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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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    Great info, thanks!! You guys have a wealth of wood burning knoweledge!! I have a felling I'm going to as well by the time I'm done beating this to DEATH! ;)

    As for burn times, I think I'm fine with 10, 12 or 14 hours. That would be perfect for me, remembering that this will only be a suplimental heat source. In the dead of winter, I could start a fire in the morning, let it burn all day long, then reload in the evening and enjoy a nice fire show, then turn it down to low and let it slow burn overnighjt so I stil have hot coals to re-load onto the next morning. I just don't want to have to "start" a new fire twice a day....

    Here is a quetion, if I buy an larger than required unit, will it burn more wood faster because it is bigger, even when I don't entirely fill it, and try to turn it down? Or can you really manage a bigger unit by not loading it with alot of wood....?

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  2. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Depends upon the stove.

    A cat stove is more efficient when burning at lower temps. So, an oversized cat stove burned at lower temps would be more efficient than a cat stove that is not oversized for your area.

    It is also easy to burn smaller, hot fires in a large non-cat stove. It is technically not as efficient of a burn method, but I have no problems doing this with the 30 and my wood usage has dropped when compared to last year's setup of Defiant/Encore/Heritage.
  3. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Those hybrids sound very interesting for sure.

    The OP is interested in having a nice "flame show". Would one of the hybrids allow for that better than a straight cat?
  4. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Not sure since there aren't many hybrid owners out there.
  5. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    The yYoutube video's of the Progress buring shows a nice fire display. They basically look like a non-cat unit with secondaryburn tubes burning. I guess they just burn some more of the gases up int he cat.

    Seems to me these Hybrid units would keep much cleaner CAT's, and the cats would last longer since they are doing less??? What do you think?
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Cost being no object, a propane generator with a large fuel supply solves that issue quickly.
  7. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    The Progress flame show is fantastic! Granted, if you turn it all the way down you'll get periods of no flame, and periods with flame. But, if you turn it up a bit you'll get great secondaries. The nice thing with the Progress is the slanted baffle plate. It really brings the secondaries to life with a direct view. I'm sure you can get nice flame show with straight cat stoves, but probably not with the crazy secondaries like the Progress.

    It seems logical that the hybrid system would be easier on the cats. But, it's too early to say if that's true. Either way, the cat should last several years so it's not a huge deal.

    You're right, when the secondaries are going, the cat is just cleaning up whatever is left. When the draft is turned way down with no flames, or lazy flames, then the cat is doing to work. When you get enough wood in there, the secondaries will likely take over for awhile even with the draft shut. When they stop, the cat keeps working. Sometimes, the secondaries will come and go when you've got a pretty full load and draft closed down. It's kind of neat to see.
  8. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    I could have all the money in the world, and I'd still own a woodstove.:)
    ditchrider likes this.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Agreed. I like wood heat and seeing FIRE!
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  10. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Having burned both the FV (full cat) and the PH (Hybrid) I can say that the fire show is different, but both can be very enjoyable.

    In the FV I did get nice secondary burns on top of the firebox when burning a hotter burn (much of my colder winter I burned this way) and I would only have the "dark except for coals" look when burning extended lower temp burns.

    Now with the PH I get a very different fireshow and it is in fact more regular for lower burns. When burning higher the show goes from fascinating to simple awe - 'gates of hell' fire in there. I haven't burned on high for long as that is a LOT of heat being thrown out of the stove that I just have yet to need. I've seen similar shows on non-cat burn tube type stoves when burning on high as well so the show is very much alike in that regard when turned way up. What I don't think you can do in the non-cats is turn it down to a lower burn rate from this "gates of hell" on a whim and expect it to hold there without smoking out the chimney - based on my reading some non-cats can be very touchy about holding the secondary burns steady, so far the PH is pretty much "if you want it, turn the air to that point and it is there for you, when you are done, turn it back down until you want it again (assuming there is enough wood left)."

