Wood burner moving to wood pellets...Advice needed

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Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
Hello everyone,

I have been burning wood for 15 ish years and I'm wanting to move to wood pellets. I have several questions, I was hoping to get some advice.

Which stove??
I have a small home (950 sq feet) and was wanting to get a stove from my local Lowes. Summers Heat - Model #55-SHP10L (The same as Englander 25-PDVC?) is rated for up to 1500 sq ft. Is this stove big enough to heat my home when it dips down to 0 degrees fahrenheit for a week? I like the small size of this stove.

Any known problems or issues with this model? Any glaring negatives? Burn time due to small hopper, etc... Can it be adapted to a stove mounted thermostat?

I don't have a problem getting a different stove if this one has any major flaws or won't heat my 950 sq ft home well enough as the primary heat source when temps reach 0 degrees F.

Summers heat - Model #55-SHPCAB80S - This one is rated up to 2,000s q ft and is a "smart stove" it seems a bit of an overkill and is bigger than I would like. However if I need a stove this big or it is a better product I will get it.

Install
I have an insulated stainless steel 6" flue. Can I run the 3" pellet stove exhaust straight up about 5.5 ft and then adapt this to the 6" flue? Or must I run new 3" exhaust inside the 6"?

Look through the forums it seems the outside air intake is a necessity, not optional?

I just don't know much about these stoves and see reviews all over the place online.

Thanks for you help.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,171
South Central NH
I have never had the stove you are looking at, but after scanning the manual, there are a couple of things that you should be aware of:
  1. It appears as if this stove does not have an ash pan and you will need to clean it out every couple of days. If you are using it as a main source of heat, that will be a PITA and get old quickly. When looking at stoves, the larger the ash pan, generally the longer you can go between cleanings. Additionally, if you can't find super premium pellets (or prefer not to pay the super premium prices), ash pan size will also determine how often you have to empty it.
  2. The manual also states that you need to clean behind the baffles weekly. previously having a St. Croix Hastings, in which I had to remove baffles and clean air flow ports weekly (every two weeks max) - that too is a PITA and way more maintenance than you are used to with a wood stove.
  3. It concerns me that they also say you have to test it to make sure it works before even putting pellets in. After reading reviews, it seems to be common that support has to be called - especially for igniter issues. And make no mistake, you will be dealing with support since the BBS will not be servicing the appliance.
  4. The stove looks to have a room temp mode as well as a manual mode. I would think, although I don't know for sure, that you could finagle a way to attach it to a house thermostat. You may not need to as the room temp mode may work fine.
As far as if a stove rated for 1,500 sq/ft will heat your house, that is different for each house and depends on the dynamics of the house itself. Is the house fairly air tight? I know my 950 sq/ft house loses a lot of heat on windy days and my P43 will run more when it is windy and in the high teens than it will when it is calm and in the single digits. It is better to get a bigger stove and not need the heating power, than to have a smaller stove that can't keep up.

Does the air flow in the house well? That 1,500 rating is under the best of conditions, and an open area (it is a space heater, not a heating system). If your house is cut up into many small rooms, or you can't angle the air flow down the hallway, or you have really high ceilings, then you may not be pleased with the smaller one. My previous St. Croix was a corner install that did not angle down my hallway (or even in that direction), and it was a bear getting the air to move using lots of fans so it was really noisy. When I changed to the P43, and it sat in the same spot, I could aim the airflow down the hallway and now I don't need fans. The St' Croix was wider than the P43, so I had to corner install it - both stoves rated at 43k btu, but the turn of 45* made a world of difference on how other parts of the house heated.

Others can chime in about the venting, but I think that you have to go with pellet venting all the way.
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
Thanks bogieb, I appreciate the information. An ash pan would be nice.

I will look through the user manuals from now on to get a better idea.

Any recommended stoves?
 
Jan 29, 2021
155
VA, east central
Hello everyone,

I have been burning wood for 15 ish years and I'm wanting to move to wood pellets. I have several questions, I was hoping to get some advice.

Which stove??
I have a small home (950 sq feet) and was wanting to get a stove from my local Lowes. Summers Heat - Model #55-SHP10L (The same as Englander 25-PDVC?) is rated for up to 1500 sq ft. Is this stove big enough to heat my home when it dips down to 0 degrees fahrenheit for a week? I like the small size of this stove.

Any known problems or issues with this model? Any glaring negatives? Burn time due to small hopper, etc... Can it be adapted to a stove mounted thermostat?

