Q&A Cat or Non-Cat for overnight burn

QandA Posted By QandA, Jun 19, 2007 at 1:34 AM

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  1. QandA

    New Member 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2012

    I've read through the Q&A section regarding cat vs. non-cat stoves, but still have questions. In the Q&A section, you often recommend non-catalytic stoves for ease of operation. I am trying to decide between the non-cat Quadfire 3100 insert and the catalytic Buck 81.

    My main concern: I don't want to restart the fire with kindling every morning.

    1) The Quadfire quotes burn times of 8-12 hours. Won't the fire become a low temperature, low-efficiency smoking mess if I close the dampers down enough for a 10 hour burn?
    2) Will the catalytic stove remain efficient and "smoke free" for a much longer time during the long burn?
    3) What will happen inside the catalytic stove when the damper is closed, and the temperature drops, as the fire dies, below that at which the combustor can function?
    4) Which stove type will have more hot coals in the morning for ease of starting a new fire, and does either type produce less ash?


    1. The stoves are tested at very low burn rates by the EPA, around 10,000 BTU/Hour and have to remain clean at this level. Therefore a proper overnight fire can still be decently clean.
    2. It is possible that a cat will function a bit better during continuous long burns.
    3. Once the catalytic element is active, it should stay that way throughout the "smoky" part of the burn cycle. After most of the wood gases are consumed, the fire goes into it's charcoal stage. At this point there are few gases for the cat to ignite and it may become inactive - no worry, since there is no smoke being produced at this point in the fire anyway. When you add more fuel, the cat will light off again.
    4. Neither would produce more or less ash. The Buck may have more embers in the morning since a catalytic tends to retard airflow though the firebox by acting as a damper. Less air means more coals left in the morning.

    I think either stove that you mention will suit you well. There are other issues, such as how clean the glass stays, maintenance, etc. Non-cats will usually provide a better view of the fire due to the hotter flame and more air. Also, there are fewer parts in a non-cat, which may mean less service in the future.

    Also, very few overnight fires still have flame in the morning. Having a warm stove and some red embers to stir up is what most can hope for. You may still want to use some kindling to get the fire going quickly in the morning.
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