Which size of wood stove?

Amateur Hour

New Member
Oct 10, 2018
4
Vancouver Island
Hi,

I could use some recommendation on wood stove size. I'm on Vancouver Island, and trying to squeeze in before the 2020 regulations. I have a choice between a Napoleon S4 and S9, but I'm not sure which to choose. The stove will sit in a 12'x12' foyer with a short staircase going up to 1200sqft. The lower floor will potentially be opened to a full 2300 sqft size when the two units are joined back together. House has some batt insulation in the exterior walls and attic, and is slab on grade construction.

I'll be burning 95+% Douglas Fir, in a supposedly temperate climate. It doesn't get much colder than 15F or -10C, and usually hovers at the freezing mark. I don't want an oversized stove for the house, but the foyer is a perfect sacrificial space which could be too hot for comfort, but all the heat rising to an open upstairs.

Will an 85000 BTU stove be too big? Should I go with a 70000 BTU stove instead? To what extent will the heat be conducted through interior walls and absorbed by the chimney stack? How honest are the manufacturer specs, or are they overstated?

Thanks in advance for the help.
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,463
South Puget Sound, WA
Take the maximum btu output ratings of the stove with a grain of salt. They are mostly for marketing purposes. You have to push the stove hard to achieve that output on a constant basis. Looking at the floor plans I wonder if the "chimney" is large enough to accommodate two liners? Most stoves are area heaters. From a heating standpoint, the stove at the first floor location is going to do almost nothing for heating the first floor. Might as well have an insert upstairs and tap in a second liner on the Suite side on the first floor. That is of course if the chimney has two separate liners. Under that plan it looks like both the insert and first floor stove could be around 2 cu ft.
 
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Amateur Hour

New Member
Oct 10, 2018
4
Vancouver Island
Take the maximum btu output ratings of the stove with a grain of salt. They are mostly for marketing purposes. You have to push the stove hard to achieve that output on a constant basis. Looking at the floor plans I wonder if the "chimney" is large enough to accommodate two liners? Most stoves are area heaters. From a heating standpoint, the stove at the first floor location is going to do almost nothing for heating the first floor. Might as well have an insert upstairs and tap in a second liner on the Suite side on the first floor. That is of course if the chimney has two separate liners. Under that plan it looks like both the insert and first floor stove could be around 2 cu ft.
Thanks for the input. Unfortunately the upstairs fireplace is double-sided, and will not be altered. Although it would be possible to tap into the flue from the suite side, I don't want a stove in there.

Would a 3 cu ft stove be functional if not run at maximum loads? I feel like there are lots of generalizations on these spec sheets when in reality local climate, exclusively softwood that doesn't dry well in damp winter, and house design can affect numbers.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,463
South Puget Sound, WA
Doug fir dries well in our extended dry summers in the Seattle area. Are you on the island's east coast?

If only heating upstairs you would do fine with a 2-2.5 cu ft stove. Look at Enviro and Pacific Energy. They are both made on Vancouver Island.
 
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Amateur Hour

New Member
Oct 10, 2018
4
Vancouver Island
Doug fir dries well in our extended dry summers in the Seattle area. Are you on the island's east coast?

If only heating upstairs you would do fine with a 2-2.5 cu ft stove. Look at Enviro and Pacific Energy. They are both made on Vancouver Island.
I'm mid-island on the east coast, but because of a mountain, I have lots of rain and wind coming in heavily at times. I've never been able to dry firewood without splitting it smaller than normal.

Enviro stoves don't look very modern, and the only PE stoves available are EPA 2020 at this point. I don't care if the stove is 3 g/hr or 2 g/hr, I'll be occasionally burning my fireplace at 30 g/hr for ambiance and heat, so these regulations aren't very impactful as a whole. I have a quote for a Napoleon S4 and S9 for the same price. I'm leaning towards the S9 at the moment.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,463
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, the coastal areas are much damper. That's woodshed territory for sure and I would let it season for 2 yrs. Modern stoves need dry wood to burn properly. We see very little Napoleon stoves lately, but the older 1400 series was a decent burner as long as draft was good. Not sure how the S series burns. I've only seen them at a hearth show. Did you look at the PE Neo 2.5?
 

Amateur Hour

New Member
Oct 10, 2018
4
Vancouver Island
Yes, the coastal areas are much damper. That's woodshed territory for sure and I would let it season for 2 yrs. Modern stoves need dry wood to burn properly. We see very little Napoleon stoves lately, but the older 1400 series was a decent burner as long as draft was good. Not sure how the S series burns. I've only seen them at a hearth show. Did you look at the PE Neo 2.5?
I am aware of the Neo 2.5 but the only ones available are EPA 2020, so if I were to lean that way, there is no rush to buy. I may be wrong but pre-2020 stoves seem to have the advantage of better air constriction for long burns, whereas the new stoves burn more aggressively to meet regulations.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,463
South Puget Sound, WA
That is a general assumption, but not proven as fact. If it is the case it may vary quite a bit between implementations. You could email Tom Oyen at https://www.chimneysweeponline.com/ or send @thechimneysweep a PM. He's been running the 2020 PEs for a bit.

FWIW, so far the Neo 2.5 is not listed as an LE model and it is not showing up as 2020 compliant yet in the EPA database. Maybe ask Tom about that too if you are interested.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,194
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
If you’re going noncat, I don’t think the operation of a pre 2020 vs post 2020 is that big of a deal. I would be more concerned with getting a new unproven model.

You can always add a flue damper.

Doug fir is easy to season if you keep it out of the rain.
 

AlbergSteve

Minister of Fire
Dec 11, 2017
840
n
Hi,

I could use some recommendation on wood stove size. I'm on Vancouver Island, and trying to squeeze in before the 2020 regulations. I have a choice between a Napoleon S4 and S9, but I'm not sure which to choose. The stove will sit in a 12'x12' foyer with a short staircase going up to 1200sqft. The lower floor will potentially be opened to a full 2300 sqft size when the two units are joined back together. House has some batt insulation in the exterior walls and attic, and is slab on grade construction.

I'll be burning 95+% Douglas Fir, in a supposedly temperate climate. It doesn't get much colder than 15F or -10C, and usually hovers at the freezing mark. I don't want an oversized stove for the house, but the foyer is a perfect sacrificial space which could be too hot for comfort, but all the heat rising to an open upstairs.

Will an 85000 BTU stove be too big? Should I go with a 70000 BTU stove instead? To what extent will the heat be conducted through interior walls and absorbed by the chimney stack? How honest are the manufacturer specs, or are they overstated?

Thanks in advance for the help.
You can build a small fire in a large stove, but you can't build a large fire in a small stove...

I'm guessing you're in the Comox area with the mountain behind you. From Comox down we've been in level 3-4 drought conditions for the last four years so drying in a season should be attainable if split early and top covered. In the Cowichan valley I'm drying doug fir to 13-18% in one summer.
 
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