Jotul Oslo 500 vs. Firelight 600 Wood Stoves

sweetcicelyDecember 6, 2008

Hi all,

I'm a refugee from the garden forums, but currently need HELP in choosing between the Jotul F500 (Oslo) and F600 Firelight.

We just lost the use of a large Morso free standing cast iron woodstove after almost 30 years of virtually trouble-free service. I've only recently discovered that they just aren't supposed to last that long! :)) (who knew??)

The stove provided all of our November through April heat (minus one month of below freezing nights). We are in northern California at 1500 feet (Sierra foothills), and in a 2600 sq ft home.

It seemed to me that because of the area we want to heat the Firelight Jotul F600 would be the best choice, but the dealer with whom we spoke recommended the Oslo F500 which he thought would be adequate. He also said he found the double door closure device on the Firelight 600 somewhat inconvenient to use.

Our Morso had solid double doors which served as part of the initial fire-up air system (made before everyone had to have glass doors). We really liked the system (and I never had to clean glass) and wonder about the dealer's hesitance about the Firelight's double doors.

Does anyone here have experience with either of these stoves ~ Jotul Oslo F500 or Firelight F600? I'd surely appreciate any pro/con information you can give me.

The live link below is to the F600, and here is the URL to the F500:

Thanks a bunch!


Here is a link that might be useful: Jotul F600 Firelight

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Chris Newell

Hi There, I heat with an Oslo in my 2,300sf house in CT. For the most part it supplies all my heat except on the coldest winter nights,like, below about 10 degrees f. I love the Oslo. The only negative I've noticed is that because of the design, the front door spills ash every time it's opened, so you really need to load using the side door or sweep up ashes after every reload. Of course I've never heard anything bad about the Firelight either. It is an awfully large stove and the big firebox will eagerly burn up lots of wood quickly! Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 5:45PM
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Hi Chris,

Thank you for responding! You are much colder for longer in Ct, so your inclusive information is very helpful.

Your comment about the size of the Firelight is also helpful. We burned about five cords (two cedar and three oak) in the Morso (state of the art in its day), but have been told that today's stoves are quite a bit more efficient. Could you tell me how many cords your Oslo uses in an average New England winter?

Many thanks,

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 7:10PM
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I see that this in response to a month-old post and the purchase in question most likely has been already made, yet I feel compelled to provide some insight on my experience with our Oslo 500. This is the first and only review I've ever written about any purchase and hopefully that alone says something about this stove.

I too live in (Northeastern) CT and our primary heat source is an Oslo 500. Our house is a 2900 sq. ft. 1992-built replica Cape Cod. It has installed, a 275 gal. oil tank and 6 zone oil burning System 2000 furnace which provides domestic hot water as well. This is our first year in the house. The Oslo was purchased new and I too had considered the Firelight 600, however the right-side load would not have worked for our installation location. The dealer also recommended the 500 over the 600 for a number of reasons.

The stove is centrally located in the kitchen and thus heats the upstairs and surrounding areas surprisingly even. When outside temperatures are 26 degrees and above it has absolutely no problem keeping the entire house between 68 and 72 degrees. When the outside temp. dips into the teens and below however, it's had to work to keep it between 65 and 68. I work from home so I've had plenty of opportunity to experiment with different burn techniques as well and have been able to keep it running hot during the 2 or 3 very cold snaps we've had. Since initial burn-in firing in late August we've used just over 4 cords of wood, mostly seasoned oak and maple. I say mostly seasoned because we moved here in April and the majority of our supply wasn't cut/stacked until early June.

It's a very efficient, evenly burning stove. Wide open it produces flu gasses anywhere between 300-450 degrees. It needs to be loaded every 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours to keep it running HOT, but when damped down to about half it will moderately burn easily for 4-5 hours. It holds large and hot coals overnight with no trouble.

As Chris above had mentioned, it is quite messy to load from the front. The main reason for this is due to the front-to-back burn and air wash design which keeps the front glass mostly clear for many days. The gasses vent to the front of the stove just above the front door, then across the inside top of the stove between the top casting and the secondary burn tubes. The result is the deposit of ash between the inside of the glass and the front casting. I've found no way to avoid this, other than of course to load from the side.

If that's a gripe, my only other would be the design of the ash removal setup. The stove has a large pan but it's very difficult to empty without being messy. The ashes drop from the firebox through the removable cast iron grate on the bottom located directly in the middle of the firebox. The problem with this is that it's impossible to empty the pan while the stove has any sort of sizable fuel or fire in it; It needs to be almost out in order to empty the pan. There's a small amount of room around the grate and any remaining hot embers can be cleared away to these edges. Otherwise, if small enough they risk falling through while the pan is removed making it impossible to reinsert the ash pan without first clearing these away. Additionally, it's not possible to simply let the ash build up so as to use a traditional ash shovel to clean large amounts of ash from the firebox through the loading door. The grate at the bottom between the firebox and ash pan needs to maintain a certain amount of air flow through it (likely due to the clean-burn design) to keep the stove burning optimally. As a result, one's required to let the fire burn down every 2 days or so in order to perform the task of emptying the ash pan. That's also a good time to give the front glass a quick wipe.

I grew up with a smaller Morso in the house (which is still used by my parents everyday) and considered those along with VC, Harmon, Woodstock Soapstone and Hearthstone. While I liked many of the soapstone designs, I was unable to match aesthetics to our house style as well as heating capacity and output which needed to be enough in order to heat the entire house. I considered the new VC stoves, but after touching those vs. the Jotul there was really no other choice. The Jotul fit and finish is second to none, the castings are beautiful and the heat output is unbelievably consistency and cozy. The handle design is great and fuel usage is quite efficient.

I've never second-guessed our choice, however I have done a fair amount of reading and poking around after the purchase and have found plenty of reviews, opinions and articles which have only bolstered my happiness with our stove. We have two young children and they tussle over the chair closest to the stove at the counter. We spend much of our time comfortably in the kitchen and it's a huge difference from the old house which used 275 gal. of oil in just under a month maintaining an inside temp. of 62-64 degrees. We've used this year just under 1/4 tank of oil since filling up in August. Obviously a HUGE difference.

Bottom line, we couldn't be happier with the stove. I hope I've provided some clear and helpful information about our experiences with this fantastic appliance. There are plenty of quality wood stoves available on the market today. It's important to find one you'll be happy with for many years to come and I'm sure you will or already have.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 7:25AM
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I have the 600 and had the same question. Very glad I went with the 600. Just had to turn on my furnace with outside temp -20 F. Parts of the House dropped to 61. This is very extreme cold for my area. My house is 2800 sq. ft. closed floor plan running carier furnace with DC drive that constantly circulates the air. Great for keeping the heat from my stove moving about the house. I thought I might cook myself out of house and home with the 600 but not the case. Room size is aprox. 18 X 22.

Up until this cold snap, I have had my furnace off for weeks. Only on when nobody is home. Have a ceiling fan running in reverse in the room which helps keep the hot air moving to other rooms in the house as well. The only change i would make to the 600 is the stupid handle to open the front doors. They could make a better design. It does do the job though. Only open front doors between burn cycles to rake coals or clean ash reload or start fire. Loading from the side is the way to go, no question. Never did understand the side loading concept but now i sure do.

One of the reasons I am glad I bought the 600 is the burn time. If you really want to load it up for the night and not have to tend to it every couple of hours get the 600. Even with the 600 you have to load it up get the wood burning good, (30 minutes or more depending on coal bed. then damper it way down to get an overnight burn. With oak I can get 8-9 hours. Here's the thing they don't really tell you. Say you burn it at around 400 degrees, that will only last at that temp for a few hours and then it will burn at about 325 or less so without adding more air. The last couple of hours of advertised burn time is not doing much to heat the house. Adding air while your awake is no problem but if you set the air to high and go to bed you will overfire the stove on a full load. Imagine trying to fall a sleep not knowing if your going to burn your house down. For my purposes the 600 is just right and the oslo would be undersized. Jotul recomends not burning beyond 600 degrees. I found 4-450 to be the sweet spot. To get the most from your wood they recommend letting the wood complete the burn cycle and not keep adding logs to keep the temp up. All this goes to bigger stove, longer burn, more time burning at desired temp, less trips to the garage to load stove to keep house toasty warm. Sorry if I am rambling but its 3:30 am.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 8:47AM
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Hello, Will and BJ20,

Thank you both for your very thorough responses to my cry for help. You have given so much excellent information and have already provided time and labor-saving insights into the use of Jotul stoves.

As you both probably expected, with cold weather upon us, we were pressed to make a selection before your messages appeared. In a preliminary visit to measure the hearth space and clearances, the installer noted that we had plenty of room for the Firelight 600, which is a right side loader. He also seemed to agree that, with our square footage, we would be hedging our bets by getting the 600. Because my husband and I are both right handed, and the room opens out more to the right of the hearth than to the left, the Firelight 600 also seemed as though it would be more comfortable to operate in our situation.

Needless to say, we chose the Jotul Firelight. It is a pretty stove--as is the Oslo. It feels solid, well-made, and is very, very different from our Morso in the way it works. We read and re-read the instruction book and finally--when we thought we knew what we were doing--began the burn-in (break-in) process. O my!