    As to my burn times to your question - I believe someone else answered for me, but yes I've had less than expected and am working on that. Keep in mind that I've been burning the PH for less than a month now and not every day given the weather is mild so hard to really get a feel for it. Even though I've been burning wood pretty much full time for each of the last 4 winters, this is a new stove to me and I have to learn the ropes a bit (it is easy to burn - I haven't had any smoke, but like many here I'm aiming for those 'perfect' burns every time, ha!). Still, I expect I'll get it all worked out in the end, I may call the folks at woodstock if I am still not getting what I expect here once we get some colder weather and see what they say as I know they will work with me too, I just like to exhaust my own options first as I'm pretty sure I'm causing the issues given that I tend to overcomplicate things.
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    On the weight thing. 500 lbs is only three fat chicks. Surely you could send three fat chicks up the stairs without worrying about collapse. Further, I would expect that the one fat dude chasing them to make 700 lbs would also be fine since he is on a different step and probably drunk. Seriously, if your staircase can't handle four to six (a couple of movers plus stove weight) americans then you have a problem there. The people that move these things have some tricks that help distribute the weight over more than one step such as fancy dollys and ramps.

    I've seen hot tubs and kitchen ranges picked up with a boom truck and set on the other side of a home on the deck for easy level moving into their final resting places. Thisis becoming more common as people are moving onto such small lots with such tall houses and choosing such heavy appliances such as the viking ranges for cooking top ramen.

    For intermittent burning, burn time isn't the number one priority. Things like flame show and even cooking become more important. The specs on the woodstock PH seem to be very good and the company has also treated folks well through the revisions and recalls. That PH flame show is amazing and the folks that own them seem quite happy.

    I've owned both purely radiant (hearthstone slab soapstone) and purely convective stoves (BK thin steel double wall) and in my experience the difference is decidedly insignificant in real life. Comes down to marketing and aesthetics. Any of the stove materials can be done properly in a quality stove but I favor a welded steel firebox in all cases due to dependability and durability.

    The more you (the OP) describe your wants and needs, the bigger your pool of options becomes. I think we are down to contemporary looking and overnight burning as being the only real requirements. That's a huge pool of stoves.
  12. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Purely ignoring the chick thing::P , this observation is interesting given all the discussion about the technical differences.
  13. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    LOL!! And I have thought of that already (# of people per weight...), and that is why I have said I don't feel the 700lbs will be a problem once set. I have parties in my house fairly often, and I regularly have 50 to 75 guests up there. 2 in the morning in the middle of a rager, I've actually stood back and said "Whoooaaaa, there's alot of weight in here.....". BUT, getting it up there will take some engineering. The 3 flights zig zag up, and they are not that wide. Worse, there are 2" brass handrails the entire route which will definitely need to be removed to allow space. The real thing that worries me though, is the wood floor covering the steps. They are not the strongest, and kinda put on like crap.
    Yea, I keep thinking we got a big stainless 2 door fridge up there 2 years ago. That was no fun though!

    Yep, I really like the specs on the PH stove. That is what caught my eye with it. BUT, the downside is, it does NOT look anything even close to modern to mach my decor. I showed it to my wife and she immediately said "YUK, bla bla bla....", I then explained the Hybrid technology, the long burn times,how many really like soapstone and how soapstone is kindof a "high end" look... and she followed with the dreaded: "Whatever, yur going to get whatever you want anyway, I have no say...."! :rolleyes:

    This is one question I have. I have never felt the heat from a soapstone stove, nobody ever seems to be running one in the showrooms. Sitting 10' in front of it, with a hot fire going, am I going to feel the heat like I do from the steel stoves like the Enerzone, or from my old fireplace when it's blazing? I do like that blast of heat from the fireplace on the cold days. While comments about Soapstone being a softer heat are postive, they scare me a bit, will I get the "fire" feel from it?

    You hit the nail on the head. And THAT is the problem. I have issues making decisions when there are few choices. Instead of narrowing down my choices, my choices seem to be growing! Some help you guys are! ;)

    .
  14. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    ;lol This made me laugh. Sounds familiar. One of the best pieces of advice I've seen on this forum is something like "get what she likes". I took it myself and it's pretty good advice at that.
  15. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    And I can follow that up with "get what works." Warmth goes a long way. A pretty stove that doesn't meet your needs isn't worth a damn.

