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Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Mr_Super-Hunky, May 22, 2007.
What exactly are these yearly maintenance and repair costs you talk about?
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The 6" Simpson Duravent damper is part #8679. It can easily be added later, but if it were me, I'd put in the damper to decrease wood consumption and increase control. The reason is that you won't be able to shut off the stove tightly in the event of an overfire. The pine you will be burning will want to burn quick and hot. A stack damper and a stack thermometer will help you watch for this condition and regulate it better. If you choose the everburn defiant, you will very likely need it. Based on reports coming into the Hearth forum, these stoves can get red hot in the back when there is very strong draft. This may be less of an issue with the cat version.
This wouldn't be an issue with a masonry heater, they are amongst the simplest and safest to operate, but will be something to watch when burning in a wood stove. For more info, search the forum for "overfire" and also search for "runaway fire".
Some stoves require more regular parts replacement than others, or a high parts bill after several years of use. I do not know the PE brand that well. I am more familiar with LOPI and Avalon in that class. In our experience, the cast iron stoves, especially the previously popular designs where the plates were cemented together, end up costing more on a yearly basis than a steel box stove. There is no certainty. But we have enough data to come up with a general average. Then based on the expected use of the stove we can guess at what level of cost each type of stove might fall under.
In general it goes like this,
(comparative levels of cost for replacement parts)
High - Approx $150/year
Cast iron models used as primary heaters. Typically catalytic, like a Defiant.
Medium - Approx $100/year
Cast Iron models used as supplementary. Non-cat types, such as Morso.
Low - $50 or less
Steel stoves. Non-cat box stoves. Like Lopi, PE, Quad, etc.
And, of course, the many variations of the above general levels. For instance, a Morso non-cat used a primary heater 24/7.
In other words, a full-time 24/7 burner with a Defiant can expect a repair bill of over $1000 in about ten years. Adding in the incidentals such as gasketing and the catalytic over that same ten years, the yearly rate is over $150/year.
On the other-hand, a full-time 24/7 burner with a PE or LOPI might have to replace the baffle or air plates/tubes, and maybe some bricks or insulating blanket. In that same ten year period the total cost of parts is usually less than $500, or less than $50/year.
Supplemental or occasional use may see considerably less yearly parts replacement costs. In the case of a steel non-cat, maybe they will never have to replace anything. In that case, $0/year. In a catalytic they may have to replace the cat, at least. At $200-$250 that's about $25/year.
Add to that your chimney sweep costs, aquisition costs (how much did it cost to buy and install divided by its expected life-span), fuel (cord wood), etc. Each stove type can then be matched with an expected yearly cost. This can then be used to help figure the payback time, when measured against the cost of heating the same volume with your main source of energy (oil, electric, NG, etc.)
A bit more description on the costs Seaken mentions -
There is a certain level of "wear" that a stove goes through, basically a combination of the effect of heating/cooling cycles, chemical reactions undergone by hot metal, gas corrosion, etc. Not suprisingly, the more a stove is used, the hotter it is run at, the more "wear" you will get. Pretty much all stoves will have some parts that will fail over time when subjected to burning, how much time is a function of how hot you get the stove (over-firing or even running on the edge for extended periods will drastically reduce part life) and how long it stays hot. All of these costs are of the "routine maintainance" sort, just like getting your car fixed, and as you'd expect the more you burn the stove, the more it costs, just like your car costs more when you drive it a lot...
Cat stoves have the additional problem that the cat slowly wears out and is generally considered an eventual replacement item. The OEM cats are about $250, but there are aftermarket cats that are lower cost (about $150) and claim longer lifetimes and better operating characteristics than the OEM versions. (BTW, Elk swears by them, and when we went up to VC on that tour we made a while back their engineering guy said the aftermarket units were good, but that VC wasn't able to use them because they couldn't reach a good price point and the problem of needing to recertify the stoves if they changed the cat unit used in them.) - Assuming an aftermarket cat run per instructions, and getting at least the warranteed life, a cat will cost $15-25 / year on average, paid in lumps to replace them.
Partly compensating, a non-cat stove has other parts like insulation baffles and air tubes that are exposed to the flames and tend to get damaged over time, again requiring somewhat expensive replacement.
