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  1. AppalachianStan

    AppalachianStan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    557
    Loc:
    Clover SC
    I need to know what are some of the tools that are good but don't cost a lot? Do I really need them?
    1.Moisture Meter
    2.IR Thermometer
    3.Condar Magnetic Thermometer
    .

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  2. MaintenanceMan

    MaintenanceMan Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Messages:
    138
    Loc:
    Southern IN
    Here's what I have.

    1. $30 Genera lMoisture Meter from Lowes. Not an essential item,but can be helpful.
    2. $15 IR thermometer from Amazon. Harbor Freight also has one for that price. I wouldn't do without one of these.
    3. I bought several magnetic thermometers and took them all back. Couldn't trust them.
    I would recommend a stack probe thermometer if you want more than a IR.
    ScotO likes this.
  3. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Salisbury, MD
    Wait for the sales at Harbor Freight and the IR gun can be had for $19 and you can get a moisture meter for $9.

    If you get the IR gun you won't need the thermometer.
  4. AppalachianStan

    AppalachianStan Minister of Fire

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    Clover SC
    I see the temps very on the IR guns?
  5. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    My harbor freight IR gun is spot on if I measure in the same place every time, you will get different temps in different parts of the stove.
  6. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
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    Be careful choosing an IR gun, if your stove has a shiny finish. Some guns don't work too accurately with shiny surfaces.
    Pallet Pete and pen like this.
  7. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    No
  8. danham

    danham Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
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    Loc:
    Cape Cod, MA
    Your eyes will work almost as well as any of these tools ... but, they are nice to have and not expensive. I have both 1 & 2.

    The main drawback of the moisture meter is that readings are meaningless unless you have the wood at room temp (for most meters) and are measuring after a fresh split.

    The main drawback of an IR gun is that it may not give an accurate reading. It will, however, let you know relative temp changes with decent accuracy. So if it says your firebox, shot thru the glass, is 700F, who knows what the actual temp is. But if you are careful to shoot the same spot, you can tell very accurately if it is geting hotter or cooler as you adjust draft or reload or whatever.

    -dan
    Kevin Dolan likes this.
  9. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
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    452
    Loc:
    Beavercreek Ohio
    How off can they really be if you measure 30* wood compared to 70* wood? I can see their being a slight difference due to the change in resistance due to temp, but I don't think it's useless.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Stan, no, you don't need them but you might want some.

    I've burned wood well over 50 years and got along just fine with nothing you listed. However, several years ago we bought a new stove and a Condar thermometer was included with the stove. That was nice and it was not long before we also bought a thermometer for the flue. And yes, we have an IR gun but use it rarely. The two thermometers on the stove really do help you in knowing what is happening on the inside. For sure we could still run our stoves without the thermometers but we like them and they do help in the fine tuning of the stove. For example, we want our flue temperature to be at a certain level before engaging the catalyst and we also want the stove top temperature to be at a certain level for the same. So all in all, the gadgets have their place except that I have never seen a need nor do I ever expect to see a need for the moisture meter.

    Some seem to think they are absolutely necessary. However, it seems to be those folks who just can't seem to get ahead with their wood supply or especially those who buy their wood who think they need the MM. My feeling is that if the wood is in such shape that you think you need one, then you have some very poor fuel and you will also get some very poor results from burning that stuff. Even buying your wood, they will say it is seasoned but that is meaningless. Wood simply needs time to dry and that drying really starts the day the wood is split. Sellers usually split the wood just before delivery. Some who cut their wood cut in the summer and expect to burn it in the winter. Sorry; neither situation is worth a hoot.

    There is only one way to do some things when you burn wood and number 1 on the list is the fuel. One has to be a minimum of a year ahead on their fuel. However, that also depends upon what type of wood you are intending to burn! Take one of the best firewoods; oak. Simply put, if we try to burn oak before it has sit in the stack for 3 years, we have problems. If we leave it 3 years or longer, it is fantastic!

