Shopping for a Stoker

Shopping for a Stoker

PostBy: MPGNitrox On: Sat Oct 27, 2007 5:57 pm

We are in the market for a stoker coal stove. Wife is worried about the "carbon footprint" versus a wood pellet stove. I tell her the coal is much more cost effective. We live in NH which means coal isn't as readily or cheaply availabe as, say PA, but is still about the same cost per ton as wood pellets, but 50% more BTU's per ton.

We have a house less than 2000 square feet (1850-1950 total). We want to heat entirely with the new stove. We plan to retire our huge Nashua wood burning stove as I'm tired of stacking, bringing and stoking 6 cords per winter. So, we're looking for stoker, since we LOVE the heat (vs. that crappy oil heat... and we hate the oil man coming to our house and leaving us a huge bill!) We know we're joing the club here!

So, we're looking at Harman, Leisure Line, Alaska and others. Not too thrilled at the Reading we saw.. but we're looking for some serious advice. We need your opinions on what works best. We look forward ot your posts!!


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PostBy: Jerry & Karen On: Sat Oct 27, 2007 6:39 pm

Welcome to the forum, a nice place for nice people. I think you'll find almost all of the stokers a good value. Before buying make sure that rice coal is available in your area. Buying bulk is a better deal then bags, but sometimes more work. When looking for a stoker there are somethings to remember, size of the hopper, size of the blowers, size of the ash pans, noise, and controls. I am with Leisure Line Stoves and I tell everyone that our stoves are not a furnace, we sell them as supplement heat. Most stoves will do the job 80% of the winter, but the bitter winds of January sometimes means turning on the furnace to help. If you have heated with wood then you know the value of insulation and good windows. Almost everyone's stoker make really steady heat, retaining it in the house is the trick.
Good luck on your search for a stove.
Jerry LLS
Jerry & Karen

PostBy: bksaun On: Sat Oct 27, 2007 6:49 pm

First, tell your wife to quit watching so much television.

Now down to business, I have an Alaska Channing and heat a 1500sq ft, story and a half with no problem. It is an excellent product that I can by parts for from Grainger supply if needed.

Alaska, Leisure Line, Reading, Harman and Keystoker are all good stoves and one can't do what the others can't duplicate.

Probably the biggest difference in operation would be the Harman. It's control box is a little more complicated than the others.

The Alaska and Leisure Line are simple in design and operation.

A big plus in my book for the Leisure Line is the owner of the company is on this forum all the time and is extremely helpful. Plus his stoves come with the Coal-Trol thermostat, which I had to add to my Alaska. I would not run a stoker without one.

I can call Alaska on the phone for help if I need it. On the other hand Hanman won't talk to you at all, you must go through one of there dealers. Locally they have not treated there dealers very well. It may be why the company is for sale, a shame because they build great product's.

The only mfg of stokers I can't tell you about is Baker, I have never seen one of there units and don't remember anyone on here having one.

I assume you have a chimney of some sort?

You are going to get all kinds of responces from this forum, and help.

I don't live near Pa either, but tried a pellet stove and was not happy with it. Year before last I burned 5 tons of pellets/corn mix and still had to pay for some natural gas. Last year I burned 3 tons of coal and NO gas bill.

This year after adding the Coal-Trol I will probably burn about 2 tons.

Don't give in to the pellet stove Idea, we will just see you again in a year or two.

Stoker Coal Boiler: Hybrid, Gentleman Janitor GJ-6RSU/ EFM 700
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503
Coal Size/Type: Pea Stoker/Bit, Pea or Nut Anthracite
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer/ EFM-Gentleman Janitor
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert/ 700/GJ-62

PostBy: 1975gt750 On: Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:37 pm

hello mpg

i too live in new hampshire and I am looking to buy a stoker boiler and I think I am narrowed down to the keystoker seems like the lexus of stoker boiler. I have been dealing with Complete Heat in nashua and the have been great they are a keystoker and alsaka dealer. ask for mike or roy and they will point you in the right direction tell them chris sent you.

good luck
Stoker Coal Boiler: keystoker kaa-2
Coal Size/Type: rice coal / blaschak
Other Heating: pensotti oil boiler with riello 40 burner
Stove/Furnace Make: keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: kaa-2

