What kind of car is best? I happen to believe the best car is a [Mini Cooper]. I think I would look fabulous driving one. But you, with your four kids and a dog, might disagree. A Mini Cooper also won't haul a ton of corn very well. So you might not think it's the best car at all. The same is true for corn burners. For one thing, there are many different Types of corn burner.
The things you will look at are:
- Corn burner type either boiler, furnace, fireplace insert, freestanding stove or outdoor.
- BTU size - Covered in What size corn burner.
- Budget - Examples available on the Budget page.
- Dealer Availability
- Features List
Generally, in terms of owner satisfaction, [LDJ boilers] and Bixby freestanding stoves have fewest complaints. But are they then the best? And now, to muddy the waters further, many companies are coming out with their second generation corn burners; not to say that LDJ and Bixby have been standing still either. Many of these units have improved features. Or, if you have ten thousand dollars, an H.S. Tarm boiler or perhaps now the Pelco boiler is the most expensive on the market. But does that make it the best? There are many considerations. Do your research before purchasing.
Negative Draft or Positive Draft?
If you intend to burn pellets or other fuels that can smolder a long while, then you require a negative draft stove for safety. If you will burn only corn, then a positive draft model will suffice.
The issue is explained well by Okiheating as follows ( http://forum.iburncorn.com/viewtopic.php?t=8190 ): "First these common positive pressure design stoves CANNOT BURN PELLETS without potential hazards. The snow flame 5000 insert is the identical to the Corn glo, corn flame, Buckner, and Amaizablaze. All positive pressure designs. The only mechanical differences are the Amaizablaze has an air pressure/flow adj valve and the amt of heating tubes. The problem in burning any amount of pellets in a positive pressure is the potential for the burn back/smoldering issue. As you know the fuel in your hopper acts a seal to minimize the heated gases going into your hopper then your home.. corn produces only carbon dioxide, pellets produce carbon monoxide (it can make you ill or dead.) If you notice when your hopper is to down to less than 1/4 full you can slightly smell the corn burning. With a mix of pellets you will be potentially filling your home with monoxide."
As explained by Tallcorn ( http://forum.iburncorn.com/viewtopic.php?t=8190 ): "If the exhaust pipe or exhaust chambers plug up or the door glass or latch fails, combustion air stops flowing through the fire pot and the fire goes out. Positive pressure stoves blow combustion air into the burn pot. Exhaust passes through and leaves the stove pushed by the combustion fan and natural draft. A blocked exhaust or stove or door glass and door failure doesn't stop the positive pressure blowing air into the burn pot, keeping the fire going and exhaust goes out of the stove where it can."
The Bixby stove is an example of negative draft appliance. According to Okiheating in the above thread, Corn glo, Corn flame, Buckner, Pinnacle, and Amaizablaze are all examples of positive draft appliances.
Author's note: readers, please post other examples. The Bixby is the only negative draft unit that I'm sure about.
Auger or Ferris Wheel Feed System?
Feed augers are direct conduits of combustion gases from the burn pot to the feed hopper. This is the situation implicit in Okiheating's quote above.
Some stoves instead use a ferris wheel arrangement that drops fuel to the fire pot through a drop tube that is sealed except for the instant of the fuel drop. With these stoves, you will never smell corn burning even when the hopper is low. Some people claim these stoves to be safer than auger-fed models.
Before you dump a lot of money into a corn or pellet burning heater of any type, check if the stove has been listed by an accredited product certification body; e.g., ...
http://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/index.htm http://www.omni-test.com/listing_directories/product_listing_directory.php http://www.intertek-etlsemko.com/ http://www.csa.ca
Not only will a stove that is listed be safer in design, it may help with insurance coverage or pricing as well.
Considering the large potential savings burning biofuels instead of fossil fuels, many users consider it false economy to scrimp on features that will add to the pleasure and convenience of operating their appliance. Others, on the other hand, prefer to strive for the most BTU for the least capital. Whichever camp you are in, watch for some of the following features which might add to your convenience (and cost!).
Multi-fuel or single fuel design?
Automatic ash dumping or not?
Electronic ignition or manual ignition?
Size of hopper and ash bin
Computer interface and available controlling and diagnostic software?
Clinker vs Stirring type firepots? (Clinker types are said to be more efficient because they burn the fuel more completely. That may be up for debate. Do your research on this. Stirring type firepots are said to have more moving parts and hence more susceptible to wear. That may also be up for debate. Check with owners of 3(+) year old units.)
Good user support network? (Consult the size and activity of the stove-specific forums on www.iburncorn.com . Check out the brand-specific information on the WIKI at the Home page.)
The reputation of your dealer (Ask for references and check them out)
The warranty (some manufacturers go as high as 7 years)