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New to pellet stoves, Looking for help choosing a first time unit and hearth pad.

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by gossipninja, Nov 21, 2007.

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  1. gossipninja

    gossipninja New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
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    Loc:
    ohio
    New to the pellet stove game. I live in northeast ohio, have a 2000 sq ft colonial and am sick of paying so much for natural gas. I have been doing tons of research and have it narrowed down to a breckwell big "e" pellet stove, or a newenglander / summerheat pellet stove with the 240 lbs hopper.
    the breckwell would be around 1400 plus i would save 10% on 3 tons of pellets and 15 bucks on the install piping (about 75 dollars worth of savings)
    the new englander would run 1500 but has the larger hopper already (150 dollar add on to the breckwell, but could live without larger hopper)
    These seem to be the entry level units that still can heat 2200 sq ft. I am partial to new englander because I have spoken with Eric on the phone and he has been extremely helpful, and I like that they seem to cater to end user maintenance and installation. plus the new englander i can get shipped in to my local big box store whereas the breckwell would be a 2 hr trip to pick up (not counting the hassle of bring back 3 tons of pellets). The new englander seems to be the better route (a touch more money but more convenient) Curious as to others opinions on the matter. Is there a major difference in these models? or all they basically the same?

    Also, can pellet stoves NOT rated for multifuel still burn biomass/corn? I know they will not be as effiecient and wont self ignite, but if i did say 80% pellet and 20% other (in my area i can get cherry pits slightly cheaper then wood pellets). I ask because a multifuel rated stove runs 500 bucks more and may not be worth it if biomass does not take off (currently it doesnt seem to be) but in the event some random biomass comes on the market cheap it would be nice to utilize it, even if only as a "mix in" with proper wood pellets.

    Lastly, I was looking to build a micore hearth pad (4ft x 4ft, 1 inch thick) Will I need any sort of covering or tile on top of the micore? Will this hearth pad be enough for the stoves mentioned above? Will I have to worry about the stove weight damaging this micore hearth pad?

    Sorry for throwing so much out there, but once I know these 3 issues (which stove, biomass compatiblitly, hearth pad) I will be able to figure out exactly how I wanna go with all this.

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  2. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I'm surprised Mike from Englander hasn't picked up on this one, he usually goes the extra mile on support questions like this. Probably the holiday, if you haven't heard from him by Tuesday, try giving this thread a bump, and / or send him a PM. I'm not a pellethead, but I will try to help out.

    1. Based on what I've seen Mike doing here on the boards, I'd be favorably inclined towards Englander, although there is nothing wrong with either unit.

    2. I seem to recall that Mike said that a reasonable
    e of biomass fuels will go through an Englander w/o problems, but I'm not sure on the magic ratios, and which alternative fuels work and which ones don't. Perhaps some of the other pellet folks can help on this one.

    3. It sounds like you may be looking at a major overkill on the hearth pad. You need to download the manuals for each unit to see exactly what their requirements are, but IIRC, most pellet stoves only require a "Non-combustible surface" which can be satisfied with a layer of Durock cement board (other brands may work, but Durock is the only one that's officially listed by the MFGR for hearthpads) I believe the area of coverage required is also fairly small, probably under the 4'x4' you mentioned, not that being oversized would hurt anything. That said, Micore by itself is rather "squishy" and won't stand up to traffic, it needs to be covered by Durock, or equivalent. Likewise, the Durock isn't really intended for traffic on it's surface either, it is intended for use as an underlayment. You should cover the Durock with a layer of tile or stone. If this seems like more work than you want to do, there are lots of options for pre-fab pads that you can get for pellet stoves.

