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Video of my new house... size my insert & answer my Qs please!!!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Bster13, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Ok folks here is the video:
    http://youtu.be/HnWpY1rLNj8
    Here are the stats:
    - One story ranch built in 1957 w/ 8 foot ceilings throughout
    - 1974 sq feet (but don't expect to heat the entire place)
    - <6000 Heating Degree Days in CT: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/da/United_States_Heating_Degree_Day_map,_1961-1990.jpg


    - Masonry fireplace in living room to accept an insert.
    - Backside of chimney is in the garage so somewhat insulated.
    - 3 zones dividing the house into roughly thirds.
    - Cruddy double pane windows
    - All wood and tile flooring
    - Sun Room: 15 x 15 (guess)
    - Kitchen: 16 x 14 or ~224 sq ft
    - Dining Room: 16 x 12 (guess)
    - Living Room: 14.5 x 20.5 ft or ~300 sq ft
    - 3rd Br.: 11 x 11.5 ft or ~126 sq ft
    - 2nd Br.: 12.5 x 12.5 ft or ~156 sq ft
    - 1st. Br.: 14 x 14 ft or 196 sq ft
    - Open to a floor standing fan or two, but nothing crazy with doorway fans mounted.
    - Only a 2 person household w/ pets...will never be more.
    Here are the questions in no particular order (I apologize in advance... I try to be thorough):
    - I always hear about catalyst stove maintenance and replacing the CAT, but what are the common parts that need to be replaced on secondary combustion stoves and how often?
    - Cat or secondary air for my situation... Get home from work (6:30-7:30pm), go to bed @ 11pm-12am in hopes there would be some beneficial warmth into the morning (7:15am) when I get up. We are gone from the house by 8:30am M-F and home on weekends. Not sure if I will pack the stove in the morning before I leave for work and let it slow burn, or let it go out and relight in the evening. (My fiancee is worried about safety while we are gone and pets are in the house, but I am working on her!) If my fireplace opening will accept a medium to large insert, do I need the slow burn abilities of a cat stove (catalyst can keep burning clean at lower temps than secondary air stoves I read), but higher maintenance perhaps?

    - Do CAT stoves leave less creosote because they are more efficient, thus burning up more of the gasses that form creosote or do they leave more creosote buildup with catalytic stove? (watch the 5:40 mark on this video: )
    - Wouldn't a large CAT stove give me more flexibility, to heat just the living room on a cool fall day all the way to heat the entire house during a freezing winter day with it's ability to dampen down with the CAT lit off?
    - Given my video tour, my willingness to use minimal amount of fans and the specs listed about, should I try heat just the living room (~300 sq feet) or most of the house (at risk of cooking myself in living room)?
    - Is it worth it to supply air from the basement to minimize cold air being drawn in from the far reaches of the house?
    - Do Catalytic stoves/inserts have longer heating season (into fall/spring) because they can burn at lower temps?
    - With a CAT stove, what do you use for kindling if you don't receive the newspaper regularly? In fireplace, I have been using junk mail, but I wouldn't want to gunk up a CAT.
    - What is a reasonable lifespan of a wood stove insert? Sure, I can replace this part or that, but do they ever die completely w/ responsible use?

    - How big of a hearth is required by the state of Connecticut or my insurance company? My raised, stone hearth is ~20in from the fireplace. If that is not enough, can I put down a removable hearthpad (if such a thing exists)?

    - Is a fan required for an insert, or can it be run alone w/ a storm comes and knocks out the electricity (yes I realize it will not heat as big a space w/out the blower)?
    - Do most insurance companies require a licensed installer? Or even an insurance representative to stop by and inspect? DO insurance premiums go up?

    - I am a fan of the Blaze King Princess Insert w/ their long burn time temperature controls...less time adjusting the better! Are there similar stoves? Are there non-CAT stoves that can rival the burn times?




    Thanks very much for any help anyone can lend. Sorry for so many questions, but I've been reading up and storing my questions as I go. Wanted to knock them all out in once post. Here is my growing woodpile for next year:


    https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/487003_796798277876_1898395153_n.jpg





    Thanks again!

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I can answer a few of your questions. If not abused or neglected, a stove or insert has no definite end of life, but eventually wear and tear will cause sufficient expense and frustration to think about a new stove. The stove I'm sitting in front of right now is 20 years old, but a cream-puff, because the previous owners rarely used it.

    A cat and non-cat work on all the same principles, creating and burning wood gas in the firebox, and then re-burning the wood gas still remaining in the exhaust in a secondary burn system. The only difference is that, with the help of a catalyst to lower the activation energy, a cat stove can do this at much lower temperatures. This makes the cat stove more versatile, in terms of achieving lower burn rates and longer burn times than non-cats.

