Review of James Smellie Crator Stove

Ideal Stove

Chris Aylmer 6 years ago

I had this stove fitted in June 2015. I researched lots of different stoves and finally settled on this one. I liked the company history, ethos and the lack of hyped-up OTT advertising...just plain honest information. I don't like companies that boast about how superior their stoves are. The stoves should speak for themselves. I have not been disappointed. Even though I do not live in a smoke-controlled area, I wanted a multi-fuel stove that was low in pollution and exempt for use in such zones. I did have a 6" flue lining fitted, not being confined to a 5" flue. The stove is made of steel and gives out a great heat.

The technical skill of the James Smellie stoves lies in the tertiary air inlet system. First there is the controllable primary air control that comes from under the grate, which you open while getting the fire going and also need for burning smokeless coal. Then there is the controllable secondary airwash that delivers a variable amount of air above the wood and keeps the front glass clean (and it keeps it perfectly clean...no sooting up at all so far). Thirdly there is the clever permanently-open tertiary air inlet that wafts through vent holes behind the fire and ensures a complete burn of the wood fuel, very little smoke and makes lovely swirling patterns in the flames.

It is now the middle of October and it is the first day I have used the stove all day to heat the house. The first "paint cure" burn a week or two ago went well, apart from repeatedly setting off the smoke alarm. There was a good draught up the chimney and no smoke in the room, but the invisible burnt paint fumes must have set off the alarm.

Today, on getting the fire going, there was quite a paint smell again for a while but thankfully the alarm was not set off. I have kept the top light of the main window ajar all evening for extra ventilation.

The temperature of the room rapidly improved from 16C to 20C within 45 minutes. Now, after 5 hours it is 21.5C, very pleasant indeed, with fresh air trickling into the room too through the window.

The fire is easy to light. I just use some kindling and screwed-up newspaper. I need to start getting a newspaper again! I have lots of seasoned hardwood dotted around the garden in piles from pruning and felling trees and also lots of old wooden pallets and battens to supply kindling. I bought a moisture meter to check the dryness of the wood...my logs are generally around 10% moisture and always less than 20%.

I have looked at the chimney top and can see no smoke at all coming out.. just a shimmer of the hot air. Very reassuring! I can certainly recommend this Crator stove for quality, effectiveness and ease of use.

Overall rating:

5 flames

Build Quality 5 flames (avg 4.9)
Quality of finish 5 flames (avg 4.9)
Value for money 5 flames (avg 4.9)
Ease of use 5 flames (avg 4.9)
Ease of lighting 5 flames (avg 4.8)
Firebox size 5 flames (avg 4.8)
How well does the airwash work 5 flames (avg 4.9)
Controllability 5 flames (avg 4.9)
Handle operation 5 flames (avg 4.6)
How likely are you to buy it again? 5 flames (avg 5)
What is your overall satisfaction? 5 flames (avg 4.9)