Harman Absolute 43 or Blaze King Ashford 20.2

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escyr

New Member
May 5, 2021
13
Southern Maine
I've been wanting to add a pellet stove to my super-insulated, very well air sealed home in Maine for the last few years. While the mini-split heat pumps that heat/cool our house are very efficient, we miss the "feel" of a wood burning appliance.

My wife wants a wood stove, but I figured a wood stove would have to be tended to too much, not to mention all the work and dirt/bugs that comes with wood. She grew up with a wood stove, I grew up with an oil fired hot water boiler, but my grandparents next door always had a wood stove, then they switched to a wood boiler. I helped them haul, split and stack firewood for 10+ years starting when I was around 8 years old. I'm not looking to do that again. I would either buy seasoned firewood, or burn bio bricks.

Now that I'm researching pellet stoves, I'm realizing that most of them are unreliable and need a lot of maintenance. The only pellet stove that I'm considering now is the Harman Absolute 43 as Harman seems to have the best reputation and reliability and I need something with a relative low BTU/hr output. I really like the fact of not having to deal with firewood and the simpler install.

While researching on Hearth.com, I found people talking about the long burn times and automatic temperature control of their Blaze King wood stoves. I never knew such a thing existed! After reading more about Blaze King stoves, I'm wondering if I should get a Blaze King Ashford 20.2 instead of the Harman Absolute 43.

Any thoughts, experiences, pros/cons, general input of a pellet stove vs wood stove would be appreciated. I'm going to post this to the Pellet Stove forum also.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,555
South Puget Sound, WA
There are pros and cons to each. A pellet stove is a small wood furnace. It is convenient, can be thermostatically controlled and the fuel stores in a compact fashion. On the other hand it is complicated, power-dependent & usually noisy. Wood can be messier though the refill time is about the same. The guiding question however should be, what does she want? A happy wife is a happy life.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,935
07462
Modern stoves use far less wood then what the stoves of yester year used during your youth, a typical winter with a big mo or fisher grandma bear would usually consume approx 8 to 10 cords per season for an average cold climate home, todays stoves usually use between 3-5 cords respectively.
On the BK line you will more then likely be between the 3-4 cords annually. The caveat to all this with modern stoves is dry wood, like moisture meter 20% content and below, so on paper that mean you need to have a rotating stock of 2 years cut, split, and stacked waiting, if you have the space and the drive to get over that first hurdle then you'll be good to go, if you dont have the space, you might be fighting a tough battle or consider using compressed wood bricks or paying for season split wood / kiln dry wood.
Now if your going to go with a BK stove, go as big as you can, the stove itself is like a fuel tank, the t-stat air adjuster is your throttle, you can essentially load it to the gills, once you have a situated fire, turn the stove down and just ooz out 20k btu an hour for like 20-24 hrs per load, our if its cold turn the t-stat up and get more heat, obviously the higher the t-stat goes, the faster the burn, all the way to a typical wood stove time of 6-8hrs per load.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,204
SE North Carolina
If you want the “feel” I choose wood stove. It’s nice to have backup heat that doesn’t need electricity. Pellet stoves are easy.... till they are not. My parents are going on 15 years with their QuadraFire. No real issues.... general cleaning, firebox, hopper, blowers (really have to clean those twice a season if you have pets). Pellets are much more manageable and cleaner in the house than cord wood. Blowers are not silent. I am intrigued by the single burn rate stoves like the Vermont Castings Aspen C3. Seems simple like a pellet stove. For me it would come down to time. If I had plenty of it wood stove, if I was a busy person pellet stove. Managing cord wood takes lots of time especially the first few years until you get it figured out. If you go the wood stove route just build a wood shed and consider it part of the install cost.
Evan
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,150
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Since your actual heating needs are taken care of by the electric furnace, is this wood burner more of an aesthetic, comfort, part time thing for fun and/or short term survival? You can set a really nice but simple noncat woodstove in the home that makes short term heat with an enjoyable display and feel of fire.

Pellet stoves are noisy and the fireview is like a little blow torch. They make a lot of convective heat like a furnace but very little bone warming radiation.

You already have high performance, now look to supplement your heat experience.
 

dznam

Burning Hunk
Jul 31, 2008
121
Coastal ME
... The guiding question however should be, what does she want? A happy wife is a happy life.

This!

I'm also in southern Maine and in our second superinsulated and well air sealed home. In both homes I was worried about controlling the heat output of a wood stove, but wanted one as we love the feel of the radiant heat which you just don't get with a pellet stove. I also like a quiet house and the prospect of the noise from a pellet stove was a big turn-off. As you likely noticed, one of the great things about a super insulated house is its quietness - why spoil that? We ended up choosing a Blaze-King for both applications and were very happy with the result (and burn times!). Despite being around 3000 sq ft we have never had to turn the stoves over 1/3 on the air supply.

I also discovered that the Blaze Kings function exceptionally well with Enviro Blocks, NIELS, etc. This eliminates your concern regarding bugs, etc and makes wood storage simpler and cleaner (though I don't believe it's recommended by the manufacturer). We usually have a tree or two come down each year, so we oftentimes end up mixing the two and that works just as well for us.
 
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escyr

New Member
May 5, 2021
13
Southern Maine
Thank you all for the excellent replies and discussion.

Our house was prepped for a wood stove as my wife and I wanted to add one in the future because of the "warm your bones" radiant heat and we had both had experience with them. Now that we're getting older, as our four kids are older and more active, we have less time than we could have imagined so we thought about going with a pellet stove. After doing research on pellet stoves and all of their problems, it made us re-think everything.

This thread has helped me decide to stay with a pellet stove and hope we don't get a lemon.

Even though a pellet stove won't give us the "warm your bones" radiant heat, it will give us a nice boost to our heating system that we definitely need when it is -10degF and lower. It will also consumer less electricity than our mini-split heat pumps (MSHPs), so when we do lose electricity, our generator can power the pellet stove instead of the MSHPs.

Regards
Eric
 

coachk

New Member
Jan 13, 2021
54
Gloucester, VA
I'm actually leaning away from a pellet stove and towards a wood stove now while possibly buying pallets of wood bricks. I figure If I get a load of wood that will be a bonus. This thread has been helpful