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stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
Hello and thanks for your input and advice. I intend to upgrade from an old 1977 Vermont Castings Vigilant. It would be nice to use the 26% tax credit with an approved new wood stove purchase and install.

Current stove is a Vermont Castings 1977 Vigilant. It uses lots of wood and is not efficient. Requires too much babysitting and frequent reloading can't go thru the night without needing a reload. It has an amazing draft but not sure I can deal with it much longer.

House details:
2800 ft², two-story, south facing, vigilant stove sits in a centrally located "great room" with 18 foot high cathedral ceilings and large south facing, floor to ceiling windows. Stairwell is located right behind the massive "fireplace". Mezzanine openings behind and next to the fireplace lead to upstairs bedrooms. Local Architect designed the house, as a so called "passive house", to take advantage of solar heat gain through south facing windows and to be heated by a wood stove in winter. House has double pane windows and is 2x6 construction with fiberglass insulation. Back up heat is from propane furnace and in floor ducts. Propane is expensive so I want to maximize my use of a new wood stove. We have lots of tan oak on site, been drying for years, but have access to Douglas fir, eucalyptus, madrone, almond and other woods.

The Vigilant wood stove is located on a purpose built, massive concrete block and flag stone structure...like a giant "fireplace" but without an opening, except for the 8-inch stove pipe. The "fireplace" is roughly 24' high by 14' wide by 42" thick. Basically it's a giant concrete/rock heat sink to absorb all the heat from the wood stove and release it over time back into the house. Please see attached pictures.

The single wall 8" diameter stove pipe extends 7 ft up from the top outlet of the vigilant stove before it goes through a 90° elbow and then extends horizontally another 2 1/2 feet where it punches through a concrete tube exiting into the chimney. The draft is amazing. The chimney is smooth walled fire brick that extends from the floor level clean out, on the back side of the fireplace, up to the top where it opens up to a concrete cap. Please refer to photos attached.

Main questions are:
1) Do I hunt for one of the relatively few 8 inch flue stoves or go with the more abundantly available 6 inch flue stoves?
2) Do I go with a more convection based stove or more radiant heat stove or some combination? Thinking soapstone Mansfield versus Manchester or Green mountain 80.
3) Is beautiful view of flames, hybrid capable stove a better choice than a Blazeking catalytic?
4) Should I get fan option on the stove if available?
5) I definitely plan on using two 45° elbows instead of the 90° elbow.

Ideally I'm looking for a more "hands free" stove, better heating with less wood than vigilant, longer heating at least 10 or 12 hours if not more, good looking stove and fire would be nice. Basically the looks and fire view of the Mansfield, with side load door of Manchester, with 8 inch flue, and thermostat of Blazeking....lol

Stoves I'm thinking about:
1) Hearthstone Mansfield, not sure about reliability of new models, skeptical of soapstone being good choice for our home since we have huge "heat sink" fireplace already, Only 6 inch flue, skeptical of fragile parts at top of stove and latch issues in various YouTube videos.

2) Hearthstone Manchester, convection & radiant, like that it has both front and side load doors, only 6 inch flue, is it too small of a stove for our home?

3) Hearthstone Green Mountain 80, like the 8 inch flue, but not sure about other benefits of this particular stove over others. Seems very basic but with high price.

4) Lopi Liberty, Not sure if all steel stove is a better choice than Soapstone, or cast with stone liner.

5) Progress Hybrid, not sure I like the look of it versus the Mansfield or Liberty, 6 inch flue

6) Blazeking King 40, 8 inch flue, seems like great stove, not sure about lack of view of the flames though. Is this giant stove necessary in our relatively mild Winter climate?

7) Pacific Energy Alderlea T6 LE, don't know much about this stove, do the slide out warning shelves help the convective heat from the stove, would not really cook on it unless in a power outage.

Any recommendations, insight, things I have missed, or other stoves to consider would be much appreciated.

