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)

Pellet Stove Debate

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by ynotwood, Oct 26, 2007.

?

Which is best Pellet insert for 1600sq ft home with oil heat

  1. Harman Accentra

    44.7%
  2. Rika Astroflamm

    3.9%
  3. Lopi Pioneer Bay

    7.9%
  4. Enviro Empress

    7.9%
  5. None- stick with oil

    35.5%
  6. Other Brand

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ynotwood

    ynotwood New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE MA
    Debating on pellet fireplace insert.

    1600sq ft home with forced hot air by oil, used 600 gals 2006/07, 900 gals 2005/06. Just paid $2.90 per gallon for 200 gallons. Ouch!
    Also have 400sqft addition on opposite side of house away from existing fireplace, heated by Vermont Castings Resolute Stove, with 80sqft sunroom that sucks heat out.

    In winter we burn nightly (both of us work). Wife has trouble lighting stove, or forgets to add wood to a prepared to-be-lit fire because distracted by kids. The 400sq ft addition has a cathedral ceiling with fan that we run when stove fully up to temp.

    Pellet stove seems to offer self-ignition (for my wife), self-feeding, easy cleaning, burn efficiency, consistent 24 hr heating. I’m sure I do not need to tell any of you this.
    Questions:
    1) What is the best pellet insert for my home?
    2) Harman Accentra seems to be the only feed-below system. Of course one store says this is the best way, the other (nonHarman dealer) says this is the weakness of the Harman system. The Harman dealer says that the top feeders have a problem during the self-cleaning of the stove. Is there a big difference between top and bottom pellet feeding fireplace inserts?
    3) I do not have space in finished basement for a ton of pellets. Can they be stored in yard (no shed)?
    4) Do these products cost less off-season? The stores say no.
    5) Prices are tough to bear. Harman Accentra: $3000, Lopi Yankee Bay $3000, Rika Astroflamm Integra II $3800, Enviro $2500 Plus $1000 installation, plus $270 per ton of pellets. So I figure I am in it for $5000 so it will take me 3-4 years to break even. Is this about right?
    6) Maintenance: Stores suggest cleaning by a technician one time per year at $125 per year. Is this necessary? I currently clean the stove flue every fall with a brush and am done for the year.
    7) Closest store to me in SE Mass is Kirley Masonry in Mansfield MA, next is in Norwood for the Harmans; Lopi/Astroflamm/Enviro are in Middleboro. Any suggestions for others locally?

    BTW one dealer swears that after I get a pellet stove I will trade in the wood stove within a year for another pellet stove.
    Thanks to all.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    30,332
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Well, the poll does not include the Englander 25-PDVC for $1,200 at your local big box store. And three hundred for the pipe kit.

    As to cleaning. Pellet stoves are more finicky about cleaning than a wood stove. Your wood stove blower won't shut down just because you didn't clean the stove out.
  3. sparkydog00