A cast iron stove is made of a bunch of flat plates that are fastened together with bolts and sealed with stove cement, gasketing, or some combination of both. Newer design stoves are tending towards more use of gaskets, which have a higher cost, but are easier to work with, and allegedly less likely to require maintainance. All the joints have a tendency to break down over time and develop leaks, so part of the "routine maintainance" on a cast iron stove is to take it apart and rebuild it with fresh cement and / or gaskets, possibly you might need to replace other parts at the same time. A welded plate stove won't have this issue, but is far harder to repair if a problem does develop. Also because of the nature of cast construction vs. plate construction, a plate stove is more likely to have other parts inside the firebox that will need replacement.
ALL stoves will have gaskets around doors and windows (especially the door gaskets) that will need periodic replacement due to wear from opening and closing the door on them - I doubt that stove type would have much impact on frequency or cost for this, mostly it's a function of how often you are opening the door...
Seaken is in the industry, and I'm not, so I don't have solid evidence to argue with his numbers, but I suspect the differences are less than he states, especially if you can do the work yourself... (I suspect that much of what he mentions is labor costs rather than parts... The parts to rebuild a cemented stove are relatively cheap, but it's a lengthy job, so it's low cost as a DIY project, but expensive with a pro.
Very well said!. I also would'nt be surprised if the gaskets on all the brands (or most of them) don't come from the same place; or are at least very similar.
Once the proper adjustments have been made to a new stove (if any needed), most of the wear on the gaskets would have no reflections upon the individual brands, but rather the frequency in which they are opened regardless of brand. That makes perfect sence!.
Part of me agrees with you and sais "it's time to make a descision, you've done enough research", and part of me reads posts/replies in which a member will say "If I were to do it all over again......, sometimes choosing a different path".
I would rather do to much research and end up with the perfect choive, rather than make a hurried descision and end up sorry for it.
Almost all the members who have responded, PM'ed me, and replied to this thread have done so in a very informative, factual manner and I really appreciate that.
I have disclosed numerous times that I know nothing about wood stoves, and it may take me a while to gain the knowledge and confidense in choosing the right one. At nearly 1,400 hits, I would also like to think that there may be numerous "lurkers" who are similar to me in obtaining more knowledge and info regarding wood stoves.
Your comment on wanting to start a contest between two members doing in depth research for their own and others benefit really disturbs me. Not only is it a mock of two fellow members, but in a way, it also discounts the efforts that all the other members have contributed to this thread.
If you have a personal beef with me...fine, post up all the nonproductive negative comments you want, just don't take the entire thread and everyone else down with it!.
Rest "Hunky". Buster was just poking a little fun. As members will do on occasion. Me being probably the number one "poker". Your inquiry hasn't even reached the margins of the posts by the other member he referred to.
Inquire. Learn. Leave the chip next to the keyboard. :cheese:
BTW: Your first wood stove won't be the perfect one. Nor the second. Nor the third. And there is no such thing as maintenance free wood burning. But anything you have to do to maintain the stove will pale in comparison to the work of whacking the eight to ten cords of pine you will be piling up each year to stay warm. In fact taking a little time to maintain the stove will be known as rest and recuperation.
Find a good stove but also make friends with a really nice Park Ranger around there and buy some cord permits and get to building that woodpile. No matter what stove you end up with it will have one thing in common with every wood stove on the planet. Its gotta have something to eat. And that something is wood. Dry seasoned wood. And winter just ain't that far away.
Words to live by my "Brother" from another mother!!
Okay, now that was a good one! (at least on this forum!).
So lets keep the brazillion questions comming from me because I have lots more.
This may sound stupid, but I just don't know; and I;ll ask anyway!. Seeing as though one of my final choices is offered in a "catalytic" version..(VC Defiant), I had read that the "cat" must be engaged at around 600-1000*, NEVER more than 1500*. Does that mean that with a "cat", you can;t have a slow-simmering fire because you need to be between 600-1000*?. OR, can you still have a long, slow burning fire in a cat stove, it's just that the cat won't engage until you burn hotter?
The cat needs to be at a certain temperature in order to catalyze the unburnt gases coming from the wood. So with a cat stove, you bring it up to temp, then kick in the cat. The nice thing with the Defiant is that from that point until the wood is expended, the thermostatic control takes over and does all the micro-regulating of the temp for you. This provides a longer, more even tempered burn. Also, while the cat is at that temp, the stove top is not necessarily at the same temperature.
Okay, the "cat" needs to be at a certain temp to burn the unburnt gases, so does that mean that a "cat" stove cannot ever have a slow burning "mild" fire for extended periods of time..(say several hours?). Or, do cat stoves only operate by getting up to "cat" temps (over 600*) and then continue from there?
I'm still unclear on this.
