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I cut and split my firewood, now i need a stove! Help!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by lukeg199, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. lukeg199

    lukeg199 New Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Vermont
    I just purchased a new (to me) home in Montpelier Vermont! I have been doing a bunch of research and thought i knew what i wanted until i stepped into a local shop and was steered in a different direction. Now i am completely re-evaluating my decision. This is (Hopefully) where you come in!

    The variables:
    House:
    1890 Victorian 2 story House​
    1300 sq ft​
    Cellulose blown in all over ~1990​
    Hydronic Oil Burner​
    Last year we used just shy of 400 gallons of fuel oil (not including hot water)​
    We typically run the temp around 68 at home (Programmable thermostat that drops to 57 during work hours)​
    Exterior chimney fireplace​
    Fireplace is close (5 ft) to dinner table​
    Other:
    Don't have kids now but may in ~5years​

    After reading a ton about stoves, i thought i had the right one in my sites. Because i'm a hippie, i like to buy local. Hearthstone factory is a couple towns away and they have a great reputation. I figured that the Craftsbury model would perfectly match my needs. Then i went to the local store and they said that it would be too small and i would be better off with a Homestead, which costs double!

    The reason the sales guy said this is the following:
    • Homestead is safer because of the soapstone exterior with lower temps.
    • craftsbury won't last all night because the firebox is too small - homestead will
    • 17" logs are a pain in the craftsbury whereas the homestead accepts 21"
    • he said the craftsbury wouldn't be enough to heat my house and i would certainly need the oil as a backup
    My concerns, beyond the price, are:
    • since everybody comes home at the same time and the house is unoccupied all day, we want heat fast - the big soapstone homestead will take too long to heat up itself, and the house. Do you think this will present an issue?
    • since the homestead is built for up to 1800 sq ft, i wont be burning it hot enough and therefore it wont be a clean or efficient burn (especially since these are non catalyst). Because the craftsbury is built for up to 1300 sq ft (same size as my house), it will be a hot and efficient/clean burn. Are these assumptions correct?
    • Both stoves are soapstone, but the smaller craftsbury is only soapstone on the interior, not the exterior. Homestead is soapstone on both. Do you think that there will be a big enough difference that sitting 4 feet away from the craftsbury at the dinner table will be uncomfortably hot?
    • Would you suggest some alternative?
    • In your experience, is a soapstone stove much safer for kids (contact) than a cast iron?
    Thanks for all the advice!!!

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome. If you are buying wood it usually comes in 16" lengths. However, some cutters are sloppy so being able to take up to an 18" logs is a plus. Don't put a lot of stock into sq ft heated, that varies a lot depending on marketing bs or not. I agree the Craftsbury will be too small unless the room is closed off from other areas. You should be looking for around a 2 cu ft stove. The Homestead is nice, but you have other options including the next size up from the Craftsbury - the Shelburne. For a Victorian house also look at the Victorian styled Woodstock Fireview.

    Some questions here: Where will the stove be installed? It sounds like the stove will be connected to the fireplace. Can you post a picture and provide the fireplace dimensions? Would you be opposed to installing an insert instead of a freestanding, if possible? How will the heat get out of this room? Is the floor plan open or with many connecting doorways?

    PS: If you don't already have wood, order some yesterday. Check it for length and wetness before accepting the load.
  3. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Hello Lukeg, welcome to the forum!

    Congratulations for having your wood set already but don't forget: Now is the best time to work on next year's wood supply. ;)

    When deciding which size stove to buy it is best to look at the firebox size instead of the advertised sqft. The Craftsbury is a small stove with 1.5 cu ft which will not be enough to heat your house and you will suffer from short burn times which require frequent reloading. If you want to load the stove in the evening and still have heat in the morning you need to look at a medium size stove in the range of 2 to 2.5 cu ft. Given your climate and size of the house I would recommend that anyway. Hence, I concur with your dealer in suggesting the Homestead.

    What are your plans in placing the stove? Is the fireplace opening large enough to put it inside or are you planning to have it out in front? Have you thought about a fireplace insert instead of a freestanding stove? It looks like you do not have a lot of space to work with. You may get some better advice if you can post a picture of your fireplace.

