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Thoughts on Quadrafire - end of season 1

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by gdeangel, Feb 25, 2010.

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  1. gdeangel

    gdeangel Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    22
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    What follows is the personal experience and opinion of one stove owner, so you should take it for just that...

    I would not recommend Quadrafire to ANYONE who is looking for a quality product with high level of customer service, and want to deal with an entity that cares about customer satisfaction and quality.

    I purchased a Quadrafire Santa Fe from an authorized dealer near me. I specifically wanted an expr, knowledgeable outfit that would stand behind this product from the initial install to the subsequent operation. My install involved a long 10+ foot horizontal run to the outside wall, and the initial information I gathered hear and elsewhere made me suspect that it was going to be difficult. When buying the stove, I was assured that the dealer had confirmed with the manufacturer that the stove would work in my application. And I guess since my house hasn't burned down, it technically did "work", but not to my satisfaction at all.

    On the first actual heating day, even though both the dealer and the installer had "tested" it, the stove died a few minutes into the initial fire-up, leaving a smoldering mess of pellets in the burn pan with NO air for combustion and no power for the exhaust fan. It filled the house with smoke. It smoked for 30 minutes or more, and eventually I had to throw sand into the burn pot to stop the smoke. I was told that the reason the dealer tests these stoves is that occasionally they will get one that is completely DOA and they don't want to waste the time hauling around and installing a dead stove just to have to bring it back!

    In my case, the stove was not DOA. It was determined that one of the crimp connections on the wire harness was not made tightly, so even though the wires appeared to be connected, the circuit had unexpectedly opened.

    Which brings us to the first major criticism of these stoves. This is the type of stove that inspires do-it-yourselfers to start making their own stoves from used propane cylinders. There is nothing to it. No backup circuits. No intelligent sensor detection. Just a few timers and a few circuits with temperature or pressure sensitise snap-discs, and a fuse. Their control box is sealed up, and opening it will void your warranty. I suspect this is because the circuitry is not very advanced. Basically they use a ratio of air-flow (ie fan speed) to auger turns that runs in multiples of 1x, 2x and 3x. To change the ratio, you basically have to empty your hopper and clear the auger intake. Then there is a sliding plate that you can use to make the pellets "jam up" a little more at the start of the feed tube, so in theory there will be less fuel dumped in the fire pot per auger turn, thus increasing the air to fuel ratio. They do, at least, include a sensor that shuts down the auger when you open the lid, so the stove doesn't cut off your fingers.

    The stoves also use a three stage temperature sensor and a vacuum switch to turn on or off a few moving parts (auger, convention blower, exhaust blower, and possibly one other part). The snap discs are not user serviceable, unless you want to spend all day taking apart the stove, and/or have hands the size of a 6 year old girl. In fact, even the fuse is not REALLY user serviceable, because it is 1/4 inch shorter than a standard fuse you might find at your local Radio-shack. And by the way, if your fuse blows during the initial combustion phase, expect a hopper full of smoldering pellets to fill your house with smoke (advice: keep a sand bucket near your stove).

    Now on to the second criticism, which is more directly a criticism of the company. As you happily read through your manual, you will notice that no-one bothered to proof them for sure. Diagrams are printed over other diagrams, making them impossible to read. When you reach the "contact us" section, you'll also note that there is no phone number for customer support. Instead there is a snail-mail address and directions to contact them on-line. That to me is a joke. They are basically saying that real-time customer support is too expensive and/or a low priority for them. So that leaves you to rely on the local dealer/installer network.

    A word about the installer/dealer I dealt with, in case you haven't seen the couple of posts I made about my experience. They leave more than a little to be desired in quality of workmanship. Basically at every stage the attitude of this outfit seems to be to push responsibility down the chain. The manufacturer will tell you to talk to the dealer. The dealer will tell you that really the installer is an "independent contractor", so you need to deal with them. The installer is a guy working out of a truck. This is the "best" installer who the dealer uses for tricky installs. I hate to see the "average" installer. The person who installed my stove was so unfamiliar with the product, that not only didn't he seal things up tight at the house thimble, but he didn't even connect the fresh air intake to the burn chamber. Instead he just ran it into the back of the stove, where the convection blower was circulating this nice cold outside air through the stove baffles - LOL. I was wondering WHY this stove, which is rated to heat an area nearly 50% larger than mine, was burning continuously to keep the temp at a mere 65 degrees! Too bad I discovered this issue only at the end of the season after opening the panels to change the fuse.

