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Would you buy a Harmon stove right now ?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by BJN644, Nov 10, 2007.

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  1. BJN644

    BJN644 Feeling the Heat

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    I have been looking at top loading stoves, the Harmon Oakwood is the one I really like. It has the most soild door of any others I have looked at, has a really cool cooking grill option, and I can get a great price on it. So what's the problem? I have been reading about the conpany having problems and being sold. So would you let this bother you or just get that stove you really want?

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  2. bruce

    bruce Member

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    i own the tl200 great unit great top loading, the grill is great!
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I would not buy one myself if I were a consumer...until the sale was either settled, or something else happened. I dislike having to suggest this, but at the same time my readers (the stove customer, user and buyer) are more important to me than one stove company. There is just too much up in the air.

    The only exception (pardon the pun) would be if the price was REALLY right and I had faith in a local dealer (like Harryback) who I know would procure parts and service somehow....assuming he promised me that.

    This opinion is very short term and is based on the fact that the "sale" was already on-again and off-again....and therefore not 100% certain to settle. Once the buyer can ascertain that they are truly buying and keeping the brand, I would change my opinion.

    I'm sure lots of Harman dealers will sell lots of Harmans in the coming weeks...

    You did mention a great price, so that will help. Then again, look at the number of custom parts (refractory, etc.) inside and ask yourself where you would get replacements if the sale fell through. This stove has not been in production for very long, so it is doubtful that a third party would pick up the parts slack.
  4. John H

    John H Member

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    Hi All,
    Yes I would buy a Harman stove. I just bought a Harman Accentra pellet stove and it seems to be a great stove.(I have had two others) From what I have found out is that Harman makes a very good product ( high end). I think that Harman has the top line of stoves.
    John
  5. MrWinkey

    MrWinkey New Member

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    A pellet stove would be more of an issue than a wood stove. I would think that it would be easy to fab parts up or have a local metal shop do it.

    If your pretty handy or like me have access to shop equipment then I would not worry about it.

    Should you not know what end of the screwdriver is up then perhaps ya should think about another stove....or be aware that you may have to buy a new stove should parts become hard to find.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Likely to be the other way around. Enough pellet stoves of the brand have been sold that it will be profitable for many years for some entity to make and sell parts....I would guess they would be available for 10-15 years or more.

    I have not looked closely at the wood stove, but if it contains certain castings and refractories, etc......and if only a few were made (less than 2,000 or so), then it might be a tough one. Remember, this is a downdraft stove with bypass, etc.

    No one has mentioned the warranty or lack thereof. That in itself would concern me. A company with no assets cannot stand behind a warranty. So if you were to go look at a stove, and asked about the warranty and they said "none at all, but it is a great stove", would you buy it?

    The proverbial 64K question.

    The chances are good - I put them at 80-20 on the positive end, that a sale will go through which will 100% stand behind all warranties. But whenever there is doubt and risk, the price should reflect that.....
  7. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I think I would shy away from the Oakwood since there seems to be some kinks to iron out of these new down draft non cat stoves. I just haven't heard too many good things about them yet.
  8. BJN644

    BJN644 Feeling the Heat

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    Do tell.
  9. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Dirty burns, overfiring, hard to control, having to keep the afterburner shoe clean and a certain amout of coals near it, large rear clearances due to the afterburner in the rear of the stove. But to be fair there are a few people that say they are very satisfied. So it may just be operator error, just don't know for sure yet, so if it was me I would wait and see.
  10. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Hate to say it as a VC owner, but most of the reported complaints about the "Everburn" style stoves, which include the Harman Oakwood, VC non-cats, and a couple of others that use the same basic design (supposedly under license from VC) have been with the VC models. I haven't seen much comment, good or bad, on the other models. Whether that is because the other companies are doing a better job with the design, or just because VC is making so many more stoves than the others that they have a bigger "universe" of people to comment on them, I don't know.

    That said, I would be somewhat nervous about a Harman pellet stove, though Web is right about enough of them having been sold that there would probably be a 3rd party service industry developing to support them if Harman (or successor) didn't. A Harman wood stove doesn't have the same market size, but at the same time, there is a heck of a lot less to go wrong with a wood stove - no electronics except maybe a blower (which would be 3rd party replaceable) and not much in the way of moving mechanical parts... Consequently, I would be slightly less nervous about a Harman wood stove if the price was right.

    It comes down to service expectations - the wood stove might not have the same level of aftermarket support as the pellet units, but IMHO is less likely to need that support.

