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Things I Wish I Knew Then... and Know Now

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by briansol, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,905
    Loc:
    central ct
    I thought this could be a good thread, perhaps even a sticky, to help newbies to the game. Lord knows I've made a ton of mistakes with everything from buying my stove to installing to maintaining to tweaking, and now in my 4th season burning, I finially feel I have a pretty good grasp of where I went wrong.

    In an effort to perhaps save someone else from this misery, here's some things I wish i knew then, and know now. Feel free to add yours to the thread.


    • Watch the installers install your pipe. Note where they RTV'ed. When you disassemle to clean, you will need to know these areas. Inserts especially, as it can be a bit of a puzzle to put back together. take lots of pictures.
    • Don't buy a thermostat without a swing option. This allows the temp to flucuate a few degrees above and below the set temp to avoid excessive stopping/starting back up 5 min later, which just kills power consumption and the ignitor itself. I'd also suggest getting a wireless unit so you can place it on an inside wall without having the fumble around fishing wires through walls.
    • Use some sort of UPS backup, pure sine wave preferred. This will also act as your surge protector and give you some run-time in power flickers/short outages. Consider a generator as well. There are many threads on this as well. Remember, the stove requires power to function and in the event of an outage, you will be cold without it.
    • Get an OAK (outside air kit) with your installation. It is NOT optional if you want good, non-drafty heat. This is the #1 biggest regret I have with my stove... failing to get this installed at the dealer's sugestion of it not being necessary. Getting someone to put this in on a 'used' stove post-install is proving to be difficult, and super expensive. Ask me how I know...
    • Don't buy the cheapest pellets for core winter season heating. You'll probably find you have to run the stove a notch or two higher, which ends up using about double the pellets to keep the place the same temp. Since cheaper pellets are NOT half price of good pellets, it is actually more cost effective to just burn the good stuff in the first place. That is on top of ash and other maintence-related issues of a dity burn. There are some good cheaper pellets, but that is off-topic for this thread. Search around the forum for the test thread and member reviews.
    • A clean stove is a happy stove. It will burn better and hotter and be more reliable the cleaner it is. It is never too early to clean it if you have a nice day and can get away with shutting it down for a few hours and some free time.
    • Don't burn your house down. Dispose of ashes in a proper metal container with a lid. And don't place said container on something that can catch fire.
    • Similiarly, never bypass or jump any of the safety switches other than for testing purposes.
    • Buy pellets off-season. March/April and August/September seem to be the best time to buy, price wise. Fuel costs, and other factors my vary, as well as your locale, but this has been my experience. It is also much more fun to stack in nice weather than when it's freezing cold and snowy.
    • Adjust the draft so that your flame is tight and dances. A weak flame has too little air, and will over-flow the burn pot with unburnt fuel due to poor combustion, and thus heat. Too much air just burns too many pellets and doesn't give off good heat, or even causes the stove to go out due to a feedrate that can't keep up. Just like an engine, a stove requires a proper stoich air/fuel mixture to achieve the best burn in terms of fuel use and heat output. Tuning it will change for seasons (peak and shoulder), air density/temp, humidity, and of course the pellet fuel itself of which you may try several brands in it. Watch it and make small adjustments here and there as needed.
    • Don't post that you have X tons of pellets. You may got tapped into the pellet pig club, at which point the pellet scavengers make their rounds with the white van. :) Kidding, of course.
    jtakeman likes this.

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  2. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    13,488
    Loc:
    Northwestern CT.
    Don't put your stove in the basement, Put it where you really need the heat! It's a space heater not a furnace.

    My bad, I did it once, twice and three times even! ;em Next stove will be a furnace. What can I say, I'm a slow learner! ;sick
  3. Augmister

    Augmister Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    470
    Loc:
    Socialist Republic of RI
    Very good list! Well done. If I could add one... make LOTS of space to add pellets to your supply. If a real good deal shows up in February, you won't have to stash them under your bed and in your closets....
  4. allFIREDup

    allFIREDup Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2011
    Messages:
    79
    Loc:
    Central NH
    good point
  5. allFIREDup

    allFIREDup Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2011
    Messages:
    79
    Loc:
    Central NH
    Also, Don't buy a stove that is pellet picky and not well designed.
  6. BradH70

    BradH70 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    431
    Loc:
    South West NH
    How about this one.....

    Don't go to the stove dealer in mid October and expect to purchase a stove and have it installed by November when you really want to use it to heat your house. Buy your stove in spring/summer season when a delay in installation won't matter.
    briansol likes this.

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