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Gas insert

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by Helen, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. Helen

    Helen New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    This is a great forum, I really appreciate all the effort people have put into their posts. There are a lot of good questions and a lot of very informative answers. I used this forum about three years ago before buying a wood insert for another home. I chose a Vermont Casting Montpelier insert.

    I purchased a house last year that has a wood burning fireplace. I am researching what type of gas insert to purchase. The home is a 1929 English Tudor located in Portland, OR. Our winters are rainy but fairly mild. We have been down to the single digit temperatures during winter, but typically we are in the 20s – 30s during the nights in Dec/Jan/Feb.

    The room we want to heat is the living room. It is 15x20 with 20 foot ceilings. There is a large cathedral window on one wall, French doors leading outside on the another wall and two sets of windows across from the French doors. The windows are the original, leaded glass. The walls are plaster and the outside is stucco, I doubt there is much wall insulation. When the rest of the house is warm, the living room is chilly.

    The fireplace is in the living room. It is 40” wide and 30” tall. It is deep (but sooty so I didn’t measure).

    The fireplace is ornate with an arch around the fireplace opening. I need to put something in that is plain and doesn’t detract from or clash with the look of the original work.

    The units available in this area are: Valor, Avalon, Enviro, Scan, Jotul, Regency and Mendota. I have seen two units so far that I like. I have two more stores to visit this coming week.

    I looked at a Mendota FV44i. I liked that the BTUs can adjust from 40k – 11k. I liked the two burners and being able to shut the back burner off. The remote had plenty of options. There is a variable speed fan. The unit, installation with a gas line, wiring, and customizing the surround to fit would cost about $5k.

    I also looked at a Regency Liberty L540E at another dealer. The BTUs go from 38k to 25K. It has a wide viewing area but is about 1.25” shorter than the FV44i. It too has a variable speed fan that comes standard and a remote. I liked the flame and log set, but wish I could see it next to the Mendota. The unit, installation with a gas line, wiring, and customizing the surround to fit would cost about $3500.

    Both dealers will do a presale onsite checkup. I’m wondering though if you guys could give me your thoughts on the following:

    Is 40,000 BTUs overkill?

    Is there any brand I should stay away from? I am looking for reliability and for a company that will stand behind its product.

    Do you agree I should go with a basic look to try and blend it or would an arch look be better?

    What features in an insert or fireplace do you current owners especially like?

    If you could do over again, what would you do different about your selection (more BTUs, less BTUs, more fans, different log set, different panels, different brand)?

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Here is the existing fireplace:
    Fireplace II.JPG

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  2. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    4,935
    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    I'm one of those "Bigger is Better" guys, when it comes to heat. You can always turn a larger unit or the blower down (or BOTH), if you get too hot. If you've got a smaller unit, cranking for all it's worth - burner & blower-wise - & you're STILL chilly, then you'll hafta put a sweater on. You don't say what type of activity goes on in your living room, but if you're just gonna read, or do something that is of a quiet nature, make sure the blower on the unit you choose isn't overly loud. Listen to the selections offered to evaluate, & I'd recommend early in the day or late in the day when the showrooms aren't crowded with customers. Otherwise, the various conversations & operation of OTHER units in the showroom may tend to mask what may actually be a noisy blower. I'd also check to see how much RADIANT heat each unit gives off, as this is all you'll get if there's a power outage & you don't have a generator back-up.
    HTH
    Helen likes this.
  3. Helen

    Helen New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Thank you so much for your informative answer. I was thinking the same thing you said regarding the BTUs, I can always turn the unit down if it gets too hot, but there won't be much I can do about it being under powered.

    It is hard to tell about the blower noise inside a show room, as there is noise coming from all directions. I wear two hearing aids but typically take them out at home so a blower would have to be really loud for me to hear it :^)

    It is interesting that you mentioned the radiant heat. I stopped at a dealer after work tonite who talked a lot about radiant heat. She isn't a fan of blowers. She had mostly Valor units on display but sells Jotul too. She thought I should only go with the radiant heat and that the Valor 780IN (30,000 BTUs) would be plenty for my living room.

    The Jotul GI 550 DV looks nice and is 38k BTUs, but she only had a brochure on it. I don't want to buy an insert unless I can see it work.

