The principal difference in the two designs lay in how the fire pot is configured and the flame path for the exhaust gasses. The Oak type Base Heaters are designed to be dual fuel if necessary. They are designed for coal, but; if you have a register plate, then you can burn wood in them if you have to. If you read the advertising literature for them they state that the removable register plate is for the, "temporary," burning of wood. Some people like to use wood in the early fall and spring for short term fires just to knock the chill off of the house. Some, like the Glenwood 6's and *'s have an air ring on the top of the fire pot to provide heated secondary air. This is a really nice feature for any fuel that is used for the stove.
On my Glenwood No 6, you can see the heated secondary air igniting the flammable gas as it emerges from a fresh batch of coal. It provides a ring of blue flames that looks just like a burner on a gas stove.
The flame path on these is EXTERIOR to the combustion chamber and the entire barrel of the stove itself. The exhaust gas is taken to the rear of the stove outside then down below the ash pit before it exits out of the stove pipe.
The other design is NOT FOR MULTI FUEL USE. It id designed just for Anthracite only as its fuel and the design reflects that purpose. The principal design advantage to these stoves is that the fire pot is suspended internally inside the outer barrel of the stove and the exhaust gasses are directed, INSIDE THE STOVE DOWN BETWEEN THE FIRE POT AND THE OUTER STOVE BARREL. This is perhaps the most brilliant application of stove engineering that I can think of. The reason is that the stove reconciles the basic conflict between thermal efficiency (actual useable heat versus heat lost by escape up the flue) and combustion efficiency (heat value lost from the fuel itself because of an imperfect environment for good combustion).
Without a super long explanation of combustion theory and heat transfer theory, it boils down to this. In most applications, good combustion is obtained by a loss of thermal efficiency and an increase in thermal efficiency comes at the cost of good combustion efficiency.
This conflict in efficiency is created by the combustion of the fuel and the radiation of heat out into the room happening in the same place. A really hot fire with good combustion sends a lot of the heat up the chimney and a cool fire in which most of the heat is radiated into the room causes a lot of fuel to not be burned and the unburned gasses are lost up the chimney. The ideal situation is where the combustion and radiating processes are separate from each other. The purpose of all base burners is to accomplish this highly desirable goal.
This design of base heater solves this issue by insulating the fire pot from heat loss by having the hot gasses go around the fire pot and therefore maintaining a high, stable temperature of the fire bed. This allows for the coal to be burned a lot more completely. Now instead of having this heat lost up the chimney there are the long heat exchange passages that come AFTER the heat has left the combustion area to be radiated out into the room.
So you get the best of both.
Now as to which is better, that depends on what you need or want. The Wings Best stove you have decided on is a superlative stove. It is almost identical to a Glenwood 6. It will serve you well and deliver extremely high efficiency ratings for you.
I hope this helps with your question.
Last edited by wsherrick
on Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.