Stove Size For 24x16 for Lightly Insulated NEK Cabin

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Tommy W

New Member
Dec 4, 2021
2
Northeast Kingdom
I’m looking for advice on purchasing a new wood stove for our off-the-grid camp in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.


The camp is 24x16.


It has an open design with a sleeping loft for the second floor. We have a 48 inch DC ceiling fan over the main room.

The camp has light insulation throughout and I don’t plan on adding more. On the outer walls, there is 1/2 inch insulating sheathed under the 1 inch rough cut pine. On the first floor, I’ve insulated only the lower 4 feet with 2 inch sheathing under the 1 inch rough cut interior wall covering. The roof is uninsulated.

At the moment, we’re burning 1.5 year seasoned maple and poplar in our 50 year old Trolla 105. We harvested this wood from the property but in the future I won’t be using poplar at all. We’ll be burning cordwood from the local wood supplier which I think will include a lot of birch.

We usually use the camp for 4-7 days at a time, 3 to 5 times per year, mostly in cold weather.

My question has to do with stove size: How big a stove for this space?

My primary concern is to be able to warm the place with ease on long January nights where temps can - though rarely - drop to -20F, but generally are around 0-10F overnight and 10-20F during the day. So, I’m looking for 8+ hour burn times.

My secondary concern is to not get blown out in the shoulder seasons where overnights are 10-20F warmer.

To keep this specific, at the moment, I am considering Woodstock’s Absolute Steel (2.45 liter firebox) and the Ideal Steel (3.2 liter firebox). I like these and other catalytic stoves because, from what I’ve read here, they can burn at low, steady temps for long periods. Woodstock is also a local, Connecticut River Valley company.

Would the Absolute be adequate on long January overnights? Would the Ideal blow us out in the shoulder seasons?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,253
South Puget Sound, WA
Going large is a good idea based on the parameters described. In milder weather burn smaller 4 split fires and let it go out if necessary.
 

Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
920
NW Wisconsin
Always better to go bigger. We have a big cookstove and it will make an easy 140,000+ btu. It's nice for warming up the house in a hurry. Using a stove that is slightly higher than calculated heat loss means a very slow warmup if the house cools off and harder running during cold weather. We can light one fire a day in spring and fall and let it go out. The 1,000 lb stove will throw heat for quite a while.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,253
South Puget Sound, WA
The Trolla is not a very efficient stove. If that is doing the job now, then the Absolute Steel should handle the job. It will need dry firewood to perform well. It won't be the heat bomb that the Trolla can be with a full load cranking away. Woodstock has constraints in the manual on max temp for this stove that are a bit on the low side. For that reason, I would consider the Ideal Steel. You will just have to run smaller loads in mild weather and perhaps with the bypass open when just a chill chaser is desired. Or, you could get a big modern unshielded steel stove like the Drolet Austral III. This stove will radiate a lot of heat like the Trola for quick warmups and it has a big belly that will ensure long burn times. In shoulder season just burn 4-5 split fires.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,814
Fairbanks, Alaska
Your insulation is not very much compared to your climate. If you are going to be doing this for very many years you should, I think, look at upgraded insulation (expensive this year) compared to using less wood year after year (expensive later). M2c.

Also, look carefully for air leaks. It took me three years to get my air leaks under control in my current home, but my break even point was very short.

Otherwise, a big stove. Big fires in cold weather, small fires in moderate weather.

The roof in uninsulated, and you are in north Vermont. You should call Vladmir Putin (no offense) to ask if he will sell you a thermo nuclear device for primary heating. If he quotes you more than I spent on airbnbs for Ukrainian rooms I don't intend to occupy in 2022 last week, tell him to go to thunder and insulate your roof.
 

EatenByLimestone

Super Moderator
Staff member
I run a 2cuft stove in a similar sized place in the Adirondacks. The lowest temp I’ve seen there is -23 with a really strong windchill.

Most of my place has R10-12 insulation, except the floors.

This size stove works well, except if the outside temp is above 30. The hard part of these places is you are walking into them at whatever the outside temp is and need to heat it up in a reasonable time. You need a lot of heat. Then, once you get it warm, you have excess capacity.

When it’s real cold, you may need to be content with cabin temps lower than you want. The wind will strip heat pretty fast in these cabins.
 

EatenByLimestone

Super Moderator
Staff member
I should also add that I’m grid tied (wasn’t always) and use electric heaters when it’s above 30 because it’s easier. When warming the place up from a cold walk in, I often use propane from the stove and a sunflower heater to make the warm up as quick as possible.