I did my first burn outside on the back patio, with 24" stovepipe. Danno is right, it didn't get very hot. I moved it indoors for the install, then did the 2nd burn on a fairly warm day. I got a nice long burn with the damper shut almost all the way. Didn't notice much smell. Did the 3rd burn a few days later in a cold snap. I gave it a little more air, and it got plenty warm. It gave off a noticeable smell for the next three burns, all using the full capabilities of the stove without overfiring. The smell wasn't a horrible paint smell. It was more like the "burned dust" smell you get when you fire up a heater for the first time. My wife and kids noticed it, but we kept a window open and nobody died and now we're past it. BTW, i installed mine solo with a good appliance truck. Just remove the bricks, and it's doable for one guy.