    My recommendation has always been for wood burners to be 3 years ahead in their wood supply. Stack the wood outdoors in the windiest spot on their property. If not enough room, then I'd suggest trying to rent a small piece of ground for wood drying. In addition, never stack the wood in a shed and expect it to dry. It needs air circulation and you don't get that inside a building. Let the wood dry outdoors, then move it into a shed. This is what we do and every October we move the winter's supply into the barn. The rest stays out in the wind and it also is covered on the top of the stack. Never cover the sides! That will hold moisture in; you want that moisture out unless you know how to burn water.
    Kevin Dolan likes this.
  11. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    danham, I was intrigued by your info about the moisture meter; last night I had to split some kindling, so I put your theory to the test. It was about 30::F outside, I spit, then measured--15%. I took that piece into the house, let it sit for a few hours to warm up, then measured again, 14%. Not too different. This morning as I was rushing out the door, I quickly took another reading, it was 11%.
    Not too critical, in my opinion, but I wonder if the difference was simply some surface evaporation over the hours? I did not resplit the piece, I wonder if I had, would it have been 15% or 11%.
    I love this place, I learn so many new things. I thought I had lots of answers the first year, Figured I had it down pat last year, this year I realize I will never know it all. Any tool that I can afford that helps me burn more efficiently is okay in my book, but experience seems to be the best tool of all.
  12. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    1,588
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    No MM or IR therm here but I do have a magnetic therm on top of the stove. Not sure how accurate it is but it did give me a point of reference when I started burning which for me was priceless. Anymore I can tell what the temp is by just viewing the fire, give or take, 50 degrees, but it still is on there and I look at sometimes. I am quite certain if I did not have the therm starting out I would have likely been burning to cool because of paranoia. Although if I had not found hearth I would have done the same WITH the therm not knowing 600-700 was ok, safe and expected with a stove. Many of the magnet therms(mine included) say above 500 is the RED zone and that would have scared me.

    Once again - thank you Hearth!!

    As far as tools I would say a rake and shovel will get more practical use than a moisture meter but none of them cost too aweful much and offer differing levels of "Peace Of Mind" - especially when starting out.
  13. mouserusker

    mouserusker New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
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    I'm pretty sure this will give you the temperature of the outside surface of the glass...
  14. AppalachianStan

    AppalachianStan Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Clover SC
  15. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Loc:
    Salisbury, MD
    You don't read your cats with an IR gun. A standard IR gun for reading the temp of your wood stove surface will suffice.

    You need to install cats in your stove before thinking about how to read their temps, last you said the stove is to old to install cats into it.
  16. AppalachianStan

    AppalachianStan Minister of Fire

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    I will be putting the cats in soon.
  17. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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  18. AppalachianStan

    AppalachianStan Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Clover SC
    I have a rutland magnetic temp gauge should it be on the pipe or stove?
  19. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    1,588
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    App - it can go on either if you have single wall pipe and a steel stove. If you have DBL wall pipe it will do you no good there and a stone stove probably will not work so good either. I have mine on the upper step in front of my pipe on an NC30.

    As long as it remains in the same spot it will give you a perspective of temps that may not be exactly accurate to the number but close enough for you to judge your burning practices. Many like to have them in the hottest part of the stove for obvious reasons but that may be a corner or something so for balanced asthetics - top front just off the pipe works for me.
    Pallet Pete likes this.
  20. danham

    danham Member

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    Loc:
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    I can only go by my own seat of the pants observations on this, but I think that while the glass does influence the reading, it's not giving just the surface temp. Here's why I think this:

    If I hold the gun close to the glass, that narrows the angle of the gun's "vision" to a small spot on the glass. If I tilt the gun just a little, the temp changes, sometimes dramatically, much more than a tiny difference in where it hits the glass could account for. So I conclude that it is measuring (at least partially) the temp inside the firebox.

    I'm sure the glass distorts this measurement somewhat, but I still think it's useful for comparative readings and is not just the glass surface temp.

    -dan
  21. danham

    danham Member

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    Interesting. I've had cold wood read in the mid-20s and then when it warmed up -- more than a few hours -- read 36%. I wonder if dry wood exhibits this effect less than wet wood? I read somewhere that meters are designed to be accurate in a fairly narrow temp range and it's usually room temp, for obvious reasons.

    -dan
  22. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    If you have a moister meter that costs less than 200 bucks, I'd argue the readings are almost meaningless, and that is coming from engineers in a lab. ;). I've used mine to measure the same spot on a piece of wood, it can measure from 5 to 65% in a 20 minute span.

    Just saying....
  23. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Magnetic thermo on stove top (not on a convection deck, looks like yours may have one??)'

    And a probe in the exhaust. That's like a speedo and a tach on a car.

    The MM and IR... Vary greatly. Get the mag and probe, you won't need the IR, get 2-3 yrs ahead on wood, and you won't need the MM.
    AppalachianStan likes this.
  24. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Machria, I sorry to be the one to tell you this, but I believe your MM must be broken. <>

    I've never seen any significance difference in readings between cold and warm wood with my MM.
    It is quite possible that if you bring very cold wood in from outside and let it sit for a while that you'll get moisture condensing on it and distort the reading. By the same token if you bring the wood in and leave it near the stove to dry overnight it could easily dry the surface enough to distort the reading, it should be re-split before taking another reading.
    Moisture meters are not perfectly accurate, but within the range they are both designed to work, they are as accurate as, or probably even more accurate than, magnetic thermometers.
    Trilifter7 likes this.
  25. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Southern IN
    If nothing else, I would get a stack thermo. Can't remember if you have single-wall black stove pipe above the stove but if so, you could use a magnetic meter there. If double-wall, you'll need a stack probe.

    But the first thing I would do is get that combustor in there...

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