Polar Vortex Aftermath: How’d your stove do?


Feeling the Heat
Jan 6, 2015
Northern Michigan
When I first started looking for a stove, I kept asking how much stove I would need and whether a particular stove would be enough. I’ve seen variants of that question asked a number of times here. So, maybe we all can answer some of those questions for the record and build a reference for others?

To help others...
— What’s your stove model?
— How big is your house? How well insulated?
— How bad was the vortex for you?
— How’d your stove perform? What did you have to do differently?

—Progress Hybrid
—1800 sq ft, two story, open floor plan with 2x4 walls and r60 in the attic. Fairly tight reflecting 1990s construction.
—Temps between -20 and -5 every night with “BIG” wind (40mph gusts common.) Highs were typically low single digits.
—I was able to keep the house reasonably warm. 71-73 degrees in the stove room as normal. Morning temps after the burn peaked, dropped to 60-62. I ran the stove a little more open than usual with three full fire boxes per day, Usually, (when the temps run from 10-30 degrees) I’ll run two loads per day that aren’t packed quite as full with a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. My only issue was burning off coals that wanted to accumulate. When the stove temps dropped to 350-400, I’d open up the air to burn off the coals. This would add maybe 50-100 degrees to the stove top temp for a while before reloading. Because of the amount of coaling, even with the coal burn-down, my wood additions were roughly the same as a normal load, even though I filled the firebox as much as possible. All said, I probably increased my wood consumption by 50%.I felt like there was still room for the weather to get worse before I would have needed to think about using the propane furnace.

Of note, when we had the last bad Polar Vortex I saw -35ish with highs around -10, when the house was kept as warm or warmer with less work. The winds this time really made a difference.


As an afterthought... I’ve known, but haven’t formalized this in my mind until now. My PH works best on days that run between maybe 0 and 25 degrees. The house stays really warm, but never too warm, and I can load with enough wood that I always have enough wood/heat to avoid the annoyance of a cold start. If I run the stove for easy starts above 30 degrees, the house can get too warm, and if I tone it down, cold starts can be the norm.
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Jan 15, 2018
Blaze King Princess
2000 square feet
Walls are fairly well insulated but floors are not.

I could make it work by running the stove full bore with 5 hour reloads. Several hot cleanouts to keep the wood packed and coal out. We had two days where the high temp was -22 and lows of -40.

Stove couldn't keep up during the worst of it and I fired up the Pellet stove for about 24 hours to keep the house 70 degrees.

Burned through a lot of wood.


New Member
Oct 7, 2018
I’m located in Saint Paul mn
I have 1973 split level with R50 insulation in the attic and regular bats in the walls- unsure but there are plenty of drafts by windows and a few doors when the temps really get Low and the wind howls.

I burn 2 inserts- one on each level

Lopi freedom insert on the mainfloor normally only gets 1 load on an average winter day around 3pm which keeps upstairs between 74-76 before bed which keeps the furnace off. But this week that stove burned medium fires basically for a week non stop keeping the main floor 72-78 but bedrooms with door shut stayed a nice 66-68.

In the basement I burn in an enviro 1600 insert and that baby burned as hot as I could 24/7. I also ran into major coaling issues which really hindered the ability to load it full and it was rare that the basement got over 69 or 70.. needless to say our furnace never turned on and the house was plenty warm but Sunday
Is forecasted to be 35+ and I’m installed another lopi freedom I pick up Saturday.

I was well prepared and dare I say I want another one!?!
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New Member
Nov 10, 2018
Eastern Pa.
Berks county Pa. had -4 to -6 last couple nights, tonight's supposed to be around +10. We have an older Harmon furnace in the basement, to supplement our geothermal heat pump. Started a fire Tuesday night, and will probably let it burn out tomorrow (Saturday). Went through 5 wheel barrows worth of wood (mostly white oak, with some walnut mixed in). Kept the house warm enough to let the thermostat (set at 68) turn off several times a day. Also kept the wife happy! Curt


Nov 10, 2018
Tilbury, ON
It sucked. Will report later when I'm not as tired from waking up and feeding the stove in the middle of the night!
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Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
Long Island, NY
I run a BK Princess insert as the main heater in 2300sf if 70s construction with 2x4 walls and spotty insulation, on Long Island. It's obviously a small stove for the job at this latitude, but island weather is more moderate than mainland weather (I think we saw a low of 5°F while our latitude had -20° in the midwest), so I leave the boiler turned off most years.

