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Wanting some help steering us down the right road with a new stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by TDog78, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. TDog78

    TDog78 New Member

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    A little background: We have been heating our existing home for years now with an old Heritage insert and absolutely love the thing and the constant bone penetrating heat that only fire can provide however we are moving and need to get a new stove. I will be building our new home and it will be tight and well insulated...not zero net levels but above code and using proper insulating techniques which is half the battle. We will be in Eastern Colorado and the temp is all over the place from golfing weather one day to 50-60 degrees colder the next. We have a saying here that if you don't like the weather, just wait ten minutes. Moving on the house will be around 1400-1600 square feet with a really open plan for dining, kitchen, living area and a fair amount of windows along the South side for a sun tempered/slightly passive solar design with concrete floors as thermal mass to absorb energy and release it gradually. Sometimes it will be used 24-7 and others just to spike and hold the temps but our furnace will be the backup as it is in our current home.

    Concern one. I want quality, ease of use, low maintenance, and don't mind if it is good looking obviously however I take function over form and appearance. What should be the short list of brands.

    Concern two. Should we stick with the simple steel design of our heritage or go with a hybrid design like some of the PE or Jotul models. My wife is concerned about not being able to get quick heat like we can with our steel stove (not always needed but nice to have when needed) and I don't know if the hybrid design gives you quicker heat then straight iron or just gives you the benefit of having less maintenance and an airtight box.

    Concern three. If we choose to go with a cast iron exterior then is it higher maintenance for finish and what if our pot of water for our super dry state boils over etc. Our heritage has been a simple beast.

    Concern four. Both dealers we went to really pushed the Lopi which instead of giving us confidence makes us leery of their quality....is that a good brand or sketchy?

    Last but not least size, size, size. Is it better to go with something in the up to 2000 square foot range rating for longer burn times etc and have the capacity for colder times or is it better to work a smaller unit harder and hotter/more efficient. We have had plenty of nights with the heritage where we have gone down to bare bones on clothing but our couch is right next to it...it has not bothered us much but is not loved either. As an example if we go Jotul we like both the F45 and F55 but cannot decide which size wise would be a better fit.

    Thanks for any help. Travis

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  2. byQ

    byQ Member

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    Have you considered these "new" heating devices (new to America, that is) - masonry heaters? New construction with concrete floors makes it easier to install a masonry heater. Here are 2 builders in your area:
    * Greenstone Heat, (303) 919-3706, John Chavez
    * Lefthand Masonry, LLC, (970) 631-7386, Matt Helicke
    Check out their websites and look at the masonry heaters. These things are incredible.

    And Tulikivi has an office in Livingston, Montana.
    * Warmstone Fieplaces and Design (406) 333-4383 Ron Pihl. I spoke to Ron a few times. He is enthusiastic about his products.

    Tulikivi is now building a masonry heater/wood stove hybrid called a Hamaja. And they've entered another model the Hiisi in the wood stove challenge. This Hiisi is one of the greatest burning devices ever made.
  3. TDog78

    TDog78 New Member

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    That looks kind of pricey? Curious though.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    You would do fine with the Lopi brand. It has always been a leader for simple quality. The Lopi Endeavor is a time tested stove that should work well if the house is well insulated and sealed with a thermal break design. There are several other brands that would work too. The PE Alderlea is not a hybrid, it's simply a good steel stove with a cast iron jacket. That jacket will slow down the heating a little, but has side benefit of slowly releasing the heat over time. Raybonz and Loon both have the PE T5 and are happy with them. If you don't want the cast iron jacket, look at the PE Spectrum. Other jacketed stoves in this size are the Enviro Boston, Jotul F45/F50/F55, Quadrafire Cumberland Gap and the Napoleon 1400.

    The new home sounds like it will have very different heating needs than the old place. There may not be a need the intense hot radiant heat emanating in all directions from the stove. A jacketed stove is still radiant from the front and top, but much less so from the sides. The trivet design of the Alderlea stoves virtually eliminates the worry of steamer boil overs. You won't boil water on this stove unless you swing open the trivet top and place the pot right on the stove top. We keep a pot on the stove all winter long and it stays right below boiling.

