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Smallest Pellet Stove? Slowest Feed Rate?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Wet1, May 21, 2008.

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  1. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    I know we have another thread going about the largest pellet stoves, but I'm considering getting a smaller stove. I'm only looking to heat a 1000 sq foot area and it doesn't need to be all that warm.

    I've found with my existing Englander 25-PDVC, I have a hard time throttling it down enough, especially when temps outside are in the 40's and 50's. In fact, my stove likes to eat even on its lowest setting. I have a difficult time getting more than 20 hours out of a 40 lb bag. At this "low" setting, it doesn't seem to burn all that well either as I get a lot of clinkers and buildup on the glass. If I change the settings to slow down the low burn feed rate on "1" (trying to get more time out of a bag), the quality of the burn gets even worse.

    After reading about all these folks getting 30+ hours out of a bag of pellets, I'm starting to consider looking for a stove that will allow me to run at these leaner settings and still get a decent burn.

    Right now I'm considering the Harman P38+. In thoughts on this stove given my criteria? Any others I should look into? Cost is always a concern...

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  2. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    The best I can get from my Harman P38 is 34 hrs from a 40 lb bag at the lowest setting and that`s no exaggeration !
    Actually I was a slightly dissapointed but I just can`t see how I can do better but FWIW the P38 burns excellent at the lowest setting. I would also have to strongly consider the fact that the Harman can go a long time without a cleaning.
    That said , they aren`t cheap at $1800+ but obviously in the long run the savings on fuel alone quickly become apparent not to mention the simplicity and longer intervals between cleaning.
    John
  3. kilarney

    kilarney New Member

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    Is the Harman P38 missing any features that are found on other (pricier) Harman models?

    If I get a second stove, I'm tempted to go with the P38.
  4. rayttt

    rayttt Feeling the Heat

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    the p38 doesnt have autoignitor (but I think they now made it an available option)
    however, Ive never missed it..I light the stove once a week after I shut it down to clean.
  5. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    The orig poster mentioned the stove didn`t burn so well at low speeds so maybe restricting combustion air would make it worse?
    I`d be checking the venting and other reasons for the poor burn.
    Restricting air flow might even shorten the life of the combustion fan.
    John
  6. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the info Pook. While I'm sure your contraption works well, I don't really want to screw around with having to build anything or worry about the possible consequences of doing so. I really like the Englander stove, it's just not ideally suited for my application. Rather than tinker with it, I'm going to just sell my stove and buy one that's better suited for my needs.

    Based on all the great things I've read about the Harman line, the overall positive reviews of the P38+ from members (such as John), I've decided to just buy a P38+. It seems everyone is always comparing (benchmarking) all the other lines to Harman's, so there's really no reason to buy anything else IMO. If I can get over 30 hours out of a single 40 lb bag like John has been able to do, I'll be a happy guy. And if it burns clean at that setting, so much the better! I also like the idea of not having to clean it out as frequently. The P38 doesn't have auto start, but I honestly don't see all that much value in that anyway.

    I called my local dealer and they want full list price ($1839) for a new P38. I guess I can't blame them since they said they are selling stoves at a record pace over the last month. I called around and found another dealer that had a couple of stoves left and was willing to wheel and deal... I have to drive 50 miles to pick it up, but I got the stove for $1499. This dealer said he has sold more stoves in the last three weeks than he did over the entire year. I guess folks in the North East are starting to say enough of the ridiculous oil prices!

    While dishing out $1500 for a new stove will take away this winters savings, this stove should last me for several years to come. Not to mention I'll save on pellets since I can choke this new stove down even further. I'll also clean my existing stove up and sell it to offset some of the cost of the new stove. Speaking of which, any idea what my stove might be worth?
  7. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    You should be absolutely certain that your existing installation and stove operation is proper and within manufacturers specs before you go spending more money on a new stove that might not work as it should either.
    I mean if your Englander isn`t presently burning properly you really ought to find out why . If it is indeed normal for your Englander to burn as per your description then by all means get something better .
    I`m not at all familiar with the Englander lineup but maybe someone who is can offer some advice.
    John
  8. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    I hear what you're saying. There's actually nothing wrong with the way the stove is installed. From what I've read, it's fairly common for the Englander stoves to eat some pellets and run a little dirty at the lowest setting. There are some things you can change on the controller to get to eat less or get it to burn a little cleaner, but there seems to be trade offs in doing so. With that said, I've never been able to get it to the point where I could run 34 hours on a single bag plus have it burn clean too (like you're doing with your P38). Again, I really like the Englander stove as it's never let me down. It's a great stove for someone that can let it eat a normal diet of pellets, I just won't need this much heat next season since I'm going to be moving the stove to a new location that will require even less output... that's the biggest reason for me making the change.
  9. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    guess i caught this one on the tail end, while the pdvc doesnt like running at less than about 1.75 lbs/hr on low i know some tricks to lean it out a bit with the board depending on what year it is. i could still help ya out some if you want. bottom line though , that unit was designed to flat out heat, small package , large heat output , so the burn pot setup, air paths and all were designed to match that. its optimal output to feed rate is about 2.5 lbs/hr , it can be lowered somewhat but the larger pot and smaller front chamber in relation makes it hard to burn under 1.5 lbs/hr cleanly
  10. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for your input Mike, you've pretty much confirmed my findings. 2.5 lbs/hr seems to be the sweet spot for my stove as well. It sounds like I made the right choice going with another stove which should be better suited to my new requirements.

    Thanks for all the help from everyone!
  11. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    I picked up the P38 over the weekend. I didn't bother firing it as I probably wont install it until late fall, but I did quickly look it over.

