Correct stove sizing for irregular layout in a small house

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killsforpie

New Member
Jul 24, 2020
5
SW Ohio
Looking for advice on woodstove sizing given a non-traditional layout. I apologize in advance for the long post.

Our house is 1100sq ft and well insulated. We are putting a woodstove in the living room. Our living room is long and narrow, 13ft wide x20ft deep. At the back of the living room is a staircase leading to the second floor. On the right off the living room is a 6 foot passthrough to the dining room and kitchen. There is a ceiling fan in the middle of the living room.

I attached a photo of the living room from the front door. The stove will go on the right where the brown wood table/purple tape on the floor is a few feet from the corner between the staircase and old fireplace. So the space where the stove will sit is only 12 feet between the old fireplace and the facing wall.

Priorities:
-do NOT want to heat blast people sitting in the living room across from the stove
-want to burn the stove as effectively as possible (small loads in big stove vs. full loads in small stove)
-need to fit in the smallish/narrow space we have in the living room

Stoves we are considering:
1. PE Alderlea T4 (Pro: won't heat blast us. smaller version of the well regarded T5. Con: small box, burn won't go all night, can expect 4-5hrs max. Maybe will heat blast us if we run it with a big load for cold temps)
2. PE Alderlea T5 (Pro: kick ass stove. Con: footprint is big for our small space. box is big, probably too big for our space. we would almost always be running a small fire in a big box. can it be controlled enough? probably.)
3. VC encore (pros: beautiful. size of stove fits well in the space. cons: obvious issues with the company/reviews/too many moving parts. not sure the fire can be controlled enough not to heat blast us or stay small and keep it going)
4. Jotul F400 (pros: size is perfect for our house. takes 20 inch logs. beautiful. cons: new 2020 version not out yet, no idea when it will be released. could buy one not from a dealer but would have to drive a super long way. big hassle. maybe hard to get replacement parts. maybe the new 2020 version won't be good.)

Any sage advice or experience with similar situations is very welcome.

unnamed.jpg
 

Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
9,449
NW Wisconsin
I looked at a T5 the other day and was a bit surprised on how large it looked. Looking at you picture that stove may look a bit oversized for that space. Maybe you should consider the Jotul F45, same type of iron cast shrouded steel stove, mid sized with a good rep for overnight burns.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,288
Downeast Maine
Have you considered any catalytic stoves? There are some that have a very high range of adjustment and very impressive burn times.

We have a similar layout to your house and heat it easily with a Morso 2b Classic, which is smaller than all of the stoves you have listed, but in the winter there is almost always someone home to load the stove. With hardwoods, and larger softwood splits, there are coals remaining in the morning for a relight. On very cold nights I will reload the stove since I always wake up once or twice in the night. The point of my rambling being that the T4 would probably be fine for your house if you don't want a catalytic stove. That 4-5 hour burn time is really the amount of time there are flames in the box, not how far apart your loads are.

In milder weather I can just load up the Morso fairly full and burn it once in the morning and not have to do anything until the following morning. We also have a wood cookstove and I usually burn it in milder weather and the Morso only gets used in cold weather or at night.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,489
SE North Carolina
Couple thoughts. I love my Jøtul F 400. I’d definitely wait for a year to get it.
Do you like to be hot? Radiant full cast iron stoves feel hotter especially when they are on the upper edge of the size for the space. Need more clearance than steel jacketed stoves that are more convective. I have heated about 2000 sq ft in Maine with an F400 down to about -10. Tank tops on flip flops in the living room, 65 in the upstairs bedroom 55 in the other. Pushed that hard coals build up and limit how much wood you can stuff in a firebox less than 2 cu ft.
Personally I don’t see anything less than 2 cu ft as a whole house heater but If you have 1100 sq ft that’s well insulated I think you could get by with a smaller firebox.
I think how you are heating the house now matters. Do you want to size the stove for the 10-15 coldest days a year or size of for the rest? We have a heat pump that when it gets really cold just can’t do much. Should have gone with the F500 but it didn’t come in ivory. So on the coldest 5 nights of the year the house can get a little cold. It’s not a big deal, electric space heaters are fine on those nights. If we had a gas or oil furnace it wouldn’t matter at all. If I got picky about wood btu content I could keep it a bit warmer but I’m not. So if you will be burning hi btu wood you could get by with a smaller stove. I didn’t want to have the hassle of a catalytic converter.
Long story short get what you like even it means waiting for it. You will be looking at a cold empty stove more often than you will see a fire In it.
Get your wood now for next year. If you get a stove this year just get a pallet of sawdust bricks an tac it onto the price of the new stove. Nothing is worse than a trying to keep wet wood burning in a brand new stove. Takes all the fun out it. Personal opinion— I think the T4 would be right on for the space you have.
Evan
 

