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Top loading stoves

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Joful, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    A spirited debate came up on the topic of top-loading stoves in another thread, and it was a distraction to the OP's question. So, rather than muck up his thread, I decided to start a separate thread to answer some of the questions.

    I have been running a top load stove for a year and half, and in that time I've gone back and forth a couple times on whether I use the top load door or the front doors, until I found out what worked best for me and my stove.

    First, some of the issues that were being argued in the other thread were:

    Well, unless you're going to DROP the splits into the stove from the height of the top-load door opening, you're still going to have to bend to set the split down into the stove. I think the person I'm quoting here already realized this, and wasn't fooled by the salesman's pitch.

    Why would you be reaching into a stove with a hot fire, whether you're using a top-load door, front-load, or side load? Do you ever load a raging stove?

    This is where my comment about taking time to find what worked best for me and my stove comes into play. I find my top-load door works wonderfully when I'm home on a Saturday, and just tossing a few splits at a time onto a hot coal bed to keep the fire going. There's no smoke to speak of, and plenty of draft to draw any there may be into the bypass door and up the flue, rather than allowing it out thru the top-load door when open. I also find the top-load door is wonderful for cramming more splits into the stove than I could ever do with the front-load door. Just last night, I filled the stove as high as I could thru the front load door, and then packed another two big'uns in from the top door.

    As far as smoke coming out of the top load door, in theory it can happen, but it's rare. If there's good draft established, all smoke gets sucked up the chimney thru the bypass door, rather than pouring out the top door. In fact, I suspect all air flow thru that top door is IN to the stove and up the chimney, never OUT. Also, keep in mind, you're usually only ever opening the door for a reload when you're down to coals already, and thus there is usually not much smoke to release in the first place.

    I do like having a top load door, even though it means I have one more gasket to replace every few years. All things equal, I'd rather have one than not. However, it would not be a factor of any merit in my choice of stoves, if I were buying a new stove today.

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  2. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Just curious....you talk about having to bend to place splits in the stove from the top loader. Would a top loader perhaps be difficult for someone who was short and had short arms?
    evilgriff and Joful like this.
  3. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Very funny... ;lol

    [​IMG]
    evilgriff, rideau and jeff_t like this.
  4. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    My top loader stove is quite high,no bending over required. No smoke spillage either. Definitely a step up from my front loader stoves.
  5. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    I went from using a front load stove to a top load stove and I love it! My top load is much less messy and easier to load up than the front load was. I know this is personal preference but.... I prefer top load.
  6. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Believe it or not, that really was a serious question. I enjoyed your reply, got a good laugh, but....any answer? I mean, normal short, not wierd short. Some are height challenged. :(
  7. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Considering most stoves are around 30" tall, I can't see how this could ever be a problem. My 6 year old can do it.
  8. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. Just wondered.
  9. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Ohh... I thought you were making funny! My wife is 5'-3", and uses the top door almost exclusively. I imagine anyone over 48" tall would be okay using the top door on my stoves.

    I use the front doors for lighting or setting up a big load, but we both use the top door anytime we're just tossing a few splits onto a good coal bed.
  10. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    :)

    I appreciate humor....wish I was quick enough to claim I had the vision you had.....
  11. 31 bertram

    31 bertram New Member

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    I love the top loading feature and if for some reason my 2550 does'nt last another 20 years, it's one feature I'd like to have on a new stove.
  12. evilgriff

    evilgriff Burning Hunk

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    Had a VC intrepid top loader, it was convenient as that stove needed to be filled often. With the BKS20 and its 12+ hr reloads, I don't really miss it that much. So on a smaller stove that needs frequent reloading, it's a help to keep it from going out. BK gives me coals to restart for hours with ease. Always hated when I accidentally dropped the lid on it, this happened every once in a while. And when that stove was fully loaded, it would sometimes backpuff out of the top, you would see a puff of smoke come from under the lid, even with a new gasket.
  13. defiant3

    defiant3 Feeling the Heat

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    Top load rocks! Just when you think you've loaded the stove completely through the front or side, open the top and voila! More room for more wood! An extra hour of sleep before I gotta reload.
  14. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    When you are burning 3 year old wood sometimes the bottom splits get raging before you finish putting the top splits in >>

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