Woodstock Ideal Stove

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

saranaclaker

New Member
Nov 23, 2017
12
Adirondacks, NY
Sorry in advance for this long winded review. We are a new member here but a life-long wood burner. Chances are if you are reading this blog you are considering a new wood stove. You should consider the Woodstock Soapstone Ideal Steel Hybrid Model 210. The previous commentary on here pushed us to this decision. They were right. We recently made the plunge and after two weeks of "shoulder season" fires we are thoroughly amazed.
Before ordering we looked at everything on the market that we could find locally. We were starting to travel to see more variety. Our last stove (for a smaller house) was a Jotul model 8 catalytic that we burned for 21 years. It was fussy but a very capable heater that we grew to love. It sipped wood as compared to the various basement stoves that we upgraded every few years. After looking at many new stoves on the market we were discouraged to see most only used secondary burn tubes or baffles with various insulation mats above them. It seems like they would be hard to throttle down to a slow burn without losing the secondary re-burn, making them dirty a large portion of the season. Hence we started looking at catalytic stoves again that meet the 2020 epa standards already. We figured an outdated stove would be harder to resell in a few years.
I personally despise the look of steel stoves so we were looking at the cast iron options. There aren't many. There are a few hybrids on the market but they weren't impressive in person. Castings were light, tolerances were poor. As an example one company has an ash pan with a heavy cast iron face which was very clumsy. Another one had an ash pan that rides on exposed drawer runners that looked like homework done on the school bus. Little disappointing details that spoke volumes for the quality. We nearly settled on a Blaze King Ashford 30. Excellent reviews with proven technology. Very well done but pricey.
We regrouped again and realized we should be after function and forgo traditional looks. We went to the EPA list. We started investigating steel stoves, a Regency, a Blaze King, or the Woodstock Ideal. Regency was light that suggests less material, but we couldn't find one to look at. The princess was really ugly and only catalytic (but well done), and we couldn't see an ideal in person either.
After reading the blogs on a whim we ordered an essential black on black Ideal with only an ash pan, outside air and andirons as options. I didn't personally care for the colors or medallions, but to each his own. It admittedly seems like we fell through the cracks a little on the order. No call back from the online reservation for a day, no confirmation receipt after the phone order (until I requested one the next day) and they ended up missing the projected completion date by two weeks and we were not kept abreast without bugging them. I can forgive the oversights as growing pains and being too busy, but there is room for tracking improvement.
We drove 3-1/2 hours(one way) on a saturday to pick it up. We declined the full tour but we saw enough walking through the shop to see that they operate an impressive, organized facility. Very knowledgable and courteous employees on the skeleton weekend crew.
The stove was physically larger than expected. A big plus. Very well done, nice welds and tight tolerances. Nicely palletized and boxed for the ride. It is very minimalist but yet well engineered. The removable side fenders allow for easy height adjustment of the legs if needed. We were able to easily remove the fenders and simultaneously use our 2x12 loading ramps as levers with simple fulcrums to lift it off the pallet and set it on a movers dolly. We then used the same method to remove the dolly and set it in place. It was simple and fast. The fenders went back on and no signs of the move to show.
We did a small tempering fire per the paint instructions included and it was good to go. It's hooked up to a tall interior 8" round masonry chimney and it drafts well. We installed outside combustion air so it is unaffected by indoor pressure changes. It seems very trustable and simple. Burn it as the instructions state and obey the stovepipe thermometer. It produces amazing secondary flames and it drops into a nice catalytic burn. We are learning to stock the kindling fire with some large wood because there is some smoke spill for the first loading if not. We have only had a few single digit nights so far but it makes a 2200 sq foot house easy to heat so far near Saranac Lake NY. After two weeks of nightly fires and a few continuous day fires, the stainless catalytic looks as clean as new. The flue liner is very clean and dry looking as well, not glossy creosote as our old Jotul made our old 7x7 flue.
The owner's manual says this stove incorporates an automatic catalyst air damper that is controlled by a bimetallic coil. They attribute the stability of the fire to this and say it reduces the risk of over-firing. I believe it is key to the design and it seems very apparent as you watch the burn cycle. I'm not sure but I surmise this is a feature some competitors are lacking.
This is an unsolicited, unbiased review after only two short weeks. If anything negative arises we'll make sure to add an update. We just wanted to thank this forum for the help it offered.
 
welcome to the forums, nice review, always good to see someone from just a little "up the road" on here, enjoy the heat ==c
 
  • Like
Reactions: saranaclaker
I'm installing my Ideal Steel today. My stove came last week and mine was also delayed about a month past their estimate and I had to reach out to them for updates.
 
