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High Efficiency Fireplace or Wood Stove?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Cessna, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Thanks to all who post! I've learned so much here!!

    I'm building a new home in the spring and would like to heat with wood. House will be 1800 sq ft open ranch style plan with 24' ceiling peak in the 17x19 great room where hearth will be. I love the look and size of a fireplace but I'm concerned about the function and reliability of a high efficiency fireplace. After doing my homework here, I believe a wood stove would heat much more effectively. Any suggestions??

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  3. zzr7ky

    zzr7ky Minister of Fire

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    Stove, Hands down. I have burned, and still have a FP in my home. I've burned seferal FP Inserts. On the advise of the folks here I went with a freestanding stove mounted on the hearth in front of one of my fireplaces. I love it. The rest of the family ranges from warm regards to love regarding the stove. I just do not like the ciculation fans that most of the FP and Insert units require to get major heat out of them.

    If you are building you can build an alcove to minimize the impact on the floor plan.

    Start obtaining wood!
    Mike
  4. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Thanks for the advice begreen. I appreciate it! I have read a lot about the Woodstock Progress and love the look. Just hope it won't be too much stove? The great room is open to the dinning/kitchen areas with the hearth facing them. The ceiling height is 13' in dinning dropping to 8' in kitchen. So I'm hoping to heat the entire area. Plus I'll have an 11x14' four season room with a lot of windows off the dinning area. I've contacted Woodstock and they stated I was right between the fireview and progress. I know the fireview is an outstanding stove but not crazy about the look. Would appreciate advice from progress owner's!!
  5. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Thanks Mike. What brands FP inserts have you had? Great minds think a like...I have designed a 2' alcove area for the stove and wood in my plan!
  6. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I love my insert! But, I would never build a fireplace just to put an insert into. That would be crazy. A free standind stove would be great, but so would a Zero Clearance high effiency fireplace. I have had the oppurtinuty to run a few different ones and the heat output is very comparable to a woodstove. They do however need the blowers to move the heat. Check these out.
    http://www.fireplacex.com/ProductGuide/ProductDetail.aspx?modelsku=98500104
    http://www.kozyheat.com/products/woodburning/z42/index.html
  7. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Thanks Webby. I have seen the Xtrordinair 44 and was impressed.
  8. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    I am planning on either a wood stove or EPA Zero Clearance Fireplace. As stated above, I really was impressed with the Xtrordinair 44 Elite. I also like the fact that it has catalytic combustion. Does the positive pressure heating system effectively heat the entire home as advertised? Same as a free standing wood burning stove?
  9. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    If you lose power (ever) in winter, I'd not go with something that needs a blower to circulate heat. I don't mean "works better with" but "needs" - unless you're doing a generator too. Otherwise you'll be pretty frustrated not to have heat even though you're a wood burner. :p

    Since you're building, can you plan your hearth for a larger stove? Then if you don't need it yet, fine, get a medium sized firebox (if you don't like the Fireview maybe Jotul or Hearthstone?). I am one of the people you hear tell about on this forum, who has a stove that's a bit too small. So I'd always say go bigger and then you will be warm when you need it...but that's just me. :) I also didn't love the look of the Fireview but it was the best thing on CraigsList and it has definitely grown on me!
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If the budget would allow it I would consider a masonry stove like the Tulikivi.
  11. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    As a FPX 44 owner I can say that the POS system works very well. I easily heat my home with it (2400 sq ft with multiple levels, FP is on bottom floor). I cannot speak to a wood stove comparison as I have never lived with one. There are pro's and con's with any decision. If you do a search on "FPX 44" there have been plenty of threads here. For me, I love the look and it keeps the oil man far away. I rarely lose power so that isnt much of a factor for me but if you are in an area that does I agree it would be a factor in the decision as you really do need the blower to heat efficiently with it. (the blower is very quiet).

    One thing to consider is a fireplace is a lot harder to replace than a wood stove should you have reason down the road (new technology, not happy with decision, whatever....).
  12. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Had a Fireview. have a PH. Loved the Fireview, but it was too small for my home (knew this, it was largest stove Woodstock made, wanted Woodstock).

    If Woodstock told you you were right between a Fireview and a PH, get a PH> You can't make the Fireview put out more heat than it was designed to, but you can make a PH put out any amount of heat in its tremendous range of about 12,000 to 80,000 BTUs (compared to the Fireview 10,000 - 55000). Those extra 25,000 BTUs make a huge difference.

