New member and new Princess wood stove

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TheProfessor

New Member
Sep 13, 2022
4
PA
New member here, and I'm completely new to wood stoves. I've been doing plenty of reading on this site, and now I have some questions.

First, some info:
I'm located in eastern PA. My house is 1400 sq ft, but has a full finished basement of the same size. It has an old coal cook stove in the basement with a chimney dedicated for it's use. Chimney is brick with an 8" square terracotta liner. The liner is clean, but is cracked in the portion of the chimney that extends above my roof. The rest seems to be in good shape, but I plan to have a pro inspect it and see about repair vs using the stainless chimney pipe - unless you have other recommendations.

Primary heat source is currently oil. My goal is to reduce oil consumption while minimizing time spent fiddling with a stove. I'd also like a backup heat source for power outages and whatnot. I don't have much free time currently. I will make time for the initial learning curve, but I don't want a stove that I have to make constant adjustments on throughout the burn.

I checked stoves/prices at the 2 most local stove shops, and I'm intrigued by the Blaze King Princess 32. It sounds like it practically runs itself, which would be great for my situation, but it's more than I was expecting to spend. The upcoming tax credit is nice though. The local shop is selling the bare bones version for $4005 or with the ash pan for $4234. The fan kit is $413.57.
Does this stove sound like a good fit for me? Is there a cheaper option that will provide similar capabilities? Do these prices seem okay for my region? Is the fan kit considered a "must-have"?

For the record, I'm aware that I need seasoned/dry wood. I'll have to buy it for this season and possibly next season. I have access to all the free wood I could ever use, but I haven't been splitting/stacking much yet. Thanks for any help/advice.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
Yes, it does run itself after the first 30 mins. Longest I ran my Chinook is 36 hrs.
At very low output, at those burn times.
If you are willing to have oil heat modulate a bit on top of a constant wood heat base, this is ideal. Reload every 12 or 24 hrs and have the oil do the rest when needed.

The fan kit is good to have but not necessary. Getting it now means a (tax credit) discount on the fan.

Buying seasoned wood almost invariably gets you wood that is too wet. Buy a pallet of NIELS (sawdust bricks) with the stove for this year while the wood you bought is drying.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
By accounts the Princess is a great stove. If they can deliver one for this winter I would probably buy it. Be aware any wood you buy now has a high likelihood of not being dry enough. I might consider a pallet of compressed sawdust brick/ logs.

While the BKs are great there are non cat options. PE T5 or T6 is tops on my list. If I was doing a BK an insulated liner would on my list of must haves. 8x8 clay it is likely that the clay would need to be broken out to make room for the insulated liner.
 

GrumpyDad

Minister of Fire
Feb 23, 2022
561
Champion, PA
Yes, it does run itself after the first 30 mins. Longest I ran my Chinook is 36 hrs.
At very low output, at those burn times.
If you are willing to have oil heat modulate a bit on top of a constant wood heat base, this is ideal. Reload every 12 or 24 hrs and have the oil do the rest when needed.

The fan kit is good to have but not necessary. Getting it now means a (tax credit) discount on the fan.

Buying seasoned wood almost invariably gets you wood that is too wet. Buy a pallet of NIELS (sawdust bricks) with the stove for this year while the wood you bought is drying.
So let's talk about this. The sawdust bricks you mentioned. I have probably enough seasoned wood for half of my season. In the coming years I will be swimming in wood though. To get me through this season, can you burn sawdust bricks in an EPA stove w/o a cat?
Do you have any recommendations for where to buy in bulk?
If I do the rough math. A cord of wood weighs about 2500 pounds. I googled that, and because the truck that delivers to me goes over a small bridge, I had to know the total weight of his vehicle with firewood, and he told me that his cordwood weighs about 3000-3500 pounds (which is delivered quite wet) so that all kinda jives. Maybe someone else has a better number here for certainty. (mixed hardwoods).

