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Advice on a wood burning fireplace insert

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by arnie-ae, Sep 10, 2009.

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  1. arnie-ae

    arnie-ae New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    Central MA
    I'm sure you all have seen this question 1000 times, but my brief search through previous posts hasn't turned up information that has made me feel warm and cozy. So I hope you don't mind my asking once again. I'd like to put an insert in my family room fireplace. It's kind of small, I think, and I'd like to make sure I have something that fits. I've looked at Osburn and Napoleon but cannot be sure based on the dimensions that provide. My fireplace is 36" wide and 29" high at the opening but angles in such that it's only 17" wide at a complete depth of 22". Is there a way of determining if I have a fit or is there a resource where footprints are already provided.

    Secondly, is there a good insert recommendation for small fireplaces besides the two that I've already uncovered?

    Thank you all greatly for your help.

    arnie

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  2. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,227
    Loc:
    Central MA
    Don't cut yourself short. Get the biggest stove you can get in there so you can have overnight burns. You can get a decent size insert in there. The best way to do this is go to each brands website and look the the minimum specs provided. Here's an example of a Hampton HI300 insert.

    Your fireplace opening requires the following minimum sizes:

    Height 21.5"
    Width 25"
    Depth 17.5"

    Based on what you have shown in your dimensions, you may be able to fit this the HI300 into your fireplace or others you are looking at. The easiest way to do this is cut a piece of wood (like a 2x4 or like) to the width in the spec. In this case, cut it to 25 inches. Now push that as far back as you can into your fireplace and then take a tape measure and measure the distance from the fireplace face to the rear of that board you just pushed into your fireplace. In this case, if you are 17.5" deep, you just made it. If you are above, no problem, less than 17.5", move on to another stove. Some cheat a little bit and this makes the stove sit out a little more than it should.

    Good luck and let us know if you need more help with measurements.
  3. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    We have a Pacific Energy insert and have been quite pleased with it. Their small insert is the Vista model:

    http://www.pacificenergy.net/product_insert_vista.php

    If you go to the page I posted a link for you should be able to download a manual which states required clearances. We have the Pacific model (medium sized insert - now called the "super" insert) and I remember before we bought it I printed out the specs from PE's webpage - included a nice diagram where you measured your fireplace opening to verify that the insert would fit.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,327
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    There are lots of possible brands, but those two are some of the better ones in the "budget" department. Many folks choose brands based on what the local dealers sell - assuming they need the unit professionally installed and the chimneys lined, etc.

    As to the fit, it is relatively easy to calculate this out.

    Consider the enclosed example - a fireplace 36 in front, 17 in the rear and 24 deep. Notice that most fireplaces go straight back for 5 inches (the face) before they start the angle. So, to determine on particular measurement, we would guess that the fireplace tapers from 36 to 17 in 19 inches (24-5). That means at a 1/2 way point of the taper, which is 14.5 inches from the face (9.5 + 5) the measurement is approx. 1/2 way in between the two numbers of 36 and 17, which is 26.5"

    The measurements for most inserts show the width in the rear and how far back the fireplace must have that measurement. It is often good, however, to take measurements on the unit itself, as they may be a bit smaller (or larger) than what is shown.

    Another way is to take a small stick of wood and cut it to the width of the rear of the insert. Then push it back into the fireplace until it hits both walls, and see how far from the front that takes you back. Do this both at the bottom and by holding the stick up about 2 feet from the bottom - to make sure that the the curve of the rear of the fireplace does not make it smaller.

    In some cases an insert can be slightly modified - for instance, I have made "returns" for insert panels so that the panels were mounted an inch in front of the fireplace instead of flush with it, etc.

    Attached Files:

  5. Clay H

    Clay H Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Messages:
    282
    Loc:
    Central Oklahoma
    This is the smallest insert (dimension wise) i was able to find for my house and I absolutely love it. Its a little more pricy but i would do it again if i had to.
    Looks like your dimensions are a little smaller than this though?
    http://livolsisupply.com/stcroixyorkpelletinsert.aspx
  6. fredarm

    fredarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Messages:
    575
    Loc:
    Eastern Mass
    I have the PE Vista insert and really like it. It would be nice to have a larger insert, but that just wasn't happening with my fireplace dimensions. The opening is none too big to begin with and the sides angle in sharply like yours. The Vista fits with about an inch of clearance on each side at the top rear of the stove. It's a good supplemental heater, easy to use, well built, and puts out a good amount of heat for its size. It has a stainless steel baffle so you don't have to worry about damaging the ceramic fireboard used as baffles on many stoves when you stuff it full for a longer burn. That said, it's a small stove and won't heat my whole house when it's really cold out. We have 1900 feet on two floors and it keeps those two floors pretty warm as long as its going, but with a six-hour or so burn time, it will go out overnight or during the day when we're out of the house. We burn mostly evenings and weekends, so burn time is not as much of an issue. With a small fireplace, your choices will be limited, so it's best to get an accurate measurement and see what will fit. Another nice small insert is the Jotul Winterport 350. It's more expensive than the Vista, also nicer-looking (IMO), and a bit wider. It came out after I got the Vista, but in looking at the dimensions, I don't think it would have fit in my fireplace because it's a bit wider and deeper than the Vista.
  7. rhalligan

    rhalligan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    9
    Loc:
    Central CT
    I can so feel for you. We just finished shopping for inserts and between dimensions, btus, burn times and everything else I was a wreck. I actually had settled on a Jotul C500 and posted here that I was going to get it in the morning only to play cards that night with a guy that had a lopi dealer. Well, ended up with a Lopi freedom instead of the Jotul!!! If you are looking for a large insert I believe this will fit because it actually can be extended onto the hearth 7inches (which is how we set it up) so it only sticks into the fireplace about 15inches and is only 21inches wide at that point. Although it is burning right now, I have not installed the surround so if you want to know exact dimensions while its sitting in the fireplace for clearances let me know and I will measure them for you.
  8. arnie-ae

    arnie-ae New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    Central MA
    First, Let me thank all of you who posted replies to my questions. There's no better advice than that coming from someone that's not going to make money on the answer :)

    I have some good choices now and a much better understanding of how to measure things up. This weekend, I expect to visit some local stove shops to get a visual on some of these inserts, that should help visualize them in the fireplace. I'm sure after that, I'll have some more questions.
  9. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,227
    Loc:
    Central MA
    Hey, I just noticed you're in central MA. There are a few dealers in the area. Be sure to visit all of them to get a look at the stoves out there. Bring your dimension's (all of them). Don't be pressured to put money down on a deposit because there's one out there that will try and make you commit the minute you walk in.

    There's a pool and stove place on Rt 20 in Worc. They sell Hampton and Regency. Prices are ok. If you need a sweep to install, based on your location, I can recommend a top notch sweep.
  10. afblue

    afblue Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Messages:
    278
    Loc:
    Buffalo, NY
    I just did my fireplace shopping and hopefully someone will correct me if I am wrong, but you want to fit the largest insert you can in your fireplace. My house is 2 stories and 1700 sqft, and I have a larger fireplace, so I am installing a Quadrafire 5100i. Its rated at almost 2x my house, but I will know for sure I can heat long enough and large enough. The best place is to go to all the manufactures websites and go to their brochure, it will have all the spec and sizes for what it will fit. From there go to the dealer listing, and find your local area dealer.

    Eventhough you taper to 17" wide at 22" deep from my calculations that makes you 23" wide at 15" deep and still gives you alot of options. Like the Quadrafire 3100i, Pacific Energy Super Insert. Lopi Freedom, they are all rated at 2000sqft.
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