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New HI300 Insert owner

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Cheeks, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Cheeks

    Cheeks New Member

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    Hi, i've been perusing the forum for a few weeks and have actually read every thread with HI300 in it. Thanks for all of the information - it's been helpful with our new HI300 (my wife and I bought it as a wedding gift to ourselves!). I registered today because I do have some remaining questions. Sorry they are so long, but hopefully a future newbie will find this helpful.

    1. We had a fireplace with a damper control. Upon installation of our insert they removed the knob. I'm assuming they just left it open and that there is no need to adjust the insert flue. Please let me know if I should have control of the flue or if it just always stays open. (at least we don't have the draft we had with the fireplace).

    2. We're thinking of getting a "steamer" for the top ledge. I know it does not get as hot as the actual firebox, however. Does anyone have experience with these (plowhearth.com has a bunch). We need more moisture in the air but I don't want to waste $70 if it never steams.

    3. I've read a lot about temperature and thermometers but still experimenting. I have a magnetic woodsaver but the package says it is for the flue. I put it on the center of the door and it tends to fluctuate between 230 and 320f. When I put it on the box where the air comes out it was much higher and in the "wasting fuel" area of the thermometer. First question - does it matter if it says for a flue? Second - what temperature should I aim for? (and final, rhetorical question - why the heck doesn't hampton/regency just build it with a thermometer? this is 2012 and i have to use a flashlight to figure this out?!)

    4. How much wood do people burn in a season? I'm in Massachusetts and have 1800 sq ft. of living space. So far I can keep the ground floor at 65f and about 60f upstairs so I may have to burn more, or hotter. I have about 1.5 cords outside of mostly maple that I cut 1.5 years ago. I bought a moisture meter on amazon and find it is about 20% outside, 14% outside but under the deck, and once I bring it inside it drops to about 10% within a day or two. I never burn anything higher than 15%.

    5. It seems most common for people to fully load the stove, let it go through the burn cycle and then to reload it. But does anyone throw a log (split) on here and there? Which is more efficient?

    6. Speaking of efficiency, is it better to burn less wood hotter, or more wood cooler? Should I load it fully, get it really hot and then close down the air slowly? IF the house is cold, should I have the air control fully open with a lot of wood and fans on high to best heat?

    7. From what i've gathered, the secondary burn happens in the back top of the stove when the stove is really hot and the air flow is cut down. Is this something to strive for? It seems to me that it would indicate the fire is not burning efficiently if there is extra combustibles trying to leave the stove.

    8. I didn't watch the installation and don't really know how a wood burning stove works. I'm curious about the airflow. Where does the fresh air come in (airflow control)? Should I be concerned about ashes blocking the entry point? When the secondary burn happens, where is that air coming from? I know when the fire is big the flames are leaving in the front, top. What are the tubes on the top with all the holes? What do they do?

    Thanks in advance for any helpful responses.

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    1. I would say that it's no longer functional and to forget about it.
    2. I don't have one but it could scratch the paint.
    3. I use an infrared gun, but mostly just use my eyes ears and nose.
    4. 4 cords.
    5. You will have to do what you have to do, but it's more stinky.
    6. I would say not all the way open especially since the air control rod also does the startup air.
    7. I think it happens naturally when you are burning efficiently.
    8. There is a hole in the doghouse that lets in primary air. I'm not sure where the secondary air comes from but I don't think you can block the opening.
  3. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Congrats on the new stove. Just a tip when loading the stove load only to the top of the bricks on the side of the fire box, you need an air gap in between the wood and the burn tubes up top for proper combustion of gases. This will also stop you from over loading the stove. Good luck and we need pics of your install.
  4. TTigano

    TTigano Member

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    Congrats. I have the same stove and love it. Here are my opinions for you.
    1. Don't worry about damper. Call the installer and ask if they installed a full stainless liner.
    2. I would put a humidifier in the room as I'm sure you won't get the results your looking for with a steamer.
    3. I would go out and get a "stovetop" thermometer so you can accurately monitor the temps.
    4. I havent used my stove for an entire full season yet but I'm estimating 4 cord. ( I'm trying to heat entire house).
    5. I would load stove full and complete a load. This is more efficient than loading a piece every couple hours.
    6. Burn a full load hot to produce less creosote and more heat. Fan choice is up to you.
    7. The secondary burn happens by secondary air (not controllable). When the stove gets hot, gasses are released from the wood and the secondary air and heat make them burn. This is your secondary burn and makes some serious heat! You want this to happen as long as possible. Accomplish this by turning air down on HOT stove.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  5. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    A steamer will work just fine, but look into getting a HALF steamer. A full steamer may look nicer, but it won't sit on the top correctly. Make sure you get a trivet as well, to protect the paint...
    etiger2007 likes this.
  6. lakeburner

    lakeburner New Member

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    Hey guys, I actually just had the same stove installed this past week. Love it, Love it. Been dropping down into the 20's here at night and the house has been steady warm at around 70-75deg. My wife and kids like it a bit warm. Been starting it up with a hot quick burn with nice kindling, then loading it half to really get it going, and then loading full for the extended burn. I am still learning the damper but I feel so far I have been unable to go any further than about half down without losing flame all together. Did a few small burns in the beginning for nice break in fires, got the smell to wear off, and now am able to get it hot. Ordered a thermometer, waiting on that to be sure I am getting the most out of each load. Have been checking the chimney outside on the regular, and not seeing much smoke, so I know the wood is burning clean and efficient. Cheeks I love this stove and I hope you do as well after learning the in's and outs.
    raybonz and etiger2007 like this.
  7. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I really love it too so far. Lakeburner, maybe your wood is a ittle on the moist side because you should be able to go down more than halfway after getting things hot while burning at a higher air setting.
  8. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Congrats Cheeks! Where in Mass. are you located? Be sure to post some pics of your install and welcome to the forum!

    Ray
  9. MetMan

    MetMan Member

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    Cheeks,

    Glad you like the insert. This is my fourth season with an HI300 so I can offer some advice:

    2. I tried a kettle on the front ledge but it evaporated less than half during the day--it just doesn't get that hot up there when you're running the fan. A humidifier would be more effective IMO.

    3. I've never really needed a thermometer, though I have an IR thermometer (check out Harbor Freight if you have one nearby) that I use occasionally for fun. I point it at the lower right portion of the glass and the max temp I get is ~ 750F when it's really cooking. I find it easy enough to go by the looks of the fire to adjust the air.

    4. I burn 4-5 cords in a 2400 sq ft drafty, poorly insulated house (western NY). Are you checking moisture content on the outside of splits or on freshly split splits? Generally you want to split a split and then measure one of the fresh faces to get a good idea of your moisture content.

    5 and 6. I generally burn full loads. When I have to top off the stove before leaving the house, I try to fill it as full as possible and leave my self enough time to get settled in and close down the air. The most efficient fire is the one that burns most completely using the least amount of air so I think it's most efficient to load fully and go through the full burn cycle.

    7. The secondary burn is what makes EPA stoves so efficient. The stove has a primary air inlet controlled by the air control and a secondary inlet that is just a hole in the stove that provides air to the secondary burn tubes. As the stove gets hot, turn the air down gradually (I usually do it by quarters) and as you restrict the air, the secondaries kick in when the stove gets hot enough.

    8. The manual describes the air flow and how the stove works. You can find it here:

    http://www.regency-fire.com/Files/Manuals/HI300-918-240.aspx

    Hope this helps!
    raybonz likes this.
  10. sbattert

    sbattert New Member

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    Congrats on your new stove, you're going to love it. Generally speaking, when you open the doors, you let heat/air escape up the chimney, so while it may need more fuel at the end of the cycle, if you can wait then you will save on wood.

    I have the Rutland magnetic thermometer they sell on amazon. I filled mine up 80% yesterday at 6pm for the last cycle of the day and had it rip roaring, red tubes rolling secondary flames. I closed it down and put the fan on high trying to keep it under 600F. This morning it was still warm. At 11am, I raked the coals up front and put some wood on it and closed the door and left it alone for about an hour when it started itself. There's a simple joy in seeing that happen. Not really sure why, but it makes you feel like you accomplished something.

