Vermont Castings Aspen C3 Misses the Mark

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milesmoony

New Member
Dec 8, 2019
54
Olympic Peninsula
Installed my brand new VC Aspen C3 last month and I’m not impressed. Let me start by saying the advertised burn time of 10 hours is false advertising. Packing the firebox full at night will get you 4–6 hours. I would love to know where they came up with 10 hours.
Getting a fire started is pretty easy although smoke will often pour into the house from the air inlet pipe under the stove. Additionally if you open the door more than a crack smoke will pour into the room. You can start the fire and close the door but to get the stove up to a respectable temperature you have to leave the door cracked open which is not great. If you just shut the door the stove will hover between 300-400 degrees.
One of the most annoying things about this stove is that the glass gets so dirty after each burn that it needs to be cleaned everyday with a razor blade.
All in all the stove misses pretty much every mark. If you’re going to manufacture a stove with no air control then it had better be perfect which this one is far from. Apparently they are now “temporarily unavailable,” I got the last one from the dealer nearby. I wonder why? I had heard negative things about Vermont Castings for a long time before buying this stove but I took a chance, wish I hadn’t
 

vbu

Member
Mar 3, 2019
93
MS
How dry is your wood? Sounds to me like your wood is wet
 
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Rickb

Minister of Fire
Oct 24, 2012
1,202
St.Louis
While I am not a fan of VC i have to agree it sounds like wet wood, but also can we have some more info about your install? Sounds like wet wood but also not great chimney draw.
 
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wjohn

Member
Jul 27, 2021
212
KS
I haven't done many fires in mine yet but I'm getting 4-5 hours with the firebox only half full of some pretty old Honey Locust and Mulberry. Some of the Honey Locust is pretty pithy, but it's all extremely dry. In addition to the dryness question above, what kind of wood are you burning? Oak, fir, etc.?

I've had smoke pour out the intake once so far. Getting the door close to shut (just cracked open) takes care of this for me. It was only one time right at startup when I left the door open a while just watching it. I had trouble with my glass dirtying up with that thick black stuff for my first couple of fires but it hasn't done that since.

Is your damper at the air intake opening all the way when cold, and closing all the way when up to temp? I think someone else had posted on here indicating theirs wasn't closing fully because the chain was a link or two too short, which would shorten burn times.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,875
South Puget Sound, WA
Smoke pouring out of the air intake indicates incomplete combustion and may be backpuffing too. Incomplete combustion would indicate partially seasoned wood or weak draft or both.

When was the wood split and stacked? What species of wood is being burned?

Describe the flue system from stove top to chimney cap. Is it straight up or are there turns in the smoke path? What size chimney or liner is the stove connected to? How tall is it?
 

milesmoony

New Member
Dec 8, 2019
54
Olympic Peninsula
Smoke pouring out of the air intake indicates incomplete combustion and may be backpuffing too. Incomplete combustion would indicate partially seasoned wood or weak draft or both.

When was the wood split and stacked? What species of wood is being burned?

Describe the flue system from stove top to chimney cap. Is it straight up or are there turns in the smoke path? What size chimney or liner is the stove connected to? How tall is it?
Burning a mix of dry fir and maple. Been split and stacked under cover 2-3 years. Flue is straight double wall 6 inch pipe going straight up through the roof to insulated chimney. About 5’ of double wall stove pipe and 3’ of chimney pipe so 8’ total. For reference the VC stove replaced an older Jotul 602 style stove which had none of the problems listed above. No smoke billowing out of the door, would heat right up. Replaced it because I wanted something with a better burn time and slightly larger firebox.
 

wjohn

Member
Jul 27, 2021
212
KS
About 5’ of double wall stove pipe and 3’ of chimney pipe so 8’ total.
That sounds pretty short. When I installed mine, the manual says 16' from the base of the appliance to the outlet of the chimney is what the stove was designed for. Deviate from that and it may not perform as well, or some statement along those lines. I have about 14.5' from floor to cap in my setup, with one set of 45 degree elbows back to back. I always figured I could add a 2' section on later if needed but it's not been an issue yet.

Since the stove is about 2' tall, you only have 10' from the floor to outlet if I'm understanding correctly - 37.5% shorter than what VC designed it for?
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,593
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Of course one could ask what is your definition of "burn time" and what is VC's definition.