    sparkydog00 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    335
    Loc:
    N. Central Mass
    Hmmm.
    My first post and I think i can be of service to someone here.
    I just moved up from a Lopi Pioneer Bay Insert to a Harmen Accentra.
    The Lopi was a good little stove. Its down side was its contant need of maintance.
    It was labor intensive to get to run right.
    Constant cleaning (the ashpot really is annoyingly small), the jet wash for the glass was almost usless (so the glass needed to be cleaned daily).
    This stove was also top fed. So it was very picky about the pellets it burned. All top fed stoves are very sensitive to crappy pellets. Pellets vary in quality (even when you buy them buy the ton). That said the Lopi adaquately heated my 1600 sft condo. It serviced my house flawlessly for 5 years. We burned an average of 2.5 to 3 tons a year. It needed love and care every year (replace gaskets and such) and did have a auger motor replaced (not because it was bad but because the stove technician that came to repair my stove was a crook...watch out for them...they can be worse than used car salesmen). But I would say my Lopi experience was a pleasant one.
    Now for my Harmen experience.
    Just got the stove and have only burned approx. 200 lbs of New England Wood Pellets.
    This stove cracks out about 2x as much heat as the Lopi did. The stove is cast iron and it heats like a stove should. The Lopi really only heated the air (not much of a radiator). The Harmen has a auto light room temp mode that seems to keep my living room (where the stove is installed) at a constant 72 degrees. It will cycle the flames on and off to maintain that temp. Rather cool feature. Now my picking with the Harmen.... Damn the Auger motor and the blower motors are loud. When the blower is on high it actually rumbles my living room floor. The Lopi was extremely quiet. But just makes me turn the music up more. The Harmen is a truly nice looking stove in the tradtitional stove sense. Where as the Lopi was more modern looking. The Harmen is a bottom feeder so the pellets quality isn't as much of a concern. And the ashpot is huge (gotta love that). It says it can hold the ash from a burnt ton.
    So I would buy the Harmen over the Lopi for the heat output and the bottom feed feature.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,141
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Not to be coy, Sparky - but how can heck can you rate a stove when you've burned 200 lbs in it in the warmest summer and early fall I've ever seen? Not to say that the Harman is not a beast, but you cannot compare until you've gone through an entire year and see how many pellets you burn.

    Anyway, perception is everything. And so is efficiency. Given that these two brands probably test closely in efficiency, they would put out equal heat for the same lbs of pellets burned.

    Anyway, back to the Pellet debate - you can find many LONG threads here about the pellets vs. oil vs. other fuels, but the short and sweet is this. You are not going to save a lot of money and a $4000 stove installation is unlikely to pay for itself. That is because the price of Pellets is likely to be within 20% of the price of oil over the years. An approx guide is that $300 a ton pellets equal $2.50 a gallon oil. When you consider the work hauling the pellets, cleaning the stove, etc.- so you might save a couple hundred a year, which would be how much that 4K would make in the stock market!

    But, the other side of the coin is that your big screen TV, iPod, the electric windows in your car, your vacation, and your granite counter-top do not pay for themselves either (just as examples). A lot of people feel that by burning pellets they are supporting local renewable fuels and also small business (stove companies, pellet sellers, etc.) - they also want a FIRE.

    Oh, your boat doesn't pay for itself either, neither does the snowmobile or camp on the lake.

    But PLEASURE is our principle, and that is to some degree why people buy wood stoves, gas stoves and pellet stoves...and sometimes even coal stoves, although it could be argued that coal and free wood can save quite a bit of money.

    So, the same advice which most of our users take - if you WANT a pellet stove - dag gone it, get one! If you have the bucks for a Harman (due diligence, the company just got bought out - was having financial problems) - well, that is a stove that few would argue against! It is built like the proverbial brick house.
  5. MrWinkey

    MrWinkey New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2006
    Messages:
    146
    Loc:
    Eastern Washington
    Amen! oh ok sorry I'll sit back down.....

    I think Craig's post was right on the money.

    Nothing wrong with having the stove because you want to.
  6. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    2,492
    Loc:
    South Shore MA
    I can't answer on what is the best pellet stove
    since I only have experience with our St Croix
    and my friends Harman P38.

    You can store pellets outside, I did last year. But they
    must be heavily wrapped to keep dry or they'll
    turn to crap and be unusable.

    Pellets can be had for less in the off season
    if you buy from the right places. I got mine
    delivered from Pelletsales.com and saved a
    nice chunk of change over what the locals want
    right now.

    I don't know about Kirley, but personal experience
    with the place on Rte 1 in Norwood I'd say stay
    away. I bought our stove from them.
    In my opinion their customer service sucks big time
    and some of their sales people don't know their
    a$$ from their elbow....

    There's a place in Canton on 138 -
    Stove Depot Hearth & Home (781) 821-0777
    I was in there once recently but didn't do business
    with them so can't comment on anything about them
    except that they don't carry and won't order 4" pellet vent
    so that rules them out for anyone who wants to install
    a 4" liner like I did.

