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.