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Wood Stove Selection - Jotul F50?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Hawkeye, May 30, 2012.

  1. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    My wife and I are building a new house which will have a wood stove. For the past 7 years in our previous home we had a V.C. Encore. I always enjoyed the stove, but sometimes wished it was a bit larger with longer burn times as we burn almost full-time during winter months here in Iowa.

    With the new house a bit larger (1,455 SF main level, 1,300 SF second floor) I had planned originally to go with the V.C. Defiant, but think it might cook us out of the house. So I've been doing some research on top loads (after having a top-load for 7 years I can't imagine not having one) and found the Jotul F50 Rangeley. Seems to be similar in size as the Encore, and in pricing it out at the local dealer is even about $1,000 less. So far I'm hooked but I'm looking for advice and input.

    In regards to the F50 I had a few questions:

    - what have people experienced for burn times?
    - how is the ash-pan on the F50?

    A more general question - has anyone had experience with an outside air source for their wood stove? Our old house was a bit drafty, and we we normally vented the stove. However, with new construction I'm concerned the house may be too tight and was planning on venting the stove with the outside air kit. Any thoughts?

    Any other recommendations or ideas welcome - thanks!

    Chad

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  3. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    2,755 ft is NOT a small area. Your winter is a little colder than my area in terms of average temps. I would go larger than the F50, which, I believe has a firebox of around 2.8. I would go larger. Maybe look at the F55 Carrabassett.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of top loading. I run a Defiant and an Encore. I do enjoy top loading, but there is nothing wrong with front or side loading. Also, the F50 and F55 are north/south loading stoves so you do not have to worry about a split rolling out when you open the front door of the stove.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's a new home. If they do a good job with insulation, sealing and good glazing, the F50 might be fine. It all depends on the heat loss of the house.

    Hawkeye? Have you had the heating system designed yet? If yes, do you have the heat loss calcs and system size?
  5. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I'm always skeptical of a sub-3 cu ft firebox being capable of heating nearly 3,000 sq ft.
  6. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    Begreen - Preliminary design on the heating system calls for a 90,000 BTU forced air gas furnace. I need to look up the heat loss calcs but they are quite reduced. We are spending money on extra insulation, good windows, etc. R-50 in ceiling with 3" closed cell foam insulation on rim joists, etc. Here is a floor plan of the main level if interested.

    Another item of note on the heating sytem - the heating system will operate on 3 zones - (basement, main level, upstairs). Also, there will be a seperate single duct in the floor beams pulling cooler air from the side of the house opposite the woodstove and venting it from behind the stone mantle that will be behind the wood stove. This duct will have its own fan (8" duct fan - 500 cfm - draws about 0.8 amps) and is 2-speed. We had a similar setup in our previous house and it really helped even out the heat throughout the house. Couldn't even hear it run. Main furnace fan will be VFD so we can run the fan at variable speeds if we want to distribute heat.

    Maybe some of this is overkill but with a couple young kids we try to keep the house heat evened out while also loving to burn wood. My concern is keeping the main level warm without cooking the upstairs.

    BAR - Not sure but I think the firebox on the encore is around 2.3? Seemed like we always got enough heat of the Encore for a total of 2,000 sf. If the F50 is 2.8 do you think we can expect quite a bit more heat from it than the encore?

    Also - has anyone had experience with outside air venting? I was excited about doing it but our local dealer is trying to talk me out of it. But some other friends who build a new house have trouble getting enough air for their wood stove (a defiant) and end up cracking windows. I was hoping to avoid that. Any info on that would be helpful.

    Thanks for the input and ideas. Really enjoy this forum!

    Chad
  7. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    Not sure the attachment posted.....let me try this again.
  8. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    A half a cu ft difference isn't much. But, if the Encore was meeting your needs with a 2,000 sq ft home and this home is going to be tighter and more efficient, than you should be okay.

    But, you did say:
    And now you are going into a home that is over 700 sq ft larger. I think you will feel the same about the F50 as you did with the Encore; it heated well for the majority of the winter, but you will wish you went larger for more flexibility for the burn times and heat output when the temps really drop.

    I would at least check out the F55 so you can wrap your head around the difference of the two stoves.
  9. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    Yep I did! Too bad that F55 didn't have the features I like of the F50 (top-load, ash pan) as I would probably buy it in a heartbeat. This is a tough decision.

