Metal or Cast Iron

Metal or Cast Iron

PostBy: bigchunk On: Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:04 pm

hello im new to the forum and to the idea of using coal as a source of heat. whats better metal or cast iron ? im looking to buy a hand fired coal/wood stove for my family room and the one I have been looking at is made of metal with cast iron grate. I was raised with the cast iron wood stove and was taught that the cast iron radiates more heat and can handle higher btu's. can someone please educate me. thanks!
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: sf250 magnafire

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Re: Metal or Cast Iron

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:42 pm

The grates in coal stoves are designed for coal so that's really irrelevant, as long as you don't over fire it they should last for the lifetime of the stove. Burning coal in a stove made for wood for example will damage them almost overnight.

As for the "skin" I guess that depends on the model you are looking at but the newer ones are quite efficient at dispersing the heat. Stack temps are fairly low so you're losing very little out the chimney.

To tell you the truth that is probably a myth about cast iron, it may hold the heat better but it also requires more energy to store that heat. Steel is just faster to disburse it... but I could be wrong, that's just an educated guess. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. :lol:
Richard S.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Metal or Cast Iron

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Mon Feb 05, 2007 5:21 pm

For the unit itself a casting is technically a better product for the purpose, however in todays world it is expensive compared to a steel weldment because of the very low production #s. Either material will do a good job in a well designed unit. The advantage I would think goes to cast as it will probably hold up much better in the long run, however the steel unit is much easier to repair if damaged.

Usually, even a steel stove would have a cast iron grate as it will withstand more heat than steel ones.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: Metal or Cast Iron

PostBy: coalkirk On: Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:41 pm

I agree with everything that has been said on the topic so far. I just bought a used cast iron coal stove that is probably 30 years old. It's held up amazingly well. When it gets hot, I believe it radiates much better than a steel stove would. Given the choice, go with cast iron.
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1981 EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: anthracite/rice coal

Re: Metal or Cast Iron

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:17 pm

From my view, the big problem with cast is that there are joints, the cast units are not cast in a box, they have top, sides, base etc. The pieces have to fit very well and be sealed at the joints. If the joints develope leaks the job of sealing them up is not easy.

A steel unit is bent and welded into a solid cube or similar shape, the only sealing is the gaskets on the doors. These are easy to replace.

Cast is brittle, if cracked just about have to plan on throwing it away, I have brazed a casting before, but it is a job, and not always sucessfull.

Anyway, my vote is for steel.

The grates will almost always be cast iron.

Greg L

Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

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