Quadra-Fire 3100 Millennium vs. Pacific Energy Alderlea T5 burn characteristics

Tyson

New Member
Feb 5, 2017
10
Nelson, British Columbia
Hi folks, new member here. First off, a big thanks to all the contributors who make this site such a great resource.

Now, I'm almost all the way in on the acquisition of a new Quadra-Fire 3100 Millennium stove. Could have it on my hearth this coming week but - I just can't get the Pacific Energy Alderlea T5 out of my head. I'm quite keen on the cast iron and swing-out trivets (yes, cooking is likely). Nice big glass to boot.

Two out of the three local wood stove gurus (vendors) guide me towards the Quad 3100 (the 2 cu.ft. firebox is a good fit) right after they determine that I'm not buying a Blaze King (non-cat stove this go-round). My wife's only demand is to have a nice view of the flames.

In a nutshell, I've been told that the PE stoves, burn "hot" vs. the Quad, which they claim offers better low heat control. No one has bad things to say about the quality/durability of either stove. I really like the low emissions of the Quad (1.1 gm/hr vs. 3.4gm/hr) and the longer burn times (claimed, 10hr vs. 8hr). The Quadra-Fire cast iron offering, the Explorer 2 is not an option. Quite pricey (almost 2x), twice the emissions rate of the 3100 and I'm not excited by east/west loading. It's kind of nice to be exceeding the 2020 EPA limits already with the 3100. Not obligatory, though.

There seems to be a number of satisfied owners of both products here. That's great to see, as I might buy either one! I suppose, when I see threads like "Quadra-Fire… why the bad rep?", it gives me pause for thought before I put my money where my mouth is. Seems like things are on track with quality for both manufacturers these days, so I'm not too concerned about the "bad rep". I'm most interested in the real-world burn characteristics - is it fair to say that the Quad has decent low-end burn control? I realize that it's hard to compare when you run one or the other but I'm curious as to what people hear about these things. For us, wood heat is technically supplemental but we do rely on it heavily when the temps drop. The Jotul 602 can actually heat things up acceptably if not impressively on an average winter day but it always takes constant tending and our 100+ year old house cools off dang fast when the flames die down. I believe the smaller firebox of a T4 just wouldn't give us the preferred burn times and accommodate living space expansion as well.

So, any thoughts, experiences, rumours on the differences in the burn characteristics of these two?

Thanks!
 

tpenny67

New Member
Dec 17, 2016
82
New England
I'm getting a Quad 4300 installed this week to replace the old Jotul. The big selling point on the Quad is the low emissions, which qualifies it for the stove change-out program in Vermont so I'm effectively getting a brand new stove for $500 (plus delivery, install, etc.)

I can't compare to a PE, but compared to my Lopi the Quad looks like it should be able to sustain a secondary burn with a smaller fire, and I'll also have more control over where the incoming air goes. In theory this will give it a lower, longer burn.

The one potential issue with the Quad is that it doesn't have a baffle bypass like the Lopi does. The bypass makes it easier to establish a draft and also throws more heat up the chimney at the very start of a fire. Whether this is important or not depends on which way your chimney drafts when you don't have a fire going.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,043
Schenectady, NY
I can't speak for the quad, but I'm insanely happy with my upgrade to the T5 this year.
 

Attaboy

Member
Jan 2, 2017
173
The great white north
Both are highly reputable stove manufacturers.

To the best of my knowledge the Alderlea T5 uses the same firebox and burn engine as the Super, Super Heritage, Super Classic, Super 27 and Spectrum Classic, this basic design has been in existence around 30 years now. I have owned mine since 1999, these stoves including the Alderlea T5, burn very efficiently and cleanly with absolutely no fuss as there is only one control, nothing is simpler for stove operation, many people appreciate this simplicity especially if you like to view a beautiful fire. For me personally the simpler the better and I know my wife appreciates this simplicity as well over a previous stove with 2 controls to operate.

There are other stoves out there including catalytic stoves that you must use a couple of controls which also will work fine as well if done and timed correctly, if not their published minimum emissions level is not met at a given point, which IMHO is often the case.

3.4gr/h is extremely little and I agree if you can have them lower it is even better.

IMHO the one piece baffle in the PE Alderlea is much simpler and far more rugged and robust, it is made out of stainless and guaranteed for life as are the stainless rails. As well for the average DIY home owner who cleans and inspect his stove it will be simpler and quicker to remove and re-install the one piece stainless baffle vs other stoves.
 
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bcrtops

Feeling the Heat
Nov 14, 2016
276
NW Oregon
Both are highly reputable stove manufacturers.

IMHO the baffle and in the PE Alderlea is much simpler and far more rugged and robust, it is made out of stainless and guaranteed for life as are the stainless rails. As well for the average DIY home owner who cleans and inspect his stove it will be simpler and quicker to remove and re-install vs other stoves.
This ^^^^
When looking for a stove, I looked at the "innards" first. When I found a stove that was as simple as possible for upkeep & maintenance -- I took the wife with to pick out the model.
 

