Should I avoid a cat stove?

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RShim

New Member
Oct 5, 2022
45
Madison WI
Yes, there are many stoves that have a nice cooking surface that are in the 2 cu ft range. The Quad 3100 Millenium step top is a classic choice too. We didn't use our stove for cooking for a few years, though my wife would often use it with the trivet swung out for rising bread dough. Then I started experimenting with slow cooking and got hooked. We use it for this task several times during the winter now and have even cooked a turkey breast for Thanksgiving or Christmas in our dutch oven on the trivet top.
I am taking my Dutch Oven to the dealership to compare top surfaces - as I do enjoy cooking slow cooking in my cast iron cookware. Between the two they have available, it appears a considerable size difference in cook top surface range. I drink a bit of tea and look forward to not having to turn my regular stove on to heat water.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
20,261
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Bk stoves don't have more radiant heat than any other stoves infact they have less than many

Right, if you close your eyes, you don't know what 600 degree box you're standing next to while frying an egg. Even a soapstone stove will make your knees get hot.
 
Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
As far as the original question, I think it is like asking "should I avoid a standard shift car". Many people would say yes. I would say no. I love the control it provides.

The catalysts are an expense, but I personally tend to like using them more than the non-catalytic models of low emission stoves.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,483
Long Island NY
The point is that there is no generally valid answer to the question.

I think this question is best answered only after explaining what the *burning habits* will be (always someone at home, shoulder season,. aesthetics, only wood or just a base load topped up with e.g. oil, etc. etc.)

There is no a priori reason to avoid a cat stove. A cat stove may not be ideal in every situation (every wish list). But there is no generally valid answer. It depends on what you want (to do with the stove).
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,172
central pa
As far as the original question, I think it is like asking "should I avoid a standard shift car". Many people would say yes. I would say no. I love the control it provides.

The catalysts are an expense, but I personally tend to like using them more than the non-catalytic models of low emission stoves.
The cat non cat thing really comes down to needs and preferences. I have heated with both and like things about both. Dislike other things. As said by others there is no right answer for everyone.
 
Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
Further to my original post, I just right now fired up my Woodstock Fireview. I upgraded it from an ancient obscure model (called a belly baffle) to become essentially a 201 with a rebuild kit from Woodstock, and I wanted to test it out. It is a new top plate and a new rectangular catalyst. The thing is blowing me out of the house.

Last year, I could only run it with no catalyst because the rebuild kit (specifically the catalyst part) was on backorder for the better part of a year.

The performance has increased and it is not subtle. I am actually very surprised at the difference.

I think the biggest downside is cost of catalyst replacements. The work/effort does not bother me. Even with a new non-cat stove, one has to wait for it to warm up before engaging the secondary burn cycle anyway.

Now if you are talking an old unsealed antique stove.... mmmmm.... those are such a pleasure to operate and they heat instantly. They are not fashionable though.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,172
central pa
Now if you are talking an old unsealed antique stove.... mmmmm.... those are such a pleasure to operate and they heat instantly. They are not fashionable though.
A pleasure to operate??? Maybe if you don't care about running it properly. But they should be run exactly the same. Bring them up to temp then shut back the air in a couple steps till you are cruising at the proper stack temps.

Yes the controls are different but they all are basically run the same. And you use less wood with new ones.
 
Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
A pleasure to operate??? Maybe if you don't care about running it properly. But they should be run exactly the same. Bring them up to temp then shut back the air in a couple steps till you are cruising at the proper stack temps.

Yes the controls are different but they all are basically run the same. And you use less wood with new ones.
Yes this is all true. Perhaps "operate" wasn't the best word. They are a pleasure in that I can come into a frozen room and have decent heat in 10 minutes. Of course, I only use these old antique stoves in areas that are used occasionally... like my drum room / place for hanging out with visitors. Also I have an old "morning stove" in my kitchen (very old house). The room is left unheated through the night, and then we put some heat in it just for the brief time that we are in there.

The main portion of our house has two catalytic stoves. That is the area that is heated constantly....in winter anyway. I have been leaving it at fall temperatures lately (completely unheated), and spending time in the other areas. I just don't find it necessary to fully heat every area of this big house for the entire year.

Many would argue that the old stoves should go in the garbage. However, they have their utility in my particular application. Plus they are original and beautiful.

But yeah, I suppose operation is the same. Crack it up, then back off the air. It is no more work to back it off and activate a catalyst or non-catalytic secondary burn cycle.... than to just adjust the air intake on an old stove. You just proved the point that catalytic stoves are not significantly more "work" than any stove.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,172
central pa
Yes this is all true. Perhaps "operate" wasn't the best word. They are a pleasure in that I can come into a frozen room and have decent heat in 10 minutes. Of course, I only use these old antique stoves in areas that are used occasionally... like my drum room / place for hanging out with visitors. Also I have an old "morning stove" in my kitchen (very old house). The room is left unheated through the night, and then we put some heat in it just for the brief time that we are in there.

The main portion of our house has two catalytic stoves. That is the area that is heated constantly....in winter anyway. I have been leaving it at fall temperatures lately (completely unheated), and spending time in the other areas. I just don't find it necessary to fully heat every area of this big house for the entire year.

Many would argue that the old stoves should go in the garbage. However, they have their utility in my particular application. Plus they are original and beautiful.

But yeah, I suppose operation is the same. Crack it up, then back off the air. It is no more work to back it off and activate a catalyst or non-catalytic secondary burn cycle.... than to just adjust the air intake on an old stove. You just proved the point that catalytic stoves are not significantly more "work" than any stove.
Well said I agree with everything but I will add that a simple easy breathing modern plate steel tube stove will be up to temp and producing heat just about as fast as the old stoves. Your one stove is soap stone that takes a while to heat up. You other is a cast iron one withe a pretty complicated combustion system that was really not very well liked
 

Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
9,879
NW Wisconsin
Those Woodstock’s are great heaters, I miss my old Fireview and Keystone. I almost went with another one for my new cabin but the clearances were a bit large for what I wanted.

I am pretty satisfied with my Jotul, I can achieve just as long burn times and it seems to have a similar even heat output as well.

One thing that worries me about cat stoves is future cat costs. Everything is going up in price lately I’m concerned cat prices may double in the next few years.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
98,134
South Puget Sound, WA
This discussion has been going on for a couple of decades. It should be noted that not all cat stoves run the same, nor do they have the same maintenance schedules. There are different designs of both cat and non-cat stoves, so generic comments are not always helpful. Also, different homes and stove owners have different needs so an ideal setup for one may not be ideal for another.

As of 2020 we have a new crop of hybrid cats, some good and some maybe not so good. Many of them have only been on the market for a year or two. Time will tell how well they stand up and perform. I wonder how well these stoves would test for emissions 5 yrs down the road. By the looks of some of these designs, flame impingement and ash clogging could be an issue. Will the owner know this if the hybrid portion secondary tube portion of the stove continues to burn?

A deep look at stove performance was done in Oregon in 1998. They looked at EPA stoves that had been in service for several years to see how well they were doing after seasons of service. Most stoves failed, some badly, not due to their design, but due to lack of maintenance.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,483
Long Island NY
I completely agree with begreen on that whole post.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,172
central pa
I will say the vast majority of cat stoves we work on either have no cat at all or have the original one that is clearly doing nothing
 
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Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
Well said I agree with everything but I will add that a simple easy breathing modern plate steel tube stove will be up to temp and producing heat just about as fast as the old stoves. Your one stove is soap stone that takes a while to heat up. You other is a cast iron one withe a pretty complicated combustion system that was really not very well liked
Yeah, the soapstone takes FOREVER to heat, but retains a nice even heat, even after it has burned out.

Yeah, I am surprised that the Jotul seems to be pretty universally disliked on this forum, but we really love that little stove and it performs well... just totally different from the Fireview. It eats wood pretty quickly, and doesn't hold much.

As for the "old" stoves that heat quickly, I am referring to some (three) completely unsealed antiques. These are not used for constant heating.
I will say the vast majority of cat stoves we work on either have no cat at all or have the original one that is clearly doing nothing
Yes, that was the case with the Fireview that I just upgraded with a Woodstock complete baffle kit. It is running great now.

I am wondering (and made another thread about it) if my Jotul catalyst is doing anything at all. I think the stove functions well when cat is engaged because the draw is so good (maybe even excessive). It feels like using a damper at that point. Otherwise, there is not much difference to the cat being engaged or not.
This discussion has been going on for a couple of decades. It should be noted that not all cat stoves run the same, nor do they have the same maintenance schedules. There are different designs of both cat and non-cat stoves, so generic comments are not always helpful. Also, different homes and stove owners have different needs so an ideal setup for one may not be ideal for another.

As of 2020 we have a new crop of hybrid cats, some good and some maybe not so good. Many of them have only been on the market for a year or two. Time will tell how well they stand up and perform. I wonder how well these stoves would test for emissions 5 yrs down the road. By the looks of some of these designs, flame impingement and ash clogging could be an issue. Will the owner know this if the hybrid portion secondary tube portion of the stove continues to burn?

A deep look at stove performance done in Oregon in 1998. They looked at EPA stoves that had been in service for several years to see how well they were doing after seasons of service. Most stoves failed, some badly, not due to their design, but due to lack of maintenance.
Yeah this is a good point. I like my catalysts. I hate the non-catalytic wood/oil combo furnace that came with the house. It is hard to light, and needs to get really hot before one can engage the secondary burn cycle. I am therefore biased against not catalytic epa stoves... even though my problems with it are probably more related to crappy install and other factors.
Those Woodstock’s are great heaters, I miss my old Fireview and Keystone. I almost went with another one for my new cabin but the clearances were a bit large for what I wanted.

I am pretty satisfied with my Jotul, I can achieve just as long burn times and it seems to have a similar even heat output as well.

One thing that worries me about cat stoves is future cat costs. Everything is going up in price lately I’m concerned cat prices may double in the next few years.
Well, the cat I wanted to buy was $70 to 80 last year. I hesitated on buying and it was out of stock the entire burning season. Now it is $190. Still, I don't mind the ongoing costs, considering the boost in performance, and also because I find the cats to be more tolerant than non cat stoves about then the secondary cycle is engaged. There is a cool video by Woodstock where they purposely make a smoldering, dirty, air starved fire.... and the catalyst can deal with it. I will try to find the video and post it.
 
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Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
Yeah, the soapstone takes FOREVER to heat, but retains a nice even heat, even after it has burned out.

Yeah, I am surprised that the Jotul seems to be pretty universally disliked on this forum, but we really love that little stove and it performs well... just totally different from the Fireview. It eats wood pretty quickly, and doesn't hold much.

Yes, that was the case with the Fireview that I just upgraded with a Woodstock complete baffle kit. It is running great now.

I am wondering (and made another thread about it) if my Jotul catalyst is doing anything at all. I think the stove functions well when cat is engaged because the draw is so good (maybe even excessive). It feels like using a damper at that point. Otherwise, there is not much difference to the cat being engaged or not.

Yeah this is a good point. I like my catalysts. I hate the non-catalytic wood/oil combo furnace that came with the house. It is hard to light, and needs to get really hot before one can engage the secondary burn cycle. I am therefore biased against not catalytic epa stoves... even though my problems with it are probably more related to crappy install and other factors.

Well, the cat I wanted to buy was $70 to 80 last year. I hesitated on buying and it was out of stock the entire burning season. Now it is $190. Still, I don't mind the ongoing costs, considering the boost in performance, and also because I find the cats to be more tolerant than non cat stoves about then the secondary cycle is engaged. There is a cool video by Woodstock where they purposely make a smoldering, dirty, air starved fire.... and the catalyst can deal with it. I will try to find the video and post it.
Okay here is the video:

It is from Woodstock Stove Company. It is a good example of what NOT to do. They use wet wood, and they choke it down with not enough air. It is pretty amazing that the stove can burn it at all. The implication here is that the catalyst is helping that happen.
 
Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
Okay here is the video:

It is from Woodstock Stove Company. It is a good example of what NOT to do. They use wet wood, and they choke it down with not enough air. It is pretty amazing that the stove can burn it at all. The implication here is that the catalyst is helping that happen.



And here is one more. While it is not all that scientific and nothing is being measured, it does provide an illustration of what these things do in principle. I was always somewhat skeptical about these mystery magic boxes. The performance upgrade on my Fireview convinced me, and this video illustration was really cool to see.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,172
central pa
Yeah this is a good point. I like my catalysts. I hate the non-catalytic wood/oil combo furnace that came with the house. It is hard to light, and needs to get really hot before one can engage the secondary burn cycle. I am therefore biased against not catalytic epa stoves... even though my problems with it are probably more related to crappy install and other factors.
Judging all noncat stoves by your experience with a noncat combo furnace with install issues isn't exactly fair
 
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Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
9,879
NW Wisconsin
I don’t think Jotul is universally disliked here. Many happy Jotul customers as far as I can tell. They don’t have as big of selection of stoves as they did prior to 2020 EPA regs but that may improve soon.

I’ve seen that burning wet wood video before by Woodstock and yes it was impressive but you don’t want to get in the habit of burning wet wood in any stove. If they had continued that for say a week or so I’m sure the cat would start to mask with creosote and gunk up the chimney.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,172
central pa
I don’t think Jotul is universally disliked here. Many happy Jotul customers as far as I can tell. They don’t have as big of selection of stoves as they did prior to 2020 EPA regs but that may improve soon.

I’ve seen that burning wet wood video before by Woodstock and yes it was impressive but you don’t want to get in the habit of burning wet wood in any stove. If they had continued that for say a week or so I’m sure the cat would start to mask with creosote and gunk up the chimney.
Not jotul in general. Just ones like their particular stove. I do think they have the smaller of jotuls downdraft stoves which is slightly less problematic
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
98,134
South Puget Sound, WA
I will say the vast majority of cat stoves we work on either have no cat at all or have the original one that is clearly doing nothing
Wow, that's a sad, but somewhat expected observation and consistent with what was reported in 1998.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
98,134
South Puget Sound, WA
I don’t think Jotul is universally disliked here. Many happy Jotul customers as far as I can tell. They don’t have as big of selection of stoves as they did prior to 2020 EPA regs but that may improve soon.

I’ve seen that burning wet wood video before by Woodstock and yes it was impressive but you don’t want to get in the habit of burning wet wood in any stove. If they had continued that for say a week or so I’m sure the cat would start to mask with creosote and gunk up the chimney.
Before 2020 I would have said that Jotuls were in the top 5 most popular stoves, both on Hearth.com and in the world. They may still be in Europe, but they cut back on so many models here that people have gone to alternatives.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
98,134
South Puget Sound, WA
Yeah this is a good point. I like my catalysts. I hate the non-catalytic wood/oil combo furnace that came with the house. It is hard to light, and needs to get really hot before one can engage the secondary burn cycle. I am therefore biased against not catalytic epa stoves... even though my problems with it are probably more related to crappy install and other factors.
We see that a lot here. Folks are biased due to a bad experience and/or without having much experience with other technologies. The good models of either cat or non-cat are good performers with dry wood as long as draft is within tolerance.
 
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Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
I am taking my Dutch Oven to the dealership to compare top surfaces - as I do enjoy cooking slow cooking in my cast iron cookware. Between the two they have available, it appears a considerable size difference in cook top surface range. I drink a bit of tea and look forward to not having to turn my regular stove on to heat water.
Do you mean cooking ON or IN the stove? Yes the cooktop can be nice. My wife sometimes throws potatoes or sweet potatoes IN the stove. I have certainly been known to put some kebabs in it (sort of like using an Indian tandoor oven) once the fire dies down and it is just coals.
 
Jan 10, 2022
131
Northeastern Vermont
Judging all noncat stoves by your experience with a noncat combo furnace with install issues isn't exactly fair
Yes, I was acknowledging that the bad non-cat furnace is likely bad for other reasons (especially the install).
I don’t think Jotul is universally disliked here. Many happy Jotul customers as far as I can tell. They don’t have as big of selection of stoves as they did prior to 2020 EPA regs but that may improve soon.

I’ve seen that burning wet wood video before by Woodstock and yes it was impressive but you don’t want to get in the habit of burning wet wood in any stove. If they had continued that for say a week or so I’m sure the cat would start to mask with creosote and gunk up the chimney.
It is the particular model that I have (3TDIC-2). But I like it a lot. If it were my ONLY stove, I would probably like it less. But it is a perfect contrast to the Fireview.

Yeah, I would never purposely burn wet wood, or having it starving for air. It was just an interesting illustration.
We see that a lot here. Folks are biased due to a bad experience and/or without having much experience with other technologies. The good models of either cat or non-cat are good performers with dry wood as long as draft is within tolerance.
That is exactly it. The problem on my non-cat furnace is inadequate draft.