Help Picking Stove - All-Brick Rancher

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EmberEnergy

New Member
Aug 18, 2021
20
Silver Spring, Maryland
Hello everyone,

Sorry for the lengthy post but I wanted to provide helpful info. I've been lurking and reading and absorbing and want to come out of hiding now to get some advice from some experienced burners (I am newb at this). Early this spring 2021 we moved into our first home and I'm hoping to heat primarily or as much as possible with wood - it's been a dream of mine for awhile.

House stats:
All-brick rancher - 2400sqft total, 1300sqft main/ground level w/ 850sqft open area, 1100sqft mostly finished basement. I assume house is leaky. No insulation except attic on main level, and minimal wall insulation in basement. Layout attached. Orange and Blue are the heatpump HVAC supply and return main trunks, Green is where the existing stovepipe is located that isn't practical to use unless I did a basement re-model.

Starting from the top, our masonry chimney services both a wood-burning fireplace on main ground level, with an ash chute, down to the only unfinished portion of the basement (utility room) where an un-insulated and separate 6" stove pipe exists from previous mechanical needs, probably a furnace of some kind.

Masonry fireplace opening is 34.25Wx28.75Hx24.5"D

We have a 2-ton heat pump which our early-spring experience this year shows us that the dead of winter the heat pump won't be sufficient. The ductwork is shoddy, and leaky (and they just drywalled over it, which is super). I intend to fix the ductwork over the next several months and add dampers, re-balance, etc, which I hope will help my fight with physics having the stove on the main level.

Predicted stove use: The stove will be a necessity for heat when it's below 50deg F and we will be burning 24/7 DEC-FEB and maybe 50% of time in shoulder seasons. I'm thinking low, slow, and long burns are a priority over hot, fast and aesthetically pleasing burns, so I'm thinking catalytic, then hybrid in that order. It would be great to load a stove 1 time per 24hr period or longer. The longer between loads the better.

Other wants: Intending to install a stove ASAP into main level masonry fireplace and claim 26% tax credit for 2021. Unfortunately we don't have space for a fully outward freestanding stove on the main level and since the existing stove pipe in the basement is in the utility room, the basement really isn't an option for us - bummer cause now I have to fight physics. I'd prefer the stove to protrude from the fireplace opening so we can benefit from exposed stove area, or fit a freestanding inside.

Stoves on my mind:
--Blaze King Princess 32 - It won't fit in our masonry fireplace opening and we can't use it in the basement utility room. I wish,,,
--Buck 91 as an insert - seems once you get the cat going, it doesn't have to be so big and bad and you could load it up and run it on low at. Buck says it's low-end is 10,400 BTU and that "low" is the most efficient burn for it. I know the stove is capable of some serious heat, but it seems like low-and-slow with a hot cat is what this stove excels at and has a big firebox to load it up. I'm not sure why this stove can't get the runtimes the Blaze King can get with such a big firebox, or that's what I've gathered is the case. The 8" pipe requirement is a PITA and I have to knock out some terracotta according to my chimney contractor to get a stove liner to fit.
--Kuma Cascade Insert (or Alpine Insert) - flexibility of hybrid could be nice to do some occasional pretty burns
--Hearthstone Clydesdale Insert - hybrid plus burn time seems nice, open to soapstone but not sold on it exclusively, was reading about cracking,,,
--Hearthstone Castleton Freestanding inside fireplace - more soapstone on a hybrid and it just may fit inside our fireplace and perhaps the most aesthetic on this list to me since it's freestanding, but in this list tied with the Alpine for the smallest capacity
--Fireplace X Large Flush Hybrid-Fyre - caught my attention for performance

Anything appreciated, advice, other stoves to look at, corrections to my assumptions.

HouseDrawing2_Annotated.jpg
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,957
Woolwich nj
my friend got the fireplace x installed last year.. loves it.. heats his whole.house.. 2 story colonial. If your thinking about a stove or insert.. you need good dry wood.. no sense in getting a stove and putting wet wood in it.. or you're going to need compressed logs..
 