    I wrote up a good summary of who should buy a cat stove and who shouldn't... Will have to go find it, if I can.
  3. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the quick response Joful. If you find that post I'd be very appreciative. Thx.
  4. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    That is the worst explanation of what a cat does, in that video. They do not recirculate the exhaust. They burn the exhaust.
  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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  6. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    - Cat or secondary air for my situation... Get home from work (6:30-7:30pm), go to bed @ 11pm-12am in hopes there would be some beneficial warmth into the morning (7:15am) when I get up. We are gone from the house by 8:30am M-F and home on weekends. Not sure if I will pack the stove in the morning before I leave for work and let it slow burn, or let it go out and relight in the evening. (My fiancee is worried about safety while we are gone and pets are in the house, but I am working on her!) If my fireplace opening will accept a medium to large insert, do I need the slow burn abilities of a cat stove (catalyst can keep burning clean at lower temps than secondary air stoves I read), but higher maintenance perhaps? Many secondary burners could heat up the place and have enough coals to do a relight in the morning . . . but it may be tough to get that long of a burn from the time you leave until you arrive home. I mean to say, you could get a fire going and it would help keep the costs down, but there is a good chance your back-up heat (oil, propane, electric, etc.) would kick on by the time you get home from work. A cat stove works very well for those longer burn times . . . and as others will come along to tell you . . . there really isn't that much work to maintain them -- an occasional brushing off of the cat with a paintbrush or similar device and perhaps changing them out after several years of use. While I love my secondary burner I would not be adverse or worried about the maintenance of a cat stove either. As for safety while you are away . . . if the stove is installed per the specs, you develop good burning practices (i.e. running at the right temps, keeping combustbles away from the stove, cleaning the chimney, etc.) you can burn as safely while you are away as you can when you are home. I have five cats . . . and I don't fear for their safety when I am not home and the stove is going.

    - Do CAT stoves leave less creosote because they are more efficient, thus burning up more of the gasses that form creosote or do they leave more creosote buildup with catalytic stove? (watch the 5:40 mark on this video: ) Part of it is the cat . . . but a large part is also the fuel you burn and burning at the right temp. A secondary burner can burn efficiently and cleanly . . . but it is essential in both stove types to have well seasoned wood . . . the most efficient stove will gunk up fast if you have wood that isn't well seasoned or if you run the stove at too cool a temp.

    - Wouldn't a large CAT stove give me more flexibility, to heat just the living room on a cool fall day all the way to heat the entire house during a freezing winter day with it's ability to dampen down with the CAT lit off? From my understanding the nice thing about a cat stove is the ability to burn cleanly at a lower temp and get a longer burn time . . . or crank it up and let it go when you need the heat and a decent burn time. This is where the cats excell . . . secondary burners can be used on those cool Fall days and for the dead of Winter . . . but in the case of the secondary burner it's all about knowing what to use for fuel (lower BTU wood), not filling up the firebox, not reloading or reloading as often, etc. so you don't cook yourself out of the home and still burn efficiently . . . it can be a little tricky, but after a few times of having it 80+ degrees when all you wanted was to make the room a little bit warmer you soon learn how to run a secondary burner to get the desired results.

    - Given my video tour, my willingness to use minimal amount of fans and the specs listed about, should I try heat just the living room (~300 sq feet) or most of the house (at risk of cooking myself in living room)? Nah . . . with either type of stove you can use fans on the floor pointing towards the woodstove from an adjoining room and spread the heat around. It will not be as warm as the temps in the room where the stove is located, but it can still be quite comfortable. This time of year the temp in my living room with the stove is generally in the mid-70s which we have quickly become accustomed to . . . as you go to the adjoining rooms thanks to the fans the temps are in the mid to low 70s . . . and as you get further away the temps continue to drop a bit. Some folks may just get a small stove to heat a small space . . . but me . . . I want it all . . . I want to heat my whole home. To paraphrase Brother Bart . . . sure it's a space heater, but the space I want to heat is all my house.

    -
    raybonz likes this.
  9. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Is it worth it to supply air from the basement to minimize cold air being drawn in from the far reaches of the house?
    If you're talking about an OAK . . . most folks I believe get the air from outside the home, not the basement.

    - Do Catalytic stoves/inserts have longer heating season (into fall/spring) because they can burn at lower temps?
    I would say no . . . or rather it depends on the user . . . it seems as though folks with heat pumps often rely on those more in the shoulder season. Me, I have a woodstove or I burn oil . . . and so I use my woodstove for both the shoulder season and in the Winter. Again . . . you just have to change the way you run the stove with a secondary burner in the Fall and Spring . . . you don't load it as full, I tend to use my punks, chunks and uglies or lower BTU wood and I often will not reload . . . I let the stove get warm and then let the heat radiate off that big ol' chunk of iron. That said . . . I imagine it would be easier to run a cat stove in the shoulder season with the ability to load 'er up and then go with a low and slow setting.

