Help me decide which wood stove to buy, Ashford, Fireview, or Absolute Steel

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From Away

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
37
Central Maine
I have narrowed my choices down to either a Blaze King Ashford, or a Woodstock Fireview, or a Woodstock Absolute Steel. Can somebody with experience with these stoves help me out? This will be the first season that I will be using the wood stove as my primary heat source.
Here are the home specs, (along with attached floor plan);
#1- I calculated the square footage for the first floor at a measured 682 sq. ft. and that includes the staircase. The ceiling height on the first floor is 7"10".
#2- I calculated the square footage of the second floor at a measured 497.5 sq. ft. and that includes closet spaces. The ceiling height on the second floor is 6'10".
#3- The total sq. ft. for both floors is 1,179.5 sq. ft.
#4- The home is constructed with 2X6 walls and I can only assume it is insulated accordingly.
#5- We live in central Maine and have seen temps. that could range from -20 to 20 in the winter.
#6- There is no heat source at all on the second floor.
#7- Heat is transferred to the upstairs by the staircase, and there is one 12x12 registers in each bedroom.
#8- The home is a gambrel construction.
#9- The wood stove would be the primary heat source for both floors.
#10- I need help! This is my chance to get what is needed and now is my time to do it!

- I have spoken with local dealers about the Blaze King Ashford, and they were all on the fence whether I should go with the 20.2, 0r 30.2.. I also spoke with the folks at Blaze King and they said the same that I could go with either one, but leaned toward the 30.2.
- I have also spoken with the fine folks at Woodstock, and they recommended either the Fireview or Absolute Steel.
- I have been doing a lot of research and this site has been a huge help. I read on here though that the Soapstone stoves can only absorb so much heat and transfer only so much heat. Does that mean that when I really need to call for heat, Soapstone is not the way to go?

Here are my goals, not to cook myself out of the house, ability for low burn during the shoulder seasons, and as long of a burn time as possibly to eliminate making 2 fires a day.

Please give me any advice, I need it!
Thanks in advance!
 

Attachments

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Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
9,449
NW Wisconsin
Both companies make great stoves, I’ve owned stoves from both with great results. If it were me I think I’d lean towards the Ashford 30. More control and longer burns for the shoulder season.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,103
07462
Ashford has an added feature of a blower where as the woodstock is 100% radiant.
 

From Away

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
37
Central Maine
Thanks for the input so far! If anyone has an Absolute Steel and has or has had a Fireview that they can compare the two, I'd like to hear what you think would be better for my house size and goals. And as far as the Ashford, I don't think I will be able to use the blower that much unless I would make some type of deflector. The distance from where the front of the stove would be to the area seating is in is only about 7-8 feet. Unless of course the blower is not that strong. But, I like the idea of having a blower! I wish I could see an Ashford. I am 3-1/2 hours from Woodstock, so I may take a trip there in the next week or two.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I have spoken with local dealers about the Blaze King Ashford, and they were all on the fence whether I should go with the 20.2, 0r 30.2.. I also spoke with the folks at Blaze King and they said the same that I could go with either one, but leaned toward the 30.2.

Of course you can go with either one, they make about the same heat output. The reason you should always go for the 30 box is that is has a much larger fuel tank for longer burns at any desired output level. The 20 box might save you a few dollars but has an odd sized catalyst and is much smaller so loading is harder.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
On the ashford stoves, you need to be sure that you have a proper chimney. The manual is very specific about this and the stove demands a chimney that meets or exceeds this minimum.

Woodstocks are less picky about chimney but don't have the thermosats are ability to burn at such a wide range of outputs.
 

From Away

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
37
Central Maine
Of course you can go with either one, they make about the same heat output. The reason you should always go for the 30 box is that is has a much larger fuel tank for longer burns at any desired output level. The 20 box might save you a few dollars but has an odd sized catalyst and is much smaller so loading is harder.

That was my thoughts. But one dealer told me "you can drive a Mack truck down to the corner store to pick up a loaf of bread too, but it is not nearly as efficient as your car." That is why I came here for help, and it seems from what you are saying, that I could load a 30 up and still keep the output low if needed. Thanks!
 