    Hope this helps,

    Gooserider
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    Yes, some wood pellet stoves are only rated to burn wood pellets. Although you can venture outside the manufacturer's design, I wouldn't advise it. If a car is designed for a particular fuel, like high-test, you can still run it on the cheapest regular you can find. Most likely it will run poorer and in the long term may even damage the engine, but no one can stop you from doing this. Same with a pellet stove. We occasionally have people complaining about such and such brand of pellet stove, runs like crap, glass gets black, no heat, etc. After lots of posts and questions it turns out they are burning an unspecified fuel that the stove is not designed for like a corn mix. In this case, they've wasted money, not saved it.

    Burn the fuel the stove is designed for and you should be a happy camper. In this case, I would go for the Englander and stick to the recommended fuel.
  4. kinglew

    kinglew Member

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    Loc:
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    go with breckwell less problems .
  5. MrWinkey

    MrWinkey New Member

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    Loc:
    Eastern Washington
    BeGreen is correct....

    If you do things like burn the incorrect fuel in your stove/car/house you need to repeat the mantra.....

    "I am my own warranty station!"

    If you use the correct venting setup you could run some corn through your stove but it's your choice and could void the warranty and cause some other problems.

    Not to mention the problem of more frequent cleaning, higher price of corn and other maint issues I would stick with wood pellets.

    I have tried to find somewhere to burn cherry pits or something else and I can not even find anything in my area for close to the cost of pellets.

    My personal choice is the Englander over the Big E but that's based on looks only. They are both great stoves.

    Did you check the fuel calc on this site to make sure you will save the $$ you hope over natural gas?
  6. vasten

    vasten Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    I live in upstate NY and I purchased a pellet stove thinking the same thought as you. I was sick of paying high gas prices for heat. What I found was shortly after I bought mine so did everyone else in the area. Which started driving up the cost of pellets. The cost of a ton of pellets was pushing 300.00 up from 190.00 and they were being rationed. with all of the hassle of getting them, the skyrocketing cost of the pellets plus factoring in the stove price I ended up paying more per year using both than with just the furnace. It quickly became evident it was not worth it to me. The heat was great it was very enjoyable when the stars and moon aligned.

    Keep this in mind, there is alot of work in handleing and storing those conveniant 40 pound bags of pellets. The maintenance on the stoves are brutal compared to wood. I would have to clean mine 2-3 times a week, that is shutting the stove down long enough to let it cool to get in there and really clean it right out, that is time the furnace is running. Also what the retailers told me after I bought the stove is they are only rated for an outside air temp above 40 degrees. So if you are in an area where the temps drop below that frequently, think long and hard on this one.

    With all of that being said if I was going to do it again I would not buy anything but a harman. I researched every retailer in the area and they are the ones to go with in my opinon. Others may have good products but that is where I would invest my money.
  7. eernest4

    eernest4 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
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    Loc:
    ct
    Go with the stove that has the highest btu rating, or highest sq ft rating. If they are equal, englanderstove.com has way better after sales help.
    I have a 50,000 btu pel pro stove that I run as well as a 150,000 btu wood burner in the basement.

    The pellet stove will handle the house, by itself, down to 20 deg. then I have to kick in some auxizillary help, either the wood burner,the gas stove (4 rings at 6000 btu each=24,000 btu)
    or the oil burner (3.oo/gal x 1.6 gal/hr), so the oil burner is the choice of last resort.

    I paid 4.00 bag for 1 ton of pellets this sept through some creative shopping and use of we will beat the competition's price gaurantee.

    Even at 5.oo a bag, pellets are 14 x less expensive to burn than fuel oil, for my setup. Yours will vary.

    Pellet stoves are very fussy about being clean, and will build up clinkers in the fire pot if your intake air is set 2 low, or your ash pan under the fire pot is full of ashes or you burn low grade pellets or bio fuel. And this is directly proportional to how fast your glass turns black.

    My stove demands a full clean out every 2.5 bags of pellets burned. Yours will vary.
    I have to clean out my wood stove every 3 days too; so 6 of one & half doz. of another.

    The pellet stove is a whole lot easier to opperate, labor wise & time wise, but wood is free.

    Hard to beat paying free.

