Best Catalyst for a Jotul Firelight 12

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NHJotul

New Member
Dec 2, 2017
14
New Hampshire
Preface:

Was given a Jotul firelight 12 about three to four years ago. Came with everything from the catalyst warranty and even the flyer outlining the different Jotul models for sale back in 1998.

the original owner bought the stove new. Replaced the back burn plate once and still had and was using the original catalyst. He claimed it had another year left of service. Either way I bought a new catalyst for it thinking everything was just fine. Just throw in a new Cat and everything will work as if it was brand new.....

At least that is what I believed and it wasn't till I got a Thermostat that the real fun began!! Being as it was hard to see and because the manual stated you want an external thermostat, I got a Condar Digital Thermostat. In an effort to conserve battery life I didn't have it on much. Then one day I turned it on to hear it beeping and the screen reading 1600 which is the max temp and according to the instruction that temp can ruin the thermocouple. So I opened the back hatch and had the joy of engaging and disengaging the cat till I pulled the thing out a ways and went to bed.

Well, this year it seemed extremely hard to get the her up above 800. I figured so ash had accumulated and figured I would vacuum it off. Well I found the door for the catalyst was almost cut in two pieces and the heat that escaped and warped the back inner plate and burn plate that originally only had a small crack in it was now deformed beyond that.

Then the hunt for answers and parts was on. Then I came to this site and read many post from @Ashful and learned about the expanding gaskets and the frustration others have had or sleepless nights with overfiring and the back of the stove glowing red.

One post stood out to me from @NHcpa . A combuster I also saw on a webpage created by clearskies. Reticulated Ceramic foam combuster. I looked up reviews form others and even though the were not positive reviews they sounded great to me. People claimed that ran too cool, and they were originally designed for fireplaces. Second part sounds great when you have 15' of chimney that is 6”X10” and a downdraft, top load wood stove. Gets a little smoky if I load with wood burning in the stove.

For $99 I bought a clearskies and then bought a Fire Cat in case the clearSkies didn't work too good.

In four days I have put this Catalyst through complete hell and tried to recreate real world, I don't have time to babysit, engage the cat and run, circumstances. With two kids, and a wife that wants nothing to do with loading or operating the wood stove, I needed this thing to work every time.

Day one was quick start up challenge. Threw in some small sticks and some kindling, one which was a happened to be wet and hissing like crazy. Well within 15 minutes, with a little help from an open ash pan door, I engaged the catalyst and watched the temp gauge. First thing that became apparent was the fact the fire didn't seem to be effected. Normally I was see it die down a bit more and it would take awhile for the Catalyst temp to get close to 500. Well the clearskies cat only needs 380 and it was there in a few minutes then climbed right up to 800. didn't seem to want to get any higher. Went outside and saw a white steam cloud coming out.
First thought was that it may not be as efficient as the normal two inch thick cats but it ran cooler and kicked in really fast. Threw in a full load and hung around the house for an hour or so and the temp got to about 900 so I figured I can live with that and left.

Apparently it hit 1400 when I was gone. It was a full load and I did choke it all the way down all at once. Come to find out one stick that may be a little damp has a strong cooling effect on this catalyst.

So full loads. Normally I get a bed of coals up the the windows and would load he with some BIG splits. Like 10 – 12” X 3 – 5” splits of red and white oak, white ash and black cherry. Max temp when choked all the way down as low as it would go.... 1400+- 100. WOW!!!

Okay, lack of coal challenge.. Same deal!!!

Today was little splits challenge! Well 1550! For a Jotul That is REALLY GOOD.


Longevity:

According to NHcpa. He says he replaces his every three years.... for $99 every three years!!! And he was thinking about joining the unhappy group of people that have nothing but issues with all the other cats.


I like to know MORE. So I tried the contact number for clearSkies and got an answer machine. However I was given another number I figured I would email the person that sent me the tracking number. She forwarded me to someone else that gave me more info:

David Kelly:

Hello Jason, Always happy to hear a good review! Our catalytic substrate doesn't suffer from the problems afflicting the honeycomb materials. Also, our reticulate Zirconia Alumina isn't affected by direct flame. You will notice that the honeycomb combustor websites always caution about over firing a wood stove equipped with one of their catalytic components! No such disclaimer with our material. Every stove is different but an average temp of 1000 degrees is perfect. You are pretty much destroying all of the bad stuff at about 800F. Thanks, Dave Kelly“





I mostly wanted to know the max temp this Catalyst can handle. Well reticulate Zirconia Alumina is used in steel mills as a catalyst and can handle 3200F.



I don't know much about what heat can do to the precious metals on the catalyst but I know that if it ever got that hot then I will have bigger things to worry about than a damaged catalyst. Now the only thing I need to worry about is getting above 1600 where I can really damage my thermocouple.