Thanks for the posting and welcome. The Ideal Steel packs a lot of value into a stove. Can you post a picture of the stove while it's burning?
We have only had a few single digit nights so far but it makes a 2200 sq foot house easy to heat so far near Saranac Lake NY.
Already!?
 
Yup, good stove. It's my first front-loader, so I was a little disappointed with the somewhat greater smoke/ash spill compared to my prior top and side-loaders (including the Absolute Steel, sister stove of the Ideal). But nice to close it down and always have coals left for a warm re-start!
 
I didn't realize Woodstocks had thermostatic air control (bimetallic coil) that's a great feature if correctly implemented (more like BK than VC).
Congrats on a solid well researched stove decision.
 
Thanks for the posting and welcome. The Ideal Steel packs a lot of value into a stove. Can you post a picture of the stove while it's burning?

Already!?

All the more reason to have a fire!

Woodstock Ideal Stove

Woodstock Ideal Stove
 
Last edited by a moderator:
That pup could have carried the stove into the house for ya. In its mouth. ==c

Good looking stove and pup. Have a warm one.
 
That pup could have carried the stove into the house for ya. In its mouth. ==c

Good looking stove and pup. Have a warm one.

Thanks. Old girl is packing on a little weight during deer season.

This is our other "new" cook stove, restored and fully functional; even cooked the entire Thanksgiving dinner this year. Would love to know more about those P.P. Stewarts if anyone has any information.
 

Attachments

  • Woodstock Ideal Stove
    IMG_20171128_215934.jpg
    111.6 KB · Views: 418
Now ya got me hungry for the biscuits Grandma used to bake in a wood oven.
 
  • Like
Reactions: saranaclaker
The sawblade hearth is awesome!
Now ya got me hungry for the biscuits Grandma used to bake in a wood oven.

This is how it looked when we bought it. We unassembled it entirely, sandblasted every piece then put it back together, resealed, painted and polished it. The warming oven, ash pan and water jacket had to be fabricated as nothing was left to work with. Nickel plating was not in the budget but maybe someday. The tolerances and attention to detail in the casting are amazing.
 

