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Stove Loading - Split Off of PE Insert Not Bullet Proof

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Wetcoast Elmira, Nov 24, 2009.

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  1. Wetcoast Elmira

    Wetcoast Elmira New Member

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    [quote author="Hogwildz" date="1254289915"]More from last year's cleaning............
    Its known I run mine fairly hard. 24/7 in season. But I feel I don't go nuts.
    I know others have run theirs harder.[/quote]

    [​IMG]

    At first I thought this photo was a joke - no disrespect! That stove is crammed full. Why?

    Three moderate-sized pieces makes a nice fire, four if you really want to max out, but crammed to the top like that I doubt there is enough air for that much wood to burn. So instead of burning a few pieces fully, it would be burning many pieces incompletely.

    I doubt that any modern stove is designed to take that much wood in the firebox or that much heat so high up in the firebox.

    I would say that is overfiring, when you can't get another piece of wood into the firebox.

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  2. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    That's how I burn everytime. Why load the firebox halfway? Overfiring has to do with the temperature, not the amount. You seem to contradict yourself by saying that it's overfiring AND not able to burn completely. I don't have a PE, but I can tell you that mine burns awesome when packed. I would think you would lose efficiency by doing it your way since you would be opening the box twice as much.
  3. Wetcoast Elmira

    Wetcoast Elmira New Member

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    I guess it's a bit like horsepower and speed: for every knot/mph you increase speed, the hp has to increase exponentially. If a 100hp engine will drive your car as fast it can go, why buy something with 300hp?

    So, sure you can load it "full", but how much fuel does it take to bring the stove to maximum operating temperature, and keep it there?

    If three or four pieces will do it, why put in eight? Do you get twice as much heat from burning twice as much wood?

    Does the extra fuel actually end up as extra heat transmitted to the room, or does it just go up the chimney since the stove can only absorb and transmit so much heat to the room in a given period of time?

    Not to be rude, I hope, but there seems to be a perception that the firebox has to be "full". I'm wondering where that perception comes from?!
  4. MovingOffGrid

    MovingOffGrid Member

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    I believe most manufacturers state not to load past the top of the bricks, so you have a small point here. However, larger load equates to longer burn times without re-loading, so a good load to top of bricks will burn at a steady even heat with secondaries firing longer and more easily, than a few pieces in the same large firebox.

    I have found my larger overnight loads ( I try to keep them no larger than around the top of brick height), does indeed enable longer burns with more heat running on less air, if the stove and chimney are heated prior to loading it up and idling it down.

    I can idle down a larger load much more easily and for longer periods, without losing secondary burn.

    All this is dependent on good dry wood of course.
  5. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    Much longer burns. Your analogy is the wrong analogy. The way I look at it is this. My car has a 20 gallon gas tank and I like to fill it up when it gets empty. Sure I can go 70mph on 1/4 of a gallon, but I can't go for 400 miles. You're equating having a large load of fuel in there to being burned all at once. It would if I left my air open, but once I get to the magical temp of 550* I close off the air and let the wood gas off which keeps it at temp much much longer than 4 logs. 4 logs may have me at 550 just like a whole load would, but then it would taper off and get to around 300 (which is where I like to reload) after about 2 hours. With a full tank I can get around 5 hours or even 6 to 7 until I've got to reload. The inefficient time is when the insert gets near a low temperature which is when you load it. I like to limit that as much as possible. I also like to get a good night's sleep and wake up to a warm house with a nice bed of coals and not have to start from dead every day. I couldn't do that with 4 splits ever. Again, different strokes for different folks. Now, if I'm just taking the chill off the house then I'll just throw in a few splits, but for real burning I just load and forget about it.
  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I split this off into its own thread folks. It doesn't look like it pertains to the original thread.
  7. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    That pretty much sums it up unless you have a stove that you can't control the combustion or desire a particular "look" for your fire. Incidentally, the manual for my stove instructs you to load it all the way up and let it do its thing.
  8. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    With my little Century it's the only way to go on a cold night! I believe it burns more efficiently with a full load than with numerous small ones.

    If I only threw a split or two in before bed I'd get about 3 hours before I needed to reload. With the newborn this winter it looks like I'll be up for it. Normally I'd be dreaming at that time about the heat the stove is putting off.

    Matt
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    You will have to change your ID to EatenBySleepDeprivation. :lol:
  10. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    You ain't kidding! :lol: There's just no reasoning with a newborn when it comes to sleeping.

    Matt
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The firebox is meant to be filled. You don't buy a 3CF stove and only use 1 CF of it do you? No, you are allowed the flexibility to burn smaller loads for less time or larger loads for a longer time. I will say that it is not a linear relationship between % full and hours of burntime. Seems that the fully loaded stove will make a bit more heat for a much longer time compared to a half load.