    What do you think the burn times of the F50 would be when compared to the Encore? If you go by "advertised" burn times it looks like the encore would do better. But with the larger firebox, as well as reading some posts around here I am almost led to believe the F50 would burn longer. Any thoughts?

    Still looking for info from anyone on the outside air kit - go or no go?

    Thanks!

    Chad
  10. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Top load and ash pan are nice features but wouldn't be my top priorities for stove buying.

    The Encore gives me 6-8 hours of usable heat during the winter and 8-12 hours during the shoulder season. The F50 would probably be in the 8-10 hour range for the most part in terms of usable heat. Maybe longer depending upon your heating needs. There are at least two posters that own this stove, maybe they will chime in.

    There are several posters here that use outside air kits (or OAKs). Do a search and you will find several threads on this. If you have a tight house, you would probably benefit from it.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Go for a good lookin' 3 cu ft stove.
    No attachment seen, what are you trying to post?

    The right stove is going to depend on a few factors. Tell us a bit more about the stove, the house and its floorplan. Will the stove be centrally located in an open floorplan or at the end of the house with a somewhat closed off floorplan?
  12. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Burn times on junk wood for the Rangeley were 6+ hours and I could achieve enough live coals in the AM to have sucessful overnight burns. This will be the first year feeding it seasoned oak and maybe some hickory so we wil see how much better it gets.

    I grew up heating my Dad's 200 year-old farmhouse with a VC Defiant, so I'm familiar with a high-output stove. ==c Heat output of the Rangeley is unreal, especially for a "medium" sized stove. Waaaay to easy to overheat my 1260sq ft single story home. I can keep my entire house in the mid-80's without trying, not that we want it that high but it ain't hard to do. I doubt it would have any trouble keeping 3000 sq ft of new contruction comfy. The F50 loves to run, I always feel like I'm holding the stove back. I think running it in a space near it's maximum capacity would be a most enjoyable experience.

    I prefer front loading the Rangeley to top-loading. I can fill the firebox more efficiently that way and this stove loves to be loaded N-S.

    Ash pan design on the F50 is great. No fishing around to remove a plug. Just stir things up a bit and let the grate sift the coals. Take care not to overfill the pan itself or you will have to remove any spilled ash before you can get the pan back in and close the door. I think I'm going to make/buy a second pan so I can "hot swap" quickly this season.

    I wouldn't hesitate to do the OAK, especially with a newer, tighter home. Why is the dealer trying to talk you out of it? I can't see it hurting anything or creating any problems. FWIW my dealer gave me the stinkeye when I ordered my OAK too.
  13. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Welcome to the forum chad ! I have been using the stove since last winter our home is 1500 sq ft and it just about cooks us out of the house on the lowest setting. We insulated this year and can't believe the difference ! Before the insulation we had a hard time heating no matter what we used so we always went big for stoves now we have discovered that big means long burn times because of insulation. I have routinely achieved 12 hour burns with a good coal bed to reload on. We have also discovered that loading east west then north south every other layer makes it burn a lot longer. The trick seams to be large splits stuffed with smaller splits around the open spaces. Once it burns down drag the coal to the front and burn it down for a half hour then reload the box shut the door and in 15 minutes its a good fire again. I can get our house up to 100F if I am not careful ;). I also almost never use the top load except to cook on whenever I get the chance. Another very good stove from what I have read is the F-600 Firelight CB every one we saw in operation was just dazzling. The top is also has a cook plate just like the f-50 it uses side load instead of top load as well as front load. For a house your size that may work a little better however you would be giving up the steel box that is wrapped with cast iron for a cast iron box! To some this matters it did to me .

    Pete
  14. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Hard to beat the combination of low/no maintenance like a steel stove but the looks/thermal mass of cast iron. Was one of my primary criteria in selecting a stove. Begreen, isn't the PE Alderlea T6 built the same way?
  15. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    I was trying to attach the floorplan of the main floor. I clicked on "upload a file" and it said that it was loaded 100% but after posting the message it didn't go through.

    The floorplan is open. Most of the 1st floor is one big room containing the kitchen, dining room, and great room. The wood stove sits against an exterior wall, but pretty much right in the middle of everything.

    I will give this file another chance to upload.

