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Century CW2500 Fireplace Insert Review

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Jutt77, Jan 4, 2011.

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  1. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Century CW2500 Fireplace Insert Review

    I decided to post a somewhat thorough review since there aren’t really any online that I could find when searching for this particular stove before I purchased. Hopefully it will be helpful.

    I just purchased a Century CW2500 insert from Northern Tool with the primary considerations being: 1) cost 2) efficiency 3) output 4) quality. The CW2500 was literally the most inexpensive EPA certified insert I could find. This stove, brand new, was under $800 and with shipping, it was right under a grand. The stove comes with a blower as well. All and all it is a great value for a wood stove built by Stove Builder International up in Quebec. No Chinese made crap here. With my 15 feet of 6 inch flex chimney liner, top plate, custom block off plate and insulation kit I was set back around $1400…not too shabby especially with a 30% tax credit since it was purchased/installed last week.

    Efficiency is rated at 76%. Compared to using my fireplace before, its like a night and day difference. The temperature here in Denver is around 15 degrees tonight and my den is hovering around 74 with the window open a bit. The other end of the house is 70. The furnace hasn’t been on at all today. I haven’t even really used the blower. I do have a small fan mounted to the top of my den’s doorway which blows the heat back to the other end of the house. With a fire in the range of 400 and up there is no visible smoke coming from my chimney, just heat waves, which is really cool for someone who came from a regular old inefficient fireplace.

    Output is advertised at 65000 BTUs. This may or may not be accurate, regardless, it heats my entire 1300 sq ft brick constructed, un-insulated wall single level ranch here in the Denver metro area without issue. My windows are also circa 1960’s single pane aluminum frame drafty storm windows. My wife and I were pretty much used to chilly, drafty nights which now appear to be a thing of the past. The stove also doesn’t completely blast me out of my den. The CW2500 seems to be a great sized stove for my house, climate, etc. (2.0 cubic ft firebox). UPDATE 1/7/11: A full box of pine going with a open damper for a good burn and then closed damper for secondary combustion translates to a 100 degree stove and a cold house (furnace comes on) the next morning about 7 hours later. A friend of mine hooked me up with some seasoned split elm last night and I proceeded to load the box with the elm. Next morning, stove was 250, house was still warm!

    The quality of the stove appears to be spot on. As mentioned above, its built in Quebec by Stove Builder International (SBI) whom in addition to Century also builds Drolet, Enerzone and Osburn to name a few. The welds are good quality; the door seals nicely; the bricks are aligned well inside the firebox; the stove paint is nice and even and the door includes a large ceramic glass viewing window that stays quite clean thanks to an air wash design. The CW2500 is built out of plate steel and tips the scales at around a relatively light 250lbs which was nice because I was able to move it by myself with an appliance dolly. One thing I didn’t like about the design is the 45 degree outlet. I’m not sure what purpose this design serves as it made it impossible to connect a regular appliance connector and still set far enough in the fireplace. I had to order a 45 degree appliance connector elbow which should resolve this. You can see in the pics that the stove is sitting a bit too far forward on the hearth.
    UPDATE 1/5/11: There was a problem with the welds/design of a previous model of this stove. The inner box would detach from the outer box. This has been resolved as the inner box now rests on the floor instead of being held up by tack welds. Here is a post with more info:http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/7220/#82345 You can compare the pics between the 2 models to see the difference in design.

    With it all said and done, I am very impressed with the Century CW2500 but I think there are a few keys that made my experience top notch which are mentioned time and time again by the good folks here on Hearth.com. 1) I used a full 15 foot section of stainless steel 6 inch flex pipe chimney liner with top cap and rain cover. 2) I insulated said flex liner. 3) I made my own insulated block-off plate which was really helpful after I removed my 24†by 6†damper. 4) I use properly seasoned wood which is here in abundance in dry sunny Colorado.

    Pros:
    • Inexpensive
    • Good value
    • Well made by the good folks in Canada
    • Large view window
    • Efficient

    Cons:
    • I wish I could have the door open from the right side instead of left..not a big deal though
    • No ash pan
    • Blower is kind of loud due to vibration. Fortunately I’ve found no need for the blower.