I am not an expert on the specifics on temp that the cat fires at, but yes, it needs to be operated at temperatures that the cat will operate efficiently at. Keep in mind that ALL clean burning stoves, cat and non-cat stoves need to be burning at temperatures high enough to burn the unburnt gases. A smoldering fire produces creosote.
This is where cat/non-cat debates usually start, as it appears to me with data that has been presented on this forum through the many discussions on this subject that the cat stove can burn the secondary gases at a lower temperature than a non-cat stove can. Thus one should be able to run the cat stove at a lower temp for extended periods of time than a non-cat in milder weather. Read up on Elk's operation of his stoves, to get a perspective on the advantages of the thermostatic control on the VC stoves, as a cat with thermostatic control seems to be the combination that I am seeking on my next stove.
Let the flames begin.
Okay, thanks for the explanation.
What I really should have asked is if I want to pack the stove full of wood for an overnight burn, and wanted to set the air control at a lower setting so the fire burns all night, if a "cat" stove is able to do this. I can only picture in my mind a slow burning-overnight fire which I was'nt sure if the temps were hot enough to keep a cat going.
Should a cat stove be able to burn throughout the night (packed full of wood), and make it to the next morning, well then, that may be the ticket I am looking for!.
It seems that the VC Defiant cat may fit this bill nicely and I;ll also be sure to install a damper (per BeGreen's suggestion) to have more control of my burns should I have an overfiring situation due to my very high stack. The thermostatically controlled feature sounds real slick as well, (assuming it works properly).
I know I broke my promise, but One need some help. Thanks Buster. There are a couple of ways to monitor or run a stove effeciently. One is experience, 35 years of wood burning
The second way is with the aid of a thermometer Stove top placed on the griddle. Third is an actual Cat Combustor Probe thermometer like Mo Heat has ( made by Condar)
This way, it tell you exactly what is going on in the cat combustor compartment..
I don't have one. I use the common surface mount on the Griddle top. I' m here to explain,, not endorsing a manufacturer, as to how things work. One can use the visual approach wait till the wood gets chared then activate the Cat damper or watch the temp on the griddle top above 500. Cold nights I wait to 600/650 and engage. Yes, I could engage earlier, But I want heat. Remenber there is a secondary thermatically controlled air supply, that enters the Cat combustor compartment. When I engage the bi pass dampe, I want that thermatically controlled air to remenber the settings. It will open and close the air supply and does a good job of providing a long even heat period. There are other things going on, once that damper is engaged. If forces the smoke path down over the coal bed super heating it. This technology is called horrizontal burning. Some smoke particulate gets burned off there, but what dose not, is super heated before it enters the Cat combustion chamber. The second phase of what is going on is the secondary air is channeled behind the steel plates and it too is super heated as it enters the secondary combustion chamber. With super heated smoke and secondary air, the cat lights offf at 500 degreees. Unlike other stoves. they need 1000 degrees to combust smoke,so their secondary ignition is intermitten as the interior temps fluxuates. The Cat combustor once, lit stay lit, till no more smoke particulates can be burnt. It is a contineous process. Naturally at the end of the combustion process there is little smoke to burn, But the thermatically controled secondary air opens to still add air to maintain the fire box temps.
All this to answer your question Usually my main air supply is open between 1/4 and not at all. I let the thermoatically controled secondary air control the burn rate. the set and forget approach
I may from time to time, adjust the primary air open a nudge, if a very cold night and I want more heat.
All this talk about refractory cement and rebuilding stoves. Well I done a few usually plan to recaulk seams in 15 years or more, many are approaching 20 years of service still opperating fine.
The cat cleaning takes 5 minutes and I do it at the start of the burn season and at mid point.
Edit Man I have to go back and edit this post. This is more about understanding the workings of a Cat stove simmilar to the way Woodstocks are made or VC.
In all fairness,the PE Summit also has a similar control of secondary air. Secondary air is added to the burn tubes and it works intermitten but the addition of thermomattically air prolongs the burn and even it out.
We have experienced longer burn times and relatively cooler surface temperatures with the catalytic models. However, burn times are largely a result of poundage of fuel. Also, the softwood pines may tend to burn a little hotter than the hardwoods we are used to out here. But I still think you will be happier with the catalytic. It burns clean over a wider range of conditions and tends to self-baffle. Some people have had a hard time keeping some of the non-cats damped down. Then again, I've had some folks let their catalytics get over-heated also. Much of this will be up to you, as the user.