killsforpie

New Member
Jul 24, 2020
5
SW Ohio
I looked at a T5 the other day and was a bit surprised on how large it looked. Looking at you picture that stove may look a bit oversized for that space. Maybe you should consider the Jotul F45, same type of iron cast shrouded steel stove, mid sized with a good rep for overnight burns.

I've considered the Jotul F45. My reservations with it is the depth is only 3 inches less than the T5, generally uglier, and a pretty small viewing window.
 

killsforpie

New Member
Jul 24, 2020
5
SW Ohio
Have you considered any catalytic stoves? There are some that have a very high range of adjustment and very impressive burn times.

We have a similar layout to your house and heat it easily with a Morso 2b Classic, which is smaller than all of the stoves you have listed, but in the winter there is almost always someone home to load the stove. With hardwoods, and larger softwood splits, there are coals remaining in the morning for a relight. On very cold nights I will reload the stove since I always wake up once or twice in the night. The point of my rambling being that the T4 would probably be fine for your house if you don't want a catalytic stove. That 4-5 hour burn time is really the amount of time there are flames in the box, not how far apart your loads are.

In milder weather I can just load up the Morso fairly full and burn it once in the morning and not have to do anything until the following morning. We also have a wood cookstove and I usually burn it in milder weather and the Morso only gets used in cold weather or at night.

Thank you for your reply. I think I feel very nervous about the T4 because everyone harps on "always go bigger, you won't regret it, lots of people regret too small." But I actually might have a situation where the smaller is slightly better for us.
 

killsforpie

New Member
Jul 24, 2020
5
SW Ohio
Couple thoughts. I love my Jøtul F 400. I’d definitely wait for a year to get it.
Do you like to be hot? Radiant full cast iron stoves feel hotter especially when they are on the upper edge of the size for the space. Need more clearance than steel jacketed stoves that are more convective. I have heated about 2000 sq ft in Maine with an F400 down to about -10. Tank tops on flip flops in the living room, 65 in the upstairs bedroom 55 in the other. Pushed that hard coals build up and limit how much wood you can stuff in a firebox less than 2 cu ft.
Personally I don’t see anything less than 2 cu ft as a whole house heater but If you have 1100 sq ft that’s well insulated I think you could get by with a smaller firebox.
I think how you are heating the house now matters. Do you want to size the stove for the 10-15 coldest days a year or size of for the rest? We have a heat pump that when it gets really cold just can’t do much. Should have gone with the F500 but it didn’t come in ivory. So on the coldest 5 nights of the year the house can get a little cold. It’s not a big deal, electric space heaters are fine on those nights. If we had a gas or oil furnace it wouldn’t matter at all. If I got picky about wood btu content I could keep it a bit warmer but I’m not. So if you will be burning hi btu wood you could get by with a smaller stove. I didn’t want to have the hassle of a catalytic converter.
Long story short get what you like even it means waiting for it. You will be looking at a cold empty stove more often than you will see a fire In it.
Get your wood now for next year. If you get a stove this year just get a pallet of sawdust bricks an tac it onto the price of the new stove. Nothing is worse than a trying to keep wet wood burning in a brand new stove. Takes all the fun out it. Personal opinion— I think the T4 would be right on for the space you have.
Evan

Thank you very much for the detailed response.