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Pros/Cons of top feeders vs. bottom feeds

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by guitarjamman, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. guitarjamman

    guitarjamman New Member

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    Are they any advantages between top feeder stoves and bottom feed stoves? I have an enviro ef-4 which has a drop chute and makes a shower of sparks when a load of pellets are dropped and my buddy has a Harman which feeds the pellets through the bottom and pushes out the ashes.

    Just curious if one style has a big advantage over the other? I know personally that the "tink-tink-tink" sound of pellets dropping has a sort of soothing effect.
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  2. jjk454ss

    jjk454ss Member

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    I have no idea:). But I am curious as well. I do know that when I was feiding between a Harmon and a Quadrafire, the one dealer who carried both liked the drop feed better, said its a little more reliable. But, not sure if it is true or they just wanted me to buy the Quadrafire for some reason.
  3. johneh

    johneh Feeling the Heat

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    Don't know if one is better than the other .
    I have a top feeder and like it , I like the shower of sparks
    my very own fire works display and it tink-tink-tink of pellets
    hitting the fire reminds me of how warm the house is and that the fire is on
  4. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    What's a Harmon?

    The bottom feed is a superior design from what I can gather simply because it pushes any junk that may accumulate out. Mine is a drop-feeder though too.
    Harman Lover 007 likes this.
  5. lbcynya

    lbcynya Feeling the Heat

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    Bottom feeders are generally more complex with more moving parts to be safe and effective. "Self cleaning" (push ash out before clinkers are produced) and greater tolerance to low grade fuels are the benefits. They both work just fine, but I would assume bottom feed is inherently more expensive to produce.
  6. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    Our Harmans tinkle too. Just not into the pot. Have both and like both. Bottom fed stoves seem to stay a bit cleaner and easier to tune. Top fed are easier to figure out and repair but not by much.
  7. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    I have both a top feeder MVAE and a bottom feeder PDVC.
    I can't comment on the self cleaning of a bottom feeder vs a top feeder but, here are my observations. The PDVC produces a crusty residue that I wouldn't quite call a clinker that has to be removed each time I re-light it. The MVAE also produces a light crust that is disposed of by the auto-clean function.
    Both stove produce plenty of heat and, even though they are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of control sophistication, they are both reliable. I do put a lot more pellets through the MVAE just because it heats our main living space. The PDVC heats my workshop.
    One thing that makes me favor the MVAE'S top feed design is that it will consume any thing that I have put into the hopper. Fines don't seem to bother it at all and it has even processed a screw driver tip from hopper to ash pan without a hiccup.
  8. titanracer

    titanracer Member

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    I have a Englander that has the bottom feed. I don't think it is ment to push ash out, just feed the fire with pellets. Only down fall is, you have to keep the carbon scraped off of the end of the auger or it will build up and start squeaking on side of feed tube. Atleast with a top feed or drop in style for pellets, you don't have to deal with that carbon building up.
  9. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

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    Top or bottom feeder. Any stove that has air holes in the bottom is a poor design. The holes get plugged with carbon, then need to be scraped or lose efficiency.
  10. rayttt

    rayttt Feeling the Heat

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    My Harman bottom feeder has the tink-tink-tink sound of pellets dropping ..which is pleasing. :)
    boomhour likes this.
  11. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    That and the flickering glow is reassuring tonight when the thermometer is to go to -20 or so.
  12. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    My stove functions as a night light, that is fine, but I don't really want to hear it.

    It is kind of hard not to have carbon issues with any pellet stove. I vote for those that keep the carbon issues from squealing, there are more my xxxx (which is a bottom feeder) is squealing threads then I want to count on here.

    How cold is it where you are at the moment Bioburner?
  13. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    Today's high was 0. Currently -6, but the wind is down to10 to 15 from 35
  14. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Not exactly sun bathing weather, I hope the flamingo flock has beak warmers ;).
  15. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    Rather hear the faint tinkle of pellets than the roar of the oil gun or the buzz of my last houses Lennox pulse furnace. Both are the sound of of lots of hard earned $$ up the flue.
  16. Nick of PA

    Nick of PA New Member

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    My wife and I know sleep with the tv off at night because we like to hear the pellet clinking haha.... thought we were the only ones
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  17. MikeNH

    MikeNH Member

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    I have both styles. I think the bottom feeder is a little easier to keep clean, but they are both working well. I've never had a squeal in the Harman, and I've never had a clinker in the Heatilator. I do give both a quick burnpot scrape daily whether I think they need them or not. I think its preventive maintenance.

    We like the look of the Harman's flame in the living room. It's wider and looks more like a wood fire.

    As far as the tinking sound of pellets, I can hear it faintly at night from upstairs. I don't mind it. It gives me an indication that the thing is working. We have the oil thermostats set for 60 though, just in case.
  18. guitarjamman

    guitarjamman New Member

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    It is funny you guys all mention it. The glow of the fire lights up the stair hallway and reflects off the wall outside of our bedroom. If I wake up at 2 AM or so, I always roll over to look at the wall and see if the glow is there. The clinking sounds of the stove dropping a huge load into the burn pot helps me fall asleep in a reassured state, knowing the house is staying warm.

    I do have the thermostat set to 58°F as a precaution, and unfortunately I have been using it too. The stove currently likes to run for however long it feels is convenient, then shut off - can be anywhere from 30 minutes to upwards of 3 days. The auger light will flicker rapidly a few times (mimicking a loose connection) and then just stop running until I unplug the unit and plug it back in again.
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  19. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like time to get serious about fixing or replacing.:( Oil and propain to high not to consider. Was -13 here this AM and will probably drop another 4 before we warm up to 0. Supposed to have at least a week of temps 20 degrees below normal.
  20. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    Ford vs Chevy argument. Either way you need beer and apple pie to discuss the options further.

    Eric
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  21. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Beer yes and apple pie maybe later, but not together. Tummy was complaining the moment I read that one Eric.
  22. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    Apple Pie from a jar.

    Attached Files:

    twodogs02 likes this.
  23. johneh

    johneh Feeling the Heat

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    I 'll have an IPA with a double Apple Pie chaser please
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  24. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    I HATE coming home in the summer and having to hunt for the light switch. In the winter, I just roll on in right into the kitchen guided by the light of the stove :)
  25. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    That's a pricey night light. Good thing it has other uses.
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