Stove operation

Woodbee burner

New Member
Sep 15, 2014
27
Nevada
Hello, I am wondering how to operate my stove properly. For instance when do I reload? Is it just based on how much heat I want? Also, is it bad to let it burn down to coals for a bit to lessen overall heat output? When reloading should i just stuff it full and turn down the primary air control all the way if I want less heat?

Speaking of air control, how should I run that? Right now I let it go full till it is up to temperature (20 ish min) then i turn it down to 1/2 to 3/4. I try to leave it but I adjust it to keep the temperature between 350 and 650.

For example, tonight my stove seemingly was getting too hot with the 3 splits I added before bed i added them 2 big 1 small. I then left the door ajar fo 5 min till the lit from the coals and got going a bit. Then i closed the door and left the primary air on high till temperature was 350. Now to 1/2. Once it hit 600 I turned it down to as low as possible as I was afraid of an over fire. It stayed at 600 range for a while and burned actively. Then when I saw it get to 500 ish I opened the air to 1/2. And it burned 15 min till coals.

I have not tried an overnight burn but I would like to know how as I feel it coming. I am also struggling with managing the heat output as I am trying to heat my home almost full time to justify the purchase an basically recapture the upfront cash for it as well as preserve what life my old rickety furnace has left.

I appreciate the help you all have provided through this forum. I just got this stove and have had around 5 to 10 fires. I don't know anyone who uses wood as wood stoves are very restricted in my area, and not many people have them.
 

Woodbee burner

New Member
Sep 15, 2014
27
Nevada
I have a Timberwolf EPI22 insert. It only has a primary air control. It is set in a masonry fireplace.

Also, my house is about 1600 sqft built in the 40s so not the best efficiency but not as bad as some I've read about here.
 

Grisu

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2010
4,121
Chittenden, VT
I reload when I want more heat and the stove has burned down enough that I can fill it up again. No need to reload or even fill it up if you are still warm. However, don't think that the air control of a secondary burn stove works like a thermostat. Yes, you can regulate stove top temps somewhat with it but you need to be careful to not turn it down so much that you smolder the wood. Stove top temps should at least reach 500 F to ensure complete combustion. If you want less heat it is better to make small but hot fires on a partial load and then let the stove go cold again.
For example, tonight my stove seemingly was getting too hot with the 3 splits I added before bed i added them 2 big 1 small. I then left the door ajar fo 5 min till the lit from the coals and got going a bit. Then i closed the door and left the primary air on high till temperature was 350. Now to 1/2. Once it hit 600 I turned it down to as low as possible as I was afraid of an over fire. It stayed at 600 range for a while and burned actively. Then when I saw it get to 500 ish I opened the air to 1/2. And it burned 15 min till coals.
Depending on the location of your thermometer 600 F is just fine. And if you don't need the heat or room to add more wood you can leave the air closed.

I would wait with full overnight burns until you are more comfortable with the stove and its operation. To practice, try to reload it as for an overnight burn but during the day. Make a small startup fire to get the stove and flue warm. Rake the coals forward towards the door, add splits E-W behind it and more either E-W or N-S on top (depending how your stove loads) until you almost reach the burn tubes. Keep the door slightly ajar until most of the wood has caught fire and then close it. Get a good fire going for a few minutes, then reduce air until flames become slow moving ("lazy"). Wait a few minutes for fire to pick up again, close air again a bit as before. Keep going like that until the air is almost or completely closed. You should have a nice secondary burn in the top of the firebox by then. Monitor stove temps over the next hours. There should be no need to adjust the air control during that time. Once you are down to coals do the same again.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,744
South Puget Sound, WA
Hello, I am wondering how to operate my stove properly. For instance when do I reload? Is it just based on how much heat I want? Also, is it bad to let it burn down to coals for a bit to lessen overall heat output? When reloading should i just stuff it full and turn down the primary air control all the way if I want less heat?