Due to this weather rudely hitting outside of our days off, I had to set the stove for 12 hour burns every day and warm it back up when I got home.

So on 12 hour burns, the BTU output was not keeping up and the stove room would be 60 when I got home, 5-10° and windy outside. Pack it full of pine and crank it up, and it would be 80 by bedtime.

So if I was unemployed or retired or whatever, that undersized insert actually could have kept the house at 70+, I think- just needs someone to feed it frequently.

If I ever replace it, I'm going to put in a freestanding King, and double the firebox size (and therefore double the BTU output of 12 hour burns).

Coaling wasn't an issue this year because I used pine for my short hot burns. (So go lay in some pine for next year, it is the best when you need a short hot fire and no coals.)
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Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
Location - NW NJ (near the NY State boarder) lowest temp -9 deg f
Stove - BK princess with blower and convection deck
House temps - lowest was 64deg highest 74deg.
House type - raised ranch, heating approx. 1400 sq ft total, stove is in the basement - typical 1980's cons non insulated block wall, sill plate has some roxal shoved into the joists, upstairs is 2x4 cons and the attic has approx. 18" fiberglass batt insulation
Loaded the stove 3 times a day, 2 full loads 5am and 9pm, partial load when I came home from work at 4:30pm or so.
Very impressed with the stove, this go around with the cold weather was very windy here on the hill, stove held up fine and the baseboard heat didn't click on, but I did circulate the water a few times just to prevent frozen pipes.


Minister of Fire
Feb 21, 2011
My BKK held down the 3025sqft fort without supplemental heat. We had 2 days in single digits doing 10-12hr reloads and the fans on high set 3 o’clock on the thermostat.


Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
BK Princess heating 1976 sq. ft. Modular that had a major overhaul with new and additional insulation,house wrap and windows and doors installed this fall..this made all of the difference in the world! -14 with a windchill of -47 the first morning...awoke to a 79.9 degree stove room...I was able to maintain this with 8 hour reloads..


Minister of Fire
Drolet Escape 1800, 1978 980 sq ft house with 2x4 walls and single pane windows with storms and window film put on for the winter. NW Wisconsin with very cold temps. Last Wednesday’s the high was -14 for example. My stove kept up fine but I keep the house on the cool side around 65-68 and cooler at night if I’m running the furnace. My stove kept up good and I let it burn down after a fill at night so I could clean out the ashes in the morning with just some hot coals left in it. That meant I’d light the stove off with it being 58 in the house and it took hours to bring it up to 66 or so with it being around -30 to -20 out in the morning.


Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
Palmyra, WI
Jotul Oslo F500, 2cuft
2000sqft, newer well insulated
Min temp -31
Load times were:
4am, 4pm, 9pm, 1:30am
Temps in the house would drop to around 60, then be brought back up to 72 when we were home for the evening. Furnace was set to 58, and came on one afternoon before we got home, partly because the humidifier is right under it blowing cool air up from the floor. In any other situation it remains off.

The things we did differently were:
Leave the bedroom doors open to keep their temps in the low to mid 50s. Normally they are closed and cool at night, and opened back up and into the 60s during the day. Stoking the stove at 1:30am was added to keep adding heat. It's advised never to add wood to a 400degree or higher stove, so waiting for it to burn through some meant 4hr intervals. That way the stove was kept topped off, stove top kept in the 4-600 range, and the need to tend to it was kept to a minimum. Being gone all day meant the stove would taper off, but there were locust and hickory coals left over to rekindle for the late afternoon and evening. Burning hot through the night meant a fair amount of coals would build up, but would burn off to something reasonable during the day. We did keep the ash pan emptied when needed so as to reduce ash buildup and make more room. Otherwise some times we just let it go, build up some ash, and allow coals to be insulated and warm for quicker relights.

