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Soapstone owners... fill me in

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by metalsped, Aug 1, 2011.

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  1. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    As I just mentioned... the room I am heating (with hopes it will transfer to the rest of the house) has 12' cathedral ceilings, with poor insulation on that end of the house (double pane glass... but still a major heat sink). In my mind, it seems the soapstone would be a nice even heat, but not necessarily take the edge off, and keep it tempered? Consider me an idiot here guys (some of you might already, and I am fine with that :)). From what I saw in the Woodstock series, besides not "loving" the looks of the stoves, is that they might be undersized for this house. With the addition, Im looking at about 1700sq I guess, with almost half of that having less than steller insulation factors. Its great in the winter, to get the solar warmth in that side of the house, but not great come nightfall.

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  2. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    I would be looking at a stove to supply all the heat this winter. I am more than ready to tell the oil man to keep trucking past my driveway. We probably spent $4k last winter, and we were sparse with it at the end, because we simply couldn't keep finding cash to feed the middle east beast.


    So a longer burn time... so that equals a more efficient stove from a simple cost layout for cord wood (I dont have enough seasoned to make it through a winter currently, without having to buy some). I am not ruling out a cat stove just yet... still trying to wrap my head around all my options. Thanks.
  3. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    I can tell you my mind is NOT made up. I am looking for information from all sides. Measure twice, cut once, etc.

    All good stuff. Keep it coming.

    Thanks for all this. You say discounts... like a cash and carry deal?
  4. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    Not that I intend on burning crap wood, but HOW finicky are we talking here? Like it will tell you it has a headache, and "maybe tomorrow honey?" ;)
  5. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    How big is your house, and is it an open plan? Large glass is important, as I enjoy the hell out of watching the fire tumble around.
  6. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    Aaand here is a conundrum for me. The clearances arent that big of a deal. I've heard many folks extoling the value of a top load stove. I may be wrong, but can you get top load cat stoves? Unless I am confusing it with the secondary burn stoves, and having the system towards the top of the unit.
  7. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    How big an area are you heating?
  8. leeave96

    leeave96 Minister of Fire

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    My house is a cracker box with zero insulation and is not open at all - but my new addition will more than double our space between the new basement and main floor. The new addition will be heated by my Englander 30 (in the basement) and some of that heat will heat the rest of the house. The Keystone is on the other end of the house and will see much burning too.

    Todd has two Keystones and here is a link to youtube showing his Keystone in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBiJDNqCIqk&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

    One thing I really like about the Keystone, in addition to the big window is how the burn looks. With the andirons and logs against it, it looks like a small fireplace burning. The fire is lazy and rolls off the logs vertically up towards the top of the stove with an occasional secondary gas burn-off. It is a great view and most relaxing after a hard day at the salt mine.... ;)

    Bill
  9. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    Is this well documented? Makes sense to me, that the heat has to go somewhere...
  10. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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  11. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    What exactly does that last statement mean?
  12. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Kind a like Goldie locks and the 3 bears, not too hot, not too cold, just right. You just don't get the peaks and valleys or heat spikes like steel and cast. Soapstone holds twice the BTU's pound for pound verses cast/steel so it creates a more even gentle heat instead of a quick seering blast.
  13. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    The actual efficiency is more than that if you look at how the stoves are tested. That 10-12% is an average taken from a low, med and high burn rate. The cats are even more efficient at low to med rates where most people burn at. The non cats are more efficient at high burn rates. So if you can burn a cat stove low and slow all Winter you will save a more wood verses a non cat burning low and slow. If you had to do the reverse burning hot all Winter I think the Non cat wins but I don't know of many peolpe that burn wide open, usually people oversize a bit so they can burn at lower rates or don't have to reload as often.
  14. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    1. Not many do that, not even BK King owners once winter hits.
    2. Isn't it Dennis that like to get the Fireview up to 700+ degrees?

