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Gas insert versus pellet stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by skday, Mar 3, 2006.

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  1. skday

    skday New Member

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    I have been reading this site and others since October and have had second thoughts since ordering my pellet stove. It sounds like pellets save some people tons of money but stove dealers seem to recommend gas fireplaces over pellets. We have a 1920 house, 1600 sq. ft on two levels, 7 smallish rooms but with large doorways, with no central location available for a stove. We've been waiting for a Harman XXV; the dealer just came out to the house last week and said the stove would not heat the whole house and recommended a 22,000 btu gas insert instead, but for the same $.

    Can I have some opinions? I don't want to spend $3,000 for something that won't heat the whole house (upstairs can be cooler - just used for sleeping). Wood is not an option b/c we live in the city, too expensive.

    I understand the problems with pellet supply; I feel fairly confident the prices will be reasonable in July and August.

    I'm concerned about the dealer because we complained bitterly about them selling a Harman XXV off the floor when we were still waiting for our order to come in; now I'm not sure if we're getting the best advice.

    Thank you for your help!

    Susan

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  2. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    Susan, you cant be giving these people a second chance. And i dont think a 22k gas insert is enought to heat 1600 sq ft. Most gas inserts are in the 30k range and some in the 35-40 k range. I dont know of a pellet stove on the market that is less the 22k. I would go shop somewhere else.

    Gas vs pellet?
    well a big issue is renewable resorce vs a non renewable resource. You will not likey recoup your money on the pellet stove vs a natural gas stove. At least in my area. Todays cost in my area are 10.00/ million btu for gas , 16.10/million btu for pellet. The season low on pellet was 13.00/ mill and the season high was 14.00 for natural gas.

    Pellet stoves have maintenance, gas stove have very little. Both are efficiecnt sources of heat. But even if gas was a little more to operate then pellet you still have to consider your time and effort and fuel avalibility. Do you have room to store a seasons worth of pellets? Pellets are erratic on avalibility. Nat gas isnt.
  3. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    Susan, one more thing, you did post this sometime ago on gardenweb right? I remember reading about someone who got ripped on a pellet stove.
  4. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Susan if already feeling unhappy, your own tone is telling you the answer. I live in easter Ma if unhappy with the way this
    dealer has treated you, then i find another. I might be able to help you find another Harmon dealer. At this point in time gas
    vs pellets is close to a wash. If you want to use a renewable fuel source and not be as dependant upon gas and OPEC than,
    pellets swing in your favor.

    What about the quadra fire line of pellet stoves?
  5. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Deltaville,VA
    Heating with oil or gas would be my last choice, by far. Both are not renewable, are in high demand, and the resource is in decline. (in the US)
  6. skday

    skday New Member

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    That was me on gardenweb. This dealer already has my significant deposit, but that is no reason to stick with them, I agree.

    I was thinking about the pros and cons last night, and came up with the following:

    Goals in getting one or the other: 1) To be cozy and warm instead of watching tv with sweaters and blankets. 2) To put our existing fireplace surround to use (mantle and gas line only; no chimney or we'd consider wood). 3) For the ambience of a fire.

    Gas insert pros: would fit into existing fireplace and mantle (too small for a pellet insert)
    Flame more realistic
    Remote control operation!
    Existing gas line (might not work though)
    Gas insert would be more efficient than existing furnace so might still save money (can turn down furnace - insert is in living room/den area where we spend most of our time, so we could be cozy for less)
    We could use the den area without being blasted out by trying to heat the whole house (gas insert would be just to keep the downstairs living areas warm).

    Gas insert cons: no diversification away from natural gas.
    Same cost as pellet stove with fewer than half the btus.

    Pellet pros: diversification of fuel source
    Potential to heat entire house, though I'm concerned that it won't with our layout. It is not a big open layout.
    Cool gadget factor.

    Pellet cons: Storage of pellets (basement, front porch)
    Carrying pellets upstairs (our first floor is on the second floor)
    Dealing with this dealer with any future issues. (It is clear that I can't buy from them!)
    Daily loading of pellets.
    Potentially NO savings because of increase in cost of pellets.

    I'm pretty sure the cost of natural gas is going to continue to rise, so I would deal with all the cons of the pellet stoves if I could be sure it could heat the whole house. What I really need is a new super-insulated house with a central wood stove in the country. That's the ticket!

    I would love to get some dealer recommendations.

