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Why didn't you buy a cat stove?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by dafattkidd, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    Ok here's a thread for all of us non-cat, secondary burners:

    Why did you choose to not buy a cat stove. According to these cat owners they burn less wood, putting out great heat, and can control the burns better.

    So why didn't you buy a cat stove?

    I didn't buy a cat stove because i know a lot of my wood is not perfectly seasoned and I don't have enough property to keep a two years supply here, so I figured I'd have an easier time with a non cat. I'm not super sure that was the absolute best decision, but I love my stove, I must admit though, I look at those BK owners with a bit of envy.

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  2. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    As someone that has a Pre-EPA (obviously non-cat), and EPA non-cat, and a cat stove, the reason I WOULD buy a cat stove for my situation is for longer burn times. With three stoves I don't always need to burn them super hot and longer burn times are very important to me in order to keep my sanity throughout the winter due to the previously mentioned three stoves.

    I am willing to deal with an additional lever and the occasional expense if it means I can stretch out a burn time a little (or a lot) longer.
  3. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I have both as well. As soon as I get the scratch together, I will have two cat stoves. Burn control is everything heating 24/7.
  4. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    I'm struggling to remember if I was part of this Forum at the time we were shopping for a wood stove. I don't think I was.

    That said, a "Cat" stove wasn't on my radar, and the Sales Rep in the place that specializes in wood stoves didn't mention it, (or it didn't register with me at the time).

    Looking at the "Cat" stove after the fact, I'd say that I'm actually glad I DIDN'T buy one...........don't know about the wood consumption issues as mentioned above, but I gathered from a few threads in here that they take longer to heat up (?) and there is more maintenance involved and potential part replacement factors, if I understand things at all. (Which I may not, I suppose).

    The whole idea for me was centered around, "I want heat from wood, and I don't want any more 'work' than necessary to do that," which eliminated the Pellet stove right away (for example). Had the "Cat" stove been part of my consideration, I STILL probably would have stayed with a non-Cat, EPA stove.

    The one stove that WAS on my radar at the time we were shopping for one, was these Soapstone versions. What kept us from buying one of THOSE, was purely economics. We had a budget to work within. Having said that, I like the Soapstone stoves.

    The only OTHER consideration that I had, which was also caboshed by the budget constraints at the time, were the stoves with side and top loader doors.

    All things being equal, I would have opted for a BIGGER stove box, so I could lay 16" longs N/S, instead of at angles.

    -Soupy1957
  5. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Years ago before I joined this forum I just went by with what the local dealers told me and it was always cat stoves were just not as good and old technology that required more maintenance so I stayed away and purchased a few non cat tube stoves.

    After reading real cat stove experiences here I decided to take the plunge and will never look back. It saved me about a cord of wood per year and I love the longer burns.
  6. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Our 1st stove was a CDW large federal catalytic bought over 20 yrs. ago.. Back then hardly anyone knew what a cat stove was and many stuck with the smoke dragons.. Many times I would come home to find smoke billowing out the chimney and I'd see the cat temp at 300 degrees doing nothing.. My wife would load in wood and as long as there was heat coming off the stove she was happy.. I'd try to explain that we were loading the chimney with creosote and could have another chimney fire.. I got tired of this happening and started to look at new stoves and found that secondary burn stoves are very close in efficiency to cat stoves now and it would be easier to burn clean with a secondary burn stove.. With my old CDW stove I found it hard to keep the chimney hot enough without overfiring the stove which was probably a design issue on an old cat pre-epa stove.. Hopefully this new stove will eliminate all these problems plus I like the fireshow with the secondary burn stoves and look forward to that..

    Ray
  7. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    Todd, .......you said "It saved me about a cord of wood per year.........."

    I burned a cord and a half from October 1st, to May 1st this past burn season.........how much did YOU burn??????

    (I will readily admit that we didn't burn 24/7, have a "tight" house (relatively), and were gone for two weeks at the beginning of January, on a Florida "Vacation." All factors relevant to wood consumption)

    -Soupy1957
  8. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    In this current house I use to burn 4 cords with my old Regency and Hearthstone Homestead 24/7 from Oct-Apr since I went with a cat I've averaged 3 cords since 2005.
  9. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    To be honnest, I had never even heard of a CAT stove. Where I live, they are not popular whatsoever. And once I discovered them, it seemed like it would be a hassle to clean the cat, etc. However, from what I have read in the past 2 years, I seem to have been wrong. I don't think I can even find a dealer within 400-500 KM of here. My closest "hearth" specialty store is 4 hrs from here.

    Not to mention I didn't know how seasoned my wood was going to be. And from what little bit I read, cat stoves need dry wood (however now I know my wood IS dry). At the time, I had no clue where I was going to get my wood, how I was going to get it, etc.

    Andrew
  10. mhrischuk

    mhrischuk Guest

    The cat isn't necessarily there to aid the consumer. I like clean burn technology but not if it restricts me too much and causes me to have to babysit the thing all the time.
  11. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    With regard to "dry" wood............

