Review of Parkray Aspect 8
Better to look at than the TV!
BackgroundThis review is based on: Wood burning only - I.e no optional multi fuel grate fitted 3 months almost continual use, taking in cold spells [outside circa -3 C] Predominantly sycamore [reasonably good wood for heat] with moisture content circa 16% [well seasoned] The stove replaced an indestructible 30 yr old Hunter midi 20 - a 175Kg, 20Kw monster built to withstand a nuclear attack. The room it heats is reasonably large at 360 square feet and so I was a bit apprehensive that the 5Kw Aspect 8 would deliver. Installation included a completely new flue so from the outset, everything was to HETAS standards. Appearance. Without a doubt, the stove has a real visual impact - almost minimalist in design yet the subtle curves mark it out as much as a piece of furniture than as a black metal box in which to burn wood [which of course it is!]. The large door glass is impressive, it really is a sight to behold when you have the combustion just right, with mesmerisingly slow, lingering flames filling the view. I opted for the plinth which raises the overall height and acts as a log store. It looks well. Build Quality. At first, in comparison to its predecessor, it felt rather˜lightweight", but this impression soon dissolves after a period of familiarisation. The door handle and catch have a precision feel as does the door itself. The casing has a nice solid feel and I do like the solid top which is a substantial piece of steel around 8mm thick. This acts as a storage radiator, staying hot long after the fire has died down. Also, being flat, you can use a radiator top fan - they do work and I would recommend investigating in them. Ease of lighting. This took me a week or so to get right - probably the same with any stove. I think the inherent problem with any large [i.e. wide] stove that stays within the 5Kw range is that the depth of the firebox by necessity is quite short. This means that your options are a bit limited in terms of how you can configure your initial pieces of wood for lighting. Also, the firebox narrows [i.e tapers] towards the rear , so you will never be able to place more than a few split logs on at a time. Because of the fire's efficiency, you could argue that you don't need to, but you will need to be up off the settee a few times in the evening to feed it, and it certainly wouldn't stay in till the next morning. Maybe this is common to all stoves in the 5Kw range - or am I being too picky coming from a 20Kw behemoth? Controllability. Again, you need to spend time getting this just right. There is just one control at the front to vary the air input and its throw is very short - around 20mm, less than an inch. This means that combustion is very sensitive to the position of the control lever. Getting the fire burning ˜just right" therefore requires some experience. I would recommend to the manufacturer that notches are put on the control lever to take out some of the guess work. The ultimate would be a remote control option of the lever as it will need adjusting several times through every charge [i.e from loading a fresh log through to its reduction to wood ash]. Heat Output. From initial lighting, the time it takes to get a reasonable heat output depends very much on how well the fire is laid [i.e how your logs are configured in the grate]. Laid incorrectly, the fire will seem to lack oxygen and will smoke, taking some time to get going. However, lay the fire correctly, keep adjusting the air inlet control for the first 10 minutes or so and the fire will go from strength to strength. Once underway, the large glass area ensures that radiant heat can be felt some distance away. Brilliant Small Stoves published efficiency is supported by its ˜real world" performance and is light years ahead of my previous stove in terms of its heat output for a given weight of wood fed to it. It is worth mentioning that, unless you have the air control set wrongly, the glass requires little more than a wipe down with a damp cloth each time the fire is set. So, in summary, a well designed and built stove, reasonably priced which in many ways is better to look at than the TV.
Stove expert replied: Great detailed feedback for this model.