Wood Stove Basics

I want to put in a wood burning stove to help heat my single story 1900 sf house. It has a heat pump now. It is either running inefficiently, or is undersized. It is 3.5 tons. The ducting, to me, looks like it needs to be upsized in strategic areas.
That aside, what are your experiences and suggestions with wood burners? I would like an old black and chrome antique. But I know that takes room air for combustion. How much more efficient are the new ones that pull in outside air for combustion? And what are some of the top brands as far as good construction, reliability, and parts availability?
Please share your opinions, experiences and caveats with me.
Steve
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I have a Vermont Castings http://www.vermontcastings.com /
You do not want an old black and chrome antique. You may want one that looks that way, but newer stoves are much more efficient and cleaner burning.
You also need to find a good location in a home that size so you can optimize air circulation. I use a small 10" box fan to move the warm air out of the room with the stove but I still get a temperature differential of 15 to 20 degrees from one end of the house to the other if I rely strictly on the wood stove.
Wood stoves are a lot of work. The amount of work will vary depending on the stove size you buy and the amount of heating it will do as compared to your heat pump. If it is just a small supplement on really cold days you may burn a cord or two, but if you are going to use it as the main heat source, burning 5 or more cords of wood is possible.
Find a place to keep some wood in the house. It burns better if warmed to room temperature as opposed to tossing in logs at 5 degrees. You want dry wood also. That is a subject for another post if you do get a stove.
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Thanks for the helpful reply. I have a Vermont Castings barbecue, and love it. I had just looked at Vermont Castings at a local builders show last week, but the salesman was busy with other people, and didn't get any time with him. I would buy VC just on the name.
I did notice when surfing their site and others that there are catalytic and non-catalytic models. What's the ups and downs of those?
Does yours have the external intake for combustion air, or does it use room air? Is there a big difference in the two? I know for fireplaces, they are about worthless as a heater because you have to let in so much outside air for good combustion. Or at least, that was my experience.
We are familiar with wood stoves and wood. We do live in an area where wood is plentiful and a permit for five cords is $20. No one has ever checked us, but we still buy the permits anyway. They bulldoze it into large piles, so getting a trailer load is not too hard. We have a 28 ton log splitter.
We have a wood burner at the cabin, so are familiar with the drying and aging of wood, the mess and importance of the upkeep of the waste, keeping ash in a closed can more than 72 hours before dumping, keeping aging wood sheltered, lots of things one wouldn't initially think of when just going out and gathering some firewood.
My BIL has a three axle trailer, and we both have 2500 series diesel pickups, so when we to on a trip for firewood, with all the gear, it's almost like going deer hunting. He has two Stihls, and I have a Husky. We like making one trip, cutting down six to eight foot sections, getting a full load, then bringing them back to the properties to buzz up, split, and stack. There's a few shortcuts and pointers, but no easy way to do it. It's just work. Or you can have it delivered and stacked for $130 a cord for soft pine.
I like the classy looking black and chrome old stoves, but when I see the prices they are going for, I think we may just go for the modern model.
Steve
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Catalytic are required in some areas to reduce pollution. I have no experience with them though. It shoudl also reduce chimney cleanign so that is a plus.

Mine is 26 years old and they did not have external air inlets back then but I imagine it would be a bit more efficient.

Then you already know anything I'd tell you. Good price for the wood. It is getting tougher to find around here.
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wrote in message

I don't believe that is true. They do, however have to be "EPA certified" to be legally installed. Where I live, an uncertified stove cannot legally even be put back into the fireplace after cleaning. Certified stoves do not necessarily have a catalyst.
An "illegally installed" stove could put your insurance at risk. Permits could be required to install stoves..
Bob
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On Sun, 7 Oct 2007 20:26:36 -0700, "SteveB"

Clark County, NV or further north?
I could sure use some cured wood for the next pig roast :)
-- Oren
"If things get any worse, I'll have to ask you to stop helping me."
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wrote:

Iron and Washington counties, Utah. We're out of Vegas as soon as we can sell the houses. Living here in Utah mostly, just going to Vegas when we have to.
Steve
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On Mon, 8 Oct 2007 17:05:08 -0700, "SteveB"

I just recently had the best tasting tomatoes; from Utah, up HWY 15. The best in many, many years; since I pasts the MS river.
Here is your cabin, notice wood burner .
http://news.webshots.com/photo/1285624182033289962bohStE
<bfg>
-- Oren
"I didnt say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you."
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On Sun, 7 Oct 2007 19:37:36 -0700, "SteveB"

I've eaten plenty of toast from a wood stove; tossed on top. I just hated fetching the wood.
-- Oren
"The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!"
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My VC has a griddle on the top. I also made up a cooking grid so I could open the doors to grill steaks.
On top, I had a metal box fitted with a handle to lift it off and I used it for roasting. Stews and pot roast just sat on the top in a Dutch oven.
All of that cooking, but I never made toast. After some years, it became a chore to haul in wood too. Ed
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wrote:

In the early/mid fifties my great aunts cooked and heated their home with a cast iron stove. If you were cold or hungry - cut and split wood. :) They would toss bread on top and toast it for me.
They made a mean chicken in dumplings on top of that stove, yep also had to catch the chicken :)
The stove was similar to this one.
http://tsezana.en.ecplaza.net/2s.gif
The last wood stove I had was in upstate New York. It has a thermostat/dial on top..iirc it went to 1100 degrees. I got it so hot one day it was scary. I was burning some good maple wood.
I did cook on it now and then with a dutch oven.
-- Oren
"The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!"
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You need to know about the two different codes: 1 = Fire Safety Code: this information is free from municipal building licence offices where I live. Most municipalities require a building licence before a stove is retrofitted. 2 = Environmental Protection Agency efficiency ratings of stoves on the US market. These measure "efficiency" in terms of chimney smoke contents (not the efficiency of fuel in proportion to heat generated.)
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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wrote:

And check with your insurance agent. Some companies won't insure for a wood stove. Mine insisted on inspecting the installation. That was over years ago and I have heard they are getting even more strict.
Harry K.
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We have a small "Patriot" model woodstove made by Lopi woodstoves to heat our 1456 sq/ft house. We use it mostly in the evenings for supplemental heat, to provide that "romantic atmosphere", and to provide heat during power outages. We've had it about four years now and have been very happy with it.
Our stove is centrally located and can easily heat the entire house within an hour or two. We do have a fairly open floor plan with 12-14' vaulted ceilings, and a ceiling fan to help circulate the air, but even so our master bedroom in the back corner stays a little cooler than the rest of the house. That's actually a nice advantage when it comes time to sleep. Though most of the time I don't bother turning on the ceiling fan, and the heat seems to circulate just fine.
I installed the woodstove myself, and here in Washington state you have to get a woodstove permit. It's only about $40 or so, and all they really do is come out and look at the owners manual (or stamp on the back of the stove) to make sure you have all the proper clearances recommended by the manufacturer, and that it's a rated stove. I allowed an extra inch or so to the side and back clearances and had no problems passing the inspection. By the way, your home insurance company will want a copy of the woodstove permit to prove it's installed properly. Mine also sent a guy out to take a photo of the installation. If you don't get a permit, you risk losing your insurance or they might not pay out if a fire should occur. Otherwise, the woodstove made no difference in our insurance rates.
Our Patriot woodstove seems to be very clean burning. Other than a little smoke when starting the fire, there's very little smoke coming from the chimney. I clean our chimney every summer, and there's usually less than a 1/4 cup of soot and creosote built up inside the chimney (about 18' tall).
Because houses are built so tight now, we were required to supply an external source of air for the woodstove. Basically, I just cut a hole into the crawlspace, covered it with a wire mesh to keep out critters, and the woodstove has a metal boot that extends to the floor over the hole (optional equipment of course). It pulls fresh air in through the foundation vents, instead of using the air from the living space. It seems to work quite well. However, if I turn on the kitchen stove fan before I have a fire going to get a good draft, it will pull a little smoke into the room where the chimney sits on the woodstove (it's not an air tight connection). Once the fire is going, it's no longer an issue.
We wanted the all-black look of the Patriot model, as it fit best with the rustic nature of our house. But, my sister-in-law cleans houses for a living and has said many of the woodstoves with chrome trim have the trim come loose after a while. I can't confirm that, but it's something to think about.
Don't apply the "bigger is better" mentality to a woodstove. Even our little Patriot model can overheat the house rather quickly if I get the fire too hot. Hot fires burn cleaner (the door glass stays cleaner), but it usually gets too hot in the house if I don't close the damper down. Even so, I never start a fire unless it's under 50 degrees outside. It just gets too hot.
Other than cleaning the chimney, there's virtually no maintenance other than cleaning the door glass and dumping ashes occasionally (usually once 2-3 times each season for me).
The only downside to the woodstove is it dries out the air. Makes your nose a little dry inside, and we get a lot more static shocks. We've been meaning to get a "steamer" to go on top of the stove which is supposed to help counteract the drying effect, but that hasn't happened yet. :)
Anthony
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