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New Stove Choices (Quality vs Cost)

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by JotulOwner, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. JotulOwner

    JotulOwner Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Messages:
    280
    Loc:
    Long Island, New York
    I am currently shopping for a pellet stove but the extremely wide price range raises a lot of questions regarding my approach to selecting the right stove.

    Everyone wants a product that will do the job and not create a lot of work or cost more than it is worth in the end, but I would appreciate opinions from the forum.

    At one end of the price range I have looked at Summers Heat units at Lowes for less than $1500 and at the other end Harman that can be more than $4000.

    There are the obvious cosmetic quality differences and I would expect a more costly product to perform better (and I know that doesn't always happen), but I don't know enough yet to make an educated decision regarding where to draw the line.

    That is where the opinions from the forum would be greatly appreciated!

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  2. Harman Lover 007

    Harman Lover 007 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
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    1,476
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    Eastern Mass & Lakes Region of Maine
    Have a seat and grab a beer....here we come....you've got lots of options but you won't go wrong with a Harman.....
  3. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

    My opinion. You get what you pay for...
    herdfan2003, DexterDay and Tenn Dave like this.
  4. subsailor

    subsailor Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
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    1,422
    Loc:
    Winthrop, Maine
    Harman here. And I own a Summers Heat 25-PDVC as well. No comparison.
  5. Speed3

    Speed3 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2012
    Messages:
    45
    Loc:
    Southern Maine
    I agree. Overall, you get what you pay for. I think the key when you purchase is that you are beginning a relationship with the dealer just as much as buying a stove. Service after the sale counts.
    IHATEPROPANE likes this.
  6. earl764

    earl764 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Messages:
    124
    Loc:
    CT
    The englanders tend to be well built, have good support if you're ok w/ doing work yourself in the event you have an issue.

    The only complaint I've heard is that A. they may not be the most attractive and B. the fans can be loud.

    A. is obviously subjective. I think they look fine.

    B. is a big one for me. A friend of mine has had one for two+ years. He's looking into trading it in towards another brand with quieter fans. I thought it was loud when I was over his place but didn't want to complain. It wouldn't cut it in my house. The old lady would go nuts.

    I've had good luck w/ the Travis Industry brand Avalon. They also own the Lopi brand.

    To me the big catch w/ pellet stoves can be servicing. Some stove brands(avalon/lopi) it seems you can only get service/support from the dealer you bought from.That's the first question my dealer asks when I call them for any type of service. If you don't plan to work on the stove yourself you'll want to know who you can call ahead of time if you have an issue.
  7. schoondog

    schoondog Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    Messages:
    398
    Loc:
    dutchess county, n.y.
    I bought a US Stove, one of the least expensive stoves made, and its done very well for us. I will be moving up to a better stove soon. I'll sell the 6039 for a few bucks to

    put towards the new stove. It was a great starter stove, It saved us a ton of money, I learned several important lessons. I know now that I will always have a pellet

    stove ( as long as I'm in a cold climate) and when I bought it I didn't know if pellet stoves were going to work for us. Now I have enough info to pick out the stove I want

    and have saved enough over the years to pay for it.

    Schoondog
  8. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,502
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    The major brands are all gonna have their pro's and con's. Harman is probably the most popular brand. Sherwood Industries(enviro-vistaflame-regency) make some nice stoves. Travis Industries(lopi, Avolan) and Quad Get good reviews as well. I'm sure I missed a couple? IMHO most stoves are purchased for that look to match the home decor, So make sure the other half approves.

    The brands that can save you a couple a bucks like, Englander(and clones) have excellent support. Biggest complaint is noisey fans and if you go with them, IMHO stick to the models that have tube type heat exchanger for better efficiency.

    SBI(Drolet, osborn, enerzone) units are getting good reviews and seem to reasonably priced.

    Heatilator are quads inside, But lack an efficient heat exchanger. Spend the extra and go with the Quad.

    IMHO stay away from US Stove and Breckwell(and their clones). Danson might be another to steer away from.

    Keep us posted.
    DexterDay, stayfitz and IHATEPROPANE like this.
  9. Bioburner

    Bioburner Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2012
    Messages:
    4,067
    Loc:
    West central Mn
    Stay away from models that are made in China. Bad enough that companies are using gear motor assemblies from there. Good stoves can be had used if your handy at some extra maintenance to clean up. Seems the most prevalent problem of used stoves is owners not cleaning properly. Of course a easy to maintain stove will probably have less of those issues. A recent search of CL found 5 Harmans for less than half their MSRP. An Accentra like new was only $1200. St.Croix Auburn stoves for less than a grand. I've had now 9 stove makes-models. Seen the growth and use of technology to improve the heat output and decrease of servicing and cleaning. Good luck on your quest
  10. Chain

    Chain Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2009
    Messages:
    285
    Loc:
    Lewis County, New York (upstate)
    One thing I would suggest is take your time with your research and don't pull the trigger too quickly. Also, go to showrooms and see and hear the stove you're researching if possible. I was sort of fortunate when I considered buying a new stove last year as my house had a pellet stove already in it when I bought it back in 2001. As a result, I learned over the years what I liked and didn't like about the Lopi that came with the house. My experiences over the years proved very helpful in my decision to buy a Harman P61A last year.

