1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Jotul 550 - Its a BEAST... Any advice on how to tame?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by plazorisak, Jan 10, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. plazorisak

    plazorisak New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    North Yarmouth Maine
    We recently moved in a "new to us" home and bought the Jotul 550 to fit into the existing fireplace. Several factors went into this decision - the price of oil, the BIG existing firebox, the open floor plan, and the vaulted ceiling opening up to the 2nd floor. I think we are feeding about 1800 sq feet ... I think (we have a baby and I do not have much time for Math or anything else lately).

    Anyway - this Beast arrived before Christmas and I have been struggling with expectations vs. how to best work it. I can get the unit hot (400 or so as measured on the pipe) but the fire seems to be on the down cycle by the time the house gets warm? I can get the thermostat to hover at about 68 or 69 degrees when it is 0 - 10 outside, which is ehh OK.... but maybe I need to employ a different tactic for hotter more prolonged heat? (here is where I may be expecting too much).

    Since I am heating a larger space with a unit that takes some time to get humming, do I need to somehow prolong the cycle? Does this mean that I should just keep feeding this Beast like a locomotive until I get the desired results, then throw on my big logs and put her on simmer?

    I am use to a smaller wood stove in a smaller space - so perhaps I am just being gun shy in my use of wood? The firebox of an insert definitely is more "squatter" (fatter but not as tall) than a wood stove ... so that seems to be throwing me too... Is there a more efficient technique I should be using?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. kwilly

    kwilly New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1
    Loc:
    NC


    I have gas fire logs that are not controlled by a thermostat. Can a gas solenoid valve controlled by a thermostat be placed between the combination control valve and the burner?
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,738
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    No Ya - It doesn't sound like you are doing anything inherently wrong other than being a little stingy with wood. It is not uncommon for a stove to consume the first (cold) load of the day to get the stove up to temp and starting the thermal gain in the house. After the first load has burned and moving into the coaling stage, load'er up again. Allow this load to char and then start taming the primary air down for your extended burn.

    That stove is advertised at 1800 or 2000 sqft (depending on where on their website you look) so you are at the very edge of its heating capacity. This typically means that you will be running it fairly hard (hot) to get the expected output from this stove. That also translates into consuming more wood.

    This stove is rated for a 10 hr extended burn but that does not mean that throwing in a load of wood and lighting a match will get you a 70 deg house for 10 hrs.

    How does this stove react after the second load?
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,850
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    If you don't have one already, get a stove top thermometer to monitor the actual stove temp. Run the stove up around 600 and feed wood as needed to keep it there.

    "After the first load has burned and moving into the coaling stage, load’er up again. Allow this load to char and then start taming the primary air down for your extended burn."

    This is pretty close, but the amount you tame the primary air will be only as needed to keep the stove at the desired temperature.
  5. boostnut

    boostnut Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Messages:
    216
    Loc:
    central IL
    "Does this mean that I should just keep feeding this Beast like a locomotive until I get the desired results, then throw on my big logs and put her on simmer"

    If its anything like my Jotul 450 than, yes. If I start with it cold I typically burn the first load hot until the house gets to about 70 degrees (this is the temp we prefer). At that point, reload and continue to burn hot for a few minutes then shut it down about 80%. Keep in mind that there are a number of variables here. Different wood will require more or less air to maintain your houses temp, outside conditions including wind, temp, and humidity will play games with your insert, and the efficiency of your house possibly is the biggest factor. The moral of the story is patience. Get a thermometer to monitor for reference and try different methods. What works in my house probably wont be right for yours, its a game of trial and error at first.

    1 question for you, what are you burning and how long ago was it cut and split?
  6. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,440
    Loc:
    middleborough, ma.
    How do you get up to speed quickly to get on the highway...........mash the throttle right?

    Mash the throttle on the stove, fill er up and let it rip until the house is where you want it then re-load and damper it down.
  7. plazorisak

    plazorisak New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    North Yarmouth Maine
    Great advice. Thank you for your posts. I think I have been expecting too much on the cold start to really give any subsequent starts a fair chance.

    To answer some of the questions:

    I have several cords of 'seasoned for over a year' hardwoods - mixed variety. I don't think, however that this is a fuel issue as much as it is a user issue. I have an 'ol reliable wood stove in the basement (separate flue) and I can get it as hot as Arizona in July using the same wood source.