Thank you for your time

Scott

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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,707
07462
All are great proven heaters, the BK40 advantage is running it cleanly and with a rather long burn time while the weather is 45deg out, the T6 would need to be ran in batch loads which is perfectly fine but its not my preference to have to make a fire from scratch all the time.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
211
California
We're also in the Santa Cruz mountains. Our 2500 sq ft house is not as well insulated as yours and we have a 75k btu Flame Monco ZC. With the current 30-something degree temps the stove is not enough on it's own and the propane furnace will kick in. But when it's in the 40s the stove is enough.

I think your chimney needs a screen per code.

If you have oaks that die from SODs, take them down and split and stack them quick. They rot really fast. SODs mostly hit tan oaks on our land but it's killed live and black oaks too. Don't chip SODs killed trees near other oaks.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,455
South Puget Sound, WA
Nice place in a nice location. I'm not sure you need a catalytic stove. How have you used the Vigilant in the past? Frequently, or more as a chill chaser on cool nights and weekends? What is the outside ambient temp when you are typically running the stove?

How has the heat from the Vigilant been circulated to the rest of the house? Ceiling fans?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,313
Long Island NY
One does not *need* a catalytic stove. Most applications can be done with either catalytic or non-catalytic.

In a mild climate, preference for a fire view would point to (intermittent.fires in a) non-catalytic. Wanting more continuous heat, even at a low output, points to a catalytic


And then there's the aesthetics. I don't get why some advice against nor for a brand/model as taste is personal. I.e. your significant other's ...

I think the op should think about reloading or continuity, and look at aesthetics.
 

stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
Thank you all for your thoughts and questions above. They are definitely helping me reprioritize and hone in on what I really need from a new stove.

1) Consistent warmth with minimal loading/reloading and wood use. Understand that fans/convection are necessary to get heat to far away areas
2) Useful adjustment in mild temps 30° to 50° F without under or overheating the house.
3) Properly sized stove, with reserve heating capacity if temp drops below freezing. Pretty rare but does happen.
4) Able to use local wood effectively. Tan oak, madrone, eucalyptus, Douglas fir, almond. I know it is critical to have less than 20% moisture content. I have a General brand moisture meter.
5) Aesthetics are important but heating performance, reliability, convenience are much higher on the list. I prefer less ornate design, industrial, clean lines function over form.

I looked at a Hearthstone Manchester at a local dealer today. They want $4,250 for the black cast iron for March delivery. It is a little too ornate for my tastes, but may be a good stove for my home. I haven't ruled it out. Looking for input here.

Dealer said Manchester would most likely be better than the Mansfield, in a large room and house, due to it's convection focused design with blower. I do like the side load door and 24 inch log capacity.

Some concerns with Manchester: Will the heat output of the Manchester be enough for my home given the mild, above 30° typical winter weather here in Santa Cruz? Does it really get 30 hour burns?

I haven't seen any pics of the Manchester blower set up. Is it integrated inside the unit or scabbed on?e

I saw a Green Mountain 40, but I know that the GM 80 would be more appropriate for my home. I like the contemporary clean lines, less ornate details, but would miss the side load capability and convection of the Manchester. Does an added blower to the GM 80 provide similar convection performance of the Manchester?

I definitely want to see a Blazeking King 40 and will definitely consider it seriously. Is my home, and mild Winter climate, appropriate for this stove? Is it possible to adjust the King so that there is a nice view of the fire without producing to much creosote? What about the princess?

If a 6 inch flue stove is the best choice in my situation, should I be concerned about dropping my stove pipe size from 8 inches down to 6 inches? I know with engines the exhaust diameter is pretty crucial.

Does a stove pipe adapter, 6-in stove pipe to the 8-in exist? so I can run it through the existing 8 inch + concrete tube hole into the chimney?

I have also been looking at the Woodstock progress hybrid and ideal steel hybrid. What are thoughts on these in my application?

Thanks and I appreciate the feedback.
 

stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
One does not *need* a catalytic stove. Most applications can be done with either catalytic or non-catalytic.