    Honestly, even with a shoulder season fire, the PH puts out a lot more heat really quickly, on a comparable amount of wood.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  13. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    +1 A colleague has one and loves it.
  14. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Yes mfglickman, I'm planning a larger hearth and I agree, a larger stove would give me more heat when needed. Good point about depending on a blower to circulate heat. Appreciate your insight!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  15. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    WOW! Talk about a heat!! Thanks begreen.
  16. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Appreciate you sharing your experience with the FPX got wood. Your last sentence is why I keep going back to purchasing a wood stove. Read a few posts on the FPX as suggested...is it true the FPX uses a lot of wood?
  17. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    REALLY appreciate your comments rideau as I'm definitely leaning towards the PH! Spoke with Mike at Woodstock. I agree with you, better to go with the PH and have the ability to put out more heat if needed. The stove will go in the great room, 17x19', in the middle of the19' wall facing the open dinning room & kitchen, if I need a lot of heat, will the stove run me out of the room? So during shoulder season, just fill er up 1/4 full and the stove will still operate properly....not produce too much creosote? Any other advice as a PH owner? Thank you!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The key to avoiding creosote in a modern stove is dry wood. The stove will pretty much take care of the rest if it is run right.
  19. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Sorry to be a while replying to this.

    My PH is on the center wall in the right half of a open room 46 feet by 16 feet, with entrance to center hall in middle of room and both entrance and pass through window to kitchen in the center wall in the left half of the room, ceilings about 8'4". I have very good passive air circulation with my floorplan.

    The PH certainly doesn't run us out of the room. As I put more heat out with the stove, more heat flows to the rest of the house, each successive floor in a three story house staying a few degrees cooler than the floor below. I can regulate the amount of heat that the stove produces by adjusting the air flow, and, to a lesser extent, by choosing the wood I burn. Ironwood produces quite a bit more heat than ash.... I can adjust the burn time by adjusting the air flow and/or adjusting the load size, and also by choosing the size of the wood pieces loaded, and whether splits or rounds. Rounds burn more slowly, so for the longest, lowest output fires I load the largest, densest rounds.
    If I want a moderate heat output overnight fire in winter I'll load one 15 to 20 pound ironwood round at the back of the stove, for instance. If I want a really toasty livingroom in the evening after dinner on a really cold night, I'll load a good number of only moderately sized maple splits, give the stove a bit more air, and enjoy a magnificent fireshow with gorgeous colored flames and tons of heat. Such evenings, no one ever wants to sleep upstairs in the bedrooms...they'd like to cozy down in front of the fire. So I entice them upstairs by placing soapstone slabs in their beds. Then, I admit, I settle down on the sofa too often...
    Small load, low air, long burn, moderate heat;
    med-low air, medium burn time, quite a bit of heat;
    med air, few hours burn time, great deal of heat.
    Med load, low air, 12 hour burn, moderate heat; med air, 6-8 hr burn, great deal heat...
    3/4 full, low air, 16 hr burn....too bored to type it all out, but what goes for small load holds as loads get bigger, just different, corresponding burn times. No problem regulating this stove's output at my home.

    The stove operates properly on any size load.

    I have had absolutely no problem with cresote formation, and very seldom have had any blackening of the window. I get really quite angry with myself if I get any blackening, because it means I have put wet wood in. Any blackening burns off as soon as the fire gets hot and the moisture is out of the too wet wood. Only place any black ever stays is between the andirons and the glass. That comes off very easily once the glass is cool. I just take a slightly moist nylon scrub thing - those flat pads for cleaning non-stick cookware - and scrub for a few seconds, then dry off with a paper towel.

    When starting from a cold stove, this stove will heat up very quickly. If it is not very cold out and you have a less than ideal chimney (and maybe anyway), you'll get your fire established much more quickly, and hence get to cat mode faster, if you take care to give the stove good kindling, whether in the form of a home made or purchased fire starter, some birch bark, good dry kindling (small slivers of the base of pine trees do a great job), small very dry twigs, or small scraps of non-pressure treated kiln dried wood. My local lumber yard stacks pallets and wood scraps they don't want, and I go by and help myself once in a while.... If there are hot coals in the stove, just rake the coals forward, put your larger splits in the back, small splits on the bottom in the front, and the stove will give you a good fire really quickly. Under a minute for dry wood to be burning well.

    That said, the stove never takes very long to get up and running....from a cold start anywhere from 5 to fifteen minutes for me, if I take care with the kindling; from hot coals, with good dry wood the wood is burning on multiple sides before the door is closed from the reload often. I just let it burn for a minute or so in that case, before reducing the air to just cracked open (unless it is quite cold out) and engaging the cat.

