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This stove has preformed better than I expected

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Feb 19, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I must say my VC intrepid II is a fantastic room heater. Burns very clean a no smoke with the cat activated. 6 hours of decent heat is a reality. The room it is in is 22/22 16’ cathedral ceilings 7 exterior windows 4 sky lights and exterior door and open stair case going to the level below. Point being, not the easiest room to heat but this stove can get it there. 70 degrees even when 3 outside earlier Dec. and 3 degrees last night
    First cat stove I owned. I was worried it would not work out this well. 8/8 masonry flue completely outside 24’ up. When I replaced the combustor $59 woodstove combusters.com. It was so easy to install and $59 is not hard to take if even every 3 years. they claim 5 to 6 years.

    Now I wish I knew that before I bought the resolute 3 years back for the same money I could have gotten the Encore larger fire box 20” logs (I have to shorten my entire supply) longer cleaner burns more BTU’s Which I could really use on that level. I wish I could locate a decent used one I do not mind the work involved even if I have to rebuild it. My situation is limited to rear exit only top of my exit pipe can only be 28” this eliminated most stoves. the encore is 26 3/4” which I can make work.

    Update I have located a 1998 hunter green Encore Used only 2 heating seasons Better yet only 3 miles away I have examined it and these are its faults. the top load girdle handle and cast is broken off missing also missing is the handle to open the doors.
    All interior parts seem ok no warpage or cracked plates I think I can get it for 400- $500. I have talked to VC and they will ship me a hunter green 6" vent collar it should line up with my existing vent outlet. The chimney it is going in is an 8/8 separate flue interior location in good condition and currently draft very well with the Resolute Acclaim

    It's nights like last night my mind starts to wonder. The Resolute dose a decent job till single digits weather. Then the burner kicks in occasionaly. that 7000 more BTU rating has me wondering? Would 18% more capacity get the job done beyond single digits?
    IT's not like VC is the only stove to consider, but being restricted to matching the rear flue exit , has narrowed down the field, to only a few choices. Plus finding one local. I also understand 1998 was not VC\ CFM best qc years of production. I am thinking I can sell my Resolute Acclaim , still great condition, and come out of this about a wash.

    Looking for oppinions or feed back concerning is it a good deal or are my expectations wrong. I don't want to drag 400+ lb beast in and out often. If the Encore preforms anything like my Intrepid I would do it in a monent. Does it?

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  2. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Casper Wyoming
    They're a good stove Elk. I had one from the late 90's on the floor for a long time. It was the brighter blue and didn't sell well for some reason. I didn't see anything wrong with it quality wise. I would guess that there are probably 25-30 of them that my boss sold during the 97-02 time period and I've only heard of one complaint about the stove from one person. He had to replace the combustion package that houses the catalyst. He felt he should never have to do that. Have you checked out the non-cat Encore? It's a nice stove too, plus you can install a blower on it.
  3. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Go for it Elk,
    Those extra btu's should help somewhat, and less loading with longer burn times also a plus. Also for that price you can always give it a try, and if it doesn't work out maybe sell it for a small profit.
  4. AKFireMan

    AKFireMan New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
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    Loc:
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    Elk,