    Regarding steel, cast-iron and soapstone; it is generally getting more expensive in that order. On the other hand, outside "hotness" will be in reverse order although I would not put my hands on a soapstone stove either. You have to decide for yourself what you would like in a stove and how much you can spend. There are certainly a bunch of other stoves or fireplace inserts you could consider but they will not be made local. Nevertheless, if price is an issue you may not want to restrict yourself to one or two brands. Almost all stove companies have a medium size stove in their lineup. If you really want to save oil with such a stove, you can load it up in the morning before leaving to work and you should have still a warm home and nice coals for an easy relighting when you come back. You can look in this thread for some other stoves to consider:
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/...-down-the-right-road-with-a-new-stove.110689/
  4. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    I would like to point out your 2 extremes in this situation. You want to heat your entire house, yet your dinner table is 4-5 feet away from where you will have your stove. This needs to be considered when selecting your future unit. Just sayin...good luck and keep getting wood
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Luke.

    See some of my comments above in bold blue.

    In addition, when we installed our Fireview we cut our wood needs in half. In addition, we immediately began heating all of the house rather than closing off part of it every winter. This is our only heat as we have no furnace but we have no problem heating. We keep our home normally 80 degrees or more during the winter months. We also make certain that we burn good fuel that has been well seasoned. This means our wood is usually a minimum of 3 years in the stack after being split. The benefits of this are tremendous.

    Good luck.
    ScotO likes this.
  6. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    If it's locally built you're after, wander down to the woodstock company in west lebanon, NH.

    The question of soapstone being safer for the kids has come up a lot in our family, but remember there's still cast iron pieces on the soapstone stoves, still hot enough to burn the little guys. It's got to be fenced off regardless.

    The better question is how close will you be sitting next to the stove. I can't get within a few feet of my cast iron stove when it's hot. Too uncomfortable.

    Last winter I only burned from the time I got home until bed time because my runaway train of a stove can not be left unsupervised. I debated the quick heat up question a lot, and the consensus seemed to be from an absolute cold start, yes the steel and cast iron will fit your needs better.

    BUT: You may get hooked and end up burning 24/7 as everyone here will encourage you to. Then it won't matter.
    ScotO, webby3650 and Backwoods Savage like this.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    It doesn't always work, but some of the best advice I had when first narrowing down the list of stoves was to figure out the square footage, look at the stoves rated for that size and then go one size larger.

    If you truly like the look of the soapstone stoves, the appeal of the softer heat and buying locally New Hampshire is only a short hop, skip and jump away from Vermont . . . and there be Woodstock woodstoves there . . . some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet . . . even if you don't end up buying one of their stoves.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    All hippies have to make the pilgrimage to Woodstock. ==c Seriously, I think it may be a worthwhile trip. You may be able to get a returned stove their at a discount.
    raybonz and Backwoods Savage like this.
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I was never a hippie but certainly enjoyed my stopping at Woodstock.
    ScotO likes this.
  10. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Hearthstone has a new stove coming out this summer that would fit the bill nicely! It's the Castleton. It is right around 2 cu.ft, all soapstone with cast panels inside for protection. It has a reversible flue collar that sits very low, like the homestead. I will be putting one in later this summer. Coming in right at 2K, it's gonna be hard to beat!:cool:
    http://www.hearthstonestoves.com/store/wood-products/castleton
  11. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Oh, and Hearthstone is now available on-line!
  12. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Hearthstone will have a sale soon: maybe it is of interest for you: http://www.chimneysweepshop.com/index.php?id=100
    The same dealer has also a bunch of other stoves on sale (used models, factory seconds etc.); maybe you will find something there.
  13. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    I'm really concerned about the distance from your table to you fireplace. You mention it being 5 feet...is this with the chairs comfortably out for egress/sitting? Or is it with the chairs pushed in? Either way, you are awfully close to the table, and I think will be too hot sitting at the table. If you have to go by the fireplace much setting the table/placing food/clearing, or entertain much I'd be concerned about people bumping into a stove. It will be really on top of the table. May not even meet clearance to combustible requirements. And once you introduce little children, forget it. You simply haven't the room for them to get safely between a stove and a table, or to put a good gate set -up. As others have asked, what is your layout? Is there any possibility of repurposing rooms, and making the dining room the living room, and the living room the dining room? Some homes work either way, some it's just too inconvenient. Is your dining room or living room more central in the house, more open to the stairs?