    This stove requires an amazingly minimal amount of time spent watching it on start up to assure safe functioning temperature for long established burn, then needs no further monitoring. I've never had it take off on me once the air is adjusted, and have never had any problem quickly adjusting the air.

    I have also found it very easy to adjust the temperature of the stove up and/or down when I want to cook, which I do all the time., Do almost all my winter cooking on the stove. Now that the cooktop is availoable, there is much less need to do this, as the simply lifting or lowering of the soapstone tops lets you choose between at least 5 temperatures for cooking.

    Feel free to ask any questions. Would be pleased to give any information I can, as will other PH owners, Woodstock owners, and veteran burners. I have found the PH members here to be very willing to be helpful - true of forum members in general, a great group of people with a common goal and interest...good burning, great lifestyle.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  20. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Rideau: Thank yo so very much for sharing your experience, detailed information and most of all, your valuable time in replying to my post! Such great information from your post....I'm still digesting it! Took me a while to get back to you as well. Busy weekend with running to various niece's and nephew's activities. I am slated to build in the spring and I'm hoping to continue learning all about wood burning stoves all the way through the building process. I'm completely new to this but I know with help from people such as yourself, I'll be ready to burn come next winter! I have been cutting / splitting wood for about 3 years as I slowly clear my mostly wooded 6.6 acre lot for the house. I will really focus on making sure the way I stack, split, etc will help insure the wood will be properly dried for burning. Thank you again for such a detailed message! I'm sure you be hearing from me again.
  21. jonwright

    jonwright Member

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    We went through a major home addition. The plans for the addition are attached I hope. I installed an FPX44 in the main living room with 30 ft vaulted ceiling in the new part of the house (with 10 ft ceilings in the rest of the house) and it keeps roughly 3,500 ft2 nice and toasty our milder climate in Arkansas. Even upstairs the heat pump runs only seldom and when it's in the teens or so does it rather run with any regularity. The LR can be up to 75 degrees easy on the BOTTOM living space, and if I kick on the ceiling fans it can warm up even more.

    In the older part we had a Buck stove with a blower. Was LOUD and added a lot of ambient noise to our small living space at the time (replaced with Hearthstone Tribute).

    I like the look of the FPX, and also a major selling point was the amount of air it circulated around and that you can locate the blower unit anywhere. Mine is in the crawlspace so when it kicks on you barely even hear it at all. Very nice.

    Overall I'm satisfied with my unit. A stove would have been cheaper, no doubt. But I don't think a stove could move as much heated air around, with the traditional look, and still be as quiet as the FPX.

    BTU is rather like horsepower - both take fuel. But I am pleased with the fact that I can load it up and have plenty of coals to quickly start a fire in the AM. Since it's metal it heats up quickly and is really easy to build a raging fire in it.

    The other stove I considered was the Equinox. I determined that it wasn't quite so big, and with the long shoulder season vs. bitter winter I figured the blower and metal would move heat around quicker in the AM when I need it.

    That being said when I do keep a fire 24/7 in the 44 I load it up 2-3 times a day with 24" logs.

    Attached Files:

  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Cessna.

    Mike has been in the stove business a long, long time and gives great advise. We planned on purchasing a Progress and even put a deposit on one before they were on the market. However, after we did some remodeling, adding insulation, new doors and windows, we felt the Progress would simply be too much stove. So we have happily kept our Fireview and love it. Good luck to you no matter how you go.
  23. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Thank you Dennis.
  24. Cessna

    Cessna Member

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    Dennis, so you thought the PH would be too much stove for your situation? If you don't mind me asking, what is the size/area your heating? My great room, foyer, dinning room & kitchen take up about 775 sq ft. Ceiling peak about 24' &11' wall of 5' tall windows in the great room & a 13' cathedral ceiling & 9' wall of 5' tall windows in dinning room. Also have an 11'x14' four season room with three walls being windows connected to the dinning room via a 5' wide opening (french doors). I'm hoping the the glass combined with ceiling heights will allow me to be comfortable running the PH. What do ya think??
  25. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I think it is between 1300 and 1400 sq ft. It was a pretty drafty place and we did not have a problem heating but I just liked the sound of that stove and when I saw it in person and talked to Tom and some of the others at Woodstock, I just thought it would be a great addition along with our remodel. With the remodel we added a room so more space to heat plus we put in a sliding glass door by the stove and were not sure if this might cause a problem. But, we also added a lot of insulation plus the new doors and windows and it just heats so easy that we finally told Woodstock that we could not get the stove. I would have liked to get it even to play with trying different burning techniques but....

    Here are a couple pictures. You can see we are close to the metal barn:

    Living room 8-17-2011.JPG New carpet-2.JPG North and west addition.JPG

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