Cat vs Non-Cat: Flame show only

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redktmrider

Burning Hunk
Jan 21, 2012
204
Southern IN
You do realize that you are nowhere near completely closing off the air to the T5? Not only does the primary air intake not close completely but the secondary air system (and possibly dog house air) is rip roaring open

I do realize that a tube stove still needs a a large amount of air to meet emissions even with the air control shut, what I was trying to convey is that , due to the large volume of air and the resulting intense secondary burn relatively close to the glass, it will stay cleaner than on a cat stove thus adding to the viewing experience. These are my observations and opinion and I may be wrong, it wouldn't be the first time.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,572
South Puget Sound, WA
As chimneysweep points out, he gets the fire going and then slams the control to zero but the fire rages on above the 1000 degrees needed to keep a non-cat clean. Quite a lot of air!
He said no such thing about temperature. What he did say was:

"I have a Spectrum at home, and here's how I usually work it: I kindle the fresh load (lots of air) until my wood is engulfed in flames and the secondaries light off. Then I turn the draft control down as far as it will go for the duration of the fire. Both the primary and secondary air sliders are designed so they still allow sufficient air for efficient combustion (the secondary burn goes on for hours)"

Pretty much the same prescription that most of us follow.
 

lsucet

Minister of Fire
May 14, 2015
1,687
San Ysidro, New Mexico
(the secondary burn goes on for hours)"
That's why I don't think that cat stoves are to compare with tube stoves. Yes, it will give you some nice flames but never the same. Secondary burn can last for hours till the wood is charcoals. The show with cat is more of traditional fireplaces when you burn hotter. The ghost flames are just minutes after you dial it down not hours.
 

SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
That's why I don't think that cat stoves are to compare with tube stoves. Yes, it will give you some nice flames but never the same. Secondary burn can last for hours till the wood is charcoals. The show with cat is more of traditional fireplaces when you burn hotter. The ghost flames are just minutes after you dial it down not hours.

So no comparison on the secondaries... however - assuming a medium/high burn - is the primary flame time on a cat stove about equal to the primary flame + secondary time on a tube stove? Is it just the secondaries that differ, or is total flame time just way less on a cat stove (I would think that may be the case as primary flame only seems to exist heavily when wood is really burning, so at medium burns most of the flames would be due to secondary action thus less flame time from cat stove)
 

Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
1,062
CT
So no comparison on the secondaries... however - assuming a medium/high burn - is the primary flame time on a cat stove about equal to the primary flame + secondary time on a tube stove? Is it just the secondaries that differ, or is total flame time just way less on a cat stove (I would think that may be the case as primary flame only seems to exist heavily when wood is really burning, so at medium burns most of the flames would be due to secondary action thus less flame time from cat stove)
Man, your questions reminded me mine when I was going trough the process of choosing the stove. Tell you what... You are fixating too much on it. Every fire is different and beautiful, even if you're burning biobricks. Depends on wood, way you put it in stove, time you cut the air, the way it was lit, weather and how good your whiskey is;)
 

lsucet

Minister of Fire
May 14, 2015
1,687
San Ysidro, New Mexico
Primary for me is the same on both the differences are when secondary take place on a tube stove. You can shut the primary and still hell going in there for hrs. Cat just goes into a black box. Now I don't think you want a tube stove with a full load burning on medium to high for too long. I sure you will get more than nice flames.lol
I think depends too what cat stove you are comparing. I think not all cat stoves are the same.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,717
Philadelphia
Man, your questions reminded me mine when I was going trough the process of choosing the stove. Tell you what... You are fixating too much on it.
... and let's not forget, stoves aren't exactly permanent concrete. You can swap 'em out in an hour, with a buddy or two. I started with one stove in 2011, and was on stoves number four and five within four years. Buy what you think will work best for you, but by all means, swap it out if it doesn't end up being what you expect. You're not marrying the damn thing!
 
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Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
1,062
CT
... and let's not forget, stoves aren't exactly permanent concrete. You can swap 'em out in an hour, with a buddy or two. I started with one stove in 2011, and was on stoves number four and five within four years. Buy what you think will work best for you, but by all means, swap it out if it doesn't end up being what you expect. You're not marrying the damn thing!
OR... get two of them. One cat, one non-cat. Lol.:). Jokes aside I would get cat stove like Blaze King King in a basement if had time to install it and insulate the basement. Would love to find Blaze king on craiglist, but all I see is old crap or decent stove with price like in store.
 

lsucet

Minister of Fire
May 14, 2015
1,687
San Ysidro, New Mexico
... and let's not forget, stoves aren't exactly permanent concrete. You can swap 'em out in an hour, with a buddy or two. I started with one stove in 2011, and was on stoves number four and five within four years. Buy what you think will work best for you, but by all means, swap it out if it doesn't end up being what you expect. You're not marrying the damn thing!