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john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
542
Wildwood MO
]
-Buck 91 as an insert - seems once you get the cat going, it doesn't have to be so big and bad and you could load it up and run it on low at. Buck says it's low-end is 10,400 BTU and that "low" is the most efficient burn for it. I know the stove is capable of some serious heat, but it seems like low-and-slow with a hot cat is what this stove excels at and has a big firebox to load it up. I'm not sure why this stove can't get the runtimes the Blaze King can get with such a big firebox, or that's what I've gathered is the case.
The blaze king has a thermostatic controlled air inlet damper the buck does not.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,186
SE North Carolina
I have been going down a similar path. Stove vs insert. I pretty much decided on on a Drolet 1800i insert. i have a stove kn the fireplace upstairs and I like it but it’s not a great setup for throwing serious heat. Insert would have been better but I like the looks of the stove. I will try leave the surround off so it looks more stove like. They are usually available from Costco but are out of stock now. It doesn’t qualify for tax credit but it’s cheaper than most stoves with the credit. With what I save I am considering a mr cool diy heat pump for the basement. Based on your list I’d chose the fireplace x or Kuma.

based on what you have said I’d guess you could burn 2-3 cords a year. Blaze king 6” on 24 hour reload won’t happen from December to February. Just not enough heat. Two ton heat pump is 24,000 btu less as temps drop below 45. So my math works out to 8 pounds of wood per hour. And that might not be enough. (2tons isn’t). Point being slow and slow is great in the shoulder season but you have a heatpump. How does it do cooling? (2 ton is really under sized. I think my 3 is undersized down here. Move if into a house where the left a total of 5 space heaters behind should have been a clue)


I really think the heatpump wood stove combo is nice. I have heated pretty much exclusively with wood the last three winters. About 2 cords of not that great (btu) wood each winter 2000 sq ft ranch open ish concept after a few walls came down. I’m going to run heatpump more this winter. We have about 6 cords split and stacked. 3 is ready to burn. It’s a lot of work. I snag anything on the curb on the block and will ask any tree service for free firewood I see in the area. I really need a 6 cord wood shed. And forget trying to buy any firewood to burn this winter. Did that my first year. It sucked. Should have bought a pallet of bio bricks. Nothing worse than watching your new stove smolder and not put off any heat. So frustrating.

just some thoughts
Evan
 

EmberEnergy

New Member
Aug 18, 2021
20
Silver Spring, Maryland
I have been going down a similar path. Stove vs insert. I pretty much decided on on a Drolet 1800i insert. i have a stove kn the fireplace upstairs and I like it but it’s not a great setup for throwing serious heat. Insert would have been better but I like the looks of the stove. I will try leave the surround off so it looks more stove like. They are usually available from Costco but are out of stock now. It doesn’t qualify for tax credit but it’s cheaper than most stoves with the credit. With what I save I am considering a mr cool diy heat pump for the basement. Based on your list I’d chose the fireplace x or Kuma.

based on what you have said I’d guess you could burn 2-3 cords a year. Blaze king 6” on 24 hour reload won’t happen from December to February. Just not enough heat. Two ton heat pump is 24,000 btu less as temps drop below 45. So my math works out to 8 pounds of wood per hour. And that might not be enough. (2tons isn’t). Point being slow and slow is great in the shoulder season but you have a heatpump. How does it do cooling? (2 ton is really under sized. I think my 3 is undersized down here. Move if into a house where the left a total of 5 space heaters behind should have been a clue)


I really think the heatpump wood stove combo is nice. I have heated pretty much exclusively with wood the last three winters. About 2 cords of not that great (btu) wood each winter 2000 sq ft ranch open ish concept after a few walls came down. I’m going to run heatpump more this winter. We have about 6 cords split and stacked. 3 is ready to burn. It’s a lot of work. I snag anything on the curb on the block and will ask any tree service for free firewood I see in the area. I really need a 6 cord wood shed. And forget trying to buy any firewood to burn this winter. Did that my first year. It sucked. Should have bought a pallet of bio bricks. Nothing worse than watching your new stove smolder and not put off any heat. So frustrating.

just some thoughts
Evan

Thanks for your thoughts, and thanks to everyone else thus far also!

I definitely intend to burn only dry, seasoned wood, however, I have not yet thought sourcing it would be a problem, so availability of 15% moisture content to buy I need to look into ASAP. I've seen plenty of firewood for sale in my area but don't know if it's seasoned and I will start checking that now. I have about 2 cords worth of dead ash that was taken down this spring and it's stacked but it's not all split. I have not yet measured the moisture content but was assuming this ash wouldn't be ready this season. Bottom line, I definitely need to get my supply sorted out otherwise agree, a stove won't help.

The heat pump actually does ok in the summer, we keep at 76 upstairs and basement gets lots of leakage and settled cool air. We get extended cycle times out of it which helps fight moisture in the basement and I'm convinced fixing and rebalancing the ductwork will get it to where 2tons can work for us, or at least that's the next step I'm trying. The winter has me concerned if it's our only source of heat due to the effectiveness dropping.

I will post pics of my basement and maybe some of you can see "potential" beyond what I see. I would have like 10 feet of horizontal run to deal with if the stove is placed just outside of the storage room, there is also about 2-3 feet of vertical that could help with that horizontal distance. I think the clearances would be problematic, but I'll post pics.
 
