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Insert VS. Free-Standing Stove

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by Wing Nut, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. Wing Nut

    Wing Nut ArboristSite Lurker

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    Gents,

    This is part two of an earlier question. I currently have an insert in my fireplace that burns through wood at a serious clip without putting out much heat. I've decided that it has to go. I am wrestling with whether to get an updated insert or get a free-standing wood stove. Clearly the free-standing stove will put out more useable heat for less wood. But the stove comes with issues such as the amount of space it will take up in the living room (I am limited on where I can place it). Too if I go with the stove, I'll have an unused masonry chimney a few feet from the stove.

    My question comes down to this: will an insert do the job of heating an ~1,800 square foot house? I understand that a wood stove would, but will an insert get me there even if burns a little more wood? I don't want to drop $2k and then discover the insert won't get it done. The fireplace is 32wx25hx21d; the hearth extends out 21 3/4 inches. This is one insert I am considering: Product Guide - Detail - Lopi
     
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  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam ArboristSite Guru

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    That's a pretty small house. There are many inserts available that will have no problem heating it but I am unsure if they will fit into that firebox. Look for 3 cubic foot and larger inserts.

    I ripped out a masonry chimney and lopi insert to install my stove. I hate the sound of the required blower fans on the inserts. The stove is superior but there are inserts that can accomplish your goals.

    There is no reason that a freestanding stove can't be vented into the existing masonry chimney.
     
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  3. Captain Crunch

    Captain Crunch ArboristSite Operative

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    We have used a Regency 3100 insert for 10 years. House is two story, 2000 sq ft. We can heat it pretty well but when it is cold out ( like teens, single digits) the insert struggles a bit. Burn time with heat actually being produced is much shorter than the advertised times, probably four hours max between loadings.
    Our room is narrow and would not fit a free standing stove.
    On the plus side the secondary burn is effective, I get very little out if my 2 year cleanings. We burn 4 to 5 cord a year here in Wi.
    I have gotten used to the constant fan, without it there is very little heat.
     
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  4. Ironworker

    Ironworker Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I heat 3200 sq. ft. with a Lopi freedom insert and have no problem keeping my house warm. 72-76 downstairs, 66-70 upstairs, My furthest room is my 5th. bedroom or bonus room over garage and that stays between 62-65, I burn about 8-9 cord a year. I use the blower on low and only when it's very cold but it does good with radient heat only.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011
  5. kyrob

    kyrob ArboristSite Member

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    I have a Buck model 74 and heat 3000 sq ft with it without any problem. I burned 3 cords last year but hope to burn less this year as my wood is seasoned better. Our winters aren't as bad as up North but we do get some cold spells that last awhile.
     
  6. zogger

    zogger Tree Freak

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    Old fireplace to woodstove

    Our cabin was built to use a fireplace (it's real old, started out as a sharecropper's cabin). Some time before we moved here, the opening was bricked up solid, then about 2.5 foot over what was the top of the fireplace, they knocked out some bricks, and made the opening round with some concrete. Now you plug the stove pipe into it, it's the same old brick chimney, no other anything was done to it, it works fine.

    Seeing as how it is a brick wall now, you could put the heater as close as you want, but I have it out a few feet, so I can stack the wood behind the heater. That works really good for getting those last dregs of moisture out before it goes into the heater. We store roughly 2-3 day's worth at a time back there. Kinda rotate back and forth,left side of the stack to the right side, and keep it replenished that way.
     
  7. Wing Nut

    Wing Nut ArboristSite Lurker

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    Thanks guys, that give me something to chew on. Gonna look at some inserts. Anybody else has anything to add, pile on.
     
  8. Fyrebug

    Fyrebug ArboristSite Guru

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    First of all be careful with all the answers you receive. Everyone's house is different and the definition of "will it heat my whole house?" is dependent on what one means by that.

    Also you have to understand a wood stove or insert is a 'zone heater'. That is, it has no means to transport the heat from one side of the house to the other. Therefore a house design (open or close), insulation, ceiling height etc will affect how much usable heat you will get.

    A wood stove will 'radiate' more heat than an insert. Whereas an insert will use the blower much like a furnace to recuperate the heat by 'convection' and re-direct it in the room. I have an insert and it throws a fair amount of heat. But because of the house layout it wont heat the entire house.

