Recommendations for upgrading from my Avalon Ranier?

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mainehills

New Member
May 12, 2022
3
New Vineyard, ME
We moved to Maine a couple of years ago and have been learning how to use a wood stove since. We're thinking it's time to upgrade the stove.

I was thinking of a Blaze King Princess, but would that produce enough heat? What else might you recommend?

Our goals: We'd like to rely primarily on a stove for heat, although we also have propane. We currently have a ~20-year-old Avalon Ranier. It's in good shape and seems to work decently well but we want to tackle two issues:
  1. It doesn't put out enough heat in Dec-Feb to heat the place to 70F. In particular, when temps fall below 20F, the furnace kicks in to help it.
  2. It needs to be reloaded pretty frequently.
As background, we have a 1700sf cabin:
  • It's not leaky
  • It has only ok-to-mediocre insulation
  • It has a lot of glass on one wall in particular.
  • The stove is in our main room, which has a high cathedral ceiling (it spans two floors).
  • We also have a kind of loft master bedroom upstairs and a couple of smaller bedrooms and a bath on the main floor.
  • We cut our own firewood and have plenty available.
Overall, I'm guessing we need more BTUs than a typical 1700sf house would.

I'm thinking that the Princess's higher efficiency and larger firebox would help with time-between-reloads and also, as a bonus, make it easier to use during shoulder season because we can throttle it back. But I'm not sure if it will produce enough heat. FWIW, we have space for a King but I'm just not sure how much more it would cost given we'd need to also replace the stovepipe. We're comfortable looking at premium stoves under the idea of "buy once, cry once." Other thoughts?

Appreciate any guidance!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
94,550
South Puget Sound, WA
The Princess may have a lower top-end output than the Rainier. It does have a bit larger firebox, but it is thermostatically regulated with caps the top end. It's a very efficient stove and this is a good safety feature, but in this case, a higher output stove may be desirable. I would look at 3-3.5 cu ft stoves for longer burn times and better top-end performance. The Regency 3500 is worth a look and the Lopi Liberty in a non-cat. The big Drolet or Osburn also would work.

Additionally, it would be prudent with current fuel costs to invest in insulation improvements and perhaps some window insulation for the coldest days.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,004
SE North Carolina
1.8 cu ft is small. I just got a 2.4 cu ft and it feel huge compared to my 1.7 cu ft. We skied Sugarloaf every weekend when we were in graduate school. How much propane do you burn when it’s really cold? Say below -10.

I do think the BK stoves are best if you want to heat almost exclusively with wood. I will throw out that I really like the heat pump secondary combustion (non cat) stove combo. Heatpump above 35-40 degrees. Wood stove when is gets cold.

I would add the Pacific Energy T6 to the list.

Get two years minimum ahead on your wood supply and keep the rain off of it. (If you aren’t already)

It’s been 12 years since I’ve take. A cruise down Tote road. Man I miss it.

Evan
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Work on insulation first, losing heat is only causing you more work. I second getting ahead on wood. Dry wood makes all the difference.
 
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mainehills

New Member
May 12, 2022
3
New Vineyard, ME
Great responses, @begreen, @EbS-P , and @EatenByLimestone.

Some more background:

- Agree in concept with dealing with insulation first … but complications. We had an insulation guy come and offer ideas. And we are having some work done. But while that should help a bit, it won’t beneath shattering. What he told us is that it would be *very* expensive to get it right given how the place is built. For example , we have a wall of windows in our main room that peaks up to two stories tall. *The* key architectural feature of the place, super view, adequate quality, but a heat issue.

- Also good advice on wood. And am working on having 3 years worth. But it will take awhile. We started with not much our first winter, and dabbled then not-we’ll-enough seasoned last year. This year I’ll burn wood I split and stacked last winter. Then after that wood that’s seasoned at least two years. If I don’t make the progress I’m planning on the next couple months, I may buy logs once to accelerate thing.

- Appreciate the stove recommendations. Looks like I have some homework in front of me.

- This will sound more accurate than it really is, but on the coldest days we burn maybe 4 or 5 gallons of propane without the stove and maybe half that when using it.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
94,550
South Puget Sound, WA
Seems low, the Rainier should be able to match that heat demand, but it's hard to load that somewhat shallow firebox fully if only loading E/W. 5 gallons of propane per day is roughly 19,000 BTUs/hr. Based on those numbers, the BK Princess might work out for you. The non-cat alternative of a PE Alderlea T6 or Jotul F55 would also work.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
94,550
South Puget Sound, WA
Cut all wood to no longer than 18" to accommodate the new stove purchase.
 

mainehills

New Member
May 12, 2022
3
New Vineyard, ME
@begreen, thanks, good tips. Will cut to no longer than 18". And looking at how much propane we use to figure out how many BTUs we need seems obvious ... now that you mention it. I'll look at our propane data more closely to further figure out what it implies.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
5,225
Long Island NY
But if the 4-5 gallons is in addition to 70k BTU/hr from the current stove, the BK won't be able to keep up either.

You say you have to reload (the 1.8 cu ft firebox) "pretty frequently". At the days you burn 4-5 gallons of propane a day, how many hours before a reload is needed? (for at least fairly decent (dry) wood)

Given this, I do think it's best to go with another stove. Make it big, noting you can always burn smaller fires in a big stove, but not the other way around. And if you are willing to burn a little propane in the shoulder seasons (or go minisplit as suggested above, I do like that combo) when you don't need much propane anyway, in case the wood stove puts out too much in shoulder seasons, then I think it's a no-brainer to go with a bigger (output) stove.

If you want to burn exclusively with wood, including in the shoulder seasons, then you may have to work more on insulation.

Bottomline, you may have to decide whether you want to "add some non-wood-heat" in the coldest days, or in the shoulder season.