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Quadrafire 5100i Insert Review: Install and Burn

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by fatcaaat, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. fatcaaat

    fatcaaat Member

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    I have found so much useful information on this site that I feel compelled to provide some information that may help someone out there looking to purchase a fireplace insert. What I'm going to do is tell you about the install of my Quad 5100i and how I feel about it compared to what I replaced Buck 28000

    Install: Masonry chimney, center of house, 27' tall.

    Purchase: I worked with a local dealer since that seems to be the only place to buy a Quadrafire. I had purchased a Castille Pellet stove in 2006 from the same people and was less than happy with the service but loved the product. No other dealers were close and as a repeat customer I got a good deal and had a 300 dollar coupon on top of that...so price wise it was great. I also purchased the liner kit from Chimney Liner depot and materials to fab a blockoff plate from Home Depot.

    Arrival Liner: The liner system came in two big boxes. 30' of liner and insulation and all that jazz. Packed well. Contents all there. No big deal..but if you don't have a garage or double doors to your house, it won't fit through. I have both so no worries there.

    Arrival Stove: This angered me a bit in that the stove arrived and was sitting in the warehouse for a week and the company never called me to say it was in. This is what I remember about the last time I purchased from this outfit. I drove to the warehouse to pick it up and it fit on my trailer with literally 1 inch to spare widthwise. Great forklift driver! It was packed very well and secure on a pallet with 2x4 framing on top with heavy cardboard. Everything was packed nicely.

    Install Liner: The first thing I did was install the appliance connector. I smeared some furnace cement around the liner end and the mating connector and assembled it. This had a stainless clamp to secure the liner to the connector. Then I smeared furnace cement around the outside to seal it all up. I also then took my heat gun and cured it. Then I took the appliance connector and connected that to the furnace connector on the unit. This connector connects with 4 bolts..so I used 4 stainless bolts instead of self tapping screws. Same deal...furnace cement inside and out and then cured with heat gun. That was during the week. After I was happy that the cement was cured, I took the whole thing outside and unrolled it and assembled the insulation portion. This took about 2 hours to do start to finish. I was very UNSATISFIED with this as I did not have enough tape, steel mesh, or locking wire. Fortunately I had spare tape and that posed not to be an issue, but I was about 10' short on the steel mesh and locking wire. Everything else went together and slid down the chimney without any problem.

    Install/Fab block off plate: I went to home depot and purchased a 36" piece of steel, cut it to fit and then welded on some additional pieces for the angles to mate evenly in the box. I then took my 4' angle grinder and cut out the damper in the middle so the liner could go through. After that I drilled and tapped into the corners of the damper and lined up the blockoff plate to fit...and bolted it right in. After I pulled the liner through, I sealed the whole thing all the way around with high temp silicon and stuffed the center with extra insulation. There is absolutely no air going out through the chimney.

    Install the Insert: This was quite simple actually. Loaded it on a hand truck from the trailer, right into the house and right into the fireplace. Two people and no struggle. Slide into place on 2x4's and that was that. Connected the liner and made sure all the bricks and baffles were correct. Went back on the roof and finished the connection for the cap. Done deal.

    First burn: I took it up to about 500 on the first burn, about a 4 hour trip. Man this thing stinks...I remember the pellet stove doing the same thing. After I was satisfied that there were no leaks and everything functioned as it should, I put the surround on and fired it up really well. Took to about 750. Seems to like 700 best.

    Overnight: I burn nearly all maple or oak...I'm fortunate to have a good supply on my property and people around here constantly give it away...So I pick it up and stack it for a year and then its usually ready for me. My wood quality is very good. I loaded this sucker up with about 10 splits at 10pm and watched it till about 12 to make sure it wouldn't overfire...it was really close...so I'll dial that back. but I had a full bed of coals at 7am and just tossed 3 splits on in the morning and it fired right up.

    Continual: I feed it about 4 splits every 3-4 hours when I'm at home to watch it with the air intake at 50% open. When I'm going out, I'll double it and close the air intake.

    How I feel vs the Buck 28000 it replaced: For safety sake, I am way more comfortable since I had a slammer install. For a wood usage, I'm using considerably less wood. For heat output, I'm not convinced I'm making more heat. For smoke and creosote, I am burning clean where my smoke dragon was pretty nasty.

    Overall impressions/changes: I wanted the biggest insert I could purchase and fit in my existing fireplace...this was it. Fit and finish are superior. This is a quality machine. If I have to change one thing, which I will do, is I'm going to take the surround off and drill a pattern into it at the top and sides where it is closest to the unit. I think a lot of heat is trapped back there and drilling this out will allow that to radiate out. I burned it without the surround and it definitely produced more heat, so this makes good sense to me.

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  2. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    Great review!

