Yet another "What should I buy" post...

Nofossil

Moderator Emeritus
I'm a long-term wood heat veteran, heating a large house in Vermont with a gasification boiler and storage. I lived in the 'Boiler Room' forum for years. I have a new problem, though, so this is my first post here.

We bought a house in Virginia that has a lovely 600 square foot sunroom with three exterior walls and LOTS of windows (see picture below). It had electric heat which we're replacing with a small mini-split heat pump. We would also like to use a pellet stove for a few reasons:
  • To extend the usable season. The heat pump will not be sized to deal with really cold weather - temps get into the teens sometimes.
  • Allow us to use it for a large dining room when needed.
  • Give us a cozy spot with radiant heat to sit next to on cool evenings.
I've been called a cheapskate, but I am happy to pay for quality. There are a few features that I think are important, and I'd like to learn as much as I can about pros and cons of different models. Here's what I think we want:
  • Through-the-wall vent (can't do a chimney in this installation)
  • Option to operate based on room thermostat
  • Reliable auto-start
  • Generally reliable / low maintenance
  • Elegant enough to make wife happy
Thanks for allowing me to tap the collective wisdom of the forum.
 
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rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,068
ohio
I am partial to Harman. One of them will fit all your needs. Looks like you would have to put it on the end to be able to get the venting out and up high enough to clear the window clearance. I would go straight out then up, but looks like you may get into the wiring?
Harman are not cheap but they work good, typically have good dealers and parts are typically readily available when needed.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Elegance and biomass stoves really don't go together unless you opt for all the brass or gold plate trim, which tarnishes after a while anyway and requires more upkeep. You can straight vent any negative pressure unit so long as there is a cleanout Tee in the venting. Chimney not required. Hole in the wall is all that is necessary, it's ain't a chunk wood stove.
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
I am partial to Harman. One of them will fit all your needs. Looks like you would have to put it on the end to be able to get the venting out and up high enough to clear the window clearance. I would go straight out then up, but looks like you may get into the wiring?
Harman are not cheap but they work good, typically have good dealers and parts are typically readily available when needed.
I'm not but then we all have our preferences. My personal opinion about Harman's is, one. they are too complex and 2, overpriced. They can be purchased with lots of fru-fru however if that blows your dress up. it don't mine.

All you have to do is peruse this forum section to see what appliances have the most issues (real or imagined) and considering the comments on here, I'd say Quadrafire is number one and Harman is number 2 in issues.

Me, I don't want nor like issues. I imagine some are user related like not following instructions in the owners manual but I read the form every day and I see lots of issues related to the mechanical aspects and ash collection on Quads and Harman's. Just read along and decide.

Far as out and up, not necessary, out is fine but be aware that the exhaust from ANY unit vented horizontally with the vent cap near the house siding, will eventually discolor the siding from the by products of combustion. Not the exhaust heat because exhaust het is low, but the by products produced by any stove. seen that happen numerous times.
 
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Ssyko

Minister of Fire
Nov 6, 2017
3,852
Lorraine NY
Im partial to enviro and quadrafire. Both have many different styles of appliances. Much lower cost. Yes there are some quad owners with problems but 99% of them are owner caused (lack of cleaning/reading their manual) Enviro you see very few issues here in the forums. Just my .02
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
We all have our favorites, mine aren't yours but then I'm all good with that and you and I both know that most issues can be traced back to 2 things, One, not reading the owners manual and following it and Two, improper maintenance so the unit gets choked up with ash, which adversely impacts the a/f ratio and exacerbates the ash buildup or causes the view glass to blacken.

Guess my issue with all of them is a drummer telling a potential owner that a unit is 'plug and play', which is an outright lie. None of them are plug and play, well maybe for a few days, then the issues start.
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
I'm a long-term wood heat veteran, heating a large house in Vermont with a gasification boiler and storage. I lived in the 'Boiler Room' forum for years. I have a new problem, though, so this is my first post here.

We bought a house in Virginia that has a lovely 600 square foot sunroom with three exterior walls and LOTS of windows (see picture below). It had electric heat which we're replacing with a small mini-split heat pump. We would also like to use a pellet stove for a few reasons:
  • To extend the usable season. The heat pump will not be sized to deal with really cold weather - temps get into the teens sometimes.
  • Allow us to use it for a large dining room when needed.
  • Give us a cozy spot with radiant heat to sit next to on cool evenings.
I've been called a cheapskate, but I am happy to pay for quality. There are a few features that I think are important, and I'd like to learn as much as I can about pros and cons of different models. Here's what I think we want:
  • Through-the-wall vent (can't do a chimney in this installation)
  • Option to operate based on room thermostat
  • Reliable auto-start
  • Generally reliable / low maintenance
  • Elegant enough to make wife happy
Thanks for allowing me to tap the collective wisdom of the forum.
In reality, that room isn't very conducive to a biomass stove install because of the window placement versus the open wall spacing between the windows. The only plausible location I can see in the photo is centered between the two windows but a vertical inside vent pipe with a 45 exiting above the window upper height and under what I presume is an external soffit which will require yet another 45 and a vertical to cleat the roof with a rain cap / diffuser installed.

