Should i switch to catalytic?

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Theonion

Member
Dec 9, 2017
19
Michigan
Hi,
I'm sure this has been discussed but here goes;
Currently I run a buckstove 74 insert. I live in Michigan and though I do have a furnace I heat the house primarily with wood. Gas bill is usually 30 bucks a month.
Anyways I go through A LOT of wood, maybe 10 face cords per season. The 74 gets about 3-4 hours max usefully heat, my house is old, big, and drafty so it's usually cold when I wake up. Generally there is enough coals to get a fire going.
I'm not old but I'm tired of filling and tending the stove constantly,cutting kindling, and also I source my own wood from downed trees which takes a lot of labor in the spring.
So I've watched some YouTube and read some manufacturers claims of 12 hour burn times with the catalytic.
Are those claims realistic? Seems like I would reduce my consumption by at least half if those claims are accurate.
At 4000 bucks I wanna be sure before I swap out my perfectly functioning reburner for something that may not provide what I'm looking for.
Thanks for any input!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,106
central pa
Hi,
I'm sure this has been discussed but here goes;
Currently I run a buckstove 74 insert. I live in Michigan and though I do have a furnace I heat the house primarily with wood. Gas bill is usually 30 bucks a month.
Anyways I go through A LOT of wood, maybe 10 face cords per season. The 74 gets about 3-4 hours max usefully heat, my house is old, big, and drafty so it's usually cold when I wake up. Generally there is enough coals to get a fire going.
I'm not old but I'm tired of filling and tending the stove constantly,cutting kindling, and also I source my own wood from downed trees which takes a lot of labor in the spring.
So I've watched some YouTube and read some manufacturers claims of 12 hour burn times with the catalytic.
Are those claims realistic? Seems like I would reduce my consumption by at least half if those claims are accurate.
At 4000 bucks I wanna be sure before I swap out my perfectly functioning reburner for something that may not provide what I'm looking for.
Thanks for any input!
Is your stove putting out the right amount of heat for your house now with 3 to 4 hour burns?

Just adding the ability to burn longer won't nessecarily save you any wood without drastically increasing efficiency. Wood only has a given amount of BTUs per load stretching that load out longer means lower btus per hour.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,924
Long Island NY
Long burns happen if you either have a big firebox (2+ cu ft) or can turn down the stove to make the "tank" last longer.

You may be able to gain some efficiency with a more modern stove, but not a factor of 3....

Even with the most efficient stove on the market, in an old drafty home, you still will use a lot of wood to keep the drafty home warm.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,304
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Hi,
I'm sure this has been discussed but here goes;
Currently I run a buckstove 74 insert. I live in Michigan and though I do have a furnace I heat the house primarily with wood. Gas bill is usually 30 bucks a month.
Anyways I go through A LOT of wood, maybe 10 face cords per season. The 74 gets about 3-4 hours max usefully heat, my house is old, big, and drafty so it's usually cold when I wake up. Generally there is enough coals to get a fire going.
I'm not old but I'm tired of filling and tending the stove constantly,cutting kindling, and also I source my own wood from downed trees which takes a lot of labor in the spring.
So I've watched some YouTube and read some manufacturers claims of 12 hour burn times with the catalytic.
Are those claims realistic? Seems like I would reduce my consumption by at least half if those claims are accurate.
At 4000 bucks I wanna be sure before I swap out my perfectly functioning reburner for something that may not provide what I'm looking for.
Thanks for any input!

12 hours is nothing, I reload every 24 hours with softwoods in my BK catalytic stove. Been using it for almost 10 years now for 100% of my heat. Bholler is right though, if you make the same amount of wood burn twice as long it will be putting out half the amount of heat per minute. Think low and slow compared to hot and fast that you have now.

Also, your 10 face cords is actually 3.3 real cords which is nothing. Heck, I burn 4 cords per year to heat a little 1700 SF home in western Washington. No furnace though.

If your Buck 74 is relatively new and modern then you may as well keep using it. Your problem is your big, old drafty, house. Just remember that every stick of wood you burn saves you gas for the furnace.
 

Theonion

Member
Dec 9, 2017
19
Michigan
Yea, it seems to provide enough heat, heat isn't the issue though sometimes on the very cold nights it could be better. That 3-4 hours is with the air control about halfway, I've found much more closed and it starts to smolder/smoke.
I did just get new windows a few months ago so I'm hoping that helps.
My stove can take 18" wide logs, could probably get a 20" in there but it would be real tight and I can generally on stack tge wood in there about 12 inches high. The stove seems kinda finicky when it's loaded in too much which is another problem I've had with it. My wood supply is dry usually around 15% with a meter. The house is 2200 sqft
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,924
Long Island NY
Is your chimney lined and tall enough? (I.e. do you have enough draft?)
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,106
central pa
Yea, it seems to provide enough heat, heat isn't the issue though sometimes on the very cold nights it could be better. That 3-4 hours is with the air control about halfway, I've found much more closed and it starts to smolder/smoke.
I did just get new windows a few months ago so I'm hoping that helps.
My stove can take 18" wide logs, could probably get a 20" in there but it would be real tight and I can generally on stack tge wood in there about 12 inches high. The stove seems kinda finicky when it's loaded in too much which is another problem I've had with it. My wood supply is dry usually around 15% with a meter. The house is 2200 sqft
How are you using your moisture meter? What is the setup like? What pipe temps are you running at?
 

Theonion

Member
Dec 9, 2017
19
Michigan
It's an insert so I can't be sure of the flu temps, I have a thermo on the stove that I try and keep around 400 F. It's got a 6"liner that runs up a masonry chimney which is in tge center of my 2 story house am exits about 8 feet above the roof line. I have it cleaned every year and they always remark how clean it is.
I have a moisture meter with prongs on it, the wood ignites pretty well with no sustained hissing, tho sometimes it's a bit wet on the surface
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,924
Long Island NY
My experience is that when it's wet on the end surface after putting it in the stove, it's likely above 23%. I'd season it longer.

How (precisely) do you measure with the moisture meter?
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,924
Long Island NY
It's got 2 prongs and I jam it into the end of the wood, it's a digital meter.
no, you take a piece, let it get to room temperature (70 F), you re-split it, and then you stick the prongs *along the grain* in teh middle of the freshly split/exposed surface.
Any other way gives you a far, far too low reading.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,106
central pa
It's got 2 prongs and I jam it into the end of the wood, it's a digital meter.
That your problem. Your wood is way to wet. Certainly over 20% possibly as high as 30%.

Get properly dried wood and you will be able to turn down lower faster and get more heat out of the stove for much longer
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,169
SW Missoura
Man y'all type fast lol. I have a freestanding 74 with roughly 18 feet of pipe and normally have the air fully closed once the fire is established. With as tall as your stack..I'm assuming the insert is on the first level.... you should be as well with dry wood. Is it oak your burning mostly?
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,924
Long Island NY
Yes. bholler is right.
Before spending anything (other than the suggestion below), make sure you have dry wood. Maybe (likely?) that solves all problems.

What you could spend money on is to buy a bunch of compressed sawdust logs (without any oil/wax/... binders). Those are dry. (Keep them dry, inside). Burn those for a couple of days and see if it's much better. Others have done this in a pinch and have good experience with it. $$ though.

(Also, I would warn against buying "seasoned" wood, as it's likely not much better than what you have now.)

Most people here season wood, split, stacked, covered for 2 years, preferably facing the sun, and if multiple stacks behind each other keep 6" or so between them, and keep them oriented so that the prevailing wind blows through the stacks.

Pine etc can be done in 1 year (I just did that; cut split stacked in spring, now 17-18%, even in humid Long Island).
Oak (even dead standing) may require more. And when you're in Nevada anything is possible :)
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,103
07462
Generally 3 face cords with split lengths of 16-18" are 1 full cord, so your burning 3 1/3 cords of wood per season w/ a $30.00 monthly gas bill, that to me isn't bad at all.
I would work on what you have first, if you dont have a block off plate, install one, throw some roxal insulation on top, if your fireplace is on an outside wall, and if you have room between the insert and masonry, insulate that to.
I have a free standing BK princess ultra, new in 2014 and go through 3.5 to 4 cords a season, I use minimal oil for heat, but it will get turned on for bumps once the temps dip single digits or below zero deg f.
 

Theonion

Member
Dec 9, 2017
19
Michigan
Thanks everyone! I will check the inside of my wood with the meter. I generally season for about 6 months. This year I have a tons of White pine that I got from a neighbor. Also have quite a bit of oak and elm
 
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rijim

Feeling the Heat
Jan 19, 2009
250
RI
Hi,
I'm sure this has been discussed but here goes;
Currently I run a buckstove 74 insert. I live in Michigan and though I do have a furnace I heat the house primarily with wood. Gas bill is usually 30 bucks a month.
Anyways I go through A LOT of wood, maybe 10 face cords per season. The 74 gets about 3-4 hours max usefully heat, my house is old, big, and drafty so it's usually cold when I wake up. Generally there is enough coals to get a fire going.
I'm not old but I'm tired of filling and tending the stove constantly,cutting kindling, and also I source my own wood from downed trees which takes a lot of labor in the spring.
So I've watched some YouTube and read some manufacturers claims of 12 hour burn times with the catalytic.
Are those claims realistic? Seems like I would reduce my consumption by at least half if those claims are accurate.
At 4000 bucks I wanna be sure before I swap out my perfectly functioning reburner for something that may not provide what I'm looking for.
Thanks for any input!
Check out hybrids like Woodstock offers.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,924
Long Island NY
Let me make one more remark on wood.
The following goes contrary to all that motivated you in the first post, but it will save you frustration the rest of your life.

Try to "get ahead" by 2, or better, 3 years. It's a boatload of work, but once it's done, you only have to process one year's worth AND you'll be glad to have really dry wood. I just did this this spring. Built a shed, 3 bays of 2.5 cords each - I burn about 2.5 cords per year (shoulder seasons go w/ the minisplit heat pump). And I filled it. (Split everything by hand...).

I bit the bullet in one bite. Made it a priority so that I now can relax with a well-earned, and well-burned (-ing) fire. Glad that's done.

IMG_20210906_151358933_HDR.jpg
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,103
07462
I bit the bullet in one bite. Made it a priority so that I now can relax with a well-earned, and well-burned (-ing) fire. Glad that's done.
I still can't believe your wife is mad about the wood pile, that thing is a work of art, more of a reason to build another one rather then have splits out in the elements.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,924
Long Island NY
I still can't believe your wife is mad about the wood pile, that thing is a work of art, more of a reason to build another one rather then have splits out in the elements.
I, stupidly, broached the subject of building another one. Result - see "stupidly".

I think she has turned around. In fact, that shed looks rather good when it's filled, and with the black paint (shamelessly plagiarized from highbeam). And it's a good backstop for balls (kids, sports)... She'll turn around completely when we light the stove again.

There'll be no new woodshed though, I think, I fear. Have to control my addiction...
But, in fairness, this, with the heatpump, should suffice.
 
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Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,169
SW Missoura
@Theonion Like stoveliker said try and get 3 years ahead. White pine may season in a years time though we don't have any down here so I'm not certain about that. Oak generally takes at least 2 years if not 3 years for me down here. Even with the bk.....which is a great stove......the performance will be dissapointing with wet wood. For reference I generally get 6 to 8 hour burns. That's actual useful heat. Get ahead on your wood supply so it's fully seasoned and unlock that stoves true potential.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,546
South Puget Sound, WA
Yea, it seems to provide enough heat, heat isn't the issue though sometimes on the very cold nights it could be better. That 3-4 hours is with the air control about halfway, I've found much more closed and it starts to smolder/smoke.
I did just get new windows a few months ago so I'm hoping that helps.
My stove can take 18" wide logs, could probably get a 20" in there but it would be real tight and I can generally on stack tge wood in there about 12 inches high. The stove seems kinda finicky when it's loaded in too much which is another problem I've had with it. My wood supply is dry usually around 15% with a meter. The house is 2200 sqft
The burn time in a cat or non-cat is going to correlate with the heat loss of the house. When a cat stove is being pushed for heat the burn time will drop, at zero outside it will drop a lot in the average house. For cold Michigan winters you could get a bigger fuel tank for a longer burn time, but the actual fuel consumption per hour may be equal. The 74 is a good modern 2 cu ft stove. If you get a 3 cu ft stove then longer burntimes will be possible. In a 3 cu ft stove get 12 hrs with our stove in milder weather and 8 hrs when pushing it. This is not the stove's fault, it's because our house is old and has too much glazing that loses a lot of heat.
 

Beary

New Member
Sep 30, 2021
12
North idaho
Very interested to hear what the moisture content is measure how is suggested above

If I left my air open halfway all the time I'd roast the house out and the stovetop would be HOT