    Can I ask where you are taking your temp readings?
  3. fatcaaat

    fatcaaat Member

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    So I am taking temps at two places..First on either side of the window above the opening...The second is underneath the top plate. Under the top plate its going to be hotter...I have hit 850 on the top under that plate which is too hot, but I'm tying to keep that at 700-750 or so which translates to a 500 on the front above the window.
  4. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks. I've been measuring temps from the front on my 4100i (top center of door - below blower output) and try to keep them around 500-600 (as recommended by my dealer), but that translates to a stove top (under the plate if you remove it) of 800-900...which I think is too hot...

    for me to keep the stove top below 750-800, I would have to have it around 450 max on the front...I do not get good secondary burn unless the front is around 500-550.

    I was just curious if the 5100i was the same and it sounds like it is...
  5. fatcaaat

    fatcaaat Member

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    So I don't need those super high temperatures to get the secondary burn. But the 4100 does sound like the 5100 in terms of temperatures. I get good secondary burns as I load as soon as the flame stage is over...I rake the coals and load enough to cover the floor with a little space between. This seems to be working great during the day. I burn oak and maple...but do have some very well seasoned pine Im going to try since its here...as well as some poplar. Not my primary wood, but its here so I'll burn it.

    My dealer couldn't help me much more than to purchase the stove, so its all trial and error for me so far.

    As a matter of fact, I have a good secondary burn going right now with face temps of about 450. I think its safe to get the front plate to about 500 which translates to about 700-800 which is fine for this unit provided you keep the fan cranked.
  6. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Glad you like it, I almost bought one when I was stove shopping, I was looking for a big insert and I liked the ACC, I think the firebox is bigger than my princess.
  7. fatcaaat

    fatcaaat Member

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    Well, after burning for a while, it turns out that it was never burning correctly. The door latch was buggered up from the factory when they assembled it, resulting in a cross threaded latch. That said, and I never noticed it, that there was quite a large air gap on the door. Today I took the handle off, welded some material back on, and rethreaded it with a new nut and adjusted it to make it nice and tight.

    It's a completely different stove now. Who knew just how much making it air tight would impact things. First off, I"m using SIGNIFICANTLY less wood to produce the same amt of heat. My flames are nearly always purple except for the first 45 min of the burn cycle. I am basically relearning the stove now...harder to get it going...but it makes sense now. I was wondering why I was not getting long burns...now I know...

    I went from getting 2 hrs on 6 splits or so to about 5hrs with the same low setting and same heat output.

    So...do that dollar bill test...it can make a world of difference!
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That sounds a whole lot better. Thanks for the update.
  9. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Glad to hear the updated results!

    Did you drill out the surround?

    pen
  10. fatcaaat

    fatcaaat Member

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    The surround has not yet been completed...I'll be doing it on Saturday and will post pictures. I'm essentially going to cut some channels in the surround and then use some patterned steel to cover over it to make it look like a grill. If I can find the material, I want it to look like the grill on a Giulietti accordion (look ebay). If not, I'll settle for something else.
  11. iod0816

    iod0816 Member

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    How did you determine that the stove top gets 800-900? I find the only way this unit puts out good heat is if you get stove face (same location as you with my Rutland) to ~600 with the fan... That's with secondaries going and damper almost 80%-90% out with hickory, black birch and maple mix I've been using all winter ... Even still the Rutlands are typically off with their readings anyhow so it could be over or under.
  12. iod0816

    iod0816 Member

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    And also, fatcaat, where the blower blows are out (once you remove the top plate, see if after some cold nigths and good burns you see any "bowing" on the top plate if you wouldn't mind. Myself and some other 4100i owners have noticed some flex there... we had a thread on this a while back but curious to see if the 5100i does it too...
  13. fatcaaat

    fatcaaat Member

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    I have gotten the top part under the plate to 1000 degrees for a very short period once...never glowed, but still scary. I have no trouble getting my machine hot enough to cook me out...I fire it up using super duper dry poplar and lay in super dry punky oak to get things cooking. Once that's done, I put in nice red/white oak and maple and/or beech. That's all I have to burn.

    I have not noticed any flex anywhere on the unit yet...I am obsessive so I check everything constantly until I am comfortable with something new...I'm not yet comfortable yet and its been almost a month already.

    As for temps, I usually cruise with the front face about 450 which translates to 650 under the plate with the fan on high. Secondaries are like torches everywhere and for the most part my flames are blue. I achieve this, once the firebox is hot, with the draft setting in the lowest position. (I don't say closed because it does not allow you to completely close the draft on this unit). If I put it on high longer than the initial 30 minutes of the burn it cooks me out of the room...and the room is 30x20 with 25' cathedral ceilings.