    Picture time!

    I installed 15 feet of 6†insulated flex pipe:
    [​IMG]

    Custom made block off plate insulated with chimney liner insulation. Notice sweet custom flange bends! Hey it works!
    [​IMG]


    Fire rocking at 450 degrees, wide open damper for dramatic effect!
    [​IMG]

    Temp of fire (great little thermometer by the way):
    [​IMG]

    Inside of stove showing secondary combustion tubes:
    [​IMG]

    Pic of chimney taken during same fire showing almost no smoke:
    [​IMG]

    Small fan mounted in doorway to push warm air to other end of house. Works like a champ!
    [​IMG]

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. lowroadacres

    lowroadacres Minister of Fire

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    Thank-you for a very thorough review. As we are dreaming of installing an insert but on a very tight budget I have looked online at this insert.

    We are actually headed to Fargo, ND in a week and a half and my picks for shopping stops are Harbor Freight and Northern Tool.

    My issue will still be finding an insert with a large enough viewing glass to impress my bride. As of right now I would say that if it were up to me I would consider the century in a heartbeat based on price alone. It will be interesting to hear from you how it stands up over time.
  3. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    The viewing window is huge on this thing and stays very clean with a proper fire. My wife and I are both really impressed so far.
    Northern has the stove on sale for $759 (40 bucks off normal) and you wouldn't have to pay for shipping.
  4. Mmaul

    Mmaul Minister of Fire

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    Glad to see you got it up and running. Your blower looks different from mine, but mine also rattles a little bit. I placed a shim under it and it stops that rattle. other then replacing the bricks after a few years no problems. Enjoy the heat.
  5. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the kind words on the stove. Nice install by the way. I enjoyed your review but you mentioned there wasnt too many reviews of this unit available. This unit is well rated on Northern Tools web site with many customer reviews.

    I also installed my own insert but I used cement board instead for my block off plate. I also used insulation around the insert while leaving about 1" worth of space between the insulation and insert. This way the heat is not spent warming up the fireplace but is kept in and around the insert. I also noticed you did not install a face plate. It might finish the 'look' and its not that expensive. They have them on NT site on special.

    Hey, are you a Sharpe fan? saw the book in the pic. I've read most of them so far!
  6. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Yeah I saw the reviews on Northern Tools, which were okay but lacking detail. I ordered my face plate a while ago from Northern but they were on back order. Good news is that it arrives tomorrow! I'll follow up with some follow up pics of the finished product.

    Thats my wife's book on the table...I've been too busy screwin' around with that stove to read:)
  7. lowroadacres

    lowroadacres Minister of Fire

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    What are the dimensions on the viewing glass?

    We almost got a Napoleon 1101 a couple of years ago but once my bride saw the door.... As compared to our very large open fireplace the deal was off.

    We have compromised on a small wood stove in our basement which is all for now. I reaaaaaaalllly want to get an insert in our fireplace to complete our ability to heat the entire house. We could go to a monster stove in the basement but a better way will be to get an insert on the main floor and to keep the small stove.
  8. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Good job on the review and great deal on a nice looking stove/insert! I like the clean lines and love the price! That insert will pay for itself quickly and keep you warmer too..

    Good luck!

    Ray
  9. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    The window is 16.5" x 9"
  10. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks, its been really nice so far...I just have a wood gathering addiction to deal with now;)
  11. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Alright folks. I finally received the face plate today and just installed it. I think it adds a really nice touch:
    [​IMG]



    Here's my 90 gallon "humidifier"...helps keep the humidity around 30% in the room which is great here in CO
    [​IMG]



    Its almost been a week and the stove has been awesome.
  12. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

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    I know what u mean. I get a discount off my stoves since I work in the industry but wifey likes the open hearth. We compromised, I installed an insert in the basement & she keeps the open hearth upstairs. Have u looked into the Osburn 1800 or 2200? They are both bay window with large viewing area that may satisfy the better half.
  13. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

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    Great job on the insert! Btw is it a fresh water or marine humidifier?
  14. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    Wow.... what a similar story to what I have just accomplished for my home. Almost too weird! I wish you would have written this to help me decide between the Century Heating and the Drolet, back in late November, but I'm pretty sure I made the right choice.

