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Newbie looking for a new wood stove: firebrick vs. no firebrick? best manufacturers?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by chemist44286, Oct 9, 2006.

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  1. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I don't know how you can say the cat stove seems to put out more based on those numbers. Its upper range is higher, but its lower range is also lower than the non-cat, and given both ranges alone, you can't tell which puts out more heat (it would depend on the distribution curve of that range). I would think that the more efficient stove would deliver more heat, and based on max burn time and emissions (reasonably good indicators of efficiency) I would suspect the non-cat wins.

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  2. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Personally, I think your splitting hairs. In the real world I'd bet you couldn't RELIABLY measure a difference in emmissions nor burn times. The variability of the user, wood, outdoor temps, etc... would not allow you to determine a difference.

    If the user left the bypass on the CAT is left open a bit longer than they should, emmissions go up and heat output goes down and there's probably a similar set of variables for a non-cat stove. Like shut down the primary air before the secondary kicks off, and the stove will smoke like a banshee for hours.

    Put wet wood in and you kill both stoves.

    I believe Elk likes tinkering with and paying attention to his stoves more than most around here and for that I applaud him. It's nice, as he gains a lot of knowledge and passes it along.

    Many people will probably misuse a stove and produce more emmisions than Elk does no matter what stove they run. I'm not saying the original poster would do that....

    In the end get the stove your wife likes and you'll be happy with it as long as it heats your house.
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Two weeks ago the head of VC bethel plant opperations and I were having a discussion. I pointer out it being odd that the non cat Encore had the same btus as the resolute Acclaim. This post has come up before and I can post the down loaded owner manual, Shane can also vow that the original Non Cat Encore was listed at 40,000 BTUS. When I went to VC today to confirm the entire site has been re- worked and the new figures for the Non cat encore are now posted to 50,000 btus. I believe this to be a honest mistake
    not BS. In no way was I trying to mislead anyone.

    Back to the debate Why does the EPA hold Cat stoves to a higher cleaner standard than Non Cat stoves?
    What about this for a theory. In autos I can replace OEM parts with after market high preformance parts and increase hp and preformance of engines/ cars. This after market combustor iincreases the secondary burn range temps almost 25%, is it fair to say it increases the over all stove preformance? Using the same precentage as the increased heat range, the new btu rating would 58,250 BTUS. Even if not that much. The secondary burn length is increased, then would it be true it burns cleaner? Could it be that it burns cleaner than the Non cat? There is major Cumbustor technology still occuring. Every car is equiped with one. Corning is a major manufacturer and spends quite a bit for R&D. We may not have seen the best combustors yet ?

    The intrepid II is the stove I am using the aftermarket combustor. 380 degrees was contained within the literature when it arrived. Btw last year I pair $59 for that combustor

    I repeat I did not try to decieve anyone.

    LETS comapare what is the heat range for non cat stoves for secondary burning to initiate it and when it is too cool to ignite.
    the range is not surface temps but interior fire box conbustor chamber temps.
    That is where real comparison can be made. IT is documented that combustors lower the temps that will ingite smoke. What is the temps need in non cat stoves?
  4. recppd

    recppd New Member

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    I'm just glad my Jotul burns well and heats the house with a single air control lever. The whole CAT vs. NON-CAT is a bit confusing at best. As stated in a "sticky" found on this site, the greenhouse effect of burning wood vs. decaying wood is about the same - so where's the issue? I know I'm NO EXPERT, by any means, but when I light my stove, and the wood burns for a long time, and the house gets warm, well - I'm happy...

    BTW, does anyone make a CAT insert for us non-stove owners? And furthermore, can CAT's be retrofitted to a normally NON-CAT stove???
  5. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    VC Winter warm's are CAT inserts.
  6. michaelthomas

    michaelthomas New Member

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    I don't know...I just got a new toaster oven and I sat in the kitchen and just watched it toast piece after piece for the entire first afternoon I had it.


  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    And your glass doesn't get nasty and the door gasket doesn't fall off either I bet.

    There are some kits still available for some models of pre-EPA stoves but not many. None for EPA stoves that I have ever seen.
  8. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Elk - those are good points (lower efficient burn temps, potential for even better cat technology in the future, and lower emissions all from aftermarket cats). I'm sure there is a graph out there somewhere on the internet that shows the temperatures of a typical burn cycle. I too would be interested to know how much time the stove spends between the 380 degree and 500 degree points. 500 degrees is supposedly (according to the CFM techs) the temp at which secondary burn works in the VC non-cat Everburn stoves.