    She also mentioned something I had read last night on another forum, that Mendota units run really hot and because of this have a problem with the pilot light assembly which needs to be relocated on the insert. Here is a link to a thread in another forum that talks about this:
    http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/firepl/msg0414194025859.html

    I sent Mendota an email last night asking them if this is true. The person is on vacation until tomorrow, so hopefully I will hear back soon. I'll post the response here.

    Thanks again for your reply.

    -helen
  4. Fake coal burner

    Fake coal burner Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Messages:
    223
    Loc:
    Salt Lake City Utah
    You fire place is about the same as mine you have the same tile design and arch. English 1929 I did not change mine. Your room is about the same size as mine only difference is your ceilings are 20 feet mine are 8 feet. Do you have a ceiling fan? Heat goes up. I get a about 18 inches of cold air at floor level. I had to make my blower system to take care of that. Stove had no blowe option. Stove is made in Briton UK. My fire place was coal burner. I stuck my stove in front of fire place to save the tile work. Its a natural gas coal effect. Stove is 2,2500 in btu.s hi. low is 8,100 btu.s after high altitude deregulation it uses the euro modulating thermostat. room comes up to temp. flame starts coming down slowly back up if room gets cold. We get colder than you -15 some time average is 15 + It will keep room at 78-80 deg. Maxed out. Old brick house with single pane windows every 5 feet apart. I think like Dasky says go more btus always turn down or open doors to other romms. I also feel a ceiling fan will help a lot. I would have put a ceiling fan in but have 18 inches of blown in Celsius insolation in attic. Cant find 2x4 s to walk on.

    Attached Files:

  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6,082
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    I just moved into a house last fall with a Mendota Seabrook gas insert, which I was planning to remove and sell this spring/summer. We have free access to wood, and bottled gas is expensive for us, so we were planning on replacing this with a wood stove. I just popped in on the "It's a gas" forum to ask whether I should remove it prior to putting it on ebay, or if I should show it installed and working to potential buyers before I had it removed.

    In any case, Helen, if you're in the market for a Mendota Seabrook, I have one in good condition I'd like to sell. This insert is configurable for natural gas or LP, and is currently set up for LP gas. I'm not sure what is involved in converting back for use on natural gas, but I'm told it is not difficult or expensive to do so. It works nicely, with remote control, separate rear burner control, blower and damper controls, etc.

    I can get better photos if you're interested, but here's one the seller's realtor took for the house listing:

    157_12.jpg

    Here's another I took the other night with my camera phone, while asking about wood stoves in another forum:

    View attachment 64695

    Sorry about the poor photo quality (wasn't really taking photos with the intent of showing / selling this insert at the time), but I can get some nicer photos this weekend, if you're interested.
  6. Ironhorse74

    Ironhorse74 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2009
    Messages:
    205
    Loc:
    The Great Pacific North Wet
    Helen

    There is no issue with the Mendota FV-44i pilot light. As far as radiant heat goes you can always turn the Mendota blowers off. You can never turn a Valor blower on. Mendota is all around a better built product.
  7. Ironhorse74

    Ironhorse74 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2009
    Messages:
    205
    Loc:
    The Great Pacific North Wet
    One other thought. Mendota will build custom arched surrounds to match your fireplace. No sense trying to shovea square surround in an arched fireplace. They are even on sale through the end of October.
  8. Abby E.

    Abby E. New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    1
    Loc:
    Chicago, IL
    Hi Helen,

    I just wanted to check in and see if you ended up going with the Mendota or Regency models you mentioned and what you think about your choice. My husband and I are considering the same two models and seem to be in a very similar situation to yours in terms of room size, etc. Any thoughts you could share would be appreciated. Thanks!
  9. Helen

    Helen New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Hi Abby,

    We ended up going with the Regency. We had it installed in February and a week later our furnace quit working. We are just now starting the research which furnace to buy. We used the Regency (and a little electric fireplace in the kitchen) to heat the house last year and it heated the living room and upstairs just fine. It was, however, a pretty mild winter last year. So far we are very happy with our choice. We probably would have been happy with either insert, but it's nice to have the extra $1,500 to use toward our furnace.

    I am really glad we didn't just go with just radiant heat, the blower is really nice to have.

    Good luck on your purchase!

    -helen
    DAKSY likes this.

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