Is this the right stove for me?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

blamus

New Member
Jan 25, 2022
17
Boulder CO
Hi all, this is my first post ever in a wood stove forum. Because I've never had one. I've used a few in airbnbs.

I've narrowed down my search to the Drolet deco II ($1300). Assuming its a well designed, decent quality hunk of metal, I don't actually know if it suits my practical needs. Which is why I'm here asking. Looks wise its pretty much the only one I like in the space that does not cost more than a used car!

Also I want to know if I should use a Vacu-stack cap. I get 20-40mph gusts a few days a month. 100+mph last month (that sparked the fire storm that burned down 1000+ homes in CO)

Background:

I have a great room (18' tall) lined with window walls. Great views in the mountains. A living room layout that makes a TV and even a wood stove look like an afterthought. Its very contemporary, somewhat minimalist, industrial with rustic elements. Exposed raw steel i-beams and columns everywhere. Floor to ceiling window walls and some wood accent walls. Anyway thats the interior design part. Naturally a modern looking stove is what fits the space. clean lines (stuv 16? osburn inspire? MF Nova?) or slim and tall (Stuv 30, nectre N65, Morso etc.) Of course, the more modern looking stoves are $3-6k+, with $1500 pipe parts and $2500 install (avg for the area). Expect $10k for stove installed is what I was told. My car is worth less than that today.

No I'm not strapped for cash, I just enjoy living somewhat frugally, and prioritize spending my money on people around me. I'm also an engineer who likes reasonable things, logical choices, and efficient systems. This is why I'm picking the Deco II, at 1/2 to 1/4 of the cost, for 80-90% of what I want in terms of looks and style.

I'll be using this stove when Im bored, or when I have guests. So its not for full time heating. I do want it to be a capable heater though as it should also serve as a backup heat source during power outages. This is an all electric home in the mountains, power outage happens. It needs to be somewhat low profile, as the living room isn't huge, and like I said, the layout of the room doesn't really fit a giant stove that sticks out a lot. It will sit in front of a floor to ceiling window too.

Its an open floor plan of about 1000sqft, with 1/2 of that double height space. Its all connected to a Den on the upper floor. so total connected sqft is more like 1500sqft, with 500 of it double height (18' as opposed to the normal 9') My Manual J calcs show I'll need about 18kBTU/h to heat that space (with heatpumps), while the connected den about 3kBTU/h. Thats not taking the stove into account.

I've also looked into >75% efficient stoves to get the 26% tax credit, but the options are too limiting. Not only are most options $3k+, they are mostly very traditional looking and large. Wide ones I can live with, its for looks mostly anyway so a wide viewing glass is great, but most large stoves are very deep and sticks out a lot! Here are some I have considered:

1. The most affordable one is a Pleasant Heath 2200, but the brand seem to have a lot of bad rep in terms of build quality, and maybe even design. I don't hate the pedestal version looks wise and can be had for $1000. The legs version even on sale for $800.
2. The quadra fire discovery is workable in terms of looks and cost around $2500.
3. The Lopi Evergreen ($3000?) looks similar to the Pleasant Heath, but its company Travis industries has terrible reviews (on google).
4. The Morso 6100 series look great (6140/3/8) but it really is a tiny stove, and its hard to find, I dont even know the cost, if any place sells one. Almost exactly what I want in looks, but basically just a piece of active decoration.
5. The Arada Farringdon 16 ($3000) is another good looker. Amongst the top of my list if I decide $3k is the right amount to spend.
The rest are either too expensive or too traditional.

What really hurts is the installation. When its all said and done, by a local professional installer, probably around $5k, thats ALOT more than the stoves on my radar. Almost makes me want to spend more on the stove, but when I dig deep and think about it objectively, the more expensive stoves just looks a bit more sexy, all other performance parameters are comparable. (actually the modern expensive ones usually have smaller fire box etc.) I have the option to "DIY" the stove install, with help from my carpenters who have also installed many wood stoves over the years. A day of 2 of them cost me about $1000. Pipe parts still about $1500. I can potentially save $2500. But if I get the 26% tax credit, that difference shrinks.