    Thanks for your responses.
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    who is your current dealer? eliminate him from the possible recomendations
  8. skday

    skday New Member

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    Black Magic in Cambridge.

    Thanks!
  9. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    Welcom to the "real" fireplace forum. There is lots of good people, and knowledge here. Im shure someone will speak up and help you find a dealer that cares about there customers.
    Ryan
  10. moog5

    moog5 Member

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    Loc:
    Shingle Springs, CA
    I have a Harman XXV, a 2100 sf 2 story house with a fairly open plan, built in 1990, and not very tight. Outside nightly lows are mid 30's to mid 40's. The XXV has no problem keeping my home warm. The heat rises up easily and takes care of the upstairs rooms as well as the remaining downstairs rooms (except for the far back bedroom). My floor plan is pretty open, so the heat moves around pretty easily. If you don't have an open floor plan, I don't see why one type of stove would be better than another, heat being blown from a stove doesn't know if it came from pellets or gas or coal. Maybe one of the previous posts already stated this, but have you considered getting a timer that will simply turn on the fan in your central heating system (assuming you have one)? Personally, I like the zone heating idea. Keep your main living area toasty, and the remaing rooms comfortable.

    With respect to pellets versus gas, I think it's safe to assume that the costs of both are going nowhere but up in the future years. I would bet that over the long run the cost of gas will go up alot quicker.

    Thus further reasoning for the zone heating idea. Why heat the whole house when you really don't need to?
  11. HarryBack

    HarryBack New Member

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    Well, for what its worth, we are a Harman dealer, and while I wont sell to you, because I cant service the stove, I do happen to have 2 crated XXV's in stock. If your dealer wanted to crusie over to western ma, Id sell him a XXV at cost plus my shipping to get it here.

    I concur Im not thrilled with the ole' switcheroo either. 22,000 btu's vs 48,000? gimme a break!

    well, if youve questiuons, you know where tyo post!
  12. skday

    skday New Member

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    I like the zone heating idea as well. I would be thrilled if the pellet stove would keep the living room area at 70ish and the upstairs at 64 or so.

    Harryback,
    Our dealer just happened to get one in, and they can install it next week, but thanks for the offer.

    What is your experience with folks without open layouts? Do they get similar whole house benefits? Our rooms are laid out train-style, one leading into the other, with a door to the stairway upstairs. I figure if the pellet stove can't do that, and we end up just leaving it on low as a supplement to the gas furnace (radiators, so no vents and fans), I may as well get a "zone heat" gas insert.

    I think the dealer's point was that a 55k btu would overpower the room and wouldn't be able to heat the rest of the house due to the layout. I was concerned that his advice was not unbiased but obviously it has made me think all the same. I'm willing to accept that stoves are just not good central heat replacements for certain houses, but because of my experience with this dealer I'm not sure whether to trust his opinion.

    Is the general consensus that he just doesn't want to sell us the pellet stove? Or does he have a good point, and we should go with gas or with a smaller pellet?

    I really appreciate all of your responses.
    Susan
  13. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Susan as promised I have inspected numerous installs by these dealers
    Your next closest Harman dealer is in RT 1 norwood ma.
    Commonwelth Fire place 781 762 2088
    If you get the run around I know the owners

    The nearest Qudrafire dealer is in Canton MA
    Stove Depot !049 Turnpike St 781 821 0777
    Again I know the owner he owns 3 stores and carries lines of gas stoves as well
    Vermont castings Should you have a problem with him I can make a call to help things along
    They do quality installs
  14. HarryBack

    HarryBack New Member

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    overpower? not at all.......thats why it has a thermostat......you can turn it down...it will be key tho to have good air movement....
  15. skday

    skday New Member

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    Thanks Elk I will try to visit the Norwood shop today - right up the street from the office, where I am today. Tax season.... : (
  16. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    Susan, 5 months ago we bought our pellet stove from Commonwealth on Rte 1.
    I would not recommend them, I don't care who knows the owner (no offense intended elk).
    Lot of little aggravating BS scenarios with them that could have been avoided if they
    had their $hit together, which they don't.
    Anyway, the sales people are a bunch of jerk offs and the way
    they operate sucks.

