Due to the age and shape of my house and crawlspace, etc. I decided a RMH was not for me and went more conventional wood stove. I bought the Katydid, which is the newer stove just out by the same people who make the Kimberly. The Katydid is black steel instead of stainless and is said to have double the BTUs. It is about a foot wide, a foot deep and three feet tall.
I have now had my Katydid installed for a few weeks and can comment on some of its features and characteristics, though durability long term is not one of them. It does feel substantial and sturdy despite its light weight. The bolt holding the handle on does get loose, and I tighten it periodically, but that has been the only weak spot I have encountered to date.
The packing for the Katydid was stellar. It arrived in a solid wooden box with supports inside that kept the sides of the stove from touching the sides of the box. Once removed, I reassembled all but one side of the box, and my miniature goats are enjoying using it to jump on and get in.
I installed my Katydid near the center of my 100-year-old house in a corner. It is in the corner at an angle, and the rear corners of the stove are each 8” from the wall. Between the stove and the wall is a heat shield. The heat shield sits 1” out from the wall on spacers and consists of a 1/2” sheet of Durock with stamped tin-plated steel ceiling tiles as the facing. Thus, the Katydid sits 6 1/2” from the heat shield.
With respect to safety of combustible surfaces, the surfaces around the back side of the Katydid do not get hot. Not only does the wall not get hot, the heat shield itself has not gotten hot. The metal on the heat shield has not gotten any warmer than luke warm, running the Katydid at full throttle. The double-wall chimney pipe does get hot, but I can touch the pipe. The length of time I can touch the chimney depends on how hot I am running the stove. Sometimes it is indefinite, but most of the time it is a quick touch. The guard at the ceiling in this short room (7’ ceiling) gets no more than a little more than room temperature, and the ceiling does not get warmer than comfortably warm -- probably no more than 80-85 degrees F. That extends only a few inches out from the pipe area.
My 100-year-old house is not particularly well-insulated and is choppy and crazily designed. There is not a single hallway. The house was originally four square rooms down with two smaller rooms centered above. Then an addition was added from a step-down porch, adding two bathrooms and a laundry room on the south side and a larger 400 square foot room with a basement added on the east side. All told, the house is about 2,000 square feet. The Katydid sits in one of the original 4 rooms. The thermostat in the house is in a room diagonal from the Katydid. There is an Ecofan atop the Katydid, but there are no fans circulating the air otherwise right now.
The temperatures have ranged from a low around -13F to around 35F in the past few weeks -- mostly well below freezing as the daily high, and the Katydid has kept the coldest room in the house no colder than about 60 as long as the Katydid is cranking. Other rooms have generally stayed above 65 without the furnace or any other heaters going. Today is the first day we have been above 40, and the coldest room in the house (except the basement) is 73, with just the Katydid going. The basement is a tolerable temperature and the upstairs is very warm.
We are burning a combination of hard wood and compressed sawdust logs. The hard wood burns hotter and faster and produces less ash than the sawdust logs, though the sawdust logs are good for overnight when the stove won’t be tended, as they will burn at a lower temperature and smolder longer. I have been throwing a couple in the stove just before bed, and that has kept me from adding much to it during the night. I do usually wake up at least once during the night and add another one or two when I do wake.
Granted, I did not get my stove installed for the full heat season, but it has been an unusually cold year. Assuming temperatures continue to be cold for the next month or so and that we will need regular or periodic heat through April, I doubt that I will use a full cord of wood and a pallet of sawdust logs in it this year. If I had been using it the entire season of unusually cold and enduring cold weather, my best guess is that I would use approximately 1 1/2 cords of wood plus a pallet of sawdust logs for the entire year. A typical year might be more like a cord of wood and a pallet of sawdust logs, which supposedly equates a cord of wood.