If my cordwood is $200. That's ~8cents per pound. If I burn 2 cords at my seasonal venue. $400 per year.
Sawdust bricks retail are $7 for 38 pounds of bricks. Or ~18 cents a pound. $900 per year.
Lowes bundled firewoood is $9 for 20 pounds. Or ~45 cent a pound. $2250 per year. (This is also the price for local kiln dried firewood delivered. Shockingly, people pay this)
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
The compressed sawdust products burned well in my non cat stove. I didn’t burn a lot maybe 10 packages. I would start a fire with my dry wood then let it burn down and reload with 2-3 bricks on the bottom and stuff a split or two on top. I would pack the bricks as tight as I could together so I could get longer burn times. They do swell as they burn.

They contain almost no water so pound for pound you are getting more usable BTUS than 20% MC cord wood. They must be stored inside. I bought mine at Tractor supply. I’m sure other places carry them. There is an outfit near Richmond VA with a product called liberty bricks I have always wanted to try but can’t find locally. Shipping is orothe majority of the cost of these types of products so local products are probably cheaper.

They are expensive compared to firewood but you may have no other choice. Stoves takes years to get dry wood and even longer ROI time frames so don’t think you have to be perfectly set up to heat 24/7 this year. And I would argue the frustration of trying to burn wet wood takes all the fun out of a new stove. It’s smoky, harder to control and just doesn’t give as much heat as you think it should. I’m going to quite my wife after 3 hours of me fussing with the stove trying to burn “seasoned” wood that I was assured was dry.

“You spent how much on this thing that can’t even do the one thing it was built for!” The room was still cold no pretty flames and I had to babysit the stove more than a baby in the stove room.

It’s possible that one could get some slab soft wood almost dry in a solar kiln by the new year if the kiln was built and ran well and the weather cooperated. But it’s 100 days till Xmas. It may be a tall order.

At the end of the day they burn and burn well and but you have to pay extra for that convenience (and one own lack of preparation)
 
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GrumpyDad

Minister of Fire
Feb 23, 2022
561
Champion, PA
The compressed sawdust products burned well in my non cat stove. I didn’t burn a lot maybe 10 packages. I would start a fire with my dry wood then let it burn down and reload with 2-3 bricks on the bottom and stuff a split or two on top. I would pack the bricks as tight as I could together so I could get longer burn times. They do swell as they burn.

They contain almost no water so pound for pound you are getting more usable BTUS than 20% MC cord wood. They must be stored inside. I bought mine at Tractor supply. I’m sure other places carry them. There is an outfit near Richmond VA with a product called liberty bricks I have always wanted to try but can’t find locally. Shipping is orothe majority of the cost of these types of products so local products are probably cheaper.

They are expensive compared to firewood but you may have no other choice. Stoves takes years to get dry wood and even longer ROI time frames so don’t think you have to be perfectly set up to heat 24/7 this year. And I would argue the frustration of trying to burn wet wood takes all the fun out of a new stove. It’s smoky, harder to control and just doesn’t give as much heat as you think it should. I’m going to quite my wife after 3 hours of me fussing with the stove trying to burn “seasoned” wood that I was assured was dry.

“You spent how much on this thing that can’t even do the one thing it was built for!” The room was still cold no pretty flames and I had to babysit the stove more than a baby in the stove room.

It’s possible that one could get some slab soft wood almost dry in a solar kiln by the new year if the kiln was built and ran well and the weather cooperated. But it’s 100 days till Xmas. It may be a tall order.

At the end of the day they burn and burn well and but you have to pay extra for that convenience (and one own lack of preparation)
I honestly never knew these things existed? or if I saw them, I thought they were those cleaning or starting logs.
I know it's not as cool as burning wood and all, but this may be a viable option for me. I am NOT paying $1k for kiln dried firewood. I dont know how this place is in business but then again, it's the ONLY place I'm aware of within 100 miles of me that has a guaranteed ready to burn now pile of wood to sell.
Heck I cant even get 3 local firewood sellers that Ive purchased from in the past regularly to call me back. Last year they all ran out by the middle of the season too.