    The Fireplace Connection in South Weymouth carries
    Harman. I was over there once too back in 05' when
    we got our stove. They seemed to know their stuff and
    they were friendly enough - that's about all I can offer
    about them since they were fresh out of pellet stoves
    at the time. Here's their number: 781-331-0033

    I remove the cleanout T and clean our stove pipe
    in Spring and Fall - see no reason why you can't
    do the same.
  7. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Messages:
    1,641
    Loc:
    South Coast MA
    Have you tried Ash Away Hearth & Chimney on Rt 6 in North Dartmouth yet?
    (508)-993-5577

    They have a variety of wood, pellet and gas stoves/inserts in their showroom too.
  8. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,442
    Loc:
    Kinsman, Oh 44428 Brookfield, Oh 44403
    Look into Breckwell. You have the P2000I, P24I, P23I, and the P22I. That gives you a couple different style and size options.

    Eric
  9. Cath

    Cath Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    294
    At first glance I misread the fifth option as non-stick, with oil. Which simultaneously seemed redundant, yet dangerous in a pellet or wood stove.
    ~Cath
  10. moralleper

    moralleper New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    Messages:
    173
    Loc:
    Kalama, WA
    You should probably throw QuadraFire in there too. I am heating 1500sqft with a santafe freestanding stove.
  11. ynotwood

    ynotwood New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE MA
    Thanks to all for comments and suggestions.
    Went to Kirley in Mansfield today to see the Harman Accentra. Also had them fire up a different pellet stove to see the real thing in action. They said they were burning pellets from a few years ago with high ash and contained bark (the pellets were very dark). I was surprised at the large ash from these pellets. They said that you can dump ash pan when stove is in full burn.

    Called the place in Frankiln. Will check out the Quadrafire. They said that the below feed was not suggested because if power shuts down the bottom Harman would continue to burn up to 1 lbs of pellets. Not concerned about power outage where I am, but interesting comment if only drawback of Harman.
  12. ynotwood

    ynotwood New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE MA
    Forgot to add. Dealer said pellets can be stored outside under tarp, but warned about getting them wet.
  13. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,074
    Loc:
    madison hgts. va
    avoid keeping outside if at all possible, even if they do not get rained/snowed on the bags have tiny perforations and the pellets can and will absorb moisture in certain instances
  14. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    I work at a Quad dealer and in the sales training they tell you all sorts of stuff to discredit the bottom feed pellet units. Of course every brand thinks their method of delivering pellets is superior. The gravity feed method is nice because the pellets in the firepot are separated by a good distance from the pellets in the auger. I have not worked on or even seen a bottom feed run so I cannot really comment on those. We will eventually be carrying Harman at our shop and we had a small discussion about the gravity vs bottom a month or two ago in a post here. Basically it seemed that both are equally safe and have their advantages and disadvantages. I would not pick a stove based on its pellet delivery method, unless the clinking of the pellets down the tube on the gravity feed bothers you.
  15. ynotwood

    ynotwood New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE MA
    Thanks for the bottom/top feed info.

    Since you are on the "inside" as a dealer and will carry both Harman and QuadraFire, any final suggestions on which has the best performance, least maintenance problems and fiddle factors?

    Thanks
  16. wilbilt

    wilbilt New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2007
    Messages:
    243
    Loc:
    Nor Cal
    It is definitely audible, but I would never consider it to be a deal breaker.
  17. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    Right now we only carry Quadrafire, so I really don't have anything to compare it with. The only problems I have really run into are burnt out thermocouples, and a few defective control boards (under warranty still). One the auger tube got jammed full of hardened pellet dust (from getting wet), but that was from a water leak on a DIY install.

    All pellet units are going to be high maintenance from what I understand. You have to take out baffles and clean out the fly ash at minimum once a season, usually more to keep it running good. The Quadrafire units seem to be good at burning the pellets pretty complete with not much for clinkers.