Also they claim their Catalyst are good for 6 years. I will be happy with two for the price of $99!!!!!!



I will be updating as I go.

Any questions of thoughts are welcomed!
 
Last edited:

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,215
Whitmore lake, MI
Preface:

Was given a Jotul firelight 12 about three to four years ago. Came with everything from the catalyst warranty and even the flyer outlining the different Jotul models for sale back in 1998.

the original owner bought the stove new. Replaced the back burn plate once and still had and was using the original catalyst. He claimed it had another year left of service. Either way I bought a new catalyst for it thinking everything was just fine. Just throw in a new Cat and everything will work as if it was brand new.....

At least that is what I believed and it wasn't till I got a Thermostat that the real fun began!! Being as it was hard to see and because the manual stated you want an external thermostat, I got a Condar Digital Thermostat. In an effort to conserve battery life I didn't have it on much. Then one day I turned it on to hear it beeping and the screen reading 1600 which is the max temp and according to the instruction that temp can ruin the thermocouple. So I opened the back hatch and had the joy of engaging and disengaging the cat till I pulled the thing out a ways and went to bed.

Well, this year it seemed extremely hard to get the her up above 800. I figured so ash had accumulated and figured I would vacuum it off. Well I found the door for the catalyst was almost cut in two pieces and the heat that escaped and warped the back inner plate and burn plate that originally only had a small crack in it was now deformed beyond that.

Then the hunt for answers and parts was on. Then I came to this site and read many post from @Ashful and learned about the expanding gaskets and the frustration others have had or sleepless nights with overfiring and the back of the stove glowing red.

One post stood out to me from @NHcpa . A combuster I also saw on a webpage created by clearskies. Reticulated Ceramic foam combuster. I looked up reviews form others and even though the were not positive reviews they sounded great to me. People claimed that ran too cool, and they were originally designed for fireplaces. Second part sounds great when you have 15' of chimney that is 6”X10” and a downdraft, top load wood stove. Gets a little smoky if I load with wood burning in the stove.

For $99 I bought a clearskies and then bought a Fire Cat in case the clearSkies didn't work too good.

In four days I have put this Catalyst through complete hell and tried to recreate real world, I don't have time to babysit, engage the cat and run, circumstances. With two kids, and a wife that wants nothing to do with loading or operating the wood stove, I needed this thing to work every time.

Day one was quick start up challenge. Threw in some small sticks and some kindling, one which was a happened to be wet and hissing like crazy. Well within 15 minutes, with a little help from an open ash pan door, I engaged the catalyst and watched the temp gauge. First thing that became apparent was the fact the fire didn't seem to be effected. Normally I was see it die down a bit more and it would take awhile for the Catalyst temp to get close to 500. Well the clearskies cat only needs 380 and it was there in a few minutes then climbed right up to 800. didn't seem to want to get any higher. Went outside and saw a white steam cloud coming out.
First thought was that it may not be as efficient as the normal two inch thick cats but it ran cooler and kicked in really fast. Threw in a full load and hung around the house for an hour or so and the temp got to about 900 so I figured I can live with that and left.

Apparently it hit 1400 when I was gone. It was a full load and I did choke it all the way down all at once. Come to find out one stick that may be a little damp has a strong cooling effect on this catalyst.

So full loads. Normally I get a bed of coals up the the windows and would load he with some BIG splits. Like 10 – 12” X 3 – 5” splits of red and white oak, white ash and black cherry. Max temp when choked all the way down as low as it would go.... 1400+- 100. WOW!!!

Okay, lack of coal challenge.. Same deal!!!

Today was little splits challenge! Well 1550! For a Jotul That is REALLY GOOD.


Longevity:

According to NHcpa. He says he replaces his every three years.... for $99 every three years!!! And he was thinking about joining the unhappy group of people that have nothing but issues with all the other cats.


I like to know MORE. So I tried the contact number for clearSkies and got an answer machine. However I was given another number I figured I would email the person that sent me the tracking number. She forwarded me to someone else that gave me more info:

David Kelly:







I mostly wanted to know the max temp this Catalyst can handle. Well reticulate Zirconia Alumina is used in steel mills as a catalyst and can handle 3200F.



I don't know much about what heat can do to the precious metals on the catalyst but I know that if it ever got that hot then I will have bigger things to worry about than a damaged catalyst. Now the only thing I need to worry about is getting above 1600 where I can really damage my thermocouple.

Also they claim their Catalyst are good for 6 years. I will be happy with two for the price of $99!!!!!!



I will be updating as I go.

Any questions of thoughts are welcomed!
You should change out your condar for an Auber Instruments AT100
 
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NHJotul

New Member
Dec 2, 2017
14
New Hampshire
Been two weeks give or take. Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.