    - With a CAT stove, what do you use for kindling if you don't receive the newspaper regularly? In fireplace, I have been using junk mail, but I wouldn't want to gunk up a CAT. A lot of us here -- cat users and secondary burners -- love Super Cedars. If you write to NW Fuels (Thomas) he may send you two free samples to try . . . they look like hockey pucks . . . break them into quarters and use just a quarter to get your kindling going . . . many folks have swore off using newspaper after trying these.

    - What is a reasonable lifespan of a wood stove insert? Sure, I can replace this part or that, but do they ever die completely w/ responsible use? Well since there are old time woodstoves from the late 1800s and early 1900s still in use . . . I would say a very, very long time if not abused and maintained regularly.

    - How big of a hearth is required by the state of Connecticut or my insurance company? My raised, stone hearth is ~20in from the fireplace. If that is not enough, can I put down a removable hearthpad (if such a thing exists)? 18 inches from the front is the norm . . . but some stoves require specific insulation values so knowing if there is a R-value required for the hearth is important to know . . . some stoves require a R value of X degrees . . . others simply need to be non-combustible for ember protection.

    - Is a fan required for an insert, or can it be run alone w/ a storm comes and knocks out the electricity (yes I realize it will not heat as big a space w/out the blower)? From what I have read . . . not required with all inserts . . . but many users prefer inserts with blowers.

    - Do most insurance companies require a licensed installer? Or even an insurance representative to stop by and inspect? DO insurance premiums go up? Depends on the insurance company . . . you may need to have a professional install . . . or you may be able to do it yourself. Some insurance companies will boost your premium, some will not make any changes. Some will send a rep to look things over, some may have you fill out a survey, some may require a Fire Inspector or Fire Chief inspect it and some may not do a thing. You would have to check with your insurance carrier.

    - I am a fan of the Blaze King Princess Insert w/ their long burn time temperature controls...less time adjusting the better! Are there similar stoves? Are there non-CAT stoves that can rival the burn times? To my knowledge there are few if any stoves that can rival the Blaze King in term of their fantastical long burn times . . . many stoves are prettier, but few are more functional perhaps.
    raybonz likes this.
  10. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Looks like a tough place to heat evenly because of the chopped up layout. I think your on the right track though with the Blaze King because you will want to burn it low and slow to keep your living room from overheating.
    raybonz likes this.
  11. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Jake.

    - Freestanding stove is not an option. My Fiancee is not a fan of the aesthetics....it's a wonder I'll be able to rock the insert. haha.
    - Good to know Secondary burn stoves are in less need of replacements parts, I just wanted to confirm.
    - I feel like I need a cat stove with a thermostat to keep the Fiancee happy and myself frankly. This stove insert thing is all new and exciting at the moment but that may wear off. The less I need to mess with the stove the better and certainly the same for the Fiancee who can hopefully just put a log or two in when I'm not around and let the thermostat do it's thing when I'm not around. The easier the better.
    - I guess there is this balance of the lower heating costs that a CAT stove may provide by ease of use, lower burn times, and use in shoulder seasons plus less wood (time) to process vs. the cost of replacement CATs basically. Not sure I can come up with a formula for payoff there, maybe a gut call.
    - If trying to minimize cost, I bet I could get newspaper from work, but will newspaper eventually get stuck in the CAT or is it no biggie, but just the Super Cedars are very easy to use?
    - As for hearth size. There will be no combustibles around the stove, heck not even a wall, just masonry fireplace with a stove facade covering the entire wall an then the raised hearth (stone) jutting out 20in. Actually, how far out does a Blaze King Princess stick out? Is that adjustable? If I have 20in to play with, I hope the Blaze King only sticks out 2 inches. :eek: As for the R-value... not sure how to calculate R-value of my stone surrounding the stove... hrmmm.
    - Still not sure if the Blaze King Princess is appropriate firebox size (2.85 cube feet) for my house. Any further thoughts there?
    - As for outside air supply... my basement would be the easier source, putting in a grate in the floor in front of the hearth as the basement opens up into the garage (could leave the basement door cracked a tiny bit) and of course the garage is not airtight and would supply plenty of air.


  12. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    That's a major concern Todd. I love having a ranch, but with all the doorways I feel like the heat will get trapped in certain rooms, no? I figure a CAT is the best way to go because I can burn it lower than a secondary burn stove if need be so I don't cook my self out of the one room where we spend all our time.

    I have to work the balance of aesthetics and function. I will not be installing vents above the doorways (again, aesthetics and damn plaster walls!)