    PS: Swung open and off the heat, the trivet top is great for drying out wet socks, mittens or for raising dough.
  5. TDog78

    TDog78 New Member

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    Excellent info, just what I was looking for thanks. If you were in my shoes would you go with the ones rated for "up to 2000" or the larger of the two in each of the categories and just run a smaller fire on the warmer days or the smaller of each of the lines?
  6. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    Ignore manufacturers' ratings. Firebox size is a much better indication of heating abilities. Look for something 2-2.5 cu ft.

    Personally, I'd be looking at the PE Super Series, http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/pacific.htm . They all share the same firebox, with different exteriors. Ray and loon have been getting some amazing burn times for a 2 cu ft non-cat.

    I would also look at one of the smaller Blaze Kings, http://www.blazeking.com/EN/wood-stoves.html . There is supposed to be a cast iron clad stove available for the fall http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/bk-ashford-30-pic.109239/#post-1440319

    I also wouldn't worry about boil-overs. Get a humidifier. A pot on the stove doesn't do a whole lot for humidity.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This is going to depend on the house construction (insulation and sealing) and stove location. In an average house in your climate zone I would be suggesting to go up a size to a 2.5-3.0 cu ft stove. However, with a well insulated home of 1600 sq ft a good 2 cu ft stove should be able to handle it well. Just be sure the wood is well seasoned, the stove will do the rest.
  8. sticks

    sticks Member

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    Just wondering Tdog why two dealers promoting the same brand makes you leary of the quality. For the record love the Endeavor for all the reasons Begreen said.
  9. fox9988

    fox9988 Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum. Lopi has a loyal following and good reputation.
    I'm heating 1536sqft of new construction with a 1.4 cuft stove. Works perfect. 2 loads a day until over night lows drop to low teen/single digets, then I do a partial third load in the evenings. Your climate may be colder than mine. My overnight lows are typically in the lower 20's, rarely around/below 0. I don't think quick heat will be a concern for you, I left the AC off for 39 hrs recently and the inside temp went from 70 to74 (daytime highs 89).
    I suggest an Outside Air Kit (OAK). With tight construction a bathroom exhaust fans or dryer will pull a vacuumm on the house killing the stove draft. The OAK will keep the stove supplied with fresh outside air vs competing with the appliances to waste house air that you've already heated.
  10. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Your climate is cold but with new, modern construction with good insulation, I think a 2+ cf stove is right in there. Fortunately, this is the most common size range, so your options are wide.

    You seem to covet the radiant heat of steel stoves, so I'd lean to that style, although a cast iron model like Jotul, or an Pacific Energy Alderlea steel stove with a cast surround will provide that nicely also. For us, the PE Super 27 is just right as we love the radiant heat it provides. I did a lot of research last year and Lopi was on my short list, though. It's a well respected brand.

    +1 on the outside combustion air (OAK) especially with new modern tight construction.

    The nice thing about a basic steel stove for you is that it can be used for short, quick heating on those days that are cold in the morning but warmer later on, but can also be continually toasty hot on those unrelentingly cold days.

    Welcome to the forum, BTW. You will find your answers here.
  11. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Any of the modern stoves with a large glass window will throw enough radiant heat to heat your well insulated home quite quickly. I would not be worrying about that. You don't need to go with steel, though you can. Cast iron or soapstone will heat plenty quickly. I love the Woodstock stoves for ease of use, quality, durability, efficiency, appearance and customer service. They or any of the stoves mentioned above would do a great job.

    whether I'd recommending going with a bigger stove depends on how large your windows are, how often you are subjected to long periods of overcast weather, whether you have good curtains and blinds inside to help you preserve heat, how low your lowest lows get, etc,, If you get the occasional 20 or 30 below, if you can have a week or more of overcast weather where there will be little solar gain, if you have high prevailing winds and little shelter, or any other exacerbating factors, then I'd certainly go bigger. You can always light a smaller fire.
  12. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum, Tdog. Let's just hope you're not eaten by zombies while saving Carol. Congrats on building a new home. Sounds like you're still in the planning stages. Good luck with it. One thing to consider when your looking at stove options is a square firebox. Some wood burners like to burn North South (front to back) as well as East West (side to side). Some stoves have fireboxes that are wider than they are deep. Having a fire box that has 18" depth can be very convenient. Again this may not be a deal breaker or a major factor, but may be helpful in your decision making process.
  13. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Tulikivi - my sister has one in a 5000 sq ft home in Maine. The heaviest one Tulikivi had ever built when they built it a few years ago. Three cords of wood for the winter, provides about half her heat. She loves it.