    To the guy that asked about emissions - it has nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), its (mostly) about particulate emissions - that is "smoke" which annoys your neighbors and causes respiratory problems. From what I understand, you will get the same CO2 released from inefficient burns, efficient burns, or NO burns (rotting wood on the forest floor).
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    There are many manufactures claims that. time tested prove to be less than truthfull.
    Original Fiberglass shingles were flawed from the get go many did not 10 years before failure forget the pro rated 20 years it took another 5 years in development to iron out the buggs. Ice and water barrier was suposed to seal the nail penetrations but looses it elasticity value after 5 to 6 years, Tyvek the , breathable house wrap, losses its ability to shed water. Bubble wrap duct insulation is not the stated r value 4.2 but proven to be 1.1 th and it did not pass the flame spread rating. You have based your arguements on marketing hype that is not time tested. CAT combustors in wood stoves have been around close to 25 years I think that is enought time that generalizations and preformance has proven their worth. The Non Cat Encore what 4 months? Time tested and reconised by the industry and the EPA cat stoves burn cleaner, That's why they are held to a higher standard. You called my support BS well time to pony up with time tested results not market hype fo to sell a new product. You requested supporting documentation so do I documentation equal to 20 years time and field results,

    Did you know VC contacted me and offered me their new non cat Encore for testing and evaluation. I refused partly upon principle
    I take great pride in rebuilding an older stove and horsing 450 lbs is not something I want to do often.

    My intent was that a poster dissed cat stoves using BS generalizations. I felt that wrong. Neither you or that poster has supplied time tested evidence to prove cat or non cat stove burn longer better cleaner or use less wood in doing so. The EPA reconised the difference in holding cat stoves toa higher standard and not for one year but for the past 15 year requirement
  10. steffes

    steffes New Member

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    elk, i've just finished reading through this thread to get caught up--i don't have much free time to get online. i've learned far more about cats from your remarks than all the salesmen i spoke with for several months a couple years back when i was shopping around. i was simply passing on stuff i was told by salesman to chemist44286.

    your logic as to why many stores quit pushing the cats years ago clears up alot for me--especially the failure to reduce/match the chimney opening to improve draft issues, outside chimneys, etc. while liners also benefit non-cats, i can see how this is even more critical to a stove with a catalyst! and since many sellers didn't take the time to cover some of these important issues prior to the sale, too many service calls would naturally change what they push out the door!! personally, i think relining should be required by law for inserts in the u.s. like it's been required in canada for some time. i bet we'd have far less chimney fires in the u.s. if we did require relining chimneys for inserts too!

    i probably WILL purchase a cat model next time around--i REALLY like the sound of the 380-500 degree secondary burn. do you think vc will put those better cats in their stoves like the aftermarket industry is producing? also, it sounds very logical that cats would put out more heat per pound of wood! and for the little extra maintenance it really sounds like cats might be worth it to me in the end. others who don't want to be bothered with the little additional maintenance will likely steer clear though, their loss i guess!

    i'm curious what your thoughts are between choosing steel over cast iron, and vice versa. chemist44286 might like to know and since i'm new to woodburning in general, i'd value your thoughts on the steel -vs- cast iron matter too for the next time i buy another woodstove. most stoves sold around dayton, ohio are made of steel so i never bothered researching that aspect, but i'm guessing you've used both steel and cast iron in your day or at least have some thoughts on the subject.

    finally, thanks for your reply on my post regarding cleaning my flexible liner for the first time too. i don't know exactly what type of lightweight s/s liner i have, but it's nothing like the heavy stuff our local buck stove dealer installs for $100/foot! hopefully, mine is that 316ti stuff i've read so many good things about.

    take care
  11. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Actually almost every fire place flue used code does require a full liner. The code was changed is 2003 to reflect the location of the chimney. IF the chimney is an interior chimney onve can vent into an NFPA approved chimney up to 3 times the ctoss-sectional area of the flue collar. However if any of the chimney wall are exposed to the sxterior below the roof line then one can only vent into a flue 2x the area Most fireplaces have 8/12 flues or 12/12

    cross-ectional area of the common 12/8 flue is 76" sq

    cross-ectional area of the common 12/12 flue is 98" sq

    6" round flue collar = 28.25" sq 2X -56.50" 3X = 84.75"

    so a 6" flue collar can only be direct connected in an interior 8/12 clay fire place flue all other applications require a full liner
    no 6' flue collar appliance can be vented into any 12/12.

    All bets are off for the 8" flue collar stoves Since most of today's stoves 6' collars.

