F400 or F500: what size Jotul to replace an old VC Vigilant?

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New Member
Jan 21, 2016
Dummerston, VT
I'm looking to upgrade our trusty 1977 VC Vigilant and I'm looking at both the Jotul F400 Castine and the F500 Oslo. I don't have any experience with EPA stoves and could use some advice about which is a better match in terms of heat output and burn time.

We use the Vigilant as the sole heat source when we're awake and home in our 1550 sq ft, boxy house (we also have a propane furnace and keep the thermostat set to 55 degrees).

Based on advertised specs it seems like the Castine matches our needs, but it looks pretty tiny compared to the Vigilant. Do the modern efficiency features really make that much of a difference?

I'm leaning towards the Oslo at the moment. I'd have more faith that it could adequately heat us on sub-zero nights, but I don't want to get something too large that will bake us out of the house.

My gut tells me that the specs reflect ideal conditions that we'll rarely hit, and that the modern efficiency features won't make enough of a difference to justify a significantly smaller stove. Can anyone confirm my suspicions? Thanks!


Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Go with the Oslo . . . manufacturers often put up numbers on heating square footage that are "rosy" to put it nicely . . . truth be told those numbers may be accurate, but in optimal conditions with optimal wood and optimal insulation, etc.

Best advice I got when I first came here looking for info was to size the stove to my house . . . and then go one size larger. Well, actually, the absolute best information was to insulate and seal up air gaps before buying my woodstove, but that's not truly relevant to the thread.

As for overheating the place . . . it happens occasionally . . . especially at first when you're learning the stove. However, eventually, you learn how to manage the heat requirement by what and how much fuel you put in the firebox. There is a learning process, and occasionally I make a mistake and the house ends up pretty warm . . . but I would rather be a little too warm a few times a year than be cold many times in the year by buying a stove too small. Of course, it is also possible to buy too large a stove, but I think the Oslo would work well for you.
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Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
SW Ohio
Oslo - you're in VT. We too have a ~1500 SF house, and it's not too warm.


Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
Northern IL
If you are used to the Vigilant the Oslo will compare better for heat output than the 400 will. I am jumping on the Oslo bandwagon with the rest...


Burning Hunk
Sep 28, 2013
Nova Scotia
Definitely the Oslo. I'm familiar with the Vigilant and I don't think the Castine could compete especially when it comes to burn time.
If I'm being honest I'm not even sure the Oslo will be much better than the Vigilant, definitely cleaner burning but as far as heat output and burn time goes I would say, depending on the quality of your wood and how you burn, you might not be gaining a lot. Also if you use the top loading on the Vigilant you will find the Oslo frustrating to load full. I think the Oslo will put out more max heat but maybe not burn as long as the Vigilant, the Vigilant will hold more wood but the Oslo will use less wood.
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