Things are never “good enough” in my head, or at least that’s what people tell me. After only a single season of wood burning I’m already thinking about upgrading our wood stove and have come up with what I think are the two best options, both of which are plate steel, Made in USA stoves. The criteria: needs to be relatively inexpensive, epa approved, fit in a tight space and allow the hearth to extend to full clearance to combustible rating. Our current stove meets all those qualifications but is only 1.1 cubic ft and won’t burn more than 3-4 hours at most with the wood we have available to us and even with oak wouldn’t surpass 5 hours or so. Due to this, our stove goes out in the middle of the night during the coldest part of the day. Consequently, our oil boiler kicks in to keep the house warm. Also it leads to a cold start of the stove every morning, which takes time and is kind of a pain in the butt. I have estimated that we are currently using about 100 gallons of oil per year for heat still.
Contender 1: Regency F1100 18″ / 6hr / 55,000 btu
* Fits current hearth (42″ x 38″)
* Requires airmate and double wall pipe
The Regency is a fine stove and with a 1.4 cubic ft box it would get us a 6hr burn if packed with oak (it is rated 8hr, but reviews and physics indicate 6hrs is more likely). The big plus here is it would fit our current hearth as it stands with no modifications what so ever. Even with 6 hour burns and a cold start in the morning, this stove would save us about 50 gallons of oil per year compared to our current stove.
Contender 2: Heatilator WS18 18″ / 8hr / 42,000 btu
* Fits 6″ extended hearth (48″ x 44″)
* Requires double wall pipe, hearth extension R 0.13 or greater
The Heatilator with it’s larger 2 cubic ft box would easily give us 8 hours with oak (possibly as much as 10) and even with our soft woods that we currently burn we would be getting 5-6 hours. This would keep our house warm all night and if we loaded with oak, maple or birch would allow us a coal bed for relighting on in the morning. The downside to the Heatilator is that we would need to extend our hearth 6″ on both sides (it’s in a corner). Luckily the extension would only need to have an R value of 0.13 so we could even use cement board and tile to keep it really low profile, or we could continue our pavers out 6″. Another nice feature of the WS18 is that you can load it front to back (N/S) or left to right (E/W). This is great because N/S loading is easier to stack, logs can’t roll out making it safer, and burns readily. E/W loading is nice periodically because it can lead to a lower heat but longer burn time. This stove should keep the baseboard heat from running entirely, saving us 100 gallons/year of oil.
I personally am a fan of the Heatilator WS18. It would heat our entire home, burn overnight and is $400 cheaper to boot. Plus I love the air control lever, much better than the silly pull rods that most companies use which are impossible to tell from across the room where they are set.