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Help me choose a Stove!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Machria, Nov 7, 2012.

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  1. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Money no object, given similar same size fireboxes and specs for a freestanding wood stove, which one is the best?

    The little bit I've herd is, and may or may not be true is:
    - Soapstone stays the coolest on outside, and gives off the least heat but looks the nicest
    - Cast Iron stays hotter longer, but can crack if burned to hot at full blast constantly
    - Steel gets hottest quickest, but cools quickest, and can be workhorses burned at full blast for longer periods without damage except for doors which can warp which is why many doors on steel units are cast iron.

    Any of these accurate, wrong? What can you guys add? Is one better than others, or are they each better for certain circumstances? Not including cost!!

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  2. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Welcome Machria

    Soapstone is the opposite it puts off incredible soft heat and last a very long time.
    Cast Iron can get very hot and put off nice heat. My stove is steel box wrapped in cast and heats up very quick but because of the cast the heat lasts a long time. Steel does get hot fast as well however it will put off a lot of heat as long as there is a good coal bed like any stove. In my opinion our old steel stove put off a harsher hotter heat than our current cast wrapped stove. Stone puts off a large amount of heat but it is soft as I said before. Others will way in and explain better I am sure.

    Pete
  3. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Welcome.

    I can add to this that a steel stove can make sweat drip off your nose.
    lopiliberty likes this.
  4. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Is that good, or bad?
  5. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    If you like to sweat it is a good thing.
  6. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    None of those are accurate.

    Soapstone stays hot the longest, but when burning 24/7 it becomes less of a factor. Truth is, if you oversize your stove by a certain amount, they will all heat just as well and provide heat even at lower temps at the end of a burn cycle.

    Firebox size is the most important factor when deciding on a purchase.
    ditchrider and gmule like this.
  7. flhpi

    flhpi Burning Hunk

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    I have owned all three types and still don't know which one I want more. I like my steel wrapped in cast that I have now but I also like the looks of the Jotul. Then there is the burn time of the Blaze king and the Equinox looks amazing. If I win the lottery I am going to buy a drafty house in a colder climate just so I can play with different wood stoves.
  8. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    It's overrated. Trust me on this one. ;em
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    There is no "best" stove, just the best for your task and home. Each stove type has it's strengths. And then there are hybrids combining cast with steel or steel with soapstone. Decide how large an area you want to heat and what pleases your eye the best if that's important.
    Pallet Pete likes this.
  10. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Ok, I'll bite,.. About a 1400 sq foot great room with cathedral ceiling. So which type and size would be best?
  11. Dunragit

    Dunragit Member

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    wow, that is a huge room
  12. Dunragit

    Dunragit Member

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    I would rule out my Squirrel, lol
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  13. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    +1
    If the room in which the stove will be installed = 1400 sq ft and you want to heat more of your house than just that one room, you're going to want to go big, regardless of stove material, unless your house is super tight/well insulated. Ceiling fans would help to keep the heat from collecting in the high ceiling.

    Regarding the stove material, steel = iron + some additives. I think the difference in heating characteristics is due to iron stoves usually being made of thicker panels than steel stoves, so iron stoves typically have more mass. A thick cast iron pan vs. a steel skillet might be a good analogy.

    A pound of soapstone will hold ~2x the heat that a pound of iron/steel will, so stone stoves are more stable thermally than metal stoves of similar mass. Stone stoves are also very heavy, which adds to this effect.

    http://www.iun.edu/~cpanhd/C101webnotes/matter-and-energy/specificheat.html

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/specific-heat-metals-d_152.html

    http://www.tulikivi.com/usa-can/fireplaces/Soapstone_characteristics


    Steel might take the most abuse, but any stove can crack if you fire the piss out of it.
    Get a stove(s) big enough to heat your space, and don 't abuse it. :)
  14. melissa71

    melissa71 New Member

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    I love my soapstone stove, but it's the only one I've ever had or used. It doesn't blast us out of the room, and I love the way it looks.
  15. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    The differences in the stoves is all due to thermal mass. The more mass that the stove has, the longer it takes to heat that mass to a given temperature, and the longer it takes to release it. Living on Long Island I'm sure you've noticed that your summers are cooler than areas inland and winters are warmer. The mass of the surrounding water moderates the temperatures that you experience.

    The stove material you choose should be related to what you want in your house and how fast you want the stove to heat up.

    One thing I'll caution you on, the big stoves go through a lot of wood. And in such a large room you'll want to keep that stove hot. Be prepared to have lots of DRY wood on hand. Many of the larger stoves have 3+ cubic foot fireboxes. 3 reloads a day (assuming 8 hour burns that you probably won't get when getting used to running a stove) mean you will be going through 10 cubic feet a day. Some of your area has been without power for almost 2 weeks. You're looking at 140 cubic feet of wood to have on hand at all times. Don't rely on a firewood dealer to sell you wood that will be ready to immediately burn. Often the wood they sell still has too much water so it does not give off as much heat. This will increase your wood consumption. It will also be harder to light and can be smokey.

    Sorry for the long warning. I want you to be happy when you burn. We see too many who don't have enough wood on hand and the wood that they have is unsuitable. I was in this boat myself my first year of burning wood.