    Have to say, my Woodstock Progress Hybrid will do that, at a fraction of the cost, using a fraction of the space, and I do all my winter cooking on it as well.

    Though I like the look and idea of the masonry heaters, I'm sure not sold that they make more sense, or as much sense, as a good stove.
    Trilifter7 and webby3650 like this.
  14. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I second several of the points here: Look for the firebox size when searching for an appropriate heater for your new home. A medium size insert with 2 to 2.5 cu ft. should work out well for you. An OAK is also a really good idea for an air-tight home. Almost all woodstove companies make reliable, easy to use products and you will find a lot of users here that really like their particular stove. People heat their homes as well with a budget stove as with more expensive brands. The decision for a particular stove often comes down to "secondary" points such as customer service, warranty, and aesthetics. Indeed, I would not downplay the aesthetics factor. The stove will most likely be the focal point of your living area at least for the winter months for years to come. Do you really want to sit there in a year or two and think:" Why did I not spent a few hundred dollars more to get a nicer looking stove?".

    Be aware that modern EPA stoves absolutely require dry, seasoned wood to work well. Seasoned means a moisture content of less than 20% which is usually achieved by stacking the splits (not logs!) with lots of wind and sun exposure for at least one year better two to three (some species e. g. oak will need AT LEAST 2 years). It is rare that you can buy properly seasoned wood. If you want to try ask the seller how long the wood has been split and stacked before ordering. I would also test it with a moisture meter when it gets delivered. However, the advantage of a modern stove is that you will probably see a 50% reduction in your wood usage compared with an old "smoke dragon".

    May I ask why you need a stove that quickly comes up to temp? A good EPA stove will throw heat for 10 to 12 hours and still have enough coals left to quickly light a new load. E. g. I load my PE Super insert around 10 pm and when I wake up at 6:30 am next morning I just rake the coals in front and put fresh wood on. 30 minutes later the insert will be up to temp again and easily heat our home again. One trick I learned this winter is using dry pine when I want to light up the stove quickly; works like a charm. There are also catalytic stoves that provide even longer and more even heat; burn times of 16 to 20 hours with one load are not unheard of. Similarly, soapstone stoves may take a bit longer to get hot but then will give you even heat for many hours. Look around and continue reading here before jumping in; you will have at least the summer to come to a decision. In the meantime, try to get the wood first so it can dry.

    Finally, some other stoves BG did not mention:
    For a contemporary looking stove I really like the Osburn Matrix but they have also more classical looking stoves like the 2000 or 2200 if you prefer that style:
    http://www.osburn-mfg.com/en/heaters/wood-stoves The user Fyrebug works for Osburn and is always a good resource. I read good things about their customer service, too.
    Another option is Regency: http://www.regency-fire.com/wood/stoves/ Sizewise, the CS2400 or the F2400 should work well.
    If you would consider a soapstone stove take a look at Hearthstone: http://www.hearthstonestoves.com/store/wood-products?limit=30
    as well as Woodstock: http://www.woodstove.com/wood-stoves
    Woodstock stoves are catalytic and have one of the best customer services around such as a 6 month, no-questions-asked return policy.