This is all for -31f outside with 25mph winds. The stove is nearly maxed out under these conditions. Any colder, and inside temps would drop with it, and the lp furnace would need to help out. If this were to have occurred on a weekend, and we had been home, things would have been improved from this.
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Minister of Fire
Jan 4, 2016
South Lyon, MI
  • What’s your stove model?
    • Century Heating 2900i insert, 2.4 cuft box
  • How big is your house? How well insulated?
    • About 1800 upstairs, about 500 feet finished in basement where insert is located
    • Insulation is pretty good I think. Thursday I measured the outside wall temp of the stove room at about -2 and the inside of it was 68 at the time. Areas 3 feet from the house measured about -6. Attic, don't recall how much was up there but there's at least the minimum necessary for the area.
  • How bad was the vortex for you?
    • Below 0 from Wednesday to Friday morning, lowest air temp -14, lowest windchill -38
  • How’d your stove perform? What did you have to do differently?
    • Was able to keep the basement in the 68-75 range
    • Was running it hotter and higher fan speeds, going through 4-5 loads a day as opposed to the customary 3
    • Would keep the living room/dining room right above at 66 or above when we had to turn down the heat. Wife and I commented on how warm it felt upstairs despite it reading 66 and the boiler set to maintain a min of 64.

Over the weekend, I let the insert die out, fired it up once today to warm up the basement from the weekend lull as it's now 50 degrees and raining. It'll get cold again over the next few days, so it'll be consistently running again soon.


Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
South Puget Sound, WA
It sucked. Will report later when I'm not as tired from waking up and feeding the stove in the middle of the night!
You have a poor setup for heating with the stove out on the sunporch. Curtains may help, but it is harder to heat that way.


Nov 10, 2018
Tilbury, ON
You have a poor setup for heating with the stove out on the sunporch. Curtains may help, but it is harder to heat that way.
Triple argon windows, the floor/ceiling/walls are insulated too. The stove is rated for a 8 hour burn time, and I still get about 5-6...but not during a polar vortex!


Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
central pa
Triple argon windows, the floor/ceiling/walls are insulated too. The stove is rated for a 8 hour burn time, and I still get about 5-6...but not during a polar vortex!
Yes your windows are good but your stove door is facing those windows right? Windows are very poor at stoping radiant heat because of this allot of the radiant heat coming off the stove glass is lost.


Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
Central Mass
So was minus 51 the winner in the latest vortex?

John Kuhn

Dec 29, 2017
To help others...
— What’s your stove model?
— How big is your house? How well insulated?
— How bad was the vortex for you?
— How’d your stove perform? What did you have to do differently?
Woodstock Progress Hybrid
2400 sq ft on two levels, built in '86 but well insulated w/ 2x6 walls and 1.5" styrofoam sheathing.
Coldest night was -30, with coldest high being -14.
Stove worked well. First time I've had to run it 24/7 for any length of time. Did not need the propane, and coldest morning was 65F in the house before reloading and turning up the air. Was able to get daytime house temps into the low 70s. Also had to deal with buildup of coals, by moving them to the front and burning one or two splits at a time with the air turned higher. Obviously burned more wood than usual, but not as much as with the old VC Defiant.

angry Drolet

New Member
Feb 4, 2019
maniwaki qc
Drolet ht2000
1300 sq ft. 18 inches in attic 4" in walls ..still 4 old slider type windows.
-37c or -34.6f Mid western Quebec
Stove worked very well. Have to thank my local building supply as i got it installed 2 days before the big chill. Sold my Flame in Nov. to purchase an Eastwood 1500 by Dorlet. Book says its a 2.3c/ft fire box.. however its not 1.6 is reality so was up till 1 am up at 6am to a cold stove. At -20c or -4 f house was 60f at 6 am 74f at 1 am..if i could load it every 2-3 hrs it may have been ok..no i am kidding it sucked. (still talking with Drolet about the bad paperwork)
Anyway the ht2000 ideled thru the cold with the house at 24c or 75.2f only thing i changed is i burn maple instead of ash and poplar once we hit -20c or -4f.
Loaded in morning at again at about 10 pm ..breezed thru Love my new stove...now.


