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The cheese they try to put in stove now

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by summit, May 12, 2009.

  1. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

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    I have seen what i see as a disturbing trend in woodburning units over the last few years. Many producers are installing chessey ceramic baffles in the woodstove on the market. There are some (lopi, PE, jotul, woodstock) that still stick to steel, cast, and or bricks in their baffle which hold up to impact, but many out there do not. Napoleon, archgard, englander, hearthstone, dutchwest, regency, enviro, vermont castings ( the list goes on ) have a thin ceramic board which punctures easilly and flakes off chunks within a year of use.
    I understand the reflective and high k factors these boards possess help these stoves to pass epa standards, and they are most likely very modular and cost efficient, but what gives? You plunk down 2 grand min. for a quality stove, and within a year you puch out the baffle from impact and flaking. As someone who sells/installs/ services about 10 different lines, i find myself in the moral dillema of selling someone a stove to move the inventory without having to acknowledge these shortcomings (as we do not want to be seen as carrying an inferior product).
    Most often, these parts are covered by a limited warranty. usually in the type there is a line that goes to the effect of; " warrantied for breakage due to thermal stress, but not for damage due to impact, misuse, etc." This line makes the customer catch the tab for a new broken stove, or the dealer who must eat it out of his own pocket (because who can say they never hit the baffle in the stove when they are tossing a log around, or stuffing the last chunk in for an all night burn! it's 400lbs of steel, and i gotta worry about breaking the inside?!!). Without the baffles, these stoves do not operate up to par, and much efficiency shoots up the chimney! Then there is the cost.. at least 100 bucks for the part, another 100-200 to install.
    Others use this stuff in the back of the stove... have you ever seen the foam stuff that surrounds the catalysts in the cat stoves? or the reburners in many top load non-cat stoves? in the manual it tells you to clean catalysts every 30 days, and the reburn chambers several times per season! These assemblies get fragile quickly after firing, and when you have to move them around or stick a vaccum hose in them, watch out!
    What is the general opinion out there? is anyone else as peeved as i am when i see this in all the newer products coming down the pipe?

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  2. flewism

    flewism Member

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    I don't no, but my 2 year old Napoleon 1401 insert needs new baffles. They are some type of fiberboard not ceramic, but they are not durable. $25 each on line and I need two of them. This is my first wood burner other than regular fireplace.
  3. johnn

    johnn New Member

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    I`m aware that there are different ceramic boards with all kinds of application and specs, some more dense than others. Of those which may be capable of extended service, you are looking at $60 a square foot. This price could be passed on provided it had been tested and could be shown to be cost effective. What size sheet demands $100 purchase price,,and why so much for installation. Bear in mind im not nearly as familiar as you, with all the stoves, baffles just seemed to be pretty straight forward.
  4. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

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    yeah, the firboard is basically what i am talking about.. light weight cheese
  5. johnn

    johnn New Member

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    Flewism:: could you post a link to those boards, so that I could look at them?
  6. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    As much as I like my 30-NC, I'm not so much a fan of the split ceramic fiber baffles..
  7. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

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    I am talking about retail price.. any prices you get online are for a bulk item or at manufacturer direct items, but when you return to the dealer, you are faced with their markup on the item, or the extra cuts they make on the board at the factory ro fit in their stoves.. many prices you pay for thru the dealerships have an attatched 40% markup. the problem is, especially when the company does not honor it under a warranty, if a dealer is good enough to get it to you, the costs you get hit with include ups shipping, and labor to install. If the company does warranty it, then the dealer gets his cost of the part, but not any shipping, and the refund is not in a cash or check, but in a credit you can only use with said company.
  8. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

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    the biggest end of it it what you said: not durable... look, everyone looks to a woodburning appliance as something that stands the test of time and fire, but many are not being made that that standard anymore inside the stove... which should be the most rugged part.
  9. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Summit...I am glad you are on the board here. Its nice to get some thoughts from dealers/installers and their point of view. Thanks.
  10. johnn

    johnn New Member

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    Doesn`t seem to be asking too much. I agree!!

    Seems like the grid pattern supporting brick and possibly a blankett, would last a reasonable time.,,but then I guess you lose advertised cu.ft.
  11. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

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    thank you! i really enjoy this site... there are 8 employees at our shop, and we are the only ones who we can talk to about this kinda stuff... it all goes over most everyone elses' heads! people have a preconcieved notion of hearth systems as something you stick in, it gets hot, and you don't have to put much thought process into it! you gottta know what is going on! otherwise, that investment costs you as much, or more, than the current fossil fuel alternative.
  12. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    I had to change mine yearly on my old stove$$$ Thats why I laugh when people talk about maintenance on a CAT stove. 4yrs now and Ive ran a vacuum on it. BIG DEAL! The Napoleon cost me a lifetime of combustors for the newer stove. Thanks for the thread. I finally got my rant off. :coolgrin: Cheers
    N of 60
  13. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    My dealer went on a rant about the "cheap" boards and cats before I bought my Lopi. It pretty much followed everything you're saying to the letter. :)
  14. rickw

    rickw New Member

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    One thing nice about the FV, nothing but stone, steel and heavy firebrick in the firebox. You can hammer wood into it.
  15. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    I never understood all the rants against cat stoves when a lot of the non-cat secondary burn stoves have these fiberboard/ceramic board sheets or even more expensive cast ceramic assemblys (everburn?) that are fragile and need replacing after a few years. I'll take my chances with the cat in my Fireview- even IF it needs replacement every 4 years I think the maintenence costs will be a wash between cat vs non-cat stoves. The cat stove however has the added benefit of longer damped down burns if needed. Also I think the warranty covering the cat (at least Woodstock's warranty) is better than warranty coverage on these fiber/ceramic boards.
  16. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    I'm going to quit complaining about hitting the tubes in my stove.
  17. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    My last Lopi had the steel supports for the firebrick baffle. That was good.

    I've shoved just about 11 cords through my hearthstone over the last two seasons and I have of course hit that stupid baffle. In the case of hearthstone it is about 1/2" thick and about the density of a homemade sugar cookie so it is pretty heavy. I have dented and gouged it. I have removed it several times to clean the chimney and for other stove maintenance with relative ease. The baffle is extremely easy to replace and must come out for a good chimney sweeping anyway. I believe a new one is less than 100$.

    I would be much happier if the baffle was made of steel or some other durable material. That said, I filled the dents and gouges with a quick application of furnace cement the last time I swept the chimney and this repair has worked extremely well. I just blew out the dent and spread the cement like peanut butter.

    Again, I agree with you, the fiber baffle is a poor choice for durability despite being a good choice for EPA testing. I will consider it a negative item on future stove purchases but not a show stopper.
  18. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    I have a Regency ( about 5 years old) it has the ceramic 2 piece baffle. I just removed it the other day to clean the chimney, looked to be in good shape, seems to be holding up just fine. I think a more durable replacement baffle could be made form 1/4 steel plate with a ceramic blanket on top ( this is how I made the baffle for my Fisher stove.
  19. stockdoct

    stockdoct New Member

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    Summit

    Instead of hiding the fact of the cheesy baffles in the stoves you sell and having an angry customer a year later when it breaks, you might want to change the customer's expectations right at the sale.

    After they've made their choice on the stove, let them know about the rapid breakage of the baffle "in other customer's stoves I've sold" and offer them an "insurance policy" against breakage for $50 additional dollars. If the baffle breaks in the next 5 years, you agree to replace it for them, once, at no additional charge.

    If they buy the insurance and the baffle breaks, they are happy they bought the insurance.
    If they buy the insurance and forget about it (like many certainly will) you pocket the $50
    If they choose not to buy the insurance and the baffle breaks, they're content that you had warned them at the outset and blame themselves for not buying insurance
    If they chose not to buy the insurance and the baffle is fine, they're happy with their "smart" decision.

    In all situations, the customer is happy and you look good for your foresight.
  20. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    The problem with this is it doesn't have very good thermal reflective properties. Take a look at Precaud's posts experimenting with different liners for a more in-depth analysis of this. I will try to find a link. It's more than just EPA standards we're trying to meet with our baffle boards; it's about improving the efficiency of the stove as well. I do agree something more durable should be used, however. I'm fairly certain most manufacturers aim for a trade-off in durability vs. thermal reflectivity.
  21. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    If I owned a stove with one of those cheap thin baffles and it broke on me, I think I would look into laying firebricks on top of the burn tubes. I use to own an Energy King non cat and it's baffle was designed that way, in fact the older Napoleons had the same firebox as Energy King and now they went to the thin baffle boards.
  22. ControlFreak

    ControlFreak Feeling the Heat

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    I'm trying to figure out how to say this without sounding insulting. Please don't make assumptions, and insult people who design things unless you have a full understanding of why things are designed that way. It only makes you look cheesy. Companies are not always sacrificing quality for cost, and this is not a cost issue.

    Those "cheesy" light panels are cheesy and light for a reason. These refractory panels are exceptionally light because they heat up very easily and act like a glow plug in a diesel engine, to improve the secondary combustion efficiency (though a diesel only uses the plugs to start). If your stove is operating up to temperature, that cheesy light panel will glow red hot as smoke rises and combines with the secondary air to produce the secondary combustion. This red hot glow serves as a "catalyst" to burn up the smoke. This is not a chemical catalyst as in typical CAT stoves, but you can think of it as a thermal catalyst. The panels are not made light to cut cost, but they dramatically improve the effectiveness of your secondary. Let me give you an illustration. When I first installed my 1401 insert, Napoleon used some light firebricks up at the top of the firebox. Those bricks would glow red when the secondary was in full swing. After a few years, the bricks started to disintegrate. By that time, Napoleon (Wolf Steel) had replaced the firebricks with these cheesy light panels. After this replacement, the stove's operating temperature went up by about 100 degrees with the same burn time. Why? Because the cheesy refractory panels improve the secondary performance enough to generate that much more combustion and heat.

    If your complaint is about how fragile they are, then be a little more careful not to scrape firewood against them when you load up your stove. I find that the refractory panels, even though they are very light, are more durable than the firebricks. That is, the panels don't crack and disintegrate the way the older bricks did. Sure, my panels are scratched up on the inside from hitting them with logs, but I have yet to poke a hole all the way through them. And when I do, I won't mind replacing the panels. They are well worth it with the performance improvement they bring. They are a maintenance item like spark plugs. They are a delicate part that wears and eventually needs to be replaced.
  23. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

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    I am not trying to insult those who design these, and i am fully aware of their unique properties. However, when you compare the material that is put into the top of the stove now, with the stuff that used to get put into the "good old stoves" from years past (which there are many out there, and they are still in great shape w/ original parts) it does not match up in the quality you expect when you plunk down 1-3 K for a stove. Now I know that they help these stoves acheive an epa rating, there are usually easy to replace, and are relativley cheap.... but they break, and they can break on day 1 of use... and if you smash it jamming a log into your stove, you just bought yourselfs some spare parts. A more substantive material should be used (for example jotul and scan, as well as many europeon stoves use a skamol material which holds up very well and has these same properties). The last thing you want to say to a guy whent they are buying a woodstove is "be careful when you load the wood in there, the inside is fragile." This industry has gone from old tanks of stoves to efficient heaters that burn "greener" in the course of the last 20 years. If we can put a man on the moon, we can find a better material to make a baffle out of.
  24. johnn

    johnn New Member

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    Hey sommit: karriOn was trying to direct you to a 5 page thread done by precaud,,its very good reading as he experimented with different liner material. good discussion and info. I`ve done much research since that thread and found numerous materials , many available only in bulk or wholesale.Those which could prove useful (if memory serves) uses Alumina woven into a ceramic blankett prior to hardeneng and vacumne forming This helps to create the density needed for duration. The material he used I believe was Zirconia at a price of $64 a sq.ft. It would be nice to be able to persuade these manufacturers to try other materials, however we can easily compute the cost of new engineering and associated cost to even get manufacturers to try! Sorry I couldnt get a kwick link for you to click on,,,but if you go to the search box,,and type,,,precaud,,, in the results you will find a thread,,,"Materials used to line fireboxes- a test",,,read it if you have the time,,,I believe your thread "cheesy" also shows up in the search
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I've posted before that I'm not a fan of ceramic baffle boards so no rant here. But I do think modern stoves are an expensive purchase and don't like the idea of consumables tied to its long term operational efficiency or durability. That sounds too much like today's modern computer printers. It was influential in my deciding on the T6 cuz I'm a low maintenance operator. I have enough things around to keep working well without adding more maintenance to the list.

    The other side of the coin is with low priced stoves like the Englander and Napoleons, I think a baffle board solution there is acceptable. These companies provide solid heaters at an affordable price. There has to be some compromises in design. Considering how cleanly these stoves burn, I think the baffle board is an acceptable compromise. OTOH, in a high-end stove, I'm expecting a better solution.

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