Another Jotul F400 vs F500 question

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jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
We are replacing a beat up '70s era VC Defiant stove which is impossible to control due to air leaks, interior damage and poor design. Damping the fire down enough for overnight burns generates significant creosote and running it hot can force us to open windows unless it is below freezing.

The heating area is an open design, 940 sq. ft. with a 175 sq. ft. loft, with a central masonry chimney with 8x12" flues. This area is above a basement that stays fairly warm from electric heat, with an open stairwell. The house is not super tight but mostly well insulated. Because of the basement heat we are comfortable without additional heat until the outside temperature drops below 40, unless it is windy.

Our wood is mostly red oak, cut to 16", split and stored in a shed for a year. The distance from chimney thimble to the top of the chimney is about 17 feet, mostly indoors.

The dealer recommends the F400 and I think it would be well sized for our situation. However, we really like the side loading feature of the F500 and wonder how well it would work in our house. We would like to be able to re-kindle a fire from coals after a 10 hour work day and also avoid over-heating the house when the temperature outside is above freezing.

What do you think?
 

branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,758
southern NH
Damping the fire down enough for overnight burns generates significant creosote and running it hot can force us to open windows unless it is below freezing.
Heh, you are describing my teen years growing up with the Defiant.

Personally, I would go for the F500, though the F400 is probably the right size for what you describe. To be able to re-kindle a fire from coals after a 10 hour work day and ALSO avoid over-heating the house when the temperature outside is above freezing may be conflicting goals. My priority would be the longer burns... if not getting too hot is the priority, go for the F400.

To better achieve the dual goals, consider a catalytic stove... better suited to "dialing down" for longer, cooler burns without the creosote.
 

jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
Heh, you are describing my teen years growing up with the Defiant.

Personally, I would go for the F500, though the F400 is probably the right size for what you describe. To be able to re-kindle a fire from coals after a 10 hour work day and ALSO avoid over-heating the house when the temperature outside is above freezing may be conflicting goals. My priority would be the longer burns... if not getting too hot is the priority, go for the F400.
To better achieve the dual goals, consider a catalytic stove... better suited to "dialing down" for longer, cooler burns without the creosote.
Yes, we have looked at the Blaze King Princess. I am intrigued but my wife has doubts.
 

claydogg84

Minister of Fire
Sep 9, 2013
1,792
Salt Point, NY
A couple things.. The original Defiant was far from "poorly designed", as you describe. It was actually quite innovative for its time. Next, Oak, of all varieties, tends to need more than 1 year to get to an acceptable moisture content for newer EPA approved stoves. While the 1 year was working good for the Defiant, it's going to give you an unpleasant experience with a new burner. Lastly, 10 hours is possible with a secondary burn stove, but so much easier with a Cat style stove as previously mentioned. I switched from an original Defiant to the F500 myself, but am heating nearly double the space.
 

mmichaud

Member
My first stove was a F400. Very nice stove but was a little small. I decided to "upgrade" to a F500 and have been really happy with it. It may be a little too much stove during the shoulder seasons, however it's nice when you need the heat in the middle of a cold winter.
 

jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
My first stove was a F400. Very nice stove but was a little small. I decided to "upgrade" to a F500 and have been really happy with it. It may be a little too much stove during the shoulder seasons, however it's nice when you need the heat in the middle of a cold winter.
How large an area are you heating? We are wondering if we can 'throttle down' the F500 enough to be reasonable in our 1100 sq ft area.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,933
South Puget Sound, WA
I think I would be looking at a Woodstock Fireview or maybe a BK Scirocco.
 
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stovelark

Minister of Fire
Oct 10, 2009
1,502
SE CT
While both Jotuls you mention are great heaters, if its longer burn you want then obviously its the Oslo. You are in that range where a nice BK Ashford would do well too, if its classic cast looks you desire along with a longer, controllable burn time. Still hard for me to go against an Oslo, they are one well built, nice looking wood stove. For simple operation, consider a PE cast/steel Alderlea or Enviro Boston, both nice looking as well. Good hunting...
 

jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
I think I would be looking at a Woodstock Fireview or maybe a BK Scirocco.
I really like the Sirocco but my wife is skeptical of the long burn claims and not happy with the way it looks. From what I read it seems that the 30 would work as well as the 20 in our situation- do you agree?
 

jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
While both Jotuls you mention are great heaters, if its longer burn you want then obviously its the Oslo. You are in that range where a nice BK Ashford would do well too, if its classic cast looks you desire along with a longer, controllable burn time. Still hard for me to go against an Oslo, they are one well built, nice looking wood stove. For simple operation, consider a PE cast/steel Alderlea or Enviro Boston, both nice looking as well. Good hunting...
So many good choices- we have an abundance of information to weigh.
I am really impressed by all the responses I have received on this forum. You folks have been very helpful!
 

mmichaud

Member
jpr- The stove is located in the basement which has been finished off into a family room. Approximately 1000 square feet with minimal insulation. Right now it's about 40 degrees out and I have a small fire going. Once the temps go lower it's nice to have the extra space in the stove, especially at night.

To "throttle it down" I just put in less wood during the mild temperatures. I find it very easy to control.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
10,955
Indiana
How large an area are you heating? We are wondering if we can 'throttle down' the F500 enough to be reasonable in our 1100 sq ft area.
I used an Oslo to heat a 1600 square foot home. It was well insulated with an open floor plan. In order to run the stove up to clean operating temperatures I had to open the front door and a window to get a breeze going. The dealer tried to get me into the Castine, but I "needed" the Oslo.. I Should have listened.
That was before Blaze King was on the map around here... Have you looked at the Ashford 20? Believe the burn times, It's for real!
 

jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
I used an Oslo to heat a 1600 square foot home. It was well insulated with an open floor plan. In order to run the stove up to clean operating temperatures I had to open the front door and a window to get a breeze going. The dealer tried to get me into the Castine, but I "needed" the Oslo.. I Should have listened.
That was before Blaze King was on the map around here... Have you looked at the Ashford 20? Believe the burn times, It's for real!
Your post is very interesting. One thing that catches my eye is your phrase 'clean operating temperatures'. It relates to a concern I have. I've read that secondary burn stoves require a higher secondary burn area temperature (1100 degrees?) than catalytic stoves (500 degrees?) . If that is the case it raises serious doubts in my mind about the practice of burning small fires in the Oslo to compensate for using an over-size stove in 'shoulder' temperature times.

Yes, we have looked at the Ashford 20. A dealer in our area has one on his floor. It is the only Blaze King that my wife has found even remotely worthy of consideration. Personally, I am sold on Blaze King and would be happy with a Sirocco but in the end it is more important that my wife be happy.

Do you see any reason for us to consider an Ashford 30?
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
10,955
Indiana
I'm sure glad that my wife doesn't have the final say when it comes to mechanical things. Looks aren't everything..
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,933
South Puget Sound, WA
Do you see any reason for us to consider an Ashford 30?
Greater firebox capacity for longer burn times in milder weather and greater heat in cold.
 

jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
I'm sure glad that my wife doesn't have the final say when it comes to mechanical things. Looks aren't everything..
For her it's not just looks (although that is important). I think she is deeply skeptical of catalytic technology.

Now, if I understand properly, you chose an Ashford 30 for your house yet recommend a 20 for our situation. Could you comment on that?
 

branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,758
southern NH
about the practice of burning small fires in the Oslo to compensate for using an over-size stove in 'shoulder' temperature times
It is easy enough to do, but simply means you sacrifice a degree of efficiency. That does not mean your stove is billowing smoke, because your smaller fires can still be very hot and fairly clean, with good dry wood. But your secondary tubes won't be maximizing fuel use, so a bit more heat (and unburned particulate) will be going up the flue.

To me, it's not a huge deal, because I prefer to think of my oversized stove in terms of how much better it is than the open fireplace, rather than how much worse it is than the perfectly sized stove.

Regardless of stove size, a big part of the emissions in shoulder season is repeated lighting of fires from scratch, rather than 24/7 burning. When it starts getting colder, a smaller stove will let you burn 24/7 with greater efficiency. But what you sacrifice is the ability to get extra output when it's super-cold, and the ability to get longer burn times when desired.

That is why the cat is an advantage: you can get a slightly larger firebox and still get the long efficient burns without the extra heat output, but if you NEED the extra output, the stove is big enough to provide it.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
10,955
Indiana
For her it's not just looks (although that is important). I think she is deeply skeptical of catalytic technology.

Now, if I understand properly, you chose an Ashford 30 for your house yet recommend a 20 for our situation. Could you comment on that?
I have 2200 square feet, you have roughly half of that if read correctly.
All cat stoves are not created equal. Do some research on this site and you will quickly find that BK and Woodstock are leaps and bounds above other cat stoves.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,933
South Puget Sound, WA
According to BK specs the 30's low output is almost the same as the 20. Could have sworn it was listed as being a bit lower just a few months ago. The 20 is physically a bit smaller if that helps with placement.
 

branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,758
southern NH

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
10,955
Indiana
What's wrong with Buck stoves?
Build quality is fine with Buck stoves.
They are lacking in burn times, cat warranty, cat durability, manufacturer representation, progressive design. I wasn't trying to pick apart any specific manufacturer, I was just suggesting a couple of rock solid companies to take look at. Their customer service, burn times, and cat durability is unparalleled.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,204
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Your post is very interesting. One thing that catches my eye is your phrase 'clean operating temperatures'. It relates to a concern I have. I've read that secondary burn stoves require a higher secondary burn area temperature (1100 degrees?) than catalytic stoves (500 degrees?) . If that is the case it raises serious doubts in my mind about the practice of burning small fires in the Oslo to compensate for using an over-size stove in 'shoulder' temperature times.
. . .
It's easy enough to do . . . smaller, hot fires are built with less wood is all . . . I generally try to use chunks, punks, junks and uglies. The chunks, punks and junks (short pieces, partly punky wood and "junk" wood like pine and poplar) tend to burn a bit hotter and ignite faster than the full size hardwood I burn later in the season when going 24/7.

That said . . . it is not as efficient as a cat burner since I tend to build a fire and then let it go out in the morning . . . the hot stove then radiates heat . . . typically another fire will need to be built in the evening. There is some inefficiency in starting a fire from scratch.
 

jpr

New Member
Nov 10, 2015
8
SW Michigan
Followup on my posting:

We purchased a Blaze King Ashford 30.

Initially we had some issues with low temperature burns creating condensation near the thimble that dripped down, causing an ugly mess.
Following the advice of the person that installs stoves for our dealer, we ran a 6" stainless steel insert down the 8"x12" clay tiles in our chimney (15' from the thimble to the top of the chimney). That seemed to help. I suspect drier wood would have also helped.

What really seems to make a difference, however, is maintaining a good hot bed of coals in the stove..

All in all, we are quite pleased. Even when during cold snaps the stove maintains (on a single loading) a hot fire overnight or while we are at work. 30 hour low temperature burns are attainable, provided we start with a good hot bed of coals. The heat output is amazingly consistent.

I'm glad we got the 30 instead of the 20. We started out putting logs in sideways (as we did in our Defiant) but after several near mishaps where the logs wanted to roll out we changed over to putting them in end first. I doubt that we could have done that with the 20. Even with the 30 the firebox seems a little small sometimes.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who helped us make our decision.
 
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