The time from when a fire is first lit until the last coal is cool to the touch?
The time from when the stove reaches X degrees to when it falls below Y degrees?
The time from when someone feels a meaningful amount of heat until when they start to feel cool?
The time from when a stove is lit and achieves secondary combustion or the cat can be engaged to when the coals are cool?
The time from when a stove has visible flames until the time there are no more visible flames?
The time from when a fire is first lit until it reaches the point where coals can no longer easily re-ignite a fresh split placed on top?

There are probably 101 various definitions depending on who you ask . . . I suspect we may be a little more conservative and view the time frame as when there is some sort of meaningful heat (of course that could be subjective unless one considers meaningful heat to be X degrees) to when the coals fail to give off meaningful heat . . . stove manufacturers I suspect might be a little more liberal in their definition.
 
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ratsrepus

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2018
701
Howell, Mi
they all lie about burn times, except BK. 😁
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,929
Downeast Maine
Edit: I just saw the post about the flue arrangement, and that's your problem. 15' is normally the minimum for a modern clean burning stove. The old 602 was a "smoke dragon" style stove and without secondary burn fittings will require much less draft than the VC Aspen. If you can extend your class A double wall chimney another six feet I think you will be doing much better and have a much better time.

I would guess poor draft and marginally dry wood. Next year will be better.

To mitigate or prevent smoke spilling out, try cracking a nearby window or sliding door. If that doesn't work you can also use a fan in the cracked window or door to help pressurize the house and help the draft go up the chimney rather than down into the house.
 
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Anicole

New Member
Dec 29, 2020
35
Tyler123
Installed my brand new VC Aspen C3 last month and I’m not impressed. Let me start by saying the advertised burn time of 10 hours is false advertising. Packing the firebox full at night will get you 4–6 hours. I would love to know where they came up with 10 hours.
Getting a fire started is pretty easy although smoke will often pour into the house from the air inlet pipe under the stove. Additionally if you open the door more than a crack smoke will pour into the room. You can start the fire and close the door but to get the stove up to a respectable temperature you have to leave the door cracked open which is not great. If you just shut the door the stove will hover between 300-400 degrees.
One of the most annoying things about this stove is that the glass gets so dirty after each burn that it needs to be cleaned everyday with a razor blade.
All in all the stove misses pretty much every mark. If you’re going to manufacture a stove with no air control then it had better be perfect which this one is far from. Apparently they are now “temporarily unavailable,” I got the last one from the dealer nearby. I wonder why? I had heard negative things about Vermont Castings for a long time before buying this stove but I took a chance, wish I hadn’t
I have a VC Aspen C3 and have no issue with smoke pouring into the room at any time. It sounds like you have an issue that is not the stove? Also, I get what I consider to be 10 hour burns in it overnight, which to me means there are hot coals in the stove and it's very easy to light. Maybe it means something different to you?
 

Anicole

New Member
Dec 29, 2020
35
Tyler123
Installed my brand new VC Aspen C3 last month and I’m not impressed. Let me start by saying the advertised burn time of 10 hours is false advertising. Packing the firebox full at night will get you 4–6 hours. I would love to know where they came up with 10 hours.
Getting a fire started is pretty easy although smoke will often pour into the house from the air inlet pipe under the stove. Additionally if you open the door more than a crack smoke will pour into the room. You can start the fire and close the door but to get the stove up to a respectable temperature you have to leave the door cracked open which is not great. If you just shut the door the stove will hover between 300-400 degrees.
One of the most annoying things about this stove is that the glass gets so dirty after each burn that it needs to be cleaned everyday with a razor blade.
All in all the stove misses pretty much every mark. If you’re going to manufacture a stove with no air control then it had better be perfect which this one is far from. Apparently they are now “temporarily unavailable,” I got the last one from the dealer nearby. I wonder why? I had heard negative things about Vermont Castings for a long time before buying this stove but I took a chance, wish I hadn’t
I could also check your superwool blanket. The only times I've had smoke coming into the house from the c3 is when the blanket was completely gunked up (from wet wood) and last night, when my husband replaced the blanket and did not put it in the right place. It's not that clear in the manual where it should go,.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,337
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
Go get a section of chimney pipe and add it to the top of your flue. Even a couple feet will be a help if you have an 8' run now. You may want to look into getting a brace kit and adding 6 or 8 feet of rise to what you have now, long term.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,875
South Puget Sound, WA
The flue system is too short. An old F602 will easily run on a 10ft flue system, but this stove needs stronger draft in order to pull air through the airwash and the secondary combustion system. The manual's installation checklist explicitly defines this:

Chimney meets recommended height requirements (16 Feet).
 
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