As a thought exercise,

1. lets say the heating capability isn't priority and I pick the Farringdon 16, at $3k, professional install 5k, after 26% credit = $6000. DIY = $4300
2. Lets say I go cheap and get the Pleasant Heath $1000, Pro install after credit = $4500. DIY $2850. (assuming tax break still applies to $1500 of pipe parts?)
3. Go with the Drolet Deco II with no tax break, pro install = $6300, DIY = $3000

So maybe the drolet only makes sense to do the DIY install?

What I want to know is -

1. Is the Deco II a good stove? Anyone with first hand experience?
2. Is it easy to work with/maintain/clean etc?
3. Does the window stay clean (i.e. like the ones with an effective air wash design)
4. Will it heat my space at a pinch?
5. Where should I put it?
6. Is Drolet much better than Pleasant Heath?
7. How does the Farringdon 16 compare?
8. Should I have a stove at all!? Ventless alcohol fireplaces are pretty sexy too! But who wants to burn alcohol just to look sexy?
9. What would you do?
10. Do I need a Vacu-stack? Any better equivalents/solutions?

Here are some photos, with options of where the stove can be. (that large opening is a 4 pane patio door out to a concrete deck still to be poured).

PS. I'll say it, I'm putting every penny I own into this house, but I'm comfortable doing it because its the best investment of my life, a good debt, and appreciating asset. My car, pretty much the opposite! The stove, well, its part of the house, so I don't want to go cheap, but I do want to spend logically, decent looks that suits the space, functions well within its designed capabilities, at a reasonable cost. Not asking too much am I? :rolleyes:

PPS if you think I'm over analyzing, I made a spreadsheet and decision matrix when I bought my now worthless car!
IMG_20210513_152348~2.jpg IMG_20210513_152327.jpg IMG_20210513_124814.jpg IMG_20210512_172706~2.jpg IMG_20210512_172527~2.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:

john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
756
Wildwood MO
Sounds like you will need a fairly large stove . I run 2 cuft inserts and would not want anything smaller than that especially if your goal is 24/7 heating. With the industrial rustic look you might want to look at the Woodstock Ideal Steel and it can be customized for your taste.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jalmondale

WesM

New Member
Nov 13, 2021
31
Maryland USA
I'm a machinist, so I appreciate precision/quality when I see it and the pleasant hearth stoves I saw at Lowes just did not do it for me. I ended up buying a Drolet Columbia II and its a much better built stove than any of the pleasant hearth products I saw. Total install for the Drolet as a DIY was about $1900 ($1000 Stove, $380 SS chimney liner kit, $310 double wall stove pipe kit and $189 liner insulation) minus a $500 state tax credit.

I got my stove and double wall pipe from myfireplaceproducts.com. No tax or shipping charges and they were the only ones who had the stove I wanted in stock too. I just got mine installed, so no performance comments yet.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bholler

blamus

New Member
Jan 25, 2022
17
Boulder CO
Sounds like you will need a fairly large stove . I run 2 cuft inserts and would not want anything smaller than that especially if your goal is 24/7 heating. With the industrial rustic look you might want to look at the Woodstock Ideal Steel and it can be customized for your taste.
WOW! now THAT is an impressive stove! Huge firebox, great efficiency and emissions, and a reasonable price! And all those decorative bits! So many bits stuck on it, not really my sup of tea. I'm looking for simple forms, clean lines, more minimalist. The Rais Q-tee for example, I'm going to check that out at my local dealer tomorrow. I bet its stupid expensive.

Why do all the modern design stoves have to come from europe? Its either Swiss or Finland or even the UK! Why don't Americans make modern stoves? MF fire nova is a good start I guess.
 

blamus

New Member
Jan 25, 2022
17
Boulder CO
I'm a machinist, so I appreciate precision/quality when I see it and the pleasant hearth stoves I saw at Lowes just did not do it for me. I ended up buying a Drolet Columbia II and its a much better built stove than any of the pleasant hearth products I saw. Total install for the Drolet as a DIY was about $1900 ($1000 Stove, $380 SS chimney liner kit, $310 double wall stove pipe kit and $189 liner insulation) minus a $500 state tax credit.

I got my stove and double wall pipe from myfireplaceproducts.com. No tax or shipping charges and they were the only ones who had the stove I wanted in stock too. I just got mine installed, so no performance comments yet.
Thats really promising for the drolet I have my eyes on. If a machinist is satisfied, thats a great vouch for the quality. Thanks for sharing your views!
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
WOW! now THAT is an impressive stove! Huge firebox, great efficiency and emissions, and a reasonable price! And all those decorative bits! So many bits stuck on it, not really my sup of tea. I'm looking for simple forms, clean lines, more minimalist. The Rais Q-tee for example, I'm going to check that out at my local dealer tomorrow. I bet its stupid expensive.