Dec 24, 2018
To help others...
— What’s your stove model?
BK Ashford 30.2​
— How big is your house? How well insulated?
1400 sq. ft. total, single level. Original 700 sq. ft. house was built in 1902 and remodeled with an addition in early 1980's. 2x4 construction w/12"-16" blown in attic. Original house sits on crawl space w/foam insulation; addition is on slab. About half of the windows are new in the last few years.​
— How bad was the vortex for you?
We had great weather (30s-40s) during the mid-west vortex experience, but now it has shifted into Montana. High temperature during the last few days was 0F, low was -15F. Windchill in -30s.​
— How’d your stove perform? What did you have to do differently?
This stove replaced a Schrader in December '18, so only a couple months of burn time experience. Down to 9-hour burn times in these temperatures; Cat is still active with plenty of coals at end of cycle, but needs fresh reloads at that point to keep house temp up. We are gone 10-12 hours/day so propane furnace cycles a few times near the end of the burn to keep house temp at 68F. I am smack in the middle of a stack of Aspen which is probably not the best wood for these conditions. But still very impressed with the heat we are getting.​


Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2007
Delaware, Ohio
2000 foot split level. Stove is in the living room on the main/middle level. Have an electric space heater in the lower level to help keep the kids playroom a little more comfortable, but it isn’t really necessary.

House is 23 years old. Pretty well insulated.

Stove is a 30-NC. Did great. Just kept it burning the whole time instead off the normal cycle of reloading at ~200 degrees. Didn’t use the propane furnace at all.

Temps here in central Ohio got down to -11F with a lot of wind. I think wind chill was -25F or so.


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Feb 18, 2017
West Virginia
Progress Hybrid installed in insulated basement

2200 square foot ranch built in 1960's.
r-14 (r-11 fiberglass and 1/2" foam)in the walls
r-70 in the attic
Temps got to -4 F at coldest
Had to reduce my reload cycle from 12 hours to 8 hours. Heat kicked on one morning when bedroom temps dropped to 65. Only ran a couple times than woodstove kept up. I consider it a success.


New Member
Jan 21, 2019
To help others...
— What’s your stove model?
Blaze King King Ultra (Replaced a Century Wood stove in Dec, 2018)

— How big is your house? How well insulated?
2500 SF Built in 1969 Ranch With a couple additions. Front Room 500sf Has windows that take up most of the walls on 3 sides.
Total of 5 doors going outside , walls 2x4 , attic insulation up to R50, Crawl space under entire house Sill's have insulation and that is it.

— How bad was the vortex for you?
outdoor thermometer read -34 on one of the coldest mornings , A few cameras in the woods read -42.

— How’d your stove perform? What did you have to do differently?
Instead of 18-24 hour reloads it turned into 12 hour reloads. Ran the thermostat around 4 O'Clock , Lit the Front room stove late morning when It got to 60 (-30 outside)in that room and heating it thru the doorway was not keeping up anymore.


Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
appleton, wi
I fired up my wood furnace to help my stove over the coldest few days but i do like it toasty warm in my house. If its under 74 it feels a little bit chilly to me. My Austral will keep my 1600 sq ft house comfy down to about zero, any colder than that she starts struggling and a few of those days were -20 so she needed a little help.


Feeling the Heat
Sep 10, 2017
St.Jacobs, ON, Canada
I've got a 1300sqft bungalow in Southern Ontario, Canada.
Stove is a BlazeKing Ashford 30.1 1
950's construction with some updated insulation.
Normally I run 24hr reload cycles, I switched to 12hr.
I still had quite a bit of fuel on reloads so it wasn't double the wood.

My bungalow convects pretty nicely so the living room with the stove stayed between 74-77degF and the bedrooms between 67-70. Probably a 8degF spread between the stove room and back bedrooms if I leave the doors open. Took a wall out this past summer and it's really made things more comfortable, bedrooms are way warmer, without cooking my living room and wasting wood.

The wind makes a huge difference for me, if there is no wind, I can keep running on pretty low settings, but if it's windy I have to crank it up. I have to say it was nice to crank it up for a whole evening and not overheat the place.