customer service.

    You might also consider a catalytic stove... my next stove will likely be one from Woodstock.
  10. jwamps

    jwamps New Member

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    I am not completely sold on the Harmon, but I am going to look at it this weekend.

    I did look at the Osburn 2000 on http://www.woodlanddirect.com/ and the price is defiantly cheaper and seem comparable to the Lopi, 3000$ that is with Gold or Brushed door upgrade and flex liner kit. The Lopi is 3k+ if I do gold door, and I still need a liner kit. Again I have 6 months to decide and save, just trying to get ideas/opinions...Thanks for the help :)
  11. jaychino415

    jaychino415 Member

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    Hi Jwamps,
    Don't forget to buy the insulation kit along with flex liner kit. I got my used Lopi Freedom Bay off CL for under $700. It was barely used. It took me a while to find this deal, be patient and keep your eyes on CL. Good Luck!
  12. jwamps

    jwamps New Member

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    Went to look at the stove, quite disappointed actually, it looks nice but think it will be more costly then I want. He did tell me that a new afterburner would probably be needed. How do you know when a new afterburner is needed being that it is closed in the back? It was over-fired, whole back is white coated and afterburner hood is warped, plus the afterburner glass busted, steel was welded in the place of the glass. I don't know the cost of these parts was think about call my local stove company but I . Plus I downloaded the manual, the stove won't work with the clearance I am working with.

    Don't think the stove is going to work for my needs.

    It was a nice evening, so we had gotten a nice motorcycle ride out of it, and the guy offered me a beer and we had some good conversation...so the 1 hour trip was not completely wasted.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Good call. There will be other stoves.
  14. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Different strokes. My harman performs flawlessly for 6 years now. I have both types, 3 burn tube stoves and 1 harman tl-300. As far as a heat producer and burn time the harman is twice the stove as my englander 30s which have the same size firebox. The harman also looks better and is easier to clean ashes ,can cook in and on it ,and can be used like an open fireplace. Im heating 3000 SQ ft of poorly insulated house from the basement. If the harman has any flaws its the fact that it can be too much stove for a small space. I may sell the 30 s at some point but i dont think ill ever part with the harman. My son likes it as well and burns wood so ,this stove will stay in the family.
  15. Hickorynut

    Hickorynut Burning Hunk

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    I am not sold on my lopi stove(freedom with short burn times and average heater) but opinions vary quite a bit. May be my setup to a degree.
  16. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I could not have been happier with my Freedom. It didn't get super long burn times but made intense heat! 700-800 stovetop wasn't uncommon at all. It always had enough coals in the morning to get going again.
    Dry wood is a must!
    jaychino415 and lopiliberty like this.
  17. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

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    Good call in skipping this stove. Since it was over fired multiple times and the hood is warped, I would stay away from it especially for $1K.

    According to my dealer; The Exception or TL-200 did have issues with its afterburner, the glass in front of it was nice to view the AB in action but caused issues with the stove. From what I remember their fix was to weld steel over the top of it.

    The TL-300 that I own has an upgraded AB chamber and design that solved the main issues that the TL-200 had.
    It has no problems heating my home into the 70's as long as the temps are above -20::F with a wind. My house is around 2K sq ft total and I heat from the block basement. I typically only burn when the temps are < 40::F, I may start a small fire if above 40 and less than 50 and if it is a cold rainy day and the sun doesn't come out. If I burn when it is above 50::F I would cook myself out of the house.
    Seasoned Oak likes this.
  18. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    All the new harmans have the upgraded AB design. The old model just could not take all the heat. I dont think i would want to mess with any of the old models.
  19. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    I find it hard to believe we are talking about the same stove, mine kept us toasty though the coldest days of this Winter, I get 8-10 hours overnight burns without really trying. Dry Wood.

    For the OP, that TV will need to move, the heat from an insert will most likely destroy it, even a smaller one will get much hotter than the manufacturer ever intended. One note about the flush install, if your chimney is too far forward in the fireplace, even if there is room for the flush mount option, the liner may have to make such a sharp forward bend that flush installation might not be such a good idea.

    TE
  20. Hickorynut

    Hickorynut Burning Hunk

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    TradEddie, I wish you could see mine then and give me some advice. All I can say is the stove sits in a room with a cathedral ceiling, I notice alot of heat going out the chimney, it is a flush mount, and it doesn't have a block off plate. Maybe all this adds up as the causes, but the bottom line there is not near as much heat that blows out the vents at the top as my former country flame 1980's model.
  21. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    A block-off plate will certainly help. Can you pull off the surround and stuff at least a bunch of Roxul in the damper area?

    Is that fireplace at an exterior or interior wall? If it is an exterior wall you may also lose quite some heat out of the back. If there is enough space, putting some Roxul behind the insert would be an option.

    Do you have a way of measuring the stove temp? For an insert an IR thermometer often works best. I was also disappointed in mine until I took the stovetop temps and realized I was not running it hot enough because I was reducing the air too quickly (plus not so great wood in the first year).
  22. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    Do you have a fan?
    What type of wood are you burning, and how long has it been split and stacked?
    Do you have a stovetop temperature gauge? You may not have anywhere to use one with a flush mount.
    Describe your typical startup/reload procedure and how/when you adjust the air control.
    What do you mean by noticing a lot of heat going out the chimney?

    My fireplace is a semi-exterior wall (between house and unheated, uninsulated garage), when the insert was first installed I had no blockoff plate, and can't say I notice any improvement from adding one. If you have a fan, flush mount or not should be almost irrelevant.

    I run my fan on lowest speed, or turned off once the house is hot. I tried burning oak and hickory after "only" two years split and stacked and was not impressed, but by the third year, I was totally satisfied. Other woods I have burned successfully after one year (maple, cherry).

    I start with as much kindling as possible, the goal is to heat up the stove without burning off the fuel wood. I push in the bypass damper as soon as I have good flames, and leave the air damper fully open (pushed in) until stovetop temperature is reaching towards 400. I then pull the air out half way, then depending on how much heat I want, will close it almost completely with a few more minutes. With very dry wood, I can keep steady heat with the air control completely pulled out. Even with less than perfect wood, it is rarely more than 1/2" in from the fully out position.

    TE
    Hickorynut likes this.

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