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EmberEnergy

New Member
Aug 18, 2021
20
Silver Spring, Maryland
Here are some pics of the basement storage room w/ the existing 6" un-insulated pipe from the previous furnace or boiler, and the finished living room. I'm not sure if anyone sees freestanding stove potential in this setup. If the stove were to be placed in the living area of the basement, the pipe would need to traverse about 10 feet horizontal and 2-3 feet vertical total to get to the foundation wall pipe provision in the storage room. There is a walk-out of the basement, but the carpet and clearance provisions to make this setup happen seem daunting to me. Please inspire me if I'm missing a golden opportunity to heat from the basement upward.

I just checked a place down the road that I've seen huge stacks of wood sitting out uncovered, but the stacks are not in thin rows and are more cube shaped and we've had a ton of rain recently. They said they don't know the moisture content exactly but that it's seasoned and ready, lol. $350 for oak and $400 for hickory cords. So the strategy would be to pick a piece of wood in the center of a pile split it open and test it and if I'm below 20% it's good to burn.
 

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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,186
SE North Carolina
Please inspire me if I'm missing a golden opportunity to heat from the basement upward.
Wood furnace would be the only real option for the basement I think. Not sure that’s the route I’d go. But ductwork is there. And appears there is space but I’m guessing substantial flue work would be required. I really don’t see that horizontal run a a viable option.
 
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john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
542
Wildwood MO
look for a used englander 50_TRW40 wood furnace with a window also Clayton CFM700 or Ashley AF700 both with windows
 
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EmberEnergy

New Member
Aug 18, 2021
20
Silver Spring, Maryland
look for a used englander 50_TRW40 wood furnace with a window also Clayton CFM700 or Ashley AF700 both with windows

Thanks for this tip. What we're the specs on these that tipped you to recommend them? Can you point me in the direction for how to find the learn more about these kinds of furnaces and what I should look out for?

Does anyone know if using a Princess 32 without the base is a bad idea? My masonry fireplace opening is 29" from floor to the face brick lintel. The classic base PE32 is 30+3/8". If I were able to shave off some height and could even prop it up on thinner firebrick, I think I'd have room to partially recess that unit I to my fireplace so I'd get my freestanding look, long burn times, and save some space. What do you think?
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,186
SE North Carolina
Thanks for this tip. What we're the specs on these that tipped you to recommend them? Can you point me in the direction for how to find the learn more about these kinds of furnaces and what I should look out for?

Does anyone know if using a Princess 32 without the base is a bad idea? My masonry fireplace opening is 29" from floor to the face brick lintel. The classic base PE32 is 30+3/8". If I were able to shave off some height and could even prop it up on thinner firebrick, I think I'd have room to partially recess that unit I to my fireplace so I'd get my freestanding look, long burn times, and save some space. What do you think?
I am quite sure that would void any UL listing of the appliance. You should look for pictures of inserts where they have elected not to install the surround piece that cover the fireplace opening. Only tax credit stove that would fit height wise would be the Jotul F500 with short legs. There may be others.

second reason not tofor the princess is the bypass handle would harder to reach.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,186
SE North Carolina
Thanks for this tip. What we're the specs on these that tipped you to recommend them? Can you point me in the direction for how to find the learn more about these kinds of furnaces and what I should look out for?

Does anyone know if using a Princess 32 without the base is a bad idea? My masonry fireplace opening is 29" from floor to the face brick lintel. The classic base PE32 is 30+3/8". If I were able to shave off some height and could even prop it up on thinner firebrick, I think I'd have room to partially recess that unit I to my fireplace so I'd get my freestanding look, long burn times, and save some space. What do you think?
Something like this.
 
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EmberEnergy

New Member
Aug 18, 2021
20
Silver Spring, Maryland
Something like this.

Yep, that's what it would look like-ish but that particular post was the actual BK princess insert product. I was referring to their freestanding w/o using a base. Their free standing has better efficiency and emissions than the insert so I was chasing those numbers.

Looking more thoroughly at the PE 32 manual, they say one of their base options is to be used before operation of the stove so I guess BK doesn't approve using without one of their base options.
 

