orrsmills wrote:I would think a 80,000 BTU coal stove(insert) would be perfect?!?!
Those Btu ratings are usually arrived at when the stove undergoes UL testing when they fire the hell out of it. A real world 50,000 would be more realistic, and the same limitations apply to your present stove where you would probably need two wheelbarrows full of wood to achieve it. In both cases efficiency would go way down as stack temp. goes up.
Whatever amount you burn you can figure on carrying a bit less than half the weight to the stove than with wood, but you will have five times the ash. To get an honest output of 50,000 you need to burn 80 to 100 pounds of coal. I doubt you would need to burn that much.
The hopper is a great feature to have as it will make tending faster and easier as well as lessening any chance of puff back from unburned gases which increases efficiency by burning more of those gasses. It will also feed a small amount to the fire between tending but to really feed it needs the ash cleared to make room for new coal. By having pre- heated coal in the hopper, recovery time when new coal is added is very fast and the hopper will automatically set the proper depth of coal bed. Just open the top and pour in the coal to fill the hopper at every tending which should be 12 hours or longer.
Fans are nice because they increase the efficiency of the heat exchange surfaces of the stove but they can also be noisy and can go bad and they also use some electricity. At least Hitzer has access from the side without removing the unit.
It's a hassle to install and thought has to be given about sliding a brush either up or down the chimney to clean it. Even more important with your wood insert as creosote is a problem coal does not have but does make fly ash which clings to the chimney surface. The chimney should have a cap to keep wet out and reacting with that ash. What is your chimney? Tile lined or stainless steel and diameter and height?
Ash pan capacity is very important for easy clean tending. Ideally it should not need emptying more than once a day with moderate burning. Very few stoves have a big enough ash pan.
There are a lot of posts about the 503 in this forum. Put hitzer 503 in the search box to read many pages.