New Furnace Day: Drolet Heat Commander

andym

Member
Feb 6, 2020
233
Hicksville, Ohio
Might be easiest to hook the plenum straight into the supply duct like a normal furnace, skip the 6"pipes
QUOTE="brenndatomu, post: 2461679, member: 28195"]
That's a good question...I don't see why you would have too...I'm sure they will still use a standard plenum on the Caddy version when it comes out...which will still be just a different flavor of the same furnace I'd guess...(wood only model Caddy vs Heat Commander)
Thats what I did. I used the plenum that came with the furnace and attached an 8x22 duct to the side. I need to check the static pressure, but I know I've got plenty of airflow. As long as the static pressure is not too high, I don't know why this method wouldnt be acceptable. In most cases it's easier.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

Greg46m

New Member
Nov 4, 2020
2
Edwardsburg, MI
Hey everyone, first I just wanted to say thanks to everybody that contributes to this site. I found the forums last winter when I started looking at buying a cheap Shelter model at Menards. Thankfully I came here first and was quickly educated on how much I probably shouldn't do that.

The idea for a wood furnace came back to mind a few days ago and I started looking and researching again and I think I'll be clicking BUY on one of these Wood Commanders very soon. I can only hope that they learned from some of the pains with the early Tundra's and there won't be cracking problems with this model. Hopefully one of you guys are able to get yours installed and have it running for a few days to be able to speak to the performance.

I haven't seen anyone mention it on here yet but when I looked at Drolet's website, I see they have a $300 rebate available if you purchase a Wood Commander before the end of this month. I also saw a link on MFP's website to a $300 Tax Credit that is available as well, which takes the price of this thing down to $1999.

Looking forward to everything that the new Heat Commander owners have to say about them!
 

laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,515
Ashland OH
I have an 8x18 trunk and a 8" line coming off mine. I would do the same thing with the plenum as I have a main trunk with the size of the home.
 

Greg46m

New Member
Nov 4, 2020
2
Edwardsburg, MI
The idea for a wood furnace came back to mind a few days ago and I started looking and researching again and I think I'll be clicking BUY on one of these Wood Commanders very soon. I can only hope that they learned from some of the pains with the early Tundra's and there won't be cracking problems with this model. Hopefully one of you guys are able to get yours installed and have it running for a few days to be able to speak to the performance.

I haven't seen anyone mention it on here yet but when I looked at Drolet's website, I see they have a $300 rebate available if you purchase a Wood Commander before the end of this month. I also saw a link on MFP's website to a $300 Tax Credit that is available as well, which takes the price of this thing down to $1999.
...
That should obviously say "Heat" Commander, not wood..
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,530
NE Ohio
I see they have a $300 rebate available if you purchase a Wood Commander before the end of this month. I also saw a link on MFP's website to a $300 Tax Credit that is available as well, which takes the price of this thing down to $1999.
Right back there in Tundra territory again...too bad Menards don't handle Drolet furnaces anymore, would probably be another couple hundred off if you waited on a good sale...
 

Gearhead660

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2018
461
Southern WI
The first thing that jumps out at me in that pic from the rear is that the controls box looks to be right where creosote will drip on it from the chimney connector...seems like every Tundra I have ever seen has a black stain on the top of the blower box from that...first fire of the year (at least) always seems to drip a bit...hopefully things are sealed up well enough that any creo juice drip doesn't cause problems. If not, looks like a good place for a metal splash shield?
Got me thinking....Went and looked at mine, no stain. I dont think it has ever dripped.
 

andym

Member
Feb 6, 2020
233
Hicksville, Ohio
I still can hardly believe they actually got them on the market already. What really surprises me is the prices you all are quoting. That sounds too cheap for new technology!
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,530
NE Ohio
That sounds too cheap for new technology!
It appears that its really not that different from the T1, and even more so the T2...minor tweaks, and changed the air inlets around added 2 stepper motors and a controller...the electronics aren't really that expensive either...I replaced a stepper motor on one of the VF200's I had and it was only ~$20...and the temp controllers that many of us were/are using on the Tundra's are under $50...some well under.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

Gbawol42

Member
Dec 16, 2018
102
Northern Michigan
It appears that its really not that different from the T1, and even more so the T2...minor tweaks, and changed the air inlets around added 2 stepper motors and a controller...the electronics aren't really that expensive either...I replaced a stepper motor on one of the VF200's I had and it was only ~$20...and the temp controllers that many of us were/are using on the Tundra's are under $50...some well under.
I think my temp controller was $13, only displays Celsius, lol. Buuuuut it works pretty well once dialed in.
 

FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
143
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
The Heat Commander is in and I got it connected to the chimney this morning. It's first, paint curing fire is underway and I'll connect the ducts after one or two more fume-burning fires.

It's fun to watch it work and it's doing a nice job of holding well-developed secondaries through a long burn. The stepper motors and thermocouples are a big step forward from the Tundra's open-closed thermostat system.

I'm also loving how quiet the blower is.

FYI, this is with a Field Type RC barometric draft control set to hold 0.06" W.C. as measured and verfied with a Magnehelic gauge.

 

Attachments

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,501
Wisconsin Dells, WI
The Heat Commander is in and I got it connected to the chimney this morning. It's first, paint curing fire is underway and I'll connect the ducts after one or two more fume-burning fires.

It's fun to watch it work and it's doing a nice job of holding well-developed secondaries through a long burn. The stepper motors and thermocouples are a big step forward from the Tundra's open-closed thermostat system.

I'm also loving how quiet the blower is.

FYI, this is with a Field Type RC barometric draft control set to hold 0.06" W.C. as measured and verfied with a Magnehelic gauge.


You actually built a crib?! ;lol
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
143
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
aw
You actually built a crib?! ;lol
If you mean the way the wood is laid, yes...

I've laid N-S, E-W, N-S, kindling, paper to start fires for the decade we've been heating our house with wood. It's always been the bees' knees for one-match, easy fire starts.

Is there something else I should be doing?
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,501
Wisconsin Dells, WI
aw


If you mean the way the wood is laid, yes...

I've laid N-S, E-W, N-S, kindling, paper to start fires for the decade we've been heating our house with wood. It's always been the bees' knees for one-match, easy fire starts.

Is there something else I should be doing?

Gotcha. Yeah, it probably does make starting a fire easy. I thought you did it because that's how the owners manual states how they want you to load. Thinking you would be doing the same for re-loads in the dead of winter. Doing so on hot coals may make things a bit interesting trying not to burn yourself.
 

trx250r87

Member
Nov 30, 2012
80
NE Wisconsin
I spoke to one of the SBI employees a couple days ago and he said a "top down" fire was what he preferred and recommended.

Eric
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gearhead660

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,530
NE Ohio
I spoke to one of the SBI employees a couple days ago and he said a "top down" fire was what he preferred and recommended.

Eric
Reading the manual they say to load it crib style all the time...and they list some very specific spacing, tighter/looser according to how much heat is needed, IIRC. Sounds like a real PITA to me, and I really doubt that many people will load that way all the time...by spring most people just chuck it in there...when most firebricks get broken IMO...if its really important to the way these things work to be loaded that way I think SBI will be disappointed...but I can't imagine they would actually expect that in the real world...my guess is that was the way it was loaded for the EPA test, so that's how they make them write up the operational directions too...gotta keep the lawyers paid... ;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,501
Wisconsin Dells, WI
I spoke to one of the SBI employees a couple days ago and he said a "top down" fire was what he preferred and recommended.

Eric
Reading the manual they say to load it crib style all the time...and they list some very specific spacing, tighter/looser according to how much heat is needed, IIRC. Sounds like a real PITA to me, and I really doubt that many people will load that way all the time...by spring most people just chuck it in there...when most firebricks get broken IMO...if its really important to the way these things work to be loaded that way I think SBI will be disappointed...but I can't imagine they would actually expect that in the real world...my guess is that was the way it was loaded for the EPA test, so that's how they make them write up the operational directions too...gotta keep the lawyers paid... ;)

Asking for a friend.....how does one go about flipping the furnace over after every re-load on hot coals to assure a "top down" fire? ==c :p

;lol
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,530
NE Ohio
Asking for a friend.....how does one go about flipping the furnace over after every re-load on hot coals to assure a "top down" fire? ==c :p

;lol
Well...I'd guess you hafta use telescoping stove pipe so that it will easily swivel, then you get one of those old shaker grate handles for the crank...then you put your back into it...kinda like starting a model T ;) ;lol
1604694382066.png
 
  • Haha
Reactions: JRHAWK9

FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
143
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Gotcha. Yeah, it probably does make starting a fire easy. I thought you did it because that's how the owners manual states how they want you to load. Thinking you would be doing the same for re-loads in the dead of winter. Doing so on hot coals may make things a bit interesting trying not to burn yourself.
Ah! Now I understand!