In a mild climate, preference for a fire view would point to (intermittent.fires in a) non-catalytic. Wanting more continuous heat, even at a low output, points to a catalytic


And then there's the aesthetics. I don't get why some advice against nor for a brand/model as taste is personal. I.e. your significant other's ...

I think the op should think about reloading or continuity, and look at aesthetics.
Thank you for you insight. I reprioritized some of my wants and yes infrequent reloading is important. In the intrepid, I like to use existing coals to relight the reload if possible and I think that is what you mean by "continuity".

Based on some of the postings, I gather that if you want consistent heat and longer burns from a stove, a catalyst is needed. I do desire both of those of course.
 

stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
Nice place in a nice location. I'm not sure you need a catalytic stove. How have you used the Vigilant in the past? Frequently, or more as a chill chaser on cool nights and weekends? What is the outside ambient temp when you are typically running the stove?

How has the heat from the Vigilant been circulated to the rest of the house? Ceiling fans?
Thanks for the kind words. The vigilant is a pain in the butt and does provide enough heat but I have to babysit it off and on most of the day. I have used it more and more frequently as the temperature drops especially at night.

I have loaded it up right before bed with five or six splits of tan oak and it seems to peter out about 3 AM. When the fire dies down at night, the propane furnace kicks on and it would be nice to avoid this if possible. I can usually use the hot coals in the morning to relight the reload. Then the vicious cycle of babysitting it repeats itself during the daytime.

I have never fully loaded it up during the daytime as it produces adequate heat on a partial load.

Sustained burning through the night, if not longer, is desirable with one load.
 

stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
What does your best dealer recommend ?
Local dealer kind of pushed the hearthstone Manchester and shied away from the King 40. This was probably because I mentioned both of them but was unsure about the "fire view" on the King and she didn't have the king 40 on display but is a dealer for them. Had some other blaze King stoves and inserts but not too many.
 

stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
We're also in the Santa Cruz mountains. Our 2500 sq ft house is not as well insulated as yours and we have a 75k btu Flame Monco ZC. With the current 30-something degree temps the stove is not enough on it's own and the propane furnace will kick in. But when it's in the 40s the stove is enough.

I think your chimney needs a screen per code.

If you have oaks that die from SODs, take them down and split and stack them quick. They rot really fast. SODs mostly hit tan oaks on our land but it's killed live and black oaks too. Don't chip SODs killed trees near other oaks.
House is it is a little breezier than I would like but it's pretty good strong construction. Built like a tank actually.

Yes I will certainly add a screen to the top of the chimney.

I will definitely try to look after my oaks and only have a few of them left as the previous homeowner took most of them down for fire mitigation. I have a large pile of split wood from the previous homeowner. I have a ton of Douglas furs on my property that or cut down by the previous homeowner, some are 8 or 10 ft in diameter. I'll have to look into how to split those up might be too large to handle.
 

stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
All are great proven heaters, the BK40 advantage is running it cleanly and with a rather long burn time while the weather is 45deg out, the T6 would need to be ran in batch loads which is perfectly fine but its not my preference to have to make a fire from scratch all the time.
Thanks Kenny... Do you think the BK 40 would be a good fit in my situation?

Can the BK 40 be properly operated with any kind of fire view in the window?

How is the convection with the blower? Is the blower nicely integrated or kind of scabbed on? Dealer didn't know much about the BK 40.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,392
Colorado
Your posting is very educational and your home is beautiful but I would get a stove with glass so that you can see the pretty happenings and I realize you put a factor like ambiance at the bottom of your list and want functionality but just for the fun of it check out this one--my favorite---I like how it spins...lol...Not stove experience here just saying and having fun with all your wonderful details..
clancey.
 
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stickburner

New Member
Dec 27, 2021
20
Santa Cruz Mountains
Your posting is very educational and your home is beautiful but I would get a stove with glass so that you can see the pretty happenings and I realize you put a factor like ambiance at the bottom of your list and want functionality but just for the fun of it check out this one--my favorite---I like how it spins...lol...Not stove experience here just saying and having fun with all your wonderful details..
clancey.
Thanks Clancey! Yes I do like modern looking stoves. I wish it was much larger with a larger firebox. They are so damn expensive as well.
 