    I purchased a VC Encore on December 7th of '05 and have been very pleased with the performance of the stove so far. I am heating roughly 2000 ft and it does a pretty good job of keeping the house warm. I have an open living room/dining/kitchen area with a 30' hallway with 4 bedrooms and a bath off of it. If I keep all the doors open I can keep th back of the house around 68 degrees and the main living area around 75-80. I run my stove 24/7 and have only used around 2 cords of wood so far. I must admit that the house was remodeled a few years back and is insulated really well, it is also 2x6 construction with triple pane windows which helps. I should also add that I live in northern Alaska and the average winter temps hover in the negative numbers most of the winter. I have been pleased with the quality of the stove and my dealer did a quality install. If you have any specific questions about the stove PM me and I tell you what I can
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    How are things in AK what a test climate for stove preformance results.
    This is the only way I can get into the Encore finding a decent used one
    The Intrepid II was used being given away replaced by a pellet stove.
    Which I happened upon It was to replace my older plate steel 1984 stove.
    I know there is not a lot of difference in age from 1984 to 1987 But I did my homework
    and knew it was Oregon Certified and there for built to EPA Specs .
    ( Oregon Specs were the prelim to EPA standards) and being a cat stove it exceeded the
    EPA cleaner burning criteria. One day as I was cleaning it up, I decided to blow it out with
    compressed air about 100lbs. What I did not expect is, the dust created, found all the leaks
    in the seams of the cast parts. Since it cost nothing, I decided to take it a part and put it back
    together, re sealing the cast joints with refractory cement. Part of me wanted to do it, just to see If I could.
    The other part in doing it, I would restore it to almost new condition and if sucessfull, I hoped for many
    more years of decent service. As I scraped all the old refactory off and wire wheeled it. I used bar clamps
    and ratchet down holding straps to get it aligned and hold parts in position till the cement cured and to
    make bolting it together easier. Another benifit was, I practically essembled it in place. I was not dealing
    with the total 300 lbs at once. As I mentioned earlier it preforms better than all expectations.
    Example now, 15 degrees out cat engaged stove running 450 intake air 1/4 open room temp 73.

    The Encore I looked at, is in good enought condition, that I may not have to rebuild it. To move it,
    I will dissesemble it partly just to reduce the weight and make moving it easier. I will either replace the cat,
    or clean it in boiling water and vinegar using compressed air and pipe cleaners, And if necessary replacement.
    My wife says I am OCD, concerning wood stoves and gathering wood supply. (She might be on to something there,
    15 cords of wood) . I have to convince her we could use the 18% more heat and cleaner burning ,but most
    important economically a wash. I already bought a floor model Resolute Acclaim 3 years back, so the stove
    is not ready for replacement. I really wish I was in a position to just say I want the new Encore non Cat. but we are not.
    Part of the puzzle is the non cat Encore is rated exactly the same as my Resolute as far as BTU output 40,000
    Really I had hoped to just give my Acclaim away, to a family in more need than I, but economics do not allow me that option.
  6. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    R-13 with one inch Styrofoam = a system's value of R-21 on side walls

    about 2.5' of exposed single wall pipe (this is my family room Intrepid II )


    the other statememt had I known. Can refere to the suprise of how well a cat stoves works

    or finding out how well the cat stove works I would have bought the Encore.
    Dylan did you see what Far North said what an acid test for the stove.

    STill thinking about the off white colored Vigalaint Ahhh!! got too much wood to burn first


    Good morning to all
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    For many buying used is a real gamble. If buying used, my suggestions would to buy brand names,
    where parts support is available. For me, I am prepared to rebuild the entire stove if necessary.
    But after very careful inspection and knowing only two years use I feel confident I could use it as it is with the exception of the com-buster cleaning or replacement. Gaskets are the least of my worry

    Disassembly question: doors off from the hinges, top girdle, Ash pan, Rear or top flue collar.
    Remove the grates. possibly both left and right cast iron air plates. This will easily reduce it 100 LBS
    There is no fire bricks so the plates inside the fire box are fair game to be removed. Then again Should I decide,
    maybe disassembly is the best way to move and best way to put it back in service.

    The one in my town , has only two minor chips in the ceramic Hunter green coating. It looks real good. Not all that crazy
    about the green but I can live with it if the price is right and condition this good.

    How is that Old Vigilant you have what year and condition and tell me how well it does the job of heating

    I would consider one of them but without major surgery threw granite field stone and masonry (16")
    to adapt to the 8" oval to round,. That's not going to happen
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Dylan What if you could just run a bead of refactory cement along the existing seams
    and joints inside wthout complete dissassembly. To get into confinded areas, a combinabtion
    use of a caulking gun and squeeze tubes might just do the trick.? If this could be done,it would limit
    removing a few plates to get at the seams, Maybe removing the flue collar allows more access
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    We are talking about two topics moving and reburbishing your stove in place
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    burned threw Yea its time to replace them. What about stain steel replacements? For that mater every bolt that comes out,
    stainless steel replacement
  11. jlaw