    I actually like it, lets me know the thing is still working, and gives some background noise.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    52,952
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Agreed. With good pellets, I rarely had to clean clinkers out of the burn pot. But on maintenance, I have to differ. I wouldn't call once-a-year, thorough cleaning a high maintenance machine. Quad make really low, weekly maintenance pellet stoves. I cleaned our Quad every other week. Our house is higher maintenance. Needs to be vacuumed twice a week according to my wife.
  19. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    I guess the people with Pellet units in WI are too soft. When you start taking the baffles out and say it needs to be done at least once a year and possibly more they make it out to be such a chore. I sure as heck hate doing it, the only thing that motivates me is how awesome the thing will burn when I'm done. BeGreen you are right, its not "high-maintenance", people around here are just lazy and used to gas heat.
  20. mrgoodwrench

    mrgoodwrench New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    15
    Loc:
    Stuarts Draft, Virginia
    I purchased a Harman P61A wood stove 2 years ago, thinking I would save money and get a return on my $3,200 investment. At the time pellets at my local co-op sold for $2.95 a bag, today they are $5.00 a bag. I haven't used it this year, and won't be using in the near future either. I filled up my 500 gallon lp tank last month for $1.67 a gallon. It's just not worth the hassle ( I don't own a truck), and the waste of time to go get the pellets when I can just call my local lp dealer to fill up my tank for about the same price. I just can't believe the price increase of these pellets. I should have just went with a wood stove, and still might some day.
  21. ynotwood

    ynotwood New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE MA
    Thank you all once again for all the information.
    We love our current wood stove and had hoped we could go pellet for the ease of starting and consistent heat. I had hoped we would also save money by heating with pellet instead of oil.

    I plan to just wait it out for now until I have the $4000 to spend on the system for my enjoyment.
  22. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,074
    Loc:
    madison hgts. va
    i can completely clean my pellet stove and have it up and running faster than most can get a woodstove back up to temp from coals (ie raking ash , cleaning dead ash out, and reloading to get started) 3 minutes with ash vac, wipe the glass if needed, load hopper by opening lid , setting bag on front ,slicing open with stanley knife tossing bag in trash, shutting hopper, pushing on button , have fire in 8 minutes, stove up to operating temps and pushing heat in less than 20 minutes from pushing on.
  23. sparkydog00

    sparkydog00 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Messages:
    335
    Loc:
    N. Central Mass
    Thats ok...I like coy.....
    Suppose I should check this thread more often. But I do feel I have to respond..if not to just clarify what I said.
    I would have been better off saying that the Harmen seems to move 2x as much air as the Lopi did. And you are right about seeing what it does over the course of the heating season. But even with these warm temps we have had in NE this year (so far) I can already say that the Hamen also burns pellets at a greater rate than the Lopi ever did. And since stove heat output (btu) really is only a function of the amount of fuel burned over a certain amount of time. The Harmen is clearly the winner in heat output.
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,141
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    I like Harman Stoves - I like Harman Dealers and I like Harman reps.

    But the whole Harman Stove Company is up in the air right now. I think a prudent person should take this strongly into consideration until the "deal" shakes out. This could be in one week, or in one month. I have asked some folks "in the know" for updates and have received none.......only second or third hand stuff that I don't like the sound of. So, buyer beware is the word until we get a clear statement from the buyer as to the future of Harman Stove.

    (note: following is of course my opinion from reading and listening)
    Remember this - Harman is not currently a solvent company. They have debts that they cannot pay. Unless they are "saved", they may not continue - which means they cannot stand behind their warranties, etc.

    Although it is certainly probable that a sale of some sort will go though, we do not know what the final deal will be. Bottom line is that I would tell my brother or sister to wait before buying this brand, so I will tell the same to the readers here. It is not something I usually do, but I doubt the local Harman dealer is going to tell the customer the whole deal.
  25. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    888
    I am pleased with my Harman stove
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page