    I wanted to go with a large steel insert stove in the kitchen that was far larger than the Intrepid. But, she didn't like the look of the stove and wanted a free standing stove, and the Intrepid was the only stove that would fit that I could find AND that she liked. So, we got the Intrepid... which was completely undersized for our needs. And we had to extend out the hearth to pull the stove out from the fireplace so the heat would move better. And a more expensive install was required. And I had to fight with it to get every ounce of heat out of it. And I had a screwed up sleeping schedule due to the short burn times.

    So, the next summer I had to track down another stove. And I had to drive to Maryland to pick up the stove. And I had to rebuild the stove. And I had to install the stove.

    In the end we/I had to pay more money and do a LOT more work to get the right solution because someone was only looking at one aspect of the problem.

    I'd rather the other person be warm and a little unhappy with which stove was purchased than having the place be cold with additional costs, time, and effort required to get the proper solution in place.
  16. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Yep, they are ALL the same!! Woman that is, not stoves! ::-)

    So here is my updated list, with some pros/cons pointed out:

    - Woodstock Progress Hybrid (great specs, too heavy 700#, ONLY side load)
    - Vermont Castings Defiant (great specs, front & top loading, a bit pricey)
    - Lopi Cape Cod (good specs, front loading, a bit heavy 600#)
    - Enerzone Solution 3.4 (more simple modern looking, steel, blowers, 100k btu, short burn times)
    - Qaudrafiew 5700 (similar to above, some neg feedback on cust service)


    Come on guys, which one???? I need a stove!
  17. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    LOL!! Right from Vermont Castings manual: "Wood burning is an Art, not a science....." I LOVE it!!!!

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  18. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    If money is not an issue, I would go with the Progress over the Defiant. Long term maintenance is a LOT easier with the Progress and the Cat system is better.

    Also, ignore corporate specs in terms of claimed BTUs and burn times. They are nearly useless. Firebox size is the biggest factor.
  19. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Agreed. In my case, once I determined the basic needs, she had a lot of say about the specific model within a narrowed list. Now we're both happy.:)
  20. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    So how firm is the latest list? Within that list, I'd be very tempted with either of the hybrids as long as it fits the decor well enough and she isn't dead set against either one.

    BTW, what happened to BK? I believe they are coming out with a hybrid as well.

    BTW#2, IMO, heavy is good. More thermal mass.
  21. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Thanks... pretty much arleady figured out the burn time specs and BTU hogwash... ;) I'm going with "real life" burn times either posted by actual users here (averaged out...) or by what some installers have informed me, and even what some of the manufacturers I've contacted told me. There has been a big difference between published times, and real life times they report to me. Some of that is in the definition of what "burn time" is considered. An Enerzone rep defined it nicely, saying something like the real USABLE burn time (time in which you are getting nice strong usable heat from the unit), as opposed to the lenght of time you might be able to start a newspaper off a hot coal which is effectively not producing any real heat.


    So what is so different between the Defiant and Progress CAT mantinenance? Defiant's hard to get to or something?

    How bad is the side only loading on the Progress? Does that bother anyone? Can you get to the glass to clean it if needed?
  22. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    About as firm as sand!

    I removed the slow CAT only long burn time stoves like the PE and BK. I want a fire, more than I want 2 days of heat. 10 - 14 hours of burn time is fine for me.

    Yes, excpet when it needs to be hoisted up 3 stories of zig zagged rickety staircase, and sat on the 2nd story of a house on stilts! ;)
  23. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    The cat system on Woodstock stoves are better. They are more efficient (longer burn times), cleaner burning, and cheaper to maintain. The new Defiant is greatly improved from the previous generation (the one I have) but it is still a distant third behind Woodstock and Blaze King.

    Also, VC stoves use a lot of gasket materials which requires more frequent maintenance. They run great if you properly maintain them, but the maintenance is a lot higher than the majority of the stoves out there.
  24. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Not sure I understand. So all cat's are out except maybe hybrids? PE (Pacific Energy) is all non-cat. BK is all cat (I think). If you're left with mid-size non-cat's, the field is huge. It's the most popular and the competition is heavy.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    PE stoves are non-cat. They don't make a cat model.
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