  13. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    I have a non-cat stove and get pretty good burn times, last night at mid night I loaded three medium sized ash splits into the stove and went to bed around 1am after making sure the stove was settled in at a stove top of 620 degrees, outside temps were in the 20's and windy, inside the house was 77. I got up at 9am and had enough coals to re-light the stove with some kindling and small splits, the house was still 70. The non-cat stoves require you run them hotter to re-burn the smoke and burn cleanly. Just wanted to throw some non-cat experience at you, both are good stoves and have their benefits. Good luck.
  14. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Here's the specific post I was trying to link earlier (tough from a smartphone):

    To expand on FF-jake's excelent response, both styles work for "shoulder season" (fall/spring) burning, but are managed in different ways. In all cases, you want your secondary combustion system working, to get the most from your wood and keep your flue clean of creosote. In a non-cat stove, you do this by building a small fire that will burn hot and fast. It will heat the mass of the stove while burning clean above 1100F at the secondaries, and die out quickly, but the mass of the stove (and your house) will continue to radiate a few hours. It's more cyclic. In a non-cat, you load the stove up and get it hot enough to light off the catalytic combustor (generally ~500F), and then you can crank it way down to burn at very low temps. The combuster stays lit (generally 500 - 1500F), cleaning up the un-burned volatiles in the smoke coming out of the firebox.

    I'm finding, however, that there's still a limit in how low you can burn with a large load of wood in my cat stoves. A cat stove generally has the ability to shut down the air control much tighter than a non-cat, as mandated by the EPA. This is one of the factors to blame in the higher likelihood of non-cat's to "run away", and perhaps cat stoves to "back puff", both usually only an issue with very large loads of wood. If you're like me, you may find shutting down the air too tight results in volatiles building up in the firebox, rather than being swept out for the cat to chew. The result is a sometimes exciting reaction, when enough air finally leaks into the firebox to permit combustion of these gasses.

    No problem... two stoves! :) My house is shaped like a "U", with fireplaces in either end. One of these fireplaces on the first floor already has a stove, we'll be installing a second stove at the other end in the next few days.
  15. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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  16. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    - I understand a stove like the BK isn't going to be totally like a Pellet, hopefully the collective is that is somewhere in between a Pellet stove and a Secondary Burn stove in that yes, you need to make adjustments but it can be done with two knobs (thermostat and blower control) vs. putting in different size and species of wood in a secondary burn stove.

    -
    Well hopefully my wood is free (accepting donations from local arborists) so my cost will be my time, my back, and my consumables for my chain saw. I keep hearing CAT stoves use 1/3 less fuel, but not sure if that is vs. an old non-EPA stove or a secondary burn EPA stove. Either way, the increased efficiency is a bonus and the replacement CAT cost is a downer, but in the end I think ease of use will prevail here with the CAT as mentioned in my previous point.

    - As for hearth size, I've been reading up here: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/is-a-hearth-rug-a-hearth-extender.57098/ And I feel like if I need a hearth pad, that will suffice during the burning season.CORRECTION: Not sure a hearth pad would suffice in my state (wish there was a resource that listed all the requirements for each state in one place. Kind of kit car registrations), some places require continuous, no gaps. Will have to research more for CT.
  17. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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  18. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Cat's burn the same amount of wood as a tube stove, they can just do it a lower burn rate. Both are about the same in terms of efficiency.

    Buying a new cat ($170) every 6 years doesn't bother me, the ability to have greater control over heat output trumps that for me.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  19. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    The Blaze King combuster in the princess inserts is <$250, no? ACI-63C is the part #? (reading about your Appalachian now, hehe)
  20. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    I took the time to import the EPA list of certified stoves/inserts into an excel spreadsheet where folks can sort and filter as they see fit:
    https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxjLmk_trl6BamVjQTlTcE9kRkk

    (This is how I found the Princess... I filtered and sorted by tested stoves w/ high efficiency)
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Considering you're not married yet, maybe easier to get a new financee that is a little more open to compromise? ::-) (ducking!)
    Joful likes this.
  22. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    LOL, just kidding. It was the bathroom comment in the video that got me.

    At ~ 2000sq ft the BK Princess should do the job well. There are prettier looking stoves with good sized fireboxes if that is an issue. What are the fireplace dimensions? (H + W, depth at top and bottom and rear dimensions if it tapers in back)
  24. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    She is a very good graphic designer by trade, so looks are big to her and at times they contradict my frugal/efficient engineering mind. All good. :)

    I will measure fireplace dimension this evening.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Take a look at the Enviro Boston and Venice 1700 inserts and see if either is more her style. They are well-made affordable stoves.

    http://www.enviro.com/fireplace-products/wood/fireplace-insert.html#venicebig

    If she likes the cast iron front surround better, there are several stoves with variations on this look like the Hampton HI300, Quadrafire Voyager, PE Alderlea T5 insert, Jotul 450 or 550, etc.. If she wants a more contemporary look, Osburn's new Matrix insert might appeal or maybe a Hearthstone Clydesdale. All are good efficient mid-sized inserts.

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