Hipster 20 / Green Mountain 60 self-install report and first impressions

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wdstack

New Member
Nov 12, 2021
7
Woodstock, VT
Hi all,

I started lurking on this forum when we moved to Vermont and wanted to add a wood stove to the our house, the first home we've ever owned. I am so grateful for all the wisdom shared here over the years. You helped me make an informed decision, and reading the posts here gave me the encouragement to try the install myself.

We are thrilled with our new Ambiance Hipster 20 (unfortunate name notwithstanding) and have really enjoyed getting to know how best to run it.

Here's how we decided what to buy and to install it ourselves.

We visited a hearth store, described what we were looking for, and received an estimate for the work. We liked the look of the Hipster even though I'd never heard of it, and when I got home I did some sleuthing and discovered that Ambiance-branded stoves are made by Hearthstone. From what I can tell, the Hipster 20 is essentially a Green Mountain 60 with the door hinged on the right. (Indeed, the EPA lists them and the Shelburne as the same appliance — with the same 79% efficiency.)

I'm all for supporting local business, but we were disappointed both in the lead times for the install and in the cost of the materials. What sealed it for me was looking up Selkirk Ultra-Temp parts listed on the quote sheet and finding them for sale online for 30 percent to 60 percent cheaper.

We wanted to put the stove in the corner of our living room, on the first floor of a two story house, and we decided that rather than cutting through two ceilings and the standing-seam roof, it would be better to send the stovepipe out the wall and run a class-A chimney up the side of the house. After reading a few posts here about notching soffits vs. installing an offset in the chimney, I decided on an offset to clear the eave. Snow sliding down the roof is a concern where we live, and I didn't want the chimney taking the brunt of it.

We ordered the stove, and I set about buying the double-wall stove pipe, elbow, through-the-wall kit, wall brackets, roof brace and about 20 feet of Ultra Temp chimney. All-in, the parts and stove came to just about $5000, including shipping.

I am not a carpenter, and aside from too many hours of experience removing carpet, tile, mastic and paint to refinish our wood floors, I had never done much in the way of home improvement.

When all the pieces had arrived, it still took me about two weeks of looking at everything and going over how I would begin before I had the courage to start. Part of the challenge was finding the studs under a layer of sheetrock that a previous owner had put up on top of old plaster (the house was built in 1920.) I ended up scrapping plans to get a fancy/expensive studfinder and instead used a powerful magnet on a string to detect lathe nails (another Youtube trick.)

Once I had the location for the hole set, about 6 feet off the floor, I used the pieces of the wall thimble to trace big circles on the wall and on the siding outside. Then I used a 2-inch hole saw and punched through the sheetrock and plaster, and used a battery powered reciprocating saw to enlarge the hole. My wife manned the shop vac to wrangle the dust and the loose-fill cellulose insulation that fell out of the wall.

Once I'd pressed the inside part of the wall thimble into place, I moved outside. Standing on a ladder, I cut away the aluminum siding with aviation snips, then returned to the hole saw and sawzall to cut out the hole. I'd picked a two-day weather window when it wasn't going to rain or get below 40 degrees, but I remember thinking: "Now you've done it. You just cut a foot-wide hole in your wall. In Vermont. In the middle of February."

Gulp.

The installation instructions for the base plate and support were pretty straightforward; I'd made sure the framing of the wall met the specifications, so all I had to do was screw in about 10 2-inch screws to anchor it to the wall, make sure it was level, install the tee, and begin adding sections of chimney. Once I got higher than I was comfortable with on the ladder that I'd borrowed, we rented a boom lift for the installation of the two 30-degree elbows, the 2-foot section of offset, the two remaining 4-foot sections of chimney, the cap and the roof brace. I tightened and re-tightened all the screws, and I applied silicone around the exterior section of wall thimble and around the piece of lateral chimney that penetrates the wall.

With the chimney installed — man, what a relief that was — it was time to wheel the stove into place and assemble the stovepipe. When the stove arrived, we'd broken down the crate and strapped it to a handtruck, so all that was left to do was to pull it up a ramp over two steps and into the house. With just the two of us, this proved ... a bit difficult ... but we managed to keep all of our fingers and toes.

Since the Hipster only requires ember protection and not a hearth with any R-value, we bought a few 16" square soapstone panels to serve as our hearth pad. They were cheaper than going with a custom-cut slab of slate or soapstone, and were easy to manage.

Assembling the stovepipe was difficult, since I found the Selkirk DSP instructions a bit sparse, but eventually we got everything lined up and in place. If you're using a 90 degree elbow to head out the wall, an adjustable section of stovepipe is essential for the vertical run.