Luckily, I do have wood to split, and will be dropping a dozen trees this fall too. Or I may leave them and just have logs delivered.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
I honestly never knew these things existed? or if I saw them, I thought they were those cleaning or starting logs.
I know it's not as cool as burning wood and all, but this may be a viable option for me. I am NOT paying $1k for kiln dried firewood. I dont know how this place is in business but then again, it's the ONLY place I'm aware of within 100 miles of me that has a guaranteed ready to burn now pile of wood to sell.
Heck I cant even get 3 local firewood sellers that Ive purchased from in the past regularly to call me back. Last year they all ran out by the middle of the season too.

Luckily, I do have wood to split, and will be dropping a dozen trees this fall too. Or I may leave them and just have logs delivered.
The big box home stores sell a cardboard wax product that the packaging says is safe in woodstoves but if you read your manual I’m guessing it says not to burn them. Don’t confuse these fire logs with a 100% compressed sawdust product.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
What @EbS-P said (everything).
It's important to burn pure sawdust logs (no additions). There are a few brands, I forgot which ones. It's been discussed on this website.

I know @BKVP has tried them too.
 

TheProfessor

New Member
Sep 13, 2022
4
PA
Thanks for the info, gents. Regarding the wood, I plan to get a moisture meter, so maybe I'll check a couple local wood stacks before throwing in the towel. I had no idea sawdust bricks existed, but that's good to know. If I can't find dry wood locally, I'll try those out.

As far as leaving the stove on low and supplementing with oil, that sounds like exactly what I had in mind, at least for this winter. If I could squeeze out 24 hours between loadings, that would be perfect. A nice balance between saving money on oil and not using my small amount of free time tending to a stove.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
Ok. For the chimney, best is to put an insulated stainless liner in there (after cleaning it we'll). For safety and performance. Another option is to demolish the masonry and add a class A chimney. But that will be more expensive.

A 24 hr reload schedule is going to give only a little heat; think of the stove as a BTU release controller. You can put a set amount in (volume of wood), and the stove releases the BTUs. It does that into the room and into the chimney. Ratio determined by the efficiency.

Second it controls how fast the BTUs are released. Either slow (i.e. a little per hour) or faster. Long reload cycles will this be a little heat per hour.

Heating from the basement does require a bit more output per hour to be effective in heating the upstairs.

So it depends on the air flow, the wished for temps, the insulation whether a 24 hr cycle is useful for you.

Regardless, a 12 hr cycle is already great for wood stoves .
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
Another option is the following.
I don't like this, but many people do, so it should be mentioned.
It will require buying the fuel, and the maintenance work on these things is higher - I don't know how much, but I hear stories about cleaning out hte burn pot etc.

A pellet stove is automated, you set a temperature, and it'll do its thing until the hopper is empty. Fill it with a new bag of pellets, and walk away.

Again, pellets cost $. Maintenance seems to be more (and power outage operation would need a generator or battery).
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,392
South Puget Sound, WA
There are some good compressed sawdust bricks and two compressed logs on the market, and a lot of bad ones. HomeFire Prest-Logs and Northern Idaho Energy Logs are the best. However, it's unlikely that these highly compressed logs are available in PA. The closest source for HomeFire Prest-Logs is listed in MD.
» Tractor Supply-Aberdeen
1040 Beards Hill Rd, Aberdeen, MD 21001
(410) 297-6607

Do not burn DuraFlame fireplace logs in the stove. They contain wax. If you have a closer Tractor Supply in the area, they usually stock Redstone compressed bricks. (In stock in Lionville, PA.) Some other good brands to look for are ECO Bricks, and BIO Bricks.
 

River

New Member
Mar 24, 2021
5
Indiana
It has an old coal cook stove in the basement ...

My goal is to reduce oil consumption while minimizing time spent fiddling with a stove.

For the record, I'm aware that I need seasoned/dry wood. I'll have to buy it for this season and possibly next season.
How about, for this coming season, you keep the cookstove, buy some coal, and work on your wood supply for the '23-'24 heating season?

As long as your cookstove is in "adequate" condition, burning coal should help minimize your involvement. Coal should be relatively inexpensive in your area (less shipping than many of us have to pay). Too, you could purchase your new stove at your convenience -- even wait for it, if there is a backlog.