Going from room temperature to 100 and cooling down was no problem. Same with going up to 200 degrees and cooling down.
But in the next step, as soon as the stove thermometer hit 300, our smoke alarm went off. By this time we had stopped the rise of the stove temp, and we opened house doors and turned on fans to get rid of the smoke (which we could smell). Even so, it took quite some time for the alarm to stop (hard-wired into the house electrical system).

The next day, we tried again. As before, all went well until the thermometer hit 300 and the alarm began to sound.
We could smell the smoke, but couldn't see the source. I know the smell of stove black burning off, and this wasn't that sort of smell. The next several days were too cold to risk having to open doors if the alarm went off, so we gave it a rest.

The next time we had a warmish day (65) we tried again. When the temp went over 300 the alarm went off and continued for an hour while we allowed the stove to cool down. We wore ear protectors until the noise stopped. Since then, we have only used the stove at temps below 300 and are concerned, now, about creosote buildup from the low operating temp. I don't even want to see my next electric bill--an electric heat pump heats half of our house; a new propane furnace heats the other half (L-shaped ranch). Our next step will be to enlist the help of the installer and the people from whom we bought the wood stove.

I'm pretty discouraged and have even wasted time wishing we still had the old Morso. :) I did look forward so much to this nice new woodstove and am trying really hard not to be disappointed.

If any of you have any wisdom to offer regarding our predicament, please do. If you have been through this burn-in process with a Jotul and can tell me how it is supposed to go, or how we might do it better, or what we are doing wrong--anything will be gratefully received and much appreciated.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 3:16AM
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While we haven't been through the break-in burn yet (we're planning on the Jotul 500 in our new house), I've been doing lots of researching on the web and this might be of interest from
"As mentioned . . . new stoves and new stove pipe typically has an acrid, chemical-like smell when folks burn in their woodstoves for the first time . . . and this smell often will continue as the stove and pipe reaches progressively higher temps (i.e. the first time I brought my stove to 200 degrees per the break-in specs and there was a smell . . . and when I brought the stove up to 300 degrees for the second break-in fire there the smell returned). The paint curing and some residual oils from the manufacturing process may cause this chemical like smell . . . which as I said typically goes away in time with continued burning until a new, higher temperature is reached."
We plan to do our break-in burns outdoors. I've heard that initial burns can produce an impressive amount of smoke and smell.

Here is a link that might be useful: forums

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 6:26PM
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Thank you, coffeehaus, for the reference. I went to the other site, but couldn't find the thread from which you quoted. I did stumble across someone with the exact same Morso that we used for nearly 30 years!

We are still burning below 300*, which does a surprisingly good job of heating, until the temp outside drops below 40. If the Jotul 600 does as well with large loads, as it does with small ones, we will be very pleased. Still, I'm anxious to get past the smoke alarm problem, before the flue is covered with creosote and winter heating has cost us a fortune.

Your research seems to confirm that smokiness during burn-in is to be expected, which gives me a little confidence that our experience is "normal" and that the blaring alarm problem will not last forever. Many thanks for sharing what you have read.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 9:59PM
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coffeehaus's a link to one of the threads on, and one of the posters mentions "be prepared for the smoke alarm to go off." I just searched "burn-in Jotul" on the first forum listed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Burn-in

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 5:36PM
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Perfect, Coffeehaus! Your link provided all of the information I have been looking for. Amazin' what the right search words can do... Thank You so very much!

The more I use this Jotul 600, the more I like it. I hope the Oslo (Jotul 500) suits you as well. Your plan to do the burn-in outdoors sounds ideal. For those who must do that part inside, in winter, the best time to start each step is at the beginning of the warmest part of each day. That way, you won't be having to open doors and windows in the Cold Dark. :)

Once again, Thanks to everyone for your kind and helpful responses!


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 6:17PM
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Oh My, How could your bear the noise. Sorry I haven't got back to you sooner. I hope by now you have this resolved. As in the other post, every time you your stove reaches a new hot temp you'll get that same acrid smell in the house. I can tell now when my stove hits 550 because It starts to smell again even after burning 9 face cords this year. I am very surprised I have never set off my smoke alarms as I have a new construction house and they are everywhere wired together. I have even had some pretty good smokey fires trying to get it going on a cold flu and downdraft.
Anyway, I would say if you don't see the smoke ,it is the burn in at the new higher temp issue. If you do have smoke backing up into the house then please get your install inspected as something is definately wrong. Just Burn that baby to 500 or so and you will be good as most fires I keep at 4-450. It sounds like you have Ultra sensitive smoke alarms. Your stove should be airtight and not leak any smoke at all. You could always throw the breakers for the smoke alarms to keep them from going off. Hell I would throw my main & pull the battery back ups if I had to and then light a hot fire and put this issue to rest.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 12:10AM
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