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The Montage Pellet Stove: Everything You Need To Know

The Montage Pellet Stove: Everything You Need To Know

As of May 15th 2020, the lasting legacy of the man who invented the pellet stove will come to an end. Pellet stoves that are made in his design are being killed off after an impressive 35 years.

Back in the early 1980s, an engineer for the Boeing aeronautics company, Dr. Jerry Whitfield, invented the pellet stove. Dr. Whitfield eventually unveiled his creation at the Hearth Heating Alliance Expo in Reno NV in 1984. Coincidentally, and luckily for both Dr. Whitfield and us pellet stove users, the stove caught on thanks to a new process that compressed wood waste into the alternative fuel for wood stoves, pellets. Whitfield gathered more than 1000 orders for his initial stove design, allowing the birth of the first pellet stove manufacturing company— Pyro Industries. 

Pyro Industries had a successful run with the Whitfield line of pellet stoves until roughly 1999, that's when Lennox Hearth Products acquired the company. Under the Lennox banner, the Whitfield line of pellet stove underwent a redesign, the Advantage and Quest models were discontinued and a new modern lineup was introduced; the Profile 20 and 30 series, an insert called the Optima and a cast version of the Profile 20 called the Traditions T300 and a wicked cheap, budget-friendly stove called the Cascade was introduced.

One complaint, both from dealers and owners; Lennox ditched the F140°F-20 thermal switch as the low-limit proof-of-fire sensor and adopted a sight-control known as a photo-eye sensor. For their best selling Profile series, Lennox's adoption of the photo-eye sensor may have made sense to Lennox because their oil furnaces at the time used the same method. Unfortunately, the sensor was not a good fit for a pellet stove for many reasons and proved to be very problematic. Struggling to understand the changes Lennox was making to their beloved brand, dealers started to walk away.

In 2003, Lennox consolidated the pellet stove, ditched all of the Whitfield stoves that used the photo-eye control and introduced a new stove, the Elite Montage. This stove is an interesting combination of parts: it’s essentially a Profile 20 or Traditions T300 pellet stove, but uses the original Advantage II Plus auto-ignition controller and a thermal sensor for the proof-of-fire. A Montage of parts perhaps? And yes, the Whitfield brand name was retired.

Around 2010, Lennox Hearth Products became Innovative Hearth Products (IHP) and kept Lennox’s Elite Montage design but renamed it to the Montage 32. While this stove does not have the Whitfield name on it anywhere, it is a true Whitfield design. Probably even something customers from 1999-2003 and dealers alike would have all stood behind. It's a solid stove. 

Alas, as of May 15th of 2020, will mark the end of the Whitfield era. For whatever reason, IHP is not seeking to test and certify the Montage to the new NSPS protocol and it will not be legal to sell as of this date.

Parts for the Elite Montage and Montage 32 pellet stove can be found on our website under the Montage Pellet Stove Parts Collection.

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