    Matt
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  16. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    If you run the numbers on thermal mass it's not that much of a difference. Soapstone will hold more because there's more of it, but it's still dwarfed by the amount of storage in the wood ring beside the stove. Steel and cast iron are virtually identical as a thermal storage medium, but it takes more cast iron so once again you get more of it. A long controlled burn in a good stove with good wood and a person comfortable using it is what you want. Other than that you can pick the one that looks nice. I like the steel fireboxes because they're welded vs a gasket firebox that require disassemble and reassemble (steel fireboxes have problems too) and they're a little more forgiving if you over-fire them.

    Newer firboxes with reburn tubes and catalytic converters make the ol' rules of thumbs kinda guidelines. Soapstone is great, cast iron is great, steel is great. How's your wood?
  17. Dakotas Dad

    Dakotas Dad Minister of Fire

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    This a 1400 sqft home, with cathedral ceilings in the great room..? Or one room with cathedral ceiling? Either way, you will want ceiling fans to keep the heat from just being trapped up there, but my brother tells me that is the norm no matter what the heat source.

    I also agree, firebox size is most important as far as how large an area a stove will heat. But since it sits out in the open, and is often the center of attention, an attractive wrapper on the firebox is a good thing.. at least in this house I was told it is. They can "feel" different.. but they will all keep the house warm if sized properly.

    We need a better description of the home.. total sqft, number of floors, age of home, number and type of windows, how open is the floor plan.. and then we can make a better guess.
  18. Stump_Branch

    Stump_Branch Minister of Fire

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    Owned, all three types. Don't think construction matters as much as size and burn time. Soap stone holds coals a bit longer for me, extending a burn the cast stove has a slightly larger fire box which helps. The steel stove was like turning on the thermostat with instant heat. However all of them come up to temp in a quick manner I'd say.

    Find one that by the marketing literature is over sized, loss good for the room and can offer an easy simple no frills over night burn. You'll be warm and happy.
  19. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    I've also owned all three types. I definitely prefer soapstone. The stone moderates temperature swings and I find it much easier to keep the house in a narrow, comfortable temp range. Also it really is a "softerer" heat. That said, the stove material is not the most important factor in picking a stove.
  20. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    All you need to know:
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/newbie-new-install-stove-or-fireplace-forced-air-dist.93803/

    In a nutshell, it's a rectangular shaped 2000 sq foot 2 story home, BUT, it's an upside down house on stilts. 1st floor is bedrooms and office, 2nd floor is one big open great room with cathredral ceilings, kitchen, living room/den area where currently I have an old useless cheap builders style Heatalator fireplace in a corner (see picture in other thread). Want to remove it, and replace with a freestanding stove. The upper floor is about 1000 sq feet plus another 400 via two open small lofts on each end of the cathedral ceiling. I know I'm not going to heat the 1st floor, so I'm just looking to heat (save on oil, also have some heat during no power which is often since I'm in woods basically...) and be able to enjoy the fire... in this great room of about 1400 sq feet.

    I should also mention my house is on the water, on the south shore of Long Island (aka sticking out like a soar thumb over the Atlantic Ocean). And the entire top floor, 3/4 away around is mostly windows from 2' up the wall, to 8' high (6' x 6' windows). So when the wind blows 15 knots in winter, it is hitting my house at 40 knots! And when it is 20 degrees outside, iti s 10 degrees at my house!!

    The house is a very contemporary looking beach type house.

    FYI: I have LOTS of good seasoned (1 year, 2 years and 5+ years)!! And LOTS (too much!!) of brand new wood NO THANKS to "Sandy"!!! Along with "Sandy's" delivery of wood, has come 2 weeks with not power. ;)

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  21. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Actually, the numbers/physics says that the heat energy in a substance = mass x temp x specific heat.

    . . .so it's NOT all about mass. Different materials store different amounts of energy. This property is called the specific heat of a substance. The numbers guys have measured this property for pretty much every material we use to make stuff. The specific heat of soapstone is approximately 2x that of iron/steel. (For reference, the specific heat of water ~ 8x that of iron/steel.)

    If you held a blowtorch on a 1-lb piece of iron until the temp of it rose by 1°, you would find that doing the same thing with a 1-lb piece of soapstone would take twice as long, or that you could do it in the same amount of time if you turned up the torch to double the output, or that you could do it in the same amount of time with a half-pound piece of soapstone.

    This doesn't mean that a soapstone stove is twice as good as a metal stove, just that it has some different characteristics. Understanding these characteristics will help you decide which stove is right for you.

    http://www.iun.edu/~cpanhd/C101webnotes/matter-and-energy/specificheat.html
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  22. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Size also plays a big role. The Defiant and 30 weigh the same (Defiant) or less (the 30) than the Heritage did, though they are much larger in terms of their foot print. But, both stoves provide longer usable heat at lower temps than the Heritage did.
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  23. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Agreed. Firebox capacity trumps stove mass and material. . .there's also a surface area factor involved with radiating the heat, but the math on that is a bit more sketchy to me.

    If I lived in a house on the ocean, with high winds, high ceilings, and lots of big windows, I would want a big stove.

    Among the brands mentioned in Machria's other thread, I'd look at the Hearthstone Mansfield and Enerzone 2.9. . .maybe the Enerzone 3.4, if all those windows don't seal tightly and the place is drafty. I'd also look at the larger Blaze Kings and the Woodstock Progress.

    p.s. Send this guy a message. He sells Enerzone and Hearthstone and will give you no-nonsense advice.
    Fsappo
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/members/fsappo.4860/
  24. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    That is actually what I was getting at. I could put the same, or less, amount of wood in the 30 and get a longer burn time of usable heat than compared to the Heritage.
  25. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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