    If I wanted to deal with this sort of headache, I would have bought a cheap stove from Loews or Home Depot for HALF the cost. So in closing - BUYER BEWARE.

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  2. rona

    rona Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    southwestern Minn
    You should never have been given a ten foot horizontal run to begin with as it will be nothing but trouble.
    Unfortunately stores need to sell stoves to make money and sometimes it isn't in the consumers best interest to locate a stove where he likes it but in order to sell the stove the stove store will put it where the customer wants it.
    There is a lot of different brands of stoves and they all will have bragging points and problem areas. The consumer will determine which brand fits him as each individuals needs are different.
    The perfect situation would be to talk to someone who has the model you are interested in and ask him what he likes or dislikes about that particular model. A lot of times you will learn a lot more then listening to a salesperson.When you talk to a salesperson you should know they are going to present you with the brightest picture they can and minimize any downsides. I often compare them to a used car salesman.
    We as consumers want our moneys worth and right fully so but this is one of the times when we often don't have all the experience or knowledge to get the best model for us the first time. We buy a stove because of one special feature we like but that feature fades away when we realise that that model has some character defects we don't like.
    Then we have to look at ourselves- We all like to save money but using a pellet stove requires extra work and time cleaning it, dumping ashes and loading pellets. You may not like to do these things and after a while get tired of the extra time and work it takes.
    If you are dependent on having someone service it for you this will be a added expense.
    There is a sense of satisfaction in not having to burn gas, LP or fuel oil but there is a tradeoff.
  3. Marbleguy

    Marbleguy New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    North Central, CT
    This sounds like the perfect place to remind everyone that it's not only the stove that you need to research before purchase, but you also need to make sure that the dealer is someone that you feel comfortable dealing with. I can tell you that when I started doing the research, I not only checked out the models but the dealers. My dealer installed my stove, not a contractor hired by them. Did the entire job in less that an hour in a snow storm. Walked me thru the operation of the stove and made sure that it was working as expected before leaving. I have been to the dealers place of business a couple of times with questions and the sales person that I talked to happens to one of the owners. Very knowlegeable and responsive to my questions. If you think that my dealer is a large stove shop you would be wrong. It's a small Mom and Pop type of shop that has been in business for several decades. Please folks, do your homework before spending the kind of money that this kind of equipment costs. It's not always the equipment that is a fault.
  4. smg64ct

    smg64ct Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    178
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    I don't have any complaints with my dealer they have been really good about trying to fix my stove. I have a Mount Vernon and now I'm kicking myself for not getting the Harman. This stove does put out a lot of heat I'm just tired of the little gremlins that haunt this stove.
  5. smalltown

    smalltown Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Messages:
    519
    Loc:
    Western Maine
    Sorry you had so much trouble with you stove and install. I bought my Quad Castile from a local dealer a small family business that does their own installs and service. After the install the stove was fired up by the install tech. to be sure everything was working fine. In the beginning being a little unsure about adjusting my flame height I visited the store and the owner gave me some hints and assured me he would come over to the house to help if needed. With his hints I was able to adjust it myself and have been running great ever since. I do wonder about your 10' horizontal pipe. Mine is a "T" at the rear and then approx. 4' of vertical and then a 90 to get me outside to a termination cap.
  6. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,065
    Loc:
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    H&H has been good to me, my dealer also. Been burning a free standing Castile for 5 years. That said, I had a howling issue when I first installed, dealer came out and sat on the couch with me, called Quad and had a fix. Been thru two combustion fans and door gaskets, that is about it. I work the stove hard here in MN (whatever burns) and I can't grumble too much as it has been our dependable primary heat for that time. Sorry to see your issues, just my two cents.
  7. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2009
    Messages:
    4,047
    Loc:
    North Georgia
    this is my first season also with a Quad Castile and a Sante Fe inserts. They were both installed by the dealer with 17' of vertical flex up the chimneys. They also started both of them up and walked me through adjustments and cleaning. Since they are 1 1/2 hours away, small problems like auger jams were fixed by me. That's the only problems I've had after burning 3 tons, knock on wood. These things are not wood stoves and take some inherent 'tinkering' to keep at 100%. Most of your complaints, sorry to say, seem awful minor and maybe you really weren't meant for pellet stove land. You complain of the stoves lacking adjustments and more sensors. Don't forget that keeping it simple makes it easier to run, troubleshoot yourself, and adjust. If you've followed the history of the Quad Mt. Vernon you can see what more control can lead to - more problems. If I had called my dealer for every time a long pellet or an errant piece of styrofoam (?) clogged my auger, I would have had to wait for a day each time and I wasn't about to run him 1 1/2 hours each way to fix something that I could do after seeing the fix. Also, the snap discs are very easy to get at on my insert, which I'm told, is more restrictive than the freestanding model so I'm confused.
  8. ablejoy

