Hearthstone Manchester, will I regret? Should I switch to Woodstock? newbie

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.
Hi All,
Which should I buy Hearthstone Machester or Woodstock Ideal Steel? Or other???

Newbie here, I am building an off-grid home and plan on using my wood stove as a primary heat source, at least for the first year. The house was built with ducting, so I have the option of additional heat at some point. I was settled on the Hearthstone Manchester when we started building the house several years ago after seeing it in a local woodstove store. I have had the stove pipe installed, but the ceilings are still open so I can move things a little if needed. Drywall goes in very soon. Now, I am reading bad reviews online of the Manchester and am debating if this is a poor decision given its high price tag and my need for reliability. Would it be a better investment to get a Woodstock Ideal Steal? Would my stovepipe need to be replaced? Is the sizing similar, so I could place the Ideal Steal in a similar or same location as the Manchester? Or do I stick with my original plan and order the Hearthstone?

House Layout: The stove is to go in the corner of the living room, the main floor is an open floor plan with 2 small bedrooms about 900 sqft (10ft ceiling height). The stairs to the upper floor have a large opening from the living room. The upper floor is a "finished attic" with cathedral ceilings and has a family room and master bedroom (less than 900sqft). The house also has a walkout basement. I don't anticipate the basement to get much heat from the woodstove, as the woodstove will be on the main floor, I am still kicking around heating options for the basement other than a furnace for the ducted system. Total heated space for first and second floor is1800sqft. If we add in the basement it adds an additional 800sqft.

Climate: Northern California. Coastal. Mild temperatures all year, 30F-55F in the winter.

Thank you, any advice is appreciated.


Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
South Puget Sound, WA
In this mild climate zone look at smaller stoves. A 2-2.5 cu ft stove will do the job well. In non-cats, a PE Alderlea T5 or Super, or a Jotul F45 will heat the place well, especially new construction that is well insulated. If the preference is catalytic, you could go larger with a Blaze King Princess without penalty. In Woodstock stoves, the Fireview probably would suffice.

Regardless of choice, dry wood is going to be essential for successful operation. Do you have 2-3 cords of softwood already split and stacked? If not, buy that amount of doug fir and get it stacked, top covered, asap. Wood can take longer to season if you are close to the coast and dealing with summer fogs.


Dec 16, 2021
I've got a Woodstock Fireview, and can heat about 1500 sq ft in NY where winter temps are more in the 15 - 30 range. I've really liked how easy the Woodstock is to use - the design is very well thought out in ways that I didn't really appreciate before I got one. For instance, cat maintenance is a periodic task (twice a year for me, probably once a year for you) that is super easy in a Woodstock. For fun I just looked up how to do it in a Manchester, and it looks much more complicated (I lift a lid, undo two bolts, and done - there can even still be hot coals in the firebox. The Manchester involves carefully holding baffles in place with one hand while slotting things together with the other, possibly while reaching in to the firebox with both arms).

Soapstone may not be your jam aesthetically or weight wise, but I'd absolutely recommend getting a Woodstock stove.
  • Like
Reactions: VintageGal