Originally Posted by Periwinkle
I would absolutely turn you away from a stove with a catalytic converter because of the difficulty starting a fire and its penchant for clogging and breaking down, and from a stove with an electric fan.
Because I don't want to be one of those annoying people who ONLY says "do the research yourself"
I'll provide an actual brand/model recommendation....
If I were you, I'd get a "Jotul F-118 CB Black Bear".http://www.jotul.com/en-us/wwwjotulu...CB-Black-Bear/
* It's a Jotul. Made in Norway. Terrific brand, terrific track record. Gorgeous design. ... It's non-catalytic clean-burn technology produces a lovely looking fire (because the secondary smoke is then burned, so it's a brilliant lovely fire) AND it won't break down and clog and snuff out your fire when it's 20 degrees outside and you're freezing and trying to fiddle with an ultra-finicky catalytic system while your screaming children and a grumpy dp look on in desperation.
Also, really important - figure out optimal placement for the thing
. Whereever you spend the most time in the winter, that's where it should go.
Have you seen this thread?http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=734005
In my post I recommended a site called "Hearthnet". Also, there is a new site, "Hearthtalk".http://hearthtalk.com/
“Hearthtalk” was started by one or two people that were active participants on “Hearthnet” but had a falling out with the moderators on Hearthnet. I got a lot of good information and support from the members at Hearthet over the months and years (yes years) it took for me to pick a stove. However, the strongest support came from one of the guys that started Hearthnet. Also, he is the driving force behind a “donor program” which is intended to take polluting “pre EPA” “smoke dragons” out of service and replace them with safer, cleaner burning, preferably EPA approved stoves.
You should be able to get good advice at either site if you post the details about your house and heating needs.
It looks like Hearthtalk will also have an environmental emphasis, possibly along the lines of “Living Off the Grid”. It is a newer site and frankly I am hoping that some women here will help establish a feminine presence that is somewhat lacking on Hearthnet. Hearthnet does welcome female members and are not at all condescending or patronizing (except perhaps occasionally but it isn't gender based) but there is a fair amount of what I call "genderalizing" most of it is cute and inoffensive and not much worse than what you may see here when some women are discussing their DHs and yet I am hoping that there is a little less of that on Hearthtalk; or that it is balanced by the "other perspective".
I second Periwinkle's recommendation on a non-catalytic stove but not for quite the same reason. My DH has burned on his mother's "pre EPA" non cat stove and on our EPA catalytic stove. There is a bit of a learning curve with the cat stove as compared to the "pre EPA" non cat stove because of the steps necessary to engage the catalytic converter and get the fire hot enough to burn off the gases which improves emissions and which makes the stove more efficient. The added efficiency comes from burning what would otherwise be waste in the form of pollutants.
Neither DH nor I have ever run an EPA approved non catalytic stove. However, they earned EPA approval by using the stove design (without a catalytic converter) to get that "secondary burn" you need to burn what would otherwise be pollutants. From what I've read this doesn't happen automatically you still need to learn how to run the stove in such a way to make that happen. The advantage in a non-cat stove is that you never have to clean or replace the cat. If you run your stove efficiently and clean it once in awhile you might not need to replace it often.
Another advantage of non cat stoves is that you can burn colored paper without worrying about ruining the cat. Supposedly you can burn black and white newsprint in cat stoves but even then there may be the occasional print ad in color but those probably pose a nominal risk to the cat.
My husband was skeptical about the secondary burn and cleaner emissions of a catalytic stove but he did comment on the fact that as compared to his mother's stove there is little or no smoke coming out of our chimney. So the catalytic converter would seem to be doing it's job. And I wouldn't say he was obsessive about learning how to use the various "controls". Based on everything I've read I wouldn't expect the non cat EPA approved stove to be significantly easier to run unless you ignore the secondary burn feature which you need to make either type of stove as efficient as it can be.
I admire the PP for going out on a limb and recommending a particular stove. Jotul is a good name. However, I do know that some Jotuls are not as efficient as their competition.
Also, aside from your specific requirements (house size, open versus closed floor plan, insulation, stove placement, etc.) one of your first considerations should be dealer support. Unlike automobiles where there are dealers almost everywhere and the manufacturer supports the warranty through any dealer, you can only expect the dealer that actually sold you the stove to support it and in the current environment (high fuel costs, increased sales, busy retailers) you had better be local enough that they can service your stove easily.
One of the exceptions to this is Woodstock (they sell Soapstone catalytic stoves) . They sell direct which is probably why they have a generous money back guarantee (it may be 6 months).
If you run into a situation where dealer support is inadequate then you had better be handy. Sometimes you are better of with a less than ideal stove from a really good local dealer than you are with an excellent stove that meets all of your criteria from a distant or poor dealer. Try to get dealer recommendations from friends and neighbors.
Regarding inserts versus free standing stoves. I would have preferred a free standing stove but we didn't have enough room. In a house the size of yours it may be an issue as well. Due to the safety clearances a free standing stove can take up quite a bit of your living space. If you have a fireplace it may make more sense to get an insert. If you do consider inserts look at those with blowers to push the heated air into the room. Otherwise an ordinary fan pointed towards the ceiling at a 45 degree angle can do wonders.
You have a smaller house so if your floor plan is open you may get good heat flow even if your electricity fails. There are least two inserts that don't have to be flush with the fireplace so it is easier for the blowers to get the heat into the room: the Hearthstone Morgan (small/medium) and Clydesdale (medium/large) can extend 5 inches beyond the front of the fireplace. Of course the hearth would need to be 5 inches deeper and the insert would then encroach on the room by 5 additional inches.
I have also heard of people putting freestanding stoves in front or partially recessed into the fireplace. However, you would need a metal shroud or surround to minimize the heat loss up the chimney.
Do not put a wood stove in an uninsulated basement on the theory that heat rises. Concrete is a poor insulator and will suck much of the heat out of the basement. This is especially true for any concrete wall above the frost line and even more true if it is above ground level. I know a lot of people just can’t wrap their minds around this concept (including DH) but I can put my hands on the article that describes the heat transfer principles that explain this, if you are interested. Not that DH believed it when he read it.
This might be true of stone or "rubble" foundations as well, but maybe less so. I'm guessing concrete is "leakier" than stone.
Do not cut heat registers / vents into the floor to allow heat to rise because you are breaking an important fire barrier, which is a tremendous safety issue. In the event of a fire any heat registers/vents are a source of oxygen for the fire in the floor below and provides an easy path for the fire to travel. Giving the people on the floor above less time to get out of the house.