I mentioned our new wood stove previously, and asked some of you for recommendations, but never got around to writing about it here.  We've had it for a couple months, and it has been great!  We ended up buying an Englander 13-NCI. I don't remember what the 13 stands for, but 12 is the smallest size I've seen.  The "NC" means it doesn't have a catalytic converter, and the "I" means an insert, as opposed to a free standing stove.

Our "new" house uses more gas than the old one, and partly due to really expensive gas prices last year ($15 per thousand cubic feet) I had started thinking about them last winter, but the first place I went to was really expensive (at least $3000 installed) and I wasn't convinced it was worth that much money.  I did have him come out and do an official estimate this year once I heard about the 30% tax credit for efficient wood burning stoves.  It did end up around $3000, and I looked around and bought a cheaper stove.  The estimator called his stoves the "Cadillac of stoves", and I figured that I am not the sort of person who buys the most expensive option, but I generally end up with the second cheapest...  And that maxim held true in this case as well, and I ended up deciding a $1000 stove looked really good, and I couldn't find any negative reviews for the stove, other than people who wanted it to heat more of their house than it can - it is a small wood stove, though the biggest that would fit in our fireplace.

The trouble was that there aren't any stores in the state that stock the inserts.  Lots of stores stock the free standing stoves, but not the inserts.  The shipping for the inserts were around $300-$400.  The closest stores that had them were an ACE hardware in Brooklyn, NY and a Sutherlands in Columbus, OH.  Noah and I drove to Columbus to pick it up.  The store that it was pretty odd that we would have driven that far to pick it up.  We managed to save $100 by signing up for a store credit card, but they don't stock any of the chimney liner pieces, and so that led to me researching and talking to various people about what sort of liners are necessary, appropriate, etc.  And in the last second, someone told me that my insurance company wouldn't let me install it myself, ack!  But, at least for Allstate Insurance, they don't care about wood stove inserts inside an existing chimney, and were happy to have me install it myself, and there isn't a premium increase (there would have been an increase and required installation by a licensed installer with a free-standing stove).

The chimney liner cost around $400; I did buy a really nice liner, though postponed the decision to get the insulation, at least until the Spring, to see how it works - and as far as I can tell, it doesn't get hot enough to be a concern.   The outside of the chimney does get a little warm, but barely perceptible, so I don't think we will get the insulation.  The only option for insulation is the pour in stuff, and though they advertise it as removable if you need to; I don't think it is removable at all, and I've verified with a couple people that it doesn't move once you put it in, and I am little concerned about having a flexible pipe inside the chimney that you can't ever remove if it gets ripped, etc.  It is supposedly thick enough to withstand a cleaning brush, etc. but I am a little skeptical.

We needed to buy various parts to get the liner attached properly, including a $145 offset adapter that makes it possible to do a sharper angle than is possible with regular 6" pipe.  In the end, the additional parts cost almost as much as the stove, and if you include the fireplace tools, and some racks to hold the wood outside, I'll bet that the stove cost less than half of everything.  The liner, pipe pieces and stove will count for the tax credit, so we'll be able to get a $400 credit or so. (thank you for spending you money on our wood stove...)

I had calculated that if the two cords of wood ($325) result in halving our gas bill, we'll be doing quite well, and the stove will pay for itself in four years or so.  (and I like burning wood).

So far, we've used the gas very little, though the stove can't bring the house up to temperature by itself if the fire goes out at night, and the temperature drops to 55 inside, and it is below 25 outside.  So, I've used the gas to heat up the house a little, and then the stove takes care of the rest.

The gas prices have dropped significantly this year (currently at $9/MCF, and supposed to keep dropping), so we'll see how it goes.  I've been using more wood than I expected - we've used around a half of a cord so far.  But, we've also used a lot less gas than I would have guessed too, so we might be alright.

It does a good job of keeping the living room and dining room toasty, and the rest of the first floor is somewhat colder.  The basement and upstairs are significantly colder than with the gas air blower on, but we don't need to heat the basement, and the boys don't seem to mind the cold in their bedroom - they just get tons of blankets and snuggle up to one another.

The stove claims it can heat for six hours, and I suppose that it can heat for that long, but at the end of six hours, particularly if it is cold outside (and so I've left the damper partially open) the fire will be out, and paper and kindling is required to restart it.  It can do four hours at any temperature we've seen so far (twenties).  At the four or five hour mark, I can simply toss in 3 or 4 logs and it will restart on its own.

I would like to get some electronics hooked up to it, both to measure and graph the temperatures of the outside air, inside air and flue, but also to control the damper and blower automatically.  I think I can extend the burn time if there were some automatic controls based on the current temperatures.

The catalytic converter would have been a good thing, but I don't think they make them in the small models.  We do enjoy watching the "secondary burn" where (I think, if I understand how it all works correctly) due to the limited air supply to the fire, the only flames are on the very top of the stove, not touching any of the wood, but right up next to the air intake, and the fire dances around on the ceiling of the woodstove, and it is quite mesmerizing.  The people who designed it also did a nice job where the flames clean the glass if you burn it hot enough, and that is pretty neat, as before I understood how it worked, I scrubbed the glass window a couple times, and it was quite a lot of work.

Posted by Jon Daley on December 8, 2009, 5:45 pm | Read 86263 times
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I just finished the federal taxes (yay!) and it turns out that the 30% credit that everyone has been happy about has a maximum limit based on other credits and deductions that you get.

Fortunately, we just made it over the limit, and so we were able to claim the full 30% number. I am not sure why some credits are "above the line" and some are under, it'd be much nicer for self-employed folks if the credits were under the line.

The energy efficient credit can be carried forward to the next year, but that's kind of a hassle to keep all the numbers straight.

Posted by jondaley on February 8, 2010, 6:59 pm
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