    jlaw New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6
    I have heated my home 24/7 for 13 years w/ defiant Encore-2190 bought in 1994- and highly recommend the stove. I live in Western Massachusetts, I built our house -2200 sqf colonial- w/2x6 exterior walls -stove is actually on the far end of the house in a catherdral ceiling living room -not the ideal central location, and the stove does a fantastic job heating the house. I NEVER use furnace- I have an old non-cat Intrepid on the other side of house- which I only use when temps are around zero- or when only need a little heat in fall and spring, which also is a great little stove.
    The Encore vents into a 8" square masonary flue which runs thru the garage-approx 25' tall' . Attach to the fluw w/ 6" single wall- one 90 degree bend. Set-up sounds similar to what you have.
    The stove burns no problem thru the night-load at 10Pm- good coals at 6-7 AM. A couple small splits and it fires right up- I burn mostly Oak-Maple- season one year. Windows stay extremely clean- I clean up once a month. I usally pull the pipe every 6- 7 weeks to run wire brush thru- and take a look at the CAT.I clean the masonary flue twice a year- once before the season- one once during-when I can get on the roof-probably more than I need -but better safe than sorry-stove does not produce an excess amount of creosote as long as you burn decently dryed wood.
    I had a problem with a couple CATS crumbling after only a year or so- but they were replaced under warranty. Part of that might have been me going into bypass to early and shocking the catalyst- w/ large temp change. I now store a couple loads of wood near stove- so that TEmp is higher than pulling from pile on porch- and let it get going for a few minutes before engaging CAt- Current Cat is going to 3 years of 24/7 Oct-April burning -it still looks good. It is Condar Cat- I have used them all -seem to all work about the same. I actually clean this one in Vinegar water solution at the beginning of year- which is supposed to help prolong life of Catlytic material.
    I do not use a CAt Probe Thermometer- I run with just Griddle Top which has been fine. Go into Cat at 450 griddle Top-
    These are great stoves if you are not afraid of getting your hands dirty-which it sounds like you are fine with. They need to be taken apart after the season- inspected- re-fractory box need to be cleaned- CAT needs to be cleaned-Seams inspected- I replace alot of the gaskets every year- griddle Top etc...inspect gaskets etc.. you can usually tell if one is failing- by increased burn rate-Ashpan gasket need to always be in good shape- I have only had to change twice- but if it leaks- you will get alot of air into fire.
    I have changed the refractory box once- basically have to tear apart whole stove to get that out- but I enjoy building- taking things apart- so for me it has never been an issue.
    This is probably not the stove for everybody- Like I said you need to get your hands dirty occasionally- If you are looking for a stove where you just put in wood- adjust a single lever and be done with it - and due minimal yearly maintenance, this is not the stove for you- if you want to heat your house with it.
    They are EXCELENTLY engineered stoves when run correctly and serviced correctly- but you need to monitor all aspects etc.. and not be afraid of tearing apart to replace parts . I prefer the cat stoves for their length of burn- and extremely even heat distribution thru a burn cycle. The stove uses very little wood- I burn 24/7 October- April- and use only 4 1/2- 5 cods per year- probably closer to 4-4 1/2 this year because it has been so warm.
    I think the combination you have will be perfect- Intrepid CAt and Encore- The ENcore puts out a ton of heat- which can be a liitle much during the early fall/Spring- thats when you can run the Intrepid- and not get blown out.

    IF i were you I would pull out the combustor- and take out all access panels etc to make sure they are not warped etc..as you know all the parts are repaceable-and most internal parts will warp with time in normal burning- just need to figure out if any need replacing etc.. before you buy. Be careful buying combustor stoves- I haved looked at many stoves and most people do not even know how to access combustor-or do not even know where it is etc..so they have no idea what shape the stove is in, you need to figure that out on your own, which it seems you have no problem doing.
    It is amazing how many people are running these stoves- and have NO idea what they are doing-these are people that need secondary air combustion stoves ie JOTul etc.. because they are not running Cat stoves the way they are intended- and end up giving CAT stoves a bad name.
    Like I said above -highly recommend stove- hope my 2 cents helps.