Attachments

  • Woodstock Ideal Stove
    Before.jpg
    40.3 KB · Views: 410
Nice review. Good to hear that the stove is doing the job in a place that has true winter weather.
It sipped wood as compared to the various basement stoves that we upgraded every few years. After looking at many new stoves on the market we were discouraged to see most only used secondary burn tubes or baffles with various insulation mats above them. It seems like they would be hard to throttle down to a slow burn without losing the secondary re-burn, making them dirty a large portion of the season. Hence we started looking at catalytic stoves again that meet the 2020 epa standards already. We figured an outdated stove would be harder to resell in a few years.
So, these stoves that were upgraded every few years, were they tubers? I realize it's probably too early to tell definitively but do you think you will be burning noticeably less wood with the hybrid stove? Do you kick it down to a cat burn as soon as possible, or run some secondary for a while for more heat? Nice to have that option.
Maybe they are more environmentally enlightened up in your neck of the woods. Around here, they are still burning old smoke-blower stoves from the '70s. A stove that didn't quite meet the new standards would still be a huge step up for them, a leap to another century. ;lol
I personally despise the look of steel stoves so we were looking at the cast iron options. There aren't many. There are a few hybrids on the market but they weren't impressive in person. Castings were light, tolerances were poor. As an example one company has an ash pan with a heavy cast iron face which was very clumsy. Another one had an ash pan that rides on exposed drawer runners that looked like homework done on the school bus. Little disappointing details that spoke volumes for the quality. We nearly settled on a Blaze King Ashford 30. Excellent reviews with proven technology. Very well done but pricey.
We regrouped again and realized we should be after function and forgo traditional looks. We went to the EPA list. We started investigating steel stoves, a Regency, a Blaze King, or the Woodstock Ideal. Regency was light that suggests less material, but we couldn't find one to look at. The princess was really ugly and only catalytic (but well done), and we couldn't see an ideal in person either.
As to quality, the first Woodstock I saw was my SIL's $350 used Fireview. Seeing all the heavy duty cast parts in the top of the stove, it just gave me the impression of being a quality piece of work. I hear ya about the weight. If I go to a steel stove (seriously considering the Absolute 211,) it's going to be built with some plate-steel, like the Mighty Buck 91 I had, not a sheet metal (tin foil?) stove weighing 200 lbs. less. ;lol
Sounds like you are an ash pan guy. To me it's near the top of the priority list of must-haves on a stove I am considering. That was where the Fireview (shovel) and the Buck (ash dump, albeit a good one) came up short. The grated ash system of the Keystone is the best I've had, even a little better than the Dutchwest, which first spoiled me on the elegance of the ash solution.
After reading the blogs on a whim we ordered an essential black on black Ideal with only an ash pan, outside air and andirons as options. I didn't personally care for the colors or medallions, but to each his own.
So how did you like the looks once you saw it in person, and now that it is in place on the hearth? I too am a function-over-form guy but it's nice when you can get both. :)
We drove 3-1/2 hours(one way) on a saturday to pick it up. We declined the full tour but we saw enough walking through the shop to see that they operate an impressive, organized facility. Very knowledgable and courteous employees on the skeleton weekend crew.
I'd have been all over that tour unless there were time constraints. Neat that we have the chance to do that at Woodstock. :cool:
It's hooked up to a tall interior 8" round masonry chimney and it drafts well.
How tall is that stack? Maybe not tall enough to overcome being installed on an 8" chimney? Not sure what @branchburner is dealing with. All I know is that both the Fireview and Keystone are very easy breathers. Even installed on less than the specified height chimney, they will work pretty darn well. The Fireview I sold my BIL is doing fine on a 13.5' stack even when it's not very cold out. Not sure how they would work on oversized chimney though.
Yes, do keep us updated on your satisfaction down the road, and what changes you see in the amount of wood used.
From my experience so far with Woodstock it's hard for me to imagine going with a different brand in my situation; Their stoves seem to have pretty much all the features I look for. I would only hope to be as satisfied with their hybrids. Now if I had a tough layout where I needed a blower to move hot air, I might need to consider some alternatives.
I didn't realize Woodstocks had thermostatic air control (bimetallic coil) that's a great feature if correctly implemented (more like BK than VC)
The difference is that the Woodstock controls cat and secondary air, the BK controls the primary air. I wouldn't expect the Woodstock system to produce the long, low burn of a BK. But I don't imagine the OP is concerned with that, as cold weather requires a higher burn rate.::F::DT ;)
Now ya got me hungry for the biscuits Grandma used to bake in a wood oven.
A wood oven doesn't sound too durable. Grandma must be a real old-timer..from back before they invented steel. ;)
 
Nice review. Good to hear that the stove is doing the job in a place that has true winter weather. So, these stoves that were upgraded every few years, were they tubers? I realize it's probably too early to tell definitively but do you think you will be burning noticeably less wood with the hybrid stove? Do you kick it down to a cat burn as soon as possible, or run some secondary for a while for more heat? Nice to have that option.
Maybe they are more environmentally enlightened up in your neck of the woods. Around here, they are still burning old smoke-blower stoves from the '70s. A stove that didn't quite meet the new standards would still be a huge step up for them, a leap to another century. ;lol
As to quality, the first Woodstock I saw was my SIL's $350 used Fireview. Seeing all the heavy duty cast parts in the top of the stove, it just gave me the impression of being a quality piece of work. I hear ya about the weight. If I go to a steel stove (seriously considering the Absolute 211,) it's going to be built with some plate-steel, like the Mighty Buck 91 I had, not a sheet metal (tin foil?) stove weighing 200 lbs. less. ;lol
Sounds like you are an ash pan guy. To me it's near the top of the priority list of must-haves on a stove I am considering. That was where the Fireview (shovel) and the Buck (ash dump, albeit a good one) came up short. The grated ash system of the Keystone is the best I've had, even a little better than the Dutchwest, which first spoiled me on the elegance of the ash solution.
So how did you like the looks once you saw it in person, and now that it is in place on the hearth? I too am a function-over-form guy but it's nice when you can get both. :)
I'd have been all over that tour unless there were time constraints. Neat that we have the chance to do that at Woodstock. :cool:
How tall is that stack? Maybe not tall enough to overcome being installed on an 8" chimney? Not sure what @branchburner is dealing with. All I know is that both the Fireview and Keystone are very easy breathers. Even installed on less than the specified height chimney, they will work pretty darn well. The Fireview I sold my BIL is doing fine on a 13.5' stack even when it's not very cold out. Not sure how they would work on oversized chimney though.
Yes, do keep us updated on your satisfaction down the road, and what changes you see in the amount of wood used.
From my experience so far with Woodstock it's hard for me to imagine going with a different brand in my situation; Their stoves seem to have pretty much all the features I look for. I would only hope to be as satisfied with their hybrids. Now if I had a tough layout where I needed a blower to move hot air, I might need to consider some alternatives.
The difference is that the Woodstock controls cat and secondary air, the BK controls the primary air. I wouldn't expect the Woodstock system to produce the long, low burn of a BK. But I don't imagine the OP is concerned with that, as cold weather requires a higher burn rate.::F::DT ;)