PostBy: spc On: Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:42 pm

If you are on the fence about purchasing a Leisure Line or one of the others let me also add that Jerry from LL is extremely helpful. I had space issues with stove placement & Jerry along with Manny (local dealer) worked it out. And as BK said the Coal-Trol thermostat is included on the LL.
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pioneer

PostBy: Dutchman On: Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:44 pm

I'm entering my second year with a Harman Magnum stoker, and I am thrilled to no end with it. bksaun is right though about Harman's thin corporate support; I have gotten more info from this forum than I ever will from the manufacturer, but that being said the Mag itself is a great performer, and there's no end to the good advice here - just ask. The controller takes a little getting used to, but if you're a future ex-woody you might not mind tinkering with the stoke settings a little to get her set up right (it's kinda like poking and playing with a wood fire but in a coal sort of way :lol: )
Do you have a way to see/hear/watch/feel some of the stoker stoves go through their paces? Dealer brochures and websites are good, but seeing a stove in person and being able to see their individual nuances in person makes a difference.
All the major brands, Harman, Alaska, Leisure Line, Keystoker, etc etc are all well designed and constructed, so it might boil down to size, price, personal preference for different features, and whose dealer is near your area.

Good Luck!
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Magnum
Coal Size/Type: rice/anthracite

PostBy: gambler On: Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:52 pm

MPGNitrox, Welcome to the forum, a great bunch of guys here. This is my first year burning coal. I have been burning coal a total of 5 days :lol: Anyway I purchased a used Leisure Line stoker and I could not be happier. I had been heating with corn for the last 4 years and all that I can say is coal is a much nicer heat and I don't think it is any dirtier than corn or pellets (yes pellets are dirty too). I just dampen my coal with water before filling the hopper and so far no black dust. You will get a considerably longer burn time out of a hopper of coal than pellets and with about twice the BTU content you don't have to store as much fuel. Most pellet stoves are rated around 50K BTU but most coal stoves are rated around 90k BTU so you will have a better chance to keep your house warm and not use any oil by burning coal. My house is 2000 sqft and my corn stove was 50k BTU and it heated my house well except when the temps dropped below -5 so the coal stove should not have any problems keeping my house warm. Good luck on your stove decision and I don't think you will go wrong if you choose coal over pellets.
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pioneer

Shopping for a Stoker

PostBy: MPGNitrox On: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:12 pm

Thanks very much to all that have replied so far. We have some decision making to do, but it sure sounds like coal is a great way to go. We'll be deciding on a stove shortly and will provide an update when we buy one. If anyone else has advice, please feel free to respond... we'll probably decide this week.


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Shopping for a Stoker

PostBy: MPGNitrox On: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:21 pm

We just looked on the free classified section of this forum and found

Older Alaska Kodiak II stoker stove - resembles current Kast Console model. 60k btu/hr. with rheostat control.

Wonder if we might be in the used market. Wondering if this can be repainted to look new?? We will be putting this in the finished basement (first floor/we have a slab foundation) and it doesn't have to be perfect looking.

Does anyone have an opinion on this stove and buying new vs. used?


PostBy: Ed.A On: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:41 pm

I bought a new Alaska Channing III, then a week later a person had a used 1 year old one forsale at $1200, It's all in the timing I guess, I wouldn't care either way new or used as long the condition was satisfactory.

Remember to take into account the weight of the Stove in considering if your going pick it up or use a commercial shipper.

Just my 2cent
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III/ '94 Stoker II
Coal Size/Type: Rice

PostBy: Matthaus On: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:52 pm

Welcome MPG, I am a fan of the older Alaska stoves myself and have rescued 8 of them to date. I have a few modifications that I do to them and also add the Coal-Trol from Automation correct. These stoves work great and a fine alternative to spending lots of money your first year of burning coal.

Removal of the rust and painting them, replacing glass and gaskets will take a minimum 20 hours of blood sweat and tears. It is worth the effort in my opinion.

I live 30 minutes or so from the stove you are looking at and have almost gone to take a look at it myself. But I have several stoves I am rebuilding myself so I have resisted.

So in summary I recommend the used stove approach, but I would definitely look it over and see if it needs any major work before purchasing.

