Choosing and operating a stove in North Carolina

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
Hello folks,

I'm looking for advice on choosing a wood stove to heat with this winter. I am trying to heat a 1,568 sq. ft. house with average insulation for 1980's era construction. The average temperatures in my area are as follows:

November: 64° / 38°
December: 55° / 32°
January: 51° / 27°
February: 55° / 30°
March: 63° / 36°

I feel like the avg. temps may be a bit misleading. We have weeks in the teens and the highs are only reached briefly. Frankly, I hate being cold and I feel like I'm freezing all winter. I've tried to estimate my heating requirements in BTU's (based on propane consumption) and arrived at a rough guess of 6-12k during the day and 36k+ at night.

The advice I'm hoping to get is two-fold: First, advice on choosing the right stove. I have a raised tile platform 40" deep and 54" wide. I can add a hearth extension mat if necessary. In my research, I have leaned towards Drolet stoves. My wife, on the other hand, is willing to spend much more for a "beautiful" stove with stylings like Vermont Castings. So we have pretty wide price range between $1500 and $3500.

Second, advice on operation. Specifically, for anyone with a climate similar to mine, should I expect to keep coals going continually, or should I be prepared for intermittent use and starting a new fire each time? And generally, can I expect such a wood stove to heat the entire house relatively evenly, or should I prepare for a warm living room and cold bedrooms? Also, do people generally run their HVAC blower to help circulate the air?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,325
South Puget Sound, WA
Welcome. Drolet makes good stoves. Tell us a bit more about the house. One or two story? Open floorplan or closed off rooms? Do you have a good supply of wood already split, stacked and seasoned?
 

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
It's a single story, fairly wide open. Three bedrooms. Otherwise no enclosed areas, no long hallways, etc. Chimney location is pretty close to being in the center of the house. Firewood will have to be purchased, but there are reputable suppliers in my local area.

I'm also unsure about firebox size: Does it mostly impact burn times, or does it directly relate to heat output? The spec sheets on some models give hard to believe wide ranges of variable heat output.
 

armanidog

Burning Hunk
Jan 8, 2017
197
Northeast Georgia
Look at Woodstock stoves as well, they have some nice ones.
Firebox size will also impact your selection of wood suppliers. Call around and see what the length of the firewood will be and plan accordingly.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,151
07462
Spec sheets are difficult to decipher sometimes, especially when your comparing 2 similar stoves and see one stove rated at 40k btu output per hour then another stove with a range of 30k to 100k btu's, it turns into a head scratcher.
Here's my take on this, 1500sq ft, 2x4 cons, stove centrally located in the home with a fairly open floor plan, the heavy lifting will be done at night and perhaps 2 weeks during the dead of winter depending on the weather pattern.
A stove that is within the 2 - 2.5 cu ft range will treat you well, I wouldn't go smaller, I'd also look into something that is wrapped in an exterior jacket to soften the heat output and make it more convective then radiant, something with a blower that only needs to be ran when it get cold out.
PE Aldrelea T5 would be a great fit.
 

fvhowler

Member
May 4, 2018
46
Heart of NC
Vaft, I also live in NC (south central). Three years ago we built a house and I knew I was going to have a wood stove. I heat 2,400 sq ft, two story, open floor plan house with a 1.7 cu ft stove (Hampton H300). For the most part, the stove does well in our relatively mild climate. Our coldest winter nights can get in the teens/lower 20s and we have some days that never get above freezing. On those days, the smallish H300 barely keeps up. I also live on a south facing slope next to a river and get the benefit of winter sun. I work 8-10 hours a day and can only fill the stove 3 times (6am, 6pm and 10pm). This is enough to keep the house 65-70* on the coldest days. From 10pm to 6am, I still have good coals in the morning and its easy to rekindle the fire before leaving for work.

For me, I did not set out to heat exclusively with wood but I find myself more and more trying to do this. I love not running my heat pump. If I had to buy another stove, I'd go just a little bigger (2.0 cu ft) and with longer burn times. Trying to heat 24-7 is a little tougher with the Hampton but it gives me all it has and I enjoy burning it.

