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How NOT to sell me a stove

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by sylvestermcmonkey, Mar 7, 2008.

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  1. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey Member

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    The Land that Time Forgot
    I want a pellet stove. Admittedly, I'm also probably a stove dealer's worst nightmare - an engineer, licensed to practice in my state.

    My warmth needs are fairly simple: I have decided upon a Quadra-Fire Mt Vernon fireplace insert, primarily for its enormous BTU capacity, which ought to heat my entire 3000 ft^2 home. Wood Heat is the local dealer. After taking a $1000 deposit (they won't lift a finger without it), they came out to my home to take measurements, which I already knew were adequate for this monster.

    I had removed an old coal stove from the location and and its wiring (power and thermostat) is still in place. Now the fun starts.

    First I ask the installer if I could simply re-use the existing five wire 24 ga thermostat cable which is embedded in the wall to install their thermostat across the room. Answer: Can't do that. Why, I ask. Answer: "It's a millivolt control and it needs the cable it comes with" (three wire, small gauge). To me, that's kind of a non-answer but I let it go. Also, the installer says it won't regulate temperature properly unless the thermostat is located adjacent to the unit. This seems strange to me since a thermostat across the room ought to suffice to regulate room temperature.

    Next: I ask the installer if I could simply re-use the existing power three foot power cord which runs behind the brick work and terminates in pigtails. Answer: Can't do that. Why? "The Quadra Fire has a special cord with its own connector on the end" he says. Pigtails are NG. Fine, I said, I'll wire a receptacle to the end so it plugs into whatever the Quadra Fire wants. Can't do that, he says (he's right about that, anything resembling an extension cord is generally unacceptable, but all I want is to run the freaking cable behind the bricks, whereas the installer wants to just run the power cord in front of the bricks). I want wires hidden as much as possible, but the installer says he "doesn't pull wires". Fine, so I'll do that myself, but just tell me how to terminate the end. Answer: No answer.

    Next: Similar question about the thermostat wiring. If I can't re-use my existing wiring that goes across the room, can I put the new thermostat wiring behind the bricks? Answer: Can't do that. Again "we don't pull wires".

    Next: I want the option of a battery backup, but the only Quadra Fire option is a six foot cord and I'll need about fourteen feet to the basement where the batteries will be. I'll provide my own, just tell me what gauge it has to be. Answer: Can't do that. Won't work. Fine, I say, just tell me what the power requirements are so I can size my own conductors. A fourteen foot run should be fine as long as the conductors are sufficiently large. Answer: No answer.

    Finally: Here's the cost breakdown:

    Mt Vernon Insert - Sienna Bronze $3239
    Std Surround Panel, Cast $134
    Trim Cast, Sienna Bronze $282
    Stove Adapter $14
    Flex Pipe $117
    Mt Vernon Insert (I think this is the installation fee) $675

    Total: $4461

    Reality check please. Are these reasonable prices? Seems to me $675 installation is a bit steep for someone whose answer to most installation questions was "Can't do that".

    For now my response to this sale is... "Can't do that". I asked for my $1000 back, and am now looking for a dealer willing to work with me. Wood Heat's obstinacy doesn't bode well for responsive service in the future.

    I'm willing to hear if I'm being unreasonable, and if Wood Heat's prices are realistic. All suggestions welcome. I'm not married to any particular unit either, so pile on!

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  2. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    NOBODY can do anything nowadays ! If you're an engineer do it yourself and save some CHEESE$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. You sound more than competent.
  3. Estarrio

    Estarrio Member

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    Loc:
    Mass / RI
    I paid $400 for a free standing install.

    I did all my measurements myself and had the electric and hearth pad in place. So really, the cost included delivery, cutting a hole in my wall and installing the pipe (materials extra).

    That being said, I hired a professional for the piece of mind that I wouldn't screw something up. If this guy isn't giving you piece of mind, you might consider doing the install yourself.
  4. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Existing 5-wire stat wire.... If it is 18ga or less you could use it no problem. Yours is 24ga. This guy you had out is a moron, you should ask for them to please send a competent person.

    Location... the stats can be anywhere you want. Best place is to the side of the unit, where the convection air wont blow on it directly. You also want it on an inside wall so it wont be cold.