    A remote thermostat is hard to beat if you want 2 leave your pellet stove opperating all night.
    Your pellet stove will turn on ,self ignite & turn off when room temp is reached & keep your house warm all nite long , while you get a good nite's sleep.

    SO MAKE SURE your pellet stove either comes with this or it can easily be added on, as an extra cost option, because it is something you WILL WANT 2 do.

    Floor protection----- I am both lazy & cheap, 2 of my best points!!! So, i buy 10 inch x 18 inch x 1.5 inch flat cement rectangles from home depot, you can get them in white,red or green,
    & place them on my hardwood floor under the pellet stove and with 18 inch stick out the front
    to catch ashes when I open the door and 1 rectangle under the hot air exhaust duct to provent the floor under the duct from getting warm. cost about $28.oo, looks ok in my living room, but I'm not fancy.

    The bottom of my pellet stove gets 2 hot 2 touch , after a long run !!!!!! So ,I am damed glad I put those cement rectangles down, they keep my floor cool & probally prevent a fire.

    The boards they sell cant take the 350 lb wieght of my pellet stove, they dent, bend & break.

    My friends all use the cement rectangles in their living rooms ,too. So ,I just do what everyone else did.

    You can still glue fancy tiles on to them, on the parts that are exposed to viewing but do not have wieght on them.

    This give you a cheaper job that only look expensive. No tiles under stove when no one can see, just cement rectangles under stove. You look but only see tiles & assume they go all the way under.

    Probably cheaper to buy a $65.oo tile table saw & a small amount of facing tile & just glue it on yourself. harbourfrieght.com sell the saw. Or stick a 12.oo diamond saw blade or masiontry saw blade in your table saw, if you own one.

    i just placed the cement blocks & plop stove down on them, end of job.

    Or you pay comtractor to install, I DIY guy.
  8. MrWinkey

    MrWinkey New Member

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    146
    Loc:
    Eastern Washington
    I can not vouch for other brands of stoves but my stove I clean once a week. I could get by with less but I like to clean the stove more to keep it running well/looking nice. I use a brush to knock the soot off the inside and then I scrape the burn pot and vac out the junk. Cleaning the glass takes the longest. Takes less than 15 min. Every 3 weeks or so I give the stove a better cleaning and that takes slightly longer to empty the ash pan and use a small brush on the blower motor fins and such....less than 45 min.

    Depending on how your house is insulated you can easily have a pellet stove that will heat the house in the coldest weather. My stove is heating my whole house (1800 SQF) tonight with a lows in the single digits. It easily does this.

    If you need a hearth pad several makers have pre-made pads that are a reasonable price. Blocks with tile does not sound like a bad idea tho....

    Checking the price of pellets is important in your area. You may not save that much $$ over gas/oil or you might.....
  9. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky New Member

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    Loc:
    Central Massachusetts
    Not for everybody. Log burning is not a suburban or semi suburban solution for most people, you need at least an acre or two of land.

    Heating with natural gas will never, ever, be as cheap as wood pellets so we can dispense with those calculators. They always underestimate the true cost per therm from Mr. Keyspan who charges me $65/month even in the summer to just heat hot water for two adults and two babies.
  10. Tom D

    Tom D New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    Watertown , Wisconsin
    its 14 deg. out this morning running my harman xxv and love it no problem heating my house. spend about 30 min. a week cleaning glass
    brushing down heat exchanger vaccum ash.house is 1400 square feet. two story house 72 deg. down 66 deg. upstairs.
  11. vasten

    vasten Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    gossip ninja,

    Are you noticing one similarity here, everyone that is pleased with their pellet stove is running a harman. Something to think about worth the drive to haul it back trust me on this one.
  12. jamorris

    jamorris New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2007
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    Loc:
    Ohio
    I have only been burning three weeks, so I can't be too enthusiastic, yet. But, the Dellpoint Europa 75 is not a problem, so far. And it is much less troublesome than a normal wood stove. I can get by almost two days without refueling.