    If you must use the dining room as a dining room, I'd definitely be looking at an insert unless the fireplace opening is large enough to recess the stove in part inside, still with easy loading access. A Woodstock is side loading, which would be easier with the limited space you have in front of a stove, but it requires a hearth with R value under and in front of the stove. Pretty sure the Hearthstone is ember protection only, but front loading?

    Be aware, all these stoves get very hot in front of the window. Doesn't matter whether soapstone, cast or steel. You have to keep away from that glass.

    This close to a table, the soapstone is definitely safer, as you will not get a burn from casual contact with soapstone (but you will from the glass with any of them). Nice to have a soapstone top next to the table to keep food warm in the winter too. And with a Woodstock, you can cook on top of the stove.

    Since you are talking children 5 years off, maybe you set the home up with what will suit you best now, planning to adjust in 5 years....that's a long time. If you find the stove too close, you could then think about switching room use (dining/living) if doable in your home.

    Whether you go with insert or stove, I'd definitely get one large enough to hold a fire overnight. You should be able toad twice a day and keep your home arm, as others have said, and not be coming home to a cold house evenings.

    Just be sure your table, and any table linens/chairs are not too close to the heating appliance.

    As others have requested, can we see a sketch of your floorplan?

    If you do visit Woodstock, where no pressure would be put on you, they would give you good guidance about placement and suitability of various heating methods (insert/stove, and size). So, take a sketch with room dimensions/fireplace dimensions with you...height, width, depth of fireplace, height of any wood mantel above the opening, nature and size of hearth, as well as location in the room.
  14. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    Rideau, has some great points for you, I will add that my insert has an enamel front that does not get hot. It sticks out 2" from the glass which is what gets blazing hot. I believe you can sit 5 feet away without breaking a sweat but don't quote me, we are out of season. And i was a rookie burner. You could also time your burns so your in need of reload when it is time to eat or use that table to sit at. If that makes any sense. Just be careful and keep researching so that you purchase the right unit for your needs. Make a list of what's most important to you and shop that way, I don't think you will get everything that you want. But once you start burning, you will love it. It doesn't compare to the old fireplace. Good luck
  15. lukeg199

    lukeg199 New Member

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    Thank you all so much for the tremendous outpouring of responses! I cannot express how helpful this feedback is to me. Fireplace dimensions are attached. Because this is an exterior brick chimney i am somewhat concerned that i will see a lot of heat loss through the brick if i go the fireplace insert route. Is this a reasonable concern with inserts these days? I will work on getting a floor plan.

    Ventilation:
    Being such an old house, there are many doorways and walls. That being said, the entire downstairs is open in the sense that i have removed all interior doors. Also, i am a bit of a computer programmer and tinkerer, and knowing that circulation will be an issue, i plan on creating a ventilation system of my own. Although it's hard to envision without a floor plan, i have three large rooms in the downstairs that are all connected by open 31" wide doorways (no doors). My plan is in every interior wall above the doorway to install a small fan with temperature sensors. I will control all the fans with an Arduino computer where i program a simple command that turns on all fans when a temperature discrepancy of 10 degrees or more is detected between the rooms. When equilibrium is reached, they all turn off.

    Dinner table:
    Changing the purpose of the room is unlikely. so it sounds like i may need to employ the technique mentioned by Ram 1500 where i time the fire to need a reload during dinner. Could i also create a removeable heat shield for the front of the stove to set up during dinner? Regardless, i think the dinner table has to stay in the room.

    Kids:
    Sounds like the best option is a gate regardless of exterior material type. Thanks for all this feedback. It is super easy for a sales rep to sell you on the whole safety topic, so know that the safest option is a gate/fence is helpful.

    Stoves:
    Sounds like most of you are big fans of Woodstock! I will definitely be heading down there! Thanks for the info in the new hearthstone model Webby! I had no idea that they were going to release this! Grisu - thanks for the heads up about the hearthstone factory sale. I was aware and plan to attend! Backwoods Savage - i will definitely take a look at the Fireview from Woodstock.

