Heat commander vs kuuma vapor fire100

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Micdrew

New Member
Jan 15, 2021
17
Maryland
Hello everyone, I’m in the market for a wood furnace and from what I gather there’s only two to choose from, the drolet HC and the Kuuma VF, I would like some information about the two and maybe a nudge in the right direction, what are the average burn times between loads? And what are the quality differences between the two if any? Any info would be great, thanks and happy Easter!
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,556
NE Ohio
Burn time will be similar...a little longer on the Kuuma since it is a bit larger unit.
As far as quality...look at the difference in the warranties...that should tell you the story there. As I understand it, Mr Lamppa is still heating his home with a VF 100 that he built in the 80's.
And happy Easter!
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,728
Wisconsin Dells, WI
In a nutshell.....The VF100 has been around for decades and is tried and true. It was burning clean before it was cool to do so.

If you are leaning towards the HC, I'd give it a few years. It's a new unit. Wait and see how things go for others who have it after 2, 3, 4... heating seasons.
 

woodey

Burning Hunk
Feb 8, 2018
217
ST. Lawrence Valley N.Y.
I can't give my opinion as to one over the other as I know nothing about the HC. That being said I can tell you firsthand that the Kuuma is a impressive furnace.
 

Micdrew

New Member
Jan 15, 2021
17
Maryland
I can't give my opinion as to one over the other as I know nothing about the HC. That being said I can tell you firsthand that the Kuuma is a impressive furnace.
Good to hear as I am leaning towards the VF, What kind of burn times are you getting out of it?
 
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JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,728
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Good to hear as I am leaning towards the VF, What kind of burn times are you getting out of it?


Don't get caught up too much in burn times. It'll do 10-12 hours. I've got as much as 20+ hours of blower time on a single load, but this is not typical. I packed it full of almost 100lbs of Black Locust. A typical full firebox of well seasoned oak is in the 55-65lb area.

Do you know the heat load of your house? If it has a higher heat load you would need more BTU's/hour put into your house and therefore would need to burn more wood which equals shorter burn times.
 

Micdrew

New Member
Jan 15, 2021
17
Maryland
Don't get caught up too much in burn times. It'll do 10-12 hours. I've got as much as 20+ hours of blower time on a single load, but this is not typical. I packed it full of almost 100lbs of Black Locust. A typical full firebox of well seasoned oak is in the 55-65lb area.

Do you know the heat load of your house? If it has a higher heat load you would need more BTU's/hour put into your house and therefore would need to burn more wood which equals shorter burn times.
Im not quite sure, this winter was my second winter in the house an I’ve averaged 500gals of propane The last two years, the house was built in the early 90s R-13 in the walls R-30 in the ceilings...
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,556
NE Ohio
Do you know the heat load of your house?
Good question...the heat load in our house, in our climate, as compared to JR's is less...in more mild winter weather I can go 12 hours on 25-30# of wood...but with a higher heat load it becomes harder to make 12 hour loads, or it will at least take more wood per load to pull it off...it will be the same for any model, including the HC.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,556
NE Ohio
this winter was my second winter in the house an I’ve averaged 500gals of propane
For the whole winter?! That's a pretty light heat load...
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,728
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Im not quite sure, this winter was my second winter in the house an I’ve averaged 500gals of propane The last two years, the house was built in the early 90s R-13 in the walls R-30 in the ceilings...

500 gals a year is good! At least compared to what we used before putting in the VF100. We were averaging 1,300 gallons a year.

Do you have access to -DRY- wood? If not, get started now cutting/splitting/stacking. Both furnaces NEED dry/seasoned wood. Don't even think about trying to burn freshly cut stuff in either of them. You will be disappointed.
 

woodey

Burning Hunk
Feb 8, 2018
217
ST. Lawrence Valley N.Y.
If I was on a budget, I'd buy the HC. If money is not an object or you can find one used, I'd go the Kuuma route.
Believe me this is not a put-down or directed at a product I know nothing about, It simply reminds me of a saying my Grandfather used to say, " Only a rich man can afford cheap windows."
 

Micdrew

New Member
Jan 15, 2021
17
Maryland
500 gals a year is good! At least compared to what we used before putting in the VF100. We were averaging 1,300 gallons a year.