    It takes practice to get the cycle right because there are so many variables. There's definitely a delayed reaction and it's kind of like rolling a ball on a plate. If you don't cut the air down soon enough, it gets red tubes. (Red tubes are okay, but kind of a warning sign. Red stovetop is a red flag.) If you cut the air too soon, then you lose your secondary burn because there's not enough oxygen to combust the smoke. The secondary burns the smoke as fuel, so it makes it even hotter. Cutting down the air can actually make it hotter in the short term because you are containing the hot air and letting less hot air up the chimney. In the long term, cutting down the air cools the stove down because you are giving the fire less oxygen. It also consumes less fuel, so it lasts longer.

    One thing to note, you need a bed of ashes on this stove. I cleaned it out good this season and my first burn filled the room with smoke. Second thing, I used to try to get a good fire going late at night. Then I would be up until two waiting for it to settle down.
    raybonz likes this.
  11. sbattert

    sbattert New Member

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  12. Cheeks

    Cheeks New Member

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    Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

    Thanks for all of the replies and feedback - very helpful. Some thoughts:
    1. flue -no further comment

    2. Steamer - those who thought it might be a waste of money were right. It just doesn't get hot enough to really steam, and even after two days I haven't had to add water. Unfortunately the wife already ordered one. As for scratching the paint (Daksy), we just plan on filling it up with a plant waterer so we don't have to move it. We went without the trivet since that would make it even less hot. The full steamer does fit on the huge HI300 ledge though.

    3. Thermometer - I still haven't purchased a new thermometer, but here is what i did. I used white out to make two lines on the outside edge where it goes from 'creosote' to ' good range' and then one where it borders on 'wasting wood'. I then bent one part of the indicator up with needle nose pliers and put white out on that. So as it moves it can be seen from the front of the stove since it is above the rest of the thermometer. I put it on the box inside where the air exits when the fan is on. I don't really worry so much about what the temperature is, but it's a good general indicator. At 9 or 10 o'clock position the secondary burners are usually going and it's kicking out a ton of heat. (it's upside down so the indicator is closer to the front, so left is hotter). At 6 o'clock I usually reload or open up the air to burn off this load before reloading. I can see the white indicator in the day but still need a flashlight at night.

    4. Wood - 4 cords seems to be consensus. We're going to buy more next week.

    5. Loading wood - seems most of you recommend fully loading and doing cycles. I've tried this and it seems be the way to go. I fully load (up to top of bricks as etiger mentioned), let her rip until I see secondary burn and the temp is really high, then I close it down 1/4 at a time until i'm .5 to 1" out. I look for the lazy flames and some secondary burning. Before, I was going from fully open to fully closed. Key tip for newbies...do it gradually and let the fire recover.

    6. efficiency - consensus is that hot and smaller is better. I think just hot is better regardless of size.

    7. secondary burn - Ok, so this is a good thing that creates a lot of heat and uses the wood more efficiently. If you're not seeing this do you open the air up more?

    8. how it works - I still don't have all of my answers here but I have learned a few things. I think the fresh air comes in from the holes by the glass. This is why so many people recommend pulling coals up before reloading. They will finish burning off and help to bring newly loaded wood to combustion temps. I believe it is also "glass cleaning" or keep smoke off the glass. The tubes on top are for the secondary burn- I have to assume this air is coming from where the smoke/air is leaving the box. Is there a pump? The smoke exits top front, goes back a ways and then up the flue. The fan circulates air around the box and out the front.

    I've added a picture of the install to this and made it my avatar. The dog loves laying there. Notice my sweet secondary burn.

    Raybonz - we're on the south shore of Boston. You?

    A note of the fan: I always have it at least on low (when the auto kicks in). But when things are getting really hot I put it on high to extract more heat and to cool down the box. I'm not sure how much of an effect it has but i assume if more heat is coming out the front that it is being extracted from the box.

    One last question. Let's say the house is cold and I want to heat it as fast as possible. I put a full load in and the stove gets up to a good/hot temperature. Is it better to start cutting down the air for a secondary burn or just let her rip and put the fan on high?

