considering wood stoves

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by januaries, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. januaries

    januaries Well-Known Member

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    My little house is nearly finished and I'm trying to decide on a wood stove. The house is just less than 700 square feet and the stove will be my main heat source--additional heat is limited to ceramic space heaters.

    I'm in Alabama, so I'm facing generally mild winters. Since I live alone and work away from home during the day, I'm thinking that a small stove which heats up quickly may be more practical than one which holds heat well but takes a while to warm up. At night, I have a warm down comforter and am willing to get up to stoke the fire when necessary. Appearance is somewhat important and I greatly prefer the "old fashioned" look with legs to the more modern types. I like a warmer house rather than a cooler one.

    The Aspen by Vermont Castings caught my eye, but I've been unable to find more than a couple customer reviews on it. These reviews mention that it's difficult to keep the glass clean and that sometimes it doesn't draw well at first. (I wonder whether these are problems common to all small stoves.) The price is good (~$600 + stovepipe etc.).

    Do any of you have any suggestions, directions, or advice for me? Any particular small stoves that you recommend I consider? I've read all the threads I can find on wood stoves, but most of them deal with larger homes and larger stoves. Even the reviews on the Aspen mention it just being used for one great room instead of an entire small home.

    What is the difference (in performance) between a cast iron firebox and one with firebrick?
     
  2. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    I’ve purchased three different brands of plate steel woodstoves in my life (Fisher, Lodi, and RSF). I’ve had no problems with these. I’ve never owned a cast iron stove. The only problem I’ve heard of regarding cast iron is that sometimes they crack and are difficult to fix (weld).

    I have two recommendations:
    (1) Do not buy a stove that uses a catalyst (air pollution control)
    (2) In a small home, look for a stove that has a short clearance to combustibles (my Lopi requires only a 4.5 inch clearance)

    And remember, a large stove will not provide any more heat than a small stove…it’s the size of the fire that’s inside that counts! So don’t be afraid of purchasing a larger sized stove than what is required….just build small fires.
     

  3. Mrs_stuart

    Mrs_stuart Well-Known Member

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    Cabin Fever, What is a catalyst (air pollution control)????????????

    Belinda
     
  4. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    this might help ya..
    this is my parlor stove, excuse the mess around it, wood stoves tend

    to be a bit messy.

    my house (the part I heat with the stove) is 720 sqft. this is a brick

    firebox type, with no grate. it will burn coal or wood, I used both.

    the firebox is 16"x12", there isa 2 layer sheet tin heat shield on the

    bottom and a 2 layer one on the backside. this type of stove doesnt

    get hot on the back or botom no matter how hot you fire it. the

    ceramic shield behind it is for my own paranoia, it doesnt get hot

    behind it so I dunno why I bother with the ugly thing. the pipe does

    however get very hot al around (and as you ssee i dont have that

    shileded) the pipe itself is 20" away from the wall and the wall never

    gets hot.

    this stove I burn with the doors open like a fireplace, and due to the

    shallow design it directs all the heat out the front, which heats the

    whole house QUICK. If I close the doors with the box stuffed full,

    and spin the vents almost closed, it will slow burn and keep the house

    toasty warm for about 2 hours till the fire burns down, in 3 hours its

    out cold. I have baseboard heat for nighttime if needed as getting up

    every few hours was getting to be a pain. Unl;ess its COLD COLD I

    dont turn the basebords on maybe just enough to keep the pipes from

    freezing, I hate to sleep in a hot room.

    anyhow, this type of stove may be what you want. if your house is

    insulated well and sealed up, (like mine) once its HOT, it will remail

    reasonably warm all night as the house holds the heat well.

    I picked this up for 90 bucks.
    (the fireplace behind it is a fake.... )

    anyhow, 720 sqft this little stove heats well. A newer airtight stove

    will burn longer, I have one in the other house of similar size, a

    vermnot castings. that one will burn a large log for 4 hours very slow

    and hot, BUT those damn tight stoves pipes clog up FAST, so every

    30 days I have to clean that one, this one here, i overheat it every

    few fires (so the inside pipe temp rides the 700 degree mark) for a

    half hour and I dont have to clean it but once a year. the airtight

    vermont casting stove is made to burn slow and hot (they are gassifier

    stoves, they burn a cloud of wood gas in the airtifght box... you will

    see not flame but a swirling mass of weird flames.. its neat) and try

    as ya might you cant get the pipe to heat up that hot...
    depends on what you want... econmy or low maintrenance.
    also the vermot castings stove I have you cant burn it with the doors

    open, it just wont work well that way. this brick lined box type here

    you can burn with the doors wide open, and its nicer I think.
    hope that helped a little. :haha:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    All modern woodburning appliances must meet EPA air pollution standards. There are two ways of meeting the standards: (1) secondary combustion or (2) catalytic converters.

    A catalytic converter is a ceramic device that fits in your stove where the exhaust gases leave the stove. The converter is actuated by high temperatures. It's purpose is to burn off volatile gases that would normally go up the chimney...thus lowering air pollution. These catalytic converters have to be maintained and if they are not, the ceramic filter gets clogged with soot and creosote causes backups in the woodstove. Often during maintanance the ceramic converters are broken by the owner...and they are expensive to replace.