    Since it is easy to overlook here is also the link to the review part of this website: http://www.hearth.com/talk/link-forums/stove-reviews.35/
    If you have it boiled down to a few candidates feel free to ask for opinions. I am sure many people will chime in.
    Good luck!
  15. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Economical sense - probably not. But sure would I love to have a nice looking masonry heater. In addition, they are also easier to use: light the fire, close the door, and leave. No fiddling around with the air control (or a cat) for 20 to 30 minutes and haven't heard of overfires yet either. Dry wood is also less of a concern although I would still dry mine (no need to waste heat).
  16. stovelark

    stovelark Minister of Fire

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    Hi tdog- jumping in here, BG right on target with his suggestions. I'd also suggest the Kodiak from Enviro if you are considering steel stoves. Nice simple and very economical designs, similar to the PE. PE has nice design too, the internal floating baffle is an excellent design. The Kodiak 1700 is a 2.5Cu ft firebox, good burn times and will heat your area nicely. If you want the cast iron jacketed stove, the Boston from Enviro (Boston 1700) would be a nice choice too. For solid cast, the F500 Jotul Oslo would do nicely. Nothing wrong with LOPI, a good steel stove been around for years and years. All the stove companies from the pacific northwest (Enviro,PE, LOPI, Quadrafire, BK) are good clean burning stoves of quality. Good luck, welcome to the hearth too.
  17. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    If your building your home, and as you mentioned the insulation. spend the extra money on extra insulation now and your will like the idea you can heat your home with less wood. It will be nice , you need less wood, less handling of wood etc...Year after year.

    I would say dont over size the stove if your gonna insulate well but seeing what you said about open floor plan , lots of big windows and lots of concrete floor , those all will challenge a stove , so maybe a bigger stove will be better for you.

    Lastly new stoves need really good seasoned wood. Plus if your using wood thats not fully season but maybe manageable, you will still be loosing BTU's as it takes energy to boil off that little bit of moisture in the not so ideal seasoned wood.

    We put so much time effort and money into what we think is the best stove and if we use not the best wood you minimize all the work/money you put into getting the best stove.

    Not sure what kind of old Heritage insert you had or how old it was but the old stoves would still burn with not so seasoned wood these new stoves will drive you crazy with wood thats above 20% moisture content. Buy you a moisture meter they are around $30 at lowes. You would be wise to get your good season wood now and dont take the word of the wood seller that its seasoned use the moisture meter after splitting the wood one more time to get an inside reading.

    If you cut your own wood like I do hopefully you already got your wood cut split and stacked as wood like Oak can take 2-3 years to fully season to less than 20% moisture content.
  18. TDog78

    TDog78 New Member

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    Truly impressed with the level of thoughtful responses here. I am grateful. I just got a chance to get caught up on all the input as I went straight from work to go look at some Jotul and PE models in person....I am really liking the Alderlea T5 so far however I cannot get over how much smaller the firebox is compared to the beast that we are currently using.

    Regarding the question about the dealers earlier, I just get the feeling that they are pushing what they will get the best return or bonus on and are not necessarily looking out for my best interest however it is not fair for me to group them with shady dealers of other industries that I am used to. I am a more of a cautious, what is in this for you kind of guy. The dealer I went to today only got a visit as he had both models that I wanted to see under one roof as I could tell over the phone that this would not be the place I get it from. When I arrived and started asking questions he knew less then me and was flat out wrong on multiple issues which irritates me as he is misleading many.
    Jack Fate and begreen like this.
  19. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Definitely don't be afraid of looking closely at Lopi! Or Jotul. Or PE. The truth is, these are all good stoves, I'm sure the dealer is just pushing the stoves that he is most comfortable with, and for good reason. It would be very hard to hurt an Endeavor. I really think the endeavor would be a very good fit for you. It's a great stove. The by-pass is a great feature that will really benefit you, especially if you have a shorter chimney.
  20. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Not an unusual response. A modern stove is about twice as efficient as an older one. Thus, you get the same amount of heat from half the wood.

    There is always the option of just buying the stove and installing it yourself or having certified chimneysweep doing it.
  21. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    It is annoying isn't it? It's all too common, but you're doing it right by educating yourself and knowing the answers before asking them. I went through the same thing and relied heavily on the advise I got from the forum members here as well as other sources. Don't hesitate to ask all the questions you want here as you go along. Take your time and you will be confident with your decision.
    Trilifter7 and djlarson77 like this.
  22. blacktail