    ablejoy Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Messages:
    250
    Loc:
    Prescott,Northern, Az
    I to have Castile Quad, installed Sept 2008 and has worked with out a problem. I have about 16' vertical 4" pipe. Only problem was with the tee that leaked at the seam it was replaced by the dealer at no cost.
  9. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    Central NY
    I'm always hawking the fact that if folks don't support their local mom and pop shops, that we will all vanish and be working for Amazon and HD. Why shop at your local retailer? For service before during and AFTER the sale. It's stories like these that remind me to work even harder at keeping our customers happy. The advice of researching your retailer as much as you research your stove is very sound.

    I hope you have better luck with this unit in the future
  10. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

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    central maine Lat 45
    I like my Quad, bought 9-08.
  11. fatotto48

    fatotto48 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2010
    Messages:
    41
    Loc:
    central ct
    Sorry to hear that you had such trouble. I have a qaud castile(first stove) for two years. so far I like its operation, but will say I had nothing to compare to. It runs and burns well and the dealer was super nice and helpful. I self installed. I don't like to clean it but I must. It has only 3 feet of pipe straight out.
  12. Frustrated

    Frustrated New Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    Rural NV
    I bought a new quad fire santa fe pellet stove in november of 2010! Nice stove, when it doesn't make a grinding noise. I wouldn't recommend buying a stove from quadra fire either! I had the service tech replace the auger motor three times and the auger assembly one time, for a grand total of four motors in a four month time frame. The motor makes a faint grinding noise, then a medium griding noise, followed by a loud grinding noise. Its goes for about every 17 cycles for about 4-5 second durations.
    Customer service at the place I bought it, is HORRIBLE! I took the stove down and left it for one week and the sales dud says he couldn't find anything wrong with it, even when I ran the audio tape of the motor grinding!
    I can't believe all the problems that people have with these stoves. The store says they will take the stove back, but can't fix it! Is that bizarre or what?
    Buyer Beware.
  13. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Take him up on taking the stove back. It's not bizarre at all because by now he has lost his butt trying to please you and would gladly take a hit in his pocket book to be rid of you. :cheese: While the Sante Fe is at the lower end of the quality spectrum, it is not a valid statement to say 'I can't believe all the problems that people have with these stoves'. Since they are made in China (you DID check that out first, right?), quality control and workmanship are what you should expect. Even with that said, the Sante Fe is a good, hard working little stove that is easy to work on and troubleshoot. Anyone that buys ANY pellet stove and expects to just pour in pellets and relax is either a fool or completely out of touch with reality. Unless you have unlimited wealth to have a dealer at your beck and call, don't buy one unless you enjoy a mechanical device that needs to be pampered and cleaned regularly. That's the bottom line.
    As to your 4 auger motor failures, that is amazing. Rarely do you read on here or the other forum of auger failures other than the capacitor which makes it run backwards sometimes. One maybe but 4?????
  14. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Wow. I have 3 stoves now, but the last 2 I picked up this winter. My Quad CB 1200 is the ONLY thing I use to heat my 2,180 sq ft Ranch. It does an amazing job too. Until this year I only had friends or other Dealer's stoves to compare to. I must say I would like more "User Adjustability". Even without the adjustability, it still heats my entire home on Low with the fuel gate all the way open. I am truly impressed with this stove.

    Quad does not "Deal" direct with customers. They deal with "Dealers".... If you could have taken your stove back? Then you should have. As stated above, I am sure he would have Gladly done it. On that note, I am sorry you had a bad experience, but WHY would you have 10 ft of Horizontal run????? Where was your stove placed in your home to require that much "straight" pipe?? That does not make sense. Could you not go up (Vertical) around 5 ft then do your horizontal? Only makes sense to have some "Draft", if making that long of a straight run......... You are expecting a whole lot out of that combustion blower. I can not imagine the amount of ash that built up in there. Shame on your dealer for putting it there.

    I Love my Quad, I love to clean it. AND....... I also love the Money that it saved me over the last 3 seasons. Over $2,500 a year in LP. Those are some BIG numbers. Nothing Burns Like A Quad.

