Preway Stove/fireplace: Worthwhile to use?

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New Member
Feb 26, 2021
central MN
Hello all,

Preway Stove/fireplace:  Worthwhile to use?

I looked for information on this site about Preway stoves, and found almost nothing, so I thought I'd share what I've observed about this one that came with our new (to us) house.

The glass doors are bi-fold and latch shut, but do not have gaskets or any other type of seals.
Air inlets (not counting unintentional leaks) are at the lower front (about a 3 square inch opening into the unsealed ash pan area) and from behind a false back panel in the firebox that ends about 1ft up (and is warped from some sort of excessive heat event as near as I can tell)
There is a lever on the lower right side that can be moved from "open" to "closed", but I cannot see that it has any effect on the burn, so I'm not sure what it controls or if its even working currently.
There is a damper in the 8" stove pipe just above the stove. I've noticed that closing it at least halfway seems to slow down the draft a bit and let the stove heat up more, but closing it much further sometimes allows whiffs of smoke to escape.
The firebox floor appears to be at least 1/8" steel, but from tapping, I'm pretty sure the walls and top are much thinner. The box appears to be screwed together without any seam sealant, so there are likely plenty of leaks. There are no firebricks and no baffle plate. There is a flap under the flue opening that I'm guessing is meant to be sucked up to smother any chimney fires that might occur.
The brown firebox surround is very effective at keeping the fire from warming the house unless the convection fan is on. There is a fan in the back that turns on when it gets warm enough, and eventually blows harder if the stove gets even warmer.

We've been burning boxelder, silver maple, ash, and a little apple wood in it (split and stacked about 2 years). The stove came with a grate in it (barely visible in the picture), but this seemed to be preventing coals, so I removed it in an effort to slow down the burn. There are no temperature probes, but if I load it with 4-5 splits, it just burns them up in 1-2 hours and overheats the living room (even with the top down method), while if I load only 1 split every 20 minutes, it produces a lower, more even heat (but still uses the same amount of wood over time). I've never used a newer EPA wood stove, but from what I've read on this site, I'm pretty sure this wood be considered somewhat excessive wood use for a modern stove. I was almost wondering if the net heat production was even a positive number, but I think it is actually still more efficient than an open fireplace. It can heat the 1,000sf 2nd floor from 72F to 79F in about 5 hours quite easily. (as measured in the hall outside the living room, the bedrooms are closer to 70-74, but that is more due to door transoms [or lack thereof] interfering with convection)

My thought at this point is that this looks like a recreational stove, designed to provide a pleasant fire to look at in the evenings without overheating the house (leave the fan off) but still provide some useful heat when desired (turn the fan on). However it is probably only 50% efficient at best, and isn't built for continuous whole-house heating.

As a side note, it does appear to be one of the safest stoves to have around children, since the outside isn't hot enough for instant burns (except the glass perhaps) and the top is sloped so any toys that land on it will slide off.

Any ideas on how to make it more efficient? or is it even feasible? I could easily add/fix controls for primary air, but without a baffle plate, I think turning it down would eventually cause smoke and chimney soot. I could add a stainless steel baffle plate just above the (assumed) secondary air inlet in the back. Do you think this would be effective/safe? I wonder if it might cause things to get hotter than the stove is rated for. Also, with very leaky doors, maybe the stove would just overfire with a baffle plate?

Or maybe there is a better way to operate the stove? I have noticed larger splits (5" or more in diameter) last longer, but still seem to adhere to the same pounds of wood per hour rate that small splits do.

Preway was discontinued long ago. These metal fireplaces are mostly for show and not for 24/7 heating. They are not designed for heating the home, just for some supplemental warmth.
Atleast you have a good area to put a nice big wood stove
True, although it is not the ideal location for whole house heating. I think when we get a proper wood stove, we'll put it in the walk out basement so in theory it can heat the whole house instead of just the 2nd level. Naturally a Blaze King sounds like the perfect stove, but with natural gas so cheap, it seems hard to justify the cost.
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I see someone trying to unload this for a long time now. She wants what a real wood stove (used) would be. She be holding firm @ $600. I think she will have this come July.
Plus this could be off putting to some, she says" I'm not going to go back and forth and answer a lot of questions through messages. if you'd like to come look at it please message me."

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