    The Europa 75 is not for everyone. It is expensive. But, the main selling point for me was the 12VDC capability. If the grid ever goes down in the winter, this house is not going to freeze up. And it is rated for wood, corn and wheat. Now that I have experienced the pellet stove, I prefer it over the normal wood stove. But, you are not going to find "free" pellets. Free split wood is almost never free. Free blow downs are findable, but then you need to cut them, transport them, split them and age them.

    So far, the pellet stove has taken the most of the heating chore over. The gas furnace does cycle occasionally, but only during the periods I let the pellet stove go out for cleaning, weekly, BTW. Or, when there is heavy traffic in and out of the house.

    Jerry
  13. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
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    2,512
    Loc:
    South Shore MA
    No harman here.
    Toasty warm burning a St Croix Prescott for the third season.
  14. Kenny1

    Kenny1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Eastern ON
    Vasten - you seem to have had a bad time of it with your pellet stove. That's too bad. Cleaning 2-3 times a week does seem very high. I only put in a bit of time each night when I top up the hopper (give the burn pot a little scrap, wipe the glass if needed). Every ton, I shut down for a full cleaning (let the stove get cold, scrape the heat exchanger, vaccume up the fly ash, dump the ash pan, clean under the burn pot, etc). I don't understand why your dealer would say that pellet stoves can only run woth outside temps above 40 degrees?

    Gosssipnija, you may want to download the manuals for the two stoves you are considering. Check out their hearth pad requirements. Also, check out the required maintanace - see if you are comfortable with what they suggest.

    As for burning other fuels, you may want to be careful. Some fuel (like corn) may be hard on your flue. You may want to check the pipe manufactures web sites for info.

    Good luck!
  15. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    Loc:
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    You may want to reconsider your post. YES, there are many satisfied Harman users, but if we did a roll call, there are a lot of stove owners very satisfied about their stoves from other manufacturers that are very happy, but have no complaints. The problems some are facing with their stoves is a sign of issues with the stoves.

    Just for fun, if you own an AVALON, are you happy with your stoves' performance?? Yes, I own one and am very happy with it's performance and that of my other stoves.
  16. vasten

    vasten Member

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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    guys I am just stating my opinion and my experiance with a pellet stove. I tried to make it clear that it was only my thoughts and opinons.
  17. Kenny1

    Kenny1 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Eastern ON
    I was not trying to get on your case - it's just too bad that you had such problems with your pellet stove.

    I'm sure people want to hear all opinions (good or bad) before making a purchase.

    Cheers

    Kenny
  18. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    actually , ive been "trolling on this thread, as the regulars know, i dont "sell" in the forum for the most part (personal reasons) as for the units mentioned, i didnt see any one that would be a bad choice, i will say though , that i appreciate your giving eric a plug ( he is a promising young tech) as for head to head comparisons, i avoid them , not scared of them, just feel its tacky ( my personal reason for not "selling" in here. the 25-puf is a heck of a unit, so is the breckwell big "e" i'd be remiss if i didnt say that i think we have the best service department in the industry on that im pretty confident, but biased obviously.

    what it boils down to is this, what is desired? what market are you shopping in? are you a handy type? if not then a dealer serviced unit is your choice, quad, harmon, dellpoint are your best choices, but for that service the cost is higher, now if you wish to save some money and are ok with a parts shipped, with phone tech service system , then we at ESW are as good as it gets in my opinion(its my shop and i brag on them any time i get the chance), saying this, i have no idea how well the others in our market support their units , im sure they do a fine job as well. as far as backing our units, just read in here if you wish ,this is a public forum. whichever way you go, im still in here , if its a different brand, i wouldnt hold it against you, and if you have an issue , i'll try to help anyway. if you want to know more about my units , ask, i'll tell you anything you want to know.
  19. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    30 minutes? takes me 15 seconds on the glass ,and about 3 minutes with the loveless ash vac to clean the whole unit (except for the flue , which obviously takes longer), whats getting on the glass that causes that much work? are you getting a clean burn? are you getting the prescribed combustion air?
  20. gossipninja