This depends. You are the regulator. In mild weather you may just want to let the fire die out. In colder weather reload after the coal bed has burned down but not to the point of a difficult relight from the coals. Say with maybe a 1" coal bed left. If it is extremely cold outside you may want to reload sooner to keep the heat output up. Then you might reload when there is about 2" of coal bed.

Speaking of air control, how should I run that? Right now I let it go full till it is up to temperature (20 ish min) then i turn it down to 1/2 to 3/4. I try to leave it but I adjust it to keep the temperature between 350 and 650.

Turning down the air control with a fully stuffed stove is not going to mean less heat. The amount of fuel added is going to be a better regulator. The stove does not respond in a linear fashion to the air control because after the fire gets going and the wood gets hot, it is going to outgas strongly. That is when secondary combustion is going to kick in to reburn those gases. This will raise the heat of the stove even with the primary air control mostly closed because the secondary air supply is unregulated. Think of the cycle as peak and glide. With a full load of wood the stove temp is going to ramp up to a peak of say 600-650F within 30 minutes or so. Then it is going to level off and burn at that rate for an hour or two, then the temp will slowly glide down over the next several hours as the coals burn down. If you want less peak heat or for a shorter period, feed the stove less wood.

For example, tonight my stove seemingly was getting too hot with the 3 splits I added before bed i added them 2 big 1 small. I then left the door ajar fo 5 min till the lit from the coals and got going a bit. Then i closed the door and left the primary air on high till temperature was 350. Now to 1/2. Once it hit 600 I turned it down to as low as possible as I was afraid of an over fire. It stayed at 600 range for a while and burned actively. Then when I saw it get to 500 ish I opened the air to 1/2. And it burned 15 min till coals.

This sounds pretty normal. Where are you measuring the temperature? How tall is the flue is on this stove?

I have not tried an overnight burn but I would like to know how as I feel it coming. I am also struggling with managing the heat output as I am trying to heat my home almost full time to justify the purchase an basically recapture the upfront cash for it as well as preserve what life my old rickety furnace has left.

Daytime on weekends are a great time to practice overnight burning techniques. You can watch the stove go through a full cycle. For a longer burn, try turning down the air sooner. With a fresh load from scratch, the fire should be burning robustly in about 10 minutes. Close the air control down 50% or to the point where the flames get lazy, but not out. Wait 5-10 minute and repeat turning down the air until the flames get lazy. At this point secondary burn at the top of the firebox will probably be kicking it. Wait another 5-10 minutes and turn down the air as far as possible without snuffing out the fire.

Another way to control the burn is to pack the stove tightly using smaller splits to fill in the air gaps between larger splits. A loosely packed stove is going to burn more vigorously than a tightly packed one.

I appreciate the help you all have provided through this forum. I just got this stove and have had around 5 to 10 fires. I don't know anyone who uses wood as wood stoves are very restricted in my area, and not many people have them.
-Questions answered above in context. Click to expand-
With a new stove it can take a month or two for even a seasoned wood burner to learn the new stove. You will find that varying weather conditions will affect how the stove responds. In very cold weather you may have a full blazing fire in just 10 minutes due to the stronger draft.

Question: Where are you taking the stove temp and how?
 
Last edited:

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,744
South Puget Sound, WA

Woodbee burner

New Member
Sep 15, 2014
27
Nevada
Thank you for the replys.

begreen -- Thank you for the help. I will definitely check out that thread. I take the temp from the stove top?? (Right in the middle of the shelf bit that comes out about 6 inches from the original fire place). In the owner's manual it said that the temp there should be 350 to 700 i believe. My thermometer pretty much shows that range to be ideal as well (magnetic condor brand I think). Anyway that is where I have been trying to keep it unless I am letting it go cold.

Grisu-- Thank you for your help too. That is sort of my plan (try to do a long term burn while I am at home and awake). What do you mean by smoldering? if there are active lazy flames and it is operating above 450 could it be smoldering? I thought I should never turn down the air completely but it seems to be the best practice when it really gets going, and I read that you can't actually turn it off just down. It was down all the way last night and the whole box was filled with the lazy flames (they were wispy / transparent) for a long time (1 hr) then I turned it up slowly to keep the temp even toward the end of the burn. I left it with coals when I went to bed.

