rockwood wrote:I think a stoker is better especially if the appliance is the primary heat source, however I always recommend having a supplemental appliance that doesn't require electricity to run/heat during outages unless a generator is used. Also, as you mentioned, a stoker allows you to leave home for extended periods without tending whereas a hand fed is limited.
I do have one question. How are you lighting your stoker?
How do I light the stoker?
1. Clean out firebox and tuyeres perfectly clean
2. Turn auger by hand to make sure it is free
3. Ball up 2 sheets of newspaper & place in retort
4. Split big handfull of kindling (about the amount in a 2X6 eight inches long split fine
5. Stand kindling vertically on paper
6. Carefully place 1 shovel of fresh coal on each of four sides of retort
7. Light with propane torch
8. When wood is burning freely close air control so it is only open 1 turn
9. Turn on stoker
10. As fire increases gradually open air control to desired setting