So far so good. It was -3F last night on the news. It has a baffle plate, no secondary air tubes. When you burn it hotter the secondaries fire much longer. It is fascinating to watch. It definitely seems to produce a lot of heat out of less wood, but we'll know more when the season really arrives. We've been keeping the draft open about 1/4 to 3/8 for the most part. As far as the secondary burn vs. the cat burn, yes, you are right. It has an internal bimetallic damper that controls the cat air automatically. The manual says it stabilizes the fire and reduces over-firing, which I believe after watching it more. It still looks like a steel stove to me but it's growing on me. The cook stove on the other side of the chimney satisfies my taste. At least the Ideal will never be in pieces on my shop floor just to reseal it with furnace cement. The ash pan is well done and the andirons have stopped a few collapses from hitting the double glass. That double glass btw is a nice idea. Right now there is a little residue only on the lower left edge of the window, maybe an inch up. It really stays clean.
It drafts really well and evidence of chimney condensation doesn't seem noticeable in the flue. I did an 8" round masonry so it could one-day be lined if needed. Most liners on the market still require the flue tile chase regardless. It is about 25' tall from the stove level and it is an interior flue with a cap. As far as a blower, I am not convinced they do anything more than a ceiling fan besides make noise. A water jacket option so I could heat my basement would be nice though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: au2183
-3 temp, and you are still waiting for the season to "really arrive?" Good grief! !!! And I thought WI was rough..
It still looks like a steel stove to me but it's growing on me. At least the Ideal will never be in pieces on my shop floor just to reseal it with furnace cement.
Yep, that's the biggest reason that I'm thinking of going to welded steel. Every stove I've had or seen since the Englander 84, except the Fireview which was only a couple years old when I sold it, has had seam leaks to varying degrees. The Keystone came from the factory with a leak at the left front vertical seam. That kind of surprised me, knowing how they strive to put out a quality product. It was an easy enough fix to apply cement inside the box but like you say, seamed stoves will eventually need to be torn down if you want them to continue to run great. A complete rebuild is the only way to achieve that.
The ash pan is well done and the andirons have stopped a few collapses from hitting the double glass. That double glass btw is a nice idea. Right now there is a little residue only on the lower left edge of the window, maybe an inch up. It really stays clean.
This is the kind of top-flight engineering that I've mentioned, but until you have one of their stoves for a while to look at closely over a period of time, you don't get the full impact. If I know Woodstock, I'm pretty sure that you're gonna end up loving that stove.
25' tall from the stove level and it is an interior flue with a cap. As far as a blower, I am not convinced they do anything more than a ceiling fan besides make noise.
I would think 25' would be enough stack height to overcome the larger flue. On the Buck 91 I had 21' of 8" insulated liner. The stove was designed for 8" but I don't think that's relevant to the issue of opening the door and having smoke escape. When I was careful, I got no smoke in the room. I couldn't just yank the door open, I had to crack it for several seconds, then SLOWLY open the door or it would pull a little smoke out into the room. Of course you've swept the chimney and the cap is clean, right? How do they get it clean around the 90* bends where the stovepipe jogs over into the chimney? When I had rigid liner, creo would collect even where it was less than a 90* bend, and restrict flow somewhat.
 