    To maximize your insert heat this is what you can do.
    1) make sure you use a SS liner (typically 6") all the way up your chimney and connected to the insert.
    2) Buy or make your own block off plate where the damper used to be.
    3) insulate with rock wool or other fire proof insulation around the insert - this will allow the heat to stay around the insert long enough for the blower to do its job
    4) Buy an insert with an automatic on/off blower and dont put the blower on high - It seems like it throws more heat on high but it will cool the fire box too much.
    5) If your insert is in the basement make sure to take some steps to move the heat around (floor registers directly above, door fans etc...)
    6) Buy the biggest insert that will fit in your opening - you can always damper down or put less wood. It's hard to squeeze more heat from a small insert.

    If you are looking for a big insert try the Osburn 2200 (Bay Window) or the 2400 (about the biggest on the market) Osburn Fireplace Inserts | WoodlandDirect.com Outdoor Fireplace Inserts, Fireplace Accessories

    Above all, make sure it has the 'spouse seal of approval'. Remember, if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
     
  9. Wing Nut

    Wing Nut ArboristSite Lurker

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    FB - Well you hit me where I live...

    First, the floor plan is chopped up and the fireplace/stove room (living room with 10' ceilings) is at one end of the house. I'm not above using a stand fan to move warm air down the hall toward the bedrooms. (The layout is sub-optimal for what I'm trying to do but wife won't let me put a wood stove in the kitchen.) I likely cannot effectively heat the entire house due to the layout/floor plan. I would gladly settle for making that end of the house comfortable during cold weather.

    As for the current insert/set-up:
    1) pretty sure my current insert is venting straight into the masonry chimney - no flue attached to the insert (it does draft okay though;
    2) current insert lacks damper/block-off as discussed in the earlier thread;
    3) there is zero insulation around the current insert; insert is just set into the fireplace albeit with not a lot of clearance i.e., fairly snug fit, but still a decent amount of airspace surrounding it;
    4) the loud, crappy blower pretty much stays on high in an effort to move some warm air into the room (I completely understand your point and it does cool the firebox)
    5) fireplace/insert is in the living room
    6) the previous owner did shoehorn a good-sized insert into the opening although what I think he did was install the insert then brick up the FP opening around it.

    Bottom line FB, I will trying your suggestions before dropping $3k on a new insert. I very much appreciate the guidance. With the current insert I get about as much heat in the room as you would expect from the average fireplace - not good.

    Can you give me an idea of how to get the metal flue aligned on insert. Isn't there a shelf in the chimney I have to get past coming in from the top?
     
  10. Wife'nHubby

    Wife'nHubby Addicted to ArboristSite

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    From you previous post you said you have lived in your current home at least a couple of years. How are you cleaning out your chimney now? If/when you sweep it, crud will not necessarily fall into the insert and may accumulate on the top/outside of the insert.

    It really sounds like you might be pleased with a free standing wood stove or a wood furnace considering your house layout.

    My avatar shows how we mounted our free standing stove on the hearth of our fireplace.

    Shari
     
  11. Fyrebug

    Fyrebug ArboristSite Guru

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    What is your current make/model of insert? If it's an older one, a liner might not make a difference. Insulating around the insert will help some. Can you include some pics? Also let us know the overall length of your chimney.

    I assume you have a budget and take into consideration the physical size for whether you can use a stove or insert. There isn't much you can do with your current insert to make it throw more heat.

    Your best bet to get the most heat is update your furnace with a wood or wood/combo one. However, this may be out of reach right now and you have to take into consideration the cost of the venting if your chimney is nowhere near your current furnace.

    The new inserts are 'high efficiency' and will definitely help as a secondary source of heat.
     
  12. ponyexpress976

    ponyexpress976 nipple fritters

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    I have the Lopi freedom installed in a standard bi-level layout. Would have gotten the insert you are looking at if it would fit. House leaks like a screen door but I can keep it around 70 degrees with little effort...has more to do with a poor layout than the output of the insert. When we re-do the kitchen and dining room, I plan on adding a few floor vents to fascilitate air movement. I've burned on average 5 cords a year and its the only heat we use.
     
  13. rottiman

    rottiman ArboristSite Operative

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    Had a Regency Insert which did the job for 10 years. Replaced it with a Regency R-3 free stander, which did the job even better.
    Now I have the NC 30 stuffed into the fireplace. Guarentee this should really do it, all for $899.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  14. Henry and Wanda

    Henry and Wanda ArboristSite Operative

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    Hello,
    In my last house , I had a Regency Hearthstove. It sat on the hearth and was completely out of the fireplace. I had a black steel plate that blocked off the fireplace opening. It is more narrow in depth than a regular free-standing stove, but still works better than an insert. It also looked nice. Just make sure that you screw a plate of steel over the damper opening and mount a flange to hook your stovepipe to. That way the smoke goes right up the chimney and never gets in your fireplace box and makes a smelly mess !!!!!


