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Wood savings of new EPA stoves?

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by sesmith, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. sesmith

    sesmith ArboristSite Operative

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    I've been heating our house since 1982 with a larger "Wood Saver" wood stove. For those not familiar with the brand (and very few people would be), it was made by one of the many small wood stove builders that were making stoves at the time. It is basically a copy of one of the larger Fisher stoves...very well made, made of 1/4 " steel, excellent welds, very heavy cast iron door, lined with firebrick, and still in great shape and air tight after all these years. We're heating about a 1700 sq. ft. older (no, ancient) farm house with it (stove is in the cellar).

    Now I know that the newer EPA certified stoves burn cleaner and burn more efficiently. My question is, would replacing my stove with a new model actually save much wood. On the surface, it appears to be a no-brainer. If you increase the burning efficiency, you get more heat out of the wood, so less wood needed. I've seen claims that the increase in efficiency will save you up to 1/3 less wood. But I'm not convinced. Anyone who's burned wood for a while knows it's not cut and dry, like burning oil. With an oil furnace, you have a set orifice size and you cycle it on and off, so it's relatively easy to calculate efficiencies. With a wood stove, it's burning all the time. Sometimes you burn less wood, sometimes you smolder the fire some, sometimes you burn it almost full bore depending on how much heat the house needs. So are these newer stoves efficiencies calculated at a full burn? What happens when you have to burn them cooler? Are they still efficient then?

    I'd especially like to hear from anyone who has replaced an older airtight stove in good working condition with one of the newer stoves (in the same house and same place in the house). Is your new stove using any less wood? How about the smoke? Is it really noticeably less? I'd also like to hear from any engineers or engineer minded people who know about how these burning efficiencies are calculated. Does burn efficiency that is advertised for the new stoves really translate into heating efficiency? (A fireplace burns pretty efficiently, but heats very inefficiently).

    I cut my firewood off of our own property, so it's harder to justify the cost of a new one. But...if it were to save me 1/3 of the 6 to 6 1/2 full cords I use, and burn cleaner...maybe. I'm just doubting that switching would save me anywhere near that. Any thoughts appreciated.
     
  2. woodchopper

    woodchopper ArboristSite Operative

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    A friend of mine just bought a stove from Northern Tool that was made in China. I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I told him it looked like a nice stove. Come to find out it IS a decent stove. He replaced a older model Warner with this stove and he is burning quite a bit less wood. I think if you get a decent quality stove with a EPA certification you will see less creosote build up and burn less wood. My Hearthstone doesn't have a catalytic converter supposedly because it doesn't need it. I've noticed a few improvements over what it replaced so I don't mind it if it takes me a few years to get my money back.
     
  3. willsaw4beer

    willsaw4beer Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'd think that a newer cat stove isn't necessary, you could probably find a decent used stove without a cat for a good price. I'm not sure but I think stoves made after '88 or '89 have been stricter in terms of epa restrictions, and I have no idea when they made a cat mandatory. We have two smaller stoves, a #3 Jotul non- cat in the living room and an older potbelly Jotul in the basement. The #3 is very efficient but is pretty small, and the potbelly will kick out some heat but goes through wood pretty fast. The #3 gets burned constantly and the one downstairs gets used when needed. It seems to me that 2 smaller more efficient stoves are better than one big one.
     
  4. sesmith

    sesmith ArboristSite Operative

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    Cat isn't mandatory. Many of the newest stoves get the burning efficiency with carefully engineered secondary air routed into the stove. If I got a new one it wouldn't have a cat. Interesting comment about using 2 stoves cause our house design is hard to heat with one. That's why it's in the cellar. That was the only way I could use a larger stove and get the heat flow thru the house without overheating one end of the house and freezing the other. I always wondered whether 2 small stoves would do the job better and more efficiently with both stoves upstairs. But I'm definitely too cheap to build a 2nd chimney, and my wife doesn't want the wood mess upstairs. Where in the "southern" fingerlakes are you?
     
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  5. willsaw4beer

    willsaw4beer Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I live in Alpine, somewhat close to the junction. I just noticed you're from Newfield, right down the road essentially. The two stove plan is good, like you said, because you can heat separate parts of the house at once and because you can have smaller, more controlled and efficient fires. Considering your wood is free except for the labor (tons of wood around here, most definately) and the hassle of getting a new stove it's questionable if it's worth it or not, like you said.
     
  6. Chip_365

    Chip_365 ArboristSite Lurker

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    You might glean some info from the Blaze King Classic thread of this week, maybe on page 2 now? I live in Canada, central B.C., but up against the Rockies and we get a long winter here. I went from an older and very large RSF stove that came with my 2,000 sq. ft. house and after one winter of mostly freezing, or scared to death of burning myself out, as the stove had a HORRIDLY tempermental "thermostat" to control the damper, I said no more. I did my research, read several forums and user reviews, looked at what was sold in my area and bit the bullet on a Blaze King Parlour model, King size and I have never looked back.

    I can't imagine using 6 cords of wood, or cutting it or splitting it or stacking it. ARRRGGGGHHHHHH! Who has time or energy to use that much wood? I'm in my mid 50's, and there is no way in hell that I'd want to use that much wood in my 60's and 70's. The RSF used a lot, but it was hard to control, as it either smouldered, or burned too hot and could not be left unattended for that reason. It created too much creosote too, probably due to my trying to keep it from scaring the hell out of me. I never measured how much wood it used I was always cutting up long logs and never got to stack it. With the Blaze King I have 2 woodsheds and from them I use 2 cords (4x4x8) maximum and 85% or more of that is beetle killed lodgepole pine, as I have lots of it. The rest is birch for the coldest days.

    I KNOW this newer stove is more efficient, produces WAY more heat and is very clean burning. It is easy to maintain, very little dry creosote, an excellent thermostat to control the heat and the burning and most of the time it's in the low postion and only on the Normal range for the coldest days. It lives in the basement and heats the 2 floors above via radiant heat only. I have some vents cut in the floors. I never have to worry about leaving the stove unattended either. I check and clean the chimney in the spring, getting maybe half a white kitchen garbage bag of creosote dust and that's it. My chimeny is 25 feet of insulated pipe and 4 feet of single wall.

    I'd be surprised if non cat stoves burned as clean or efficiently but I'm no engineer or expert. You better read the manual for a non-cat stove to see how on has to use it in order to accomplish clean emmissions and capturing more heat. If you have to burn it really hot to do that, then you'll go through a lot of wood. The Blaze King only needs that cat to get to the active temp and that doesn't take much and then it sits there for 12-14 hrs, very slowly dropping but rarely to the inactive stage before I'm ready to add wood before I go to bed or get up in the morning and rarely filling the stove, only on the coldest days.

    Ideally go visit a few dealers during winter that actually have demo stoves burning and see what you think? That convinced me of my purchase, seeing the stoves in action and more than once as I did my research.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  7. coog

    coog Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have a new, non-cat Jotul 600.This stove is easily 10x cleaner than the old steel plate stoves.I only see smoke out of the chimney when I first light it.Like all EPA stoves, it has limitations (check the threads).I would like to find an older model, as it appears it was a top-loader before it got the secondary burn tubes. I think you might save a little wood with a new stove, but not enough to justify the thousands you will spend on it.It sounds like a wood furnace would work well in your house, and you can actually spend less on one of them than a high end stove.Always amazed at how long these hard working stoves have been used.Good luck.
     
  8. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    Damn, it is difficult to say: "the man is right" :cry: .

    Short tale of the switch from pre-EPA to EPA stoves. An original 70's Vermont Castings Vigilant heated our northern Mass house for years using ~3-4+ cords/year of 90% oak. When we made the switch to the then new catalytic VC Encore ( SWMBO wanted a pretty red porcelain stove for Christmas that year), the 3-4+ cords used dropped to 2-3- cords/year and a clean flue.

    Coog's older Jotul Firelight that he craves, was a nice top loader cat stove. Now, most of the manufacturers make non-cat stoves since most users either don't want the so-called bother of lighting off the cat with each stove cycle, or the easy maintenance of the catalytic combustor. We have a cat Encore and a Jotul Oslo non cat. The Encore uses ~1/3 less wood than the non cat for about the same volume heated. The Encore air can be damped down to almost nothing with the cat lit ( glowing and burning the exhaust gases ). The Oslo non cat is kind of a mommie stove: you can't shut off the air too far, or open it wide for unlimited air. We call it the "mommie knows best" stove.:monkey:

    The EPA stoves used correctly are cleaner and more efficient than older stoves. But what you have works well for you......unless you have the Wood Stove O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ) to get a new one. They aren't cheap. For a few bucks you could do a really nice paint job on that stove....maybe even Love Red. :clap:

    JMNSHO
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  9. Jredsjeep

    Jredsjeep ArboristSite Operative

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    i was running a smaller box stove for the first couple of years i lived at my house. i got it free from my parents and i thought it did ok. it wasent big enough to heat my house solely though and usually didnt last overnight as well as i liked. i would say about 1/3 of the time i would have to restart the fire every morning and after work since there wasent enough coals left to get it going again.

    decided to take a risk and upgrade to a stove from the home depot, got the biggest Englander stove they carried. this was about 5 years ago and so far i am very happy with it.
    its the 30-NC http://www.englanderstoves.com/30-nc.html
    i use less wood and and get far more heat out of it than my previous stove. it has what is called an air wash system where there are rows of tubes on the top that feed air from above to get better combustion. it is EPA certified with not cat on it but give off far less smoke than the old wood box with much less creasode buld up.

    i am no expert and dont even know if this stove is a good brand or not but i heat my hose solely with it no problem and i am happy after 5 years with it.
     
  10. coog

    coog Addicted to ArboristSite

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    i am no expert and dont even know if this stove is a good brand or not but i heat my hose solely with it no problem and i am happy after 5 years with it.

    I'd say that is an expert opinion :)
     
  11. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    You are now an expert.....what works for you, works. Enjoy. That's a fine stove.
     
  12. sesmith

    sesmith ArboristSite Operative

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    Ok, that does it Chip 365, I'm moving to BC cause it costs us too much wood to live in NY...the taxes are bad enough, and I can't afford to heat with oil so I have to burn sticks to stay warm :cry: Seriously though, 6 cords is a lot of wood to cut split and stack a year. I get a little smarter each year, though. Just got a used unicorn splitter for my tractor which works great. If I manage to keep from tangling myself up it the pto, this will be the first year in a while that I won't have to hand split all that wood. I'm right behind you, as I turned 50 this year, so that's what got me thinking of ways I might be able to use less wood. Right now my woods need thinning and I don't mind working in the woods and I love not buying oil. But eventually, I probably won't want to work that hard. Will eventually just buy it split from someone else, but I doubt that I won't at least partially heat with wood.

    It sounds to me from you guys that the EPA stoves that are non-cat are a little touchier to burn properly. Is that right? Like maybe you have a real narrow window where the airflow works? It sounds like the cat. stoves can be throttled down and still have the cat work. Initially, I thought the cat stoves would be more a PITA...the cat being something more that needs servicing and replacement later. Maybe not.
     
  13. Dok

    Dok AboristSite Guru

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    Back in 2001 I replaced our '90 model Heatilator with a similar size new Quadrafire. We went from an average of 5 cord per year (yeah, 128cf, not face) down to 3 cord. My personal observation was that the new stove didn't put out quite as much heat. We had to go from a single wall pipe to a double wall, so that's part of it. Just my 2cents.
    Dok
     
  14. Del_

    Del_ Tree Freak

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    Touchier?

    We heat with a Jotul F600cb. It's a non cat stove and a breeze to operate.

    Its not real happy with unseasoned wood but then none of the high efficiency wood stoves are.
     
  15. Jredsjeep

    Jredsjeep ArboristSite Operative

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    thanks guys, i don't find my non cat stove finicky at all. even my wife can do it:) though she dousent like to, but that has nothing to do with the stove
     
  16. savageactor7

    savageactor7 AboristSite Guru

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    sesmith we've had our QF4300 for about a year and I'd say it burns 25% less wood...and except for sleep time that's going full bore 16hrs a day.

    Just say'en...we've been burning since '77 with 3 other assorted smoke dragons. My advice is don't get the stove that will heat your sf....get the next size up.

    Bigger is better sesmith, I was reluctant to get another stove cause our old one was imo good enough. But after a couple decades of remodeling certain people here didn't think the Shenandoah was a good enough visually.

    Anyway I wanted the next size bigger...the 4300 is adequate, puts out plenty of heat so far but I always burn hot 500-600* So far we haven't had the prolonged period of below 0 days that we usually get...that's why I felt a bigger stove with a reserve heating capacity would be more correct for us.

    Once you're burning 24/7 and have established bed of coals the stove doesn't smoke except for about 5 minutes when you reload it. That is where the wood savings comes in...the stove re-circulates and burns the smoke...

    ...but like you I cut in the back yard so I don't care how much wood we burn. I burn wood cause I couldn't afford the gas/oil it would take to keep my wife comfortably warm.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  17. KsWoodsMan

    KsWoodsMan Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Adding secondary air to my exempt stove has cut my wood usage by over 1/3. I'll know for sure in April how much more. It also has increased my burn times by over 2x. I should have done it a looooong time ago. I guess I was to busy feeding the stove to worry about doing it differently.
     
  18. coog

    coog Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Some of that savings could have to do with this weather, no?
    How did you add the secondary air?
     
  19. Zodiac45

    Zodiac45 Paleostoveologist & Sawwhisperer

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    hmmmmmmm yes do tell! Did you do a downdraft set up like the old tempwood stoves? That used two tubes welded too the top of the stove and brought secondary air from above too the fire below (downdraft). My Dad had one as they were build right up the road from where he lives. It would heat up fast (steel) and pumped out allot of heat for it's size. Not sure about wood usage though but sure burned hot. :cheers:
     
  20. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    Weren't they built somewhere in Mass Steve ?
    We've had a few of the Tempwoods: the full size and the baby one. A full sized Tempwood is now my shop heater--has been lent out a few times to friends needing quick, easy heat while building in winter here. It's a beast for quick fires, easy to light, and top oad burning. Unlike EPA non cat stoves, the Tempwood can be damped down to nothing to hold fires; be warned though for creosote.
    great stove.
    BTW: one of the north woods camps here in Maine we ski into, Little Lyford Pond, heats the 10'x15' cabins with the small Tempwoods.
     

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