    blacktail Minister of Fire

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    I love my Lopi. My dad has an old Avalon (made by Travis Industries, the same company that makes Lopi) that's been running for many years. My next door neighbor also heats his house 100% with a Lopi. They're made about 40 minutes from here and have a solid reputation.
    webby3650 likes this.
  23. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    I'll chime in as well - I have an Osburn 2200 freestanding - our place is also fairly new construction (by me), very well insulated. The 2200 has a 2.2 cu ft firebox with the ability to load up N/S 18" splits - I like the N/S loading thing since this stove has a ton of glass in front, and I don't have to worry so much about a big "round-ish" split rolling up on the glass, etc. Our 'main' room is a combination living area, dining area, and kitchen - pretty much open concept approx 900 sq ft. Total building space is just under 1500 sq ft. The 2.2 cu ft firebox / steel stove has kept us warm in temps as cold as -35 C, and easily keeps us toasty through the average days. I've only used SBI (Osburn) tech support for some general questions / advice and they're been prompt and helpful. The stove appears to be built like a tank. Others here have much more experience with owning different stoves and are already offering great advice on various units. From what I've gathered lurking about here in the past, all of the stoves mentioned so far (like the advice in general) would probably serve you well.

    My 2c, some points already mentioned, a bit off track from the original questions, but worth harping on a bit:

    - focus on the home build - a few extra $ on good insulation is money well spent.
    - you mention concrete floors - if that means you're building on slab, don't forget to insulate there too - get a good thermal break under the slab and it will pay back huge. Maybe consider in floor radiant heat as well, if you can. I only have this in my bathroom but I love it especially on those chilly mornings.
    - you may not need a ton of firebox, but don't discount a stove you might really like if it's a bit larger than you think you need - - generally speaking, a bit more room in the firebox isn't a bad thing IMHO. In our case, 2.2 steel stove does the job even in cold winters. Every install is unique, the folks here will give you lots of advice as you go.
    - give some thought to firebox dimensions, loading, general operation, etc. There are times when I'm stuffing a big knotted ugly into the stove, or stacking a couple rounds on the fire, when I really wish I had a bit more clearance / height. It is not a show stopper but I would consider a bit more height / bigger firebox on the next purchase.
    - OAK discussions abound - many opinions and threads here and elsewhere about the value of an OAK - I have one set up and ready to connect, will probably hook it in and test drive it once the place is really finished and all the air-sucking appliances / vents are in full operation. Even if you're undecided, plan for an OAK now to save any painful work later should you decide to go that route. For example, I have an OAK inlet plumbed into the heath pad under my pedestal and thru the floor - which I can easily cover with a full tile if I wanted to set a leg stove there later. This would be an ugly job after the fact.
    - air circulation / ceiling fans / etc. - also many threads on this topic, but since you're building now, you may want to think about whether or not there's some value in wiring a fan / fans in the stove room. We have 2, at the peak of a vaulted ceiling, and on slowest speed they really do a nice job of moving the warm air around the entire area.
    - seasoned firewood. This may be second nature since you've been burning for a while in your old place. Good dry firewood will make or break you especially in an EPA stove. The result / experience is night and day. Everyone hits on this point, but for good reason. A million $ install with new technology will still suck if you have crappy fuel.
    - if you are doing the install yourself, think about insurance - just a heads up as things appear to be changing in some places (not sure about where you are but in my corner of the world). When renewing this year I was told by every insurer that I needed a WETT inspection, after several years where I only had to supply pics and install specifications. Just something you might want to figure into your budget. You mentioned that some of the stove shops you talked to seemed less than competent. There have been a couple of horror stories here about bad installs, etc. Stay away from those guys.
    Huntindog1 likes this.
  24. TDog78

    TDog78 New Member

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    Bag of hammers...sounds like we have a fairly similar need and I really appreciate the extra input on other considerations. When my dad built his house many years ago he insulated the crap out of the thing long before it was in style so to speak and he cannot emphasize enough how glad he is that they did it. I will take it a step further then he did and don't think I will regret it in any way.

    Well hopefully I will get off work a little early today and be able to go take a look at the Lopi stoves that are not too far away again since they seem to be popular with a few of you folks plus I have the PE and Jotul models fresh in my head from last night.
  25. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Based on my experience and from what I have read Lopi, Jotul and PE all made some very good stoves.
    webby3650 likes this.

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