Sorry I am all over the place, but one more question. Can I hurt the stove or cause a dangerous situation with the air if it is operating at the correct temp. For instance, my owner's manual says never leave the air on high for more than 30 min. If it was still running cold would it be a bad idea to leave it up till the stove got to temp? I also hear never turn it down too low or it will make the chimney dirty, but last night I turned it down to lowest setting and it ran at almost 600 the whole time. I did let it heat up before that on a higher setting and turned it down in stages (every 15 min).

There is one more thing, does it matter that I have an insert? The blower never seems to activate until it is really hot (550-600 +) or even going down a bit (after the wood burn peaks). Do inserts need the blower to cool ie do they let themselves get hot and then cool themselves with the blower's assistance by design? The blower doesn't seem to operate purely based on temperature at least on the first load as it is on when the stove is much cooler on the down cycle but usually stays off much more while the stove is on the upswing (temperature wise).

And... how big should my splits be? I have been more or less using them as delivered from my supplier. Some are quite large (1 or 2 could fit) I have been splitting those but the rest not sure about.

Again thanks for taking the time.

Side note--I have not had any trouble starting fires so far, and my wood mm is anywhere from 17 to 23% (setting the wetter stuff aside for next year or maybe later this year). I never see smoke other than start up and I am happy with the overall performance of the stove. I am just trying to fine tune my practices to be most efficient with my wood while keeping my chimney clean. My wife would flip her lid if she thought there was any possibility of danger with this thing, and I certainly don't want to give her any reason to worry.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,744
South Puget Sound, WA
The air control setting will depend on the dryness of the wood and how the stove was loaded. It sounds like you are combining old skewl burning techniques with new ones. Your stove is a clean burner, unlike pre EPA stoves. Burning practices are different with modern stoves. You have to work hard to smolder a fire in a modern stove unless the flue is too short or the wood is damp. If you burn fully seasoned wood correctly creosote accumulation should be quite minor, even after a full season. But for this first year, check the chimney flue after every cord burned. That will help you judge how dry the wood is and how well you are burning. So far it sounds like you are doing a good job.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
10,672
Southern IN
Like begreen said, there are a lot of factors at play and it takes a while to figure it all out. But you'll get good at running the stove pretty quickly. Generally, the stove will burn hotter the more smoke it has to burn, and the stronger the draft is (colder weather=stonger draft.) If you load a lot of small splits, you can get a lot of wood gassing/smoking at once. Bigger splits gas in a more controlled manner. If you don't see a lot of smoke coming out of the stack, the re-burn is working, you're not smoldering and the chimney shouldn't gunk up. Check the flue often for build-up at first until you know how clean it's staying. You shouldn't hurt the stove if temps are not excessive. But I like to run my stove somewhat easy on the re-load, as I feel that excessive flame might cause localized hot temps in certain areas of the stove, even though the surface thermo isn't reading all that hot. I like to see a lively fire on a cold start, not a roaring blaze.
 
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Woodbee burner

New Member
Sep 15, 2014
27
Nevada
OK I think I am getting it. One more, I hear a lot about NS and EW loading. My stove will take about 12-14" NS. When I read the documentation it sounds as if it is to be loaded EW 18"+ that way. Can I cause any trouble if I load NS with shorter splits? Like I said the documentation suggests a EW load, but I thought I could get more in NS if I choose to be more particular about the length of the splits.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,744
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes you can. It's easier to pack a stove safely when loading N/S because there's no worry about a log rolling out toward the glass.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
10,672
Southern IN
When I read the documentation it sounds as if it is to be loaded EW 18"+ that way. Can I cause any trouble if I load NS with shorter splits?
Loading NS, you may get more wood off-gassing at once since the air is coming in from the front and can flow between the logs to fan the coals the full length of the splits. Is the firebox the same width in the back as it is in the front? If so, you should be able to get about the same amount either way, but EW and 18" should get a longer, more controlled burn. Even in the Buck 91 with a firebox that tapers in toward the back, I load NS and I can find a couple splits to put along the edges that are fatter at one end, so I put the fat end toward the front and can fill the box well. I haven't messed with EW much, as it burns plenty long NS. You can experiment with it though, once you get a handle on how it burns with the recommended EW loads.
 