Tell me. Six in four years including two pellet and seven with the old smoke dragon that I removed.;lol
 
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SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
Primary for me is the same on both the differences are when secondary take place on a tube stove. You can shut the primary and still hell going in there for hrs. Cat just goes into a black box. Now I don't think you want a tube stove with a full load burning on medium to high for too long. I sure you will get more than nice flames.lol
I think depends too what cat stove you are comparing. I think not all cat stoves are the same.


The cat contender is the BK Ashford 25 insert. Current drawbacks to this option are lesser flame show, + need for 4 feet of chimney extension to meet minimum of 15' from top of insert. Last con is I can't find a dealer anywhere who has one - would like to check it out before dropping $5.5k on it.Pros are better burn times, more heat control, sticks out onto hearth a bit = semi-flush = more heat, and this one gives me room to insulate my firebox on all sides. And another big pro - safer unit, imo, as thermostat almost ensure no overfiring.

The tube contender is the Quad V. Grand. Cons are tube stove cons, potential dirty glass issues, just barely fits in my firebox, could only insulate the back properly and maybe 1/2" durock on sides. Not sure how much heat is really lost on the sides? Pros = better flame show, better aesthetics imo, I've actually gotten to see one at a dealer and really like it, ACC could actually make reloads easier for g/f if it works properly (e.g. leave primary air where it was, activate ACC and reload, walk away), taller glass window makes it seem much larger imo, even though it's only 10 square inches large.

Man, your questions reminded me mine when I was going trough the process of choosing the stove. Tell you what... You are fixating too much on it. Every fire is different and beautiful, even if you're burning biobricks. Depends on wood, way you put it in stove, time you cut the air, the way it was lit, weather and how good your whiskey is;)

I'm really stressing out. It's like buying a new car, stick or automatic, while never having tested either and not being able to test them prior to purchase (heck, it's like never even having *ridden* in a car before, just watching vids on youtube and talking to forum members about their driving experiences!!). I don't even know 100% what I want, as I've never heated with wood before so I don't know if my priorities will shift. Then there are the obstacles like fireplace location (great for viewing, not optimal for full house heating), etc, that weigh into it all. Doesn't help that I will have to buy most of my wood and nat. gas is so damn cheap right now.
 
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SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
... and let's not forget, stoves aren't exactly permanent concrete. You can swap 'em out in an hour, with a buddy or two. I started with one stove in 2011, and was on stoves number four and five within four years. Buy what you think will work best for you, but by all means, swap it out if it doesn't end up being what you expect. You're not marrying the damn thing!

This is true, but with the birth of my son (1st child), and the g/f being a stay at home mom, expendable income is slim. This is the last big purchase for the foreseeable future and taking a $1k loss or more on a wrong decision is not something I'm keen to do. Would just live with the stove for the time being.
 

Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
1,062
CT
Hold on.. You have natural gas at your house and you want to buy wood? By the way I don't believe in buying seasoned wood. Gas heat would be cheaper than wood ( green wood). And I assume you will have no time to process your own wood having 1st child.
 

SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
Yup, I want a fire going all winter long in our fireplace (well, insert-to-be). The location of it is prime for viewing (can be seen clearly from family room, dining room and kitchen as they are all connected), heck you can even see it from the bedroom hallway. I also want my boy to grow up remembering the fires and wood heat, I remember a few from when I was young at various relatives houses during the holidays and it always added a lot of magic to the experience.

This is why ambiance and aesthetics are about equal with heating performance. I don't *need* to heat with wood, I just want to (and the fireplace in its current configuration sucks, there's a lot of smoke spillage due to the flue being undersized for the fireplace opening. Bad design I guess. So I can't really use it just for ambiance as is, not without a headache and a stinky house).
 

SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
Also I've managed to scrounge some wood and get some for super cheap. I figure I'm about $600 ahead already, although that wood won't be ready for another year maybe two. So there will be some savings involved (although probably 6-8 years to break even on the purchase).

The other thing is, I like the idea of the room the insert is in - and some of the adjoining areas, being hotter than I would normally keep them with gas. That + a near constant fire in the fireplace all winter long? It's worth it to me.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,717
Philadelphia
The cat contender is the BK Ashford 25 insert. Current drawbacks to this option are lesser flame show, + need for 4 feet of chimney extension to meet minimum of 15' from top of insert. Last con is I can't find a dealer anywhere who has one - would like to check it out before dropping $5.5k on it.Pros are better burn times, more heat control, sticks out onto hearth a bit = semi-flush = more heat, and this one gives me room to insulate my firebox on all sides. And another big pro - safer unit, imo, as thermostat almost ensure no overfiring.