    My recommendation is to purchase a woodstove that uses secondary combustion to reduce air pollution. With secondary combustion there is nothing to plug up and nothing to maintain.
     
  6. goggleye57

    goggleye57 Active Member

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    I just bought an american dutch-west cast iron with a catalytic converter this Summer. So far I like it. Because of the converter you can damp it way down without much creosote buildup. something I couldn't do with the Earthstove I pushed out of the way. Today it held a fire from 6:30 am until 8:30 pm. There was still enough coals left to add some wood and get a fire regoing without having to start a new fire. It also has a removable ash pan. I can burn continuously without having to let the fire go out to clean the ashes out. It uses a lot less wood than the old stove. Wasn't cheap but propane is even more expensive. I have it in the basement and heat the whole house. 2800 square feet.
     
  7. Oregon Too

    Oregon Too Active Member

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    We heat 1000sf. We originally put in a vermont castings Aspen model - simply horrible stove. Had to run it with the door slightly ajar, and my curtains turned dark from light soot, as well as this being bad to do health wise. Close the door as it should be, the fire goes out or burns poorly with little heat. Some days it took forever to start a fire, and then longer to keep it burning. God I hated that stove. We had heated another home for 14 years with an old Sweet Home stove (no longer made) that was wonderful, so I am well familiar with how to operate one. There are reviews at hearth.com, and other Aspen owners have familiar stories. This stove simply does not get enough air in or have a good enough air flow design. I had thought this brand to be a top stove - apparently that was their old reputation.

    We struggled with the stupid Aspen for the last 3 years - I honestly thought we might have a chimney draw issue, as I didn't think a stove could be this bad. Its esp. stupid because we had also bought a tiny Jotul 602n at the same time as the aspen, got a deal on it, but it just seemed way too small, so we stored it and used the aspen instead. So this Sept, I told dh to put in Jotul as a lark, and lo/behold, this puppy cranks. I mean, its starts immediately. Its a white enamel with a lattice door and the Norwegian lion on the sides (enamal can chip, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I do like the ease of using black paint to cover stuff on the black matte models though - easier if you cook with it to maintain looks. I don't know what you do with chipped enamel.). Its easy to control, and the window self cleans (very rarely do I have to take much off, whereas the aspen stayed black). We are heating the 1000 sf (open kitchen and living room, one bedroom, one bathroom and a stairway). Its snowing, in the 20's by day, has dipped down to 9 degrees at night, and we are toasty (sometimes we have to open a door cause it may get too hot in the main room, or close the bedroom door so it won't be too hot, as we sleep best if its a bit cool).

    Unbelievable stove performance. Only drawback - it has a tiny woodbox, but no more so than some others designed for 1000k feet or less. Only way to get a bigger woodbox would be to buy a bigger stove, but our space couldn't handle the extra heat it would bring. And because of the smaller box, the longest burn I can get is about 5-6 hours. However, many mornings there are still enough coals that I just add a couple of small pieces and wait, and the thing starts up again. Its usually still warm in the house too. I was used to big wood pieces with my older Sweet Home at the other house, and concerned re using the smaller pieces this box required. I am not finding it labor intensive at all, though - more frequent loadings, but not unreasonably so.

    So as you see, those aspen problems are absolutely not true of all small stoves - its a vermont castings aspen thing. Sorry for the long post, but honestly when we went to take out the aspen, I told dh he might as well just throw it off the deck (we are 2nd story:) It can't be used. Jotul has another small model they just came out with, sorry can't remember the name, but its just a tiny bit bigger than this 602. Had the 602 not worked, I planned to try it. Wish I could remember the price - I think currently they are in the $500 range??? We are building an addition with a bigger space, and I already bought a Jotul Oslo for it. This is the kind of wood stove you'd keep forever and pass on to your kids:)

    P.S. This model doesn't have the cat converter. imho, that is a good thing.
     
  8. motivated

    motivated Well-Known Member

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    We have a regency stove and it works very well to heat our entire upstairs which has no other heat. You can buy a thermometer to see what you are putting out and ours says do not get over 1000 degrees or the stove might crack. It usually is around 600-700. We burn oak.
    Jodi
     
  9. scaryguyoy

    scaryguyoy Well-Known Member

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    We have a Jotul Castine 400 model and we love it.It takes practice to get used to using a stove i believe.We havent turned the heat on yet this year.one of the reasons we bought this stove was because we didnt find any bad reviews on hearth .com.Another good website to check out is woodheat.org if i am remebering it correctly.This stove is a non-catalytic stove,sometimes when you burn it too low it will get a dark buildup on the windows but when you burn it hot the next time it burns away.Again a very good stove we have been very pleased with ours.We live up a very steep driveway and heated with our oil furnace last year and several times ran out and couldnt get the delivery truck up the hill,this year we wont even have to worry and that is a huge load of my mind.
    Frank
     
  10. scaryguyoy

    scaryguyoy Well-Known Member

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    I dont know why or how that angry face got on my reply.Also i apologize for the mispelling.
    Frank
     
  11. Oregon Too

    Oregon Too Active Member

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    That other new small model is the Jotul Nordic F100 - might check out the reviews on that one.

    The Castine is a really pretty stove - that is the one with double doors in front? We too have not yet had to turn on the heat.
     
  12. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    I'm thinking of going with Soap Stone Heater but their high dollar.Right now I have small Cast Iron Heater,with a Heat Reclamer in the Pipe I like it.

    big rockpile
     
  13. kygaloot

    kygaloot Member

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    I have used a Jotul No. 3 (now 3CB) for quite a few years here in Kentucky and have been very pleased with it. Mine has a catalytic converter and I have never had any problems with it. However, if given a choice, I would opt for a stove that can meet the emission requirements without a converter.

    If I were in your circumstances, I would serioulsly consider the Jotul 602 (or to be more accurate F 602 CB). Jotul has sold over 1,000,000 of these little stoves in northern Europe over many years. It is a proven entity and it does not have a catalytic converter. I believe that the size would be appropriate for your square footage, especially given your mild winters.

    The 602 will only take a 16" log. If you are cutting your own wood, this is not an issue. If you are purchasing your wood, you may have to re-cut standard length cordwood for it to fit the box. Firewood is very inexpensive in my neck of the woods, so I built a cradle that allows me to stack 4 or 5 pieces of firewood so that I can quickly cut them in half with a small chainsaw. It is extra work, but it does not take long and I enjoy it.


    kygaloot
    Woodridge Hollow
     
  14. Kirby Greene, MscD

    Kirby Greene, MscD the Old Buck

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    A little over ten years ago, we bought a Waterford Leprechaun woodstove. It has turned out to be a very good investment. With Oak, Maple or other hardwood, it'll keep a fire going over night, so that one only need open up the draft and add more wood in the morning. At night I turn in the draft all the way and then 'crack' in out one-half a turn. During the day it keeps the area cozy and warm even on the coldest days here in the north; just open the draft to a full turn or one and a half open - burns faster, but throws more heat while we are up and about.

    Kirby
     
  15. Mrs_stuart

    Mrs_stuart Well-Known Member

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    Oh, i had not idea!!!!!!!!!!!! But i am gonna check and see what we have . Thanks so much for the info...
    There is always so much "new" stuff out there, sometimes i think i will never be able to keep up. Thanks again.

    Belinda
     
  16. januaries

    januaries Well-Known Member

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    Y'all are FANTASTIC! Thank you--this is exactly the type of info I was looking for: detailed explanations and first-hand accounts.

    Comfortablynumb, that may be the cutest stove I've ever seen--I love it! Do you know the name/brand?

    OregonToo, thanks for taking the time to tell your story. I'm definitely reconsidering the Aspen now.

    I liked what I saw of the Jotul stoves, but I know better what to look for now. Glad to hear so many good comments on them. I'd also considered the Leprechaun by Waterford, but I couldn't see (from the description) much difference between that and the Aspen... Again, good to hear it from someone who knows!
     
  17. jwulf

    jwulf Member

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    I'm not sure that I would recommend any Vermont Castings stove. I bought one of their large Dutch West catalytic stoves last year and so far it hasn't been very impressive. Right now I've got some type of leak going on that is putting quite a bit of smoke into the living area, as well as the finish on the top is already starting to peel. The glass needs constant cleaning (so much for their air-wash system) and it always seems like you are fiddling with the darn thing to keep it in the proper range. The dealer I bought from has been very unresponsive and it looks like their corporate headquarters is in Canada...that's gonna be an expensive long distance call for help...assuming they will help...
    :waa:
     
  18. goggleye57

    goggleye57 Active Member

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    jwulf- I hope I have better luck with the dutch west stove I bought this Summer! :eek:


     
  19. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

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    Non-airtight and older stoves are exempt from the regulations, in MOST areas. Some places are strict, though! I'd get an older style stove-less maintenance, and they look MUCH better. That stove in the picture above is a good looking stove!
     
  20. Stillponds

    Stillponds Active Member

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    I heat 900 square feet with a Lopi Endeavor wood stove (my only source of heat). Did a lot of research before I bought it 6 years ago and decided it was the best buy for the money because I wanted a stove that would last for decades with no maintenance. It is a welded steel stove lined with fire brick and has glass in the brass door. This stove weighs 450# so takes a while to heat up but holds the heat for quite a few hours. The advertised burn time of 10 hours is conservative. I've had it burn well over that when loaded with good seasoned oak. It has the airwash system that pulls the intake air across the glass and does a good job of keeping the glass clean. When I bought it, it was claimed to be the cleanest, non catalytic, secondary combustion stove on the market. And it does burn extremely clean. Under normal conditions you can't even see smoke coming from the chimney, all you see are the heat waves.

    I've owned several cast iron air tight stoves previous to the Lopi and the Lopi is much better: holds the heat longer and never any need to recement joints because there aren't any. You can read about the Lopi here http://www.lopistoves.com/dept.asp