    Outside of wood cut yesterday.........I have found that my wood dried fairly quickly, relatively speaking. I know there are folks who will say (and I don't disagree with them) that it takes a good 8 months MINIMUM for wood to dry to less than 24% moisture content. However, there have been discussions ad nausium in here, concerning the temps found on the outside of the split (middle, ends, etc), -vs- breaking the split apart and reading it again, only to find another moisture content in the center of the split.

    What religious attention needs to be paid to the moisture content of the wood that is burned in a "Cat" stove, I wouldn't venture to say, except that apparently it is far more critical than in a non-Cat stove, if thread comments in here and other places, is to be believed.

    In all cases, in all stoves, staying below a certain moisture limit is valid. Mostly for the creosote build up factor in an EPA-rated non-Cat stove system, but also for the Cat stove. Presumably the build up on the Cat itself, let alone the flue pipe, yes?

    That said, there is even a school of thought that says that overly dry wood not only burns too fast, (limiting BTU potential), but that a certain level of moisture is actually GOOD for the burn (how that is proved out, or what advantages, scientifically speaking, that brings, I dunno).


    -Soupy1957
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm not opposed to owning a cat stove, though my preference is for the stove to be a simple as possible. Quite frankly the choices are not many. I had an offer for an Encore cat, quite cheap, but I was a bit leery about the durability of the 2006 VC stoves in general and the clearance requirements were too high for our installation. My wife nixed the thought of the Fireview as too Victorian and side loading is not ideal for a corner install. Again there were clearances issues. The BK stoves got a chilly reception from the get go. That pretty much settled it for us.
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    We have owned a few different stoves over the many years we've burned wood. This even goes back to the old wood/coal stoves my parents had plus the old wood cook stove. Naturally I have fond memories of coming in the house to a very warm house when I was about froze from working or playing outside in the winter. I also have fond memories of my mother cooking or baking on the old wood stove and I happily kept her supplied with the best wood for cooking.

    I do not remember when we first heard of the Woodstock Stove Company but we sent for some materials. We really wanted one but our finances were not the best at the time and we passed. The stove we had before our Fireview was a big old Ashley stove that we picked up almost for a song and a dance as a couple bought it new and only had a few fires in it before the wife decided she wanted nothing to do with this wood heat thing because it was so "dirty." If my memory is right (it used to be) we bought that stove for $100 and it looked just like it had just came from a showroom.

    That stove served us well for over 20 years before we finally got our new soapstone stove. During that 20 years we raised 2 sons and they also helped us put up a lot of wood. We did use a lot of wood too as we averaged around 6 cord per year. One year I recall burning at least 7 cord. We did not freeze but stayed relatively warm during those years. I did get a lot of exercise in putting up the wood and I also did most of the splitting by hand. I also got lots of exercise going up on the roof and cleaning the chimney 3-4 times every burning season.

    We started looking for a stove again but before we even started looking strongly we both agreed we wanted nothing to do with these stoves that used a catalyst. The reason for that is because we had heard more than one horror story and had not heard anything good about them. Nope! Nothing like that would go into our house. But naturally when we started looking for stoves one of the places was Woodstock Soapstone. We also went to a few stove stores....and heard a few more horror stories about cat stoves. That just backed up our feelings on what we did not want.

    Then one day we received a packet in the mail and it contained lots of literature from Woodstock. We started looking and really loved their stoves, especially that Fireview. But wait!!!! Horror of horrors. These stoves had a catalyst in them! Oh nuts. Here we really did want one of those stoves but they had cats. Long story short, we did end up buying that stove with the cat in it. To date we have not been the least bit sorry that we bought it.


    Because of what we went through I can fully understand why some folks are reluctant to buy a cat stove but I also disagree on their reasons for buying one. Typical is that they are more complicated to use, there is extra maintenance, the cat has to be replaced every so often, they are slow to heat up, they don't give the nice light show that others do, etc., etc. To every one of the arguments I've heard I can disagree with all of them! In fact, most of the arguments I can turn into a benefit to the owner of a cat stove.

    Does this all mean I am against the other stoves? Absolutely not! Buying a stove is much like buying a car. We do not all drive the same type of car nor do we all have the same accessories in our cars. That is good too because there is no single car or wood stove that would suit everyone.

    So my main point is that the non-cat stoves are good and the cat stoves are good. We just happen to be a couple who were against the cat stoves but now have learned that the cat stoves are not the big bad monster that folks seem to portrait. I could go on and list the advantages of the stoves but most have seen them and for this thread is not necessary at least to this point.

    Enjoy your wood stove; cat or non-cat.
  14. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    My religion is something along the lines of letting the wood hang out in the heap for a few years and stack the season's burn under a roof before the snow flies.

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  15. Later

    Later New Member

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    We bought a house that had a cat stove overly abused by the previous owner. Mistakenly, I thought it was the stove at fault. Given what I know today, there would be an ugly princess sitting there right now.
  16. mhrischuk

    mhrischuk Guest

    So far in my shopping I haven't gotten pushed to go one way or the other by anyone on here or at the stove shops. I did have my mind made up that I didn't want a cat stove after reading about the ones without a cat that use the latest afterburn technology. The efficiencies were the same on both.
    The reason I went with the Equinox is it's big and has a large viewing door. I can put anything I want in it, including large logs without worry. I don't burn pine but I don't want to worry about what I use to start the fire and if I want to burn a piece of cardboard or what not I don't want to have to try and figure out what it' made of so I don't hurt the cat.

