Swapping the Englander 17-VL & 30-NC Wood Stoves

Cameron

Member
A few years back, I bought an Englander pellet stove. That only lasted about five years because I outgrew it. It still ran fine and worked wonderfully, but since my house gets cold in the winter, I upgraded to a wood stove and sold the pellet stove on Craigslist. I think I got around $600 for it, so it held its value pretty well. Had lots of offers on it too, which says a lot about Englander. I like that company.

Anyway, after some thought, I decided to go with the Englander 17-VL as a wood stove. It was a nice small model that would fit nicely into the corner of one of my rooms. I already owned the Englander 30-NC and had that parked in a different room, so I was pretty hooked on this brand of stove.

After having it shipped to me from Home Depot and hooking it all up, I made a few fires. At first, I was fairly happy with it. I realized I had bought a stove that was too small for my house after just a few fires, but I continued to run it for the entire winter. Here's what I discovered:

- It's a great little stove for a smaller room or a cabin. It gives good heat and runs well.
- The wood you buy or cut needs to be small. It doesn't take the 18" logs it claims to take. Perhaps if they're pencil thin it can, but real firewood - no.
- The logs need to be split small too. You can't fit much in this stove and if you have thick wood, you won't be able to get it in. If you do, only one piece will fit.
- The stove doesn't give a long burn time. A few hours at most. And as the coals build up, they consume valuable space inside the stove, which makes fitting more wood in quite difficult. Don't expect to run this stove overnight. You'll wake up freezing in the morning.
- For some strange reason, coals don't like to burn all the way down to ash in this stove. All other stoves I've owned, the coals burned down to dust. These remain as black chunks. Maybe it's my chimney's fault. Not enough draft.
- And for the most annoying thing in the world, once coals begin to build up in this stove and when you try to place a new piece of wood inside, as you open the front door, glowing red coals will fall out all over the place. I've had this happen on a number of occasions and I've got big black melted holes in my carpet to prove it. Even with a large pad which this stove sat upon, those coals like to roll and go all over the place.

Because of all these factors, I decided to swap positions of my 17-VL and my 30-NC. The larger 30-NC was totally too big for the room I originally placed it in and was getting a bit annoying in its own right. I do love the stove though and don't have one bad thing to say about it. It cranks and it's a real wood stove. It'll heat any house you put it in. Everyone who owns it loves this stove. The thing is, my smaller room was crying out for the smaller 17-VL and the larger house area was crying out for the larger 30-NC. I would sometimes sweat because of the larger stove, so it was an awesome swap.

I tackled this project last week. I had to build a larger pad for the bigger stove, but that was easy. And now that we're getting colder nights, it's been absolutely beautiful building fires in these. I'm not even sure I need to run the smaller stove at all. The bigger one does all the heavy lifting. Oh yeah, I also had to buy a few additional pipes to make things work, but that was no big deal. Check out the pics.

This is the 17-VL in its new spot. The room it's in is only about 300 square feet, so it'll do just great. It's a nice looking little stove, but be warned, if you plan on using this model in a regular sized house for regular use, you'll regret your purchase and will return it for something else. You've been warned. Only use for occasional use in a cabin or something. This is not a production stove.

englander-17-vl-front.jpg


englander-17-vl-side.jpg


Now here's my baby. I do love this wood stove. This is the Englander 30-NC in the main part of the house. It heats it incredibly and is worth every single cent I spent on it.

englander-30-nc-front.jpg


englander-30-nc-side.jpg


I even hooked up the fresh air vent and ordered some side heat shields for this stove. I'll be all set up. I didn't need to put side heat shields on because it's well past clearance from the walls, but what the heck. Just to make sure. And look at that pad. Plywood, concrete board, and big 18" square pavers. About two inches thick. A big four foot by five foot. Love it.

Let me know what you think. I've got a sweet set up now that I've quite proud of.
 
The consensus out there is that the Englander 17-VL is a very nice little stove. You can read some reviews in this post over at Hearth.com:

https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/englander-model-17-vl-stove-installation-and-review.114897/

I've owned this stove and yes, while it was built well and put out a fairly decent amount of heat, I had to sell it because it just wasn't doing it for me. I have to agree with all the reasons given above for owning and not owning the stove. If it's going to be used as a part time stove in a cabin or very small house, maybe to get the chill out of the air, it's awesome and it's probably what I would buy. If you're a serious wood burner who lives in a cold climate though, DO NOT buy this stove. You'll become more aggravated than anything else. It's simply too small. Regular sized logs don't fit in it and coals really do fall out of the front door every time you open it. Don't believe what you hear or read out there. Small stoves are not meant as full time wood burners. There are many reasons to buy a small stove, but heating your home full time isn't one of them. Now, the 30-NC, on the other hand, is an incredible wood burning stove. If you have the room and a larger home, that's the one you want to buy. Again though, only if you have the space for it. And because it's a giant and if your house isn't large enough, you'll actually overheat. So don't buy this one if you're living in a 1,200 square foot ranch or something like that. You'll end up having to open the windows just to cool off. But if you live in Vermont in a house that's over 2,000 square foot house, go for it. That's what I would do.

Now, there is a middle ground here. It's called the Englander 13-NC. I think it may be called the Englander 15 now or something like that. It heats a house that's around 1,500 to 2,000 square feet and it's probably the best bet for most people out there. Check out this post where the author offers a comparison of Englander wood stoves:

https://www.firewood-for-life.com/englander-wood-stove.html

Although I've never owned this stove, I have looked it over in Home Depot once or twice. I actually ended up getting the 30-NC instead because the 13-NC seemed too small in the firebox. It really is kind of cramped in there.

What people need to stop doing is reviewing stoves based on the amount of heat they feel it puts out. Yes, that's important, but usability is just as important. If you have the wrong size stove for your home, you're going to hate it. If it's tough to use or just a general pain in the butt, you're going to hate it. You really do need to do some research on which stove you want to buy.

Here's an interesting post on how the little 17-VL is actually too much for someone's house. Who knew?

https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/englander-17-vl-cooking-me-out-of-the-house.136857/
 
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