WhatStove?

Review of James Smellie Ivanhoe Stove

Ivanhoe review (also bought a Crator too)

Kevin Rolph 5 years ago

We've bought two James Smellie stoves, one each of the Crator and Ivanhoe models. They are installed in very different chimneys so I'll review both separately. The two stoves are essentially identical apart from styling. The Crator is square whereas the Ivanhoe has a few curves to the design.

We've installed the Ivanhoe within an existing fireplace in an early Victorian house, in a high ceilinged room 6m by 5m. It heats this room easily and, leaving the door open, heats a fair part of the house. The chimney here is 10m high and thus has a huge draw. We're generally using wood from our substantially-wooded garden, cut last year. It lights easily with a little paper and kindling and can quickly take mid-sized logs. Once a good hot-bed is formed it can take some really very large chunks of wood. With the draw we have on this fire we almost always have both air controls fully in and even so it can burn quite fast. With a little care in choosing the size of logs and maintaining a bed of ash you can keep this ticking over nicely. The fire is very responsive to recovering by opening the primary air vent.

James Smellie was unknown to us and we were going to buy a stove at twice the price, that we'd seen demonstrated. This stove isn't quite so impressive in its degree of control, but we did buy TWO of them for the same price, and it's perfectly controllable enough. Various factors resulted in us choosing this stove over a few others our installer had suggested. One factor was that it was UK-made. Where a local equivalent is available I see no reason to cart one half way around the world for all sorts of ethical-shopping reasons. Also, I liked the ability to get in contact with the designer should I have any problems. I've been in contact, for general advice, and found them friendly and helpful.

Getting back to the stove, I liked the simplicity of the design (i.e. appearance) and in particular that the ash pan drawer was covered by the door. The size was good for us, and it being multi-fuel and DEFRA compliant. (More about using other fuels in my Crator review). Being only 5kw there's no requirement to have a vent in the room wall - last thing this house needs is more drafts. The air wash works well with wood; the window is clear at the end of the day of burning, though it does help to align the logs sideways as recommended by the manufacturers (as the ends tend to eject oils). Even after a day of burning we're finding very little ash in the pan. That's partly because we keep a bed of ash in place on the grate to steady the burn rate, but even so it very efficiently burns the one or two crates of wood we feed it daily. (Those cheap fold-away plastic crates).

Both stoves were installed using the top flue connection. Both installed easily.

Overall rating:

5 flames

Build Quality 5 flames (avg 5)
Quality of finish 5 flames (avg 4.7)
Value for money 5 flames (avg 4.7)
Ease of use 5 flames (avg 4.8)
Ease of lighting 5 flames (avg 4.8)
Firebox size 5 flames (avg 4.2)
How well does the airwash work 5 flames (avg 4.8)
Controllability 5 flames (avg 4.8)
Handle operation 5 flames (avg 4.3)
How likely are you to buy it again? 5 flames (avg 5)
What is your overall satisfaction? 5 flames (avg 5)