Harman XXV Pellet Stove Review
First I have to say THANK YOU to everyone who has put so much good information on this site. It made it possible for me to make an informed decision instead of a decision based on marketing materials and salesman hype. Special mention to Xanndra who adds a ton of rational and practical input to the board. Hopefully this review will help others going down a similar path. I shopped and researched for about 5 months and bought a Harman XXV pellet stove that was installed last Tuesday (11/8). Here's some background information and how things are going so far.
I have a 2100 square foot cape cod built in the mid 50's with oil heat. Of the 2100 square feet 1500 make up the original house and 600 make up the addition off the back with a family room downstairs and fourth bedroom above it. The floor plan in the original section of the house is pretty open. The addition rooms only have a single doorway into each but are on a separate heating zone. Insulation is probably average and I've replaced all the single pane windows. My goal was to heat the main house and the fourth bedroom with the pellet stove and minimize oil use in the family room in the addition.
I was originally looking at the Harman P68 and the Quadrafire Mt Vernon. I picked Harman over Quadrafire for four reasons. First I read a lot of recommendations on this board. Second I went to a dealer that sold both and when you take a look at the brands side by side there is no question that the Harmans are better built and sturdier. Third I called 5 dealers in the northeast that sell both Harman and Quadrafire and every one told me without hesitation that they would recommend a Harman over a Quad. Fourth was the Harman warranty. Nothing against Quadrafire but I felt much safer spending my money on a Harman. So I went to buy the P68 and my wife saw the XXV. Naturally I bought the XXV even if it might end up a little under powered on the coldest days. Happy wife = happy husband.
Install took only 2 hours and there were no problems. I went with the outside air kit so I could put the stove right under a window and direct vent it straight out. I'm a pretty practical guy but I have to say this stove looks great. Again the construction of the stove is impressive. The casting is perfect; the fit of everything is right on and solid.
It's been running every night since 11/8 and most days as well. The furnace has been silent the entire time too. Last night we had our first cold night - my thermometer read 21F this morning. The stove room was 71 (stove set on room temp 70), the rest of the house was upper 60's, and the family room in the addition was 64. So far everything is great.
The first five days we had the stove the feed motor was very loud. Noticeably louder than the fans and you could hear it from an adjacent room. I called the dealer and they were sending a tech out with a new motor within the week but I called it off because it quieted down to a normal level. It's good to know I'll have quality service when needed.
I had preordered 4 tons of premium pellets in September from a local place but couldn't pick them up until early November. When I got there they had been "accidentally" sold and I'd bet at a much higher price. Should have trusted my instinct when they didn't require me to pay for my order up front. So the dealer I got my stove from was able to get me pellets at a very good price but they are high ash. The price was about $50/ton below the current premium prices so I took them. The stove burns fine. I've been scraping the burn pot every other day or so and it's been pretty clean - nothing blocked, plugged or clinkered up. I will have to empty the ashes weekly and maybe every five days or so when we hit January/February. Last night (7pm - 8am at 21F) I went through about 3/4 of a bag which seems a little high. Not sure if that's because I'm heating 2100 square feet, the pellets are high ash, or it has something to do with the room temp mode which is my next topic.
I've read a lot on this board about the Harman room temperature mode. From my experience so far the jury is still out. I coiled my thermostat wire and taped it to the back of the stove. Like many I don't like the fact that the fan will stop to keep the room from overheating when the fire is at it's lowest. For the most part setting it at 70 has kept the room between 71 and 72. There have been some times I've checked and the thermometer was up in the mid 70's but it could be the heat being blown from the stove (the thermometer is fixed to the opposite wall). I need to tinker more with a second thermometer over longer periods of time. I'm also interested in running in stove temp mode once we get steadier cold temperatures to get more heat out and hopefully use less pellets. I'll post more when I learn more.
This has almost turned into a full length book. Hope it helps. I'd be happy to answer questions if anyone has any.