Last edited:
So far so good. It was -3F last night on the news. It has a baffle plate, no secondary air tubes. When you burn it hotter the secondaries fire much longer. It is fascinating to watch. It definitely seems to produce a lot of heat out of less wood, but we'll know more when the season really arrives. We've been keeping the draft open about 1/4 to 3/8 for the most part. As far as the secondary burn vs. the cat burn, yes, you are right. It has an internal bimetallic damper that controls the cat air automatically. The manual says it stabilizes the fire and reduces over-firing, which I believe after watching it more. It still looks like a steel stove to me but it's growing on me. The cook stove on the other side of the chimney satisfies my taste. At least the Ideal will never be in pieces on my shop floor just to reseal it with furnace cement. The ash pan is well done and the andirons have stopped a few collapses from hitting the double glass. That double glass btw is a nice idea. Right now there is a little residue only on the lower left edge of the window, maybe an inch up. It really stays clean.
It drafts really well and evidence of chimney condensation doesn't seem noticeable in the flue. I did an 8" round masonry so it could one-day be lined if needed. Most liners on the market still require the flue tile chase regardless. It is about 25' tall from the stove level and it is an interior flue with a cap. As far as a blower, I am not convinced they do anything more than a ceiling fan besides make noise. A water jacket option so I could heat my basement would be nice though.

The masonry flue is brand new. It took me about 5 months this summer to build a 34', 3 flue chimney and stone the inside. I did it alone except on weekends I would employ the wife. Thank god it is done. I can slip a collar out of my thimble and clean the stovepipe without moving the stove. I can sweep the chimney from the basement as well because I installed high airtight cleanout doors. I had a lot of people tell me to use rigid stainless single wall in a masonry chase in lieu of clay tile. I researched it at length but products and building codes don't seem to be up to speed with new construction for masonry chases. At least not in this vicinity. I have over $5K in concrete materials alone invested, and rigid liner would have been something like $3000 more. I was, however, going to drop down to 7 or 6" round but then I could never potentially line it .
The smoke spill is definitely less noticeable when it is colder out and the draft is stronger. I remember sneaking up on our old Jotul when the flame went out because it was literally a fire breathing dragon out of the front air intake. This stove is far more advanced than the old model 8 Jotul cat.
 
just curious, how are you liking the stove now that winter has fully arrived?
 
We are really loving it so far. I was going to wait until it got -20 or -30f to update everyone. That said (as you know) we've had the last few night's below zero and yesterday's high was 5. It does great. We haven't even stoked it heavy at night and during a good portion of the day we just let it burn down the coal bed. We have found that it likes 3 to 5 smaller splits (or small rounds) at once. Less than that and it seems to consume more wood as compared to the BTU output. Once it is up to temp we typically run it between quarter and half damper. We will be adding a stovepipe damper when we have to clean it the first time. We had a strong constant wind a few days ago and the stove ran much of the day with the damper fully closed. They told us at the factory that the epa doesn't allow them to shut the airflow totally off.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Woody Stover
They told us at the factory that the epa doesn't allow them to shut the airflow totally off.

yeah then it would be just like the old airtight creosote factories. glad to hear that you're liking it. looks like things are going to be warming up into the 20's
 
