Yeah. We just happen to be in a cool zone at the moment--cold air is being pulled down from Canada and keeping us cooler than many parts of the country. Plus we're at 2,200 feet, so it gets a little colder up here than in the valleys. We're expected to get back into the low 60s for highs by next Wednesday, although the nights will still be in the low-to-mid 30s. Hmmmm....The Temp down here in central CT was cool last evening but not enough to warrant lighting the 503. Temp only got down to the upper 40’s and the house never got below 68 deg. I still have some time before the heating season begins.
I was initially planning on letting the fire die out around Monday or Tuesday of next week. Still, with nighttime temps in the 30s, I might consider throttling it down during the day and cranking it back up at night. I wasn't looking forward to another cleanout drill next week. Not really a big pain, but messy and fairly time consuming (considering I'm just removing the partially-burned coal and vacuuming). I want to make sure things are totally cold before I do that, so it takes a while to go from cranking fire to dead cold. I can certainly see why folks start them and let them burn all season long.
Devil505 has been experimenting with loading his Harman TLC2000 1/3 full. That way he can let it burn down/out if he wants more easily than if he packs it full. If I do decide to let the 503 go out, I might do what I did for the first burn (not fill the hopper) and also not fill the firebox as full (i.e., not to the top of the firebrick under the door). That way, it's easier/quicker to let it go out and less to clean out. And if it gets cold for good, I can always just top it off by hand and load up the hopper. The down side to that method is the coal bed is not as deep and becomes more tempermental, requiring more attention/care. These things were designed to have a nice, deep bed of coal and are happiest when they have that.