Analysis Paralysis - Best stove for old farmhouse

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Liquidtree

New Member
Sep 24, 2022
3
West Virginia
Hello everyone! I truly appreciate the wealth of information found in this forum. I am new to wood burning and have been reading this forum and gathering what knowledge I can for some time now. I have come to the point where I need to ask for guidance relevant to my particular situation. Thank you in advance for your input!



My home is an old farmhouse on 160 acres in the beautiful hills of rural West Virginia. I recently lost access to (free)natural gas which had been the sole source of heat. I am going to be caretaking a neighbor’s house this winter while I install all new appliances in the farmhouse. I plan on utilizing the federal rebates which go into effect in January. Unfortunately I am on a limited income and can not claim any tax credits. Although I plan on installing a couple of mini-splits, I would like a wood burning stove to be my primary source of heat. I have an endless supply of free wood and would rather not pay for more electricity than I need. I am trying to decide on the appropriate stove for my situation. The farmhouse is about 1,300 sq ft, single level, 7 foot ceilings. It was built in the late 1920’s with some later additions and renovations. The walls and ceilings are insulated but the floors are not. There are still a few single pane windows. It is drafty and does not hold heat well. The wood stove will take the place of a single large Warm Morning gas space heater. Fans will be used to transfer heat to adjacent rooms. The flue/chimney will rise directly vertical.



Here are a few options I am considering:



Drolet Escape 1800

I like the price and the immediate availability. It would be nice to have some heat as I work on the house over the winter. I am concerned however that a non-catalytic stove may not be the best fit for me. WV has generally mild winters with brief extremes and I imagine most of my heating needs will be shoulder season temperatures. Since the house does not hold heat long it seems like a constant source of low level heat would be preferable. Which brings me to catalytic stoves.



Woodstock Absolute Steel/Ideal Steel

Production time 10 weeks. I much prefer the price and looks of the IS. Woodstock however thought it would be too large and recommended the AS or Fireview. One thing I don’t quite understand is the stated BTU range. The IS has a lower BTU range than the AS even though it’s a larger stove.

AS: 10,000 to 48,000

IS: 9,323 to 43,263

If the IS can output a lower BTU, why would it be too large? I couldn’t quite understand Woodstock’s explanation. I hear BK owners saying that that the size of the firebox is like a gas tank. Does this not apply to Woodstock’s hybrids?



Blaze King Princess

This is the stove I’d really like but the price and/or production time really hurts. The closest dealer to me quoted a price of $4,100 for the Princess Ultra and a wait time of 18 weeks. Another dealer 3 hours away has one in stock for $4,433. Both are really out of my budget but if I’m convinced it’s the right decision I would be willing to finance. Why should I choose a BK over a WS for $1,000 more? It really hurts that I can’t claim the tax credit which goes up to 30% in January. I co-own the farmhouse with 2 sisters. Perhaps one of them could purchase the stove for me and claim the credit?



I welcome your input! Let me know if you have questions I haven’t covered. I will add that a generous wood burning neighbor has offered to supply me with well seasoned wood for this winter.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
If finances are an issue, I would go with the Drolet. You can always build a smaller fire in a bigger stove.
This will require more frequent reloads or cold starts, and give some temperature swings, but it is possible to get the heat you need. Given the drafty, single pane nature of the home, I think it won't be too big.

Drolet are a good stove from what I hear.

How tall would the chimney be? Is it lined with a steel (insulated) liner? Note that a chimney may be more expensive than the stove. You can't use the gas exhaust for the wood stove.
 
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EatenByLimestone

Super Moderator
Staff member
First get your wood put up. It takes time to dry. This should be your first priority.

Second I’d work on insulation and air sealing. This will help in both summer and winter. It will radically change your heating needs.

Please post a drawing of your floor plan with dimensions. If the additions are not friendly to heating with wood, it’d be good to know now.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,241
central pa
Hello everyone! I truly appreciate the wealth of information found in this forum. I am new to wood burning and have been reading this forum and gathering what knowledge I can for some time now. I have come to the point where I need to ask for guidance relevant to my particular situation. Thank you in advance for your input!



