If I run in room temp, it's room temp/manual. My stove was installed in Jan. 08 and I am still on the original igniter.
The question I have is, "where do you all place the knob"? On the L or the H OR IN THE MIDDLE between the L & H?
I called the tech. where I just bought my XXV and she told me to run the knob(fan control) about halfway between the L & H.
I was running it at High thinking it was putting more heat into the room and less out the pipe but she told me if the fan's on high it will cool the stove too much for an efficient burn unless you're running the stove at a very high thermostat setting.
I'm going to withhold judgement on this on until my spring cleaning. I don't run on auto, ever. I will shut the stove off during the day during shoulder seasons and fire up as necessary at night. Stove is in the basement living area, so it's not mandatory that the lower level is always heated. I'll burn just over 2 tons this winter (very mild) and I don't plan to clean my exhaust until spring. I only have 8 feet of pipe and it's 4 inch, so I shouldn't have an issue with lack of cleaning. In the spring I'll look at the buildup of ash and see if its acceptable. If so, I won't change to auto anytime soon.
To me, it just doesn't make sense to let the stove cool during the heating season, even if the weather is mild. Keeping the stove warm and dribbling a few BTU in the room while the stove is in maintenance burn doesn't seem like a waste. BTU is BTU. Only possible argument is the fact that the stove might burn less efficiently on low than medium or high. Maybe, maybe not.
Furnaces used to be on/off, now there's 2 stage and variable speed systems to keep trickling heat into the living area as it's lost. This prevents the system from cooling resulting in lost efficiency.
Based on my math, 4 bucks a bag for pellets, .75 lb feed rate on maintenance/idle would require 1333 hours of idle time to consume enough pellets to eat up a 100 buck igniter. That's 55 days of idling continuously. I think it would take at least 2 seasons or more to break even, not counting the 70 ish watts of additional energy consumed during each start up. So, 14 starts would consume 1 kW at your local rate.
How fun would it be to build a 500 square foot room inside a climate controlled cold storage facility. Then we could really test all of our different operational methods and hypotheses under strict process control. Hmm, Federal Grant???
I run my 52i on room temp, manual. Feed rate is 3 and temp is set to 75. Distribution fan in the lower - middle setting (because we need to hear the TV too!). The stove is in my family room, heating a rather open main floor of about 2000SQF and most of second floor of about 2300SQF.
Both the furnace fan on the main floor and my heat pump fan on the second floor are set to cycle every 15 minutes. I have a large ceiling fan on the family room distributing the stove heat all over (on heat mode)
What I found is that I get a much more even heat distribution around the house running like this. I only use the igniter to get the stove on once a week, after its weekly/monthly cleanings. its on 24/7 outside of that. my sensor is under the stove and gives me an accurate reading for up to about 25 feet around it with 1-2 degree variation. it may be 75 at the sensor, but then only 73 in the kitchen 50 feet away and only 72 upstairs, etc. So, in reality I don't use the auto shut down feature because of the igniter - its because even on manual, 76 degrees at the stove and low fire I still get heat moving throughout the house.
I just look at the forecast and if the weather is over 50, sunny, etc. I shut down the stove for the day and open a window (shoulder season). This seems to work well for us. But again, we heat a large house.
To me the auto shutdown feature will only make sense when you are heating a smaller area that is well covered by the sensor range. otherwise, the only other benefit of "room temp" is the self throttling of the BTU output.
in my case, it heats 100% of the first floor, and most of my second floor very well - all the way down to about 20F. At that point, the "backup" systems (i.e. my furnace and heat pump) will kick in to supplement sporadically, and the stove will be roaring at 100% (we call it headphones mode). given the fact the stove is a basically a local space heater rated up to 2600SQF in optimal conditions, I don't think its too shabby for one pellet stove. My dealer was shocked to hear the results, said we are getting more then he would expect. I burn a constant 2 bag a day load (about 3.5 tons in so far).
So, no need for "igniterfobia" as I see it. As long as you understand what the settings are meant to do, just run as best fits your house and heat needs.