    Gooserider
  11. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    I, too, would suggest purchasing another brand or waiting until the future of Harman is more certain.
  12. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    I suggest that by encouraging people NOT to buy Harman stoves, their fate will be sealed. Harman is in the situation they are in due to slow sales right after making a major investment. If this heatiung season brings in too few sales the vultures will be waiting to pick up the pieces. I think it wopuld be great if consumers supported the man and let him kick the vultures in the teeth. If there was ever a time to show solidarity, now is it. More than likely, if the company went belly up tomorrow, you still got an excellent stove that would more than likely last the next 10-15 years without needing extensive maintenance.

    What I would not do is place an order for a stove that is not in stock. I would only hand over money when they hand over the stove.
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    That is certainly true of any market....but I think it has affected Harman very little. They got in trouble LAST year, and they also started building a 250,000 sq ft addition and other excesses. I heard they were planning a foundry and ordered 10 laser cutters! Considering that Travis makes due with one or two, that seems a little over the top.

    Anyway, that is mostly second hand, but from employees, etc.

    The point is that it is not the consumers job to make up for executive mistakes. Harman had a LOT of choices. They have many less now. Your buying a stove may allow them to pay a vendor 50% of what they owe them instead of 40%, but it certainly is not going to help them cancel their debts and obligations which are in the tens of millions - nor will it capitalize them so that they can build out as before.

    Monday morning quarterback is that when demand increased they should have said "we are happy making 15,000 top notch stoves a year, and you will just have to wait for yours or buy an inferior model (my paraphrase, obviously) ". But they did not. They said "we are going to build these giant skyscrapers, buy a new airbus, etc." (again, my exaggeration)

    Point is, my allegiance is to my customers (the readers). So I would rather have folks buy a known supported product. If the buyer comes out with a statement next week that all is well and settled, then my advice will change.

    To address a point Goose made - "maybe VC has so many problems because they sell more", keep in mind that quite a few stove companies are in the realm (or larger) than VC when it comes to wood stoves. Anything above 10,000 stoves a year I consider the big leagues, and you can include Jotul, Quad, Harman, Travis, Regency, Englander, Lennox and maybe others in this category.
  14. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    Eliminate Harman and the competition at the "high end" just got much thinner. I would expect to see a price increase from VC in particular, right after Harman closes doors. And for the consumer, less choices.

    No doubt there may have been some high flying, but the guy has been in business for quite a while. He must have had a business case for his investments. This sounds like a cashflow issue, caused by poor sales last winter (it was 65F in mid Michigan on Xmas day for crying out loud !) combined with the credit crunch. Lets not forget the record prices for corn and pellets. If sales were bad enough, he may have defaulted on one of his loans and that could have brought down the pack of cards.

    Other than complaints of the factory refusing to take calls, I have not really heard complaints from the stove users, so I get the impression that Harman does their best to make a good product. And they are employing americans, not chinese.

    I hear a lot of people complaining about the economy and the job market, yet I find nobody rallying to support this american business in times of trouble. Does anyone have any idea how many jobs are on the line here ?
  15. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    looking at it from my point of view (and yes we are sort of competitors, but friendly as we are in a different market niche) if i was looking for a stove in that market, obviously im not due to my position in the company i work for, but i'd buy one if it were what i was looking for, i do not for a minute think that harmon stoves will be going away. even if bought out , the name recognition is huge! honestly , when people think of pellet stoves , one of the first names that crosses the mind is harmon. so if bought , the buyer would be INSANE not to keep the line due to that alone, not to mention the employees that helped make that name synomous with the pellet industry

    yeah , i'd get one, especially if i could get it from harryback
  16. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Harmans business is mostly pellet stoves, so VC is unlikely to see a jump. Quad might, but then again, they are the Harman buyer. There is a glut of pellet stoves on the market - in other words, much more capacity than demand. That might be temp or it might be longer term.

    There can only be as many jobs as people to buy the products. Even Quad had to pare down their workforce in Washington State last year, and I know that many of the other makers hire and layoff hundreds of workers as the seasons and demand changes. VC closed the foundry mid-season this fall! So one lost job is perhaps a gained job somewhere else.

    What I am saying is that since the vast majority of pellet stoves and American and Canadian made, there are exactly as many jobs making them as the demand calls for - no more and no less.

    There was a lot of rallying around Harman last year - The Gov. of Pa even showed up and praised them at a groundbreaking.