    I don't see the Equinox going anywhere for years once its installed.

    Looks like my choice of the Clydesdale for the living room insert is based on the same philosophy. A great secondary burn system, a large viewing glass, large firebox and no worries about what I or someone else might burn in there.

    I like soapstone for it's beauty and the way it radiates the heat.

    2-4-2

    I have this thing about cats. I drive a Dodge diesel. the 04 model was the last year Dodge produced the truck without a cat on it. My truck is almost emissions control free. I have no egr, no cat. The truck is actually worth more because of that. Sure there is no relationship to wood stoves here but it's just this thing I have about cats.
  17. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    First time around the dealer showed us a CAT on the shelf and told us "you don't want this, it's an extra cost/maintenance." I think they also tossed in how CAT stoves would be outlawed soon since Re-burn technology worked better. Now I look at the CAT future replacement as the cost of doing business and well worth it for the wood I could save along with hopefully more steady burn output.

    I found this site before buying and still went with a non CAT which I think was the right decision for my first stove. Now that I have 3 years worth of wood and "know" what I'm doing a CAT stove should fit better. When this all started I wasn't planning on ALWAYS burning 24/7 it was to supplement my propane bill but quickly changed when I started seeing the savings. I also think the non CAT fire is better to look at, that is one thing I'll miss. My goal now is to heat this place 24/7 with the least amount of work possible so I hope the CAT stove helps improve this. Viewing a nice fire is now secondary, if I want flames I'll turn up the T-stat for a little while. :)

    As for the extra lever, my Endeavor has a bypass that I have to close so I'm not picking up anything extra control wise. With the BK having a T-Stat it will be a lot easier to teach others how to run the stove. Let it burn to xxx amount then put the knob on 1, 2, 3 etc instead of "look at the handle and push it in to the 2nd spring when looking over the ash lip".

    I haven't burned the BK yet so I don't know if the grass is any greener but I don't think it'll be any worse.
  18. shawneyboy

    shawneyboy New Member

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    The only reason we didn't get a Cat stove was that Hearthstone didn't doesn't offer one and we wanted a Hearthstone. Easy answer for me.

    Shawn
  19. Milton Findley

    Milton Findley Feeling the Heat

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    Secondary burn is secondary burn, either in the firebox or in the catalyst. Easier to get with a catalyst I think, but it was a matter of availability and dealership as well as form, fit and function that caused us to go with our non-catalytic. There was more to it than a one or the other choice.
  20. realstihl

    realstihl Feeling the Heat

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    I had an Englander cat stove once upon a time. The cat had to be brushed off at least once every two weeks or it wouldn't draft right. Fly ash would get behind the baffle and plug it. The baffle was a groan to remove. Maybe the newer ones are designed better. Cat, no thanks.
  21. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    When I switched a year ago from an open wood fire to a modern, but non cat stove, I was even unaware of the importance of fully seasoned wood and secondary burns.

    After I joined this forum, I quickly learned about dry wood (thanks BackSav) and have spent the last few months getting our wood store 3 nearly years ahead.

    I am convinced our next stove will be a cat stove, although our current one seems pretty efficient after 33 years of open fires with all the heat rushing up the chimney ;-)
  22. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    sounds like a lot of us wish we were better informed on cat stoves before we made the plunge.

    If I had more room to let more cords season I'd be hunting down a cat stove. But for now I'm very happy with my secondary burning 3.2 cf beast. This sucker really puts out the BTUs.
  23. mhrischuk

    mhrischuk Guest

    Why do they offer non cat stoves and why do they seem to be the most popular choice?
    Why would a cat stove allow you to use less wood when the stated efficiencies are similar?
  24. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    For me, one of the reasons for a cat stove would be because I can burn at a lower temperature during shoulder season when I don't need to burn at 600+ degrees. That gives me longer burn times and less would consumption.

    These are my reasons. Your burning habits may differ.
  25. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    From a dealer stand point the non cat will have less issues to operate. Most of their customers aren't going to get years ahead in their fuel supply. They will cut in the fall and burn it the same year, a non cat stove may not perform well with unseasoned wood but it's not going to cause components to fail.(IE the cat') A lot of customers will think, why would they need to get ahead, their dad or grandpa used to cut in Oct and burn it the same day so why would it be an different now!? Of course they're the same people who would have a chimney fire on purpose to clean the flue and think it's a perfectly fine practice. :lol:

    The people who find this site are looking for more out of their wood burning. Most people think wood burning is as simple as cutting a tree and tossing it in a wood stove. When I start to get "wood geeky" with people they say "I didn't know so much went in to heating with wood". Of course there is heating with wood and heating with wood efficiently, I'm looking for the efficiently part so that's why I searched out a group like this when I started burning.

    Both ways work, I've heated my house fine(and countless others on this site) with a non cat without issue. For me I want to be able to turn the stove down for a slow/low burn in the fall and spring time.

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