    I have never heard of the stove depot in canton, but I have
    heard good things about Kirleys in Mansfield. They carry harman;
    here's their web site: http://www.kirleymasonry.com/stoves.html

    Another highly recommended is in Weymouth.
    Fireplace Connection
    (781) 331-0033
    465 Columbian St
    Weymouth, MA 02190

    Just thought you may appreciate a couple more dealers. Good luck whatever you choose!
  17. skday

    skday New Member

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    I visited Commonwealth Fireplace after work today and they were as nice as could be, plus there was a Harman XXV sitting right there on the sales floor. Driving home I was thinking about Black Magic and getting madder and madder at their behavior:

    1) Took a deposit on the Harman XXV early November after we described the layout of our house; they expected to install it in January
    2) We left repeated messages in January asking about the status; no call back until left angry message, when they told us it would be available March or April
    3) Spouse visits stove shop anonymously (ie not as backorder customer), spots Harman on floor, and is told "someone bought it just that morning", and that another was due in a week
    4) I insist spouse confront stove shop and demand next Harman that comes in
    5) When confronted shop says the buyer of the floor stove was someone on backorder (right) but they did have one coming in and we could have it
    6) Installer visits and says the stove was way too big for our space and wouldn't heat the whole place, and he could give us a gas insert for the same price. (Now the layout is bad for the model we were sold in November?) He also asked if we had pellets, and when we said no, said that we wouldn't be able to get them this year, so why buy a pellet stove.

    I can't believe we considered buying the stove from them next week. I wonder how many models they sold off the floor, figuring they had our deposit and could sell us one in April. I'll call Monday and request our deposit back. I hope we don't have any problems getting it.

    I can recommend Commonwealth with no reservations; I had a very good experience, with no pressure and more importantly no attitude. If we decide to go ahead with the Harman pellet we'll definitely get it from them. If we decide on gas I've been looking at the Woodstock Soapstone; when I mentioned the brand he got a card for me for someone who could install it! What a great guy.

    Susan
  18. skday

    skday New Member

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    "Susan, 5 months ago we bought our pellet stove from Commonwealth on Rte 1.
    I would not recommend them, I don’t care who knows the owner (no offense intended elk).
    Lot of little aggravating BS scenarios with them that could have been avoided if they
    had their $hit together, which they don’t.
    Anyway, the sales people are a bunch of jerk offs and the way
    they operate sucks."

    Oh my god, I didn't see this post before I posted. What exactly happened?
  19. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    My experiance with Commonwealth began real rocky. They installed a Hampton Hi300. At first they installed the suround,
    which I removed only to find no fulll liner no block off plate,so I failled the inspection. Hampton installation manual requires full liner as a spec and preventing dilution of room air int the flue. Since it was field stone fireplace, there was no way the suround could sit.
    flat. Well at first it did not go well. I was told I did not know my rear end from my elbow. They had plenty of direct connects installs without a problem. I reminder them to read the specs and faxed them the NFPA 211 Cross- sectional code. They return installed a full liner but did not address item 16, about the preventing the dilusion of room air, and I was not happy with the liner connection to the stove, and they again installed the surround. You know the phone call comes in again and they want to know what my problem is and that they never had to install a damper block off. It got a bit nasty, finally I read him the riot act. I told him that there was noway I would sign it off till it was done right. We included along with the permitting applications papers a notice recomending, for owners to hold the final payment till passed inspection. The past 8 installs have been top shelf from Commonwealth. I paid them a visit and had a very cordial chat and cleared the air. No problems since, seemed like decent people. I cannot say for sure if they are as dilligent in other towns as they are in mine. I would hope so. Please visit the other location selling the Qudra-fire products in Canton, then make your decision. The only other Harman dealer is in Mansfield never had a problem with them. I realize an inspector, is treated different than consumers. The Canton people I have bought from in the past, from their Franklin shop. Top notch installations,

    BTW having two Boston Susan posters is real confusing
  20. skday

    skday New Member

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    I'm surprised they allowed "Boston Susan" if there was another one. When I registered "Susan" was already taken.

    Well thank you to everyone for all your help. After alot of thought re. storage and carrying pellets, I'm leaning towards a gas stove. I would hate to get a pellet stove and then let it go out because I don't want to carry another 40lbs upstairs (two flights if we ended up storing in the basement.) I guess Black Magic did us a favor by making us question the pellet stove.

    Now I just have to decide between the Woodstock Soapstone and one of the cast-iron woodstove look-alikes available.

    Thanks again!!
    Susan
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