    Power cord... it is not a special cord of any sort, it is actually the same power cord a computer would use. But in most places (by code) you can not just wire nut things together in the wall and leave it. I think you could take your existing wire and mount an electrical box inside the old fireplace, then plug the insert into that. Unless that existing wire is an extension cord that plugs into an outlet someplace else? Hard to tell from the info you gave.

    Batt B/U.... the cord from Quad is kind of "special". The end that plugs into the stove is unique. I imagine if you called Quad and asked about a longer one they would not really be able to help much, if things are not tested and approved for the unit they cannot suggest people start making their own components. Also by electrical code you probably cannot pass such a cord between floors like that.


    Prices... looks like the prices are very in-line to what we would charge for that job. They will probably send out a two man crew to lift the beast into the hole. The parts and unit look like they are prob normal retail prices right out of the book. If you are expecting a deal wait a few months till the sales begin.
  5. MSmith66

    MSmith66 Feeling the Heat

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    $675.00 Seems reasonable for an Insert. Lining the chimney is also a pain in the butt for a one story, here you have a two story to boot. Shop around, but what ever you say or do , remember the installers have to install by specs and codes and I don't think they are going to install the way you want it done IF it is not within specs or codes. Good luck to you. Sounds to me , that you may need it.
  6. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey Member

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    Excellent advice, thank you jtp!

    Thought so. It ought to sense the temperature where I sit, since that's the temperature I'll be sensing when I sit there. Funny how that works.

    Right! The installer wants to put it on the outside wall. I don't sit there, because it's cold.

    I am an inspector and I tend to frown on wire nuts in the wall. I have many more than the minimum required number of convenience receptacles. I don't even own an extension cord :) Install a receptacle behind the stove? That I can do.

    Like some installers :-/

    Anyway, I can obtain or fabricate any kind of cord, I just have to know what it is and what it does. Is it supplying 12 vdc or is it an inverter like Harman sells? Totally different requirements, but Wood Heat was less than forthcoming with any information for me to proceed. Quadra-Fire probably won't talk to me, instead wanting to funnel all their support through their dealers. Unfortunately this dealer is doing them a disservice.

    I am willing to pay reasonable prices for quality equipment and competent labor, but I am unwilling to pay a nickel for incompetence. Perception is everything in sales, and I perceived they intended to drop the stove in my fireplace, plug it in and leave me $4500 lighter. Lots of luck getting them to fix whatever problems might arise.

    Competent people are not in abundant supply where I live. I will shop around.
  7. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
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    899
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    Southern Maine
    I had a Quadra~Fire Castile(freestanding) put in a couple months ago and cant say anything about the model your buying but I LOVE the Quad brand! :) Heres what I spent...

    Stove $2299.00

    Set up and Installation $200.00
    of stove

    Venting Materials $420.00
    (have a vertical up
    8' on the house)


    Venting Install $200.00


    Total with Tax $3371.50


    Thats my cost.....good luck with yours.....:)
  8. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Ok back to the battery B/U.... Yes it is just a very simply cord with battery clips on the end like you find on one of those chargers. All it does is supply 12V into the stove, and actually NOT into an inverter. The whole stove runs off 12V DC motors and parts except the igniter. The igniter wont work on batt b/u mode. So when you are running off wall power the stove actually converts that to 12V DC for the whole stove except the igniter. I don't know what kind of amps it draws but it can't be a whole lot. Only way to find out I suspect would be to try it and use one of those clamp on ammeters.

    If you have any more questions I am pretty familiar with that stove.
  9. jmlarson

    jmlarson New Member

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    Loc:
    Central, PA
    What part of PA are you in. I live in central pa about 20 miles from State College. There is an excellent Quad dealer there in Pleasant Gap. The name is Pennwoods. They have about a 8 to 10 man service crew. It is a rather large dealer selling lots of brands. If you need more info let me know. I have a Mt Vernon AE free-standing and love it
  10. heb80

    heb80 New Member

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    Loc:
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    Do it yourself. Make it safe, save some money.

    Being a licensed engineer myself, I always chuckle when I see co-workers who are afraid to use their engineering capabilities outside the office.
  11. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey Member

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    So when the power goes out - a frequent occurrence around here - I have to light it myself. No problem. The cable to the basement will be a glorified "jumper cable".

    I was most concerned that I'd have to size my DC supply for the igniter. The auger and fan power requirements can't be much. I intend to charge the batteries with a solar array, so these details are important.

    I'm going to check out a Harman dealer today so I can compare their Accentra insert with the Mt. Vernon. It seems to have a comparable heat output.