Sorry in advance for this long winded review. We are a new member here but a life-long wood burner. Chances are if you are reading this blog you are considering a new wood stove. You should consider the Woodstock Soapstone Ideal Steel Hybrid Model 210. The previous commentary on here pushed us to this decision. They were right. We recently made the plunge and after two weeks of "shoulder season" fires we are thoroughly amazed.
Before ordering we looked at everything on the market that we could find locally. We were starting to travel to see more variety. Our last stove (for a smaller house) was a Jotul model 8 catalytic that we burned for 21 years. It was fussy but a very capable heater that we grew to love. It sipped wood as compared to the various basement stoves that we upgraded every few years. After looking at many new stoves on the market we were discouraged to see most only used secondary burn tubes or baffles with various insulation mats above them. It seems like they would be hard to throttle down to a slow burn without losing the secondary re-burn, making them dirty a large portion of the season. Hence we started looking at catalytic stoves again that meet the 2020 epa standards already. We figured an outdated stove would be harder to resell in a few years.
I personally despise the look of steel stoves so we were looking at the cast iron options. There aren't many. There are a few hybrids on the market but they weren't impressive in person. Castings were light, tolerances were poor. As an example one company has an ash pan with a heavy cast iron face which was very clumsy. Another one had an ash pan that rides on exposed drawer runners that looked like homework done on the school bus. Little disappointing details that spoke volumes for the quality. We nearly settled on a Blaze King Ashford 30. Excellent reviews with proven technology. Very well done but pricey.
We regrouped again and realized we should be after function and forgo traditional looks. We went to the EPA list. We started investigating steel stoves, a Regency, a Blaze King, or the Woodstock Ideal. Regency was light that suggests less material, but we couldn't find one to look at. The princess was really ugly and only catalytic (but well done), and we couldn't see an ideal in person either.
After reading the blogs on a whim we ordered an essential black on black Ideal with only an ash pan, outside air and andirons as options. I didn't personally care for the colors or medallions, but to each his own. It admittedly seems like we fell through the cracks a little on the order. No call back from the online reservation for a day, no confirmation receipt after the phone order (until I requested one the next day) and they ended up missing the projected completion date by two weeks and we were not kept abreast without bugging them. I can forgive the oversights as growing pains and being too busy, but there is room for tracking improvement.
We drove 3-1/2 hours(one way) on a saturday to pick it up. We declined the full tour but we saw enough walking through the shop to see that they operate an impressive, organized facility. Very knowledgable and courteous employees on the skeleton weekend crew.
The stove was physically larger than expected. A big plus. Very well done, nice welds and tight tolerances. Nicely palletized and boxed for the ride. It is very minimalist but yet well engineered. The removable side fenders allow for easy height adjustment of the legs if needed. We were able to easily remove the fenders and simultaneously use our 2x12 loading ramps as levers with simple fulcrums to lift it off the pallet and set it on a movers dolly. We then used the same method to remove the dolly and set it in place. It was simple and fast. The fenders went back on and no signs of the move to show.
We did a small tempering fire per the paint instructions included and it was good to go. It's hooked up to a tall interior 8" round masonry chimney and it drafts well. We installed outside combustion air so it is unaffected by indoor pressure changes. It seems very trustable and simple. Burn it as the instructions state and obey the stovepipe thermometer. It produces amazing secondary flames and it drops into a nice catalytic burn. We are learning to stock the kindling fire with some large wood because there is some smoke spill for the first loading if not. We have only had a few single digit nights so far but it makes a 2200 sq foot house easy to heat so far near Saranac Lake NY. After two weeks of nightly fires and a few continuous day fires, the stainless catalytic looks as clean as new. The flue liner is very clean and dry looking as well, not glossy creosote as our old Jotul made our old 7x7 flue.
The owner's manual says this stove incorporates an automatic catalyst air damper that is controlled by a bimetallic coil. They attribute the stability of the fire to this and say it reduces the risk of over-firing. I believe it is key to the design and it seems very apparent as you watch the burn cycle. I'm not sure but I surmise this is a feature some competitors are lacking.
This is an unsolicited, unbiased review after only two short weeks. If anything negative arises we'll make sure to add an update. We just wanted to thank this forum for the help it offered.
Hi does this stove leave a lot of dust in the room where it is placed? I have a non-cat and it's really dusty. Thinking about Ideal Steel or Blaze King for next season. Thanks
 
Hi does this stove leave a lot of dust in the room where it is placed? I have a non-cat and it's really dusty. Thinking about Ideal Steel or Blaze King for next season. Thanks
We really haven't noticed any more dust than normal . We have been in this house for three winters and before this wood stove we relied on radiant hot water heat. That said, I don't know if a cat vs. a non-cat would be any different as far as dust is concerned but you should try one regardless. Woodstock does not have a blower option so if yours does maybe that's the difference. We are very amazed with this stove to date and we have probably put 2 face cords through it. It was 18 below the other night and you couldn't tell inside. It is very simple, reliable and foolproof. The flue is essentially clean and the cat still looks new. We almost did a blaze king and it looked like a well built unit but the hybrid technology was hard to resist. I also shied away from the Blaze King because I'm not a fan of thermostats on stoves from my past experiences with a defiant, an ashley king and a thermo king(?I think) that we had in previous locations. I suspect the Blaze King thermostats work a lot better but I didn't try. Currently we are eyeballing the Woodstock Absolute for the basement, or possibly his new Survival stove. Further into the season I'll update our experiences and post a few pictures of the cat and flue condition.