We followed the stove instructions and made a very small fire at first, letting it cool back down to room temperature as a way of helping season the soapstone in the stove, and we put down some aluminum foil around the legs, but we did not have any liquid leak out. We're now into our third day of keeping the stove going, and I have loved experimenting with the air control and finding how to keep the stove running hot but not too hot.

Using this set-up, the draft and backpuffing problems that others have described with this stove have been nonissues for us — though I make sure to engage the bypass, open the air control, and crack the door a minute before reloading.

Thanks again for all who contribute to this forum. It is a valuable resource.

IMG-0797.jpg IMG-0805.jpg IMG-0866.jpg firstfire.jpg
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
20,015
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
That ridiculous parts markup is just another way for the installer to make profit. Another penalty for you not doing it yourself. Or another tax. Common in many trades including automotive.
 

MR. GLO

Feeling the Heat
Jan 26, 2021
355
Massachusetts
Nice. How did you install the bars to the metal roof. S5 clamps?

Make sure you watch them during your first snow melt.

Sometimes the bar bends and pushes the chimney a little.
 

snobuilder

Feeling the Heat
Dec 16, 2021
432
WI
So if we need to label you as is common today in the new wave free thinking society, are you a hipster with tools? LOL
 

wdstack

New Member
Nov 12, 2021
7
Woodstock, VT
Nice. How did you install the bars to the metal roof. S5 clamps?

Make sure you watch them during your first snow melt.

Sometimes the bar bends and pushes the chimney a little.
Ooooh man I wish I'd known about these! I just bought some 2-1/2 inch multi-material hex screws and drilled through the roof and into the rafters.
 

MR. GLO

Feeling the Heat
Jan 26, 2021
355
Massachusetts
Ooooh man I wish I'd known about these! I just bought some 2-1/2 inch multi-material hex screws and drilled through the roof and into the rafters.
You might want to get some color caulk in a couple of years and dap it over the screws. Just watch the metal roof panels for movement expansion. If you do have issues with the chimney bars bending, s5 makes snow rails (for the snow) and snow clips for the ice.

I would look into a bracket with spacer (stainless steel) for the fascia after the bend...thats a long distance between the house wall clamp and pipe clamp. looks more than 5 feet. If the snow does bend the bars, that particular chimney section will still be attached.

It possible you could have used the top fascia area for one leg of the support.

It looks great. enjoy..
 

Rob_Red

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2021
378
Southern New England
That ridiculous parts markup is just another way for the installer to make profit. Another penalty for you not doing it yourself. Or another tax. Common in many trades including automotive.
Don’t mean to derail this thread (super nice install) but I have some perspective on this as someone who grew up in the autobody industry and ran a few shops.

I paid a full time guy to manage parts in each of my businesses. This is a skilled job done by a responsible adult who typically has a family. Not only did I pay this person a reasonable salary (about that of an entry level police officer or school teacher) but the business provided him, his wife, his kids with healthcare and a 401k. The REASON this person was needed is because they are a critical part of a TEAM that gets that recked car back as quickly as possible to that single mom who can’t make a living without reliable transportation. I view it as irresponsible to make someone pay for a rental car for even 1 extra minute due to a miss step of one of my shops. Parts procurement is an extremely complex step of the process with todays modern vehicles (a f150 has about 15 different trim levels)

The average net profit in the autobody industry is <10%

So yes we mark up parts but it’s not out of greed or to “tax” people who aren’t handy with a wrench.
 

Max W

Member
Feb 4, 2021
142
Maine
Good looking stove. Congrats on taking the leap. So often a job that looks intimidating becomes plain doable once started.

Very nice country. We’ve passed through many times. You probably figured it out by now but you will want to stay within the speed limit through Bridgewater. Good on the flannel.
 

wdstack

New Member
Nov 12, 2021
7
Woodstock, VT
Is that chimney going to be hard to clean?
I'm new to this, so ... I'm hoping no? I figure I get a long, flexible brush, remove the tee plug, and clean away. I'm anticipating that the offset may give some resistance, but not so much that I won't be able to clean all the way to the top. If that isn't the case, I'll hop on the roof and take the cap off.
 

wdstack

New Member
Nov 12, 2021
7
Woodstock, VT
Good looking stove. Congrats on taking the leap. So often a job that looks intimidating becomes plain doable once started.

Very nice country. We’ve passed through many times. You probably figured it out by now but you will want to stay within the speed limit through Bridgewater. Good on the flannel.
Thanks for your encouraging words.
We were fortunate enough to see an officer running a speed trap the first time we drove through Bridgewater, and it's stuck with me since. Also you've got to stay slow if you're going to scope out the latest curiosities at Hillbilly Recycling.