Shopping for our first wood stove - input appreciated!

  • 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.

afult7

New Member
Aug 15, 2021
22
Wisconsin
We're in the market for our first wood stove to use our primary heat source. Our home is an 1800 sq ft two story farmhouse that can be drafty in some places. We're thinking we would like a non-catalytic so that we don't need to worry as much about parts wearing out/breaking or needing replacement, but we're open to catalytic if there are reliable ones. We're new to burning wood as a primary heat source, so we need something simple.

Priorities when looking for a stove: puts out enough heat to heat our home through the winter in our cold Wisconsin climate, qualifies for the 2021 tax credit, budget-friendly is a plus. So far, I'm liking what I read about Kuma for their quality and customer service. I'm also intrigued by Blaze King since they seem to put out a lot of heat for a long time, although I know they are catalytic so that is my potential hesitation.

Our local stove dealer has a couple floor model stoves for 10% - the Jotul Oslo for $3835.80 and Kuma Ashwood (I'm thinking it's the older model, not the LE) for$2,859.30. Are those good deals? The dealer also has Blaze King Ashford and Princess in stock. I keep leaning towards a Kuma though, anyone know if their newer LE models are significantly better than the older models? Any other stoves I should be considering?

Thank you!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,117
central pa
All of those are good stoves.

Blaze kings do have very long burn times but they don't put out a lot of heat for a long time. They put out a little heat for a long time or allot of heat for a short time
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,578
Southeast CT
I’ve never had a catalytic stove. From what I understand, non-catalytic stoves have a more dramatic view of the fire. That can make or break the deal for some.
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,932
Long Island NY
All of those are good stoves.

Blaze kings do have very long burn times but they don't put out a lot of heat for a long time. They put out a little heat for a long time or allot of heat for a short time

That goes for all stoves - it's a finite fuel amount and one can spread it over a long time with lower output per hour, or with a lot more output per hour but for a shorter time until the tank is empty.

Talking about Blaze Kings, they are not the highest output stoves (but running them "hot and fast" they do well - they are used a lot in e.g. Alaska...), but they do allow to also run long at lower output. This is enabled by the cat and the thermostat that keeps the heat output constant and is ideal in the shoulder seasons.
Indeed in this mode the view is not entertaining. Running high, it looks the same as other (non cat) stoves.

If you have a drafty home, not too small, and in a cold climate, and want to use the stove as your main heat source, you need to figure out what your max BTU requirement is per hour.

Also, heating a full home with a heater located in one space requires some good air flow. You will end up with cold(er) spots in your home.

Do you have a chimney? Where (internal or external)? Has it been inspected? Is it lined or a class A chimney? Do you have wood - that needs seasoning because wet wood won't work well in a modern stove?
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,842
Iowa
Welcome to Hearth.com. You have chosen well for advice by stopping in here. If you don't have well seasoned wood already available for this winter you will struggle with any new stove. If you are researching for the future I would recommend stocking up on fuel now.
Where are you at roughly at in WI?
 
  • Like
Reactions: EbS-P and afult7

afult7

New Member
Aug 15, 2021
22
Wisconsin
That goes for all stoves - it's a finite fuel amount and one can spread it over a long time with lower output per hour, or with a lot more output per hour but for a shorter time until the tank is empty.

Talking about Blaze Kings, they are not the highest output stoves (but running them "hot and fast" they do well - they are used a lot in e.g. Alaska...), but they do allow to also run long at lower output. This is enabled by the cat and the thermostat that keeps the heat output constant and is ideal in the shoulder seasons.
Indeed in this mode the view is not entertaining. Running high, it looks the same as other (non cat) stoves.

If you have a drafty home, not too small, and in a cold climate, and want to use the stove as your main heat source, you need to figure out what your max BTU requirement is per hour.

Also, heating a full home with a heater located in one space requires some good air flow. You will end up with cold(er) spots in your home.

Do you have a chimney? Where (internal or external)? Has it been inspected? Is it lined or a class A chimney? Do you have wood - that needs seasoning because wet wood won't work well in a modern stove?

Thank you for the information!

We currently have a factory built fireplace that we are looking to rip out and replace with the new stove and class A chimney. The chase is bumped out on the side of the house and enclosed with siding, so thinking we will be able to mostly work from the outside to remove the chimney/factory fireplace and replace with the new one.

We have lots of wood available around us, so yes planning to get on that. We also have lots of Amish around so they are a good source of wood as well.
 

afult7

New Member
Aug 15, 2021
22
Wisconsin
Welcome to Hearth.com. You have chosen well for advice by stopping in here. If you don't have well seasoned wood already available for this winter you will struggle with any new stove. If you are researching for the future I would recommend stocking up on fuel now.
Where are you at roughly at in WI?

Thank you for the welcome! :)

I'm near Beaver Dam. I do have several sources for seasoned wood, planning to buy some very soon.
 
  • Like
Reactions: moresnow

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,842
Iowa
Thank you for the welcome! :)

I'm near Beaver Dam. I do have several sources for seasoned wood, planning to buy some very soon.

Just a heads up on purchasing "seasoned wood". Generally it ain't happening across the board.

Purchase a probe type moisture meter at you local big box store or hardware. Take it to the wood sellers location. Re-split (take your own hatchet/splitting axe etc. or ask them to re-split a handful of those splits) some of the splits that you have intentions of purchase. Test the freshly exposed inner face on these re-split test splits. Test away. 20% moisture content or less is optimum for new stoves. Much over 20% will have you scampering back here asking why your brand new stove doesn't function correctly. It's a real issue with buying wood this time of year with intentions of burning it successfully within months. Good luck.
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,932
Long Island NY
I suggest to buy a moisture meter. Buying "seasoned" wood very often results in getting insufficiently seasoned wood.

Split the wood and measure on the fresh split surface. 20 percent or below is what you are aiming for.

Regarding the stove, can you estimate BTU needs from your oil or gas bill?
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
560
SE WI
I will echo many of the previous statements.

1. You generally won't find seasoned wood to buy regardless of what is advertised. Wood sellers advertise it's seasoned if it was a tree cut down a couple of years ago; which is not the case. Seasoning doesn't begin until it's split. Buying pre-split wood won't help the bottom line if you plan to heat with it. Sweat equity is how you save heating $.

2. Modern stoves NEED well seasoned wood.

3. Air flow is critical to effectively heat with wood. I can get our stove room from 64 to 80 in an hour, but the rest of the house stays cooler (how much cooler depends on temperature and wind).

Woodstoves and fireplaces are space heaters. We use fans to help move the air around and it does the job ok. Our NC30 (which is no longer available - replaced by the NC32) heats our 2400 ft built in 1978 and keeps the electric baseboard from kicking in except when it's super cold and windy. I installed it myself along with an insulated chimney liner for about $2500 in January 2019.

I also am adding lots of softwood to my woodstacks because hardwood in spring and fall has us opening windows. Softwoods season way faster than hardwood and people give it away. Right now I am 3 years ahead on hardwood and 2 on softwood, which is about the general accepted minimum. That's 12 cord css (cut, split, stacked), which takes up a lot of space.

If you still do this project, here's how I'd approach it...

#1. Get wood NOW! Ash is a good heating hardwood, seasons pretty quickly, will burn if less than perfectly seasoned and is available here in WI due to all the EAB killed tree's. Get 2 years worth so next winter it'll be seasoned.

#2. Find sources of unprocessed wood. Tree services (Asphlundh in our area for example) are always looking for places to drop softwoods no charge. Get in good with a tree service and take some softwood and they'll bring you some hardwood too.
 

afult7

New Member
Aug 15, 2021
22
Wisconsin
I will echo many of the previous statements.

1. You generally won't find seasoned wood to buy regardless of what is advertised. Wood sellers advertise it's seasoned if it was a tree cut down a couple of years ago; which is not the case. Seasoning doesn't begin until it's split. Buying pre-split wood won't help the bottom line if you plan to heat with it. Sweat equity is how you save heating $.

2. Modern stoves NEED well seasoned wood.

3. Air flow is critical to effectively heat with wood. I can get our stove room from 64 to 80 in an hour, but the rest of the house stays cooler (how much cooler depends on temperature and wind).

Woodstoves and fireplaces are space heaters. We use fans to help move the air around and it does the job ok. Our NC30 (which is no longer available - replaced by the NC32) heats our 2400 ft built in 1978 and keeps the electric baseboard from kicking in except when it's super cold and windy. I installed it myself along with an insulated chimney liner for about $2500 in January 2019.

I also am adding lots of softwood to my woodstacks because hardwood in spring and fall has us opening windows. Softwoods season way faster than hardwood and people give it away. Right now I am 3 years ahead on hardwood and 2 on softwood, which is about the general accepted minimum. That's 12 cord css (cut, split, stacked), which takes up a lot of space.

If you still do this project, here's how I'd approach it...

#1. Get wood NOW! Ash is a good heating hardwood, seasons pretty quickly, will burn if less than perfectly seasoned and is available here in WI due to all the EAB killed tree's. Get 2 years worth so next winter it'll be seasoned.

#2. Find sources of unprocessed wood. Tree services (Asphlundh in our area for example) are always looking for places to drop softwoods no charge. Get in good with a tree service and take some softwood and they'll bring you some hardwood too.

Thank you so much for the tips! I'll look for some ash. We also do have a relationship with a local tree service who said he would give us firewood.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,117
central pa
Thank you so much for the tips! I'll look for some ash. We also do have a relationship with a local tree service who said he would give us firewood.
The wood from the tree service will be wet as well
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,473
SE North Carolina
There are just not many non catalytic stoves that qualify for the tax credit. The Olso V3 looks great but it expensive and reviews seem mixed. Kuma seems like a good stove
but it has a cat. If I was going the cat route I would choose Blazeking. Look at Drolet they make some bigger stoves that in the end even with out the tax end up about the same cost.
If you don’t have wood yet consider a pallet of compressed saw dust bricks logs as part of the cost of the install. Wet wood sucks.

Evan
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

afult7

New Member
Aug 15, 2021
22
Wisconsin
There are just not many non catalytic stoves that qualify for the tax credit. The Olso V3 looks great but it expensive and reviews seem mixed. Kuma seems like a good stove
but it has a cat. If I was going the cat route I would choose Blazeking. Look at Drolet they make some bigger stoves that in the end even with out the tax end up about the same cost.
If you don’t have wood yet consider a pallet of compressed saw dust bricks logs as part of the cost of the install. Wet wood sucks.

Evan

Thank you for the input! :) I agree about the Oslo, that's what I found as well..it's beautiful but the mixed reviews make me a bit nervous. The Kumas are a little more economical, qualify for the tax credit, and I hear rave reviews about the company and products. I'm thinking that is the direction I may go.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stoveliker

Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
9,449
NW Wisconsin
Another Jotul you may want to take a look at is the F55 or even the F45. Both non cats and very simple to operate. They don’t qualify for the tax break but are about 1k cheaper than the Oslo.
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

wormser

New Member
Feb 16, 2021
17
Finger Lakes, NY
Thank you for the input! :) I agree about the Oslo, that's what I found as well..it's beautiful but the mixed reviews make me a bit nervous. The Kumas are a little more economical, qualify for the tax credit, and I hear rave reviews about the company and products. I'm thinking that is the direction I may go.
I moved from an old smoke dragon to a Kuma Classic last year. I spent a lot of time reading reviews and understanding the differences in cat vs. non cat. I was very nervous moving to a cat stove. I also have a masonry chimney with clay flu liner so many told me I'd need a SS insert.

I would echo the rave reviews for Kuma. Anytime I've reached out to them, they have responded with great information. They are also made in the USA which was important for me. The performance of the stove itself has been very satisfactory to this point. I got it in February last year and it kept our 1500sqft ranch house warm for the remainder of the winter and cool spring. It's simple to use and put me at ease after using it for a few weeks and learning what works best. My wife and I spend a lot more time sitting by it enjoying the view (well I do, she enjoys the heat and reads). The secondary burns are mesmerizing.

Many folks have given you advice, some you may take, other you will ignore. I'd just say whatever you choose, keep an open mind to adjustments that may be needed for the stove to work efficiently in your setting. I opted not to get a SS liner and so far it's worked fine without. I still haven't burnt through an entire season so what wasn't needed in February might be needed in November.

Good luck
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

afult7

New Member
Aug 15, 2021
22
Wisconsin
I moved from an old smoke dragon to a Kuma Classic last year. I spent a lot of time reading reviews and understanding the differences in cat vs. non cat. I was very nervous moving to a cat stove. I also have a masonry chimney with clay flu liner so many told me I'd need a SS insert.

I would echo the rave reviews for Kuma. Anytime I've reached out to them, they have responded with great information. They are also made in the USA which was important for me. The performance of the stove itself has been very satisfactory to this point. I got it in February last year and it kept our 1500sqft ranch house warm for the remainder of the winter and cool spring. It's simple to use and put me at ease after using it for a few weeks and learning what works best. My wife and I spend a lot more time sitting by it enjoying the view (well I do, she enjoys the heat and reads). The secondary burns are mesmerizing.

Many folks have given you advice, some you may take, other you will ignore. I'd just say whatever you choose, keep an open mind to adjustments that may be needed for the stove to work efficiently in your setting. I opted not to get a SS liner and so far it's worked fine without. I still haven't burnt through an entire season so what wasn't needed in February might be needed in November.

Good luck

Thank you so much for sharing your insights, I appreciate it! :)
 

john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
633
Wildwood MO
I would highly recommend a a stove with a square or rectangular firebox that can be north south loaded.
 
  • Like
Reactions: afult7

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,567
South Puget Sound, WA
Agreed. Go for a squarish firebox that affords N/S loading. . However, do the math if the budget is of concern. Even with the 26% credit, a 3+ cu ft Englander or Drolet will likely come in at less than a large BK stove. For a solid, value stove look at the Englander 32.NC, Drolet Baltic or Myriad III or Drolet HT3000. All of these are under $1500.