Other than stove size and burn times, wood is the next biggest factor. I have an almost unlimited supply of oak/hickory wood and I prefer the wood to have two summers of drying time and then its ready. Oak/hickory is by far the best wood around here and its plentiful. I process all my wood and scrounge for free stuff. If I'm going to put that much effort into it, I want the most btus I can get.

The last piece of advice is to keep your stove pipe, chimney clean. I find that cleaning once a year only produces a mason jar size of soot.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,285
Iowa
Research catalytic stoves. They are well known for there warm climate friendly capabilities. These stoves can be ran at significantly lower outputs for a nice long term burn that won't overheat the place. When required they can simply be turned up to supply the heat required .

Consider how long you anticipate being away from the house daily as part of your stove selection criteria. Restarting a stove daily is a pain in my opinion.

Blaze King and Woodstock are two well respected brands to look into. I can say the burn times advertised on the Blaze King website are very attainable in my experience.
If you do decide to go with a non cat budget minded stove the Drolet is a solid choice.
 

kborndale

Burning Hunk
Oct 9, 2008
222
LI
It's a single story, fairly wide open. Three bedrooms. Otherwise no enclosed areas, no long hallways, etc. Chimney location is pretty close to being in the center of the house. Firewood will have to be purchased, but there are reputable suppliers in my local area.

I'm also unsure about firebox size: Does it mostly impact burn times, or does it directly relate to heat output? The spec sheets on some models give hard to believe wide ranges of variable heat output.
It's highly unlikely that you would be able to buy firewood that will be ready to burn this winter.
 

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
I heat 2,400 sq ft, two story, open floor plan house with a 1.7 cu ft stove (Hampton H300). For the most part, the stove does well in our relatively mild climate.
Really impressed with what you are able to accomplish with that stove. Since that model doesn't seem to meet EPA 2020, I'll look at the current regency line up. I appreciate your real world opinions for our state and climate.

Look at Woodstock stoves as well, they have some nice ones.
Blaze King and Woodstock are two well respected brands to look into.
Wow, yeah. That changed the direction I was shopping. I briefly looked at hearthstone stoves and ruled out cat/hybrid because of their price, and my gut instinct on soapstone was that it's touted benefits didn't seem possible from a physics perspective. But the woodstock suggestions look like really nice quality for the price.

It's highly unlikely that you would be able to buy firewood that will be ready to burn this winter.
Noted. If it comes to it, I will put pallets of compressed hardwood bricks in the garage. I realize the economics of free or very inexpensive heat is a primary attraction for woodstoving, but there's more to the equation: stoves just give a kind of warmth, comfort, and ambiance that HVACs can't provide no matter what the thermostat is set to. If that means I'm foolishly not even breaking even versus the cost of electricity with bricks to begin with, so be it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
658
Texas
I think you've gotten some good advice about stoves so far, and I'll second the idea of not going smaller than a 2 cubic foot stove, especially if you have to buy firewood. A lot of firewood is sized for fireplaces and can be quite long, so pay attention to the dimensions of the firebox in any stoves you look at. I also like the idea of a more convective stove with a blower for distributing heat. Your house setup sounds good, and the stove room will be warmer than others, but if you're cold all winter, it's just great to sit by the fire and bask.

We moved from Virginia to South/South Central Texas about three years ago. I grew up with wood heat, and my husband and I had installed a fireplace insert into our home up there. We loved it, but we really didn't expect to need it down here in Texas. Boy, were we wrong. We figured out our first winter that we were just cold and not too happy about being cold. It took us a while, but we finally had wood heat again starting this past January, and it sure was nice. It was really nice to be able to warm my toes in front of the fire before bed (and it did cut a good chunk off our gas bill as we kept the house warmer).

We did use some compressed bricks in Virginia for a period of time (I had torn my rotator cuffs, and they were easier for me to use than hauling wood from the back yard). They worked well, and I'm sure you could use them exclusively, but I found the best combination was splits and bricks, so that's just a thought for you to keep in mind. It's good that you're already aware of that as a possible fuel source.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,325
South Puget Sound, WA
Really impressed with what you are able to accomplish with that stove. Since that model doesn't seem to meet EPA 2020, I'll look at the current regency line up. I appreciate your real world opinions for our state and climate.
It's a great medium-sized heater. I hope Regency brings it back in an EPA 2020 certified version.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,325
South Puget Sound, WA
That's great news. It and the H200 would fit some fireplace installs where no other stove would.
 

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
Is it reasonable for my short list to consist of woodstock absolute steel, jotul f500 v3, and pacific energy alderlea t5? Any other suggestions? Any help narrowing it down?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,325
South Puget Sound, WA
Is it reasonable for my short list to consist of woodstock absolute steel, jotul f500 v3, and pacific energy alderlea t5? Any other suggestions? Any help narrowing it down?
Maybe. What happened to the Drolet (or Osburn)?

How is the house heated now? What are the monthly heating bills like?
 

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
Maybe. What happened to the Drolet (or Osburn)?
You know how compromise goes -- I like the way almost any stove looks. Wife will not accept "plain steel box" designs which a lot of the stoves that I was originally looking at got dismissed as (drolet, lopi, blaze king, kuma, quadra-fire.)

How is the house heated now? What are the monthly heating bills like?
House is using a heat pump HVAC system. Winter month electric bills are $250 or less. More to the story, the house used to be an old enclosed wood stove called BIS, which I almost never used. It was missing doors, and was 80's era, so I removed it, tore down it's enclosure, and made a space for a modern stove to take its place. That's where I'm at now.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,325
South Puget Sound, WA
You know how compromise goes -- I like the way almost any stove looks. Wife will not accept "plain steel box" designs which a lot of the stoves that I was originally looking at got dismissed as (drolet, lopi, blaze king, kuma, quadra-fire.)
Yup. Welcome to the club.
Show the wife the Blaze King Ashford 30 too. I prefer the Alderlea, but if you want to go catalytic, that is a good looking stove that would work well for you situation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
What is the explanation for blaze king showing 30 hour burn times when all the others list 10 to 12 hour? Aren't they more or less the same size and technology?

If I were going to give my novice opinions on the benefits of each model I've looked at, it would be as follows:

Absolute steel: toothed air control with what looks like 40 different settings. Side load. Soapstone.

Oslo V3: Both front and side load. No bypass necessary. Best looking.

Alderlea T5: Swing out shelves, cooktop (doubtful it would ever be used.)

Ashford 30: burn time (don't understand.)

I don't know how important side load is, if soapstone is gimmicky, or if Woodstock's air control is as superior as it looks. Ash collection would be another area for comparison, I think one model had a spring loaded hatch which sounded useful. Other than that, I may just have to check for the best clearances and dealer availability here.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,151
07462
What is the explanation for blaze king showing 30 hour burn times when all the others list 10 to 12 hour? Aren't they more or less the same size and technology?
No need to clog up this thread with redundant info, go to the BK threads and check it out, 30hrs on the king model, the Ashford model will yield between 18 to 24hrs burn time.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
22,181
central pa
What is the explanation for blaze king showing 30 hour burn times when all the others list 10 to 12 hour? Aren't they more or less the same size and technology?

If I were going to give my novice opinions on the benefits of each model I've looked at, it would be as follows:

Absolute steel: toothed air control with what looks like 40 different settings. Side load. Soapstone.

Oslo V3: Both front and side load. No bypass necessary. Best looking.

Alderlea T5: Swing out shelves, cooktop (doubtful it would ever be used.)

Ashford 30: burn time (don't understand.)

I don't know how important side load is, if soapstone is gimmicky, or if Woodstock's air control is as superior as it looks. Ash collection would be another area for comparison, I think one model had a spring loaded hatch which sounded useful. Other than that, I may just have to check for the best clearances and dealer availability here.
The no bypass on the jotul may not be an advantage at all. It has never been attempted before and how it will hold up is yet to be determined.

