It is something more than a traditional on/off thermostat. With an on/off thermostat you basically get two feed rates, idle and max. With electric, gas, oil, etc. type of heating appliances this works fine since the heat is more or less instant on and instant off. With coal, pellet, and other types of fuels the response of the appliance is much slower. As result an on/off controller will tend to overshoot and undershoot the temperature you've set for setpoint. This over and undershoot wastes fuel and creates an uncomfortable situation depending on the degree of temperature swing.
The Coal-trol is like a cruise control for the coal stove. It will dial up the same idle and max feed rates, but it will also dial up all the rates in between and home in on the rate that satisfies your setpoint. This reduces or eliminates over and undershoot, saving fuel, and provides a much more comfortable home.
If you're satisfied with your controls and temperature response, stick with them. We aren't trying to sell to people who don't want it or need it. But if you've got complaints or are curious if you can benefit from the Coal-trol give us a call at the shop (315-299-3589) and we'll be happy to discuss it more with you and/or take your order.
Coal-trol comes with a 3 year limited warranty and a 60 day money back guarantee, so it is no risk to try it out and return it if you aren't satisfied.
A word of caution: if this is a new Alaska stove, Alaska tells their customers that they void the stove warranty if you install a Coal-trol on it. Many have chosen to install the Coal-trol anyway, and we haven't heard of anyone being denied warranty coverage by Alaska as a result of installing Coal-trol, but we like to make sure potential customers installing on Alaska's go in knowing the risk.