Second week of burning the new DS 1500 brought some of the warmest daytime temps we've had in these parts in several years, during the heating season--after week 1 had the coldest temps we've had in several winters. Learned a lot about how this stove burns during these two weeks.
Contrary to my concerns, the DS burned right through the warm/damp days, with the thermostat turned back to 2.5 (had it just below 3 during the cold days) and MPD opened up some, to about 45*, to let more hot exhaust into the chimney and keep the stove a bit cooler so the house didn't overheat. With these settings, the coal consumption dropped from 50-60 lbs/day to 30-40. I hope this means I can keep the stove burning well during the shoulder months when the daytime temps are warmer.
One thing I've learned is that the thermostat control on the stove is super-sensitive. At 2.5, the stove was around 200* pipe/400* top of stove. At 3, it's usually 250*/525*-550*. DS says the stove shouldn't be burned over 600*.
It would be more helpful if the thermo setting ranged from, say, 2 to 4, to get that same temperature range. I think a chain adjustment might be needed on the thermostat/damper. Any suggestions?
I've tended the stove twice a day, early morning and early evening. At these intervals, the fire recovers quickly and blues return almost immediately after shaking--even on the warm, damp, low-temp days. Haven't done a shakedown yet where I saw any risk of puffback or explosion. I can see, though, how that could happen after a 24-hour shakedown. It's sure good to know that if I have to be away from early morning to late night, or even overnight, I don't have to worry about the stove burning out.
As I noted in another thread, I do have some ash buildup at the back of the firebox. It's helped somewhat by poking that area from below, but I'll have to get a longer poker to reach back there from the front door and try to break it up.
Bottom line, I'm very happy with the DS, and I feel (cautiously) confident I can keep it burning safely and effectively in my setup. Can't wait to get the next electric bill and see how much of a dent the coal burning has made vs. last month. The heat pump isn't cycling on/off nearly as much as it did when I burned the Franco--and the electric coil backup heat hasn't run at all, even on the coldest nights.
Thanks again for the help and ideas many of you have offered--I'm always ready for any additional thoughts or suggestions.