I upgraded from P43 to P68

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davidfieldsnwa

New Member
Jan 30, 2021
11
Northwest Arkansas
In early January, my wife and I bought a Harman P43 to add another heat source in our 2200sq ft home. At late February, my stove company allowed me to trade it out for a P68 - and I think they gave me a square deal - so I'm thankful (Spavinaw Stove in Gentry, AR). I thought others might be interested in my experience because few people most likely do this - where they've swapped out the small stove for the big stove in a very short amount of time - keeping the same venting, and of course the same house, in roughly the same season of the year - exactly same location. I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of this forum - so thanks for all who interact here. Short version: I really enjoyed both stoves - but after owning the P43 for a bit, I'm enjoying having the larger one. My experience with the P43 included some periods where the outside temps were -14 degrees F (though that's not common where we live) as well as general freezing temps. I enjoyed turning off our central HVAC and seeing how effectively the stove would heat our 2 story 100 year old house.

My wife and I are suckers for the classic design of the P series - since it reminds us of a wood stove we had in a previous house, our first. the 2 stoves look nearly identical, they share the same controls, and basic design. List price the P68 is around 25% more expensive than P43- ish.

Aesthetics - I loved how compact the P43 is - but the flame just looks huge in the P68 - the viewing window is taller. I assumed the 2 stoves would be mirror copies of each other - but the burn pot is a different shape (similar) and of course a bit bigger, wider. Whatever the change - the fire seems twice the size aesthetically in all the heat regimes. We like that.

Cleaning - We've had the P68 for 10 days now and its been considerably warmer, but so far there is less ash hanging around. This is probably because I was having to run the P43 wide open a lot to try to move air and make heat. I'm noticing less ash clinging to the heat exchanger at the top when I scrape it on the P68- maybe because the unit is simply taller and less is moving up to the top. Since we are not having to run the P68 as hard, and it is in Room Temp where its cycling around -

Heating - I am noticing that the P68 makes that pleasant radiant heat far easier and quicker than the P43. I can keep the stove in a low mode where it makes less noise and on a lower temperature setting and we feel warmer in the house than with the smaller stove. That is somewhat important to me because this stove is in the living room and we sit next to it a lot. The distribution fan on the P68 is higher by a few inches and seems more aggressive at high settings - though I'm not sure if its really a stronger unit or not. With the P68 we can more quickly arrive at the "wow that's hot - and it getting hot in here" place - whether I'm in stove or room temp. With the P43 is room temp mode/auto - I frequently set the temperature to far higher than what the room actually was - so that the stove would run hard and get more output. With the p68 - it seems like the temperature of the space the stove is in more closely resembles what I actually set it to.

The hopper is larger on the P68 - and that's been a pleasant change. I felt like the P43 hopper was big but the P68 will let you put almost 2 bags in - so less trips out to where we keep our pellets.

A few negatives - the P68 auger / feed motor is louder - a lot louder than the P43 where it was silent. Hope that doesn't indicate a long term problem. The pellet noise seems the same. Otherwise the noise of the unit seems around the same (combustion, distribution blowers).

Essentially I think I'm experiencing what others have posted frequently on this forum - better to have the heating power and only use a fraction of it, than have a smaller stove that you have to run wide open more. The P43 is rated by Harman between 800 -2800 sq. ft - but my house is on the upper end of that. Don't buy one of these where your home is on the top end of the range! I think I would have been happy with the P43 and I was enjoying it - but I'm enjoying the more powerful unit.

Just in case others are interested in the direct comparison! Thanks all.
 

railfanron

Minister of Fire
Nov 2, 2013
563
Perry MI
Everybody always talks about the stoves sq. ft. rating which actually means nothing. The reason the p43 rating is 800- 2800 is because an 800 sq ft house with no insulation is by far harder to heat than an extremely well insulated 2800 sq ft house. BTU heat loss is what determines how many sq ft a given stove will handle and BTU heat loss is directly tied to how well your house is sealed and how well it's insulated. A correctly sized heating unit will always be more economical to operate than an incorrectly sized unit. That doesn't always mean bigger is better.
Ron
 

Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
802
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
Our P61A is overkill for our place, but it’s very convenient to run it on stove temp at FR 4 and have it toasty in a half hour. IMHO it’s better to have a larger stove and run it at medium than have a smaller stove and run it higher more often
 

railfanron

Minister of Fire
Nov 2, 2013
563
Perry MI
The thing is if a stove is correct for the house it goes in the range that it runs in will be the most efficient. If that happens to be a p43 a p68 will do the job but it won't be running at peak efficiency and as a result it will use more fuel. I have an extremely well insulated 2200 sq ft house and my p43 is in a 26 x 32 ft room with a vaulted ceiling and it takes the room up 20 degrees in a matter of minutes. If I had a p68 it would be short cycling instead of running. Bigger isn't always better.
Ron
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
2,993
South Central NH
I have both a P61a and P43. The P61a can certainly pump out way more heat with less effort, has a much larger flame and of course the larger ash bucket can make it seem as if the ash produced is less. The fire pots are not only a different size, but a different shape - the P43 has a steeper slope but the P61a's is wider. The differences that I find interesting are:
  • The igniter chamber for the P43 fills up with crud fairly quickly while the P61a gets little between cleanings.
  • OTOH, the P43 fines box rarely has fines while the P61a fills up between cleanings.
When I bought my P61a, it was supposed to heat my whole house (600 sq/ft basement and 950 sq/ft main floor). Well, the dynamics of the house did not allow for good heat exchange regardless of what I did with registers and fans, so I put a smaller stove on the main floor. I've thought about selling the P61a and getting another P43 for the basement. But, if the main floor stove is down (like the exhaust blower went out a couple of years ago), the P61a can keep 1/2 of the main floor "warm enough" to vastly reduce the use of the propane boiler.

One result of having the large stove heating a small area is I have to burn cheaper pellets in it (which I don't mind). Most really good pellets just gunk it up. When it was an only stove, that was not the case, so I postulate that the stove runs so short that the exhaust never get a good chance to heat up. With middling pellets, it runs longer so everything is just fine and teh exhaust stays clean. The P43 can burn better pellets without consequences so I can take advantage of CL deals when I can find them.
 

Lineman30

Feeling the Heat
Jul 9, 2010
333
Northeastern Oklahoma
Spavinaw stove company is a great place to do business with. I’ve purchased parts from them and they offer advice or help even if you didn’t purchase the stove from them.
 

Tonyray

Minister of Fire
All good points about the bigger vrs smaller. I think the 61 and 68 have same wide burnpot... only thing i can ad is my P61A has never run past half capacity so imagine my pellet consumption could be lot more than it is.. pushes heat to 2nd floor bedrooms at feed rate #3, half fan speed at 75..runs cleaner and hotter at stove mode than room auto. Prob could have got by with a 50K stove...but prob would have to run higher settings to keep the upstairs bedrooms warm.
 
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Cornman555

New Member
Feb 16, 2021
14
New York
Great comparison. I bought a new P43 in 2010 and it runs non stop 7-8 months of the season. A few months ago a bought a used P68 for a second home. I am still ironing out some issues but agree with most you say. Bigger stove runs smoother and cleaner. One specific part is the angle under the glass, the p43 is less angled and ash will build up there unlike the p68.
Here is my problem. The two stoves use the same distribution blower and the heat manifold is much higher from the larger burn pot in the p68. This requires a larger flame and the use of more pellets. I am all about efficiency and i love the heat these stoves give but the p68 uses way more pellets to get the same heat. Yes the p68 will get you more fire power at the end of the day but at$5.50 ish a bag, at what cost. Hopefully I can get the 68 dialed in better and like it more but for me the 43 is the better option.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
2,993
South Central NH
Ah yes, the angle under the firebox door. You are right, I clean that off whenever I clean the burn pot in the P43. Ash doesn't accumulate on the P61a.
 
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davidfieldsnwa

New Member
Jan 30, 2021
11
Northwest Arkansas
I haven't seen a lot different pellet consumption so far on the P68. Although its been a bit warmer outside, so that may have something to do with it too. Even at the same rate of consumption, I do like the ability to have more pellets in the hopper - that's a nice benefit.

The P68 has wide flat areas on either side of the burn pot. Ash does collect on them and they're awkward to scrape off I find. A slight annoyance. The burn pot seems to collect less ash. However, none below the window like on the P43.
 

Tonyray

Minister of Fire
I haven't seen a lot different pellet consumption so far on the P68. Although its been a bit warmer outside, so that may have something to do with it too. Even at the same rate of consumption, I do like the ability to have more pellets in the hopper - that's a nice benefit.

The P68 has wide flat areas on either side of the burn pot. Ash does collect on them and they're awkward to scrape off I find. A slight annoyance. The burn pot seems to collect less ash. However, none below the window like on the P43.
Just use a paint brush on the sides.. should not be anything to scrape. Just ash there..
 
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Cornman555

New Member
Feb 16, 2021
14
New York
On the p43 the left side flat part is nearly completely blocked by the tube supplying air to the glass wash making it hard to remove ash. The p68 tube is raised up making it easier to get ash to the pan.
 
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bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
2,993
South Central NH
The P68 has wide flat areas on either side of the burn pot. Ash does collect on them and they're awkward to scrape off I find. A slight annoyance. The burn pot seems to collect less ash. However, none below the window like on the P43.

On the p43 the left side flat part is nearly completely blocked by the tube supplying air to the glass wash making it hard to remove ash. The p68 tube is raised up making it easier to get ash to the pan.

I thought I was the only one that found that tube to be in a bad spot. I brought that up once and someone else said they had plenty of room. When I sold my Hastings, I inadvertently kept the scraper that came with it (middle tool pictured). That really helps in just moving the ash so it falls between the shelf and the tube on the P43. And, it is good at moving the ash off the P61a shelves too. Previously I had just used an wide boar bristly paint brush for moving the ash and I still use that when I perform cleanings.

Hastings old scraper.jpg
 

m159267

Burning Hunk
Mar 12, 2009
208
East-Central MO
I brush the ash toward the tube then use a screwdriver underneath the tube to pull the ash into the ash bucket. I do this 3 times to remove the ash from the left flat.
 

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
185
PA
I was looking for a P43, and fortunately the dealer didn't have one in stock... I pointed to the P68 sitting there because it looked the same as a P43 in the pictures. He told me it was a leftover and gave me $500 off. I found out the P68 has a lower BTU output in idle mode, and of course a much higher BTU at max... I'm very happy with it.

If you are used to a wood stove, try setting it to Room Temp ignitor disabled. I run mine that way all the time and love it. If the temp outside doesn't warrant the heat, I'll shut the stove all the way off for several hours at a time.
 

Tonyray

Minister of Fire
Not sure what u mean by ignitor disabled. If u mean with the switch down ( room temp manual mode) the stove will NOT shut off. If there is no demand for heat, it will feed just enough pellets to keep a flame alive or untill it runs out of pellets.
 
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the P68 will let you put almost 2 bags in
You are right - the P68 hopper comes oh so close to fitting two full bags into an empty hopper, but not quite. I have wondered why they don't build a hopper to match the basically uniform bag size. Not a big deal I know. Even when I run the P68 on full throttle overnight in the bitter cold I have never come close to running down a full hopper.
 

SciGuy

Feeling the Heat
Aug 17, 2007
310
Constableville, NY
I found out the P68 has a lower BTU output in idle mode,

It was my understanding that the minimum feed rate for idle on the P68, P61, P43, Accentra etc is .7lb/ hour. Do you have a link to information that states otherwise? Of course any of them will burn 0 pounds per hour is run in room temperature/ auto ignition mode which is the mode I always favor.

Thanks for any information you can share.

Hugh
 

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
185
PA
Not sure what u mean by ignitor disabled. If u mean with the switch down ( room temp manual mode) the stove will NOT shut off. If there is no demand for heat, it will feed just enough pellets to keep a flame alive or untill it runs out of pellets.
Yes, if you read what I said, I said that I run it that way all the time, and I said that "I" shut the stove off for several hours at a time if it's warm outside.
 

SciGuy

Feeling the Heat
Aug 17, 2007
310
Constableville, NY
Yes, if you read what I said, I said that I run it that way all the time, and I said that "I" shut the stove off for several hours at a time if it's warm outside.

So how about the minimum feed rate statement?

Thanks,

Hugh
 
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