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Gas conversion for RSF Opel or Onyx

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by cyberiad, Dec 22, 2009.

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  1. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    Does anyone have any experience with an RSF Opel or Onyx that's been converted to gas? How well does it heat?

    The reason I ask is, I'm looking for a gas fireplace with...
    ...option to occasionally view the open hearth--that is, a door with a good gasket and sturdy handle, and can open and latch securely, hot or cold.
    ...openings to connect to ductwork. Opel and Onyx have this.
    ...efficient enough to actually send heat through the ductwork.

    I also welcome any other suggestions for a gas fireplace that does all those things.

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  2. Mr Fixit

    Mr Fixit New Member

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    I am not aware that there is a gas conversion from wood to gas for those models. I sell the RSF line and as far as I know, they only produce wood burning products. Here in Canada, i am not aware of any gas fireplace that is certified for use with ductwork either, though things may be different where you are.
    Gas fireplaces aren't really meant for use as a central heating source. They are designed as "zone heaters', that is, they are meant to heat small area's, ie 1 room at a time. This is actually a very efficient way to heat, and it sounds to me like you are looking for efficiency. Why heat a whole house with a fireplace when you can use it to effectively heat just the room you are occupying? At best, a gas fireplace is about 85% efficient. A good furnace is about 90-95% efficient. If you want to heat the whole house, why not use the more efficient appliance?

    If you have a furnace already, what you can do if you really want to heat the whole house is just simply have a good quality gas fireplace installed where you like and use the furnace blower running contunuously to disperse the heat around the house.
  3. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    You would have to rip the RSF fireplace out and replace it with a new gas fireplace....
  4. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    The current RSF Onyx owner's manual says:
    It's almost a page of instructions starting on page 19 of http://www.icc-rsf.com/c/icc/file_db/maindocs_e/RSF-IIN2_2007-06.pdf

    There are gas-log knockouts illustrated in the manuals and brochures of many zero-clearance wood fireplace models, and that includes RSF Opel, Onyx, and Oracle. Those knockouts are definitely not for gas lighters!

    http://www.icc-rsf.com/en/rsf/Technical_Specifications_of_the_RSF_Opel2_fireplace
    http://www.icc-rsf.com/en/rsf/Technical_Specifications_of_the_RSF_Opel_3_fireplace
    http://www.icc-rsf.com/en/rsf/Technical_Specifications_of_the_RSF_Onyx2_fireplace
    http://www.icc-rsf.com/en/rsf/Technical_Specifications_of_the_RSF_Oracle_fireplace

    RSF's gas-conversion option was mentioned in an article in Popular Science in Feb 1993, p42
    (I don't know how to make this link work. Google the following exact phrase in quotes:
    "In the Opel 2000, RSF offers a catalytic combustor for zoned heating capability, to further reduce emissions, and as a gas-conversion option"
    I find that interesting...does the catalytic converter help with the gas option or not?

    As for whether gas fireplaces are used to heat entire small homes...my house is less than 1000 square feet and I live in a climate where heat's only needed 4 months a year and it freezes maybe 5 days a year if that. There are very probably direct-vent gas units that would work, for example Mendota DXV is a mature product that advertises over 85% efficiency, including one model that burns up to 60,000 BTU input.
    http://chimneysweeponline.com/mendxv60.htm

    Even some B-vent gas fireplaces have hot-air distribution options, for example
    http://www.napoleonfireplaces.com/Fireplaces/Fireplaces_gas/Builder/Specs_bnv42.html
    The manual lists the part number of the hot-air distribution kit. Despite the whole unit being specified at only 69% efficiency.

    The 90% efficient gas furnace idea is nice but I don't have an indoor location for that and I could also see losing 10% in all that extra ducting from an outdoor enclosure. Installed, the furnace doesn't seem to cost any less than the fireplace idea. Wood is too expensive where I live and I'm too old to haul wood. But a sealed-glass unit isn't my style, so I have not ruled out RSF.
  5. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    If you don't mind wasting your money by burning gas to heat
    the air OUTSIDE your home, gas logs will do that.
    Your firebox will accept a relatively small unit
    (40K max is not very big for a gas log), & you'll hafta burn with the doors
    open to protect the seals in the gas valve.
    They are decorative appliances - NOT heater-rated.
    They look nice & that's about it.
    The up side is that you'll only wast energy for 4 months a year...
    Your call...
  6. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    Why do you say that the gas valve won't take the heat?

    Are 100% of gas fireplaces all decorative, and manufacturers are just liars?
  7. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    <>Why do you say that the gas valve won't take the heat?<>

    I said that you'd hafta burn it with the doors open.
    The gas valve used for a gas log set has rubber or
    plastic seals which may distort & fail due to the heat
    contained behind closed doors...

    <>Are 100% of gas fireplaces all decorative, and manufacturers are just liars?<>

    I'm not sure where you're getting the word"liars" from.
    I certainly didn't use it or imply it.
    Most gas fireplaces manufactured today are heater-rated
    & are viable zone or space heaters, although the ARE exceptions
    The gas valves for these appliances are located
    in a separate area of the unit & not within the heated fire box ...
  8. Fsappo

    Fsappo New Member

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    Daksy is correct. Why not just get a nice direct vent fireplace with a heat zone kit and be done with it.
  9. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    If so then I would think a match-light arrangement would work, no?

