Did I buy the wrong stove?

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bikeshopguy345

New Member
Feb 6, 2022
27
North MS
The situation: I live in North MS in a 1500sq.ft. ranch style home. We are on our first season with the Vermont Castings Aspen C3. We bought the stove with the intention of supplementing our 3ton heat pump central unit when the temps get below freezing. We really like the stove. It looks great, doesn't take up too much space, and I think it performs as designed.

The dilemma: We really had no idea how much we would like wood heat! We have really enjoyed the absence of continually circulating lukewarm air from the heat pump. We have attempted to make wood primary and not supplemental, but the Aspen really isn't up to the task. Overnight burns(my definition would be useable coals in the AM) are a challenge, and when it gets into the 20's F the small firebox must be fed frequently to maintain high output. It is almost always "shoulder season" here and we have some pretty wide temperature swings. A common scenario would be 20's F overnight and 40's F mid day.

The options:
1. Live with it. By far the least expensive, although cost isn't my primary concern. Home insulation is decent. We had the attic re-blown a few years ago. Windows are double pane etc. No practical upgrades are available in that area.
2. Blaze King Sirocco 30.2- If I go to the trouble of changing out the stove I might as well get the one with the bigger firebox. I was quoted $4022 for the pedestal model with ash drawer. I think the steel cooling off faster than cast iron could be a good thing in my situation.
3. Blaze King Ashford 30.2-My wife prefers the looks, although I do not. Quoted $4377 for a black one without any add ons.
4. Other stove recommendations for longer burn times with low/med output?

Should I be concerned about the Blaze King "smoke smell." I've read about on the forum?

The thing I can't seem to let go of is if I am going to the trouble of processing my own firewood, am I really getting the most out of it?

Thanks everyone. This is a great forum and part of the reason we bought a wood stove.
 

savageactor7

Minister of Fire
Jan 25, 2008
3,783
CNY
I vote with live with it for now and see if a workable solution will present itself....

...for instance, you'll find a solution to have a few working hot coals to restart morning fires.

It's good to hear how much you do enjoy the wood burning experience.
 
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richmhv

Member
Oct 30, 2014
40
Shokan NY
I would say live with it. If you were in a real cold climate area where you have to deal with teens, single digits, and maybe worse, I would say go bigger but in your climate, you'd roast yourself with a larger stove.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
100,843
South Puget Sound, WA
For your climate, the Aspen C3 is a good solution. A shorter burn time can be a benefit when nighttime temps drop to 35 and daytime swings up to 65. If the heatpump is relatively efficient, then using to keep the house above 65º for a few early morning hours can be a good buffer. If you want overnight burns with a classic-looking stove, then perhaps the Pacific Energy T5 would appeal to your wife.
 

jalmondale

Member
Dec 16, 2021
140
NY
While 'live with it' is certainly the most economical option, if you're looking to upgrade, maybe check out the Woodstock hybrids? They're a fairly different look, and you mentioned being interested in a steel rather than cast iron stove. They're quite a bit cheaper than the two Blaze Kings you quoted as well. That said, I think Blaze Kings are well-established as the longest-burn-time stoves - if you just want an overnight burn, there's plenty of options, but if you're looking for 24 hrs or more, then Blaze King is going to be your best bet.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
4,843
SE North Carolina
I like my heatpump and tube stove combination. You never will break even with a 4000$ stove in the the south. I tried to justify it. Best money says to upgrade heatpump if it’s below 16 SEER.

I heat 2000 sq ft with a 1.7 cu ft. It’s fine exercise for the coldest 7 days a year. Adding a high efficiency mini split may say a 1 ton unit is an option I’m thinking about.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
100,843
South Puget Sound, WA
Agreed. In the south, having a stove that you can give the house a short boost of heat with, then taper off is a benefit. We have exceptionally long shoulder season weather here. Running a woodstove can be tricky when it's 40 at night and 60 during the day. The house warms up quickly when the sun is out and at that point, a hot wood stove is just wasting wood. In this case, a short morning fire suffices. For this reason, I like the combo of the heat pump with the woodstove. It lets me burn more precisely for the weather and avoid unnecessary wasting of wood.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,930
07462
I myself living in NW NJ grappled with is my stove properly sized for me, the long and short is yes, typically I only have 3 weeks of bone cold then reprieved to regular burning and shoulder season stuff. I've now dialed into the wood heat thing so well that I'm more then half way through winter and I just hit my 2 cord mark, I realized that when it gets very cold its ok to run the supplemental heat to boost the stove, then when we hit a milder streak just burn wood, still saving tons of money that would have been spent on fossil fuel.
 
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Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,775
Midwest
A lot can go into getting a good overnight burn. Some of the key things that come to mind:

You'll want to use your densest wood...oak, hickory, hedge, etc -if you have it. Save the light/fluffy stuff for when you can constantly feed the stove.

Likewise for splits. As you go through a days burning, set out nice, straight splits which have a good chance of fitting nicely in the stove and use those for a nice tight overnight load. Anything that is twisted, odd shaped, bowed, knotted, etc can be burned during the day.