Of course in the photo, we cannot see what the side walls look lie and there may be adequate spacing (wall) for a direct horizontal vent scenario there, but in your photo, installation scenario's are limited.
 
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Washed-Up

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2011
439
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
If it were me, I’d go middle wall at the very end of the photo, up and out near the roof if it’s all within code, and I’m partial to Harman stoves, so I’d put a
 
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Nofossil

Moderator Emeritus
Ok, need more pics ;)
Ask and ye shall receive! I suppose we could put it in either of the outside corners, but it would be close to a lot of glass and drapes. The blank wall section is at the bottom in this drawing.

sunroom.png
 
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Washed-Up

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2011
439
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
Either corner would work well and that ceiling fan will work wonders for it
 
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Sep 23, 2016
27
minneapolis mn
I'm not but then we all have our preferences. My personal opinion about Harman's is, one. they are too complex and 2, overpriced. They can be purchased with lots of fru-fru however if that blows your dress up. it don't mine.

All you have to do is peruse this forum section to see what appliances have the most issues (real or imagined) and considering the comments on here, I'd say Quadrafire is number one and Harman is number 2 in issues.

Me, I don't want nor like issues. I imagine some are user related like not following instructions in the owners manual but I read the form every day and I see lots of issues related to the mechanical aspects and ash collection on Quads and Harman's. Just read along and decide.

Far as out and up, not necessary, out is fine but be aware that the exhaust from ANY unit vented horizontally with the vent cap near the house siding, will eventually discolor the siding from the by products of combustion. Not the exhaust heat because exhaust het is low, but the by products produced by any stove. seen that happen numerous times.
What stove would you recommend to the author?
 

railfanron

Minister of Fire
Nov 2, 2013
515
Perry MI
Hmm. Don't know where you get too complex from Sidecar. My P43 has a combustion fan, an auger and motor, a distribution fan and motor, a vacuum switch,an igniter, a room temperature sensor, an esp and a control board. That's it. Pretty much the same stuff as any other stove. Sure it's expensive but there are a lot of other stoves in that same price range that aren't half the stove a Harman is. My neighbor down the road has a Hudson River Westpoint which was about 300 less than a Harman and it's a giant PIA and POS. By far and a away harder to clean, never did light reliably, can't cycle by a thermostat and has had more replacement parts in it than an auto parts store. Parts for my Harman are reasonable in price with the control board the only part over a 100 bucks. I can easily do a complete clean in less than an hour and that's about every 35 bags or so. Only thing that's needed daily is a scrape of the burnpot. Takes about a minute and can be done while the unit is on high fire but it's easier to get it when it's on low fire. No need to shut it down. When my wife was in the hospital I left the stove running for a week with doing nothing to it but put in pellets. Not even open the door. Is this worth the 1000 dollars more than a big box store stove. In my mind it sure is. Also it will burn any pellet I throw at it reliably and give me decent heat. The room it's in is 840 sq. ft. and it heats it without even trying. It can heat the whole house but with the farthest room being about 50 ft away I have trouble getting the heat that far. One winter weekend a few years ago it heated the whole house for 3 days, when the igniter in the furnace puked, with the high temp for each day being only 2 degrees. It did need the help of a couple of small cube heaters. That was with it throttled on a thermostat to 72 degrees. JMHO
Ron
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
864
Newport, Wa
On my 3rd year of Harmon XXV. Been Great Stove. But how Old are you? Have you considered Propane Stove? Pellets get heavy and you have to have place to store them.
 
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rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,068
ohio
Yes Harmans are expensive upfront. But the replacement parts (on the 3 knob control units) are reasonable. You can replace the Circuit board and ESP for $300. Which is all the controls on your stove. Motors are $100-$200 each, about the same as others. igniters $100 or less. Which the igniters last many years. And parts commonality across the Harman line is great which makes availability much better. like a 2003 P- series stove takes the same circuit board as one made today. And the circuit board is the same for all the stoves minus a few specialized ones.