    The good thing is you've found an excellent website to assist you in your purchase. This place has been a godsend for me over the years and I'm sure it will be for you too. There's a lot of very knowledgeable people in here. Good luck and post again as you explore the various brands, options, etc. out there.
  11. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
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    1,906
    Loc:
    central ct
    whatever you do, don't buy a lennox.....
  12. DoWnAqT

    DoWnAqT Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Messages:
    72
    Loc:
    Dunbarton, NH
    I guess I 'll throw in my 2 cents. When I was shopping, I did tons and tons of research. Whenever I buy anything, I must know know my options and reviews of each option. Like other posters say, you get what you pay for. This is a very good logic for life in general, even when it comes to pellets. Now, the biggest thing I researched, was the size of the ash bin. I didn't want to be emptying the thing every other day, that's a whole lotta work. So needless to say, I found Harman to be the best pick. Superior quality, huge ash bins, bottom feed, temperature probes...and fully auto. I know others can compare, but at the end of the day, the Harman will burn any pellet you buy for it.

    Summary: Spend the money and get the Harman. I know I will not be giving mine up. They will come to the next house with me. If someone is willing to part with it, it's not a great stove.
    zrtmatos likes this.
  13. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Ditto
    zrtmatos likes this.
  14. movemaine

    movemaine Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    Agreed. I did a ton of research before hand, and the Harman was the best I came across. No stove is "set it and forget it", but the Harman is as close to that as possible. Feed it anything, clean it once a week, and you won't be disappointed.
  15. stayfitz

    stayfitz Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
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    295
    Loc:
    Reno, NV
    Which specific budget models have a better heat exchanger system? The Englander 25-EP(I) does... but what about 25-PAH? Or others - Drolet, etc?
  16. StormPanic

    StormPanic Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    140
    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    Regency Greenfire GF55 here. Got it last year for $2400. Couldn't be happier. Stove paid for 1/2 of itself in the first year in reduced oil cost. Overall great stove, easy to clean. Installed in the finished basement of my 2200 SF split entry, heats all of the downstairs and 75% of the upstairs.
  17. kenstogie

    kenstogie Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2012
    Messages:
    416
    Loc:
    Albany (ish)
    I did this (research) recently and purchased one just this morn. I went with an ENglander Refurb, the 55 TRP-IP S. It fit the bill for me and after selling my old one (i Have 2 and the second one is up for sale too ) it won't cost more than a few hundred after the wheeling and dealing is done. Which makes me a happy camper.
  18. hockeypuck

    hockeypuck Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Messages:
    256
    Loc:
    south central NH
    From what a local dealer told me (I did not buy from them.. private sale of a 5 year old stove) they have a lot of them out there and do not have much trouble with them. Yes they can be difficult to remove the exhaust fan for the yearly cleaning but he weekly cleanings are easy. They are nothing fancy but I have not had any issues with mine. Only burned 1.5 tons last year and the owner before never.. never cleaned it. So it was abused but still runs like a champ.
  19. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    This is true. Although some stoves that cost less at fantastic units. This is not majority of them.

    I have bought, owned, burned, and sold quite a few in my short 6 yrs. some cheap ones are Great. Some look great, sound great on paper, but don't put out worth a hoot.

    Search around. See what's available. Quote dealers, and get the best deal.

    Installs can be very easy and straight forward. Money saved on doing that yourself.

    Welcome to the Pellet world and keep us updated :)
  20. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,906
    Loc:
    central ct
    I own one. this will be year 5 of it. probably have 20 tons through it now.

    It works, most the time. it's fineky. the controls are stupid. the leveler blocks the trap door clean out. a 5th grader designed the thing in manualCAD (sic).

    the heat exchanger could be better, the motors hum like an oblong wheel (wahh waah waah waah sound).

    needed 5 different tools to open hatches for cleaning is annoying. And they are all odd ball sizes like 5/32 and 13/64. really?

    the surround has the worst clips to hold it in place. I don't even use them any more. takes forever to get it seated and bt the time you get to the last one, forget it.. its not going to happen.

    If I knew today what I knew when I bought it, I wouldn't own the stove I have, that's for sure.

    I trusted my dealer... and that turned out to be a mistake.

    i'll use it until it can't be used any more, or I move.... whatever comes first.
  21. odiez

    odiez New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    Concord, NH
    I decided to go with quality over cost and went with a Harman. I could have bought a stove for about half the price from Lowes or Home Depot but the quality of the Harman really had me sold. I also like the fact that parts and service are from a local dealer instead of a 1-800 number. I pick up my new Accentra tomorrow :)
  22. stayfitz

    stayfitz Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    Messages:
    295
    Loc:
    Reno, NV
    Nice choice! You'll love it!
  23. Bioburner

    Bioburner Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2012
    Messages:
    4,067
    Loc:
    West central Mn
    I don't think you will regret the choice. The smart tech will keep the room more comfortable and will help be more miserly on pellets. Pretty fair support on the this site so you wont have to be dependent on the dealer.

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