    And then, you're saying the firebox would be really hot, right? Isn't that going to heat the room?
  10. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    <>If so then I would think a match-light arrangement would work, no?<.

    Not sure what you mean.

    <>And then, you're saying the firebox would be really hot, right? Isn't that going to heat the room?<>

    It might, til it mahtzoed the seals in the gas valve...
  11. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    DAKSY he is talking about using a match light gas log system (with no valve and no pilot). It might work, but usually they are still not rated to be run with the doors shut, they cannot get enough air in to sustain a proper fire. I would be scared to see what happens to a gas log fire sealed inside an EPA wood unit..... scary...
  12. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    JTP 1018...
    Is that similar what we call a log lighter round these parts?
    Either way, I don't think the price of the Pyroceram to
    make the unit heater-rated would be feasible.
    It's about a buck a square inch 'round these parts,
    more if it's pencil edged or odd shaped.
    The OP seems to be groping for answers that he wants to hear,
    not what I have to tell him & I'm gonna bail on this one.
    Later...
  13. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    I checked what you said. jtp10181 and Daksy, you are correct about the gas log makers specifying that the doors need to be open! I see that RH Peterson and Eiklor both say this.

    I may well give up on the quest for an efficient gas unit that supports occasional inefficient open-hearth use.

    FWIW, the partner, she objects to any glass, any door at all! I'm caught between a glowing log and a hot place.
  14. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    Uhm, I take it back. Peterson CHASGF logs and GF burner are spec'd to run with the doors closed and have an overheat sensor that can disable the burner if needed. The quest continues. On page 17 of http://www.rhpeterson.com/2008_Realfyrecatalog.PDF and there are several vendors on Google Shopping

    Look, I don't know if any you guys noticed the remarkable number of insults to my intelligence are on this thread. Cut it out.


  15. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    DAKSY, not a log lighter, imagine a RH Peterson gas log burner pan... with a gas line connected right to it. No SPK valve/pilot kit. You just turn on the gas via a key valve in the wall and light a match, scary stuff IMO.

    cyberiad, The approval to run with the doors shut on those is a joke. Even on a standard open wood fireplace with leaky doors they still ruin themselves from the excessive heat. Now imagine sealing the doors shut air tight with just a small crack of air getting in the combustion control. Also you are still missing the overall big picture. Vented gas logs are DECORATIVE appliances. You are not going to heat your house with a vented gas log no matter how hard you try.

    We are not telling you this stuff to be stubborn, its the truth. Take it or leave it.
  16. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    Peterson has a 10 year warranty on the GF burner, lifetime on the logs.

    I do wish there was a way to get the valve out of the firebox, but I agree with you guys that there's no obvious way.

    As for whether match light is safe or not...do you realize that millions of stupid people are burning fires in their house right now and they aren't even home?! Those pilot lights sure are scary...Come on. If someone can't smell gas they shouldn't be using a pilot light either.
  17. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Pilots have a 30 second dropout thermocouple, so if the pilot goes out the gas flow stops within 30 seconds.

    Match light gas logs have no safety system. Why don't you just install a ball valve on the gas line in the basement with one end open, no cap. Put it right at hand level so its easy to turn on. Sounds pretty safe to me? About the only thing diff with a match light gas log is that you *should* have a key valve in the floor or wall, and you should NOT have the key in it all the time (most people always have the key in it).

    Why do you post here if you don't want any advice? I am done here.
  18. cyberiad

    cyberiad New Member

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    I often smell what I believe to be pilot exhaust in people's houses. Smells worse than my friend's drafty place with its ventless wall heater of doom. Worse, in a tight house a continuous-pilot appliance (say, old water heater) could ignite an intermittent-pilot appliance (say, new stove) whose flame went out or whose owner was careless.

    Of course I want advice. If you really want the answer to your question, see I had a thread full of experts telling me it can't be done at all, and now you agree the key valve could work. I can handle a little forum madness from people and I hope others can from me. I don't see myself being especially guilty in that regard.

    Still, I came to the conclusion that DAKSY is correct about the point that gas log retrofits don't really heat efficiently, safely, and reliably! Peterson GF seems to be about as close as it gets but with doors propped open 18 square inches plus 6" minimum flue at 15' height...doesn't sound too efficient. Another wild goose chase turned out to be reduced-vent gas log burners (hearth.com advertiser Elegant Embers, Rasmussen Chillbuster, Peterson G18). Those also spec open doors and 6" flue for 15' (maybe taller flue could have smaller diameter but not that much less). If I had an inefficient wood burner I'd look at gas logs as an economical/appearance alternative to an insert, but that's not my situation.

    DAKSY also said another thing that, though it frustrates me, is true. As far as I can tell, all fireplaces with openable doors have no insulated compartment for valves. Despite the fact that so many of them are made to be gas-ready. What's frustrating is that insulated units are obviously manufacturable, because sealed DV gas fireplaces all have an insulated compartment for the valve. Feasible but I suppose demand too small, plus risk of stupid owner opening door before draft heats up.

    My conclusion is that what I want, efficient with occasional inefficient open-hearth experience, would need engineering and big bucks. The girlfriend and I both think that gas logs that are completely trapped behind glass just are not for us, appearance wise. So now it looks like logless moderne DV is the way to go.
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