The Chimney Sweep Logo
The Chimney Sweep Online Fireplace, Woodstove, Gas Stove and Barbecue Shop

Shopping Wood Stoves - Get The Facts

Sweepy As any scientist or mathematician will tell you, the more variables in any equation, the harder it is to draw accurate conclusions. This certainly holds true when it comes to wood heating stoves and fireplaces, where buying decisions are often made from anecdotal data provided by others, without considering all the facts behind the story. Here are a few true-life scenarios:

======================================================

Opinion #1: "The new Waterford woodstoves are crap".
Reasoning: "We had a Waterford Trinity in our old house, and it heated the entire house. We loved our Trinity, so when we moved, we bought a new Trinity for the new house. The new Trinity doesn't even begin to heat the house!"

Facts not mentioned:
1) Waterford made no design changes to the Trinity between purchases.
2) The old house was a 1200 sq.ft. rambler in town.
3) The current house is an uninsulated 1800 sq.ft. A-frame at the top of Mt Baker.

Informed Conclusion:
The new house needs a much larger stove. Quality control at Waterford has nothing to do with it.

======================================================

Opinion #2: "Catalytic woodstoves are crap".
Reasoning: "I recently replaced my non-catalytic EPA approved woodstove with a catalytic model. The new stove won't hold a fire all night and doesn't heat the house."

Fact not mentioned:
The new stove has a much smaller firebox than the old stove.

Informed Conclusion:
Smaller fireboxes hold less fuel, and can't produce as much heat for as long a period of time as larger fireboxes. The catalytic converter has nothing to do with it.

======================================================

Opinion #3 (The Todd Variation): "Non-catalytic woodstoves are crap."
Reasoning: "I recently replaced my non-catalytic EPA approved woodstove with a catalytic model. Thanks to the catalytic converter, the new stove gives me more heat and longer burn times."

Fact not mentioned:
The new stove has a larger firebox than the old stove.

Informed Conclusion:
Stoves with larger fireboxes can hold more fuel, so they can put out more heat for longer periods of time. Again, the catalytic converter has nothing to do with it.

======================================================

Opinion #4: "Cast iron woodtoves are crap."
Reasoning: "We finally burned out our Avalon Olympic woodstove which was made of plate steel, and replaced it with a Hampton H300. which is cast iron. Now, the living room is unbearably hot, and the rest of the house is cold!"

Facts not mentioned:
1) The Olympic was a convection heater, designed to heat and circulate air.
2) The Hampton is a radiant heater, designed to heat objects.
3) While heated air is relatively easy to move throughout the house, radiant energy is not.

Informed Conclusion:
Choose the right type of stove to heat your house. Radiant heaters work best when they're centrally located in a big, open space.

======================================================

Opinion #5: "Plate steel woodtoves are crap."
Reasoning: "We loved our old cast iron Vermont Castings Resolute. It put out a nice, gentle heat and we could sit right next to it. The new Pacific Summit plate steel stove blasts us right out of the room! Plate steel stoves are like blast furnaces."

Facts not mentioned:
1) There is virtually no difference in the heat transfer efficiency of cast iron and plate steel.
2) The Vermont Castings Resolute was rated to heat 1200 sq.ft. The Pacific Summit is rated to heat 3000 sq.ft.

Informed Conclusion:
Choosing a stove that is too large can be just as uncomfortable as choosing one that's too small.

======================================================

Opinion #6: "Soapstone woodstoves are crap."
Reasoning: "We bought a new soapstone woodstove to heat our mountain vacation cabin. Every time we go up there, we freeze our buns off for two or three hours trying to bring the cabin up to temperature. In the meantime, the dumb thing about smokes us out of the place!"

Facts not mentioned:
1) It takes a little skill and patience to get a cold soapstone stove (and its chimney) up to operating temperature.
2) Raising the temperature of a cold mountain cabin up to a comfortable level quickly is not something a soapstone stove is designed to do.

Informed Conclusion:
The happiest soapstone stove owners are folks who start a fire in the Fall and feed it until Spring, never letting the stones get cold. For a sporadically-visited cabin, soapstone should be the last choice.

======================================================

Opinion #7: "New woodstoves are crap."
Reasoning: "Last year, our neighbors gave us five cords of wood, which we figured would get us through this Winter, so we took our fuel budget savings and used it to replace our 20-year-old woodstove with a brand new model. We're only halfway through the burning season, and this monster has gobbled up almost all our wood already! We wish we had our old stove back."

Facts not mentioned:
1) The 5 cords of wood the neighbors let go so graciously was Cottonwood.
2) 5 cords of Cottonwood has the fuel value of about 2-1/2 cords of Oak.

Informed Conclusion:
The fuelwood, not the newer design, is the problem here.

======================================================

Opinion #8: "EPA approved woodstoves are crap."
Reasoning: "Our old stove had a HUGE firebox and a draft control we could shut all the way down to just a crack, so one load of wood lasted around 16 hours or so. We just got a new EPA approved stove, and we can't turn it down the way we're used to! The fire keeps burning no matter what we do, and we have to reload every 8 hours! We wish we had our old stove back."

Facts not mentioned:
1) The old smolderpot blanketed the entire neighborhood with thick black smoke all the time.
2) With the old stove, the chimney needed cleaning several times per season, and there were still several chimney fires.
3) Today's EPA approved stoves are designed to be smolder-proof (the fire still burns clean, even at the lowest draft setting).

Informed Conclusion:
The neighbors are already happier people, and so will these folks be when they find out they're burning about half the wood to heat the house, and only need to clean the chimney about once per year.

 

Yellow Book Icon       Home Button

The Chimney Sweep, Inc.
913 Harris Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98225-7032
1(888)-354-6722 toll-free in U.S. & Canada
1(360)-676-9080 FAX
http://www.chimneysweeponline.com

To send us E-Mail, Click Standard E-Mail Window or Contact Us Button (our reply form)
Copyright © 1996 - 2018 The Chimney Sweep, Inc.