I don't have a problem getting a different stove if this one has any major flaws or won't heat my 950 sq ft home well enough as the primary heat source when temps reach 0 degrees F.

Summers heat - Model #55-SHPCAB80S - This one is rated up to 2,000s q ft and is a "smart stove" it seems a bit of an overkill and is bigger than I would like. However if I need a stove this big or it is a better product I will get it.

Install
I have an insulated stainless steel 6" flue. Can I run the 3" pellet stove exhaust straight up about 5.5 ft and then adapt this to the 6" flue? Or must I run new 3" exhaust inside the 6"?

Look through the forums it seems the outside air intake is a necessity, not optional?

I just don't know much about these stoves and see reviews all over the place online.

Thanks for you help.
You will need to use an adapter to go from your 3 to 6 inch pipe/liner. You would not run 3" inside of the 6", in fact there's a maximum length of vent pipe you can use considering it's diameter and number of elbows. The stove's install manual should provide specifics. Basically, if your vent pipe length is too long and/or has too many elbows, you have to increase the vent pipe diameter. In your case, this won't be an issue, just run up to 6" with an adapter as you've said.
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
DeadTreeBurner,

My 6 " flue just straight up, It's great to hear I can use an adapter. It will make installation much easier.

Now to find the right stove...
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,121
Newport, Wa
I switched from BK King to Harmon XXV. Don't regret it one bit. Well one bit, I had 6 cords of split and stacked firewood in May when I got it installed. (easy to give away). I wanted cheaper stove also. Considering CAB50, but went with Harmon because they are easy to clean. Has big ash pan. It lasts about 1/2 to 3/4 ton of pellets. Takes only min to do daily burn pot cleaning. Wipe the glass with newspaper.

Downside is power outage. I also got 1250W Inverter/Charger (AIMS 1250), along with two 100ah Batteries. One battery is 6 hours (Started out with 1). They are wired together Parallel for 200ah.

Benefits are less chimney cleaning. I do it once in the middle of heating season. And at end. 1 Ton cleaning is easy on Harmon.

It had defect when I got it. Buzzing when warm. Annoying. Screws were touching distribution fan housing. Pretty sure the fan was going bad. I ordered another fan dealer was too slow for me. So Now I have spare. Plan on spare combustion fan and igniter. I replaced gasket last year. Wife smelled smoke (no smoke). Just to keep her happy. Easy to do. I think I have enough gasket for 2 more times sitting.

I recommend going bigger than stove smaller BTU. They can shut down and only run when temp falls. I run mine in Manual and switch over when nights get below 30f (Heat Pump).

We put stub on OAK so the fragile piping does not come off when cleaning. (See pic). Also replaced bolts that hold panels on with thumb screws from hardware store for easy access when doing 1Ton Cleaning
1st Pic Inverter
2nd Pic Screw and Distro Fan
3rd Pic - Harmon XXV going strong
4th Pic - Stub on OAK

20200120_141747.jpg IMG_7006.JPG IMG_20210119_064818105.jpg IMG_20210119_064841867.jpg
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
Dataman, all good information for me. I didn't realize that some stoves don't come with an ash pan. That makes little sense. I assume the fire must be out to clean the firebox on the models that don't have one.

I have also been looking through some install manuals and on some models the air kit is optional and others it mandatory. I have been using a wood stove for years and never had a problem, why would a pellet stove "need" an outside air kit?

Is it a problem running a large pellet stove at a low setting often? Idling as it were?

Thanks again for your pictures and info.
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,121
Newport, Wa
No problem running bigger stove. It will shut down if you put it in that mode. I run mine room temp, when it reaches temp it shuts down
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,171
South Central NH
If the stove truely idles for a long time, it will burn dirtier (produce more ash). In those cases, it is suggested it force it to run with a good flame for about 20 minutes each day to help keep deposits to a minimum. But if you run it in room temp where the stove turns itself on and off (whcih I do 85-90% of the time here in the frozen north), it will run with a good flame until it is ready to shut down so you won't have to do that.

The manual to the stove you were looking at said you had to shut it down and let it cool to clean out the ash.

The requirement of an OAK may have to do with it being rated for a mobile home. Harmans say an OAK is strongly suggested (or at least older manuals do). But people read what they want to out of manuals (if at all), so just making it a requirement is one way of keeping misunderstandings to a minimum and reduces their liabiliity if a set up is incorrect for a mobile home. An OAK also has the benifit of usually reducing the clearances needed to windows and doors (which you probably don't need to worry about).

