Wood Stove Choice?

redoak428

New Member
Dec 24, 2020
4
NH
I'm looking to add a wood stove as part of a renovation of a 2600 sf 1790s colonial in southern NH, which has had various updates over time. I was thinking a large stove to try to heat the house as much as possible using wood. Based on internet research and what is available at local dealers, I was considering the following stoves:

PE Summit/T6
Woodstock Progress Hybrid
Regency F3500 or F5200
Lopi Liberty
Jotul F55

A nice ash removal system would be nice, as my spouse is allergic to dust, but it isn't a deal breaker, as we were quite satisfied with a Regency I2400 in another home without any ash system. I'm experienced with burning the I2400 24/7 during the heating season, using about 5 cord per year. I cut all our wood too, so I can actually optimize cut length to the stove. Everything we burn is always 1-2 years dry, and we've never had any issues with creosote buildup the way we run the I2400. An annual sweep takes care of what little buildup there is.

A bit about the house/setup: we plan to have the interior masonry chimney lined for the stove, and it will be about 23ft from the stove to the top of the chimney. The exterior walls of the house currently have blown-in insulation from about 45 years ago. Windows are all single pane glass with storm windows on the outside. We are not planning to replace windows or insulate walls, but are planning to sprayfoam the roof. So, not super tight, but not terrible either. The 2600sf does not include the attic, but insulating the roof would technically make that "conditioned" space as well (there is a full staircase to the attic, though it is closed off). The original central chimney was removed from the house at some point, and the current masonry chimney is interior, about 1/3 of the way into the house in the gable to gable direction, and slightly offset from centered front-to-back. As part of the renovation, the kitchen, dining, and entry foyer/mudroom will become one large open space of about 800 sf, and the stove will be in that space. This is directly underneath the upstairs hall, bathrooms, and a bedroom, so heat should move through the ceiling into much of the upstairs fairly well.

One local dealer I spoke with on the phone suggested a cat stove for 24/7 burning, but my experience with them harkens back to a 1980s consolidated dutchwest that was in our house growing up. I remember it not always performing the best. Plus, I know a catalytic combustor is only going to last for a few years (14,000 hours or so), and they can be expensive to replace. On the other hand, the I2400 with a full load of wood tends to take off like a freight train and get HOT when the secondaries really kick in, even with the draft fully closed... So, I'm looking for some suggestions here about what unit may be best for 24/7 burning to heat this house.

Thanks!
 

mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
644
ontario
Sounds like with your experience and intuition you have a pretty good handle on your requirements. Your knowledge on the cat vs non cat is probably the biggest part. It appears there are many options of good solid heaters in both categories. With your house description I think you know you want a large firebox as possible. You should definitely go into the scenario not thinking you may be able to solve your heating load in totality, but will see some gain in that department with some money invested and possibly sweat equity. If you enter the scenario knowing that it may not be perfect even heat in your older home, maybe you will get pleasantly surprised vs being totally disappointed due to unachievable expectations.
I personally got lucky, and eneded up with a acceptable whole house heater, but I sure didn't enter the situation expecting i could heat my entire home. Its a big house, but new, so that is what got me to the over than expected capability of the heater. (No drafts, great windows, good firewood, great insulation)
 

redoak428

New Member
Dec 24, 2020
4
NH
Sounds like with your experience and intuition you have a pretty good handle on your requirements. Your knowledge on the cat vs non cat is probably the biggest part. It appears there are many options of good solid heaters in both categories. With your house description I think you know you want a large firebox as possible. You should definitely go into the scenario not thinking you may be able to solve your heating load in totality, but will see some gain in that department with some money invested and possibly sweat equity. If you enter the scenario knowing that it may not be perfect even heat in your older home, maybe you will get pleasantly surprised vs being totally disappointed due to unachievable expectations.
I personally got lucky, and eneded up with a acceptable whole house heater, but I sure didn't enter the situation expecting i could heat my entire home. Its a big house, but new, so that is what got me to the over than expected capability of the heater. (No drafts, great windows, good firewood, great insulation)
Thanks for the reply. I'm eyes wide open about performance and not getting 100% of heat from the stove. Our Regency I2400 took care of about 85% of the heating in a 2000 sf house with a center chimney next to the staircase. The stove room was generally around 70 deg F, and the kitchen on the other side was 60F. Upstairs was always warm. The oil heat supplemented the insert in the early mornings from December through early March, heating to about 65-66F in the stove room. That was totally tolerable for us.

Perhaps the real question I'm interested in is whether or not folks have experience running any of the stoves I'm looking at in somewhat similar configuration/circumstances, and have insight regarding performance or the good or bad of the models. I've read a lot of great info on this forum (which is how I discovered Woodstock), which is why I decided to post my question. One of my concerns with a big steel non-cat stove is potentially making it uncomfortable to sit at one end of the dining room table when the table is fully extended for entertaining guests (closest seat is about 6 ft from the stove location). That's why I'm considering the cast iron over steel (like the Jotul F55 and PE T6) and the soapstone Progress Hybrid. With respect to the Regency models, I'm considering them because we really liked the I2400 and could work with the same dealer again. Since those big Regency stoves are cat models, I was thinking they probably can be turned down such that it doesn't feel like sitting next to a blast furnace. Insights welcome!
 

savageactor7

Minister of Fire
Jan 25, 2008
3,751
CNY
imo wood stoves are huge dust generators...HUGE! Maybe it's just me...I dunno.

As far as cats go...I think what you think so it sounds like you have a lot of choices.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,319
South Puget Sound, WA
I really like cast iron jacketed stoves for leveling out the temperature swings with wood heating. We've been heating for over a decade now with the T6 and it has been a pleasure. The only expense has been a door gasket and some secondary tube gaskets, till I made my own. The versatility of the stove is wonderful.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I run the T5 and can stand directly beside it without baking the skin off my legs. The cast iron is a nice touch. You do get some radiant heat though the front glass though.

I don't think you'd have a problem sitting at a table 6 feet away.
 

redoak428

New Member
Dec 24, 2020
4
NH
As an update to this thread, after visiting dealers and looking at the models, I was leaning heavily toward the PE Summit because the door design seemed simpler and more robust than on the Alderlea. However, then the 2021 biomass tax credit came about and the PE stoves don't meet the 75% HHV efficiency for the credit. That steered me toward the Regency F3500 and Woodstock. After reviewing the documentation on the Regency, it has some pretty strict installation criteria regarding vertical rise and offsets, which I'm not sure would be achievable given my installation (I want to center the stove on the masonry chimney, but the flue is to the side of the chimney, so the pipe will be on a slight angle coming out of the top of the stove).

Thus, I moved toward Woodstock. I gave them a call and explained the situation and setup and they were really helpful. Long story short, I have a deposit on an Ideal Steel with "the works" package which includes an ash pan, soapstone liner and side panels, and custom artwork. I'm looking forward to using it next winter in the newly renovated house!
 

clancey

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2021
490
Colorado
I looked them up and they are beautiful stoves and I hope this article on about the same type of stoves..