From Away

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
37
Central Maine
On the ashford stoves, you need to be sure that you have a proper chimney. The manual is very specific about this and the stove demands a chimney that meets or exceeds this minimum.

Woodstocks are less picky about chimney but don't have the thermosats are ability to burn at such a wide range of outputs.

Thanks for this info. too! Back to more research! So, with the Blaze King, I might end up needing to do an insulated liner too?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,567
South Puget Sound, WA

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
That was my thoughts. But one dealer told me "you can drive a Mack truck down to the corner store to pick up a loaf of bread too, but it is not nearly as efficient as your car." That is why I came here for help, and it seems from what you are saying, that I could load a 30 up and still keep the output low if needed. Thanks!

That dealer is a fool, thinks you’re a fool, or is just not familiar with cat stove. On a good cat stove, the lower you run it the more efficient and clean burning it is. At least down to the stall point where you snuff the reaction. All the while, you still have the capabilities of the larger “Mac truck” when you need to crank it up. When cranked up the cat stoves are still plenty efficient and pass all emissions testing. The owners manuals for the 20 and 30 box stoves tell you their range of output levels in btu per hour. You can see there that both are quite good at low and slow but the 30 can also get a bit hotter. Honestly, my princess (similar to a 30) runs on low about 95% of the time.

The fireview is also a very good heater. The IS from Woodstock has good control too but the stoves from that company look a bit weird. Same could be said of some of the BKs!
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Strongly recommended and in the manual too.

All of these high efficiency stoves make low flue temperatures when cruising efficiently so an insulated chimney is very helpful to maintain draft and minimize creosote accumulation.
 

weatherguy

Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
5,829
Central Mass
The BK is a mack truck and economy car all in one, that said I have a Woodstock PH and love it. The only difference between the stoves is the longer burn time you'll get with the BK.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,567
South Puget Sound, WA
The BK is a mack truck and economy car all in one, that said I have a Woodstock PH and love it. The only difference between the stoves is the longer burn time you'll get with the BK.
There are quite a few other differences, primarily that many recent Woodstocks are hybrids.
 

From Away

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
37
Central Maine
Thanks guys! This is all very informative. I think I need to take a step back here and get educated. So if I look at various stoves from Woodstock and Blaze King, and look at the btu ouput, I am confused.

#1- Woodstock recommends the Fireview at "900-1600 sq. ft. with a btu output of 7,606-46,460/hr (per EPA tests)"
#2- Woodstock also recommended the Absolute Steel at "up to 1,800 sq.ft. with a btu output of 10,000-48,000/hr (per EPA tests)
#3- Blaze King recommends the Ashford 30.2 at "1,100 – 2,400 sq. ft. with a btu output of 11,993 BTU's per hour for up to 30 hours and 35,980 BTU's per hour for 10 hours, max 50,000 btu"
#4- Blaze King also recommends the Ashford 20.2 at "900 - 1,500 sq. ft. with a btu output of 11,342 BTU's/h for up to 20 hours and 28,355 BTU's/h for up to 8 hours, 39,000 max btu"

So if you take the low btu output of the Fireview at 7606, and the high btu output of the BK Ashford 30.2 at 50,000 it doesn't make sense to me. These were stoves recommended to me directly from the companies themselves. Here is where I am getting mixed up, Woodstock said the Ideal Steel would be too much stove as well as the Progress Hybrid, but the Ideal Steel runs at a btu output of "9,323-43,263/hr (per EPA cord wood 2020 tests) and heats up to 2200 sq. ft.. That falls within the btu output of the Absolute Steel! But, the Absolute Steel has the higher btu output of the two, but states it heats less sq. footage (1800 sq. ft.)!

So, what do I go off of, square footage or btu output? Or both somehow?

Maybe you all can straighten me out, cause I am confused. Please teach me how I can take my floor plans that I posted above, with the house specs., and find out what I need? Do I go by btu output or is there something else I should be looking at?