    Henry and Wanda
     
  15. NWnewguy

    NWnewguy ArboristSite Operative

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    I have a Pacific Energy Pacific insert and love it, compared to the Lopi propane insert that was in there. It puts out a bunch of heat and if my house wasn't a cedar timber frma home with 29' ceilings in the main room, I think it would drive me out of here. That being said, it doesn't get very cold in western Washington, and it would be a different story in the UP of Michigan, or the like. Even though I really like the one I have ( I run the fan on high all the time, I checked it with a Kil-a-watt, and it is more efficient on high, as are all AC rotary motors), if there was a way to install a free standing stove, with out messing up the decor, I would do it in a heart beat.
     
  16. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    Some of the other posts have it right: "inserts" are not very efficient, with or without a blower.

    The wood stove in any case, has to be sealed through the throat of the fireplace in to a flue which is usually too large for most stoves without a proper SS liner to match the draft needs of the stove.

    Most of the radiant heat of the insert stove is absorbed by the masonry mass and the too large chimney. Yes, some, some of the heat is stored and then radiates out. BUTT- More usable heat will come from the surfaces of a stove set out into a room.

    Blowers to move "heat" are not effective, noisy, unromantic (if you care :eek2: ), and burnout in time anyhow. Better method to move heat is to circulate it with "muffin fans" in doorways blowing cold air INTO the room towards the wood stove. NOT "common sense" here.

    Inserts are just inefficient , well-marketed wood stoves. More surface area radiating BTU's into the space, the better. Wood stoves (or inserts) are space heaters.

    JMNSHO
     
  17. Fyrebug

    Fyrebug ArboristSite Guru

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    Tell that to the 100's of thousands of people using inserts in America! I have an insert and while I agree wood stoves are more efficicient this is due to the fact the 'radiate' (versus convection) more heat than an insert.

    However, I have an insert and it cooks me out of the basement whenever I use it to the point some time I have to turn the blower off. The main thing is to use a liner, install a block off plate and insulate around the insert.

    If what you said is true no one would buy inserts.
     
  18. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    It's called "marketing" Fyre. Marketing for those wanting to be almost pregnant with an open fireplace.

    As for putting a wood stove ( aka "insert" ) in any basement, you're adding plenty of BTUs to the dirt surrounding your foundation. Sure, it will "cook" you. Who spends time in a cellar except Steven King, spiders, and your central furnace (also producing BTUs BTW) ?

    Wood stoves (or "inserts") are radiant heaters with or without blowers. Radiant heat radiates in the space it heats, plus some convection, or if you need to sit on the stove, conduction. :msp_scared:

    You sell furnaces, yes ?

    I am not opinionated.....I am not opinionated....I am.................................
     
  19. MofoG23

    MofoG23 ArboristSite Member

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    Sorry, but as an owner of an insert, I disagree. Yes, freestanding stoves are more efficient, but to say inserts are not capable of heating a home (which is basically what your saying), is not correct...and I don't sell wood burning equipment. :)

    We've had our insert for the last 4 years (in our living room) and have eliminated our natural gas furnace from being required to heat our home all winter. We go through 4 cord a year and can heat our home better than what the furnace could do (never drops below 70 - no cold rooms either). Our home was built in 1948, 2 story and approx 1800sqft. Our basement is pretty cold, but we never use it much - just extra storage.

    So, how is this just a "marketing" stove? Seems to work pretty damn good to me. If our house was setup for a freestanding stove, we would probably have one...but with our setup, the insert works great! Its saving us approx 300-400 per month during the really cold months...damn near to the point of where all of my wood equipment (and insert) are paid for and the net savings will just be money in our pocket for the next xx years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  20. Fyrebug

    Fyrebug ArboristSite Guru

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    Yes we make furnaces, Boilers, Inserts, Stoves, Fireplaces. We also make pellet stoves, inserts, furnaces etc... both EPA and non-EPA. About 50,000 of them a year!

    So yes I am somewhat biased. But I also do technical support & service calls so I do have a little bit of experience. And as a rule, it is always better to let the users provide feedback since they are the ones experiencing the benefits/drawback of any appliances.

    As far as putting a wood stove or an insert in an uninsulated basement, well yes... an uninsulated basement is a heat sink and any benefit of this appliance is lost. My basement is fully insulated and where my insert is, is also a living room.

    Not to get overly scientific about this but radiant heat is a form of heat that doesn't warm the ambient air but any surfaces it comes in contact with. Convection heat is warm air and is typically aided by the use of a blower.
     

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