    Cats are more efficient and in the end I will probably have at least two Cat stoves in the house. But the wood savings claims that some have listed are unrealistic in my experience.
  15. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Okay, it's the slow season, and we have nothing better to do than rehash the old debates, all of which you could read in the archives. . .If you didn't get Mr. Green's flywheel, analogy, you could think of the stone as a heat reservoir or thermal buffer. Search "thermal mass." Anyhow, if I understand correctly, you're underinsulated, and you want a stove that will have some BTUs left for heating your home after losing a good portion to the atmosphere. (Std answer is to insulate, but that'd be a PITA, and if you don't want to, that's your prerogative. . .also a PITA carrying extra wood to heat the outdoors though.) Probably more of an issue of stove size than stove material. The current Woodstocks are probably not large enough to waste heat like that. Like Todd said, they have a larger model due out this fall. They have one of the more informative sites on the web. I'm sure you could learn a lot at their factory, and, if it's within striking distance, I'd definitely pay them a visit. Your other stone options for going big would be the $3k Hearthstone Mansfield or the Equinox, if you've got $4k to spend. . .Nobody knows yet, but I expect the new Woodstock to run ~ $3k, probably with ~ 20% intro special. "Cash and carry" would probably save you another $250-300 (- $100 pick up disc, $125 shipp, $50 crate.) Could end up being a very sweet deal. To me, the cool thing about buying at the factory is that you would get to walk through the warehouse and pick out *that one.*
  16. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    If you decide to go with a metal stove, there is no shortage of options, with the Englander 30 being the value leader @ ~ $1k. "Radiant" stoves heat objects in the room more, and "convection" stoves heat the air more. All stoves do both, just to different degrees. Radiant metal stoves have a reputation for melting your face off, if you sit in front of them, but I'm sure some owners will now tell you it ain't so. Keep learning, and you'll get a better idea of what is right for you.

    You might be better off devoting this season to study. . . Non-cat stoves may be more tolerant of unseasoned wood, because they don't have a cat to get gunked up, but, AFAIK, it's tough to get a good secondary burn in any stove if the wood isn't dry enough. If you don't already have dry wood for this season, your chances of buying some = slim to none. Your best option for buying dry fuel would probably be wood bricks, but they cost more, probably ~ $300 / ton.




    Not sure exactly what your question is here, but Vermont Castings makes cat top loader.
    Side loading is good, as long as the stove is not inside a fireplace.
  17. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

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    It has absolutely nothing to do with it being a PITA or not. Quite frankly, the economy is pretty poor, and I have only so much to go around (and even less these days). As money allows, I will probably have the funds to properly redo that side of the house next year, if I get a stove this season. Its not fun, either way.

    Yeah I dont have such funds just laying around. I'm gonna have all that I can just being able to settle on a stove, and getting it installed with a brand new chimney (the existing woodstove chimney in this house, the previous owner destroyed, and we did not know about).

    The leading candidate in my search right now is a PE Alderlea T5... for a few reasons (one being I found a brand new one at a dealer for $1850 (plus those tax rebate figures).
  18. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I like the PE's. Pretty popular around here. You might save a few $ by getting a PE Super(T5 without iron cladding.)
    Here's a good place to check out the PE line: http://chimneysweeponline.com/pacifice.htm

    The T5 is a 2-cu-ft stove. . .the pricier stone stoves I mentioned are more T6-sized. Dunno which size is best for you. WAG: T5 is too small for this winter, but probably just about right after you tighten up the house. 2-cu-ft stone stove might also work then.
  19. mhrischuk

    mhrischuk Guest

    metalsped,

    Have you considered insulated window treatments to try and help hold the heat in?

    Mike
  20. Milton Findley

    Milton Findley Feeling the Heat

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    :lol: This one is easy to answer. Look at the first page of this thread at the picture of the kitty cat under the soapstone stove. Now imagine that cat parking itself under a broiler voluntarily. Hard to do that isn't it? IR is IR, but without researching it directly at this point, I am thinking that the wavelength of the IR off sheet steel is a different wavelength than the IR off soapstone. Longer would be my guess.

    You could get an approximation by thinking crockpot versus Revere ware, or waiting until noon and going outside and then putting one hand on your car if it is parked in the sun, and the other hand on the driveway surface.
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    In PE stoves, if you like the characteristics of a soapstone stove with lots of mass to slowly absorb and then release the soft heat, go with the Alderlea line. The advantages being that you can load N/S and if it's cold out, you can crank it up to 750F stove top without anxiety.
  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    All good stuff. Keep it coming.