Offset

Member
Mar 10, 2014
105
Haliburton, Ontario, Canada
No thoughts on the Quad 4300 but I am guessing is is a quality stove. I have had the Alderlea T5 for four years (maybe five) and have been very pleased with it. Efficient, simple to control, simple to maintain.

Good luck with your decision and purchase.
 

Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
I would compare the baffle setups in both too. Obviously having two PE's I'm biased but I clean chimneys/stoves and I like the quads, pretty simple to clean, but the board type of baffle just doesn't do it for me. Too delicate to have any place inside of a woodstove IMO. But I know it's commonplace. The ones I've worked on the boards are easy enough to remove to clean but man it's like playing operation or something moving those boards around. Gentle, gentle, gentle.
 
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jeff_t

Minister of Fire
Sep 14, 2008
4,202
SE MI
No experience with the Quad, but my super has the same guts as the T5 without the cast iron.

I will say that the low end control is certainly there, especially if I catch it on the way up. I can hold it at 450 pretty easily with no smoke out of the chimney. If I miss it, I can't really bring it back down much from 600, so I might have to open a door or window for a bit.

I don't know what you are burning, but I can go 8-10 hours with hardwood on an average winter day, and maybe 6-8 hours pushing it hard. If you don't really need much heat, 12-14 hour reloads without a match are pretty easy. I would not expect any of this with softwoods though.

The PE also has a reputation as an easy breather. Mine is on only about 13' of pipe, and I have no draft issues at all. And Squisher is right, the PE baffle is great. I'm not gentle at all when I stuff that last split in.
 
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JA600L

Minister of Fire
Nov 30, 2013
1,270
Lancaster Pennsylvania
Hi,
I wrote the thread about "why the bad rep ?" 3 years ago. I have a Quadra-Fire 4300 ACT Millenium (old school version). At that time there was very little talk of Quadra-Fire and a few negatives floating around so I asked. They are a great company and make quality products. I love this stove. However, my house needed a little more capacity. I upgraded to a Woodstock Soapstone Ideal Steel hybrid. I use the Quad for occasional fires upstairs now.

I would seriously consider moving up to the larger model (4300). The 3100 will probably burn overnight but be mostly cold by the morning. Differences in firebox size will make a big difference in burn time. Are you burning softwoods or hardwoods?
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
10,664
Southern IN
I have a Quadra-Fire 4300 ACT Millenium (old school version).....However, my house needed a little more capacity. I upgraded to a Woodstock Soapstone Ideal Steel hybrid. I use the Quad for occasional fires upstairs now. I would seriously consider moving up to the larger model (4300).
What is the difference between the 4300 ACT and the present ACC model. EPA list shows a higher 58.5 KBTU output on the ACT...pretty high as EPA #s go. Also, sounds like you're saying the IS out-heats the Quad....true? What is the sq.ft. you are heating (I understand you're heating from the basement.)
 
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Tyson

New Member
Feb 5, 2017
10
Nelson, British Columbia
Thanks for everyone's thoughts on the matter! I'm feeling a bit spoilt for choice, to say the least. Around here, it's softwood country and Doug fir and larch reign but some birch is available and puts them to shame. Many folks love larch for easy splitting, drying, easy catch, and smooth burn. With our moist climate, the birch is just more finicky to season and quick to go punky. Arborists about town attempt to sell off their trimmings, much of which is ornamental hardwoods (maple, oak, walnut...). This summer I hope to pay attention to these offerings but they're a crapshoot. As for burn times, anything is an improvement over a 602, but the Quad apparently goes a little longer than the T5. Not sure if that's effective output though. At the moment, we're only heating around 800sq.ft. of relatively tight but poorly insulated old house and average winter days are about -4C/25F. Not the most demanding circumstances.

There is certainly something to be said for the PE baffle setup. That sure looks like years of trouble-free burning in a stainless steel box. A couple buddies have Summits and are very happy. Nice flame show as well. Just burn the wood and stay warm they say. The vendor I might buy the 3100 from is the local official distributor and claims to have effective and economical solutions on hand for the usual brick, tube, or board issues. He claims, as a distributor would, I suppose, that no over-firing typically means no problems for many years. His direct local competition for Quad sales gives me the same lines - no problems unless abused, better low heat control and longer burn times than PE. I just don't know anybody with one.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
10,664
Southern IN
here, it's softwood country and Doug fir and larch reign but some birch is available and puts them to shame.
We don't have Doug Fir here, and when I look at BTU charts, I don't know what to believe. Biggest range of numbers I've seen for any specie. I see ratings for Doug anywhere from 20 MBTU/cord, about like Black Cherry, up to 26.5 which is about the same as Pignut Hickory. :confused: I've often seen Yellow Birch rated at 23.6....White Ash level.
 

bcrtops

Feeling the Heat
Nov 14, 2016
276
NW Oregon
We don't have Doug Fir here, and when I look at BTU charts, I don't know what to believe. Biggest range of numbers I've seen for any specie. I see ratings for Doug anywhere from 20 MBTU/cord, about like Black Cherry, up to 26.5 which is about the same as Pignut Hickory. :confused: I've often seen Yellow Birch rated at 23.6....White Ash level.
Douglas Fir, the true firs (White, Noble, Grand, etc.) & Hemlock all vary a considerable amount in the btu's. It all depends on their density, i.e, the tightness of their growth rings/ how long they has been growing & how fast they grew. You can get old growth that is very dense. You can get 2nd growth, less than 100 yrs. old, that dries out like balsa wood. You can get 2nd growth that is quite dense, because it grew up under a forest canopy, & was not fertilized by the timber companies.