    Well, same reasons that we got the CW2500 in Kansas City, big masonry fireplace, cost of insert, output, efficiency....
    It was back ordered from Northern Tool, so we finally got it delivered and finished the install this Monday (ordered 11/29, delivered 1/03) and have had 2 nights of burning. But in only 2 nights, we love it!! So far, I've been turning the furnace off in the evenings and just burning, heats very well the lower floor and maintains the temp on the upper floors of our 1500sf, 1974 side-side split level.

    Attached Files:

  15. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    Notice the home-made fireplace grate heater in the last picture, that we used last winter. While a good idea, it can't even compare to a real insert.
  16. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks. Its a fresh water (Lake Tanganyika cichlid) humidifier.
  17. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Nice job KS. It looks like you had a much sketchier chimney liner installation!
  18. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    Thanks, your install looks very nice aswell. Good thing I had a friend willing to perch on my chimney, couldn't have done it without him.

    I really like the fan you mounted in the doorway, I'm thinking I might try that to help push the air around more. I know that I'm making enough heat to heat our home, but getting it pushed around is my problem. Too hot in one room and too cold in another. Once I figure out the correct placement/use of fans, I think we'll be fine.

    While shopping for inserts, the CW2500 really had no comparison to some of the bigger names. Even with shipping, we saved $1600 off the local cost of installing a big name, similarly spec'd insert. Heck, our insulated liner cost more than the insert! The firebox and glass are much larger than I was expecting, even after knowing the specs of each. Now to hone my fire building, fire burning and hot air distribution skills! Also, still learning about the whole secondary combustion stuff and how/why/when it works.
  19. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    I just got 2 of these fans: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001R1Q2C6/ref=oss_product They are the same size as the old black one but are a LOT quieter and seem to move just as much air. I swapped the black one in the pic out and I also have another mounted under a transom (top of doorway) in the back of the house pointing to the bed rooms. They're doing a heck of a job so far moving the hot air back.
    But yeah, I agree 100% I couldn't find a stove that approached this one cost wise, plus we get 30% back! It was around 37 degrees last night, rather warm, and the den was starting to get a bit too warm, almost 75 with the window open. That little stove can crank out some heat!
  20. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Here's how I get some wicked secondary combustion going. First, get ya a normal fire going with a bed of hot coals. Then load the box up with a lot of wood. Let that get going really well with the damper wide open for a bit and then crank down the damper and enjoy the show!

    Get ready to kick out a lot of heat doing this...especially you hardwood guys
  21. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    What a nice thread!

    Thanks both for posting your photos and experiences.

    It's great to see you do it right, have it work out, be able to recommend an economical product, and take the time to share it. Your installs look sharp!
  22. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks George. Hopefully my rambling will actually help someone out if they're thinking about this stove.
  23. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    Just curious... are you opening the window because it is getting too hot in the room? Or are you opening the window to provide combustion air for the stove. I understand that these inserts don't take a lot of combustion air, but they do take some. I'm wondering if I should crack a window in the same room as the stove to prevent cold air from being drawn into the house from somewhere further away from the heat source. Or I'm wondering if it's not even worth worrying about.....

    I'm beginning to realize there is a lot to learn. I wish my thermometer would get here from the SBI factory!! I've been checking stove temps with my infrared thermometer and I don't think I'm holding my temps high enough. I'm using walnut which I thought was well seasoned but now I'm beginning to think that it could use another couple months of drying... I have not checked moisture content.
  24. heus

    heus Member

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    Nice to see they have fixed the weld problem.
  25. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    We open the window in the den because the room gets a bit too hot for us. It would make sense to open a window closest to the stove though instead of having cold air pulled in through, say, a back bedroom. The cool thing is that the stove completely heats our old and drafty house with the fans in place and so much so that we have to open a window! This too is with the stove running around 450 degrees which isnt too hot but not cool enough to produce large amounts of creosote. I guess I would rather have a stove run a bit hot and open windows to control temperature opposed to running a small, cooler fire that produces a lot of creosote and emissions.
    That little Condar thermometer has been key though with learning how to burn this thing although I'm still learning a lot.
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