Please educate me on this so I can make the right decision. Again, this is my shot at getting what I want and I want to get what will work, both low and slow when needed, but easily heat the house.

Thanks again, you are all helping me alot here. I just need to figure out what will work so I can get something ordered. Both companies said 6-8 week lead time.
 

Rearscreen

Minister of Fire
Dec 21, 2014
755
Vermont
Hmmm, I naturally go for the "pick up in NH no tax" thing.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Thanks guys! This is all very informative. I think I need to take a step back here and get educated. So if I look at various stoves from Woodstock and Blaze King, and look at the btu ouput, I am confused.

#1- Woodstock recommends the Fireview at "900-1600 sq. ft. with a btu output of 7,606-46,460/hr (per EPA tests)"
#2- Woodstock also recommended the Absolute Steel at "up to 1,800 sq.ft. with a btu output of 10,000-48,000/hr (per EPA tests)
#3- Blaze King recommends the Ashford 30.2 at "1,100 – 2,400 sq. ft. with a btu output of 11,993 BTU's per hour for up to 30 hours and 35,980 BTU's per hour for 10 hours, max 50,000 btu"
#4- Blaze King also recommends the Ashford 20.2 at "900 - 1,500 sq. ft. with a btu output of 11,342 BTU's/h for up to 20 hours and 28,355 BTU's/h for up to 8 hours, 39,000 max btu"

So if you take the low btu output of the Fireview at 7606, and the high btu output of the BK Ashford 30.2 at 50,000 it doesn't make sense to me. These were stoves recommended to me directly from the companies themselves. Here is where I am getting mixed up, Woodstock said the Ideal Steel would be too much stove as well as the Progress Hybrid, but the Ideal Steel runs at a btu output of "9,323-43,263/hr (per EPA cord wood 2020 tests) and heats up to 2200 sq. ft.. That falls within the btu output of the Absolute Steel! But, the Absolute Steel has the higher btu output of the two, but states it heats less sq. footage (1800 sq. ft.)!

So, what do I go off of, square footage or btu output? Or both somehow?

Maybe you all can straighten me out, cause I am confused. Please teach me how I can take my floor plans that I posted above, with the house specs., and find out what I need? Do I go by btu output or is there something else I should be looking at?

Please educate me on this so I can make the right decision. Again, this is my shot at getting what I want and I want to get what will work, both low and slow when needed, but easily heat the house.

Thanks again, you are all helping me alot here. I just need to figure out what will work so I can get something ordered. Both companies said 6-8 week lead time.

Have you found the EPA list yet? Go there and skip all the marketing BS. You will get comparable numbers, current numbers, accurate efficiency numbers for the tax credit, and consistent presentation of the specifications for comparisons. Ignore emissions ratings, they’re all excellent if they’re legal for sale.

Don’t worry about SF heated, you’ll notice that this spec is not in the EPA list because it’s a dumb marketing specification and misleading.

The range of btu outputs is the most important specification. You want a stove with a range that will match your homes heat needs throughout the heating season.

Note that the user selects the desired output within the btu range so the maximum, or minimum, may never be used. You just adjust the stove output within the available range to match your needs. Obviously, a stove with a wider range of outputs is a more versatile tool. Imagine an oven that only baked at 325-350 vs. one that did 200-500.

Of course it is better to oversize than to undersize. Most of us could make any stove work to heat our homes unless it was just stupid small.
 
Last edited:

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,932
Long Island NY
The square footage does not really say much as it depends on the climate, insulation, layout (walls or open) etc etc.

If this is an existing home you could calculate how much BTUs you use in your current heating system (e.g. gallons of oil used per month, times their btu content) and see how much that boils down to per hour to compare to a stove's output.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
The square footage does not really say much as it depends on the climate, insulation, layout (walls or open) etc etc.

If this is an existing home you could calculate how much BTUs you use in your current heating system (e.g. gallons of oil used per month, times their btu content) and see how much that boils down to per hour to compare to a stove's output.

