hand fired or stoker stove which?

hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: Virginia Woodworker On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:07 pm

I am going to purchase either a hand fired or stoker stove to heat my home. Now I am using a wood stove that is in my basement. It has a home made shroud built over the top of it to drew heat into the ducts. The stove goes into a masonry chimney. I have a 1300 sq.ft. home but with the basement it is 2600 sq.ft. The wood stove does an excellent job and can bake us out so to speak.
I need to know if a stoker would do as good a job or should I get hand fired. I would prefer a stoker because of the ease of use but want to make the smartest and most effective investment.

Any info is appreciated. Virginia Woodworker
Virginia Woodworker

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Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: Coalfire On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:42 pm

Hi Virginia woodworker,
I see this is your first post welcome to the forum. I had a hand fed for 18years sold it and bought a mag stoker. Had the stoker for 1 year and am going back to a hand fed. I liked the heat the hand fed put out better then the stoker. If you burn wood you know what I mean, just something about radiant heat instead of blowing hot air around. The stoker had no problem keeping our ranch house (roughly same dimesion as yours) at 73degrees, but it always felt warmer with the hand fed in the basement. The stoker was a bit easier, I still had to fill the hopper every day, although I could go two day without emptying the ashpan. Looking back the hand fed really wasn't that much work, in the morning shake it add coal in the evening take out the ash, shake it, add coal. The other issue with the stoker is the fan noise, you do get used to it but it is still annoying I don't know about your situation but with hand fed there is no need for back up generator or power supply if you lose power frequently that is something to consider. These are just my opinions and there are alot more out there. Which ever way you go if it is with coal you will be happy :D .
Have a great day, Eric
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 96K btu Circulator
Coal Size/Type: Nut

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: DOUG On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:27 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum.

I have both stoker and hand fired coal burning appliances. Both styles are great but personally I prefer the hand fired coal stove. To me both the stoker and the hand fired coal stoves are the same as to tending time and ease of operation. I like the heat of the hand fired better, plus like the added security of not needing any electricity to operate the stove.

So my vote is for a hand fired coal stove first, then a stoker if you want to get one later. If and when you ever decide to purchase a anthracite coal stoker stove, make sure you get a Coal-trol digital thermostat for which ever brand you decide. It takes all of the guess work out of the mix and makes the stoker operate just like a conventional fueled heater. Set it and forget it.

As for a hand fired stove, well, I'm partial to a Coal Chubby.
Stove/Furnace Model: CLAYTON 1600

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: Virginia Woodworker On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:33 pm

Is it easy to control the temps with a hand fired? I have days that are 40-50 degrees here in VA a lot and do not want to be baked out. I have looked at the DC line of stoves and like the way the work and the price is good also. They are hand fired. What does anyone out there think.
Thanks, VW
Virginia Woodworker

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: DOUG On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:46 pm

I have found that by controlling the draft on the chimney and the air intake of the stove, you can dial it in and it will hold exactly were you want it. If you are concerned with baking yourself out, changing the size of the coal will allow you to achieve the output that you desire. Larger anthracite for hotter, shorter burns, smaller anthracite for lower heat output and longer burn times.
Stove/Furnace Model: CLAYTON 1600

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: tsb On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:05 pm

So it's settled. Get one of each !!
Stoker Coal Boiler: Binford 2000
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Pioneer top vent
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Saey Hanover II
Baseburners & Antiques: Grander Golden Oak , Glenwood # 6
Coal Size/Type: All of them

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: SuperBeetle On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:20 pm

I prefer the hand fired stoves over the stokers but, that's me :) I can turn my Mark II down so it just idles and throws very little heat and consumes very little coal. I have some friends that have stokers and swear by them. It's a preference I suppose. I also have the option of burning wood and other things as well that can not be burned in a stoker. Maybe someday, when I am older, I will convert to a stoker. :gee:
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark II
Coal Size/Type: Pea, Nut, & Stove Anthracite

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: tikigeorge On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:35 pm

I had two hand feed stoves. Can't beat the automatic feed of my new keystoker boiler. It works for me. In the coldest month I would fill the hopper two times a week, dump ashes three times. Now I fill the hopper once a week. No shaking of ashes, just empty the bucket. D
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

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Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:40 pm

Hello Virginia Woodworker. welcome..

An important question: where in Virginia are you? and are you planning on burning Anthracite coal from eastern Pennsylvania? or your local Bituminous coal from Virginia? If you plan on burning your local Bitum. coal, you don't have many choices, you wil have to use a hand feed stove.

Now as for your question about is is EASY to control the heat output from a hand feed stove,, well it CAN be done but you must have several things, mainly a very good chimney that will still draw well when you have very little heat leaving the stove to create a draft.. if your chimney is marginal, then you will have to give up on fall and winter heating with coal..

If yu want to almost have the best of both types of stoves. get a Hitzer hopper fed stove, these have longer burning times and are top loaded, filling a coal resevoir that in warmer temps will last a day or two. But the hopper cannot be used if burning Bituminous coal.. The hopper can be removed to burn wood or Bitum. coal.