    Back to the business discussion, I have a feeling that Dane (Harman) was not surrounded by a bunch of peers who were are the same level (like a corporate board, etc.) because he was sole owner. He was (and is), like the rest of us "garage" starters, a guy who liked to get his hands dirty. This is a pretty typical scenario when companies grow - that they finance themselves out of their own pocket (largely), and then end up over their head if things grow too much or too fast. It's a bit of a sad story, but MOST American stove companies went belly-up in one way or another over the year.....from VC (many times) to Lopi, Avalon and countless others, they have shed their original owners. Only very small companies like Thelin or Woodstock, along with specialty companies like Englander (addressed a different market) have survived unscathed. Even international companies like Jotul and Morso have gone through various owners and importers.

    Personally, I hope they somehow survive and prosper......I mean, Dane himself and the other core folks. As far as whether the new buyer does this or that with it, I don't really care. That is not as much as a "people" thing.

    The "free market" is a tough place to play and very unforgiving of mistakes.

    Taking it to the other extreme, if Harman made a plea to dealers and customers "Here's the deal folks - we have 5,000 stoves and if we can sell those through, we will be in decent shape- AND - I am also offering shares of the company to the public - to YOU, my customers"...... then I would be here promoting it big time. But I think this thing is bigger than that, and is way beyond our control.

    Hey, who knows? Maybe sales will kick up so high in the next month that things will look different.
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    User just sent this pic of a Harman install they did.....

    Serves as a reminder why they are the market leader.....as they say "built to a standard, not a price!"

    Attached Files:

  18. ynotwood

    ynotwood New Member

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    Went to a dealer today that QuadraFire and Vermont castings in Franklin MA. Dealer said QuadraFire bought Harman. Dealer did not like Harmans and may be forced to stock. Liked QFire after 'years of sifting thru which was best pellet stove'. Harmans bottom feed concerned the dealer and expected Quadra to convert the Harman to top feed.

    Had them fire up the QFire pellet stove. A few observations: 1) the thing looked like a blast furnace compared to my old Vermont Castings Resolute stove 2) the heat output was great, 3) if all is quiet the dropping of pellets can be annoying.

    Hate to say it the Gas stoves had a great look. Not nearly as great an output, and based on all the fuel calculator I ran not nearly as cost effective as wood or pellets.

    I liked what I saw in the QFire.
  19. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    I doubt HHT would convert all the Harman units to gravity feed. Both styles have thier pros and cons. Dealers that sell gravity feed only are trained in the ways to bad mouth bottom feed units, and visa-versa. I used to be one of them (only knowing Quad products).... after reading a lot of posts here and learning more how the bottom feed units work I am really inertested to see one in action and maybe even take it apart! (I love taking things apart). If the bottom feed stoves were burning down large ammounts of peoples houses I think maybe the CPSC would step in...
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Bottom feed is fine.....Harman has been making and selling these things for almost 15 years, which is a lifetime in pellet stove history! And they have experience with coal stokers. Both type of mechanisms have their place, but if we ever really have to burn super-high ash stuff, I think the bottom feed will do better - my experience, anyway.

    If you have LP gas, pellet will beat it easily and wood will destroy it. If you have natural gas, there is not likely to be much difference, especially if you consider the other factors (initial price, lack of noise, works without power, less yearly service, etc.).......

    It always depends on exactly what you need a stove for and why you are buying it. Having sold a LOT of gas fireplaces and stove, I can truly say that the customer satisfaction was extremely high, and that the major complaint was too much heat!

    When considering output, keep in mind that most folks run their pellet stoves at about 3 lbs per hour (2 bags a day) in the cold weather. That is less than 20,000 BTU output. So maximum output really doesn't mean much, because you would be burning 5 or 6 bags in 24 hours to get that!

    Wood stoves are somewhat the same - most folks run them at 15 to 30K BTU.
  21. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I don't own the site I do not have to worry about my membership I see and concur with Web's points. However I a bit of a free spirit. I have examined and inspected plenty
    of Harman products and would have little hesitation purchasing them. They are quality products and if bought out ,it is from an established company.

    I think it fair to be discussed and left at that. I hear and align myself with the points made by KeithO supporting American Jobs. Why circle the vultures yet?

    My best advice is to get comfortable with selling dealer find one that is willing to support your product after the sale.Ask them about Harman's situation and how it will effect warranty issues?
  22. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

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    Any more news on this?

    Did Harman get bought out?
  23. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    NO, I would not touch a downdraft stove with refractory technology until it is improved so as to work in a broader range of installations. Unfourtunately, this includes Harman.
    What kind of a deal is a stove you might have to replace>?
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