If you're processing your own wood, be sure to cut to optimal length and split to ideal sizes. An overnight burn with a few nice square 'billets' of wood will likely do better than one with a bunch of thin, triangular, 'classic' splits.

Close any rooms you don't specifically need to heat. I have a 'spare' bedroom which doesn't need active heat and typically pull the main bathroom door closed at night as it doesn't need active heat either and helps streamline the flow of heat down the hallway and to the bedrooms.

Try to get to the 'final nightly loading' point with a warm house and good bed of coals. The idea being to get the final load established burning, but be able to damper back to a low burn which will maintain heat, or may even loose a few degrees vs trying to still actively heat the house up at a high burn rate which will use up the wood more quickly.

Probably dozens of other pointers, too. But these are a few key ones.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
7,261
Long Island NY
I agree with most of what is said above. I think it's good to keep playing with the stove you have rather than spending significant $$ on a new one.

I think a lot of people get drawn into the "on principle I won't/shouldn't use my [whatever existing heat solution you have, oil/heatpump etc]". It's not a "wood burning sin" to just recognize the limits to the range where the stove performs well, be they very low temps (add some furnace heat) or shoulder season (stove would be too hot, so use the heat pump).

So, I'd wait a year or two. If you are really unhappy, then you could think of switching. A cat stove with a good turn-down ratio would be a good option indeed then, for your climate.
 

bikeshopguy345

New Member
Feb 6, 2022
27
North MS
Thanks everyone for the excellent responses.

@jalmondale The Woodstock stoves are really interesting. I'm not so sure about the looks, but that is highly subjective.

@begreen The Alderlea T5 looks super nice! Seems like a great design. Anyone know MRSP? Overnight burn?

@Corey As far as overnight burns go, my best success has been loading up around 11pm with very large splits of seasoned white oak and/or ash. My wife is up around 6 am and it is hit or miss(mostly) whether there will be enough coals to get it going. I really think this is about all I should expect out of a firebox this small. The problem on cold nights is you really don't want to let it burn down enough in order to pack it full because you need the heat output, however, with a significant amount of very hot coals, there isn't much room for new wood, and you have to be careful doing "hot" reloads or it'll want to run away a bit.

@EbS-P may have provided me with the best reality check. With the money I have in my current set-up, I can actually break even in around 7-8 years on electricity savings. My heat pump is 13 seer and about 20 years old. It works well, but could probably die any time at that age. Probably wiser to save the money for a replacement...I hear variable speed air handlers are a nice upgrade.

@kennyp2339 and @stoveliker Thanks for the affirmation that it is ok to use my heat pump. I've gotten into some sort of strange firewood nerd mindset that the central heat coming on is being defeated.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
100,843
South Puget Sound, WA
The T5 can easily do an overnight burn. In shoulder season a 10 hr burn is not uncommon.

Modern heat pumps are much more efficient, especially some of the mini-splits. I went thru the must heat by wood syndrome for over a decade. Then I started buying wood, did the math, and it became clear that the heat pump was cleaner, easier, much more efficient, and quite cost-effective. Now I don't worry if it comes on occasionally.
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
1,064
Utah & NJ
Hot coals in the morning is over rated in my book. We don't live in Canada where that's the way they run their stoves for so many months. In more temperate climates (like here on NJ coast) You don't need to run 24/7 all winter, or even much of it. Some days yes, maybe even for a week or 2, but my Jotul f400 is out almost every morning, and i actually prefer this as opposed to "some" hot coals. Starting a top down fire works much better that loading on marginal coals. What's the big deal with lighting a fire? I love it. No worries if you don't get a overnight burn, it's actually a Bonus.

And the jotul f400 provides 95% of the heat for my cape house.
 
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bikeshopguy345

New Member
Feb 6, 2022
27
North MS
Hot coals in the morning is over rated in my book. We don't live in Canada where that's the way they run their stoves for so many months. In more temperate climates (like here on NJ coast) You don't need to run 24/7 all winter, or even much of it. Some days yes, maybe even for a week or 2, but my Jotul f400 is out almost every morning, and i actually prefer this as opposed to "some" hot coals. Starting a top down fire works much better that loading on marginal coals. What's the big deal with lighting a fire? I love it. No worries if you don't get a overnight burn, it's actually a Bonus.

And the jotul f400 provides 95% of the heat for my cape house.
That is a really good idea I actually haven't thought about. Having some easily accessible supplies to do a top down fire in the morning sounds like a great plan and would alleviate one of the main drawbacks of the current set up.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
4,843
SE North Carolina
That is a really good idea I actually haven't thought about. Having some easily accessible supplies to do a top down fire in the morning sounds like a great plan and would alleviate one of the main drawbacks of the current set up.
Welcome to the small stove club. I do the shame thing. I split lots of kindling and use a butane kitchen torch. I’d use the bigger propane ones but storing out of reach of kids would be a pain. And if I left it out someone might complain that my tools were in the living room (again) ;)
 
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firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,588
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Random thoughts . . .