    Everyone has an opinion. This is mine.
  15. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    Thanks for all the support on the Quad stoves everyone!

    Being a quad dealer the initial post was disheartening.

    We have minimal problems with the stoves locally. All of the OE models are tried and true, and have been around for a while. They have been very reliable for most customers.
  16. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Yea, I think the OP was doomed from the minute they put 10 feet of horizontal run in his flue. Like someone else said, imagine the soot buildup in there, especially if he was burning crappy pellets! Since the dealer didn't do the install, they really shouldn't be held accountable unless they sub-contracted the installer, which they didn't do (wisely, in this case). It's also the OP's fault partially because common sense tells you 10' of horizontal pipe just isn't right AND it would look horrible. Put it either near an outside wall or go vertical.
  17. Frustrated

    Frustrated New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Rural NV
    Well, thats me, the customer who bothered the hell outta the sales rep, store manager, and the tech! Usually the squeeky wheel gets the grease, but not in this case! So, I am taking the stove back and moving on. I sure learned a lot from having a problem child stove, learned first hand all about augers, fans, blowers, and pellets. I am sure there are good stoves out there, I just happened to get a lemon from a dealer who didn't or couldn't solve the problem.
  18. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    You're right. It IS a learning experience for everyone. Some learn the theory behind the stove, some learn the do's and DON'T'S, some learn that pellet stoves are more than they bargained for, some learn about dealer relationships, some learn that the sqeaky wheel theory doesn't work (I, actually, also believe in it and it usually works if you throw some 'wiggle room' in for the dealer). I'm glad at least that you have managed to get out of a bad situation, no matter who's fault. I just hope you don't try to duplicate the same scenario with another brand of stove because I fear you will be, once again, disappointed.

    Good luck.
  19. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Where was your stove located, to warrant the use of 10' of Horizontal Flue? Unless you ran it across a main walkway and had to "step over" the pipe, I can't imagine where, or how you managed to use that much of a straight run. Any stove with 10' Horizontal will not operate correctly. It will run, yes. But not right and your fly ash would be ridiculous. Glad your taking the stove back. Some lessons in life are learned the hard way.
  20. pelletqueen77

    pelletqueen77 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
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    Loc:
    Philadelphia PA
    I got my Santa Fe in Sept. 2010 and the service tech has been at my house 4 times so far and was just at my house about 2 weeks ago. First time out, they said I had bad pellets from them, then after trying every bag possible and no difference, they came out and said "oh the auger is bent" we have 3 stoves like this. He couldnt fix it cause mounting plate was not able to mount to stove. Then they said I need a new stove. So then after a month or more I called for new stove and they said oh no, we never said that, we are contacting Quadrafire and they will fix the problem.

    Ok weeks later stove shop calls me and they said tech is coming out next week. I thought they had a fix. Nope, no fix he just used silacone caulk to attach the auger to the stove and then there would be no movement or gaps. He said it would take long time for Quad to have a fix. So I got a defective stove right out of the gate, still have a defective stove and after 4 service calls just basically caulked up the problem. Oh, I forgot to mention one the times out he did put in a new auger and thats when they realized the auger isn't bent it was the mounting plate.
  21. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    How about calling me and I will see what I can do.

    Erci
    330-448-0300
    440-536-0198
  22. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

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    My Quad salesman was like a used car dealer. Never asked how big my house was, lead me to the MT AE, 3000 sq ft plus stove.
    My house is 1500 sq ft. All the special features turned me off, trouble. He dropped me there, so I looked around and found the stove that suited me.

    For some reason the small Quads and the one large AE seem to have all the problems.
  23. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    The CB 1200 is a no frills and no thrills stove. That has been on the market for awhile. But it can KICK out the heat, and that's not even putting it on HIGH. Probably the most user friendly and highest output stove on the market. IMO. Don't hear a lot of "burn" problems for this model either. Just turn it on and go.
  24. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
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    Having owned a Quad 1200 and Harman P61A, I can say that the Harman was the better stove hands down. The 1200 had all manner of strange design aspects, from the multi latch door, snap discs, heat exchangers that were shielded from flames, a giant glass expanse that would cloud up in a day, etc etc. the P61 reminds me of the Russian T-34: not pretty, but it was simple, rugged, you could beat the heck out of it and it would still run, and it got the job done. My 1200 simply could not put out enough heat to keep my house warm.
  25. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

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    central maine Lat 45
    Do you think the 61000 BTU against the 47000 BTU had anything to do with it lol.
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