Upgrading the wood stove in the family cabin

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New Member
Aug 7, 2023
I am starting the process of researching the replacement of the existing wood stove in our Lake Tahoe cabin. The existing wood stove works well, but we are looking to replace it with one that is more efficient, and just newer/safer. I am new to wood stoves, so I am looking to this forum for help with my decision on the right stove and what expect in terms of installation requirements/cost.

Cabin Specifics:
  • The current wood stove I believe is Oregon brand and is about 40 years old. (see pictures)
  • The cabin is about 1600 sqft 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. All on one level.
  • What size stove should I get?
  • I am researching the Lopi Endeavor, Jotul F500, Blaze king Ashford 30.2/ SIROCCO SC30.2, Osburn 1700/2000; but I am open to recommendations for others in this quality/price range. I want something that is easy to use/clean and built well. I welcome input here.
  • What do I need to be concerned about for installation?
  • What should I expect for installation cost?
Thanks in advance for your help.

Wood Stove 1.JPG Wood Stove 2.jpg
What temperature is your place kept at when nobody is there? Is all heat shut off? How’s the insulation?
What temperature is your place kept at when nobody is there? Is all heat shut off? How’s the insulation?
We have an electric furnace the keeps the house at round 55 degrees when we are not there. That way the pipes do not freeze. The house is well insulated. It was built in 1978 and we have never had a problem.
I think I’d look at the 2-2.5cu ft stoves depending on the floor plan.

What do you feel is most important in a stove. I see that u mention ease of use and build quality. How about aesthetics and burn time? Flame show?

Your hearth might give you problems with wall clearances. It looks like it might be a bit close, but that could also be camera angle.
Are you in western or central Oregon?
Are you in western or central Oregon?
Sorry for the confusion. The cabin is near Lake Tahoe on the California side of the lake. The brand of wood stove is called Oregon. This is what I found with a quick search Oregon Woodstove was a private company from Springfield, OR, that was established in 1987.
I think I’d look at the 2-2.5cu ft stoves depending on the floor plan.

What do you feel is most important in a stove. I see that u mention ease of use and build quality. How about aesthetics and burn time? Flame show?

Your hearth might give you problems with wall clearances. It looks like it might be a bit close, but that could also be camera angle.
Thanks for the feedback. I am new to researching wood stoves and with each search I find more features/models I may like.
So, what is most important?
It should look nice (like a piece of furniture) with a large window to see the flame.
- It needs to qualify for any woodstove tax credits.
- Burn time should be about 12 hours
- I may be doing short term rentals so it needs to be easy to use and clean. Glass should stay clean. Some models say they are better for keeping the glass clean than others.
- I would like it to be able to hold logs of 20 - 24 inches, however the the wood stoves I am finding the fit the size of the cabin hold up 18'' logs. I may be stuck with 18.

For the ones that I see, I believe I am going to spend $3.5K - 4K on the stove alone.

I am have been reading about the Hearthstone Heritage soapstone . This is 2.2 cu ft and can hold a 21" log. Plus with soapstone the clearance on the rear does not have to be a great. This may be a good option. Thoughts? Do you think renters would ruin the soapstone?

I am still not sure on how much it will cost to install. Installation cost I am getting are all over the board.

Thanks for your continues input.
Wood stoves and renters are 2 words that rarely mix. There is a definite learning curve to running newer stoves. Guys with decades of experience will spend most of a season learning how to run a new stove. Expecting a short term renter with little to no experience with a modern stove to do so is unrealistic.

So what can be done when a stove is run incorrectly? On the minor side, the air left closed off too much can leave you with a mess of creosote in your chimney. The other side of that is the air left open too long and the stove overheats. This is voided warranty on that pricey furniture, warped and broken parts, and if the chimney is gunked up from the previous renters shouldering it, chimney fire territory.

I believe the non cat stoves are a bit more forgiving than the cat stoves. Make sure you have plenty of DRY wood on hand. Older stoves can be run on less than ideal wood. Newer stoves will be frustrating with wood that has more than 20% moisture. Firewood dealers rarely sell wood dry enough.
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I would never allow renters to use a wood stove. There is just much too much chance of things going wrong. At a minimum they are going to gunk your chimney with creosote. At the worst they will burn the cabin down. It's also much too easy for someone that doesn't know how to use the stove to overfire it and damage the stove while voiding the warranty.
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I also would never let a renter touch my wood stove. There is a dramatic difference between the older non-EPA stoves and the newer ones. The older ones are basically a bonfire in a box and tend to run much hotter and are less forgiving on the quality of wood.

You may find the wood that you were using my be difficult to burn. It needs to be very dry. Definitely less than 20% moisture content and ideally 15% or less.

My neighbors were in the same situation, though they live there full time. The husband is a tree guy and gets all the red/white oak he wants. He splits it in the summer and burns it in the fall/winter. Works fine in their 50 year old Papa Bear stove. He would go though 8-10 cords per year.

He switched to an Englander NC30 and couldn't get the wood to burn right all winter but he couldn't be convinced it was the wood. Despite only going through 2.5 cords...he put his old Papa Bear back in.
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I don’t even let my wife’s father load, or tend to, the stove.
Coal he gets. Wood is a foreign word to him. He would kill us all the first time the temperature outside dropped below -45, which is a regular thing here. If you REALLY plan to let renters run the stove then your number one desire should probably be for which ever new stove is the most foolproof and forgiving In operation regardless of price, style etc etc etc
Do you have any dry firewood, I mean well seasoned ready to burn firewood? If for some reason I'd lost all of my senses and allowed someone to rent my place and use my wood stove it would only be with my well seasoned ready to go firewood.
Maybe you could do a little training course for each new renter like 'How to operate this XXXXX wood stove'. You could print up a little guide, too, and leave it in the cabin. Lake Tahoe doesn't get that cold. I'm guessing the wood I see outdoors in the first picture is Ponderosa Pine. Maybe someone can guide you towards easier operating/forgiving stoves taking into consideration the mild climate and the ease of operation..
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That looks like a big old Orley. I would replace it with an oversized stove so that bringing the place up from 55º is easier and for adequate coverage during long power outages. Look at 3 cu ft stoves. There are several good ones. In non-cat look at the Lopi Liberty, Drolet Myriad III & Osburn 3500, Pacific Energy Summit, Quadrafire 5700. In cat stoves the Blaze King Princess and Woodstock Ideal Steel stoves.

If renters are allowed to run the stove then I would put in the simplest stove only. No cat, no bypass, no complicated air controls. That means the Drolet, Osburn, or PE stove.
Renters should not use your woodstove,an example is my stepson put the woodstove out by throwing water on it,said he did not want to leave the cabin with the stove going,needless to say I had bricks to replace.
Thanks you all for your valuable input on the downside of investing in a newer, more efficient wood stove and then trusting that renters will know how to use it, and not destroy it. I hear your message and you have definitely put the fear in me, and have me rethinking the need to make that purchase now. Because we need to use short-term rental income to cover cabin expenses, unless someone can tell me of a stove that is "foolproof and forgiving In operation", I think right now I will keep my "bonfire in a box" as it still works well and is more user/renter friendly.
You could look into gas stoves. They have flames, turn off when it gets too hot, and the maintenance is pretty mild.
That doesn't mean you can't run propane. If you want renters to have a fire, its a clean option. No mess from ash, twigs, bugs, etc.
Are you supplying the well seasoned wood? At the least I'd schedule regular chimney cleanings and inspections during burning season. no telling what renters will put in a woodstove. There's been posts about people freaking out about the fire and letting an extinguisher go in the stove. Your circus, your show I wouldn't rent out an anvil to people.