    -Cheeks

    Attached Files:

    raybonz likes this.
  13. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    It looks perfect!
    I'd say it's better to cut it down. Depends on how dry your wood is and what the fire is doing. Don't forget though, fully extended is startup mode.
  14. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Cheeks we hope you had a great Thanksgiving as well, sounds like you are doing very well with the new stove.
  15. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    <<<<<<<<<<<<<Carver, Mass. here as shown in my avatar :)

    Ray
  16. ember1205

    ember1205 New Member

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    Steamers are worthless, and they WILL scratch your paint. Using a trivet underneath will protect the paint, but it will make the steamer even more worthless by further reducing the amount of heat that transfers from the stove. My wife insisted on getting one and not the shelf of our stove is scratched badly. She, like you, never removed it from the shelf to fill. But, every time you open the door, it makes that shelf vibrate a little, and that ends up making the bottom of it scratch the paint.

    How much wood you burn is dependent on a number of things. Last year, I burned 2.5 cord all season. This year, I've gone through 4 since mid-October and the real cold hasn't even begun. My house is 2600 square feet, single story, and wood is my primary heat source from this insert (I use a corner doorway fan on each end of my family room to draw the warm air out into other areas of the house).

    Regardless of how much wood is in the firebox, you want it actually burning and not just smoldering. You need to have full flames to ensure that the creosote is getting burned off or you'll end up clogging your flue and creating a fire hazard.

    In a former house, I had a catalyst-based, free-standing wood stove that I felt was IMMENSELY more efficient than this insert. The internal temps of the stove were 1200-1400 degrees under full burn, and it would easily heat my entire raised ranch to 75 degrees in the coldest parts of winter (single digit temps). My Hampton insert works, but is not as nice as that free-standing stove was. I find the biggest issue to be that I have to clean the ashes out every few days or it simply doesn't burn right. And that basically requires almost shutting the stove down. It's definitely the most disappointing part about it.

    I burn EcoBricks in mine along with wood for overnight burns. The ones from TSC were "ok", but the tru EcoBricks are better (for about the same price). You definitely have to be careful with them, though, because they will overfire your stove if you aren't paying attention. The damper must be closed down MUCH further than when burning just wood. They do an excellent job of slowing the burn rate while keeping the temp high, though. I will often make a point of cleaning the stove after a lengthy burn with a couple of those bricks installed as it results in the ash being much finer with fewer coals.
  17. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Ember I bought some ECO bricks from TSC last year to try them out.. They say ECO right on the brick so how are they different? I didn't really need them but was curious and they work well. They were a much better deal last year you now get 6 for the price of 8 last year so that's a 20% increase in price!

    Ray
  18. egclassic

    egclassic Feeling the Heat

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    Oh Yes, this happens to me all too often. I don't think this stove likes Oak for some reason. Everytime I put a split of oak mixed in with other woods (ash, walnut etc), this stove seems to go nuclear, perhaps it's just me, but it almost never happens unless there is oak present. I really like this stove and I'm sure you will too.
    I have a steamer and like others have stated, it does not work very well, we generally just use it to put scented wax in for some nice fragrance one in a while.
    Do yourself a favor and do full loads, or at least 4 splits at a time. Partial loads(one or two splits) won't burn properly and just result in you wasting wood, been there done that!
    One more note, Check your glass gasket. They postioned the seam in the middle of the top of the glass on mine and I think it is leaking, it is slightly frayed. This may be some of my issues regarding overfiring.
    Enjoy your new stove!
  19. TTigano

    TTigano Member

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    TSC has had different brands of "Eco-bricks".....I also have once bought the brand "Eco-bricks" from tractor supply only to go ack a few weeks later and find some other form that I didn't care for as much.
  20. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Now, with the colder weather, burning down the coals and emptying ash is an issue. I let it burn down yesterday pretty well and emptied the whole thing. I like the fact that the firebox is so much bigger without all the ashes and it works just fine.
  21. ember1205

    ember1205 New Member

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    This is the biggest issue. TSC is a dealer for the actual Eco Brick brand, but it appears that only a small percentage of the stores actually ever have them. The off-brand ones do not burn as hot or as long. And, for the same cost, I'll but the name brand ones from a local company near me.
  22. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    These say ECO stamped into the brick.. Heavy and dense..

    Ray
  23. ember1205

    ember1205 New Member

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    You got the 'real' ones. The ones I bought from TSC were NOT EcoBricks and didn't burn anywhere near as nicely.

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