    I am beginning to think that I, and not the stove, needs to be broken in. I think that the glass door has made me creosote paranoid. I am getting some deposits from the overnight cycle and feel that I am under-firing the unit. I removed the surround and attached a thermometer to the pipe to 'experiment.' You see... I could not seem to get a good enough read by sticking the thermometer to the door... so I.... well, I removed the surround... and anyway that is how it goes. (Yes, my wife is annoyed that I have pulled apart the new stove to see how it works).

    In my creosote paranoia, I have noticed that starting from coals has led to more creosote deposits.... but I may be using too large of logs on the restart? which may be smoldering? I never really worried too much about creosote until I got a door made out of glass. BTW - I have to reinstall the surround this weekend. Any idea how to better place the thermometer? I cannot put it ontop of the stove... do I just put it on the door and wait?
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Bear in mind that the thermometer is more a "relative temperature" indicator than it is "absolute gospel" - I would either get a second thermometer, or get used to moving one back and forth between the pipe and the door, and figure out a rough equivalency of "X* on the pipe = Y* on the door"... That way you can put the surround back on and still know about what the pipe temperature is. (Note though that some folks report that they get less heat when they have the surround on, especially if they are using an outside chimney.)

    Gooserider
  9. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    6,698
    Loc:
    Next to nuke plant Berwick, PA.
    You have to also factor in, your warming up a cold area. If you are going to burn 24/7, you can try and space 3- 8hr load her ups and after a bit, the house walls, furniture, etc become same temperature as the air, and will be easier to raise everything several degrees, rather than from a cold start trying to warm the air and the contents of the home. I personally find that spaced full loads burned hot works great for me. Less temperature swing of not only the air but the contents of the house between loads.
  10. jadm

    jadm New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    918
    Loc:
    colorado
    Do you have a blower to move the warm around and thus heat up your room more?

    My insert will heat up and stay warm up close to it but if I want more heat in the room I have to use the blower which kind of slows the heating process up. I'm still experimenting with this and am considering the Jotul 550. (I have a Napoleon now and it's too small.) I'm hesitant in purchasing the 550 because it is a new model and there isn't much info. out there from consumers. I love it's looks but wonder about heat loss with it mounted flush. I know I get extra radiant heat from the cast iron that extends about 4" into our room. Without a blower on the 550 it seems like a lot of the heat would be escaping up your chimney instead of getting out into your room where you want it.
  11. plazorisak

    plazorisak New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    North Yarmouth Maine
    At first, I actually liked the Jotul 450 better, with the Tamarack surround and ash lip.. I thought that was a pretty unique look and it would fit our contemperary style home nicely. I even switched my order in late November to the 450 because I was tired of being put off with regard to the 550's delivery date. But to my surprise, a 550 arrived the day my 450 was supposed to come in.

    I was sold on the 550 anyway because of 1.) single swinging door vs. the "butterfly" doors of the 450 2.) bigger heating capacity 3.) My "Chief of Finance " liked the look of the 550 better and thought it would be better for the baby.

    I would probably say that most inserts now are pretty advanced in their designs and tend to reflect the heat back into the room. I am not an expert but I believe that my 550 is actually inserted into a sleeve to create a box within a box. There is about a 1 - 2 inch space between the stove and the insert sleeve. Air gets sucked in from the blower (standard feature) at the bottom of the stove, travels along the bottom and up the back before exiting out the top front - several inches over the top of the door. The air getting pushed out into the room is pretty hot - depending on how the stove is burning.

    I have to say I am pretty happy with the stove. It took some postings for me to come to terms with my expectations. Also, over the weekend it was pretty windy and the stove really started responding..... and so arrived the moment of clarity.

    I skimped out on the install and went with the retro fit, 3 foot up the chimney liner, vs. the full liner. I am getting draw - just not that extra ummppff to make this stove truly outstanding. Nice little $$$ lesson to teach me not to cut corners.... again. Is there a cure for this?
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,561
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Now each time the flue is cleaned the stove needs to be pulled.
    The cure is a full liner & block off plate. Going through that process will remind you to do it right the first time.


    BTW, is the chimney fully tile lined? Is this an interior or exterior chimney?
  13. RonB

    RonB Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    303
    Loc:
    Southwest MI
  14. jadm

    jadm New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    918
    Loc:
    colorado
    NoYa- A few questions for you. I went and looked at a Jotul 550 today after having read about them here and in their literature. Always helps me to physically check things out. It is an insert that I have considered over the past month of my researching stoves/inserts.

    What I want to know from you since you have one up and running is; How loud are the blowers? Can you use one or do both have to be used? Can you turn them up and down manually or is it auto?

    Noticed that damper control is on top of the insert. How does that work? Mine is located on the bottom and all the other insert/stoves I have looked at have the dampers on the bottom with the exception of a couple of brands. Is the air channel on top?

    All of the inserts I have looked at thus far have fire bricks lining the bottom of the firebox. The 550 only has fire bricks on the sides and back. Is the floor steel or cast iron? How does this affect the functioning of the stove?

    Are the baffles easily removed for cleaning when a sweep comes and cleans out the chimney/liner? I don't want a unit that has to be pulled out of the fireplace every time I have the chimney swept - which is twice a year.

    Does the cast iron surround radiate a lot of heat into your room? Does it compensate for the fact that this is a flush model?

    How does your stove handle coals? Do they burn down pretty well on cold days or do they begin to pile up on you so you can't load it really full after awhile thus not being able to run it at a high temp - 450-500 degrees?


    It really is a nice looking insert and a lot more solid looking than the unit I currently have.
  15. soxfan13

    soxfan13 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
    Messages:
    88
    Loc:
    eastern MA
    I know I have said this on another thread but be careful with clearance on the 550. In the catalog I took from the stove shop it said that clearance (floor to 1" trim above stove) was NA. Then I read the owners manual online and Jotul switched the clearance to 51". I will probably need a mantle shield now because I only have 46".

    Also, at least around here, they are hard to get. I ordered mine in Nov. and it was supposed to be in last Friday but now I am told I have to wait until the beginning of Feb.

    By the way...I hope it is a beast!
  16. jadm

    jadm New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    918
    Loc:
    colorado
    Soxfan 13 Called my sweep this morning to have him measure fireplace to see if one will fit my fireplace. My mantle will have to be be raised because I know I do not have that clearance but I have a friend who can do that no sweat for me.

    Saw a unit yesterday and was told that they do have 2 inserts in stock so I know I can get one...Just waiting to see if it will fit.
  17. plazorisak

    plazorisak New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    North Yarmouth Maine
    Perplexed

    I must admit that your questions have made me feel inadequate. I wish I would have asked at least half those questions before buying. We focused on: what color does it come in and when can it be delivered.... Although I do not have all of the answers - here is what I have observed:

    The blower consists of 2 fans run by 1 switch. You can either run on auto or manual. The fan speed is either off, high or any infinite adjustment in-between. I have adjusted mine to run on what I feel to be "medium."

    Since the blower consists of 2 fans, it is inevitable that you will hear that industrial whir. The degree to which you hear this whir is determined by the speed: higher = louder. We have a downdraft fan for our kitchen stovetop and that fan is LOUD even on low. Using that as a comparison, the Jotul is relatively quiet.

    I use the blower ALL the time on auto. Since I always use the blower, I would probably have to say that the insert would be lost without it in my house. The insert is in a large living room with a vaulted ceiling that opens up to bedrooms on the 2nd floor. Without the blower, the 2nd floor will get some heat and the living room will be OK. With the blower running, it all gets warm.

    I know my insert has "cast iron parts." I imagine these parts are the door, surround and all of the pretty parts. The guts are most likely steel - including the "floor." The damper on top seems to work just fine, and the "airwash" function for the glass seems to be working better now that I am burning hotter. I was definitely underfiring the stove and that caused all kinds of deposits on the glass, poor performance, etc. ... after posting on the site and following some advice, I can say that I am definitely pleased with the 550.

    I have noticed some coals in the morning, but cannot determine if that is a function of the cold weather or running the stove with the damper mostly closed during the night. With the damper 50% open or more, the coals are very few.

    I hope that helps. I am a fan of my Jotul, but I certainly cannot say that buying this stove has been a great experience. I ordered it back in August with the expectation that it would be delivered in Oct / Nov. the latest. I was definitely over promised and under delivered. But hey, I am not whinning.... c'est le vie. I am burning wood and life is good.
  18. jadm

    jadm New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    918
    Loc:
    colorado
    NoYa- Thanks for your reply. I can get my 550 right away because my dealer has 2 in stock. The only problem I am having now is waiting for my sweep to come and check out my clearance space and we just got snow so I have to wait for the weather to clear up again.