    gossipninja New Member

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    Loc:
    ohio
    thanks for all the info, I am looking into the englander and will most likely make a tile top hearth pad (may or may not use micore, i hear a single durarock sheet and the tile will be more then enough).
    @stoveguy2esw: any comments on my inquiry on "mix in" mulit fuels? I am aware that any advice you give is from you personally and not the opinion of ESW, moreover would it void the factory warranty? And lastly Mike, do you guys sell on ebay? I saw some units there outta virginia and they sound like factory seconds/scratch and dent? Are those from ESW or someone else?
  21. aweya

    aweya New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    South Shore, MA
    Harman Advance pellet stove owner here and I just want to voice my opinion on whether or not pellet stoves save money. I am convinced they do even considering the payback time on the stove but I really dont care. I would rather pay the same money burning pellets rather than giving it to the oil man and our honest politicians. Its my way of saying to the oil companies "kiss my buttocks".
  22. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

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    Amen. I second the motion.

    We bought our stove with the intentions of supplimental heat for office/basement.
    So far it has exceeded our expectations with heating both the basement and the first floor.
    Not sure of the amount of savings yet, but best part is the furnace has not been on so far this
    season.
  23. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Chazy, NY 12921
    So you are in Ohio I see? Out that way you may get a benefit from being able to burn corn. With that I have to say that while its not cost effective now it may well be in the future as the ethanol boom winds down as it eventually will. 2 years ago I was getting corn for $75 - $100/ton here in ripmeoff NY so I bet it was $60 in your area. I am not sure but you probably can get corn out your way cheaper than wood pellets even now. Corn is hotter corn is dirtier but you can beat the middleman and buy it from farmers and save $$$ if you are willing to do some handling. Like anything else its 6 of one thing half dozen of another but neither corn or pellets are a good deal any more. Nothing is really. My suggestion is to take a look around on the net about what it selling in your area by checking the various forums. Take a good look at the iburncorn.com forum as there is a big pellet and at the bottom, stove specific board there. In all you might do best to go with something multifuel or at least capable of burning others. Versatility is the name of the game these days and who knows where wood pellets are going. After all it was just last year and the year before that you couldn't get them often even at insane prices. Don't forget about that as we all know its as likely to return as not.
    Aside from the warranty issue many if not most stoves seem to burn a pretty hefty mix of corn mixed with pellets. Of course your mileage will vary but using the net you can fairly easily navigate those waters on the advice and experience of others. At least this season you don't have to be in a hurry before they all sell out or backorder you till ( literally) next spring. Take a good look around your area and whats available as well as what its going for before you take the plunge.
  24. ctgregg

    ctgregg New Member

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    Loc:
    ct
    I know I'm a little late to get in on this discussion but thought I would add my 2 cents.
    I live in north west ct. and use a Breckwell p23 as my main source of heat. I am on my 4th year with this stove and have been pretty happy so far. The only problem has been with my blowers. The combustion blower lasted only 1 season. They changed the design and the manufacturer (the original fans were made by fasco). This one seems to be holding up fine and is much quieter than the first. However I am on my 3rd convection blower(also fasco). The 2nd one only lasted 1 month. So i guess my only concern with Breckwell is the quality of some of there components. The stove is very easy to operate and clean,but is not quiet. The convection motor. I know people with Harmans and they are much quieter. I planing on buying a new stove next season and retire this one to the basement. I will be watching this forum to help me decide what brand to purchase next.
  25. packerfan

    packerfan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    frozen tundra
    I'd like to add that I have an Englander, and have been happy with it so far in my first year burning. Also, the people at ESW there were a great help when I called them with a couple of questions when I was doing my install.
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