As I understand it, your chimney needs work, irrespective of the stove you connect to it. So that does not appear to be a reason not to use your present cookstove.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,705
07462
If you dont have the ability to dry wood then the BK is not for you, the stove needs wood thats at a maximum 20% moisture, but it runs top notch at 15%, for myself, in order to achieve that 15% I need to cut, split and stack my wood for 3 years, this is oak, maple, ash, cherry and locust, if you dont have the time, aim for a secondary reburn tube stove.
 
Last edited:
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,267
Long Island NY
If you dont have the ability to dry wood then the BK is not for you, the stove needs wood thats at a minimum maximum 20% moisture, but it runs top notch at 15%, for myself, in order to achieve that 15% I need to cut, split and stack my wood for 3 years, this is oak, maple, ash, cherry and locust, if you dont have the time, aim for a secondary reburn tube stove.
I fixed it for you.

I do note that the stove was tested with 20-25 pct wood. It'll run, but not as good as <20 pct wood
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,705
07462
I fixed it for you.

I do note that the stove was tested with 20-25 pct wood. It'll run, but not as good as <20 pct wood
Yea but thats mainly soft wood, hard wood is a whole different ball game pound for pound.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,392
South Puget Sound, WA
It's often hard to get wood below 17% due to ambient moisture. I've tested 2 yr old splits, shed covered, that still come out at that.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
207
California
If I do the rough math. A cord of wood weighs about 2500 pounds. I googled that, and because the truck that delivers to me goes over a small bridge, I had to know the total weight of his vehicle with firewood, and he told me that his cordwood weighs about 3000-3500 pounds (which is delivered quite wet) so that all kinda jives.

A cord of green wood can weigh over 7000 lbs. It varies a lot, depending on the species.

 
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monkfarm

New Member
Sep 14, 2022
11
Pepin, WI
If you dont have the ability to dry wood then the BK is not for you, the stove needs wood thats at a maximum 20% moisture, but it runs top notch at 15%, for myself, in order to achieve that 15% I need to cut, split and stack my wood for 3 years, this is oak, maple, ash, cherry and locust, if you dont have the time, aim for a secondary reburn tube stove.
I'm sorry, what is a secondary reburn tube stove please? I am in the market for a stove, researching.
I've been using a taylor outdoor woodstove, but now want to get into an inside stove for my shop/studio. I have a lot of deadfall, living on an old small farm with varying freshness of the deadfall but usually not superdry. I need to get a moisture meter as well. I have a lot of the same questions as the professor.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
207
California
There were a lot of Eucalyptus planted in California in the early 1900s. The Blue Gum species in particular. They were promoted as a fast growing source of lumber. They do grow fast but they're terrible for lumber- the wood warps and splits as it dries. Our place was a farm back then and someone planted a stand of blue gum which have naturalized (or invaded, take your pick). They're a fire hazard, so I have started removing them.

Some people won't burn it because they think it burns "too hot" and can damage the stove. I mix it with another lighter hardwood or doug fir. It's so dense that it takes two full summers of drying to burn well in my EPA stove.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
There were a lot of Eucalyptus planted in California in the early 1900s. The Blue Gum species in particular. They were promoted as a fast growing source of lumber. They do grow fast but they're terrible for lumber- the wood warps and splits as it dries. Our place was a farm back then and someone planted a stand of blue gum which have naturalized (or invaded, take your pick). They're a fire hazard, so I have started removing them.

Some people won't burn it because they think it burns "too hot" and can damage the stove. I mix it with another lighter hardwood or doug fir. It's so dense that it takes two full summers of drying to burn well in my EPA stove.
I have Whatched YouTube videos of someone bucking really dry eucalyptus up. Doesn’t look fun. Man it looked extremely hard (the wood)
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,392
South Puget Sound, WA
We have a big eucalyptus in the yard. It needs regular pruning because the limbs can really grow out far and then become pendulous. This makes for too much shade and can be a hassle for mowing with euk leaves in your face. I have been told that the limb wood grows spirally (like elm?) which makes it very strong, but hell to split. A power splitter just mushes through the spiral grain. That said, as firewood, it hasn't been overly dramatic for burning, but it does take at least 2 yrs to season.