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Size of a Woodstove - what's too big?

Posted by hippityhoppy (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 15, 06 at 16:59

I would like to install a woodstove in the fireplace in my ranch house's lower level (in Maryland). I purchased a Consolidated Dutchwest cast-iron woodstove(model FA 264 CCL); manufactured about 1990. Bought it from a neighbor who never used it or even unpacked it! Here are my questions.

Firstly, it is too large? This woodstove holds up to 55 lbs. of 22" wood, which would burn at a low rate for 8 to 12 hours. That's nice but my house is only 1800 sq. feet. The downstairs fireplace is near the stairs so the heat will rise, unless the stairwell door is closed, which it often is for privacy. Is it too big for my needs? Is the draft poor when one burns a low fire? Will too much creosote be produced? In what ways is a smaller box better for a smaller area?

Secondly, have woodstove designs or production improved so much since 1990 that it would be wiser to buy a more modern product? Several people have expressed interest in the Dutchwest if I do not install it.

Thirdly, is it necessary to install the stainless steel pipe threaded thru the chimney. Costs $2,000.

Dutchwest is now a Vermont Casting product. The Vermont Casting link below is the closest of their products to this older line. If anyone knows the correct url for the FA 264 CCL, please let me know.
Thanks warmly, but not too, for your advise.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vermont Castings Archive of Dutchwest woodstoves

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Size of a Woodstove - what's too big?

Unless you plan to keep that downstairs door open, I really think that stove is too large for your purpose. Is the downstairs open or is the garage taking up half of it?

If I remember, these stoves heat up to 2000 sq ft. If you want to heat just half of what we call a "bi-level" you will never use the stove to it's best performance. If you use it as it was designed, you will have open windows all winter. And if you burn it with a "cold" fire you get creosote.

I don't know if VC changed the Dutchwest stoves in 1990 to comply with the new (at that time) EPA requirements. If not, the stove is considered "dirty" and nowhere as efficient as today's stoves.

Do you need a liner? Yup. Your fireplace chimney is 8" while I believe the stove has a 6" outlet. And if someone is charging two grand just for a liner, I would question that! You can get a brand new stove installed complete with a liner for $2500 that will be sized to your needs.

RE: Size of a Woodstove - what's too big?

Thanks, Christopher, for your very helpful response. The woodstove just looked soooo big when placed in the room! You've confirmed what I kind of thought but could not figure out.

So, how does one "size" a woodstove? Of course, I'll ask the retailer. But they do not always give the best advise. It is helpful to have guidelines to assess their suggestions.

The downstairs is a finished recreational room (600 sq ft) and utility rooms (400 sq ft). The utility area will be finished off in a year so the woodstove should heat about 1,000 sq ft. The fireplace is in the rec room, near the base of the stairs. Upstairs is about 1000 sq ft.

I will ask Vermont Castings about the woodstoves EPA standards.

About that liner-installation estimate, it was from an independent chimney guy. He wanted $2,283 to remove the damper, install the flue liner, insulate the chimney. The liner is presumably ~30 feet long, and has to twist thru 3 angles in the chimney. Hopefully the retailer's estimate will be lower.
Thanks, again.

RE: Size of a Woodstove - what's too big?

Just don't be 'married' to VC. They used to be the standard of the industry but even the stove dealers up here in Vermont aren't carrying them anymore.

Don't be afraid of a steel stove either as opposed to cast iron. Regency, Avalon, and Lopi are excellent stoves. And Jotul makes a great cast iron unit.

Most VC stoves are catalytic units. I personally don't like cats as they are 'old technology'. I like the 'secondary burn' designs of the steel stoves.

I have a Regency steel stove and it's the small unit. (F1100)I have a 1250 sq ft space to heat and it does a wonderful job even at 30 below. I like the glass door so I can see the fire and when it's sailing along with the damper closed I can see the gasses burning instead of going up the chimney. You'll be amazed how relaxing those lazy flames are!

Below is a link to Regency stoves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Regency Stoves

RE: Size of a Woodstove - what's too big?

If you are concerned why not install ceiling vents so you more effectively increase the area to be heated?

I have a Jotul stove that is good for 1800 sq ft and the area I heat is 950 in a temperate region. To avoid creosote buildup just burn a hot small fire and let it go out. The drawback is you will have to deal with 10-15 degree swings in temperature in the house and starting fires from scratch more often.

The larger firebox however does carry some advantages as your stove can easily keep up during brutally cold periods and it allows you burn less desirable lower btu woods all year round which you perhaps could get for free from a tree service company and you will less likely damage your stove from overfiring.

RE: Size of a Woodstove - what's too big?

Hippity you mention that this is going into a fireplace. If that is the case then you might want to look at fireplace inserts in addition to wood stoves.

I would agree with Chris that you shouldn't be married to VC as the only game out there. For a small area like you are suggesting there are many other good stoves such as the Tribute and Craftsbury made by Hearthstone or the Vista by Pacific Energy. Englander is a stove manufacturer in Virginia who makes steel stoves, (not the prettiest) which sell in Lowe's and Home Depot that are efficient and affordable, the 12FPP is one of theirs which would fit the square footage you outlined.

If it is an interior chimney then with 30 feet of draft I don't think insulation would be required but it can help.An exterior chimney might necessitate some insulation. $2K+ seems like a lot though. The local dealer here quoted me a price of $1,195 for a 20' flex liner with a block-off plate, no insulation.

Look around and see what else is out there, if you are going to spend the money get one which fits your space heating, decorative, and lifestyle needs. I wouldn't go for the oversize stove and start cutting holes in your floor for vents. If you had a fire it would spread quickly through one of those. Good luck.

RE: Size of a Woodstove - what's too big?

We had an Avalon stove insert installed in one of our fireplaces in our last house in PA. And yes, the chimney had to be insulated as it was a single wall 8 inch chimney. The stove insert has a 6 inch opening so the kaowool was installed around the 6 inch chimney. Many codes require this as the stove burns very hot.

But unless you KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, stay away from the big box stoves! And have a certified installer do the work on a stove he's familiar with! Be it a freestanding stove or an insert. And if you're going to have a stove installed in a fireplace, make sure you know what kind of fireplace you have. If it's a "zero clearance" (prefab) unit, make sure the insert is rated for that application.

And as NHYANKEE would agree, REAL Yankees live in New England, NOT the BRONX!! (GO SOX!)

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