    Most days I don't want a long burn time of full temp burning and so I load part full. Most nights I want max burn time so I fill to the gills. I don't have no stinking firebox bricks that I am not supposed to fill above.

    Attached Files:

  12. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    In the cold weather, I load mine like that for over nights and weekdays when I'm at work. It's the only way to have the coals needed to get cooking in the morning or at night.

    Keep an eye on the temp, start backing down when it's just before cruising, and I'm good to go.

    Dry wood is key, try that with wet wood, and you've got a smoldering, chimney clogging mess.
  13. Wetcoast Elmira

    Wetcoast Elmira New Member

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    Well, I can see there are lots of variables here, such as the BTUs in the wood being used etc. I only burn dry hardwoods: oak and arbutus mostly.

    Still, you'd think that with a firebox of a given size, and airflow of a given volume per unit of time, the same type of wood should burn at the same rate, regardless of quantity, IF there is adequate airflow.

    If a full load means a longer burn time, I guess it must be because the wood is burning more slowly, and that I assume can only be because the extra wood trying to burn in the confined space is using up all the available oxygen, forcing the wood to burn more slowly.

    Fortunately it doesn't get as cold out here as back east!

    My good old Elmira insert has LOTS of space in the firebox and I've never had more than three pieces in it. No firebricks except on the floor and no secondary air - yet!

    Hope no one took offence, I only troll for salmon! ;-)
  14. drumbum

    drumbum Member

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    If your elmira is pre EPA then you should only load 2/3's full.
  15. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I don't think you are taking into account surface area. For example in the extreme, take the oak that you are burning. make a bed of coals along the bottom. Stuff the firebox with say 5lbs of oak kindling. The flames are able to lick up and around the kindling and quickly reduce it to ashes. Now take a 5lb split of oak and lay it on the coals. It'll still light off, but with a smaller surface area the flame takes longer to reduce it to ashes. Both loads have the same amount of wood in them.

    We'll need to see pics of the salmon. It's the "No pics, Didn't happen" thing.
  16. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Another variable to consider is the type of burn technology. Sometimes to maximize efficiency you can't have airflow of a given volume per unit of time for different sized loads. My downdraft Harman has a secondary burn chamber that needs a deep coal bed and a charred load of wood to get the most BTUs out of the fuel. Since I have to give it more air and open the bypass damper between loads, it is less efficient if I do multiple small loads instead of one large load. But in an open fireplace or a non-EPA stove, I would load 2 or 3 splits at a time just like you.
  17. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    First - thanks for posting the pics in this thread as I have been wondering just what folks consider "fully loaded" to look like in different stoves. I'll have to take a picture of mine whenever I get around to doing it - I have yet to do so in the new stove as it just hasn't been cold enough yet!

    My intention is to pack it in as much as possible though. I'd love to see pictures of other Fireview's packed to the gills :)

    I'm also very much interested in this idea that somehow the burn time is not linear and is greater for a more fully filled stove. Somehow that just doesn't seem to make sense to me, but then a lot of things around here don't seem to make sense at first (top down fires come to mind).
  18. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Maybe they are counting the losses from opening the door multiple times versus once?
  19. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Perhaps - I'm wondering if it is more of a perception thing along the line of 1/2 full isn't really 50% of the wood volume of packed. Although multiple door openings and the associated re-start of the burn clearly wastes energy/fuel I wonder if it really is all that material in the big picture. Perhaps it really is - if so, add that to the list of arguments for larger fireboxes (and cat stoves so that users can fully load and dial-down the output to avoid overheating?).
  20. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    For a downdraft stove, it's counting the losses from opening both the bypass damper and primary air multiple times versus once. I'm losing BTUs whenever I lose my secondary combustion, regardless of whether the burn time is linear. The burn is less efficient in its early stages as well as its late stages, so a longer burn means a higher efficiency. Does a city versus highway analogy make sense here? Shorter shoulder season burns give me city mileage, dead of winter calls for cruise control.
  21. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Looks like everyone else answered for me ;)

    If I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand.
    Thats about all I can add.
  22. Dirtgrain

    Dirtgrain New Member

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    In addition to available air and surface area, as others have mentioned, how the air flows around the wood is a factor.
  23. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Yup, you can stuff a stove like that with an established coal bed... that's how we load when we leave the house.
  24. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    We did a major behavior change from the throw a log on the fire method to load it up and forget about it this year. It will be interesting to see if that translates into significantly less wood consumed.
  25. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I buy that explanation. Although, it seems that a cat stove lets you use cruise control in the shoulder season.
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