Hearthstone Heritage Woodstove Review

I recently decided to install a woodburning stove or insert in my fireplace. My first choice was the Regency insert but it wouldn't fit. So I opted for the Hearthstone Heritage woodstove. The things that sold me on this stove were the following:
  • New burning technology (Uses 2/3 less wood and produces 1/20 of the smoke of conventional woodstoves.)
  • 21 inch log length (All other inserts had a max wood length of 18 inches. I have about four cords and many logs are over 18 inches.) I found that this stove will actually take a 24 inch log from the rear back corner to the front top corner!
  • Soapstone (The stone absorbs the heat and stays hot for up to three hours after the fire goes out.)
  • Ash grate (This makes cleaning out the ashes really easy.)
  • Size (It fits my hearth!)
  • Side log loading (You can load logs from the front or the side, but side loading larger logs seems like it will be much easier.)
I paid $2249.00 plus tax (retail is about $2600) which is at the high end for a wood stove and slightly more than I was going to pay for the insert. In addition I also had to purchase a kit for $500 to pipe this into my fireplace. Also, the installation will cost $500, so I'm probably looking at around $3,400 after tax and accessories. I bought the blue/black finish which is actually more of a grey/black finish.

After I put a downpayment on the stove I went to the local fireplace store to check it out before I paid it off. When I first went into the store I was looking for the Heritage and a salesman pointed me to the Pheonix, obviously he didn't know his products! I finally found the Heritage in the back of the store. The first thing I tried out was the latches on the doors. I struggled with them for a few minutes and the salesman told me the latches were broken! He blamed it on so many people messing with the latches all day long. I finally realized that they were not broken but just a bit tricky to work, both the side and front doors. Most stoves have a handle that you turn and after it latchs, the handle stops turning. Not on the Heritage. It keeps turning until it unlatches. At first I thought this was a flaw or bad planning on their part but after I thought about it I realized that this would keep people from putting undue stress on the latch from trying to open it the wrong way. I also noticed that when opening the side door it would make a 'pop' when unlatched. Perhaps I was turning it the wrong direction. After messing with the front and side doors I tried to latch the ash door on the bottom and just couldn't get it. I asked a different salesman for assistance and he had trouble with it at first and he thought it was broken! Finally we realized that we had to push on the door fairly hard to get it to latch (these latches are not very user friendly to the untrained).

We are due to have this stove installed in about a week. I've cut a whole bunch of firewood and I'm ready for the winter. I have about four or five cords of wood so far which should last until spring. We heat with natural gas and I'm hoping to turn the furnace way down and heat primarily with wood once we get this stove installed. I'm hoping to eventually install a stove in the basement and perhaps one in the garage and one in the barn. Stay tuned for more review after we get the stove up and running!

UPDATE: OK, we've been running the stove for about a month now. At first we had some problems with a smoke smell in the house. I realized that the pipe on top of the house wasn't tall enough and that smoke was coming down onto the deck and in through the cracks in the sliding door (which has a pretty bad seal). I fixed this problem by adding an additional six feet of double walled pipe. Then we had problems with getting smoke in the house when loading wood. At first I ran a swamp cooler in the basement and put it on a remote control and would run it every time I started the stove or loaded wood. I soon realized that I could start a fire with a trigger start propane torch with the front door just barely open enough for the tip of the torch and this kept the smoke from getting out. Also I found out that I could load wood in the side door and it wouldn't smoke. I do have to crack open the side door and move any burning embers or logs away from the door with the poker before loading though. I finally got this stove smoke free and am tempted to winterize the swamp cooler since I don't use it anymore. Since we've had this stove we haven't had the furnace come on even once!

UPDATE: We've been running the stove for a month and a half now. We solved the smoke problem and almost never have a smoke smell in the house, but we ran into our first major problem. The handle on the side door won't unlatch the door. I called the retail store and they said that there is a allen wrench set screw on the handle that tends to come loose and the handle swivels and won't latch anymore. They said I should turn the handle to a certain position and tighten the set screw. I'm going to have to look at it tonight when the stove is cool. The dealer said they have an extra handle in case this one won't work anymore. The handles seem to be make of cheap plastic, it's amazing they don't melt right off of the stove! Maybe they are made of zinc or some cheap metal.

I've changed the way I start fires. I now use Fire Starter Wafers. You can get them at Wal-Mart and they sell a package of 144 for about ten bucks. No more newspaper or kindling! One wafer starts split logs easily every time!
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