    Thanks again for all the great feedback. I'm not a real hippie, i just like to tease that i am because i live in Vermont.

    Attached Files:

  16. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I think you have a little of a problem there. Your fireplace is not that big and rather shallow. Were you planning on extending the hearth and putting a stove in front of the fireplace or do you want to fit it inside? I think neither the Homestead nor the Castleton will fit. An insert will have the advantage that it will take less space away from the room and exposes only one side to some curious toddlers. You can also put Roxul blankets (available at Lowe's) around it to reduce heat loss to the bricks. However, with a depth of only 13.5 inches you may have trouble to put one in there. Most inserts I know require between 15 and 16 inches of depth. Did your dealer take a look at the fireplace dimensions? Even your first choice, the Craftsbury, should be too high to be placed in the fireplace.

    For transferring the heat people here usually recommend putting a small desktop fan on the floor on the opposite side of the house and blow cold air towards the stove room. Reason is cold air is denser and easier to move than hot air. The cold air you blow towards the stove will be replaced with warm air from the stove room and you will get a nice convective circle going. Your plan sounds great but if it does not really work as you envision you will be stuck with a bunch of large holes in your walls.
  17. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    So...it sounds to me as if you have a nice little Rumford fireplace there. Probably heats pretty nicely when going.
    You likely have a very narrow throat and smoke shelf,
    If this were my house I'd be investigating options. I'd sure try to preserve that nice little Rumford fireplace.

    Any chance of putting glass doors (or a board with insulated back, which can be made to both llok quite attractive and be easily removed when you want to use the fireplace) on that fireplace to preserve heat when not using the fireplace, and putting a stove with new (internal maybe) stainless chimney and stovepipe in the living room, attached to a good freestanding stove? It's rather nice to have the stove where the family spends its time.

    That is what I did with my house: drilled holes in the ceiling of living room/floor of boy's bedroom, ceiling of boys' bedroom, floor of lake dormer bedroom/study, ceiling of that room, through attic and out roof. Have never regretted doing so, and has little impact on the rooms it goes through. A small amount of heat radiates from the pipe. but not much. I do get heating through the floor to the room over the stove, to a significant degree, despite having floors that are two layers of 3/4 inch plywood topped with wide board cherry in that room. Even when I keep that door closed, despite being a large. North facing room with lots of windows, the room stays quite comfortable.

    Any possibility of putting a stove in the living room instead of the dining room? You could go with a good used stove and use the difference in cost to cover the cost of the chimney, or nearly so.
  18. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    You've received some very good information Luke. My only concern with the above post is your idea on the ventilation. Be aware that it is extremely difficult to move warm air into cooler air. The cooler air being a bit more dense than the warm, it moves easier. This is why a small desktop fan running on low speed and sitting in hallway or doorway and blowing the cool air into the warmer stove room will work so much better. It is amazing the difference!

    I recall before we remodeled and added insulation how when we got those really cold spells in January, especially with the cold NW winds, the rear part of our house could get a bit chilly. We tried for years to get heat back there and then I read about this little trick of moving the cooler air. I didn't think it would work but not being too smart, I tried it anyway. Wow! It was a very short time (I wish I'd timed it and taken actual temperatures but hind sight is always better) before the far rooms were toasty warm. By moving that cool air into the stove room, it forces the warm air out a whole lot better than you can blow it out. So just keep this in mind with your plan. By the sounds of your floor plan, this should work out quite easily. Just remember; small fan (not a pedestal either) and low speed so as not to create an uncomfortable draft.
  19. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Have you looked at the Jotul F100 Nordic? I think it's small enough to fit in your fireplace, but probably under powered to heat the whole house.

    Sounds like the dining room may not be the best place for the stove, what with the table so close.
    And now, with the small fireplace opening, the stove may have to sit further into the room, and even closer to the table?

    I'm intrigued by the idea of rethinking the entire plan, and putting a stove in a different room. Like the living room where everyone hangs out.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That opening height is a challenge. This is where Woodstock stoves have an advantage with their low flue exit height. But it still needs about a 26" opening. I'm starting to think insert for this fireplace.

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