Greg L

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

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: Virginia Woodworker On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:43 pm


Will the Coal-trow digital stat work on a DS hand fired stove?

Also does any one know how many BTUs I will need to heat my home. If I figured correctly my electric forced air unit figures to about 34,000 BTUs per hr. Of course that was for the upstairs I assume which is 1300 sq.ft. The basement was not finished when new so I assume the furnace was not calculated for it also. Is that all I will need?
Thanks for all the imput on the forum. It is easier than trying to figure it all out myself.
Virginia Woodworker

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: Virginia Woodworker On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:47 pm


Thanks for the info. I am going to burn Anthracite coal. I like the Hitzers but am also considering the DS stoves. Both made by Amish so I am thinking they are very well built. Do you know anything about the DS stove?
Virginia Woodworker

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: fastcat On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:22 pm

I decided this winter after burning wood for the past 40 years that I was going to coal, had it in my mind that a hand fired hopper stove would be the way to go. The wife and I started going around to the stove dealers and we were talked into a stoker. I found a like new 1 year old (no names) 90,000 btu, bought it and installed it. Now keep in mind my situation is, uninsulated basement where the stove is but used as a play room, and ranch house = 2400 sq ft with cold air returns installed in the floor of two rooms. The stoker with coal-trol ran at 99% for three days and burned close to 300lbs and would not get the temp upstairs above 69* :oops2: :mad: the temp outside was 17*. Needless to say the stove was sold and I purchased a Hitzer 50-93 that I wanted in the first place which is 95,000 btu, Wa La I can heat my upstairs as warm as I want, normally 73-75* with outside temp 17* and now with the daytime temps here at 45-59* it idles down to 175* on the stove front and I turn it up late afternoon and it is heaven at night :dancing: . Go with the Hitzer and you won't be disapointed. I see the next post mentions fly ash which I do not have any problem with at all.
Last edited by fastcat on Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Nut/Stove Mix

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:30 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum! Where in VA are you located? I'm in Springfield - right at the I-95/495 mixing bowl. I have been burning a hand fed stove for 4 years now and while I can't really compare the two directly I have researched them both.

I'm told that the stoker allows less fly ash to escape in to the room because it's more of a closed system with the hopper. That's the major advantage in my book. Ask whoever does the cleaning in your house for their opinion. Do a search of the archives for dust or dust control. A hand fed produces a lot of fly ash/dust and while you can mitigate it, it's always there to some extent and can be a huge problem in your living space. The stoker can also use a Coal-Trol which seems really nice and is something I'd consider if I was hooking up to the vent system and had the floor plan you apparently do. In my opinion, a ranch with the stove in the basement is a perfect set up for a stoker; less dust and over all effort because of the Coal-Trol. .

I tend my hand fed stove twice a day for 10 or 15 mins ea time during the coldest days. I'm told that with a stoker that effort is reduced even more to refilling the hopper and emptying the ash pan every other day or so. I heat a split level of around 2000 sq ft with my Harman Mark II with no hook up to the house's venting system and lots of walls and corners; I am able to maintain an average temp of 75* from the radiant heat with little effort. I am very happy with a hand fed for my set up and floor plan but if I knew then what I know now when I was looking to buy my stove I may have gone a different way. Viewing the snap shot you've given us of your set up I'd go with the stoker. I hope I've given you some things to think about. Lisa
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: freetown fred On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:36 pm

VW,I have a Hitzer 50-93 heating about 3200 sq--it's an older one so the hopper is not removeable---with your existing shroud & vent system,I can only be envious--mine is in an upstairs room which is basically the stove room--this is a 200 yr old farm house,not drafty,but tightened up as best as can be.I wouldn't trade the Hitzer for anything(well,maybe an old HD Panhead) :D I looked at alot of stoves & contacted alot of companies & the clincher was the help & expertise I recieved when calling Hitzer & speaking w/ Dean (owner)--there are a few real good hand fired out there--do your research--I shake down & top off my hopper every 12 hrs--useing approx. 1-- 5gal.pail in 24 hrs(give or take--I burnt wood for 50 yrs--this stove makes me feel like I died & went to heaven--the stove choice is a personal thing--coal burning knowledge runs rampant on this site--I would never of had the enjoyable coal burning experiance I've had if it were not for NEPA---good to see you aboard :clap: Fred
freetown fred
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut

Re: hand fired or stoker stove which?

PostBy: DOUG On: Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:45 pm

VW, the Coal-trol digital thermostat is for controlling electric anthracite coal stokers. It will not work on a hand fired stove.

The D.S.Machine stoves look very well made and I think that they are better looking than the Hitzer, Harman, Vermont Casting, or Reading. But I wouldn't overlook the Coal Chubby. I think that the Coal Chubby is the best looking, it really is easy to operate, and it is super efficient, plus the price is right!
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
http://vimeo.com/8506320 http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=w ... fidm-rMlMg

I won't steer anyone wrong and I have found from my experience that the Coal Stove Chubby is one of the best kept secrets in the anthracite burning community. The Chubby is easy to use, super efficient, great heat output, and looks great doing it!
Stove/Furnace Model: CLAYTON 1600

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