    I will let all the math inclined to finish up the 8" flue collar cross-sections

    Cast vs steel and soap stove debates like the cat vs non cat debates have been discussed to death here in the past

    Generally steel plate stoves heat up quicker and cool down quicker and cost less

    cast iron stoves take longer to heat up but hold the heat longer and usually cost more

    Soapstone is a combination of cast and the added properties of soapstone. They tend to take a while to get up to
    heat producing temps. Emit a gentler even heat and store and disipates heat longer that than plain cast iron.
    they tend to be more expensive than cast iron stoves.

    If you want to bring a room up to temp in a short while soap stone is going to take a while.

    there is one stove that is a cat and soapstove

    I really like the thermoatically controls of the secondary air inlet. It regulates for longer productive heat automatically
    might even out perform soap stone, Getting a cat to produce secondary burn down to 380 degrees thermatically controled and soapstomne would be a good match. Buying a PE make PE happy and also Spike, plus a damn good stove
  12. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Maybe not, but you pay TWICE as much for the stove and its glass isn't protected at all (by andirons), glass apparently DOES get dirty and gaskets have problems, ash pan is tiny, and it has even bigger problems (like cracks!). No thanks.

    http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate300.html
    Dislikes: I have had to replace the rear burn plate twice, and it needs to be replaced again.Every time the burn plate cracks the catilest gets damaged.
    Comments: The manufacturer will not help or even respond to my letters. Now I can't find a dealerto replace the damaged plate.

    http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate1841.html
    Dislikes: Damper has only two setings + or - . I think it should have more even though the stove does burn well when hot, its just hard to start a fire I have to keep the door open and continue to blow on it. Damper handle gets real hot so to the wood handles I have to use a welding glove or it's to easy to get burned. Logs and embers roll out the front door, needs some pegs to prevent this.

    http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate846.html
    Dislikes: 1.The ash pan is too small; I must remember to empty it often because if it fills up it spills into the tray compartment when I remove the pan, and I have to carefully remove all the ashes in the compartment or else I'll never get the ash door shut.
    2. The top plate cracked at the top knock out grooves after two seasons. Jotul gave me a new plate without any trouble, and the new one doesn't have the grooves so I hope it will last.
    3. I ash pan door gasket is a source of trouble. If the seal is not very tight, excess air enters through the door and overfires the stove. It also interrupts the air flow over glass door and causes the glass too soot up.
    4. I've never been able to get a burn to last more than 4 hours, and there are only a few coals left at that. It is not a very large stove, so one just can't get much wood into it, so I am not surprised.

    http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate1796.html
    Dislikes: corners of glass always dirty and stove is airtight, ashpan too small, advertised burn times exaggerated.

    http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate683.html
    Dislikes: build-up of film on glass - not very easy to keep clean and clear

    http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate1442.html
    Dislikes: small firebox, can easily overfire, no back interior heatshield, frequent loading
  13. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Elk - I agree with you on the "time tested" aspect when it comes to NEW designs. But EPA phase II certified non-cat stoves have been sold in the United States for 14 years now - that's a pretty good interval for study.

    Your statement: "EPA cat stoves burn cleaner, That's why they are held to a higher standard"
    is not true and doesn't even make sense. The EPA does not require stricter emissions standards for cat stoves because they burn cleaner, it is because their emissions ratings deteriorate over time (i.e. they burn LESS cleanly every year until you replace the cat). The EPA has to hold them to a stricter INITIAL standard because of this.


    Here's one analysis on the effects of age on emissions from both cat and non-cat stoves:
    http://hometown.aol.com/snewsmail/epasays.htm
    "The average emissions rate for the five chimney sweep maintained woodstove systems was 4.8 grams per hour (g/hr). This is very close to the average certification value, 4.2 g/hr, derived in laboratory testing for those stove models. All of these stoves were non-catalytic models. The certification threshold for EPA Phase 2 certified non-catalytic stoves is 7.5 g/hr.

    "The average emissions rate for the 11 stoves with unknown maintenance histories was 13.8 g/hr, while the average certification value for those stoves was 3.9 g/hr. These stoves included five catalytic models. The certification threshold for Phase 2 catalytic stoves is 4.1 g/hr."
  14. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Didn't know VC offered you a new non-cat Encore to test....I'd have taken that one....would have been glad to subcontract for you. :) If they every offer an Intrepid II cat or non-cat...pass them my name. I'd love to try one of them in my basement. <edit> by the way...ever notice that they don't list a non-cat Intrepid II anymore on the website? What's up with that?
  15. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Got to hand it to you, you never give up! I've read those tests also, you may be right on the degrading of cats every year. Maybe the newer cats are better? Alot depends on the person burning the stove. Anyway we will all stay warm this winter no matter which stove we burn.

