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Best Convecting Wood Insert?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by BeaG, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. BeaG

    BeaG New Member

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    Hello all,

    I am new to the forum. I've read a fair amount of past posts and found it all very helpful. My husband and I already own a Morso 3610 stove and are very happy with it. But in another part of our house, we have an old fireplace that we are thinking of recapturing by adding an insert.

    The hearth is stone, level with the floor, projecting out 22". Ideally we want a unit that is flush with the face of the brick above, rather than projecting out. And we also would prefer not to have to rely on a blower, i.e., one that has decent convection. (The room it faces is small, and we are not needing it to heat a large space beyond.)

    The dimensions of the opening are 48" wide x 30" high at the front. The firebox is only 21" deep. It tapers in width (after the first 4" of depth) back to a rear wall that is 34" wide.

    I prefer a cleaner, more modern look. We have been considering the following:

    1. Morso 5660 without blower
    2. Jotul C350 Winterport
    3. Vermont Castings Montpelier

    We also prefer these as they take slightly longer logs...we don't want to have to cut two sizes for the stove and insert!

    Any thoughts /experience on which of these might perform best in terms of convection performance?

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  2. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Hi Bea,

    Welcome to the forum! Finding a flush insert with good convection will be tricky simply due to the physics involved. For good convection you will need air than can freely float around the insert, be heated and then rise upwards from the stove. An insert that is sitting all the way in the fireplace does not really allow that to happen. The more an insert protrudes out the more you can rely just on convection. Most people here found out that they essentially needed the blower to get the heat out from the insert although most manufacturers put it as "optional". In addition, most inserts have their fan in the bottom front of the stove further restricting the airflow when the blower is not running. I see that as a potential problem with the Jotul as well as the Montpelier. The Morso does not have that but there seems only to be very small openings where the air could enter and get out again.

    If you really would prefer a good convecting insert I would take a look at the Pacific Energy Super. There, both blowers are the sides which allows air to enter at the bottom and then to be released at the top. The last winter, I often turned off the blower 1.5 to 2 hours after loading and just relied on the convective airflow for the next 4 to 5 hours before reloading. I am sure I could also do completely without the blowers in case of a power outage. Overall, I am really happy with the insert. Overnight burn times of 8 to 10 hours are no problem and it heats our entire upper floor of roughly 1300 sqft.

    Should you prefer a modern flush look I would also check out the Regency Alterra and the Osburn Matrix. The user Fyrebug here works for Osburn and can maybe tell you how well the insert convects the air.

    Edit: One thing I forgot to mention: When running an insert without the blower be careful about not overfiring the stove. The insert will generate the same heat (or even more when the secondaries are really firing) no matter what but without the blower it will mostly stay confined within the stove and fireplace. Plus, with an insert you often have difficulty to take a proper reading of the stove temperature as the stove top is not accessible. That is actually the reason why I run the blower on my insert for some time until the stove has settled and I am confident it will not run away on me.
  3. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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  4. stovelark

    stovelark Minister of Fire

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    Hi Bea, Usually the best stove is the one that works for you and your means. Almost all inserts will have decent convection and radiance combo, but the usual thinking is more stove out, more radiance. That's a pretty wide fp, ensure the stoves you look at have a surround that will close it off. I like the Enviro stoves, great stoves for money spent, P/E nice too, as are all the ones you mentioned. Good luck.
  5. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Hay Bea !! Welcome to the forums! Always nice to see another Sistah here :)

    Love my insert, but if I had my druthers, I'd have opted for a wood stove on the level of the house the PE is on. The dimensions of your FP tell me that maybe a wood stove would fit in there, with a block off plate. Even a stove with a blower.

    I just measured the height of the 13. On the pedestal, it's 29" at it highest point. How far back from the opening does the chimney start?

    Throwing it out there for ya ;)
  6. KaptJaq

    KaptJaq Minister of Fire

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    Long Island, NY
    Hi Bea,

    We have the Montpelier. With the fan on low it is a good heater for our 1,600 sf. Without the fan there is still radiant heat from the large viewing window and a little bit of convection. We lost power after Hurricane Sandy for 11 days. I pulled the fan unit out of the bottom (4 screws & 2 wire nuts) and put the grill back on. I was surprised how much this increased the convection via the ducts. The fan is standard with the Montpelier. In discussions I've had with Vermont Castings customer service & technical staff they had no concerns about running the insert without the fan.

    If you really like the look of the Montpelier and are only heating a small area you could just pull the fan unit. I would probably try it with the fan first, then without.