Yeah, just for the light-off in my top-down fires. Reloads are all N-S. :-D

I think I only have one season of old telephone pole cedar left for kindling. That makes me sad . . .
 
  • Like
Reactions: JRHAWK9

SBI_Nick

New Member
Oct 15, 2020
2
Quebec city, Canada
Hi everyone,

I work at SBI as an engineer. I will represent the team on the forum regarding the technical aspect. We are excited about the new Heat Commander and are looking forward to hear your comments. We have read the comments and we would like to discuss a few.

  • Lifting the furnace
    • Yes, you can carefully lift the whole furnace from the hook welded on the heat exchanger. It has been designed for this, we lift it from there in the factory. We have been using the same hook design since many years without issues.
  • Creosote vs control board
    • We are aware of this risk, it is the reason why the main board is located on the side instead of the middle. What you see on the picture is the supplementary connected device, only few furnaces are equipped with it. With the new furnace design we estimated that the risk is minimal.
  • Fire blanket behind the firebricks
    • It has been removed, with the combustion being regulated it easier to manage the firebox temperature.
  • Gap between firebricks
    • The brick tolerances are pretty large and also we need to keep some gap to adapt to heat cycle (expansion/contraction) of the firebox. For the bottom firebrick once the furnace will have burn few times the ashes will fill the gap and maintain the bricks in place. All the other bricks have brick retainers to prevent them to shift.
  • The door opening
    • We have extended the air jacket to the front, doing that have reduced the door opening, but at the same time we have diminish the heat loss from the front of the unit and increase the efficiency
  • Different brick types
    • This is more of a cost-driven decision, to reduce the number of cut bricks, we use a different size. This brick is not made from the same material, but both offer similar performance.
  • Technology
    • The Heat Commander is much smarter than the Tundra, the air control will self-regulate according to the combustion chamber temperature. Regardless of the input, it will operate under the cleanest operating conditions.
  • Top down fire start-up
    • For a cold start, we believe this is the best way to start a fire. Less maintenance and a fast, intense fire with less smoke (less pollution), but we know that every user has their own way of starting a fire.
  • Loading
    • You can load it as you like. We have tested the Heat Commander with many different sizes and load orientations and it always performs well, thanks to the self regulation. But this is what we recommend for optimum performance.

Thanks,

Nicolas
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,530
NE Ohio
Welcome to Hearth @SBI_Nick ! Good to see some SBI reps participating on here again! Can't wait to hear some feedback from these guys on the HC...got to get rid of these dang 70*F + temps we've been having 'round here though! ;lol
What's your feelings about a person hooking the plenum up direct to a main supply (trunk) duct, by-passing using all the little 6" pipes?
 

FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
143
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Thank you for the detailed reply, @SBI_Nick !

Our Heat Commander is connected to our (new) supply and return trunks and I just lit off a small load to test static pressures and balance the registers. This is what it looks like an hour into the burn. The furnace is doing a wonderful job maintaining the secondaries.

 

hockeypuck

Feeling the Heat
Sep 6, 2009
347
south central NH
aw


If you mean the way the wood is laid, yes...

I've laid N-S, E-W, N-S, kindling, paper to start fires for the decade we've been heating our house with wood. It's always been the bees' knees for one-match, easy fire starts.

Is there something else I should be doing?
Top down fire for the win. Nice work!
 
  • Like
Reactions: FixedGearFlyer

trx250r87

Member
Nov 30, 2012
80
NE Wisconsin
While the manual for the Heat Commander states average power consumption is 330 watts, I'm measuring closer to 380-385 watts using a Kill-A-Watt measuring device. Maybe Canadian power is different from USA power?

Eric
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,530
NE Ohio

RockyMtnGriz

Member
Apr 19, 2019
87
SW Montana
Could be, you shouldn't believe everything you read in the marketing materials. Also, could be, that was recorded at the optimum static pressure in your output ducting. If that's low, the power required to run the blower motor will go up. Nothing wrong with that, really, as you'll be circulating more air, but it will affect the power draw from the blower motor. Kind of like the difference of running the blower on medium vs. high.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle