The BEST Wood Stove

pequafrogMay 10, 2007

Me and the Mrs. went out yesterday to look at Wood Stoves. What's the best manufacturer...? Is it Vermont Castings? Does it really matter all that much? Or should we just look at efficiency? The cost vary wildly. The store quoted us on the install...the ballpark price was 3k just to install it. Does that sound about right? Thanks!

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I would be interested in hearing other people's opinion. I had all but convinced myself to get the Hampton HI300 (wood insert), but I'm going on aesthetics. Here in New York City I got a ballpark quote of $2500 for the unit plus $1000 and up for installation. The rep told me I should count on spending approximately $4500 in all. Does this sound reasonable?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 5:07PM
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First, there can be a lot of discussion as to what is the "best" stove. But I believe only you know the answer.
THe one you choose with be the "best" for YOU, not anyone else.

What will be the main use of the stove? Looks or utility?

Do you like cast iron stoves? Are you OK with changing catalytic converters? Do your needs permit the clearances necessary to a combustable wall? Is the dealer near enough to get good service in the event of a problem?

All the stoves are good. Some love soapstone, and they look great. But they have cats. The steel stoves have "clean burn" technology which burns excess gasses before they go up the chimney. And sometimes that blue flame inside the stove can be relaxing.

I personally prefer steel stoves. They are less expensive and are much more forgiving to an overfire than cast iron. Our stove cost about $2500 complete with installation. And it heats our home here in Vermont very well. So well that we even turned off the oil furnace for the winter.

Do you have a source for wood? If so get it NOW so it'll be ready to go in October.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 8:38AM
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pequafrog've def. given me things to think about. Steel VS. Cast. What's a 'cat'?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 9:35AM
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A "CAT" is a catalytic converter in the base of the outlet. It acts as an air cleaner. It glows and burns the gasses so pollution doesn't go up the chimney.

Steel stoves have a "secondary" burn chamber that burns the excess gasses before exiting the stove. So every now and then you see blue flames inside the stove.
Some stove owners have no problems with cats and others curse them. With a cat stove you are limited to what kind of wood you can burn. With non cat stoves you can literally throw anything in there. I'm a woodcrafter by trade and scrap is great for kindling and small burns. But I can't throw pine board scrap into a cat stove.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 7:27AM
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soapstone and cast iron stoves do not all have catalytic converters. In fact most stoves sold now (at least here in the west) are non-cat stoves. We will be going with a non-cat soapstone. Our second choice was a non-cat cast iron stove. We currently have a steal stove in our rental. We have no issues with it except its small size, short burn times, and lack of heat retention. It is nice because you can overburn it to almost red, of course due to its small size that is about what we have to do.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 11:43AM
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Here's a few other thoughts on things you need to consider.

Weight of the stove installation. You'll find the stoves range in weight from about 380 - 480 pounds. Add in 100 pounds for a hearth pad, and 75 lbs of wood supply. Are you thinking about a brick or stone surround for the stove? The weight adds up - will your floor support it?

Chimney installation. Most manufactures recommend a height of 12-16 feet. The number I see most frequently is 13 feet from the top of the stove to the top of the chimney. Also, I think most people will tell you a straight pipe works better than one with bends and elbows in it. Its also easier to clean.

I've been looking for a replacement stove myself, and I tend to disregard the BTU ratings and look at the square feet the mfg says the stove will heat (low side).

I personally think your satisfaction will depend more on your local dealer/installer than the brand of stove you choose. Even the best stove on the market won't overcome a poor installation.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 9:49AM
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For the most efficient and environmentally friendly indoor wood burning furnace please research Lamppa MFG's Kuuma VaporFire at
We have practically perfected wood burning after 30 years of tinkering.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lamppa MFG Inc.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 2:54PM
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I have to agree a lot with christopherh. Our Company, PJs Hearth and Home Heating, sells only the best of the best in heating products. We carry pellet stoves ad premium plus Barefoot pellets, Monessen, Heil, Airease, DS Machine, Town and Country, Firemagic, R.H. Peterson, Bis, Archgard, and Hearthsense to name a few. We proudly boast Jotul as our cast iron stove recommendation, and Pacific Energy as our steel recommendation. What will be the main use of the stove? Looks or utility? Both brands boast different qualities.

Jotul is a company located in Norway that is located between a shipyard and a railroad manufacturer. So to make a Jotul stove, they take the scrap steel and melt it down to make cast iron stoves. They are beautiful stoves that come in many varieties and colors. They boast grates and larger log sizes (some have front and side or top doors for loading). They boast the "Family Heirloom" factor also.

Pacific Energy is a company located in British Columbia that carries steel stoves. They boast firebrick, limited lifetime warranties, and have "clean burn" technology which burns excess gasses before they go up the chimney. These stoves are somewhat plain, but you have the option to upgrade certain styles with colors, and door and leg options also. They are also less expensive. If for any reason the firebox cracks in a Pacific Energy, their warranty is to replace it, whatever the reason for cracking.

Any stove that may interest you, make sure that you get all of your facts. Ask questions! Make sure to ask the salesperson about people that you could talk to about the stove that they purchased! Ask about warranties! Ask questons! Make sure that you can get replacement parts for what you are buying! Make sure that where you purchase your stove has a service department! Don't get stuck with a product that no one will fix or can't fix for you!! Compare prices! Ask questions!!!

Something elso to consider is the quality of your flue and/or liner. Sure you could get a cheap one that might do the trick. Or you could get a great liner or flue and have the satisfaction of knowing your family is safe with your choice. Make sure to ask what the differences are and ask about warranties. You get what you pay for when it comes to liners and flues. Some brands actually say that they must be replaced every season. So is cheaper really better?

And last but not least, there is always the firewood discussion. The moisture content of firewood determines how it burns and how much heat is released. Unseasoned (green) wood moisture content varies by the species, green wood may weigh 70 to 100 percent more than seasoned wood due to water content. Typically, seasoned (dry) wood has between 25% to 20% moisture content. If you are using unseasoned wood, it will seem like your stove might not be working. You are actually using heat and energy to dry your wood while you are trying to burn it, therefore losing most of the heating potential. Just think, all that work chopping wood for nothing! Watch out for people promising the sale of seasoned wood. Check it before you buy it with a moisture meter (here at PJs Hearth and Home Heating we give one with every stove sale). If you don't have one, you can actually get a decent one for less than $50. And if you are chopping your own wood, you should be cutting wood NOW for burning NEXT year. Make sure to stack your firewood in a dry area.

Everyone Here at PJs Hearth and Home Heating, located at 2447 Quaker Valley Road, New Paris, Pennsylvania 15554 , is willing to answer any question that you may have Mon- Friday 7:30 AM - 6 PM at 814-839-0074. Check us out on the web at !

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 2:51PM
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This is not a commercial message.

There are a number of excellent woodstove manufacturers. I would certainly include Jotul (cast iron), Pacific Energy (steel), Woodstock and Hearthstone(soapstone)in the top group. Once upon a time, Vermont Castings made great stoves, but a long, sad history of bankruptcies and ownership changes has left little but the name from a once excellent company.

Your best source of information about stoves is The "best" stove has to do with how you will use it - primary heat source?, backup?,location in the house?,space you will heat, etc., etc.. There is no single best for every person or every use.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 5:51AM
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Yeah, like I'm gonna go to Minnesota, or Paris, PA to buy a stove.

I want a LOCAL dealer! If I have a problem I can call Mike over at the stove shop, not somebody halfway across the country.

Just about all stoves today (with the possible exception of VC) are good stoves. Dealers here in Vermont don't even sell them anymore.

Mainegrower, I got my first cord stacked for 2012. How about you?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 7:07AM
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If you have a Hearthstone dealer near you, and it suits your decor, and if you want a steady, even source of heat, go no farther than Hearthstone. They are wonderful. Jotul is certainly good. At one time Vermont Castings set the standard: my first woodstove in 1975 was a Vt Castings Defiant that was our only source of heat in a new 2200 sq ft house at 7000 feet in the Rockies. It literally was more stove than we needed. I used it until we sold that house in 1986. I even went to East Randolph and toured the factory before I decided to go with them. Unfortunately they are no longer the same company. They still make a good stove but not in the US-- I believe they belong to Majestic now.

IMHO, I would stay away from catalytic converters: they are fussy; you cannot consistently run low fires in them or burn "junky" wood without having to replace the converter often-- and they are not terribly cheap. There are a number of fireplaces and stoves that achieve equally high efficiencies and low emissions through secondary combustion. They are much less fussy than catalytic stoves.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 10:27AM
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I'm real sorry to hear about the decline of Vermont Castings here. I've had 3 of them and they were great. I'm a potter, a professor (ret.) and kiln-builder, so I've got lots of combustion experience and have always loved VC's products. The original company was awesome! Then, they had all sorts of options available to make installation easy, and all of their dealers really knew the products. they could service anything and acted as consultants for us do-it -yourselfers. I dismantled my old Defiant to replace a cracked casting myself rather than lug the monster to the dealer. They just showed me the procedure and got the materials to me.
I own and use a 26+ yr. old Resolute in my current home and wanted to change to an Encore model, but the Encore is just a tad too tall for my masonry chimney opening. I called the factory to inquire about getting shorter legs for the stove (a no-brainer) like the old days. The "Designer" at the factory didn't know what I was talking about and began talking like some creatively vacuous suit with no connection to the history of the product.

This is a far cry from the Vermont Castings company that I knew. The Originators of the Company were a couple of artist/designer types who understood creative problem solving and their materials. They put it all into the stoves. We all benefitted If VC wants to field a good product again, they must get someone in there who can recreate what was great about the Company.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 3:32PM
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G. Clayson Miller: I heated our house with an original VC Defiant for more than 30 years. Picked up the stove at the foundry in Randolph before there were any dealers at all. No question, VC made the very best American woodstoves back in the 70's. The early death of one of the founders, an unwise decision to buy another stove company plus numerous changes in ownership and directors led straight downhill. The present owners seem to be far more interested in gas grills than actual wood stoves.

Like far too many companies, only the Vermont Castings name remains to provide a no longer valid reputation.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 5:33AM
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Here in Vt there are still plenty of VCs around. They used to make a great stove. They were right up there with Fisher Stoves. I too toured the Randolph facility. It was 2 hours away.

But alas, Majestic bought them and tried to turn them into a gas stove company. They were then bought by a group of investors who just wanted to make money, not a quality product, and were sold to I believe another stove company in Kentucky.


But you can buy a Vermont Castings gas grill at Home Depot today. And I wouldn't be surprised if it was made in China.

I won't tell you what brand to buy. What's good for me or anyone else may not suit you. I made my own choice, and I chose Regency Stoves. I liked the lifetime warranty and local customer service.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 8:26AM
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everybody wants the best stove until they see the price, and then most of them go for the second best stove. My son and I both bought the magnolia 2015. Price was reasonable and stove works great.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 4:14AM
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Check Englander (Home Depot) or Summers Heat (lowes)-same company-for a good inexpensive stove.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2013 at 6:31PM
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That always works for me. Buy my woodstove at a store with no knowledge of the product and sold right at the same place I can buy paint.

"How big of a stove do I need"

"I dunno"

"Is bigger better?"

"I dunno. I gotta go. Somebody needs paint mixed."

Service? Have you ever called your local Home Desperado to get service on a wood stove? You have to deal directly with some manufacturer possibly in China. You get what you pay for.

I've had my stove for over 10 years. And when I ever need service I just call the stove shop where I bought it and they tell me I have a lifetime warranty, and they will fix it themselves. Last year I had to have the door handle replaced. They sent one out the same day at no charge.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 7:07AM
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