Again, different stove model here, but also a hearthstone and I think we have determined basically the same firebox/Truhybrid cat setup. I have not mastered it yet, but your question about leaving for work has been on the top of my mind over the last few weeks, as i am in the same boat. I have to run a fire in the morning before i leave the house, lunch break when i run home, and again in the evening. I had the same concerns - as i was getting used to the stove i wouldn't feel comfortable walking away until an hour or two into the burn once i had most of the aggressive offgassing secondaries either finished or controlled, at which point the burn is half over and i just wasted all that time. So far my findings are:I turned the air down all of the way because it seemed like temps were going to continue to rise above 500 uncontrolled even though it was at ~25% open. But I suppose it was an unwarranted worry given I was looking at my Rutland gauge which is reading high. I have an IR gun on order.
Is this a sign of insufficient draft or is this simply rushing the shut down process? How do people load the stove, set the air and then leave for work? Is this an hr long process?
the coal bed i reload on, and the stove temp when i reload, is very important. Pretty much prime operation for me would be catalyst still just barely in the active zone, and red hot coals on the bottom of the stove. If i have this, then i can open the bypass and the door, put in a full load of dry wood (i'm around 16% MC with maple and oak), leave the door cracked and wait till i get flames (sometimes takes 5 minutes of smoldering before ignition), then I latch door, let fire run with air intake full open for a couple minutes till it is well caught, engage cat, and then depending on how the load is burning, i start cutting back the air pretty quickly. i have found that cutting back my air quicker is actually helping me avoid the backpuffing. I think i was making the mistake of blasting the air full open to ignite the full load, and then cutting air back (as if i had a true cat stove) and this was causing the backpuffing - combined with my usage of the flue damper. I am now using my flue damper as a last resort / only after air is fully closed if needed. Basically i get the load lit, and then try to cut the air back in two stages, first stage is 50%, and second stage, about 5 minutes later is to almost fully closed. If i hit everything right with the reload timing and the air cut backs, i can have the whole process done in about 30 minutes and walk away and it'll cruise nicely for a few hours. I am finding about 3 hours of active burn with secondaries. and then another 3 hours of hot stove with bright hot coaling stage, and then things start to trail off. After an 8 hour nighttime burn i can rake the coals around and light a fire off with some kindling, no newspaper or matches required. But in the morning it will take me a bit longer burning on high to get the catalyst and flue back up to temp.