    Thanks jtp - in two posts you gave me more information than Wood Heat. What's the problem with those guys?

    I'm in upper Bucks. Fortunately there are several, hopefully more motivated, pellet stove dealers around. From what I've learned on this forum I think the selection of dealer is a far more important criterion than the stove.

    heb80, I would do it myself but would anyone sell me one directly? And wouldn't doing so void any warranty? I'll find out.
  12. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey Member

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    Oh! The liner they propose to install is only 60 in. Here in PA it's not a requirement to have it extend the length of the flue; it just has to extend above the damper. True for coal, wood, or pellets. Gas is another story (literally). The installation will be done in the comfort of my living room.

    So now what do you think about $675?? About ten man-hours for this makes me go "hmm..."
  13. MSmith66

    MSmith66 Feeling the Heat

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    I think you should install it yourself, save yourself some money and make a friend by not trying to show your trues colors, engineer, by knowing more than everyone else. You were asking questions when you already knew the answers.
    IF you know what you are doing , then put it in yourself and save yourself and others the headaches. Simple :) :)
  14. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey Member

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    huh ???

    What questions was I asking for which I already know the answers? Installation cost? Street price? Can I use my existing wiring? Where do I install my battery backup? How is it connected? I'm an engineer, not an attorney. I ask questions when I need answers, and this retailer - whom I'm paying to be the expert - was less than forthcoming with them.

    I do most of my own work. What I do comes out perfect - eventually. I have never installed a pellet stove and really don't want to. I'd prefer to pay an expert a reasonable fee for his expertise. Since this retailer doesn't seem motivated to answer simple questions, I was dissatisfied with his apparent qualifications as an expert and came here for answers. Some people have graciously provided them, and I am grateful.

    Like I say I'd prefer to pay someone for the "headaches". Money is a concern but it is my last concern. If I'm going to pay full boat retail and ten man-hours I want to get something for it. I intend this installation to be more than just dumping it on my hearth, connecting it and walking away, which is the impression I got. If this is unreasonable please tell me so I won't waste any more of your time.
  15. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey Member

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    Good news... I just spoke to a different Quadra-Fire retailer (Hearthstone) who at first blush seemed very knowledgeable. She was befuddled why Wood Heat didn't want to utilize my existing thermostat wiring, saying the interior wall is an ideal location and it would be easier for the installer since the conductors are already in place. No kidding!

    Don't know about installation cost or anything else yet, but when Quadra-Fire releases the Mt. Vernons again I'll be far more willing to take my business to Hearthstone.

    Still looking for a Harman dealer. Probably next week.

    Oh by the way: Wood Heat had no idea that the Mt. Vernon was on quality hold. This new retailer told me without me even asking about it. So much for "asking questions when I already know the answers."
  16. Hanko

    Hanko Minister of Fire

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    hey firestarter, i understood aeactly whta you were askin about. i think mssmith is a woman, at least they have a name like one. do you understand the stupid remark now?
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    FYI, Wood Heat is owned by the same company that owns Quadrafire!

    HHT owns a number of retail operations around the USA, including Wood Heat. Wood Heat is and has been one of the most successful stores EVER in the Hearth Biz - and, in fact, I learned much of what I know about the business from them. They were my first supplier back in 1978/79, selling me Upland, Morso, Efel and more.

    Just a bit of past history FYI. No reflection on the present.......
  18. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    FYI the Mt Vernon AE was released from Quality Hold today.
  19. JoeS

    JoeS Feeling the Heat

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    JTP, do you know if they fixed the vacuum switch problem and the wall control problem (static electricity making it go out)?
  20. stoveguy13

    stoveguy13 Minister of Fire

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    its not static electricty it is electrical bleed threw and untill they realize that they arent going to fix it they have a new wall controll out that you dont have to take off the wall to make the screen come back on. not a fix if you ask me
  21. pegdot

    pegdot New Member

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    Hey! I resemble that woman remark! lol

    $675 to install it with only enough pipe to go past your damper doesn't sound like a great price. (I think they must be charging you by the pound for carrying it inside. :roll:) If that price included a full chimney liner and an outside air kit then I'd say it was a deal. How were they planning to block off around the vent pipe? Maybe this price included fabricating a block off plate and insulating around it?