The tube contender is the Quad V. Grand. Cons are tube stove cons, potential dirty glass issues, just barely fits in my firebox, could only insulate the back properly and maybe 1/2" durock on sides. Not sure how much heat is really lost on the sides? Pros = better flame show, better aesthetics imo, I've actually gotten to see one at a dealer and really like it, ACC could actually make reloads easier for g/f if it works properly (e.g. leave primary air where it was, activate ACC and reload, walk away), taller glass window makes it seem much larger imo, even though it's only 10 square inches large.



I'm really stressing out. It's like buying a new car, stick or automatic, while never having tested either and not being able to test them prior to purchase (heck, it's like never even having *ridden* in a car before, just watching vids on youtube and talking to forum members about their driving experiences!!). I don't even know 100% what I want, as I've never heated with wood before so I don't know if my priorities will shift. Then there are the obstacles like fireplace location (great for viewing, not optimal for full house heating), etc, that weigh into it all. Doesn't help that I will have to buy most of my wood and nat. gas is so damn cheap right now.

“I miss the pretty flames,” said no BK owner, ever. You’re really getting way too stressed out about this, and making it into something it’s not. You may think the rest of us too unrefined to care about aesthetics, but it’s not that. It’s just that this one romantic aspect of wood burning becomes less important rather quickly, when you’re burning 24/7.

Want flames for a few hours, turn the BK up to a burn rate similar to any non-cat. Want long gentle burn times, turn it down to where only BK can run. The beauty is having both options, not worrying about whether the cat needs to be run 5% hotter or cooler to achieve identical flame show.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,005
Texas
Let me start off by saying that I've never sat in front of a cat stove, so I can't really comment on the flame show from personal experience. Listen to Ashful on that one.

I just wanted to jump in about your goals for your son to enjoy growing up with woodheat. I'm a stay-at-home mom of four, which is why that post got my attention. My kids certainly enjoyed occasionally looking at flames in our non-cat insert, but what they loved was the warmth. We originally bought the stove to take care of the fact that our natural gas didn't adequately heat our finished basement where my husband spent a lot of time in the evenings. After installing the stove (technically an insert), we soon realized we could carry most of the heating load with it, and we became 24/7 burners. We certainly enjoyed sitting in front of the glass together in the evenings, but it was only we adults who did that. The kids were too busy playing with legos, reading, building train tracks to stare at flames, but they would choose to move any activity they could to the stove room. When we would light up the stove in fall, we would even move their homeschooling desks down to the basement because that's where they wanted to be.

We decided just this past spring to replace our Insert with a Blaze King Princess Insert because we did want more options for lower burns. The princess design, I understand, has more dirty glass than the newer inserts, but we were willing to take that hit, so to speak. Over years of wood burning, especially if you're aiming to be a 24/7 wood burner, you'll have plenty of flame time. I would think Wisconsin would also have plenty of time where you'd be burning at medium or high.

Again, I don't have the personal experience of watching the flames in the cat stove (we moved and never installed it), but it did sound to me as though you've increased your stress level a bit by setting up something of a false dichotomy. Your son will love wood heat, I think, and there will be plenty of flames either way. (I grew up with woodheat as well in a classic Lange with no glass. On holidays everybody still competes for the prime spaces by the fire, even though there's absolutely nothing to see.)

I hope this helps a little and doesn't just add to your stress. It is hard to think about spending so much money on an unknown quantity.
 

Patapsco Mike

Feeling the Heat
Jun 3, 2008
277
Maryland
I love my BK, but I miss the flame shows of my previous 2 non-cat stoves! Not enough to ever consider switching back, but still. The fire in my Olympic was mesmerizing for something like an hour after a reload. My BK can get a mean fire in it, but it's not even close to the same as the fiery chaos coming out of those burn tubes! Visitors to my house would go on and on about it. I would always try to clean my glass and put a big load in when I had friends over. But after a while you get used to it. After a month it only gets the occasional glance because I've seen it before. And dirty glass would cloud the view much of the time.

To me, a wood stove is a heating device. And the BK is so much better as a heating device- for my needs- that it's no contest.
 

Joyboy

Burning Hunk
Jan 22, 2017
188
Wyoming
IMG_702.jpg I burned for 8 years with a fireplace insert that threw out good heat and had a big window for viewing the fire. When I had to remodel we tore out the fireplace and built an alcove in which we could have put any stove we wanted.