They also have heat loss calculators online for sizing heating equipment where you can determine the heat loss from your home at desired interior and exterior temperatures but you need to spend some time on the inputs.
 
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From Away

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
37
Central Maine
I'm glad I came here to Hearth.com! Highbeam and Stoveliker thanks for the information. I thought the btu is what I needed to be looking at. We just moved into this house in March, so unfortunately I have nothing to go off as far as heating history. I am going to see what I come up with for calculators online regarding the heat loss. I spent some time on it this morning, but came up with 24,668 btu as being what is needed. But that does not take into consideration heat loss, etc..
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I'm glad I came here to Hearth.com! Highbeam and Stoveliker thanks for the information. I thought the btu is what I needed to be looking at. We just moved into this house in March, so unfortunately I have nothing to go off as far as heating history. I am going to see what I come up with for calculators online regarding the heat loss. I spent some time on it this morning, but came up with 24,668 btu as being what is needed. But that does not take into consideration heat loss, etc..

How can it not take into account heat loss? 25k btu per hour constantly is a pretty hefty demand but if you input the worst case scenario with cold weather in Maine it sounds like you’re pretty close. The stoves you’re looking at are all very good at constant output during a burn cycle.

I would love to try a Woodstock but they have some archaic hearth insulation requirements and shipping to the pnw is expensive. Owners rave about them.
 
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From Away

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
37
Central Maine
How can it not take into account heat loss? 25k btu per hour constantly is a pretty hefty demand but if you input the worst case scenario with cold weather in Maine it sounds like you’re pretty close. The stoves you’re looking at are all very good at constant output during a burn cycle.

I would love to try a Woodstock but they have some archaic hearth insulation requirements and shipping to the pnw is expensive. Owners rave about them.

I tried multiple calculators with heat loss being calculated in and come up with an average of 31,148 btu. Like you said Highbeam, that seems pretty hefty. I mean, that sounds high, but I really don't know what I am talking about. One calculator actually allowed me to set outside temp. and inside temp.. Interestingly enough, Woodstock has a sizing chart and for the zone I am in up her in Maine, it was around 35-37,000 btu. So, I think the heat loss calculators are close with their chart. Either way, if I only have to go off of btu output and am at an average of around 31,000 btu, and using the epa list to narrrow it down, it opens my options way up!

I am learning alot here! Thanks for being patient with me! It is all new to me!
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,309
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I tried multiple calculators with heat loss being calculated in and come up with an average of 31,148 btu. Like you said Highbeam, that seems pretty hefty. I mean, that sounds high, but I really don't know what I am talking about. One calculator actually allowed me to set outside temp. and inside temp.. Interestingly enough, Woodstock has a sizing chart and for the zone I am in up her in Maine, it was around 35-37,000 btu. So, I think the heat loss calculators are close with their chart. Either way, if I only have to go off of btu output and am at an average of around 31,000 btu, and using the epa list to narrrow it down, it opens my options way up!

I am learning alot here! Thanks for being patient with me! It is all new to me!

Remember, that 31k constant output is only needed on the worst day of the year.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,117
central pa
How can it not take into account heat loss? 25k btu per hour constantly is a pretty hefty demand but if you input the worst case scenario with cold weather in Maine it sounds like you’re pretty close. The stoves you’re looking at are all very good at constant output during a burn cycle.

I would love to try a Woodstock but they have some archaic hearth insulation requirements and shipping to the pnw is expensive. Owners rave about them.
25k is high??
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,473
SE North Carolina
They also have heat loss calculators online for sizing heating equipment where you can determine the heat loss from your home at desired interior and exterior temperatures but you need to spend some time on the inputs.
I tried to do this. I was unsuccessful. Told me I needed a 5 ton AC unit when 3 was working. To many variables. Soil temps matter if you have a basement….


Both companies make great stoves, I’ve owned stoves from both with great results. If it were me I think I’d lean towards the Ashford 30. More control and longer burns for the shoulder season.
Don’t need theoretical heating loads if you have a BK.

BK 30 and be done would be my call if my venting system met their recommended specs.