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Trying to decide on pellet stove

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by mlwschultz, May 1, 2008.

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  1. mlwschultz

    mlwschultz New Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    104
    Loc:
    Southern Maine
    We are planning to install a pellet stove to help offset our heating oil consumption. We use about 700 gallons of oil/year, including heat & hot water. Our house is a 1250 sq ft ranch (7 years old), with the living room/kitchen/dining room being one open room with cathedral ceilings, bedrooms are at the other end of the hall. We have 2 heat zones on this floor - 1 for the great room, 1 for the bedrooms. We are considering the Harman Accentra, Advance or XXV.

    Some questions I have are:
    What is the difference between the cast iron stoves and the steel stoves? Is one material or the other better for heat production, efficiency, stove longevity, maintenance, etc.?
    How many BTUs do we need? The Accentra is the smallest of these stoves with 40,000 BTU & supposedly will heat 1,400 sq ft, the other 2 stoves have a higher BTU/sq ft heat rating.
    Are we better to get a stove with a higher BTU rating? Will that burn more efficiently to heat our size house?
    Will the cathedral ceilings hurt us due to heat rising? We do have a ceiling fan that could be put into use if this will make a difference.
    Will the heat spread out to the bedrooms at the end of the hall, or will we need to use the furnace to heat those rooms? I'm planning to set both thermostats at a lower temperature just in case the stove doesn't cover it (ex. set the thermostats at 60, but want tthe rooms about 64-65 during the day, 68-70 evenings, back to 64-65 overnight).
    What am I looking for when buying pellets? Low ash content, hardwood vs softwood, etc.?

    Anything else we need to consider?

    We have a spare lined chimney flue waiting to be used (never used). We had a 6" stove opening put into the brick wall hearth in the living room (end wall of the house), but need a floor pad for the stove.

    All suggestions/comments are appreciated.

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  2. STOVEGUY11

    STOVEGUY11 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
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    424
    Loc:
    SOUTHERN CT
    Depending on the layout of the house and other factors such as windows and insulation will play a big part in choosing a stove. But I think any of the 3 stoves would heat the home well. On the smaller accentra, you would be running it more frequently to maintain a constant temperature versus the XXV. Which do you like the look of more. This is something you have to be happy with to look at. At the same time, you need to find the right dealer that will be there for servicing support. As far as pellets go, Harmans will burn high and low ash pellets. I personally think to pay the extra for the low ash pellets. You will clean the ash bucket out less frequently with the low ash pellets. I've run both in the harmas, and its a big difference in ash. The more ash you have, the more things that need to be cleaned out as well.
  3. mlwschultz

    mlwschultz New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Southern Maine
    Will a larger stove be more efficient, or less, to heat our size house (1250 sq ft, open layout, bedrooms at end of the hall)? If the Accentra has to run more to keep the temperature up, will a larger stove burn less pellets to produce the same amount of heat? We like the look of all of the stoves, efficiency is more important, any will fit in.

    I had one stove company tell me that we had to do a full stainless steel liner in our masonry flue (assuming it's a standard 8", clay lined flue - dedicated flue for a stove, never used so far) because we wouldn't have enough draft with a standard flue, and the additional cost was about $1,300. Sounds ridiculous to me! Others have told me no, our flue will be fine. Any comments on that?

    Thanks!
  4. Souzafone

    Souzafone Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    305
    Loc:
    Freetown, Massachusetts
    We have a 1200 sq. foot home, no cathedral ceilings, with the bedrooms at the end of a hall completely opposite of the stove. The stove keeps the entire house warm, but you have to be willing to put up with noise of the fan being on high. On our stove we leave the fan on high and it slows down automatically if the burn rate drops enough. I moved the thermostat for the FHA furnace into our bedroom and closed the valves in the duct work for the rest of the house, so at night when the bedroom doors are closed the furnace will kick on if the bedroom gets too cold, and the stove usually runs lower even though it's colder because it doesn't heat 3 bedrooms. We've used less than 1/8 of a tank of HHO as a result. You may want to keep your ceiling fan on to push the hot air down and help circulate the cold air on the bottom, but I have no experience with that.
    As for pellets, try several brands before committing to large quantity of anything. Hard or softwood doesn't matter, what matters is BTU's and ash and moisture contents. Stick with premium grade or better. I prefer the smell of softwood pellets, but I don't consider that when I buy. Good luck.
  5. STOVEGUY11

    STOVEGUY11 Feeling the Heat

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    I would check with your local inspector about the liner, local code over rides all. Is it a good idea for a liner; Yes. Is it required; I think they will say no. $1300 for an install is not that farfetched. Depending where you live, you see different prices for materails and labor.
  6. mlwschultz

    mlwschultz New Member

    Joined:
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    We ordered a Harman XXV Saturday. We were originally leaning towards the Accentra, but decided to step up a bit as the Accentra was very close to our actual sq footage in heating capacity (1250 vs 1400). We like the look of the cast iron stoves, so bumped up to the XXV from the Accentra and skipped over the Advance. We are getting 1 ton of pellets (New England) delivered with the stove and will order a couple more tons before heating season starts. We built a raised floor area to store the pellets in the garage. We figure we can store 2 tons there & another ton on the 5' wide stairway in the garage that goes to the basement door. So now we are just waiting for the stove & hearth pad to arrive (dealer will install)
  7. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    Congrats! Look forward to your first thoughts after you use it.
  8. mlwschultz

    mlwschultz New Member

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    Loc:
    Southern Maine
    Does anyone know what type of surge protector (how many joules) should be used? Dealer just said to use one, can't find any specifics. Also, does anyone know if a UPS can be used for short power outages (rather than the power inverter & deep cycle battery). We have a generator for longer outages, but are more concerned with short outages when we're out of the house.
  9. oc4man

    oc4man New Member

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    You will be happy with your choice.I just had a xxv installed on 5/1/08.
  10. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Congrats on your new purchase!

    I researched the inverter/battery options, but decided to go the UPS route.
    Gives me peace of mind the stove is on surge protection and will still
    run during short outages.
  11. mlwschultz

    mlwschultz New Member

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    What are you using for a UPS? The dealer said it wouldn't work, but I don't think she understood what a UPS is.

    Thanks!
  12. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    A UPS will definitely work, but you need a big one to get any time at all out of it.
    This one here would get you 10-20 minutes or so.
    http://www.officedepot.com/ddSKU.do?level=SK&id=516015
    Seems like the copanies who make UPSs are notorious for overstating runtime, so keep that in mind when you're shopping.
  13. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

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    Inverter/battery would run the stove much longer but we decided on the UPS
    for surge and short blinks in the power as we already have a few of them in the house.

    We originally had the stove hooked up to an old APC 2200 but now using a APC RS 1300VA.
    The most we have gotten out of the 1300 so far, is about 40 mins with stove running on low.
    We also have a generator for longer duration if needed.
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