Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Choosing a Woodstove -Cookstove

Heartland Wood Cookstove

It's been a bit of a process but we've finally made up our minds what to do about the wood stove - cook stove dilemma we've (I've) been struggling with. I have written before about my absolute love of all things old and beautiful but I would NOT want an old stove because burn technology and heat shields  have come a long way in the past 25 years and I am concerned about safety above all.  

Our search had several criteria. 
  1. It had to look good.  
  2. It needed to be efficient.  
  3. I would like to cook on it. 
  4. The price needs to be taken into consideration.  

It may sound shallow but that was in order of importance!

We spent part of the past weekend  learning about wood stoves by visiting different wood stove dealers.  We asked lots of questions and were able to see - in person - some of the stoves I had researched on-line. The real dilemma in making the choice lay in what we want the stove for in the first place.  Our first priority is an alternative way to heat the house - the second is cooking.  I had to keep reminding myself of that goal.

My all time favourite is the Heartland Wood Cook stove - and who wouldn't love it???  It's even more beautiful in real life!  This is the stove I drooled over - almost literally...  The problem: It was pricey - about $7000.00 and It has a small firebox which means it needs to be restocked regularly and although many people use it to heat their homes I was looking for something that I could fill up and leave longer than the 7-8 hours max it is rated.  Chopping wood is not on my list of - I-can't-wait-to-do-this-some-more so if I gotta do the work then I want all the bang  for the buck I can get for my sweat equity. 

Blaze King
I've researched the most efficient wood stoves on the market in the past few weeks and came up with the Blaze King. It's Canadian-made wood stove with a catalytic system built right in to create less emissions and therefore less creosote.  In some cases it allows for a 40 hour burn! Wow - that's impressive.  I watched all the videos on Blaze King I could find.  Great technology.  The problem: it is the ugliest stove you have ever seen and it didn't improve AT ALL in person.  It's a big square ugly box and no matter how I squinted I could never imagine it in my dining room and therefore who cares what it costs :)  If it was out of sight - i.e.  a basement or a garage - it would be my first choice.

One of the others I wanted to see was the Esse cook stove.  This stove made in the UK has great reviews for heating a home and cooking.  It looks nice too.  I liked it but the price tag of $7000.00 was more than my budget could bear.

Esse Ironheart

So - we needed to look for something else.  We stopped in a place called Friendly Fires in Peterborough and walked into WOODSTOVE-COOKSTOVE-GAS-STOVE-BBQ HEAVEN!  We found really nice people who really knew what they were talking about.  We got the most answers to our questions of all our stops and they took their time to explain everything without making us feel we were taking too long (or we were dumb - which of course we were!)

All through this process I had my conversation with Michelle Mather (who lives completely off-grid) in the back of my mind.  Last year she pointed out that having a cookstove as your main cooking appliance meant you would have to fire up the beast in the middle of the summer in order to cook - oh yeah. Her suggestion was to get a good quality woodstove - and she and her husband Cam recommended the Pacific Energy Brand (and later get a gas cookstove that looked like the cookstove of my dreams. oooh!)  

After looking at many other brands we settled on one made by Pacific Energy - the Alderlea. 

Built around Pacific Energy’s legendary Super Series steel firebox, the Alderlea T5 combines the very best features of both cast iron and steel stoves. Elegant, historic cast iron styling that adds to the decor of any room, radiant and convective heat, huge glass for a full view of your fire, a concealed cook top for peace of mind during power outages all in a proven easy- lighting, clean, long-burning heater with 30 years of wood stove technology behind it.

Alderlea by Pacific Energy

Matt - they guy we talked to at Friendly Fires mentioned that one of the other men who worked there had guided the purchase of wood stoves for his whole family and wouldn't let them buy anything BUT an Alderlea because as a repair man he KNEW that these were the least likely to break down, the easiest to fix if they did and the most efficient.  Apparently people who own one never want anything else - even 20 years later they are coming back for the same stove.  Well - that was the kind of recommendation we were looking for. It's also pretty, it has a swing out cook top and the price of $2500.00 was more within the budget range.  

Alderlea by Pacific Energy

Our stove chimney will go straight up through the ceiling of the dining room, through the corner of second floor family room and out the sloped roof - the install cost was quoted at around $3000.00.  Spending that kind of money I think it's worth our while to purchase a really good stove rather than put an old stove in and hoping for the best.  I feel very confident the Alderlea will last for many years and safely do the job with style.

Soon we will have one more step done in the plan to be more self sufficient!


  1. Very nice stove...I like the details in the metalwork and the swing out cooktop looks great open or closed!
    Nice choice.

  2. It's beautiful, congratulations and thanks for sharing your journey in making the choice. You have given me much to think about for when we decide to cross that bridge.

  3. Thanks for sharing, very helpful and ive enjoyed all your posts muchly :)

  4. I'm glad it was helpful and enjoyable : Thanks!

  5. Hi, we bought the same stove three years ago and very very happy with it. We have a century farmhouse and it heats most of the entire 2600 sqft
    I have cooked on it and recently acquired an oven to sit on top so now I can bake! Similar to the one this gentleman has (link below), good sight for wood stove cooking.

  6. First you should decide your goal for buying a wood stove.Is it for cooking or heating?Then you should consider other things.Slow combustion heaters

  7. Barrie, Burlington, ONJune 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM

    This article reviewed issues we are currently considering for our "off grid" home.

    We have decided on the Elmira Fireview Model 1842-G dual fuel cookstove because :
    a) you can quickly check on the fire,
    b) it has the side gas burners for summer cooking,
    c) it offers classic styling
    d) it has water heating capability,
    e) built in reburn technology for more efficient combustion & heating, and,
    f) a competitive price.

    Better yet, its made right here in Ontario!

  8. We love the Alderlea!!!!!! This article was very helpful for us!!!! We moved to Canada from Australia and we were shopping for a woodstove. We settled on this stove before we even arrived in Canada!!! Thanks for your article :)

  9. buyer beware with pacific energy stoves!!! had one installed and the fire box cracked within 5 yrs. (lifetime) was it covered? of course not! said we burnt it to hot. We burn oak and high heat producing wood, nowhere in their clauses said you had to burn poor quality wood. Were able to show all receipts and professional install papers. Still have their e mail and they really should not just forward stuff around in office and respond to people as apparently we were not alone in this problem. Tried to support a Canadian made product, but will never buy one of theirs again! Teena Smith Ontario

  10. Lifetime warranty? Wanted to buy Canadian but not from this company.