Well, my comparison was for "Under Normal circumstances "
Don't get me wrong, in the area where I live, we have had many power outages, but somehow, that all seems to have dissapeared after I started using my stoker, we still get some brown-outs, bt for the last three years my stoker never stopped during the season.
I was very insisting on figuring out the efficiency of burn between a hand fed and a stoker, and I would agree with you about a hopper fed stove being a great option, this is what I believe makes a hand fired or a hopped fed stove better in burning the coal:
When burning coal through a hand fed or a graviy fed, walnut coal / pea coal is used, and as the coal burns, ashes are formed on the outside of the coal particles, but with every shake, the ashes fall to the ash pan, and expose more of the coal inside the coal particles to be reburnt, the process continues till most of the coal is consumed. Looking at ashes coming off of a hand fired or a gravity fed stove validates what I just stated !
With stoker stoves, it's a different scenario, the rice coal is pushed on the grate, with an attitude of ( hopefully it all burns by the time it travels to the end of the grate ) ashes are not shaken off, rather, the entire particles are pushed off, with the hope of the blowing combustion air reaching all the unburnt coal. It's less than perfect setup, but very practical.
And as far as :
Oliver Power wrote: I'll tell you what I am surprised at; And that is how many people replied to this post stating they'd choose the hand fired over the stoker
It's simple, do the math, most had fired stove are really inexpensive ( do a search on CL. ) I just got a Victory 700 with extra new shakers for FREE for a friend of mine, hoping he'll start using coal, he is still insisting on the convenience of a stoker, but again can not afford one yet ! for under 800 Dollars you may be able to buy the best of the best of hand fired, while most used stokers start at about that price. Who was it that said :" When you got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow "
By the way, I'll be glad to trade you a hand fired gravity fed, and I'll even throw in a hot water heater for your kaa-2 ( Just kidding )