BCC_Burner

Feeling the Heat
Sep 10, 2013
450
Uptown Marble, CO
I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the thought processes that must occur in people's heads when they think that they know better than manufacturers and independent testing agencies when it comes to the safety of having a box of fire and odorless poison gas running continuously in their homes for half the year.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,927
07462
Looking more thoroughly at the PE 32 manual, they say one of their base options is to be used before operation of the stove so I guess BK doesn't approve using without one of their base options.
The issue with the BK free stander is that the T-stat air control is located in the upper right corner of the stove, the by-pass is in the middle upper portion, with the flue collar flat on the top make it so that it would be almost impossible to adjust the stove if set into a fire place, unless the fireplace was huge both vertically and horizontally. Additionally since the BK operates very efficiently with the use of the t-stat the free standing units are designed so that the bi-metallic coil is tuned as if the until is out in the open (not enclosed) so if a free stander were enclosed the burns would not function as advertised and you would more then likely be a frustrated stove owner.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,186
SE North Carolina
Their free standing has better efficiency and emissions than the insert so I was chasing those numbers.
Single digit difference efficiency numbers are pretty close to meaningless for the end user. 10% of two cords is 3 big wheelbarrow loads. I’ll burn that in a fire pit without blinking.
I will say this you aren’t the first person to go down this road. At the end of the day there are stoves that can do what you want there are inserts that will work. It’s a fire inside your home there is reason that the UL listing exists. It’s for our benefit. There is place for creativity. Just not when it comes to installing solid file heating appliances. My two cents

Evan
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,526
South Puget Sound, WA
Yep, that's what it would look like-ish but that particular post was the actual BK princess insert product. I was referring to their freestanding w/o using a base. Their free standing has better efficiency and emissions than the insert so I was chasing those numbers.

Looking more thoroughly at the PE 32 manual, they say one of their base options is to be used before operation of the stove so I guess BK doesn't approve using without one of their base options.
In a fireplace, you will want to use the insert. It has the thermostat up front instead of at the back of the stove in the fireplace which is where it would be with a freestander. The heat buildup in the fireplace cavity will throw off its proper operation. Don't sweat the small differences in the numbers.
 
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john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
542
Wildwood MO
If you like Blaze King why not put a Princess 29 in the masonry fire place. The difference of fire box size is a little over 1/3 of a cubic foot yes the efficiency is 5% less but putting a stove in a fire place will cut the efficiency down as well. Princess 29 is 75% HHV so it should qualify for the 26% tax rebate.
 
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EmberEnergy

New Member
Aug 18, 2021
20
Silver Spring, Maryland
Thanks all. I typed out my question about setting the PE32 in the fireplace before catching that note in the PE32 manual. So definitely not the right move to set the PE32 in the fireplace. I didn't know about some of the location of the thermostats though so that was helpful.

I'll stew about this some more and post back.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,186
SE North Carolina
Thanks all. I typed out my question about setting the PE32 in the fireplace before catching that note in the PE32 manual. So definitely not the right move to set the PE32 in the fireplace. I didn't know about some of the location of the thermostats though so that was helpful.

I'll stew about this some more and post back.
My second stew has been cooking two years;)
 

EmberEnergy

New Member
Aug 18, 2021
20
Silver Spring, Maryland
Hello - there has been some progress here, and I wanted to update this thread. If anyone has any thoughts on the condition of this used Kuma Cascade LE, I'd be ears. Dealer says it's in very good shape and I don't know exactly what to look for.

I came across a used Kuma Cascade LE - this stove was installed last year for the previous owner. According to the Kuma dealer that's helping their customer out, the previous owner is an experienced wood burner and the stove wasn't cutting it for his heating needs. Kuma and the dealer agreed to take it back from this customer and resell it to me with a full Kuma warranty. I'm pretty sure I'm going to pull the trigger but here are some pics of the stove in case anyone sees anything concerning. I do see some deposits on the catalytic but it doesn't appear to look like it has signs of over-firing based on example images I've seen.

On another note, I was pushing all of the installers to work with a pre-insulated liner and met pretty consistent resistance (which I've also seen similar accounts elsewhere on this forum). The latest quote I got for an install was the best price out of the 3 quotes I got and I liked the thoroughness he had during his visit compared to the others. He prefers to manually insulate his liners onsite to "custom fit it per job". The pre-insulated offering he could get through his distributer was a "BEST-Flex Model "S" and looked like it was pretty thin and was 7-ply? I have gathered the 2-ply smooth wall stuff is not the way to go so not sure what to say about this 7-ply. I just told him I really want the best draft and durability I can get and if he's confident he can achieve that with the manual wrapping in steel mesh, we can stick with that.

BEST-Flex Liner.jpg KumaCascade_Blower.jpg KumaCascade_Cat.jpg KumaCascade_Front.jpg KumaCascade_Inside.jpg KumaCascade_SurroundBlemish.jpg KumaCascade_Top.jpg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,526
South Puget Sound, WA
The Kuma looks very low mileage. If the price is right then it could be a nice deal.

If the installer has an ovalizer so that the liner is properly and evenly ovalized then there is nothing wrong with that method, especially if the installer installs a good quality heavy liner.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,475
central pa
Best flex is just standard light wall corregated stuff it works but absolutely not the best draft or most durable.

NECS offers pre insulated and uninsulated heavy wall and mid weight liners that are far better on both counts
 
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