    Jim
  12. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    the damper engaging is closing the main exhaust vent forcing the smoke and combustion products threw a secondary path.
    In that secondary path is a Cat Combustor element. Smoke is then burned off in a secondary burn. Smoke normally requires 1200 degrees to burn it. A catalytic combustor lowers this required temperature to 600F, achieving a long, slow, controlled combustion that burns off the smoke that otherwise would leave the chimney as dirty, wasted fuel. The newer Combustor.com replacements will allow the burning process down to 380 degrees further extending the burn time.

    The combustor can get as hot as 2000 degrees . In order to prevent thermal shock to the metals, it is recomended to allow the stove to heat up to near 500 to 600 degrees before engaging the damper which activates the Cat. In other words don't rush it
  13. jlaw

    jlaw New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2006
    Messages:
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    There are 2 exhaust options on a catalytic stove;

    1) Exhaust gasses go directly thru the Catalytic combustor
    or
    2) Exhaust gasses "bypass" the combustor-and pass directly to the exhaust flue-ie;bypassing the combustor

    This is accomplished by engaging the damper- one position sends gasses around the combustor"bypass" or flip the damper the other way and gasses are forced thru the combustor'.


    My wording was incorrect on my original reply- which lead to the confusion on terminology


    On a catalytic stove you do not want exhaust gasses enterring the honeycombed shaped combustor until they reach a range of 380-500 degrees-depending on the type of combustor you are using. You want combustion exhaust gasses to "bypass "the combustor until they reach the 380-500 f degree plateau- at that point the damper is engaged so that the exhaust gasses are forced thru the combustor,and with everything working correctly the exhaust gasses will then ignite within the combustor . Which has been discussed in detail in other posts on this site.



    regards
    Jim
  14. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Closing the damper closes off the main vent passage engaging it to close is the same/ The stove can opperate either way.
    The cat only opperates with the damper closed or when smoke is re- routed threw the seconday vent passage. The key here is, getting the stove up to temp 500+, before closing off the main vent, forcing the passage threw the secondary cat path. The combustor then initiates burning the particles left in the smoke or a secondary burn. Onee initiated it will contiune burning these patricle till the temps drop below 380. Meanwhile the primary air supply can be adjusted or there is a temperature sensitive spring activated secondary air supply which opens or closed automatically adjusting the air. flow It extends the burn time and produces a more even heat range over a longer period of time. That's the main benifits of the Intrepid and Encore Cat stoves
    If I am missing something here please let one of the experts clean up where I left off. If one learns how to opperate these stoves
    and has a decent draft these buggars will preform. IT is possible an Modern Encore will out perform your Vigilant. I know the cat Defiant will
  15. rmcfall

    rmcfall Feeling the Heat

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    have you got a link for that website with the combustors?


  16. jlaw

    jlaw New Member

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    I Think that most stoves are sold to people that are looking to have weekend fires, or fires after work etcc/ I think only a small percentage are sold to be used as primary heat sources. I think the occasional burner is looking to light a fire and enjoy the flames, not really relying on its heat- the heat is the byproduct. not overly concrned with overnight burns, top loading to fill as much wood as possible, or even heat distribution over a long period of time etc,,,which are the concerns of a stove purchased for serious heating. They want simplicity,and ease of operation to enjoy thr fire. Which all are good things if that is your requirement

    This is accomplished efficiently thru the use of the new clean burn technlogy , and makes the stove pretty simple to operate for the part time burner. No need to monitor combustor temps, no need to inspect and clean combustors etc.. basically a simple and efficient turn key stove w/ little maintenance required. Like everyting nowadays I guess- ease of operation with as little upkeep required as possible.
    If you are using the stove as a serious heater, the requirements listed above, overnight burns, amount of wood and ease of top loading vrs side or front loading, long term even heat distribution over a burn cycle etc... are factors that are given more importance. My experience has been that catalytic combustors accomplish all of the above a little more efficiently than the newer secondary combustion/clean burn sysyetms, but the combustors do require more work which is the trade -off. If you are willing to put in the etra work etc., the catalytic combustors give you an advantage.

    That has been my experience having used both technologies and heated with wood for almost 20 years. They both are good systems= just depends on your requirements.
  17. jlaw

    jlaw New Member

    Joined:
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    Dylan,

    Appreciate the welcome- Catalytic stoves do take a hit here, its to bad, because they are great stoves when run correctly. Well respected companies such as Woodstock are still building CAT stoves which says alot about they efficiency of the stoves when built and engineered correctly.

    20 years of burning- its nice to hear there are others as crazy as me.

    Regards
  18. jlaw

    jlaw New Member

    Joined:
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    Dylan,

    The top load feature is a huge advantage over side/front load. Not only is it much safer-all but eliminates chance of coals or ash spilling out, but it also makes it easier to load wood right to the top for overnight burns, there's many nights where the wood is maybe a quarter inch to high to close the griddle all the way, all you need to do is push down on the pile from the top and problem solved- wood loaded to the top.
    I also think it is much easier to position logs on the fire when you are loading from the top. I have used both for many years, and in my opinion there is no comparison- it's a no-brainer.
  19. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    the replacement combustor link is for better explanations and advantaged read the what this site has to say
    http://www.stovecombustors.com/pages/1/index.htm.

    Let Me put another spin to Jlaw explanation, one given to me from dealers. First and foremost a decent draft is required.
    When engaging the damper and forcing the exhaust threw a secondary passage. Dealers too shot themselves in the foot,
    installing direct connects in fireplace flues, in chimneys exposed to the outside, Selling Cat stoves for that application.
    Then the complaints start coming in, my stove does not operate correctly. I can never get it hot enough for the combustor to work. Time and time again, this forum has seen the post, where that fireplace flue is too large a cross-sectional area, for that stove to draft correctly. Again many times it was user errors of moist wood. but a complaint never the less. As a dealer, it does not take that much time to stop carrying the line with the most complaints. The non cat stove is more draft tolerant . So now the dealers are pushing non cat stoves and the myth is started, that it is better to have non cats. Easier to use on only one control. Hell 3 years ago I believed the myth and bought a non cat. I listened to dealers diss the cats. It took me, actually running one to see for myself
    the advantages. My Intrepid II cat, out preforms the larger Resolute Acclaim. 6+ hours of decent burn time with decent heat output, in a smaller capacity firebox. The Cat stoves should be geared to the 24/7 burner not the occasional like Jlaw said. For those out there that never experienced a top loader, you do not know what you are missing. No smoke, sparks flying out, and the ability to really load the fire box.
    The These cat stoves are automatically temp controlled, opening and closing the secondary air supply for an even longer cat induced heat cycle and the cleanest emissions burn. They require extra maintenance cleaning the cat. But the benefits, if your draft is capable.
    is longer burns, more even heat, less wood burned, and cleaner That's why I want the Encore plus the top loading.

    Another reason Cats failed is owners did not clean them. Or they became clogged, because they engaged them before bringing the stove up to temp. Another way to clog them is burning junk in the stove, excess cardboard, color inks in news papers can leave residue on the combustor and cause malfunctions.
  20. rmcfall

    rmcfall Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    So for 24/7 burning, are soapstone and cast-iron CAT stoves going to be relatively comparable in terms of burn times? With the biggest difference being the "gentle" heat output that soapstone stoves are supposed to provide? Too bad there isn't a top loading soapstone stove...
  21. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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    I agree if you burn 24/7 a cat stove is the way to go. I recently took the plunge to a cat stove and can honestly say I wish I had done it sooner! Comparing my old Homestead to the new Fireview, I now have longer burns with more heat and consume less wood.

    I can burn this stove on the lowest setting and maintain a 600 deg stove top temp. I had to run my Homestead at a medium to medium high setting constantly stoking the fire to maintain that temp. So there is an obvious wood savings there.

    Ease of operation. I think there is not much difference except another lever to engage the catalyst. You have to tweak dampers, and monitor temps on either stove if you want them to burn correctly.

