I've got a question for anybody who has experience with trying a "thin" coal bed:
First, for background, I've got a Hitzer 983 insert which I love. Unfortunately, being an insert, it doesn't lend itself to the installation of a baro. I've got plenty of draft. The house is 1850 sq ft, two story, very well insulated, with a centrally located staircase to the second floor. Even with temps in the single digits, I have yet to need the oil furnace.
The insert runs at "idle" more than 90 percent of the time (even in cold weather) and I'm using about 50 - 55 pounds of coal per day. I can't help but wonder if I could get by on less fuel by using a "thinner" coal bed. Before I go further, I agree with all the statements that coal likes a deep bed, and in the first few weeks of operation (thanks to this forum) I solved my "newbie" problems by shaking more and using a deep bed. I should also mention that I only "experiment" with a thin bed when I am going to be home all day (or in and out often) because a thin bed requires much more maintenance.
When I'm going to be gone for a long period, I load 'er up and set it on low and go.
But when I am home all day (for example Sunday) I can't help but wonder if, instead of having 500 pieces of properly burning coal at an "idle" setting, maybe I could get by on 250 pieces of properly burning coal. Especially, since the house is so warm everywhere
So, after the shaking etc part of stove operation, I have just spread a thin layer of coal on top of the fire, instead of throwing in a complete hod of coal. In about half an hour, the new (thin) layer is burning just fine and I find that the heat output (and fuel use) is less, but like I said earlier, I get PLENTY of heat even at idle.
Sometimes, if I throw in a lot at once, about 3 hours later I have too much heat, because eventually ALL the coal pieces in my stove are burning. I'm thinking: 250 pieces burning equals less heat (and less fuel usage) than 500 peices.
Of course, when I have tried this, I need to add coal about once every 3 or 4 hours....I need to be home and tending the fire more...