    From a safety stand point, as well as for ease of cleaning your vent in the future, you really might want to consider taking the exhaust to the top of your chimney. If you search here for "chimney liner" I think you'll find some good info.
  22. MCSM23

    MCSM23 New Member

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    THEY ARE SELLING YOU ONLY A SMALL AMOUNT OF LINER FOR $117. WHILE THIS IS PERFECTLY OK, IT IS A BETTER INSTALL IF LINER GOES TO TOP OF CHIMMNEY. THIS WILL BE BETTER WHEN YOU HAVE TO CLEAN THE STOVE.
    LABOR IN THESE PARTS IS 475 WITH LINER COSTING 475. WITH CAP. MUCH CLEANER INSTALL BOTH BEFORE USE AND AFTER. LAST THING YOU WOULD WANT IS ASH WHEN YOU HAVE TO PULL INSERT FROM HOLE. DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY. WITH FULL LINER JUST CLEAN INTO AREA BEHIND STOVE
  23. sylvestermcmonkey

    sylvestermcmonkey Member

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    At long last my QF Mt Vernon AE is installed and running! First of all I can't say enough about the dealer – Hearthstone in Stockertown, PA. Their installers were professional and meticulous as they wrestled the 450 lb monster into the precise geometric center of my hearth. Unfortunately for me they also noticed my flue had a cracked lining so they recommended lining it full length which I was happy to do. I had misgivings about having to clean less than a full length flue liner anyway. I actually got a bonus – Hearthstone only had a 4" liner in stock which they sold me for the price of 3". The owner drove over to deliver it and check up on the installation. These guys were great.

    Concern #1: Thermostat wiring and location. Wood Heat said I couldn't use my existing 18 ga 5 conductor stat wiring which is hidden in the walls "because it's a millivolt control and needs its own cable" whatever that means. They also said the stat has to be installed adjacent to the stove, which happens to be an outside wall, with the wiring run over the bricks. As expected my existing wiring was perfectly OK and the stat is mounted across the room exactly as I wanted it. It regulates temperature just fine from there, plus all the wiring is hidden in the walls as I wanted.

    Concern #2: Power cord. Wood Heat was going to run the power cord in front of the hearth: "we don't pull wires". I installed a receptacle right behind the stove. Completely up to code and the wires are all hidden.

    Concern #3: Battery backup. QF provides +/- 5 foot cord with alligator clamps on the end; I wanted a more professional installation with the battery and wiring in a remote location. Wood Heat said it wouldn't work but really couldn’t explain further. The battery backup wiring was as jtp described – looks like what an auto battery charger might have with 14 AWG conductors, although the plug and spring clamps are high quality construction – they look to be from some European supplier. I was surprised the conductors were so small but then again they don't expect the battery to be 16 feet away! I cut off the clamps, lugged the #14 to my #6 AWG cable going to the battery, and insulated the splice with heat shrink so it can be forgotten for the next hundred years. I don’t have a battery quite yet so I temporarily connected a 5.2 A linear power supply and to my surprise it worked, considering QF said its current requirement on battery backup was 12A. I measured only 1.5 A running with the fan on "normal" and the auger seemed to draw only another 100 mA or so. I have yet to investigate its long term operation on battery so I don't know when it will ever draw 12A, but if it ever does my oversize conductors will still supply more than the minimum voltage to the stove.

    Its operation is surprisingly quiet, even more so than I had expected. I can't hear it running unless I'm in the room. Its operation is well thought-out. The thermostat has features to calibrate the displayed temperature if it doesn't match some other thermometer you like to use. The setback times can be set to a resolution of one minute. The temperature deadband is adjustable in 0.5 deg F increments. The slow fade of the backlight is a really nice touch. A lot of thought went into designing the controls.

    The stove itself appears to be very robust. The sheet metal in back looks to be about 14 ga so it's pretty thick. The finish is very attractive and the internal components seem to be well-engineered. After seeing just how computerized the thing is, the first thing I did was plug it into a surge suppressor. The controls are likely as sensitive as anything digital these days. Hopefully with the surge suppressor it will cope with all the power anomalies I have here.

    Oh and the heat it throws! I will not have a problem heating my whole house with it.

    Some $4500 spent but at least I have something good to show for it. And if pellets continue to be cheaper than oil in $ per BTU, it'll pay for itself… eventually…

    If you're considering a pellet or wood stove around Eastern PA I can recommend Hearthstone.
  24. The Patriot

    The Patriot New Member

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    It won't take long at almost $4.00 a gallon.
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