    I think your smart to make sure you have dry wood so you won't be disapointed in your new stove. Maybe you can store some inside next to your stove to help suck some moisture out. I keep a weeks worth next to mine and it acts like a kiln.
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Tradergordo:

    "http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate394.html
    Dislikes: Does not work properly. Smells and stinks going on three years."

    Cat or non-cat probably had little to do with that gas stove stinking. Just a guess, you see.
  17. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    You are guilty of cherry picking what you want from the article and omitting other facts. The gust of the article was proper maintained and proper wood usage stoves reflected the best results. There is no mention of mantainance on the 5 cat stoves no refference whether the cats were clean when they were replaced. No history on whether the owner had burnt moist wood before the test clogging the cat combustors. An Interesting article but does not support you stand infact weaked you arguements. You admit the off market cats light off in a range non ore OEM cats can not that produces heat and burns up particulates extending that range almost 25%. My wood will burn different than yours. when I go to the piles I have mixed species no two loads are the same This wis why testing like this study is hard to determine. Even ash clean out can effect stove preformance. the key is burning good wood and knowing how to get the optium preformance out of the stove. I know how to tweak my two cat stoves your are right for the novice
    burner t a Cat may not be there best solution How many post do we have about dampering down and burning habits. No stove is idiot proof. Unlike cars there is only one type of stove a part can be changed that improves performance Hopefully R&D will continue and futher enhance the Cat combustor Stalemate ok till the next time these generalizations occure
  18. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Summarize all this for a wiki? :)

    One objection: you said "extending that range almost 25%". The range of high efficiency heating might be extended with a cat that lights off at 380 - but what percentage of time this represents in a total typical burn cycle, or how many additional BTUs are produced remains a totally unanswered question. One reason the lower combuster light off temp might not make a huge difference is because the combustor will only continue to burn smoke for as long as there is smoke to be burned. By the time the fire has died down to coals in the morning, there is very little smoke remaining. I haven't seen any data/research showing the benefits of new cat technology, or even personal anecdotes from woodburners. I also haven't seen any evidence for the 380 degree figure (which could turn out to be the same kind of marketing hype you object to).

    Either way, you are right about maintenance being important for any stove. Seeing as how the average person tends to neglect maintenance, the average person may be better off with a stove that is less susceptible to neglect. For someone who isn't likely to neglect their stove and doesn't mind paying for replacement cats, the cat models sound like they may have at least one advantage.


  19. Chuck

    Chuck New Member

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    I use to be a frequent member or writer into this forum for the pass five years. I spend over six months of heavy research into choosing my third woodstove and I been using wood heat since 1978. Basically save yourself a lot of time and trouble. Look at the ratings for WoodStock Soapstone Stoves. They have the highest ratings of any stove on the market by costumers like you and me period.

    Chuck
  20. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    chuck welcome back real long time no hear from
  21. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Welcome back Chuck,
    Your advice was one of the main reasons I went with the Fireview. You were right. Thanks
  22. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    But. But. But you guys can't be happy with your stoves. They use a cat!!
  23. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I looked into Woodstock, received their video and info packet. They are really beautiful stoves. I wasn't really sold on the soapstone concept though. One comment from a review sums it up: "When completly cold it takes 4-6 hours to start feeling the heat.". I guess if you have it continuously running that's not a big deal though. I thought cast iron was a decent trade off between steel and stone.

    You are right though, woodstock probably has the best overall set of reviews compared to ALL other manufacturers. The only real complaints are the high price, the weight (who cares?), the slow "warm ups", and the fact that they don't make a bigger stove for heating larger spaces (this was the biggest factor for me). And of course, you have to replace cats :)

    From their own website, they say the fireview only heats up to 1600 square feet. And it costs $2529 (delivered). Replacement cats are $92.50.
  24. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    It does not take 4-6 hrs for the stove to heat up. Who ever wrote that must live in a tent. Sure you don't feel the blasting seering heat right away like a steel/iron stove, but you can take the chill off in an hour or two. From a cold start I can get mine up to 500 degrees in 1 hr.

    Also the manual states heats up to 1600 sq ft OR MORE depending on climate, insulation, and other factors. They will heat more than that, other people have stated so including me. They are the only manufacture that doesn't overstate their numbers that I have seen.

    Yes they are expensive, but end up paying for themselves if you look at the high cost of other heating options.
  25. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    I have a Woodstock Keystone and 4 hour heat up time is ridiculous. Like others said, from stone cold to 500 is no problem in an hour. And Headhunter is right, once the thing is up to temp, engage the cat, throttle back, and don't mess with it for HOURS.
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