    Thanks for all this. You say discounts... like a cash and carry deal?[/quote]

    Thank you. On the discount, as you've found out, Woodstock is introducing a new stove this year that will be much larger than the Fireview. It will also look a lot different if you don't like the looks of the Fireview (difficult for us to understand but each has their own tastes). It will have both the cat and the secondary and no doubt will be the most efficient stove on the market.

    I do not have hard facts on this but I expect them to publicly introduce the stove at their annual open house and that date has not been set yet. Last year it was the Saturday following Labor Day. This year I sort of expect the first or second weekend of October to be the date. I'm sure Woodstock will post as soon as they know and if not, Todd or I will no doubt post it. We also expect many hearth.com members to show up there this year as sort of a mini gathering. I could not imagine a better place for a get-together.


    On your house layout it begs the question of moving the air. Probably the number one thing I have learned on hearth.com is the movement of that warm air in the house. First, I had always tried to move the warm air into the cooler parts of the home. Now, we do the opposite in that our stove is more towards one end than the other. There is a hallway leading to bath and bedrooms. We found that using a small desktop fan (no more than 12" blades; smaller is good too) and sitting that fan on the floor (do not use a pedestal fan) in the hallway and aiming it towards the stove room. In effect, this blows the cooler air into the warmer air. Cool down low and warm up higher. So the cool replaces the warm and that forces some warm air out and that moves to the back of the house.

    For ceiling fans we also found we were doing things backwards. Again, warmer air towards the ceiling and the cooler down by the floor so I always thought to blow that warm air down. Now we do the opposite and it works! The theory is that the coldest air will be along the outer walls. So, that, in effect starts the flow of air down. If it goes down, something has to replace it. So we go with the natural flow and the air goes down along the walls and up in the center of the room so now the fan blowing up just follows the natural flow rather than trying to reverse it.


    A comment was made about finicky wood. Less than good dry wood will not burn well in any stove. If it will burn better in a secondary air type stove than in a cat it is no doubt because of burning at a higher temperature and keeping the flue at a higher temperature. In addition, moisture is the enemy of ceramic cats. Fortunately the new cats now are steel rather than ceramic. Time will tell on folks trying to burn poor fuel in them but right now I do not know if the steel will hold up better than ceramic in this situation. Regardless, anyone who burns wood should not be burning poor fuel the same as they should not burn poor fuel in their cars.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I broke this up into two posts because of space.

    BrowningBar asked if it were me who liked to burn the stove at 700+ degrees. I can say no to that. I have had the stove barely over 700 a couple times but that was not planned....nor did it do any harm to the stove. We do quite often take the stove top up near 700 and then it gradually decreases from there. We also found that it is possible to turn the draft too low. For example, my wife tends to be forgetful and last fall I found that she had the draft set too low and was about going out of her mind trying to keep the stove temperature down. So I simply went to the stove and turned the draft up a bit and all was well. She will probably forget again this fall but it won't take long to train her.

    This brings to mind the draft setting. As has been posted many times, most folks running the Fireview cat stove set their drafts around 1 (draft settings from 1-4). We find that .75 is about the sweet spot for ours but sometimes it is actually closer to .5. It can vary with each installation but it appears from looking through the threads that the cat stoves do not require quite the amount of air that secondary type stoves do.


    Finally, the point was made about the different heat in radiant stoves and soapstone in particular. We too scoffed at the idea of a difference. I kept reading about this "soft heat" from the soapstone and just could not understand it. However, now we have the stove I can surely understand it. For example, come inside on a very cold day and stand in front of the stove. If a steel or cast stove is heated high it can be sort of a harsh heat. With soapstone, you can actually stand much closer and it just feels a lot different.

    With the radiant heat, the objects in the room tend to heat vs. the convection heat.

    Not sure all this was written properly for readers to understand but hope it was.
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That is something I have never understood. Hearthstone is pretty adamant about taking the stove anywhere near those temps. Yet it is ok with Woodstock stoves. Why the difference?
  25. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I've wondered that as well. Woodstock owners have theorized that is has to do with the double, yet thinner, layers of stone that Woodstock uses as oppose to the single layer that Hearthstone uses.
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