I would run it for at least another year or two. I know I did not really get the hang (and quirks) of running my stove until I had a full year or so under the proverbial belt. In this time you can experiment a bit to see what works and doesn't work for you. As mentioned, having to restart a fire every day is certainly not the worse thing that can happen . . . and who knows . . . in the meantime you may hit upon a way of having more coals in the morning for an easier restart.

After a few years if you are not completely happy . . . or think you really want to go bigger . . . then do so. Hopefully at that time the prices will be down a bit and availability up a bit vs. compared to the situation right now. And who knows . . . maybe there will be even more tempting models out there.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
7,261
Long Island NY
I disagree; if I want heat overnight and want heat in the morning, I don't want to have to relight. That is precisely why I bought a bigger firebox.
It's not a big deal to do a cold start, but it's a smaller deal to just "add splits".

I heard someone say that this weather (in the North East) wreaks havoc on the kindling supply.
I have only done two cold starts this winter in 2022. There will be another one Saturday afternoon. But I only burn splits, and I don't have to bother with building up a fire (top down), get kindling, use a propane torch etc. Yes, in shoulder seasons I will do that, but if I can avoid it by simmering my (cat) stove, I'm very happy with that.

But, that's my view. People have different preferences, resulting in different methods to managing heat. And that's all fine. There is something good on here for each of those approaches.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
4,843
SE North Carolina
I disagree; if I want heat overnight and want heat in the morning, I don't want to have to relight. That is precisely why I bought a bigger firebox.
It's not a big deal to do a cold start, but it's a smaller deal to just "add splits".

I heard someone say that this weather (in the North East) wreaks havoc on the kindling supply.
I have only done two cold starts this winter in 2022. There will be another one Saturday afternoon. But I only burn splits, and I don't have to bother with building up a fire (top down), get kindling, use a propane torch etc. Yes, in shoulder seasons I will do that, but if I can avoid it by simmering my (cat) stove, I'm very happy with that.

But, that's my view. People have different preferences, resulting in different methods to managing heat. And that's all fine. There is something good on here for each of those approaches.
I regularly do two cold starts in 24 hours. Now I wish I had a bigger firebox. But what I have works.
 
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bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
1,064
Utah & NJ
I disagree; if I want heat overnight and want heat in the morning, I don't want to have to relight. That is precisely why I bought a bigger firebox.
It's not a big deal to do a cold start, but it's a smaller deal to just "add splits".

I heard someone say that this weather (in the North East) wreaks havoc on the kindling supply.
I have only done two cold starts this winter in 2022. There will be another one Saturday afternoon. But I only burn splits, and I don't have to bother with building up a fire (top down), get kindling, use a propane torch etc. Yes, in shoulder seasons I will do that, but if I can avoid it by simmering my (cat) stove, I'm very happy with that.

But, that's my view. People have different preferences, resulting in different methods to managing heat. And that's all fine. There is something good on here for each of those approaches.
Yes different stokes for different folks. I'm a pyro and love starting, staring at, standing next to, putting my hands in and much more about woodstove, fireplace, and outdoor fires. Others just want fast simple easy heat from it. I get that too.

I also like temperature swings in my house, it feels more alive. I love when it gets cold inside and when lighting the stove starts to warm the living room, then cranks the temps in it, then moves thru the rest of the house. Steady 68 -70F in Temp controlled houses seem dead to me.
 
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bikeshopguy345

New Member
Feb 6, 2022
27
North MS
I regularly do two cold starts in 24 hours. Now I wish I had a bigger firebox. But what I have works.
It looks like I can get a never ending supply of fire starting supplies and a propane torch for a bit less that $4,000.

Thanks again for the all of the replies. I feel better about the situation and saving money never hurts these days. I may go bigger eventually, but based on advice here, I will give it a few seasons.
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
1,064
Utah & NJ
Here is an easy Top down set up with just a few sticks for kindling. Oak splits. Pretty Fast start for such a small amount of kindling and no messing around till time for full reload on big coal bed.

 
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Tar12

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
1,867
Indiana
I think you are on the right track with a cat stove..but the 2 blaze king models you listed are to large for your space..the Sirocco 20.2 would be a much better fit IMO.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
7,261
Long Island NY
I think you are on the right track with a cat stove..but the 2 blaze king models you listed are to large for your space..the Sirocco 20.2 would be a much better fit IMO.

I think the low BTU output is similar on these stoves; 11300 BTU per hour vs 11900 BTU per hour. If the latter is too much, a smaller stove is needed anyway, because needing to run the stove on the lowest end is indicative of having the wrong stove. (Plus, at those times the heat pump is ideal.)
 

Russn77

New Member
Jan 20, 2021
71
North Central Ohio
I've been happy with my Kuma Alpine LE. It's an insert with a 1.8 CuFt firebox. However, Kuma has an identical freestanding stove. I load the stove at 9:30-10 PM every night and have plenty of hot coals for restart at 5 AM the next day.