My Englander 30-NCH Review (vs. the old Napoleon 1400)

kjayhawk Posted By kjayhawk, Jan 4, 2012 at 3:10 AM

  1. kjayhawk

    Member 2.

    Dec 6, 2008
    North of St. Louis
    We installed the Englander 30 two weeks ago and here are my initial observations (I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this post!):

    1) The Englander really cranks out the heat. We burned the Napoleon for 3 winters without ever needing to wear shorts and t-shirts in our walk-out basement family room, but in the past two weeks, shorts and t-shirts have become standard equipment (I think the reason for this is because the Napoleon is more of a convection stove, resulting in the hot air rising immediately to the ceiling area). The Englander is pure radiant heat. The normal temp in the family room is 80! The upstairs hallway and bedrooms remain in the 73-76 range ... and the kitchen/dining room area on the far end of our 2600 sq/ft. L-shaped house layout remains 69-72. Morning temps upstairs are a bit cooler, but the hallway and bedrooms haven't dipped below 71 in the past two weeks.

    2) The Napoleon's firebox was completely lined with firebrick. The Englander, on the other hand, is only partially lined with firebrick: the top 1/4 of the firebox is simply the steel wall of the stove. I believe this translates into more firebox heat being transferred into the living area.

    3) In regards to burn times, I've been able to coax 15-hour burn times from the Englander (the time between reloads with stove top temps at 200 and enough coals to reload without kindling). The Napoleon could go 10 hours between reloads--which isn't too shabby for a 2.25 cu/ft firebox!

    4) The Englander's firebox is huge. Going from a 2.25 cu/ft firebox to a 3.5 cu/firebox has been a real pleasure. I am not left forcing splits into the firebox for an overnight burn. The Englander manual states that the 30 will handle splits up to 20". Actually it will handle 23" splits n/s with no problem.

    5) The Englander requires less babysitting than the Napoleon. The Napoleon tended to suffer from coal build-up while the Englander seems to burn more evenly ... resulting in fewer coal build-up problems. Also, I've been able to go a week before removing the ashes from the Englander. With the Napoleon, ash clean-out was necessary every three days.

    6) The Englander is quiet. That statement may seem a bit out of place, but the Napoleon would creak and pop quite loudly as it heated up after a reload. The Englander rarely makes any such noise. The Englander's standard blower is another story. Even on low, it is loud. We haven't run the blower on the Englander while we are in the room. It's just too noisy. Perhaps a blower upgrade is in order.

    7) I haven't cleaned out the chimney in the past two weeks, so I cannot comment on the difference in soot/creosote build-up between the two stoves.

    8) The damper/air control is a major difference between the Englander and the Napoleon. With the Napoleon, when the stove top reached 500, we would shut her completely down ... and she would cruise nicely through the entire burn cycle. The Englander is a different story. When the stove top reaches 450, we close the damper/air control 1/4 - 1/3 of the way. At 525-550, we close the damper so that the tip of the spring is even with the ash lip. I think that's about 1/4 to 1/3 open. This enables the stove to cruise between 575 and 625 ... until the final stages of out-gassing (which usually occurs about 4 hours into the burn).

    This is where I've had some problems. At about the 4-hour mark ... with the stove-top temps at 400-ish, I begin to get a thin bead of light grey (almost white) smoke from the chimney. If I open the damper 1/4" - 1/2" more, the smoke dissipates. I would love to hear from other Englander owners in regards to this. Any thoughts?

    9) Because the damper/air control on the Napoleon wasn't as "touchy," we experienced several scary moments of what seemed to be near over-fire experiences (750-775 stove top temps). The Englander is more "touchy" with the damper/air control. This has resulted into a bit of a learning curve with the Englander. On the other hand, the Englander allows the operator to have greater control over the air entering the firebox ... resulting in much more peace of mind ... and a lesser opportunity for an out of control over fire.

    10) In regards to wood consumption and heat output, I am using the same amount of wood in the Englander that I fed the Napoleon. It seems that we are getting more heat from the Englander with the same amount of wood. Perhaps this is due to the previously mentioned firebrick difference in the stoves?

    11) Other than the blower noise, my only complaint about the Englander is its height. Even with the 9" legs, it's short. Very short. I'm 6'3" ... and loading and removing the ashes is a bit hard on the back. The Napoleon was about 4" taller.

    12) Both the Napoleon 1400 and the Englander 30 are fine stoves. The Englander 30 can be had for $899. The Napoleon will run about $1,300 without the blower ... and $1,500 with it. For our home, the Englander has provided a more comfortable, more even heat. The Napoleon wasn't a problem stove whatsoever. It just couldn't do the job of heating 2600 sq/ft. The Englander does ... and we love it!
  2. leeave96

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Apr 22, 2010
    Western VA
    Great write-up! Glad you're enjoying the stove.

    This is my first year with the Englander and we have some things in common.

    Legs are great - stove is a little low in height, but I may make a raised hearth to deal with that down the road.

    Generally, if I'm not in the charcoal stage, my stove will smoke some when the stove top falls below 500 degrees. I try to burn at 550ish on average so that as the fire drops off, I fall into the charcoal stage as the temps come down below 500 degrees. Smoke or no smoke, I was very pleased with the chimney cleaning results a few days ago, 1 quart of very fine creosote after 1 cord of wood.

    The stove is roomy, we load it N/S too and above all else is a heat bomb. The glass really stays clean too.

    I have only been able to fully close the damper and get a smoke free burn once or twice. Mostly, we burn with the spring flush with the lip or between flush and fully closed. Once the damper is set, the stove will cruise for a long time at 550ish temp.

    Happy burning!
  3. Beardog

    Member 2.

    Jan 13, 2011
    NW CT
    Seems like everyone here that has an Englander loves them. Makes me wish I could put one in my basement to see what it's all about.
    UpstateKate likes this.
  4. pen

    There are some who call me...mod. 2.
    Staff Member

    Aug 2, 2007
    N.E. Penna
    For the right or for the wrong, I get the same thing on occasion.

  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart LLC Mid-Atlantic Division 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    It happens with all large deep firebox stoves. It is just too far back there to the back of the firebox for primary air to get the job done. One of the reasons it is so hard for manufacturers to get them EPA certified.

    But also one of the reasons you get such a long coal stage burn. The smoke from mine at that stage goes about fifty feet. My nearest neighbor is three hundred yards away so I get over it. :)

    BTW: It happens with cat stoves at those temps too.

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