Quadrafire is the company that brought automatic ignition to pellet stoves. All pellet stoves that existed prior to 1990 had to be started manually by the operator. With this automation also came the ability for a pellet stove to automatically turn off, and then restart again using a simple household heat-only wall thermostat, which is how all Quadrafire pellet stoves operate.
All Quadrafire pellet stoves monitor the heat in the firepot using a thermocouple and then monitor the temperature in the room using a wall thermostat. From here models diverge and work in different ways to basically do the same thing, automatically heating your home. Some stoves are available in an insert and a freestanding model, though they look different, they work the same.
Here are 10 basic operating features and troubleshooting techniques for the Quadrafire CB1200, Castile, Sante Fe, Contour, Mt Vernon (pre-2006), and all Heatilator pellet stoves.
All of these models use a 3-speed digital control box (except for the Mt Vernon which uses a 4 speed) relayed to the user via “old-school” analog switches and knobs through a junction box receiver. Each stove can be run on low, medium or high by selecting different positions on a 3-way rocker switch. The Mt Vernon uses a 4-way rotary knob. The user determines the burn rate by selecting the appropriate low/medium/high setting and the desired temperature they want in the room and then the appliance does the rest. The stove will shut off when either the call for heat is met, canceled, when the hopper runs out of pellets or a safety switch has been triggered.
- To start the stove, simply load it with pellets, plug in the appliance and turn the thermostat up to a temperature above the current temperature. The stove will turn on. The combustion blower will start and air will move through the machine. The Airflow switch will detect a lowering of air pressure within the feeder tube (vacuum) and the pellets will start to feed into the firepot for 1 minute. At the base of the firepot, an electric igniter will be heating up and warming the cool air entering the firepot. When the igniter heats the air to roughly 670 degrees the wood pellets will ignite.
- On the top of the firepot is a thermocouple with a ceramic cover. When the temperature in the firepot exceeds 300 degrees, a green light from inside the control box will be visible. At this time the stove will start to feed pellets again every 26 seconds.
- When the thermocouple detects a firepot temp of 600 degrees, inside the control box a red light will be visible. At this time the stove will be in run mode and will feed pellets according to the desired burn rate.
- If the stove runs for more than 18 minutes without getting the red light burn status, the stove will shut down.
- After the pellets have ignited and a fire has started to burn, the room blower will come on when the on-air temp of 127-145 degrees (model dependent) is detected from the fan switch that controls the room blower. This switch has either one or two purple wires going to it and is the only control for the room blower, aside from the power relay attached to the TSTAT leads. Never replace a controller to solve a room blower problem, they aren’t connected.
- When the desired room temperature is achieved, or the stove runs out of pellets, or the call for heat is canceled, the stove will stop feeding. The thermocouple will detect a lowering temp in the firebox and the exhaust blower will drop to low, regardless of the heat setting. The stove will continue to run for 18 minutes after green light status is achieved (under 300 degrees). At this time the stove will turn off, though the room blower fan could continue to run until the stove itself falls under 117 degrees at which time all power to the stove will be cut until there is a call for heat again on the thermostat. At any time during the shutdown phase, there is a call for heat, the whole startup sequence is initiated.
- Safety Triggers: If the vacuum switch is not closed while the stove is powered up, it will not feed. If fire temperatures in the burn pot exceed 970 degrees the stove will stop feeding. If the feed tube gets in excess of 200 degrees, a safety switch will roll out to cut power to the stove and will need to be manually reset to resume power. If your stove doesn’t have power, look for this switch and press the button in between the wire leads. You’ll hear a “snap” if it was open. Power surges can often open this switch. If the high limit switch was triggered by the stove, a thorough inspection of the feed tube may need to be done to resume feeding.
- Some models also have an automatic 160-degree high limit switch which will stop the feed for a short period of time and run the room blower on high, when the stove temp drops 20 degrees, the feed will resume.
- Each of these stoves has a manual cleaning lever for the bottom of the burn pot which should be opened and closed vigorously, 4-5 times prior to turning on the stove.