Personally, I would install an 8" flue with the Defiant. If a pipe damper were needed it could be added later. But there is no guarantee that you'll have an overdraft problem. The catalytic Defiant especially does not generally have a problem with over-drafting. But anything's possible. It will work on the 6" flue. VC does not guarantee smokeless open-door burning with a 6" flue. But, as has been stated, many people get good results with the 6". I would definitely not start with a pipe damper in the 6" flue. All of these stoves are designed to operated on an open flue pipe. Be careful with adding pipe dampers. They are rarely needed and they are generally discouraged by the stove manufacturers.
FWIW, we have over 30 years experience with VC stoves. There are no exact answers that fit every case. Circumstances between installation s differ. Still, in our experience, the catalytic models are best in 24/7 environments. Higher maintenance, yes, but better overall combustion rates and efficiencies. There are many here who swear that their non-cat is better. And in some cases that may be true. But in your case, with your house, we have had much better results with the catalytic models. We live in the mountains also (although not as high) and we have many homes with a similar design. The Defiant and Encore Catalytic models have been doing a great job for several years in our region.
I sound like I'm trying to sell the catalytic. Ultimately, it's your choice. I can't say for sure that the NC models will not work just as well for you. I only want to suggest that the catalytic models will be a good choice. Sometimes I see catalytics get dismissed here as not as good as non-cats. I disagree and merely want to emphasize that catalytic models are still holding their own, even under the barage of negative press.
SUPER HUNKY Wrote:
"What I really should have asked is if I want to pack the stove full of wood for an overnight burn, and wanted to set the air control at a lower setting so the fire burns all night, if a “cat” stove is able to do this. I can only picture in my mind a slow burning-overnight fire which I was’nt sure if the temps were hot enough to keep a cat going. "
Hunk, I'm not sure that you ever got an answer to that question. Part of the reason lies in history.The short answer is that in the days pre-EPA there were no catalytic stoves and yes, at that time you could turn any airtight (that's what the term "airtight" meant) stove down to smolder all night. At that time the debate was between airtights and non-airtight stoves!! Turning them down also made lots of smoke and fouled the chimney terribly. Creosote coated pipes were a major problem. So along comes EPA. Now stoves burn lots hotter. Lots hotter. No you can't turn them down to smolder all night anymore. Neither the cat nor the non-cat has an an "idle" setting on it. The operator cannot close the air draft down like on an airtight stove. That is why all stoves now have minimum square footage specified. Compared with old type wood stoves like the pre EPA Vermont Castings - the new ones are going put out heat whether you want it to or not. In effect, we are back to the old "airtight versus non-airtight" argument of the 1960s.
an old timer - Scotty
Is that 30' just to exit the roof or 30' total height.
This is the #1 thing I'd be thinking about. Which stove is going to perform the best with a skyscraping stack? In this case is may be a CAT stove...I don't know. What I do know is that the Summit or any big non cat is going rage when packed full of pine on a 30' stack....reloading a hot stove is going to be interesting to say the least :bug: This may be a good thing for your application tho cause you are going to need the heat with all that space.
Since all of the stoves you are looking at are undersized for your house, you will be red lining the thing during the better part of the winter. Get a stove that can handle it.
The 8" flue on the defiant is going to cost alot more $$$ to install
The clearances and hearth requirements are different for the 2 stoves you are considering, this may or may not be a factor.
Elk, What took you so long.
Remember that this is being installed at 7600 ft. I agree with Sean that if a 6" pipe is used with the Defiant Cat, then no damper should be put in. If it were not a cat stove, I would put one in, but I'm used to them. I have one on the Castine and it helped make the stove easier to regulate when burning hot, full loads of softwood with a tallish stack at sea level. True, though it's one more thing to be responsible for.
SH - as far as low fires, you can always add less wood. This would be pretty normal practice in shoulder seasons. At that point, there's no need for a continuous, 24/7 burn.
When MSG gets a chance to come up for air he could lend a lot to this discussion. He lives at 8500 feet and burns pine in his Hearthstone Mansfield non-cat stove (yes it has "duck feet" but something that big and heavy needs a bunch of iron to hold it up).
The question has been asked "why do you keep stating the same things over and over in this post", well, now you can see why!.
I'm obviously very thankful, (not mad), at anyone and very appreciative for all of the help and great suggestions given thus far, however, I am now starting to wonder if I am possibly firing up a "ford vs chevy" debate of sorts. Please understand, this is NOT my intention to rile everyone up on a cat vs non-cat issue but several members have made supporting arguments for their point in either direction.