Grisu

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2010
4,121
Chittenden, VT
Grisu-- Thank you for your help too. That is sort of my plan (try to do a long term burn while I am at home and awake). What do you mean by smoldering? if there are active lazy flames and it is operating above 450 could it be smoldering? I thought I should never turn down the air completely but it seems to be the best practice when it really gets going, and I read that you can't actually turn it off just down. It was down all the way last night and the whole box was filled with the lazy flames (they were wispy / transparent) for a long time (1 hr) then I turned it up slowly to keep the temp even toward the end of the burn. I left it with coals when I went to bed.
Sorry I am all over the place, but one more question. Can I hurt the stove or cause a dangerous situation with the air if it is operating at the correct temp. For instance, my owner's manual says never leave the air on high for more than 30 min. If it was still running cold would it be a bad idea to leave it up till the stove got to temp? I also hear never turn it down too low or it will make the chimney dirty, but last night I turned it down to lowest setting and it ran at almost 600 the whole time. I did let it heat up before that on a higher setting and turned it down in stages (every 15 min).
There is one more thing, does it matter that I have an insert? The blower never seems to activate until it is really hot (550-600 +) or even going down a bit (after the wood burn peaks). Do inserts need the blower to cool ie do they let themselves get hot and then cool themselves with the blower's assistance by design? The blower doesn't seem to operate purely based on temperature at least on the first load as it is on when the stove is much cooler on the down cycle but usually stays off much more while the stove is on the upswing (temperature wise).
Even a new EPA stove can smolder when you turn down the air too much, too soon, before the firebox is up to temp. For the secondaries to work correctly you need to get the stove to a high enough temperature. Above 450 is probably ok but you can easily check it by looking outside at your chimney; no smoke should be visible. However, if you can turn the primary air all the way down, the stove stays above 500 F and you don't see smoke - then you are burning great and very efficient.

Lazy flames rolling through the firebox sounds great. You can turn up the air at the end to burn down the coals faster but be aware that more heat will go up the chimney. If you don't need the space in the firebox for more wood then just leave it as is. Having some live coals in the morning will also make the restart much easier.

The burn practice is really not much different with an insert. The blower waits longer to activate on the upswing because the stove needs to get hot quickly to burn efficiently. Activating the blower too early will remove heat and keep the stove temps below optimal temps for longer. (For the same reason I don't turn on the heater in my car before the engine is warm.) Once it is beyond peak the blower can stay on as not much particulates are generated during the coaling stage. However, I like to turn off the blower then and let natural convection around my insert do the work. Less noise, less electricity, and keeping the stove hotter for longer will only help combustion efficiency.
 

ADK_XJ

Feeling the Heat
Nov 18, 2014
302
Saratoga Springs, NY
The burn practice is really not much different with an insert. The blower waits longer to activate on the upswing because the stove needs to get hot quickly to burn efficiently. Activating the blower too early will remove heat and keep the stove temps below optimal temps for longer. (For the same reason I don't turn on the heater in my car before the engine is warm.) Once it is beyond peak the blower can stay on as not much particulates are generated during the coaling stage. However, I like to turn off the blower then and let natural convection around my insert do the work. Less noise, less electricity, and keeping the stove hotter for longer will only help combustion efficiency.
I consider myself at least mildly intelligent and that is the first description of the basic function of a insert temp and blower use that made perfect sense to me. Been playing with my new Regency i2400 for about a month and, like a mule headed idiot, kept turning on the blower with the manual control too early to burn correctly.

Now I know exactly what I'm looking for! The worst part is I use this car heater logic with my wife all the time when she gets in and cranks the air all the way to full blast immediately after start. Apparently I can't take my own advice until I hear it from someone else on a forum!
 
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