    For me the most important thing is getting things up to temperature first. I burn the crap out of it until the box is very hot...and then I shut the air completely down...that seems to be the only approach that's worked for me so far.
  14. Keith Briggs

    Keith Briggs New Member

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    I got my 5100i 4 months ago, installed it last month. Had to modify the zero clearance heatilator by lowering the floor, cutting and lowering the ceramic walls. I saved by using normal 1.5" bricks under the lowered stove floor instead of fire bricks. I modified the insert by cutting a 3" hole on the left side about 1/2 way back because I have an outside air duct and then put fiberglass in the two front air intake ducts to block the air from entering from the room. My IR thermometer is still in a box somewhere so don't have temp stats but have 3 quad stoves at our two short term rentals for 6 years. This insert - my first - is burning similar to them. This setup is leaving a few more coals as it dies down. I'll investiate the draw when it warms up outside. We're at 8200 outside of Denver so will do night fires for another month. The propane has not been on since I installed.
  15. LYHTSPD

    LYHTSPD Member

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    SW Indiana
    fatcaaat, thanks for this review. I also installed a 5100i ACC last November. I am still learning how this insert burns, but I did install an OAK this past week. I always had to open our basement window (I have a basement install with a 25' insulated liner install) to get the fire going, and once it was burning, it never got over 400 degrees on the front of the door. I have a feeling it was not getting enough air to burn hot enough.

    Please keep us up to date on how your insert is doing, and how you have found the best way to use it. Thanks!
  16. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Glad it is working out for you.
  17. Keith Briggs

    Keith Briggs New Member

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    Update on my 5100i (initial post above) - I think my setup is working perfectly. I actually cut two 3" holes (one on each side about 18" from the front of the unit) to allow outside air to come in from a duct. From a cold start, I need to leave the door ajar a few minutes then its off to the races. With a full load of wood running wild, glass temp is consistently at 850 and is keeping our 3000 upstairs (20' ceilings) warm (68 - 72 degrees) so far down to 9 degrees ambient. It never overheats and I have coals after 10 hours of burning. Design-wise, biggest improvement would be where they put the thermo switch. Doesn't come on quick enough and shuts off too soon (same issue really). I have a couple extra so may tweak the setup adding one in a better location. For now, it runs 24/7 so not an issue.

    LYHTSPD, I don't think you have enough draw in your chimney. You're liner is installed and its behaving that way?
  18. LYHTSPD

    LYHTSPD Member

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    Keith: Yes, my liner is installed already. I don't know if I have a draft problem. I had the secondary burn tubes out yesterday (just putting everything back together from the OAK install) and I could feel a lot of air being pulled up the chimney even without a fire in there. In fact, I have always been able to feel a large amount of air being pulled up the chimney. This lead me to believe that it was being starved for air. Also, when I left the window cracked about an inch or so the fire would burn a lot better.
  19. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    I was removing the cast iron top plate which will give you access to the fire box stove top. I finally got someone at Quadrafire to tell me 800-850 is ok directly on the firebox (that is the hottest part of the entire stove). They said to keep the temperature on the face (above the door) between 500-600...
  20. LYHTSPD

    LYHTSPD Member

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    Wow, mine get no where near that hot. I think that may be a part of my problem. The temps above the door get about 425 tops. I still don't know if I am getting enough air, or enough draft. When I had the secondary tubes off, it seemed to draft just fine. Now that everything is back in place, it does not want to keep a good burn going unless I have the insert door open. After it gets a good burn going, I then can close the door but it never seems to get hot enough. I have an OAK installed now, and 24ft SS liner with the insulation blanket. What am I doing wrong?

    I did notice that when I was putting everything back together, the fire blanket that sits on top of the hard baffles (on top of the secondary tubes) was a little longer than needed and was actually folded back about 2-3 inches on the front side of the hard baffles. Could this be reducing the air flow up to the liner? Did anyone else need to trim their blanket because it was too long?
  21. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    I let my cruise (or aim for) around 500-525 as my sweet spot (measured on the face on top of the door - below the blower vent). Usually spikes up to 600+, then settles down. The only time I crack my door is when I'm starting a new fire with a clean firebox. When I reload, I never have to leave the door open...just crack the air valve (not the startup) and it takes off within minutes. Keep in mind the wood I burn has had 2+ years of seasoning time.

    How is your wood supply?
  22. LYHTSPD

    LYHTSPD Member

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    That is the same place I usually take the temps on my unit Mofo. The wood is in question. I had to buy wood again this year since I just started to season my own wood this year. I need to split a piece and check it's moisture, but it seems very dry. It does not sizzle and expel water out the end of the logs like they do when they are wet. I will let you know what I find out.
  23. LYHTSPD

    LYHTSPD Member

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    Mofo, could you take a video of your insert burning at those temps? I would like to see what the secondaries are supposed to look like when burning properly.
  24. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    Sure - I'll see if I can get some video tonight.
  25. MofoG23

    MofoG23 Feeling the Heat

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    Sorry for the late reply...finally got the video posted. Ignore the first temp reading as I took it off the Rutland thermometer by accident. I'm burning 1-2 year old maple/oak mix. Pulled all air out around 450 degree's...as you can see, it was really climbing during the secondary burn...peaked around 625, then finally settled down for the night.

    Hope this helps!

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