Reliable Stove?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

bluelava22

New Member
Jul 3, 2021
3
chicago
Hello I am brand new to the forum and new to wood stoves. I live in Chicago and want to get a wood stove for backup heat.
Few dealers in the area but one place that has been in business for many years is Grass Roots Energy of Wauconda. I visited them
and it seems the 3 major brands they carry are Vermont Castings, Hearthstone, and Lopi. I don't plan on using this stove daily, but when
I need it....well it has to work and be reliable and easy to use! Does any of these manufacturers stand above the rest in that regard? Thanks
 

BCC_Burner

Feeling the Heat
Sep 10, 2013
452
Uptown Marble, CO
Just hope that the same folks making Lopi stoves aren't the ones who designed their website. That thing is an abomination. SMH.

If the 26% tax credit is important to you, Hearthstones are worth a look too, as I believe Lopi only has two freestanding stoves that qualify for it.
 

xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,391
Lackawaxen PA
If figuring out which new stove was built for a long reliable life wasn't hard enough. Something we all have done. It's recently became a whole new game. The manufactures had to have there stoves certified to the new EPA emission requirement. I believe many had to redesign there stoves. We've heard of issues. It's a wait and see how well they stand up.

Some here have the new designs. Hopefully they will comment.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,355
South Puget Sound, WA
The stove will only be as reliable if correctly installed, properly operated and burning fully seasoned, dry wood. If we knew more about the area being heated we could make better suggestions.
 
  • Like
Reactions: EbS-P

bluelava22

New Member
Jul 3, 2021
3
chicago
I will be heating a brick ranch 1100 sq ft. I'd like to put it right next to the kitchen door at the far back of the house, but I have to get up in my attic and see if there is electrical lines above in the ceiling. I figure the heat will travel down the hallway to the rest of the house. My second spot would be in the corner of my living room. I know there is no electrical wires going thru the ceiling in that location. The corner is also a little more centrally located within the house but bringing in wood will be a little more hassle while the kitchen location I'd have wood right outside the door. Both locations the salesman suggested going straight up thru the roof. He said better draft with no turns going straight up instead of thru the wall.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,912
Long Island NY
The salesman is correct regarding going straight up. Regarding the location, having a stove on one end of a ranch home is unlikely to be able to heat your whole home; heat travels up and not horizontally. You'd have to use fans (on the floor, to move colder air to the stove that will be replaced by warmer air from the stove).

I think the living room is a better location, assuming that is where you spend most of the time. But a sketch of the lay-out of your home will help you get better feedback.

If you are really going to get a stove, go get wood *now*. Split it and stack it covered from the rain, preferably facing the sun and having some wind blow through it. Most wood needs at least one year, often two to burn properly. Meaning that you don't use a lot of the heat evaporating the 30% moisture in the wood, and keeping your chimney cleaner from creosote.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MR. GLO

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,355
South Puget Sound, WA
Ranch houses are particularly hard to heat evenly from end to end without some sort of assistance. However, if this is just for emergency power outages, then perhaps the kitchen location would work. It sounds like the Lopi Evergreen will do the job. It qualifies for the 26% tax credit which includes the entire installation.

If you can post a sketch of the floor plan we can make some suggestions on moving the heat. But this may be contingent on having power. How frequently do you expect to use the stove?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,809
Northern NH
If you are brand new to woodstoves here are few facts that many folks do not account for in their planning

You need a source of dry wood. Unless you cut it yourself, you need to assume that any wood purchased will be wet. Modern stoves need dry wood to burn properly and the lack of dry wood and poor operation is the number one question we get. Wet wood equals creosote and dirty fires that stink up the neighborhood. Hardwood typically takes 2 years to dry completely if its cut and split and stacked properly in the sun (preferably covered on top to keep the rain out but allow airflow. If its in log length the clock does not start ticking on the 2 years, its got to be cut, split and stacked.

The only way to tell if the wood is truly dry is with a moisture meter and the skills to use it (the wood must be within a certain temperature range and freshly split with the readings taken at the center of the split (not the ends). ). Unless the wood seller has a kiln (rare) , he cant dry wood any faster than you can. If he has a kiln you will pay a premium for the wood, sometimes the premium negates any savings for burning wood.

Its highly likely that the installation will cost as least as much as the stove or more. There are minimum clearances required for the stove and piping, they are the minimum and not optional. A hack installation can be unsafe and expensive to fix.

Ash is always hot enough to burn until its disposed of outside the house. Buy a steel ash can with tight lid and use it. Coals in those ashes in the can can smoulder for days. Fires started from ash disposal in flammable or meltable containers happen frequently. Start out right and get a metal ash can big enough to hold several days of ashes.

A woodstove is a space heater, moving heat around a house is a major effort and some layouts are far worse than others. Inevitably the room the stove is in will be quite warm while other rooms will be colder. Yes its a good backup but plan on this major temperature differential. I think in many cases folks just move into the stove room if they are in a backup situation.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: clancey

bluelava22

New Member
Jul 3, 2021
3
chicago
Thanks everybody for the replies. Lot's of very good tips. As I kind of thought, the living room is probably best as I spend time there and
it will be a more central location. Lot's to think about besides the stove itself. The wood, ash can, etc.

I do have one more possible location and that would be the basement. It's not finished and I imagine the foundation walls would soak up a lot of the heat and getting the heat upstairs would also be an issue. But this location would "hide" the stove because I can put it in the corner and the pipe would travel up through a closet. If I chose this route, would it be smarter to oversize the stove a bit in order to get the heat upstairs? How hot does the pipe get? Would the closet become unusable for clothes? I can also put the stove along a wall in the basement more centrally located and the pipe would go through the living room corner in the same spot I was considering putting the stove. A possible benefit to the basement would be keeping my pipes from freezing during a power outage. I don't know if the upstairs location would do this. Again this is mostly for a power out situation, but occasionally for the fun of it.

Thanks again for the ideas and tips. Looking forward to more comments especially about the basement location.
 
Last edited:

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,912
Long Island NY
You would lose about 1/3 of your heat thru the walls and floor it it's not insulated. And you may have to also add a fan someplace to get the heat up more efficiently.

IF that is all taken care of, a basement install does provide a way to even out the heating in the upstairs, though. The basement acts as a kind of heat reservoir. But without insulation, it's not worth it imo.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,355
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, the walls around and uninsulated basements suck up a lot of heat. This means about 1 cord out of 3 burned is heating outdoors. Another consideration for the basement is how the wood gets to the stove. If this is a daylight basement, then it's not a big deal. But if every load of wood needs to be carried through the house and then down the stairs, it will get old quickly. Sometimes there is a basement window that can be reconfigured as a wood chute, but that takes some planning. Another downside of a basement stove is that it means a lot of up and down the stairs to maintain the fire. And the nice fire view is out of sight.

High-temp chimney pipe must be used through the closet. It needs to be enclosed and have 2" clearance around it. Some of this heat can be scavenged into the room by adding a vent at the top and bottom of the enclosure.

Can you post a sketch of the floor plan that shows doors, potential stove locations, the closet and the basement staircase entry? Is the basement partitioned or wide open?

Another option might be a wood furnace. What is the current, primary heating system?
 
Last edited: