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Questions from a woodburner after being "seasoned" ...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by timfromohio, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Hi everyone

    I've been burning for 9 winters up here in NEOhio. I've used a PE insert for all 9 of those winters, and it is my primary heat source. I also have a Napolean 1150P which I put in a couple of years ago in open kitchen/living room area when I remodeled it. House is ~1800 ft2 split level (PE in lower level, Napolean on middle level). We usually only run the Napolean when it's wicked cold or want the ambience.

    I have a couple of questions for you guys as I've been thinking of replacing the insert with a free-standing stove:

    1 - cast iron. Back when I got the PE, I thought even if I got a free-standing stove I'd always go with welded plate steel. I figured the cast stoves had joints which would need more maintenance. Is this really the case?

    2 - cat vs. non-cat. Back when I got the PE, I figured I'd never want a cat stove. Now, longer burn times are attractive. Are the newer cat stoves better than the reviews I read back then? How about the Woodstock Hybrid stove?

    3 - enameled cast iron - would the surface temps run a bit cooler with the enamel?

    Thanks for any thoughts and opinions. Who knows, maybe I'll never replace the PE, but it sure is fun to fantasize about stoves ....

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  2. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Excuse me for replying your questions with another question but what are your reasons to replace the PE insert? The setup seems to work for you. You don't want the second stove anymore; you want longer burn times or something else? Knowing what are you looking for in a stove will help in making recommendations.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    1 - Depends on the stove design. Over time the cast iron stove will need seams recaulked and possibly burn plates replaced. In the same light a steel stove might need tubes, firebrick and baffles replaces. With the enclosed stainless baffle/secondary system, you have one of he lowest maintenance stoves.

    2 - The Progress Hybrid is still going through some debugging. http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/progress-hybrid-cat-question-smoke-smell.105261/ I'm watching the Cape Cod Hybrid to see how it works out. Another option will be the Ashford which is a cast clad, steel bodied Blaze King. That has some good potential and is developed on a time proven stove. If it's nicely finished it could give the Alderleas and Rangeleys a good run for their money.

    3 - I don't think so. At least I didn't notice this with the blue-black enameled Castine.
  4. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Good question.

    The insert is useless without the blower going nonstop. The Napolean puts out great heat and is so nice and quiet. I'd love to have that sort of heat output without the noise. Also, I really like the looks of some of the stoves and it would be change merely for the sake of change.
  5. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Ah, that makes sense. A freestander may indeed be better in that case. Question 1 was answered by BG and he is certainly better informed than me in that regard. Regarding #2: Hybrid stoves are still a "gamble" but modern cat-stoves are working really well and have a lot of happy owners here. Now, from what I've heard here the advantages are: You get longer burn-times, more even heat output, and potentially slightly less wood consumption. Disadvantages: You need to be more cautious in the fuel (absolutely no treated wood, not even by "accident"; no paper with bright ink) and the cat may need replacement about every 5 years although that can differ. Woodstock is a cat-stove company that many people here love for the great quality of their stoves and unsurpassed customer service. Their stoves are made of soapstone which gives a more gentle, radiant heat. Maybe similar to what you are looking in the enamel finish?

    What kind of PE insert do you have? I have the PE Super and actually found out last winter that I can turn off the blowers at about 1.5 to 2 hours after lighting the fire. There is still noticeable warm air coming out from the insert top and rising to the ceiling where I can distribute it with a ceiling fan. However, I have an interior fireplace meaning no heat is lost other than what goes up the chimney. If you have one backing up to the exterior it may help to put Roxul around the insert.
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    The Woodstock Progress did go through some bugs but I believe all these bugs have now been taken care of, thanks to their great Customer Service. It is a great stove that can put out some big time heat but can still be turned way down to a low burn if necessary. Woodstock will also be coming out with another stove but although it will share some of the Progress technology, it will be much, much different from their present line-up.

    As for the cat or non-cat arguments, the last time we shopped for a new stove we were dead set against having a cat stove. Just to make a long story short, after we did some research, we bought a cat stove from Woodstock. Wow! We are super satisfied as this stove has surpassed anything we expected. Yet, one of the reasons we have such great results, like using only half the amount of wood we use to, is that we make certain that we burn well seasoned wood. Most of our wood has been split and in the stack a minimum of 3 years. A big benefit of that besides using less wood is that we rarely have to clean. In six years we've cleaned our chimney once so far and that was after 2 years use. So it has now been 4 years since we've cleaned our chimney.

    One of the very nice things that Woodstock offers is their 6 month guarantee. That is one of the final things that got us to buy a Woodstock stove and there was not one time that we thought about returning it because it is such a good stove. Makes a beautiful piece of furniture too.

    Good luck.
  7. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    I have the mid-sized PE insert - at the time I bought it (2005) I believe it was called the Pacific but now is called something different, maybe it's what you have Grisu the Super. It has a 1.8 ft3 firebox. It's in a pretty stout all brick chimney the other side of which is in the garage, so not completely exterior. I shouldn't knock it - it's been good and has to overcome the fact that it's located in the lower portion of a split level which is naturally cooler than the rest of the house as it's partially underground and also has a big sliding glass door (heavy curtain in front of it in winter).
  8. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I have the larger Summit insert, and never had a problem keeping the house warm without the blower during power outages. Is the insert installed with a full liner to top or just tied in to the existing flue? Is there a block off plate at the damper area? You may want to determine if there are any issues why your not getting heat without the blower before ripping it out and replacing, or you may find you have the same issues with any insert you install. Lower block off plate is a must if you intend to keep much heat from going up the old flue and bleeding away to the outside through the masonry.
    Inserts most time always heat better with blower than without, but should heat decent without.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    PE designs their inserts to convect well without power.
  10. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Yep, the Pacific has been replaced by the Super. They did some modifications and at least from one person here I have heard the Super is easier to control. Nevertheless, when you can heat the whole 1800 sqft. most of the time with it you can really not expect more than that. Such a performance is really impressive for a (smallish) medium size insert. Quite frankly, I am therefore not sure if there is anything wrong with your setup. You can check for a block-off plate or maybe try the Roxul to reduce heat loss into the garage but I suspect you get as much out of the PE as is possible. You can go for a bigger stove but then you may also need more wood. Tough choice.
  11. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    I probably came off sounding too critical of the insert - it has performed well, but when comparing convection of a freestanding stove to that of the insert there is no comparison adn that's just the physics of exposed surface area in action, not brand or type of insert.

    To answer other questions, I do have a full liner in the brick chimney but could probabaly do with a better block off plate. For power outages I have built a deep cycle battery bank with multiple inverters and can easily power the insert fan, along with other items, for days before I have to fire up the generator to dump juice to the battery bank.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  12. NE WOOD BURNER

    NE WOOD BURNER Minister of Fire

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    I would suggest giving Woodstock a call. There is much knowledge there. They have much to offer but if you are not sold there is no pressure.

    2 fireviews and 1 PH in family they have been satisfied with product and support.
    1 fireview in nieghborhood he is very satisfied with product and support.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  13. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    NE burner - funny you suggested that I call Woodstock as I called them yesterday during lunch to ask a few questions.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  14. NE WOOD BURNER

    NE WOOD BURNER Minister of Fire

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    I am glad my family went to woodstock! My time in support for their wood burning efforts went to zero since they do not call me anymore! They fooled with many brands over the years but woodstock was a good fit for them. Cleaner chimneys with their choice over other stoves they had. They choked them to get burn times.

    Hope they where helpful for you.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.

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