My home is an old farmhouse on 160 acres in the beautiful hills of rural West Virginia. I recently lost access to (free)natural gas which had been the sole source of heat. I am going to be caretaking a neighbor’s house this winter while I install all new appliances in the farmhouse. I plan on utilizing the federal rebates which go into effect in January. Unfortunately I am on a limited income and can not claim any tax credits. Although I plan on installing a couple of mini-splits, I would like a wood burning stove to be my primary source of heat. I have an endless supply of free wood and would rather not pay for more electricity than I need. I am trying to decide on the appropriate stove for my situation. The farmhouse is about 1,300 sq ft, single level, 7 foot ceilings. It was built in the late 1920’s with some later additions and renovations. The walls and ceilings are insulated but the floors are not. There are still a few single pane windows. It is drafty and does not hold heat well. The wood stove will take the place of a single large Warm Morning gas space heater. Fans will be used to transfer heat to adjacent rooms. The flue/chimney will rise directly vertical.



Here are a few options I am considering:



Drolet Escape 1800

I like the price and the immediate availability. It would be nice to have some heat as I work on the house over the winter. I am concerned however that a non-catalytic stove may not be the best fit for me. WV has generally mild winters with brief extremes and I imagine most of my heating needs will be shoulder season temperatures. Since the house does not hold heat long it seems like a constant source of low level heat would be preferable. Which brings me to catalytic stoves.



Woodstock Absolute Steel/Ideal Steel

Production time 10 weeks. I much prefer the price and looks of the IS. Woodstock however thought it would be too large and recommended the AS or Fireview. One thing I don’t quite understand is the stated BTU range. The IS has a lower BTU range than the AS even though it’s a larger stove.

AS: 10,000 to 48,000

IS: 9,323 to 43,263

If the IS can output a lower BTU, why would it be too large? I couldn’t quite understand Woodstock’s explanation. I hear BK owners saying that that the size of the firebox is like a gas tank. Does this not apply to Woodstock’s hybrids?



Blaze King Princess

This is the stove I’d really like but the price and/or production time really hurts. The closest dealer to me quoted a price of $4,100 for the Princess Ultra and a wait time of 18 weeks. Another dealer 3 hours away has one in stock for $4,433. Both are really out of my budget but if I’m convinced it’s the right decision I would be willing to finance. Why should I choose a BK over a WS for $1,000 more? It really hurts that I can’t claim the tax credit which goes up to 30% in January. I co-own the farmhouse with 2 sisters. Perhaps one of them could purchase the stove for me and claim the credit?



I welcome your input! Let me know if you have questions I haven’t covered. I will add that a generous wood burning neighbor has offered to supply me with well seasoned wood for this winter.
Honestly I would go with the drolet. Is a good reliable stove that will cost very little to maintain
 
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Liquidtree

New Member
Sep 24, 2022
3
West Virginia
Stoveliker, thank you for confirming that the Drolet would be able to meet my heating needs. I do worry that small fires in a big stove will not be very efficient. Will the secondary’s even light? Will smoke be produced? I’m new to this.

The chimney would be at least 12 feet for the Drolet and 15 feet for a catalytic. I do realize that the chimney will be more expensive than the Drolet. I’ll be replacing the gas vent with double wall to ceiling and insulated steel through roof.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
If you are planning on mini splits I don’t see the be if it’s of the Blaze king. Heatpump will cover the the low output needs. Does the 1800 have an optimal blower? Draft house that doesn’t hold heat well you may want to think about the blower. You might not use it much but the coldest 10 nights a year you might like it.

I have the 1800 insert. It’s a no frill well designed stove.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
No benefits in heat output range for a BK. The thermostatically controlled even output remains nice.

But to me that is not worth the $$ here. Better go for a well built but cheaper stove and spend the rest of the money on sealing and insulation. (And make sure the chimney is safe!)
 

Liquidtree

New Member
Sep 24, 2022
3
West Virginia
If you are planning on mini splits I don’t see the be if it’s of the Blaze king. Heatpump will cover the the low output needs. Does the 1800 have an optimal blower? Draft house that doesn’t hold heat well you may want to think about the blower. You might not use it much but the coldest 10 nights a year you might like it.

I have the 1800 insert. It’s a no frill well designed stove.
I don’t have any experience with mini split heat pumps. I’m not sure how much electricity they will consume in my situation. I imagine that they would be running near constantly given the poor insulation. I would rather burn free wood than pay a high electricity bill.

Do you think a blower on a free standing stove is necessary if I’m already using fans to distribute heat?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,241
central pa
I don’t have any experience with mini split heat pumps. I’m not sure how much electricity they will consume in my situation. I imagine that they would be running near constantly given the poor insulation. I would rather burn free wood than pay a high electricity bill.

Do you think a blower on a free standing stove is necessary if I’m already using fans to distribute heat?
The fan probably isn't nessecary but it can really help when demand is high
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
I strongly advise to spend (also) to minimize heating need. You can go for a large stove, but getting and drying large quantities of wood gets old too.