Why do all the modern design stoves have to come from europe? Its either Swiss or Finland or even the UK! Why don't Americans make modern stoves? MF fire nova is a good start I guess.

Look at the BK Chinook for modern lines. Or the boxer. Maybe out of your price range or otherwise not suitable, but American modern stove design...
 

blamus

New Member
Jan 25, 2022
17
Boulder CO
Oh I played with the Boxer. Its definitely more my style, and it qualifies for the tax credit. But since I'm using this MOSTLY for ambiance, aren't cats more complicated to run and needs replacements? Do non-cats have prettier flames?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
Cats are not more complicated (imo), but do need replacement, and there are less flames unless you run it high - in which case an appropriately sized tube stove is a good way to go.

Just wanted to show some modern design in the US. Not pushing to bk.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jalmondale

john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
756
Wildwood MO
The Ideal steel may be more appealing plain I like it better more simple also look the new Drolet cast iron stove Cape Town 1800 and check out Osburn Inspire and Matrix
Here is a pic I found of a basic Ideal steel

91183793_10221744031338216_1617960716373852160_n.jpg
 

blamus

New Member
Jan 25, 2022
17
Boulder CO
The Ideal steel may be more appealing plain I like it better more simple also look the new Drolet cast iron stove Cape Town 1800 and check out Osburn Inspire and Matrix
Here is a pic I found of a basic Ideal steel

View attachment 290790
Thats MUCH cleaner. Thank you for the pic, I'll think hard on this one. I want to ask, with these "hybrid" models, does it mean I can bypass the cat, and effectively run it as a normal secondary burn stove with comparable flames and efficiency/emissions as non-cat EPA stoves? And I assume bypassing the cat also allows it to live longer?
 

john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
756
Wildwood MO
The Cat is usually bypassed on start up and reload. The stove will use both secondary and cat under normal operation, I would use the cat cat and dry wood for optimal efficiency and to help keep your chimney clean. With dry wood and proper burn techniques the cat should last several yearrs.
 

jalmondale

Member
Dec 16, 2021
113
NY
Just a quick note about cat longevity - I think they're typically expected to last 6 years and cost a few hundred (depending on your manufacturer - the one for my stove is $160). I think sometimes the internet overly-vagues that process and makes it sound like you're spending $500 to replace it every year.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
Cat longevity is not (and should not) be counted in years. If you burn only weekends or 24/7, the number of years will be very different.

My cat (and I believe all cats are similar in this respect, if treated properly) has a life expectancy of around 12 000 hrs.

If you burn 24/7, that's 500 days. So about 2 years for a full time burner burning 8 months a year. That's a long burning season, so I guess most 24/7 burners will use about 3 years per cat. Scale this with how far you are away from 24/7 burning.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jalmondale

blamus

New Member
Jan 25, 2022
17
Boulder CO
The Math makes sense, a few days a week will stretch it out to 6 years or so. Thats totally reasonable for <$200. Small concerns are things like continued support (they keep making the same cat for you 20 years down the road etc.) A bigger concern, well, not concern but I'd like to find out, the difference in terms of what the flames look like - if the cat slow burn is more of a big pile of smoldering coal vs a non-cat brighter vivid flames, then that matters of ambiance is a priority. I always made fun of how there are 2 hour long youtube vids of fire in a fireplace that you can put on your TV. Now i'm searching for flame vids on youtube!!! Is there a noticeable visual difference?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
Yes, it is different. A tube stove will have flames (likely except for at the end, the coaling stage). A cat stove can have flames if one runs it hot. Those flames look different. Not as "gates of hell" turbulent vigorous as a tube stove. More blueish, northern light type secondary, psychedelic (in my stove).
And it's hot then.

On lower outputs a cat stove will have few (whispy) or no flames.

If (traditional fireplace) looks are important, I think it's better to go with a non-cat.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
As an example this is my stove running at about 75 percent open (so pretty high). Despite the quiet look, It's so hot in front of the stove that my hands and face start to hurt after sitting there for a minute. (I run this way because I heat from the basement; it'd be far too hot for a living room install).
 