Best of luck with your stove search. :)
Stoker Coal Boiler: Leisure Line WL110 Dual Fuel, natural gas
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Leisure Line Lil' Heater (rental house)
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Buckwheat Anthracite

PostBy: jpen1 On: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:51 pm

I am on my second season with my alaska channing III and am very happy with it. Previously I burned pellets for five years and from my experiences you will use about 6 tons of pellets plus to even come close to heating your house, compared to like 4 tons of coal. Plus pellets are in my opinion more work and are dirtier than coal by far. You would have to have a space of atleast 100sq ft that is humidity controlled space to store the pellets where as with coal a winters worth of coal will only take up less than 60 sqft of floor space in a bin. also I think a pellet stove is more maintanence and you will wake up to a cold house at least 2 to 3 times a month when the pellets bridge in the hopper and the stove goes out. Out of the stoves you have narrowed it down to I would go with the Leisure or the Alaska. I preffered the leisure my self as I love the coaltrol but I couln't make the clearances which should be no problem for you if you had a wood stove previous. I would stay away from Harman #1 because they are selling out and #2 they are horrible to deal with and they wouldn't deal with me at all when I had feed motor go out on the pellet stove under warranty. Just a big run around with them at least I had a good dealer to fall back on. Good luck in your search i,m sure you will be happy with coal.
Last edited by jpen1 on Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Stoker Coal Boiler: LL110
Coal Size/Type: Rice/ Buck
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: 110 Boiler

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:53 pm

Hello MPG, how well insulated is your house? Are the windows good quality and thermopane?? The reason I ask is that a 60K BTU stove may not be enough for a ~2000 sqft home unless it is very tight and well insulated. In your first post you mentioned that you wanted the stoker you bought to be able to supply all your heating needs.

I'm not sure 60K BTU's is enough. Maybe someone with more experience in this will respond.

Greg L

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

PostBy: heatwithcoal On: Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:31 pm

Welcome to the forum. I am a new full time coalologist this year and I am also burning pellets and have been the last 3 years. I have been heating a 1300 sqft raised ranch wth a Breckwell Big E in the kitchen and going through 3 ton a year keeping house at 72-78 deg but my basement is not finished and I hated to go downstairs to 50 deg temps.
The last two years I have been burning coal on a part time basis in the basement on the weekends for the kids play down there. They could go down there and ride scooters, roller blades and pogo sticks. The older Alaska stoker stove I had down there was old and I went through alot of coal with it but it was 75 deg down there. One thing I noticed was my pellet stove upstairs worked alot less when the stove was on in the basement.
Long story short, this year I bought a used 01 Harman Mag Stoker for $1000 ( from a guy in Keene) and I absolutely love it. I have heard horrible things about Harman as a company from when I was pellet stove shopping years back. I would not buy a new Harman because of the things I heard. I actually looked a few years back at coal and came very close to buying an Alaska (I love the looks of them)

It has not been very cold yet here but theHarman stoker is keeping my entire house, including the basement at 72 deg and the stove is running at a pretty low setting. My pellet stove is feeling extremely neglected.

I apologize if I am rambling here but...when it comes down to it..... I should have bought a coal stove to begin with.

FYI if you are up for a ride:
**Broken Link(s) Removed**seems to be a great deal, I drove 1.75 hours for my Harman

A friend of mine said he would buy a ton of pellets off me. Sounds like a good op for me to get a ton of coal. :)

As for the carbon footprint A question I have to the experts on this forum is:
Don't home heaters burn coal alot more complete and efficient than the large industrial plants?

My newbie advise? used coal stove
OK I will now shut up as this must be a record post. :wink: Sorry
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: AK-110
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: AK-110

Re: Shopping for a Stoker

PostBy: MPGNitrox On: Sun Nov 04, 2007 9:35 pm

We have to say thank you to "heatwithcoal" - the link you provided on Craig's List was most helpful! We just returned from a 2 hour trip (4 hours round trip) and bought that baby!! Now we're going to check for info on the forum about chimney's - we have an insulated chimney with clay flues. We're not sure if we need to use a stainless steel liner in there to prevent cracking from low heat and moisture.

Anyway, we're very excited - hope to get everything all hooked up and running this week!

THANK YOU ALL so much for your help - and especially for that link!!!


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