Make sense? It is all about the weight of the wood. I can always get an over-night burn with the heavy, dense stuff, but never with logs/splits that have dried out to a light weight. You can get a load (cord) of mixed "fir" that seasoned weighs only 2,000lbs. You can, also, get a load (cord) of mixed "fir" that is seasoned & weighs 4-5000lbs.! There is your difference. (& the difference is a lot greater than the charts even show -- a lb.=a lb., irregardless of the species when it comes to btu's)
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,692
South Puget Sound, WA
Same for spruce. Lowland, fast growing spruce is not the same as slow growing high altitude spruce. The latter is much more dense.
 

bcrtops

Feeling the Heat
Nov 14, 2016
276
NW Oregon
Same for spruce. Lowland, fast growing spruce is not the same as slow growing high altitude spruce. The latter is much more dense.
Spruce is species dependent, also. Sitka for airplanes = always light = the Spruce Goose
 

ddddddden

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2009
1,487
Central Va
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Tyson

New Member
Feb 5, 2017
10
Nelson, British Columbia
Well, I was pretty far down the road with the purchase of the Quad so that's what's sitting in the living room as of today. Oh, I hemmed and hawed over it til I almost flipped a nickel, which I think I probably should have done anyway. Can't have them both at the same time but I'm not married to this one either. I got a pretty good idea of what the next go-round might involve! Not much of a looker but so far the Quad seems to work as promised. Such a nice comfortable heat. Might end up burning a bit more wood than the 602, which now has a plant sitting on it until i figure out a more appropriate use for it (backyard sauna?).

I appreciate everyone's input and plan to write up a review after the honeymoon is over!
 
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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,043
Schenectady, NY
I'm sure you'll be able to find a more appropriate use for the plant.

Pics of the quad in action?
 

Tyson

New Member
Feb 5, 2017
10
Nelson, British Columbia
One off the hop, I'll take more when there's a nice flame show. Of course, the coals look a bit like flames due to the relative over-exposure but o/w one can't see the stove. The usual challenge of taking a picture of a fire and what contains it...
3100 burn.jpg

Just a big black steel box. Doesn't look any more impressive in front of me than it sounds, to my eye, but, hey, it's what's inside that counts, right? Fortunately, there's a nice big piece of glass to show what's going on. I'm enjoying that very very much!
 
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Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
Congratulations! Be great to hear some updates as you get used to burning it a bit.
 

bushman

Burning Hunk
Dec 28, 2014
157
Northern Michigan
I burnt a Alderlea T5 earlier this season and had consistent coaling up with it. I am presently burning a different brand-model stove with the same wood and not having the coal bed build up, burning down to ashes after slower hotter burn cycle. It just is and temperature-barometer-humidity are similar.

The 1st wood stove I bought new back in 1998 was a Super 27, don't recall coaling problems. Pacific Energy stoves are robot cut & probably welded steel boxes, very unlikely much variation from one to another coming off the line. I know myself from years of burning a Super 27 with reckless abandon that they are good,simple & sturdy stoves but, my Alderlea experience did not meet my legendary expectations.

Now do I think it's a bad stove, no. I do think that little things can be thrown into the mix that can vary the outcome greatly.

I did use Rutland gasket on the Alderlea door & glass, maybe not using the OEM gasket kit was my downfall? I bought the stove off some Yoopers who used it 2 years-maybe and switched back to a big Timberline single door.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,692
South Puget Sound, WA
I've been burning for 9+ seasons in the T6 and have not had coaling issues. May just be the setup?
 

bushman

Burning Hunk
Dec 28, 2014
157
Northern Michigan
I am at different house than when I ran the Super 27, used to have a modified A frame type house with 20' chimney 15' of single and 5' of class A through roof. Now it's 15' of pipe and with the same fire box on Alderlea T5 I get coaling.

My point is it's difficult to compare stove to stove unless you have controlled conditions. After going through a bunch of highly acclaimed stoves at my current home, I have been most successful with a stove that has not worked out for a majority of users according to reviews posted.

It's not just the stove, it's the setup, I agree. The difficult part is setting up for a particular stove and making it work.
 

Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
It would seem your experience is unique in both regards then. My super insert has no coaling issues, nor does my summit. Super on just over 15' of chimney and the summit with 23' with two 90's.