I was 95% ready to do out and purchase the VC Defiant "cat", but others have mentioned about it burning "red-hot", just to keep up with the heating demands.
If everyone does'nt mind, and can bear to hear the "specs" of our situation just once more (I know, your thinking, come on man, your killing me, just buy ANY stove!), I will add a few other criteria to possibly sway your answers. Once again, here they are:
.High elevation 7600 ft
.Large "volume" of air to heat...approx 4000 sf of "volume" (2000 downstairs footprint, with wide open loft upstairs of similar size).
.Extremely open floor plan (check out previous pics) with stove to be centered in home
.25' high ceilings with addl 5 or so feet on outside of roof (to meet some code).
.High "thermal mass" of full logs throughout entire home
.Backup very powerful forced air gas system already installed (just in case stove does'nt cut it all the time)
.Home is always COLD due to its location within the trees and very large eaves overhanging the home, very little sun.
I have narrowed my selection down to either the PE T-6 Alderlea or the VC Defiant "cat" model.
One of these options is a non-cat super-heater (PE), and one is a "cat", (VC), and is also very capable.
Since Mrs Hunky has approved either one, I can literally flip a coin.........but wait, theres more! (no free ginsu knives however!).
If "I" were reading this post, my first impression would be to say choose the brand with the best dealer support in your area. Makes sense right?; but thats actually the problem!. We have NO PE dealer within a few hundred miles from here and the only one in the state is a sort of "sideline" business.
As far as a VC dealer, they went out of business last year and one of the local dealerships is trying to pick up the line but has never sold or serviced a VC stove. (They are an exclusive quad dealer). The owner did'nt even know that the Defiant came in a non-cat model...(confidense killer!).
So, in essence, I may have NO dealer support in any circumstance. *Can you now see why this is such a hard descision for me?*....lots and lots-0-wrenches thrown into the equasion!.
So, I'm almost embarrased at this point to ask once again, but now that you have ALL the criteria and info regarding dealer support etc.... what would you do?, and why?
Buy a 5700
If it is between the two, I would buy the PE stove from chimneysweeponline. Finding a dealerthat will ship a stove and stand behind it is tough to do since the manufacturers as good as forbid the practice. Tom has a steller reputation in the business as far as I know and should take good care of you. I don't agree with him on everything but he has been in the business a looooong time.
Of course the real answer is that if it was me I would go down to the ACE Hardware store in Flagstaff and get them to get me an Englander 30-NCL on the way. But that is just me. I have no interest in who buys what. I just know that I still believe mine would heat Texas Stadium. And if Mike would ever get me an answer on a question about the baffle I would be a completely contented camper.
You talk like people promoting the perceived advantages of their stoves is an argument. Not so. People like the stoves they have, be it cat, non-cat or some variation like the Everburn stoves. I could happily light off a cat stove and love it. I just happen to have a non-cat stove and a warm house. And fifteen hundred bucks left over in my pocket.
Stoveguyand Brother bart:
Both of you havesuggested incredible stoves, I checked them both out thoroughly; however, don't forget about "the wife" factor!. She sais, if I want her participation in this endeavor, she wants a stove that is not only capable, but aesthetically pleasing as well.
She is a big part of our descision as she helps me out a lot since I have severe chronic Lyme disease and at times, can have some trouble moving...(Hence the new Polaris Ranger and soon to purchase log spliter).
The quad 5700 is nothing short of a monster, but the wife does'nt like the "double wide" look. She not super keen on the ncl-30 either even though that is only based on appearance. So, I HAVE to stay with the current list!
Never suggested otherwise. Sleeping on the couch is only good when you WANT to sleep on the couch to watch the fire.
What I am saying is that you have narrowed it down to two stoves that please "the eye of the beholder", are both top notch heaters and now you only have to decide which support you are most comfortable with. Which in this case is going to be slim and none. But given the less than small odds that you will need much in the way of support it ain't no thang.
As far as which is the best stove, either one will have you back here next year as an evangelist for the "best wood stove ever made" and whacking yourself on the back for such a smart decision. Go with the Defiant and you and Elk will drive us crazy. Go with the Alderlea and you, Roospike and Gunner will drive us nuts.
We are big boys. We can take it. We all know that our stoves are the best.
well i think it comes down to this flip the coin and when you and your wife love the stove you say see what a smart decision i made and if you both hate it for some reason you ca see honey i told you we should have bought the 5700 even though you dont like the way it looks so grab that coin and toss it up and tell us what it lands on heads vc tails pe