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BKVP

Minister of Fire
Thank you all for your thoughts and questions above. They are definitely helping me reprioritize and hone in on what I really need from a new stove.

1) Consistent warmth with minimal loading/reloading and wood use. Understand that fans/convection are necessary to get heat to far away areas
2) Useful adjustment in mild temps 30° to 50° F without under or overheating the house.
3) Properly sized stove, with reserve heating capacity if temp drops below freezing. Pretty rare but does happen.
4) Able to use local wood effectively. Tan oak, madrone, eucalyptus, Douglas fir, almond. I know it is critical to have less than 20% moisture content. I have a General brand moisture meter.
5) Aesthetics are important but heating performance, reliability, convenience are much higher on the list. I prefer less ornate design, industrial, clean lines function over form.

I looked at a Hearthstone Manchester at a local dealer today. They want $4,250 for the black cast iron for March delivery. It is a little too ornate for my tastes, but may be a good stove for my home. I haven't ruled it out. Looking for input here.

Dealer said Manchester would most likely be better than the Mansfield, in a large room and house, due to it's convection focused design with blower. I do like the side load door and 24 inch log capacity.

Some concerns with Manchester: Will the heat output of the Manchester be enough for my home given the mild, above 30° typical winter weather here in Santa Cruz? Does it really get 30 hour burns?

I haven't seen any pics of the Manchester blower set up. Is it integrated inside the unit or scabbed on?e

I saw a Green Mountain 40, but I know that the GM 80 would be more appropriate for my home. I like the contemporary clean lines, less ornate details, but would miss the side load capability and convection of the Manchester. Does an added blower to the GM 80 provide similar convection performance of the Manchester?

I definitely want to see a Blazeking King 40 and will definitely consider it seriously. Is my home, and mild Winter climate, appropriate for this stove? Is it possible to adjust the King so that there is a nice view of the fire without producing to much creosote? What about the princess?

If a 6 inch flue stove is the best choice in my situation, should I be concerned about dropping my stove pipe size from 8 inches down to 6 inches? I know with engines the exhaust diameter is pretty crucial.

Does a stove pipe adapter, 6-in stove pipe to the 8-in exist? so I can run it through the existing 8 inch + concrete tube hole into the chimney?

I have also been looking at the Woodstock progress hybrid and ideal steel hybrid. What are thoughts on these in my application?

Thanks and I appreciate the feedback.
You'll want to run the 8" system the complete distance, stove top to cap. You cannot neck-down the chimney system on our King, You do have plenty of vertical rise, but I would suggest the 90 be changed out for two 45's. Most of the cat models have low stack temps and need attention to installation requirements.

I helped install a new stove with a friend over the weekend. We got the insulated wrapped liner and "T" connector down the chimney no problem, but when we went to connect the horizontal section of the "T" I found out the center of his flue was 3' from the face of the brick. A local shop made us a stainless extension. He chose a stove new hybrid model and after running it for just two days, he gets a bit of smoke spillage opening the door. We are adding 3' to his 20' chimney this weekend and hopefully it will not spill (or at least a lot less frequently). A non cat, less efficient model, with higher stack temps might have been better for his installation requirements.

Sometimes, you need to look at the install parameters, then find stoves that meet those parameters. If your vertical rise was less than 36" before your elbow, I would say to not buy our King model, but you have a great deal more than 36".

All good suggestions here.....
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,313
Long Island NY
The King can certainly run with fireview and do so cleanly. The output will be higher tho. I suspect in your climate, you'll be running at low heat output a lot.

Another option in the BK line is a Princess (or a 30 firebox, depending on aesthetics). Still able to get 24-30 hr burns when running low . But needs a 6" flue. (Insulated).
 
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BKVP

Minister of Fire
The King can certainly run with fireview and do so cleanly. The output will be higher tho. I suspect in your climate, you'll be running at low heat output a lot.