Are OAKs "needed"? Not unless you have a really tight house where you would go into negative pressure. Some people find them to be hepful in keeping uncomfortable drafts away. With the forced fan exhaust, whenever the stove is burning you are losing air from inside the house if you don't have an OAK. That air has to be made up from outside air anyway - you will quickly learn where the paths of least resistance are. An installed OAK is just helpful in keeping the outside air entering the building in the most desirable place - where it goes into the stove and gets heated up before being exhausted again.
 
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johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
4,376
Eastern Ontario
A pellet stove is a space heater, not a whole house furnace!
Buy a stove that is a little larger than you think you need
It is much easier to turn up a bigger stove than get more heat
from a maxed-out smaller one. Chimney 3 to 6 adaptor very common
with no problems. OAK some say yes some say no it is up to you
unless your stove calls for one. I use an OAK for one reason I hate
using air that I paid to heat for combustion!! Buy the stove you like
learn to keep it clean and repair it if you do that you will get many years
of heat without big problems. Just a side note buy a stove that you and
your better half like. Happy wife happy life
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
I want to thank everyone for their patience, time, and experiences.

I feel much better about moving forward with this.

Now I just need to find the right stove
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,171
South Central NH
Thanks bogieb, I appreciate the information. An ash pan would be nice.

I will look through the user manuals from now on to get a better idea.

Any recommended stoves?

So I totally skipped over that question. I love my Harmans. I have both a P61a and a P43. The P-series Harmans are a little utilitarian looking, but their large ash pans, easy peasy cleaning, and durability make them rock stars. You can bling out the doors if you so desire. Also, there are hopper extensions available which will take the pellet capacity up to at least 3 bags.

The P43 would most likely take care of your needs, but if you have room for clearances to combustibles (hey, that is another thing to check out while going thru manuals - clearances are different for every stove), I would go with the P61a - the stove can burn less if all that power isn't needed, but a P43 can't burn more than it's designed to.

There are more decorative Harman stoves, just be aware that the ash pans are a bit smaller so will need to be imptied more frequently (weekly versus 1x/month). And at least one of them has a tight space for dumping in pellets. Oh, and you may not be able to get hopper extensions (if that is a consideration). And I believe that to be the case with just about any pellet stove manufacturer out there - the more decorative the stove, the less capacity for pellets and the more frequent cleaning needed. I really liked the St. Croix Hastings I had on my main floor, but I jumped at the chance to get a P43 (used) to replace it with and I have never been sorry. Although the Hastings performed well and looked great, it was too needy (cleaning and having to adjust the draft for different pellets) and the hopper too small (it would go thru a bag in 13 hours).

Harman's are a bit on the spendy side (P-series are the cheapest it looks like), but well worth it IMO.
 
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Nitro-Fish

Burning Hunk
Feb 5, 2009
171
VA
I have the exact stove you are talking about, actually 2 of them, bought one from Lowe’s, bought the other used 2006’s or 2008”s if memory serves. They are not my primary stoves, one is now used for a 12 x 24 outbuilding (insulated well), but I wouldn’t want to have it be my primary source, their T-stat mode is not what I call automatic & it doesn’t heat nearly as well as other stoves on the market (it is low priced, but that’s not all to consider) . I also have (too many) Harman’s, P-61’s & P68’s, they really put out the heat when needed and their automatic function is great. If The stove was going to be my sole source, I would go with the Hartman P series; I can’t speak for the 43, but the 61 should do you fine, a bit pricey, but will last you.
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
Hello everyone!

I ended up with the Summers Heat Model #55-SHP10L (The same as Englander 25-PDVC). I was afraid if I waited any longer I would not have any stove due to supply issues.

I got it installed with no problems. Fired it up and it worked great. I was able to switch to mode C and it does put out quite a bit more heat, I am satisfied it will work on the coldest days.

I have a few more questions if anyone could help:

How many tons? I don't have any way to store pellets over the summer and want to limit what I have left over. Would I be OK buying 2 tons right off the bat? Again I am concerned about pellets being out of stock later, does that happen? FYI--Pennington hardwood $235

Englander settings? I keep reading where people are experimenting with different 3 number settings (6-4-1). I understand these are related to the 3 bottom numbers. When and why would I need to mess with these? I only have about 20 hrs of the stove burning and to my limited knowledge it seemed fine.