Yes blazekings have really long burn times due to the car and the thermostatic control. But at those long burn times you will have very low heat output. If you need lots of low slow burns that is the way I would go. But it doesn't work for everyone.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Highbeam

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
No need to clog up this thread with redundant info, go to the BK threads and check it out, 30hrs on the king model, the Ashford model will yield between 18 to 24hrs burn time.
I realize I can read confirmations in other BK threads, but I'm trying to choose a stove, and part of my question isn't disbelief in BK's claim -- it's why the other stoves I'm looking at can't also achieve those burn times. What technology are they missing?

The Ashford brochure says 30 hours @ 11,993 BTUs. Woodstock claims 10-14 hours @ 10,000 BTUs. Ashford's 2.9 cu ft firebox is 18% larger than absolute steel's 2.45 cu ft firebox, yet it burns 200% longer? If BK's efficiency is truly multiples higher than their competition, then I don't know why every single "what stove should I buy?" thread isn't answered with "BK" and no consideration for anything else.
 

armanidog

Burning Hunk
Jan 8, 2017
197
Northeast Georgia
Ashford:
Constant Heat On High- 28,335 BTU's/hr for up to 8 hours
Square Feet Heated 900-1500

Absolute Steel-
Area Heated: up to 1,800 sq.ft.
BTU Output: 10,000-48,000/hr (per EPA tests)
Burn Time: 10-14 hrs


If it is very cold outside and you need the BTU's, the Absolute Steel should give you more BTU's. The Ashford brochure says 20 hours for the low heat output.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
22,181
central pa
I realize I can read confirmations in other BK threads, but I'm trying to choose a stove, and part of my question isn't disbelief in BK's claim -- it's why the other stoves I'm looking at can't also achieve those burn times. What technology are they missing?

The Ashford brochure says 30 hours @ 11,993 BTUs. Woodstock claims 10-14 hours @ 10,000 BTUs. Ashford's 2.9 cu ft firebox is 18% larger than absolute steel's 2.45 cu ft firebox, yet it burns 200% longer? If BK's efficiency is truly multiples higher than their competition, then I don't know why every single "what stove should I buy?" thread isn't answered with "BK" and no consideration for anything else.
You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt honestly. There is no standardized testing procedure to use in real world burning situations. In my experience the blaze king I am using puts out less btus than the similarly sized regency I was using before over roughly the same time period. And yes those long burn times are great for me about 3 or 4 weeks of the year. The rest of the time I am burning similar times as the regency did. Now the blaze king does put out much more even heat. But I have really seen none of the wood savings people say you will get. So in my situation I don't see a whole lot of benefit from the bk and it's added maintenance.

That doesn't mean I am bashing bk in any way just that they are not the best solution for everyone.
 

vaft

New Member
Sep 18, 2020
10
NC
Ashford:
Constant Heat On High- 28,335 BTU's/hr for up to 8 hours
Square Feet Heated 900-1500

Absolute Steel-
Area Heated: up to 1,800 sq.ft.
BTU Output: 10,000-48,000/hr (per EPA tests)
Burn Time: 10-14 hrs


If it is very cold outside and you need the BTU's, the Absolute Steel should give you more BTU's. The Ashford brochure says 20 hours for the low heat output.
I see, you're looking at the 1.8 cu.ft. Ashford 20.2 brochure, and I'm looking at the 2.9 cu.ft. Ashford 30.2 brochure, which advertises 30 hours. Math still doesn't add up to me. I'll just accept that some people get magical burn times.

Unless anyone has any remaining opinions on the difference in convenience between the models I'm looking at regarding ash collection, maintenance, side load, soapstone, air controls, etc, it sounds like I'll be happy with any one of them, and I'll just let price, availability, and appearance be the deciding factors.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
22,181
central pa
I see, you're looking at the 1.8 cu.ft. Ashford 20.2 brochure, and I'm looking at the 2.9 cu.ft. Ashford 30.2 brochure, which advertises 30 hours. Math still doesn't add up to me. I'll just accept that some people get magical burn times.

Unless anyone has any remaining opinions on the difference in convenience between the models I'm looking at regarding ash collection, maintenance, side load, soapstone, air controls, etc, it sounds like I'll be happy with any one of them, and I'll just let price, availability, and appearance be the deciding factors.
Yes 30 hours under perfect conditions at extremely low btu output.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus