Starting Harman Pellet Stove

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tja10201

New Member
Jan 10, 2022
6
New Hampshire
I have a Harman P38, the kind that doesn’t have auto ignition. I am definitely a newbie to pellet stoves, but there has to be something I’m missing when it comes to starting this thing. I spend about half an hour to an hour trying different amounts of pellets and starter gel and no matter what I do, it seems to go out. Eventually I can get it going, and for some reason it started really easily last night, but tonight I cannot get it to stay lit. I had someone inspect it in the spring and he said it was in great shape and there was nothing wrong with it. Any tips for an easier startup would be greatly appreciated.
 

jackman

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
665
Oregon
If I have to start it manually I use a propane torch.
 

tja10201

New Member
Jan 10, 2022
6
New Hampshire
I have a Harman P38, the kind that doesn’t have auto ignition. I am definitely a newbie to pellet stoves, but there has to be something I’m missing when it comes to starting this thing. I spend about half an hour to an hour trying different amounts of pellets and starter gel and no matter what I do, it seems to go out. Eventually I can get it going, and for some reason it started really easily last night, but tonight I cannot get it to stay lit. I had someone inspect it in the spring and he said it was in great shape and there was nothing wrong with it. Any tips for an easier startup would be greatly appreciated.
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
Well it may help,here is how I have started my Integra for many years.
Scrape pot and make sure holes are open.
Put in 1/2 cup,or a bit more, pellets.
Burn them until I feel I have enough embers/lit pellets, 690 seconds.Sometimes I even stir them to get more lit.
Turn on stove. Combustion & auger start, when a few pellets drop in, turn off stove. Auger will stop, but combustion fan will keep running. If does not have a good flame or burned pellets, new pellets will smother it, it can go out, or cause a firebox "poof" in a bit.
Swing door over, but leave open about 4", make sure flame picks up. If not,hit with torch again(rare).
Slowly shut door to about 1".
If stays burning OK, slowly shut door and latch.
Sometimes I shut door all the way too fast, flame goes out, hit it with the torch for a little, start door procedure over.
Biggest thing, new pellets covering burning ones can smother it. but on a Harman that should not be an issue.
I have never had to start my Harman manually.
 

gfreek

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2010
1,588
WNYS
OK this is what I do : put about a cup of pellets in the burn pot, generously squirt some gel on the pellets, I stir them with the Harman cleaning tool, add more gel, pull them towards the front of the pot, more to the left as facing it, turn on stove , light it, leave the door open just a little so the flame goes to the left, let it go till pellets are glowing red and good flame, not too long, close the door and magic happens..
I was super frustrated when i first got my stove, but got the process down after awhile..
 

jackman

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
665
Oregon
First, I would do a deep cleaning and clear all the holes in the burn port and make sure the entire vent and outside air kit (OAK) is clear. Then I'd run a self test. I'd try it in both Stove Temp and Room Temp with the temp dial set to 90. I'd also try another brand of pellets.
 

tja10201

New Member
Jan 10, 2022
6
New Hampshire
First, I would do a deep cleaning and clear all the holes in the burn port and make sure the entire vent and outside air kit (OAK) is clear. Then I'd run a self test. I'd try it in both Stove Temp and Room Temp with the temp dial set to 90. I'd also try another brand of pellets.
Thanks for this! Unfortunately, my Harman has very few controls on it. I have a feed rate knob and a blower knob, and that is it.
 
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tja10201

New Member
Jan 10, 2022
6
New Hampshire
OK this is what I do : put about a cup of pellets in the burn pot, generously squirt some gel on the pellets, I stir them with the Harman cleaning tool, add more gel, pull them towards the front of the pot, more to the left as facing it, turn on stove , light it, leave the door open just a little so the flame goes to the left, let it go till pellets are glowing red and good flame, not too long, close the door and magic happens..
I was super frustrated when i first got my stove, but got the process down after awhile..
I’ll try this out. Thank you!
 

Nitro-Fish

Burning Hunk
Feb 5, 2009
171
VA
I have found if I completely fill the fire pot, turn the feed rate to 3 and lite thoroughly with a small propane torch. By thoroughly I mean make sure all visible pellets up front are glowing and smoking well once you use the torch, this is not a quick process, and may require several passes with the torch; once this is done properly, you can close the door and the pellets in the burn pot will die down to a red glow for a moment and then re-ignite from the air movement of the combustion blower. This method gives enough time (read pellets will not burn off before the ESP temp is satisfied) for the stove to reach temperature and start feeding properly. This method is what I use for my 2 knob PP38+ and seems to work the best. Good luck, they are a bear to start, that’s why my old 2 knob will soon get a complete upgrade to an auto ignite P43.
 
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tja10201

New Member
Jan 10, 2022
6
New Hampshire
I have found if I completely fill the fire pot, turn the feed rate to 3 and lite thoroughly with a small propane torch. By thoroughly I mean make sure all visible pellets up front are glowing and smoking well once you use the torch, this is not a quick process, and may require several passes with the torch; once this is done properly, you can close the door and the pellets in the burn pot will die down to a red glow for a moment and then re-ignite from the air movement of the combustion blower. This method gives enough time (read pellets will not burn off before the ESP temp is satisfied) for the stove to reach temperature and start feeding properly. This method is what I use for my 2 knob PP38+ and seems to work the best. Good luck, they are a bear to start, that’s why my old 2 knob will soon get a complete upgrade to an auto ignite P43.
Thank you! Sounds like you have the same exact model that I do, and it is tricky. This is helpful feedback! I’ll give it a try!
 

shtrdave

Feeling the Heat
Feb 13, 2012
340
SW PA
I have a p43 but had some igniter issues, not sure what they were. But I has to light mine a few times manually. I would scrape the pot well, put a few pellets in 1/4 to 1/2 cup maybe, less seems to work better than more for me. Torch them up and when I have some flame going I turn the stove on, I usually open the hopper lid to stop the auger, the fan feeds the flame, I shut the door and let it burn for a bit I will push down on the hopper lid cut out to feed a few at a time until I see it going well. then close the lid and it keeps going. I have also used cotton balls with vaseline or crisco on them. Had someone tell me to use Doritos a couple of chips lit the oil and the corn will start it. It did work but not that great. I had thought about trying corn chip like Fritos as they are pretty oily.
 
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Oregun

Burning Hunk
Jan 12, 2017
149
Oregon
I put some fines in the burn pot and then a handful of pellets on top of the fines. Makes it start a lot easier/faster.
Sawdust also works.
 
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tiger

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2014
438
Seabrook, MD (DC suburbs)
I put some fines in the burn pot and then a handful of pellets on top of the fines. Makes it start a lot easier/faster.
Sawdust also works.
Cool idea, probably better than the ash I have been putting on with mixed results. Can I order a bag of fines from, say, Amazon?
 

Oregun

Burning Hunk
Jan 12, 2017
149
Oregon
Cool idea, probably better than the ash I have been putting on with mixed results. Can I order a bag of fines from, say, Amazon?
I get mine from the fines recepticle on the stove and a bad section of a bag of pellets that got wet and then dried out over time.
I'd be surprised of you can buy them. :)
 
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shtrdave

Feeling the Heat
Feb 13, 2012
340
SW PA
Find a local cabinet shop they would give you a bag of sawdust probably. I bet you can buy sawdust for smoking at one of the big box places.

I wonder if a piece or two of lump charcoal would get it going, I use charcoal in a chimney for the smoker, sometime I light it with the propane torch other times just newspaper in the bottom.
 

m159267

Burning Hunk
Mar 12, 2009
216
East-Central MO
Starting my P38 (torch & no gel):
. My burn pot is clean and empty.
. With the stove door shut I turn the feed rate to Turbo and watch until the auger pushes a small amount of pellets into the burn pot. It may take a couple of off & on turns of the knob . That way the 1st feed cycle is not empty.
. I then hand fill the burn pot with pellets and set the feed rate again to Turbo (door is open and exhaust fan is running).
. I fire up the torch and nuke the pellets until there is a good lazy flame that is not being extinguished by the force of the torch (again make sure the exhaust fan is running). This usually takes about a minute.
. I then close the door leaving about a finger width opening (I do not shut the door at this point). This will start forcing the air flow through the pot vent holes while still supplying some room air.
. After about 30 - 60 seconds I shut the door. The pellets are now glowing red with numerous short flames. The feed rate is still Turbo.
. Soon the room supply fan will start and after several feed cycles the flame will really get going. I leave the feed rate on Turbo for several minutes - it seems to keep things cleaner inside the stove.
. I then adjust the feed rate to about a 3 setting. I use stove temp.
Hope this helps...
 

Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
1,038
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
My old Harman pellet pro 2, soaked a handful of pellets in a metal bowl about 10min in gel, burnpot handful of pellets, soaked pellets on top and lit with a propane torch then turned the stove on
 
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Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,123
Newport, Wa
Find a local cabinet shop they would give you a bag of sawdust probably. I bet you can buy sawdust for smoking at one of the big box places.

I wonder if a piece or two of lump charcoal would get it going, I use charcoal in a chimney for the smoker, sometime I light it with the propane torch other times just newspaper in the bottom.
Wife has big bag of fines from Wood Shop in VAC System. You could make them from decomposed pellets that have dried out. I just put in few small handfulls of pellets and soak them with lighting gel for manual start. Have done it couple of time (2018 Harmon XXV) so I know how to manually light it. I keep the door open until it's going good. Wish I had way to convert the fines to pellets she has. We just throw it out in lawn now.
 

gfreek

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2010
1,588
WNYS
Whatever works is good. Just don't add starter gel or similar , close the door and reopen , and light, it may cause a mini explosion !! Yea
 
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sandpipe

Member
Feb 24, 2010
189
Massachusetts
When using a propane torch keep it focused to one exact spot on the pellets. That makes a big difference in getting it started, at least in my Harman Invincible. Maybe a P38 is harder to start than mine. It takes me 30 seconds to get mixed wood pellets going and 40 seconds to get pine softwood pellets to fire up.
 

sandpipe

Member
Feb 24, 2010
189
Massachusetts
Whatever works is good. Just don't add starter gel or similar , close the door and reopen , and light, it may cause a mini explosion !! Yea
Sounds like that happened to you! Well, it happened to me years ago when I was still wasting my time with gel. There was a tiny flame in the burn pot when I was trying to get the stove going and I squirted a bit more gel on it. It blew out of my hand and I had about five little gel fires burning around my living room and into my kitchen. <LOL> my naive technique combined with a less than optimal product for accomplishing the task at hand.
 
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tiger

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2014
438
Seabrook, MD (DC suburbs)
I get mine from the fines recepticle on the stove and a bad section of a bag of pellets that got wet and then dried out over time.
I'd be surprised of you can buy them. :)
I had hoped my comment had been recognized as humor.;)

Anyway, this morning, too late to use in this morning's light-off, I stopped short of 100% emptying a bag or Hamer's and laboriously sifted through the bottom couple of handfuls of pellets. I now have about 1-1/4 tablespoons of fines/sawdust. I guess I could keep doing that. Plus, I have not emptied the "sawdust collection system" in my workshop in a long time, I suspect there might be a lot in there.

Now to find a decorative stove-side sawdust container, perhaps in polished brass.

I've been spooning a heaping spoonful of retained ash on top of the pellets about 2 minutes after turning on the stove. With sawdust/fines, what is the preferring amount, and preferred location, on top of pellets, under them, whatever?
 
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