My priorities were good looking stove, as much heat output as I could get, 12-14 hour burn time and a good view of a fire. The fire view was important even after burning for several years with the insert.

My point is that everyone's priorities are weighted differently. Yours might change after you burn for a while or they might not.
 

mellow

Resident Stove Connoisseur
Jan 19, 2008
5,287
Salisbury, MD
It's not that you can't have a flame show in a cat stove it is just that most of us are over it and just want to load the thing and walk away for 12+ hours and not deal with it and go about our day. For a flame show we run it on high to clean up the glass.

I would much rather be sipping on Chris's whiskey then fiddling with air controls.
 
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Joyboy

Burning Hunk
Jan 22, 2017
188
Wyoming
It's not that you can't have a flame show in a cat stove it is just that most of us are over it and just want to load the thing and walk away for 12+ hours and not deal with it and go about our day. For a flame show we run it on high to clean up the glass.

I would much rather be sipping on Chris's whiskey then fiddling with air controls.
Lol. That's what I mean, everyone is different. When you say most of you are over the fire, are you talking about most BK burners? I get the set it and forget it factor. I have a big house and and another fireplace that I've been looking at a BK ashford insert in it. But where my other stove is, It is the focal point of the whole house. Flame view is important to me. More than most of you, evidently. :)
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,312
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Lol. That's what I mean, everyone is different. When you say most of you are over the fire, are you talking about most BK burners? I get the set it and forget it factor. I have a big house and and another fireplace that I've been looking at a BK ashford insert in it. But where my other stove is, It is the focal point of the whole house. Flame view is important to me. More than most of you, evidently. :)

They make some really cool modern fireplaces that are quite efficient and large. Not open fireplaces but really they are giant inserts that are mostly window. EPA certified, etc. They can look very nice in a masonry fireplace opening.
 
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branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,758
southern NH
. I also want my boy to grow up remembering the fires and wood heat, I remember a few from when I was young at various relatives houses during the holidays and it always added a lot of magic to the experience.

In that respect, I don't think cat vs. non-cat is that big a deal... your son is going to have exposure to the entire process on an ongoing basis. But if you are considering the perspective of other young children who might be visiting YOU during holidays, then they would probably prefer the non-cat, because there will be a greater likelihood of visible flame during their visits (since a cat is more often going to give the illusion that "the fire is out" to a child, even when the stove is producing heat).

Heat coming from a box with little or no visible flame is kind of magical in its own right, but on an intellectual level. For visceral magic. you will never beat an open fire, where you can hear the fire cracking and feel the flames directly. My previous stove had a door I could lift right off the hinges, so I could use it like a fireplace. The fact that I rarely did so, and that it kills the stove's efficiency, does not change the fact that from a kid's perspective that would be the favored mode of burning.

I will add that even stoves not designed for open-door viewing can sometimes safely be used that way. In addition, a cat stove or cat-hybrid like mine CAN be run with the bypass open, proving a mode of burning that is inefficient but more visually appealing. So having a cat does not mean eliminating all options for a fire that resembles a fireplace fire... you could achieve that , if desired, simply by choosing to have a "dirty burn" on occasion and running the cat as a non-cat. (You NEVER have the option, of course, of running a non-cat as a cat.)

So my vote would be to get a cat, since in theory you will be burning a smaller amount of (purchased) wood for the same amount of heat, getting longer burns. I cannot speak to the specific model you have in mind as far as occasionally running it in non-cat mode, except for the obvious fact that you would want to do it very rarely.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,312
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
He said no such thing about temperature. What he did say was:

"I have a Spectrum at home, and here's how I usually work it: I kindle the fresh load (lots of air) until my wood is engulfed in flames and the secondaries light off. Then I turn the draft control down as far as it will go for the duration of the fire. Both the primary and secondary air sliders are designed so they still allow sufficient air for efficient combustion (the secondary burn goes on for hours)"

Pretty much the same prescription that most of us follow.

Of course you are right, I made a logical assumption that the expert chimneysweep's method resulted in proper clean burning operation of the noncat which requires fire temperatures of over 1000 degrees which requires a lot of air. I'm sorry that it was not clear to you that I wasn't quoting chimneysweep directly.

Here's how a proper quote from me would look

The source:

https://www.hearth.com/what/noncat.html

" BECAUSE: Hot fires (i.e., temperatures of 1000 to 1200F) are required to maintain secondary combustion and burn the pollutants in the smoke."
 
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