    As far as draft, I was worried because my stove has 3 ea 90 deg elbows, an outside brick 22' chimney with s/s liner. But this stove drafts better than my old one and it had 2 ea 90 deg elbows. So I would guess if your current EPA non-cat stove drafts good a new cat stove should to.

    Maintenance I haven't had to do on my new stove yet, but it doesn't look too difficult to unscrew a couple bolts, lift out the cat, and clean or replace as needed. A properly operated cat should pay for itself over time.

    Maybe someday they will have a top loading soapstone stove with a grill/rotisserie option. That would be awesome!
  22. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I believe there are soapstone combo cast iron cat stoves. I also think Jotul also has a top loader. Hopefully stove owners will
    chime in here and expound the benifits and features of their stoves. Me, I'm still learning how to get the most out of my VC products.
    I also am pro VC,. which supports American manufacturing right here in New England in Bethel VT. The products are cast in their
    foundry. Don't get me wrong, not all of VC product line is made here, they too out source to the Pacific Basin . The out sourced stoves are the cheaper models like the Century line, Not the Acclaim, Intrepid, Encore, Defiant, and coal Viligant ( all made in VT).
    All top loaders and front or side. Not sure on the Viligant the older wood ones were. I also admit, VC took some QC issues hits, when the large corperate enitiy CFM took over. They milked the reputation and many original craftsmen at Bethel retired or were let go.
    Bean counters care little about quality. I have gotten to know the management at Bethel VT and I sense, since the restructuring and
    buy out, pride and qc is on the rise. Things are improving, the new ever burn technology and very attractive non cat Encore have been a huge sucess. If I could afford, it sign me up for that red cat Encore right now.
  23. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    update: Well I contacted the lady, with the 1998 used two seasons Hunter Green Encore.
    Its mine for $500 would not budge lower even at $450. only 3 miles away. I have inspected it and satisfied,
    that it's condition is such it can be put right into service. May need a cat. ($119) I think this will turn into a good deal.
    New retail about $2,200. I should get $500 for my Resolute Acclaim possibly more without a chip in the finish, Blue.
    3 years of use, never over fired has warming tray and mitten rack.

    Dylan what about this? What if I can come up with another cat Encore or Defiant Epa approved equal to what I just
    found for you? I know of a black one the next town over year 2000 $700 with dickering maybe less. I think it might make more sense than rebuilding that 1982 Viligant. The guy that owned it replace it with the new non Cat Encore. He is a chimney sweep.
    He installs in my town and I feel if I ask he will be honest with me. Again it is not the best idea to piss off inspectors.
    You and I both know the top loading advantages. Or hold out for the Defiant 55,000 BTUs just might help that drafty home
    The Defiant will not line up with my existing flue inlet or that would be my #1 choice.
  24. AKFireMan

    AKFireMan New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    I do have an oil fired hot water baseboard heater in the basement. I do enjoy having the house around 75 or so, when it is really cold out it is really nice to come in and sit down by the fire and be cozy. I have spent better part of 20 years in Fairbanks, Alaska and it get pretty chilly her in the winter and when you burn oil as a primary source of heat you tend to keep the thermostat turned way down. I used to stay cold all winter long, now that i'm burning wood me (and the wife) don't have to worry about turning the heat down and we can stay cozy warm all winter.

    My house also has around 1300 sq ft finished daylight basement that we still heat with the oil boiler, thermostat set at 65. However, I have cut my oil use down drastically. Last winter without the wood stove I burned in the neighborhood of 1200 gallons of oil, this year to date I have only used 450-500 gallons. The cost of oil here is $2.35 gallon and looks to be going up, I have already recouped half of the purchase and install cost of the stove this year alone. This stove is the best money saving decision I have made in many years.

    Two things I am going to work on in the next year are an alternate method of heating water, would like to get away from the boiler. Get another stove for the basement, I believe I could cut another 200-300 gallon of oil off the bill.
  25. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    What about an oil fired Hot water heater? instead of using your tankless system Just turn your tankless
    system hot water part off. Posibly an added boster tank, that might give you the reserve that allows
    less cycling of the boiler. Depending what you are paying for kilo watt Electric Hot water. Used to be more
    expensive but with oil $2.30 and above might make sense
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