Attachments

  • VID_20220127_114435170.mp4
    7 MB · Views: 0

WesM

New Member
Nov 13, 2021
31
Maryland USA
Thats really promising for the drolet I have my eyes on. If a machinist is satisfied, thats a great vouch for the quality. Thanks for sharing your views!
Yea it was a few things on the pleasant hearth stoves that bugged me. Things like a lot of weld splatter and welds that looked like a 1st year tech school kid had done them, also the sharp edges that should have been deburred made it look lower quality.

I kind of took a chance on the Drolet, since I did not have a local place to check them out. I am very pleased with what I got though. Clean edges, welds all look top notch and what splatter there was is cleaned up. Definitely seemed like Drolet took a little more care in finishing their stove and is a higher quality product in my opinion. For the price I don't think I could have done better than the Columbia II.
 

jalmondale

Member
Dec 16, 2021
113
NY
Cat longevity is not (and should not) be counted in years. If you burn only weekends or 24/7, the number of years will be very different.

My cat (and I believe all cats are similar in this respect, if treated properly) has a life expectancy of around 12 000 hrs.

If you burn 24/7, that's 500 days. So about 2 years for a full time burner burning 8 months a year. That's a long burning season, so I guess most 24/7 burners will use about 3 years per cat. Scale this with how far you are away from 24/7 burning.
Good to know! Mine comes with a 3 year free replacement warranty, with discounts on the replacement for between 4 and 6 years, so I figured they expect most of the cats to last 6 years or so (although checking the manufacturer website, they also say 4-5 years in an faq).
 
  • Like
Reactions: stoveliker

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,250
Massachusetts
Here's some footage of my Osburn 1600 tube stove running so you have an idea versus what a cat stove looks like. Osburn stove are basically fancier versions of Drolet. Think car trim trim levels. They are both made by SBI who I've had great interactions with when I needed something. I would recommend their products.

 
  • Like
Reactions: stoveliker

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
2,406
SE North Carolina
I have a 1.7 and a 2,4 cu ft stoves. What ever you don’t go smaller than 2.2. Looks like you will have access to a lot of pine. It burns hot and fast. Drys fast too. I could make an argument for a BK if you were to burn mostly pine.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,250
Massachusetts
I have a 1.7 and a 2,4 cu ft stoves. What ever you don’t go smaller than 2.2. Looks like you will have access to a lot of pine. It burns hot and fast. Drys fast too. I could make an argument for a BK if you were to burn mostly pine.

I 100% concur with this. My Osburn 1600 is 1.85 cu ft and I'd kill for an extra 0.5 cu ft. It would just make reloading a lot easier, especially when using uglies, and give that much longer burn times. I knew this going in but we were very limited due to the odd dimensions of our fireplace.
 

shoot-straight

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2012
770
Kennedyville, MD
Yep, if youre burning pine, go with the BK!!!! Not cheap but great customer service. Some of the best I have experienced. Woodstock is supposed to be great as well.
 

davo1028

Member
Feb 5, 2019
28
Central OH
I'll second the recommendations for Drolet and Osburn stoves. Most (if not all) of them are non-cat, so like has been discussed, the flame visuals are better. They hold up well and have a good reputation for build quality and longevity. Also, they are easy to buy parts for straight from the manufacturer.

Check out the Osburn Matrix stove - it has a more modern look which seems to match what you would like. It costs around $3000, but if you wanted to burn more often than just occasionally you could potentially recoup some money with less heat pump runtime.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
In regards to the firebox size, I would look for a stove that you can load N/S (i.e. the cut ends of the splits facing the door) - or allows both E/W and N/S.

N/S loading is easier, and it's easier to stuff the box as full as possible (longest burns).
If you can do both, you also have the option to slow the burn a little by going E/W.

My point of view on this is that you'll be reloading the stove every day. Not having to reach in to put a first split E/W in the back of the stove (over hot coals), but just being able to stick them in N/S is a major convenience.

Not to say that E/W loading can't be done nicely (see the exceedingly well-stuffed boxes of @Caw elsewhere by using rectangular splits) - all I am saying that I have done both, E/W and N/S. I would never buy a stove that can't do N/S (if I have a choice - sometimes, especially with inserts, choice in dimensions is limited).