Another option in the BK line is a Princess (or a 30 firebox, depending on aesthetics). Still able to get 24-30 hr burns when running low . But needs a 6" flue. (Insulated).
And the glass on the door will stay cleaner than on the King model.
 
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area_man

Burning Hunk
Feb 12, 2013
119
Oregon City, OR
I picked up a Princess insert recently, here's my findings. 1600sf finished space with some unfinished basement space that's kind of physically blocked off from the rest of the house, but when I have the stove going I open the door to make sure that room is dry and warm. Have a dehumidifier in there anyway but just to dry it out in addition.

I'm burning crap wood right now, so I am sure it will be better when I have some solid BTUs in there to burn.

RIght now the Princess 62, with chit wood, is heating my entire house to 71.5* according to my thermostat and there's snow on the ground outside. Super comfortable.

My old stove was an Orley and I would not run an underpowered stove again. It was so frustrating having to sit there and babysit, watch for when to add more wood, timing things, it was sort of fun for the first year or two just because figuring things out and improving a process is "fun" for me but I'm tired of it now and just want my hosue warm and want to look at pretty fire.

So, big firebox Princess Blaze King did it for me.

What I hope you take away from this is to try to size your stove to your house and make sure you can convert enough wood to heat to make your house enjoyable for you and your family all winter.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,455
South Puget Sound, WA
Thank you for you insight. I reprioritized some of my wants and yes infrequent reloading is important. In the intrepid, I like to use existing coals to relight the reload if possible and I think that is what you mean by "continuity".

Based on some of the postings, I gather that if you want consistent heat and longer burns from a stove, a catalyst is needed. I do desire both of those of course.
We reload every 8-12 hrs on a generous hot coal bed in a non-cat stove, depending on the outside temps.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,313
Long Island NY
We reload every 8-12 hrs on a generous hot coal bed in a non-cat stove, depending on the outside temps.

Yes, but you use a heat pump for when it's mild out. I think in the mild climate of the OP, there will either be too much heat or intermittent fires (i.e. cold starts) with your stove?

I reload every 24-28 hrs when it's 45 out if I use the stove then (With the stove in the basement and 1700 sq ft above the basement. Keeping the home at 68-70 with the farther bedrooms at 60-65 (which we like).
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,455
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, but you use a heat pump for when it's mild out. I think in the mild climate of the OP, there will either be too much heat or intermittent fires (i.e. cold starts) with your stove?

I reload every 24-28 hrs when it's 45 out if I use the stove then (With the stove in the basement and 1700 sq ft above the basement. Keeping the home at 68-70 with the farther bedrooms at 60-65 (which we like).
Yes, I use what is most economical and practical for the situation. For house, the reserve heating power of the stove is more important for when it's very cold out. With this cold snap I am glad that we have the extra btus available with the T6. We would not have that with a thermostatically regulated cat stove.

But that's a valid point and why I asked when and how they use the stove. The Vigilant is a high-output, radiant stove. If that worked for their lifestyle, the T6 would work even better. This house is larger and has more volume due to the high ceiling. However, the T6 wouldn't radiate much heat from the rear if the objective is to heat up the stone instead of the house. Most modern stoves place clearances above rear radiant heat these days.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,313
Long Island NY
I agree. Hence my surprise at your recommendation here, given the climate and reloading wishes of the OP.
 
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ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
211
California
Some Doug Fir especially from older trees has a lot of pitch in it, and that burns with a black sooty smoke that I just can't bear to think of what it will do to the flue over a season. If I pick out the pitchy splits and make the stove loads 1/4 or 1/2 fir and the rest hardwood it's ok. If it's all fir there won't be much in the way of hot coals. The fir seems to provide heat but doesn't make many hot coals. I'm mostly trying to avoid burning it. It's not like I have a shortage of other wood from fallen, dead, PG&E killed, and fire clearance trees.

There are folks out here who do milling and might be able to take some fir logs but 8-10' diameter trees are going to be tough to deal with.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,313
Long Island NY
The secondary combustion takes care of that smoke - if running the stove properly.
Pitchy wood is fine in modern stoves when operated as intended.