So far the catalyst is running perfect and I have been very lazy with it. Still heats up fast, lights off at the same temp each time and has yet to exceed 1600.

Been also keeping an eye on the back of the stove where the exhaust leaves the catalyst housing. When catalyst run too hot on these stoves those two spots on each side can glow red. So far it has gone up to 800 degrees which is hotter than I would like but it has not gone to the point where is glows!

I put this catalyst through hell to see what I can get away with. I never had back puffing before so I figured pushing it that far back choking it right back to nothing from full was a little too much esp when I had a roaring fire. However I have been able to load it full when I have a decent bed of coals, rengage catalyst, and choke it right back with no wait time and continue my low burn. That is awesome compared to loading, waiting for the flue to get extremely hot, flipping the catalyst, wait for it to engage, slowly choke back in increments as to not have back puffing or and overheating the catalyst or even both.

Overly simple, can run the stove at the lowest setting with a full load without issue other than not being able to see through the windows.

I was thinking about getting a new stove, now I am pretty content with the jotul now that it is so simplistic to run, and gives me longer burns then before.
 
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NHJotul

New Member
Dec 2, 2017
14
New Hampshire
Figured I wouldn't do an update.

This catalyst has cause me to relearn this stove. So I have a list of pros and cons.

CONS:
Ash... it loves to collect fly ash. Not only collect but kinda trap it. I got tired of trying to blow through so I used compressed air and blew it out. I noticed that the fire would die down a bit too much when I flipped the catalyst so I took it out to inspect. Looked like new. Blew on it and realized that I shouldn't do that inside. Put it back in and good as new.

Sensitive to moister. Not in the sense that it harms the catalyst but it causes it to run much cooler than it normally would run.


PROS:

Runs WAYYY cooler then the condor did!!

It seems to kick in around 450 degrees. However it is hard to tell. It heats up so quick to working temp. I let the stove pipe get to 350 and flip the bypass and within a few minutes it gets right up to 450 then flys right up to 800+ mark. So no more waiting around for the pipe to hit 500 and HOPE the catalyst gets warm enough to light. Normally needed a good bed of coals.


Since it runs at such a low temp I don't waste any time when I reload and flip the bypass it it's right back to running temp. Seems to run on less as well. I can have very little coals left and the catalyst is still cooking around 600. I load and flip it and after about a minute, or less, it goes right back up to the 1000 mark. Depending on the height of coals, and size of splits she will run between 1000 and I think 1800. I know it's above 1600 since I have to pull the probe out. So in those cases I monitor the temps in the two spots on the back where the exhaust for the catalyst leave the refractory compartment. They have gotten close to 800 but never hit the 1000 (glowing red) mark and I have pushed this poor stove hard with tiny splits on a very windy day. It was okay because it even warmed up the chimney temp to 400 ish. And it was during that cold snap we just got in New England. It got -17 outside but with the windchill at the time it was -28. I wanted to heat the house up fast and loaded some smaller spilts then pack her full of 20" white oak logs for the night. I have some big splits I made of a white oak tree that had a 4' diameter. Had to use my excavator with a thumb to put it on my splitter. Lucky thing I have a timber wolf splitter!! Should of gotten the log lift but I have a bobcat so i guess it's not too bad.


So far I can go days with out ever having to leave the bypass open for any length of time after loading. However, I have a few times because of the cold outside and the flue never getting above 200 for days I would leave it open to heat up the chimney and melt any possible ice build up on the cap. Didn't see any but on a very cold still night I could see the shawdow from the steam rising and even went out with my dog and watched it disappear 6 feet above the cap. Moon was so bright it felt like day time. Had a ton of layers in and a really warm house to go into after.

So kept the 2000sqf house around lower 70's throughout the day and mid 60's by morning and only left the bypass open to make sure I heated up the chimney once every 2 days. Had to run the stove at full on those really cold days. However my windows are 1985 vintage and have a nice draft coming off them. I realize now why the previous owner used seal n peal around all the windows. This has been the coldest winter we had since moving hear 3 years ago. This is my third season with this stove and so far it's been the easiest since this catalyst. So much less work not having to think about the bypass, only when loading or those two times I let her cool down enough to clean the glass and check the catalyst. Still had just enough coals to get her up and going. I will say I use the ash door if I don't have much in the way of coals. I have gotten it relite with one coal and a full load with no kindling. Pop the ash door go make coffee come back close the ash door wait 5 minutes depending and flip the catalyst and out the door.


Also I don't choked or back as slow anymore. If I do it's twice. Half way then the rest the way 5 minutes later. Or I will watch the cat temp and each time it would drop back down the 1000 I would choke it back a little more till I am all the way down. I have done both, so if time isn't on my side I can rush and not be worried about anything while I'm gone.