Unattended burning? I am going to have to leave the stove Burning unattended while at work all winter. Do most people do this? Are you comfortable doing this?

Thanks for everyone's help and info! It is much appreciated.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,171
South Central NH
Penningtons are not a very good pellet. I don't even think they rate as a middling pellet from comments I've seen. But, to be fair, I've never used them and they could have gotten better.

I use my stoves as my heat, that means leaving them unattended. I will admit after getting the P61a installed in the basement, the first week or so I only ran it while I was home until I got comfortable with it.

2 tons is probably a good start. The amount depends on how tight your house is, temps and how much wind the house is exposed to. I go thru 5-6 tons, but many in my area only go thru 2-3 tons.
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
bobieb,

So a poor pellet equals less heat and more ash, correct? I ran a bag through the stove and heat was good when turned up all the way and the ash seemed reasonable. All the pellets burned. The bag stated less than 1% ash for whatever that's worth. The other pellets are up around $280 a ton. Would you care to list some good brands?

What do you know of stores running out of pellets? Does it happen fairly often?

Thanks agian!
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,121
Newport, Wa
I use 3 Tons - 4 Tons in 2600 sq ft (2000, rest in basement). I keep it 74f in living room and hallway. Harmon XXV. I keep 5 Tons on Hand. E Wa State. Some cold spells down to -10 typically. Most of the time lots warmer. Been very nice fall so far. Burned 5 bags since Early Sep. Heat Pump carrying the load. It's using about 40kw a day. At .5cents it's cheaper than 5 bucks for bag of pellets by 1/2.
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
I use 3 Tons - 4 Tons in 2600 sq ft (2000, rest in basement). I keep it 74f in living room and hallway. Harmon XXV. I keep 5 Tons on Hand. E Wa State. Some cold spells down to -10 typically. Most of the time lots warmer. Been very nice fall so far. Burned 5 bags since Early Sep. Heat Pump carrying the load. It's using about 40kw a day. At .5cents it's cheaper than 5 bucks for bag of pellets by 1/2.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,171
South Central NH
bobieb,

So a poor pellet equals less heat and more ash, correct? I ran a bag through the stove and heat was good when turned up all the way and the ash seemed reasonable. All the pellets burned. The bag stated less than 1% ash for whatever that's worth. The other pellets are up around $280 a ton. Would you care to list some good brands?

What do you know of stores running out of pellets? Does it happen fairly often?

Thanks agian!

Yes, less heat is the bigger deal, and ash depends on your tolerance. Me, I don't need a super hot pellet, but I've burned a brand previously where the heat coming out of the P61a was luke warm at best - and that just ain't flying well with me when it is in the negative teens! If you are happy with the pellet, who am I to talk you out of it? Seriously, things change or those that badmouthed the pellet may not have been able to set their stove correctly.

I run middle-of-the-road (what I term "decent") pellets that most likely aren't in your area. Maine Woods Pellets (MWP's) is my go-to and reasonably priced. If you can find Fireside Ultra's (FSUs), those are a decent pellet that can usually be found at Home Depot or Lowe's. Green Supreme are not a bad middling brand either, just ashy and I bad-mouth them only because they are way overpriced in my area. Curan's are also decent, as long as they aren't jacked up. I haven't seen Curan's in my area for a couple of years.

Pellet shortages seem to be rare, but have happend. I think it was the 2014-2015 winter where everyone was hurting and pellets hard to come by. But some of that was caused by everyone jumping on the pellet burning wagon (the oil and propane prices were insane the previous winter) as well as being the 2nd hard and extremely cold winter in a row in the Northeast.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,171
South Central NH
If they are delivered get more than you think you will need. For me it's 80 bucks regardless of 2 tons or 5 tons
That is an excellent point. Some places will give you free delivery if you by x amount of tons. One place near me does that at 3 tons, but they are selling overpriced NEWPs, so I pass. But I also can pick up my own
 

Fredbear

New Member
Sep 19, 2021
11
Midwest
Thanks guys,

I can pick up my own pellets by the ton, no delivery needed. I think I'll just get a bag of each and see if the more expensive pellets are worth it.

Any thoughts on softwood pellets? I picked a bag but I have not burned it yet. They are about 20% cheaper.
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,121
Newport, Wa
No Hardwood were I live. Softwood work great for my Harmon XXV. Typically 2 bags when run 4 hours and cold enough. I have used 5 bags so far. Looks like Friday back to night burns. 1 bag will be used at most or 1/2 bag. I turn off Furnace at 30f.