    My concern now is, after reading the manual which I got faxed to me, that our chimney isn't tall enough. Reading through install instructions it requires 15' min. and my sweep thinks my chimney isn't that tall.....grrrr.
    If it isn't one thing it is another!!!

    While I wait out the weather I post chimney height questions here so I am armed with info!!!!

    Now that I have finally made my decision about the 550 I do not want to go back out there and start this process all over again. Wears me out!!!
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,561
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Don't worry, there's a solution. If you run a stainless liner up and insulate it, you may be fine with the minimum chimney height. It can even terminate in a rigid ss pipe extension of 2-3 feet. Or you can add an Extend-a-Flue.

    http://www.extendaflue.com/
  20. jadm

    jadm New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    918
    Loc:
    colorado
    BeGreen...I just PMed you in regards to your response to the topic I had about chimney clearances. Sorry, I didn't look at this topic when I went hunting assuming that you had responded on one of my topics....This all gets pretty confusing to a new forum person and one who has very little computer experience too boot.

    I have a ss liner already in place although it is not insulated because it is already in an existing chimney and insulation was not recommended. My sweep/installer does not like the extensions as they attract more creosote due to the temp. differences. He will come out Sat. to get a more accurate measurement.

    I did ask you this in the PM but I will ask again here. Are the chimney heights requirements or are they recommendations?

    I'm going to write down where I am leaving messages so I can keep better track!! I am glad someone out there is on top of things!!!
  21. EddyKilowatt

    EddyKilowatt Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Messages:
    235
    Loc:
    Central Coast California
    NoYa -- You can get dial thermometers with stem lengths in the 12" to 24" range, which would let you put the sensing part of the stem in your flue and the dial on the face of your surround. Flue temp is a great way to monitor how hard your stove is working. Google "dial thermometer" or "tel-tru manufacturing" (they made the one I have and use), you are looking for something industrial strength that will read up into the 750-1000F range.

    Eddy
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,561
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I don't think the installer's concern about adding 2-3 feet to the chimney is justified. However, it won't hurt to try the stove with the existing setup to see how it draws. MIf it's a foot shy of 15ft. my guess is that it might be ok in cold weather, but perhaps lackluster in milder weather. If you get smoke spilling out of the doors and a lazy flame, add to the stack. An extend-a-flue can be retrofitted.

    The difference in creosote buildup with more exterior length should be negligible, especially if good dry wood is burned. EPA stoves just don't put out as much as older stoves do. I have ~7 feet exposed and so far it is a non-issue. Just burn hot enough with good quality wood.

    - BG
  23. jadm

    jadm New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    918
    Loc:
    colorado
    Thanks for reply on my chimney question BeGreen. What do you consider milder weather temps? The temps here range from 0 - mid 40s for typical winter weather and in spring and fall 40's and above.

    Would love more input on an extend-a-flue. Is it just more ss added to the liner as it leaves the chimney?
  24. boostnut

    boostnut Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Messages:
    216
    Loc:
    central IL
    Perplexed, I'm not sure I'd worry too much about your chimney height. No, I'm not an expert by and stretch of the imagination but my Jotul 450 is running without any problems thru a 12' or 13' chimney (uninsulated flex thru an existing interior masonary chimney) . Run whatcha brung and see what happens. You can always add the extension later if needed.
  25. jadm

    jadm New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    918
    Loc:
    colorado
    Boostnut - Thanks for letting me know yours draws fine..

    I'm thinking more that this isn't a code issue as much as it is an operating function ie. how well the unit will pull air through.

    Can someone explain what an extend-a-flue is? I'm thinking that it isn't increased ss liner but rather something like a sleeve made out of ceramic material. The liner I have now is ss and not insulated and it does extend about a foot above my chimney and it has never been a problem. The 550 is a bit bigger than what I have now so there won't be that much difference -that's an uneducated guess. I'm figuring heat is heat and draft is draft..



    NoYa - Another question for you. There is only one review of this stove on this site. He complained about being smoked out when starting up a fire and the smoke coming out of the stove even with the door closed. Have you had this problem?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page