Do you have access to -DRY- wood? If not, get started now cutting/splitting/stacking. Both furnaces NEED dry/seasoned wood. Don't even think about tying to burn freshly cut stuff in either of them. You will be disappointed.
Wood isn’t a problem for me I’ve got about 6 cords of maple spilt and stacked. Now I just need the furnace.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,556
NE Ohio
I have owned/used both products...well, it was the previous generation of furnace from SBI, which is very similar in construction (controls are very different though) I totally get it if you just can't handle the upfront cost on the VF100...I probably still wouldn't have one if I hadn't been able to score a rare 1 season used unit...but if there is any way you can swing it, even if it hurts a little, in the long run you will be better off...for example, Kuuma uses all SS inside the firebox...the HC has only the secondary air tubes in SS to my knowledge...the SBI furnace design uses also carbon steel for the heat exchanger tubes, which have been known to have some issues with the center tubing rusting through after 5-10 years...
 
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sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
868
Central Ohio
Believe me this is not a put-down or directed at a product I know nothing about, It simply reminds me of a saying my Grandfather used to say, " Only a rich man can afford cheap windows."
I've had my Caddy for almost 10 years and have had zero problems from it. All of the problems I've had have been self induced. @laynes69 has had his Caddy longer than me and I don't think he's has many problems with his either. The HC has pretty much the same tried and true firebox design as the Caddy. Knowing what I know today I would of bought a Kuuma in 2011 but I'd never heard of them at the point in time. As always, hindsight is 20/20.

I guess I don't see a problem with buying a HC, and then squirrelling away $600 a year ( or whatever the OP can afford ) for the next 10 years and then getting a Kuuma when the HC chit's the bed.
 

laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,626
Ashland OH
I've had holes form in my heat exchanger, probably my fault for turning the temp too low. However, the new designs don't pass the heat side through the return, eliminating the issue. I would have no issues purchasing a heat commander. I've left the door open on my Caddy with a full load and woke with coals. Not proud of it, but no damage to the unit. Not even signs of burnt paint around the firebox or exchanger.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,556
NE Ohio
However, the new designs don't pass the heat side through the return, eliminating the issue.
It's still been an issue on the Tundra's
 

laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,626
Ashland OH
I thought the return is below the outlet. Mine has a full cabinet in the return side but now has insulated stainless and will no longer be an issue.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,556
NE Ohio
Yes, there is no return air on the center HX tube, but they are still rusting out towards the back...there have been several reports on here, and I've seen it personally on 2...not rusted through yet in the center tube, but pretty crusty, and looked like you could peck through it fairly easily
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
868
Central Ohio
Yes, there is no return air on the center HX tube, but they are still rusting out towards the back...there have been several reports on here, and I've seen it personally on 2...not rusted through yet in the center tube, but pretty crusty, and looked like you could peck through it fairly easily
I think one of those users admitted to not cleaning their furnace in the spring. ;)

How much of that is not cleaning the furnace after the heating season ? Mine is going on 10 years old, and I have the older design and it's solid as rock. In the early spring I probably spend 2 - 3 hours thoroughly cleaning my furnace.

To the OP, this is a Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge debate. They all are great ( except Dodge ) trucks, you just need to find one that suits your budget, and go from there.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,304
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
One profound difference is that the drolet has a window! The fire is lovely to watch and see that the fuel is combusting properly. Without a window it’s like staring at a closed refrigerator.

The other big difference is cost. Do be aware of the enormous difference and be informed. 500 gallons of negative propane per year is not a lot of budget to break even.

The last decision maker is clearances for installation. The new drolet can be backed up pretty close to the wall.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,556
NE Ohio
The new drolet can be backed up pretty close to the wall.
So can the Vaporfire...my return duct runs right down the wall, hooked directly to the VF blower...VF can be 6" on the sides too...
 
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3fordasho

Minister of Fire
Jul 20, 2007
1,005
South Central Minnesota
To me it would come down to how long I expect to burn wood or how long I intend to stay at installed site - at 60 I hope to be burning wood in 10 years but who knows. Do I need to spend the extra for a 20+ year furnace? Obviously if you intend to move in the next 10 years it might not make sense to spend the $$ for the Kuuma because the next owner will have zero interest in burning wood. Resale value is moot too unless you can find a buyer that knows what it is and that can be hard to find locally. Of course there is the "I just want the best" mentality but one does not care about cost justification at that point ;-)
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,728
Wisconsin Dells, WI
I see you live in Maryland. It may or may not mean anything to you, but Kuuma is built in America by a family owned small business using 100% American steel.

I was hesitant to even post in this thread, as based on the title alone it could very easily go down a path leading to a dumpster fire. ;lol

@Micdrew , -HERE'S- a review I posted awhile ago of my VF100. It may answer some of your questions.