    Oh, welcome to the forum...

    KaptJaq
  7. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    I have the Montpelier as well and I absolutely love it, it heats up our living room and dinner table area perfectly with the best ambiance that is out there.... Definitely consider it and good luck.... image.jpg image.jpg the montpelier will give you this, I'm not sure about the others, sounds like you know what your needs are so keep learning....
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    You are asking for something of a contradiction. Most flush inserts rely on the blower for convection. There are a few flush inserts that can be purchased without the blower, but based on reports we hear here, after a cold season many find their performance is disappointing. I would compromise and get something that projects a little out onto the hearth or get a blower for a flush insert like the Morso. Can you describe the area that this insert would be heating including ceiling height and openings into other rooms? That will help us narrow down the selection.

    Some additional units to consider -
    Flush:
    Osburn Matrix
    http://www.osburn-mfg.com/en/heaters/model-OB02021-description
    Regency CL1250
    http://www.regency-fire.com/Products/Wood/Wood-Inserts/CI1250.aspx

    Not flush:
    Enviro Venice or Kodiak
    http://www.enviro.com/fireplace-products/wood/fireplace-insert.html#1700
    Hearthstone Morgan or Clydesdale
    http://www.hearthstonestoves.com/store/wood-products/morgan-wood-insert
    PE Super or Alderlea T5
    http://www.pacificenergy.net/pacificenergy/super_insert.php
    Quadrafire Voyager
    http://www.quadrafire.com/en/Products/Voyageur-Wood-Insert.aspx
  9. aansorge

    aansorge Minister of Fire

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  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    If there is any way that you can make that hearth accomodate a freestanding stove then you will be much happier with the stove's performance.

    Inserts are a compromise for trying to make an existing fireplace work when you absolutely can't extend the hearth to install a stove.
  11. BeaG

    BeaG New Member

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    Thank you everyone for your insight. I think I am indeed leaning toward a stove again. The trick will be finding one that can take a 20"+/- log without forcing us to extend the existing stone "hearth" (hardly what I think of as a proper hearth, as it is at floor level). But I think we will be able to find a few that will work and also meet my aesthetic preferences. If we measure 18" from the front of the stone, we have almost exactly 24" of depth to work with.

    Stay tuned! (And again, thank you to everyone who weighed in. This was extremely helpful!)
  12. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    Well, my insert was not a compromise for me, I do not heat my house with wood, so to me it is a complete enhancement, my fireplace did nothing except to show some flames, now I have a beautiful fire that heats my living area, so for me it is a win win situation. Putting a freestanding stove in front of a fireplace doesn't make sense to me, but we all have our own opinions of what looks nice..
  13. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Same for me. I can certainly see the advantages a stove has over an insert but when it comes to the looks I still prefer an insert.
  14. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    Yes I agree a stove will kick A.. Vs an insert when it comes to heating a house. If you want a house heater, by all means, get a free standing stove....
  15. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    I have run a Pacific Energy insert (which protrudes quite a bit onto the hearth) for the past 8 winters. It's next to useless without the blower and I'm considering swapping it out for a freestanding stove. Keep thinking stove if you want convective heat transfer.
  16. 4barrel

    4barrel New Member

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    I have a Avalon Olympic stove setup as an insert. The covection system on it is fantastic. I don't need to use a blower because it works so well, keeps the upstairs warmer than the downstairs. Every stove on the market that uses covection should copy this stoves convection design. Unfortunately, I am getting short burn times from the stove, usually no more than 4 to 4.5 hours. Other people who own olympics are getting longer burn times though.
  17. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    That stove has a 3.2 cu ft firebox; you should really get longer burn times than that. Can you tell us a bit more about your situation? Which wood do you use? How long seasoned? How far do you close the air control and how quickly after loading? What is the stove temp when you close the air? Have you tested the door gasket for leaks? Any info you can give us may help in figuring out why the stove underperforms for you.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Burn time means different things to different people. A person with an Olympic in a 1600 sq ft well insulated house running the stove on oak at 500-600F is going to have a different impression than someone heating a leaky 3000 sq ft sieve trying to run the stove at 700F on pine. There are lots of variables. Can you provide some background info?
  19. 4barrel

    4barrel New Member

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    Guys, thanks for trying to help. I got a ton of responses on my last entry ( Heat output: cat vs. non cat ). The stove has burned like this since the day I got it installed. I was just trying to tell BeaG that if convection performance was the most important thing they were looking for in a insert, the olympics convection system works great.

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