    Attached Files:

    • A4.pdf
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  16. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Keep in mind, you achieved 12 hour burns because the stove was over-sized for your home. Same applies for me and the Defiant. I got a few 14-15 hour burns out of the stove last winter since it would still heat the area at 200-250 degrees. If the stove is not over-sized, or even slightly under-sized burn times will be much shorter.
  17. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I was able to open up your PDF attachment. It is a nice open floor plan, but I still think you would benefit from a larger stove like the F55 or the F600.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The floorplan helps, thanks. The house has a lot going for it. It's being designed pretty tightly. 90K BTU gas furnace is what our house had in Seattle. That was only 1500 sq ft in a milder climate. I think you will be ok with a 2.5 - 3 cu ft stove. That opens a range of choices in addition to the Rangeley, but if that is the stove you love, then it should work ok.

    It's really up to you and how you intend to use the stove + furnace. If the gas furnace is going to be used when the weather is milder (say over 40), then a larger stove may be ok. Or, if you don't mind supplementing the woodstove with the gas furnace when the temps get unusually cold, then a 2-2.5 cu ft stove would be fine. If the intent is to heat 24/7 solely with wood, then I would also consider a catalytic stove, starting with Woodstock's stoves.

    One thing I would change is the stove location. Instead of putting it on an outside wall, I'd locate it more centrally like where the desk is.
  19. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Yup that is very true we can heat at about 300F then we have to reload the stove in the cold nights.
  20. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    [quote="MasterMech, post: 1127092] I'm going to make/buy a second pan so I can "hot swap" quickly this season.[/quote]

    You might want to get that on order today. Jotul can take MONTHS to ship parts.
  21. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Good to know. Guess I might be fabbing one up after all.
  22. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    When I quoted my burn times I didn't include the actual time between firings. We too enjoy lots of radiant heat coming off the stove once the fire has died down to mere coals.

    It would be immensely helpful to both the consumers and those of us here on the forum to nail down a definition of exactly what "burn time" includes/excludes.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Good luck MM. That topic comes up frequently and varies depending on the user or marketer. There really is no consistent standard. For some it is just having good coals for restart. These folks generally have houses that do a good job of retaining heat or are in milder climates, or measuring when the temp outside is milder. For others it is from when the stove gets up to a certain temp (say 300F) until it drops down to that temp again. In this case one does not have the luxury of letting the stove drop below that temp. This could be because the stove is in a leaky or less ideally insulated home, or the wood they are burning is less ideal or it could just be that it's darn cold outside.
  24. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Member

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    Begreen - We burn 24/7 but we don't mind supplementing the wood stove with the furnace as needed when it gets really cold - part of the reason we are doing zone heating. Hopefully this helps reduce any cool spots at far away locations in the house.

    Generally in the past we would only start burning late fall when the highs were only in the 40s, and could heat the house with the wood stove with highs in the 20s-40s. The furnace would run very little when colder. If we burned when the temp was above 40 we were cooked. To me that always seems to be the dilemma - get a larger stove to handle the really cold temps but then struggle to run it when you don't need all the heat (burning it cooler and getting creosote buildup, etc.) and/or cook yourself out.

    At one point we had it drawn with the woodstove where the desk is but ended up moving it for several reasons. A big one being that my wife wanted a desk there (ok, so this was probably the only reason!) Also, I did have some concern that if the wood stove was closer to the stairs then more heat to go up the stairs and not let it distribute around the main level. Another reason is that I thought with all the windows there it would be good to have heat there to offset them. Last reason is that I like to look at the woodstove and look outside at the same time - especially when its snowing. And we have a nice view in that direction so I was hoping to take advantage of that.

    Pallet Pete - what are your burn times from load - bed of coals left enough to reload and restoke (maybe a temp of 150-200)?

    Again, appreciate all teh comments and insight!
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds fine and practical. It's good to exercise the heating system occasionally. By not being 100% dependent on the wood stove you can size it more for the 80-90% of normal burning rather than the worst case, coldest scenario.

    There are lots of stoves that will fit your needs. For 24/7 burning you should get at least a 2 cu ft stove. A lot of what is going to determine the stove choice will be aesthetics and local dealers. I think you will be fine with the F50. You might also want to look at the Enviro Boston and The PE Alderlea series of stoves. Another option would be to go with a soapstone stove like the Mansfield, Fireview or perhaps the new Progress Hybrid?

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