    My initial observation is the Harman is a very simplistic design. The Harman overall seems to be engineered better than the Englander, although the Englander is clearly more robust. I can now see why folks say the Harman stoves are nearly maintenance free. There's hardly anything to it and maintenance items are easily accessible. A very basic and no frills design... everything is laid out in a simple and very logical configuration.

    While the Englander is built more solid (more like a wood stove), the Harman is noticably cheaper in build. China comes to mind. There's (hopefully) nothing wrong with the quality of the P38, but I will tell you it's definitely not as heavy duty as my Englander. Where the Englander has beefy steel, solid sheet metal, or heavy cast parts, many of the equivalent parts on the Harman are thinner sheet metal or generally lighter duty. Just rapping the sides of the two stoves confirms this. Even the single hopper latch on the Harman feels like it could break very easily with regular use, while the Englander has two latches, and they are both much more robust. The burner door handle on the Harman is again of a lesser quality.

    My first thought was this must just be because the P38 is Harman's smallest and bottom of the line econo-stove, but I noticed much of the same after quickly looking at a couple of the other Harman stoves on display... but keep in mind I didn't go over each with a fine tooth comb. I'm not overly concerned about this as I know Harman has a great reputation and this model has been around for years. I guess I'm just mentioning it because I didn't expect the overall build quality to be this noticeably different.

    Anyway, I feel like a kid that just got a great battery powered toy, but doesn't have any batteries... and won't be getting any for 6 months! I can tell you I'm really looking forward to being able to get 30+ hours of burn time out of a bag of pellets and having it burn cleanly while doing so!
  12. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Could very well be that the Englander is a noticeably heavier built stove than the Harman . I haven`t yet looked at an Englander up close. And maybe it`s a good point to make on the pro list when comparing different stoves , but for what good reason?
    I know for sure my old 400+ lb Nashua wood stove was heavier built and more robust than any Harman or Englander for that matter but I believe it had to be to reduce hot spots and warpage.
    Personally I can`t see any real benefit to building a heavier than necessary pellet stove?
    Having a few wood stoves in the past I immediately noticed the steel on the P38 wasn`t too thick but after using it I can readily see that anything thicker would have been overkill.

    An added thought to repost while I remove my foot from my mouth :
    OK, after more thought on this I must concede the Englander in all probablity is designed for a hotter fire in a smaller package and really does need to be built heavier. I would have to believe they aren`t going to put in more materials than what is actually required so let me just say if the Englanders are indeed heavier built stoves , there has to be a good reason why.
    John
  13. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    W/o a doubt the Englander is more robust. I should point out my Englander is also 6 or 8 years old as well... I wouldn't be surprised if the schedule/quality of materials in both brands has been reduced over the years as a cost savings measure, I just don't know. Although looking at the current specs, the3 Englander still weighs much more. I stated the above more of an observation more than anything. I don't for a second believe the Harman is not built to last, I'm sure it's built to get the job done w/o wasting valuable steel.

    Regarding your added thought about larger output in a smaller package, the 25-PDVC I own I don't think is designed (rated) to put out that much more heat than the Harman P38, although Englander doesn't give a max btu spec. The P38 is rated for about 1400 SqFt and the 25-PDVC is rated for 1500 SqFt. Both are physically about the same size (although the hopper on the P38 stands a little taller). Looking at the published weight of each, the Englander weighs 75 lbs. more. Even looking at some of the larger Harman's with all the bells and whistles, such as the P68 which is rated for 2200 SqFt, it's a little larger package (the ash drawer and hopper are what really add to the increased size), and even it weighs the same thing the Englander weighs... 290 lbs. I know the Englander won't put out nearly as much heat as the P68 and the actually burner box itself isn't much different in volume. The Englander is clearly built a little heavier.

    Again, this is all just an observation since I have both to compare...
  14. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Maybe Mike Holten will enlighten us about why one pellet stove is markedly heavier than another. I `d like to hear his take on this just out of curiosity.
    John
  15. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    we have always built stoves heavy , starting out in woodstoves before pellet stoves were more than a curiosity, when we started building pellet stoves they were built heavy cause thats what we knew and thats what our plant was tooled for. having done so we have had a lot of success with building heavy and since its worked so well and has kept a lot of folks warm for a long time (we've got customers who have had their pellet stoves going on 20 years and still going strong) i see no reason to change. the other side of it is ease in building , welding thicker metal is a lot less tedious than thinner so it works well with mass production. overall the units we build now arent quite as heavy as the earlier ones but they are still among the heaviest on the market and more than likely will continue to be.
  16. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Weight and thickness in a pellet stove are of little or no use after a certain point. The heat is contained within a certain area - unlike a wood stove - and therefore the effects of it on the metal can be carefully predicted. Somewhat similar to gas stoves and fireplaces, which are built of thin sheet metal and last for MANY decades.

    Of course burn pots and other such parts should be as heavy duty as possible.

    On the other side of the spectrum, there are advantages to lighter materials in certain parts of a heat exchanger, etc - it will warm up quicker and transfer heat better and faster.

    It is all about engineering. As Mike says, in the early days of stoves it was common to engineer by weight. Imagine how amazed we were back in 1979 when we sold Efel stoves which had a firebox and door made of a light gauge sheet metal! Hey, some of them are still in use today - 30 year later....and they heated up QUICKLY.

    As far as small pellet stoves, it's tough to get under about 1.5 lbs per hour - at that point it often comes down to the exact brand of pellets, the installation and other factors.
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