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I'm buying a wood stove insert. Advice?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by brakatak, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. brakatak

    brakatak Member

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    Hi All. I'm new to this forum and wood burning overall, but I hear this is the place to be... Anyways, I've been researching alot before I make my purchase but just want one to reach out for any advice I should consider.
    I'm in Mass. and looking to add a wood insert as primary heat and hopefully avoid oil. I'm in a raised ranch, and the fireplace is in the middle of the house in an open layout room 600sq ft (kitchen, dining room, living room). I would like heat to reach the other rooms as well down the hallway (3 bedrooms, bathroom). I have ceiling fans now to help. Total square feet is 1800 sq ft on this level.

    A few questions:
    1. Should I be looking at a medium or large insert ? i keep debating on size such as Lopi Freedom (large) or Lopi Revere (med), but nervous too large will burn me out of the room.
    2. Considering I have 2 small kids under 3 yrs old, should I consider flush mounts, or just put a gate around the extended stoves?
    3. What are safety features that I should consider?
    4. Due to work, we're away from the house during the day for 9 hours, do i feed the stove in the morning and leave unattended all day? should I look for 10-12 hour burn time stoves?
    5. So far after researching online and store visits, I like Lopi, Jotul, PE stoves. Are these are recommeded manufactures? Any recommended models for me?

    In advance, thank you for any advice. Just want to make sure i make the most educated decision possible and get what is best for us. All the dealers i've spoken to are great, but sometimes get the feel they just want to sell what they have. Anyways, I can't wait to get this stove and start burning. Its something that i've wanted for a long time, but finally had a few extra dollars to make the purchase. Just built this wood shed to season the 2 cords i already split. My wife thinks i have ocd.

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  2. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Since you are away for long periods of time take a look at the Blaze King Princess. I gets great burn times and is very controllable, less likely to roast you out. I think the Freedom would be a good fit too, it just won't get much more than 8 hours on a load of wood.
  3. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Hi, welcome to the forum!:)

    Unless your house is really well insulated I would go with a large insert of 2.5 to maybe 3 cu ft firebox size. A smaller one will probably be underpowered when it gets really cold. If you could post a floor plan we can give you some advice on how to strategically place one or two fans to distribute the heat. Some fireplace measurements and a picture would also help for finding the proper insert. If you are afraid of heating yourself out of the room a catalytic insert may be an idea although there are not a lot of options out there. Their heat output is usually easier to control.

    The three companies you are mentioning are all making good inserts and have many happy owners here. The models I would look at are:

    PE Summit
    Lopi Freedom
    Jotul Rockland C550

    Others:
    Regency I3100
    Osburn 2000 or Matrix (a bit on the small side but should be enough)
    Enviro's 1700 series
    Buck 80 (if you want to consider catalytic)
    Blaze King Princess (also catalytic)

    Those are all good stoves; differences usually come down to aesthetics, dealer support, warranty and small differences like East-West loading versus North-South (Most prefer the latter where you look at the ends of the splits when loading the stove.)

    With two toddlers I would put a hearth-gate up no matter if you install a flush insert or one that protrudes onto the hearth. One that sticks out has the advantage it will be a better heater when the power is out and you cannot use the blower (or you need the genni for other stuff).

    If you just split your wood it will probably not be fully seasoned this coming winter. Thus, expect some difficulty with the draft and getting the insert to heat your whole house. Please install a liner at best insulated and clean it every few weeks when burning not fully seasoned wood. If you plan on heating 24/7 you will also need more than 2 cords, probably 3-4. Keep working on your stash also for the following winter. For wood to be really dry it needs usually 2 years and some species like oak rather 3.

    I hope that helps. Keep asking and good luck!
  4. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Another vote for a large size. As a person that is away from home for extended time frames, the big stove is nice to have. I want a bigger one.==c
  5. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    I have a medium size insert, it will not do what you are asking for, i would think that large is a must. Find the best one you can afford.....good luck
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Based on the parameters, I second the suggestion for the Blaze King Princess. It will give you the long burn times you are seeking and won't cook you out of the home.

    For more even heat in the house put a table, floor or box fan at the far end of the hallway, placed on the floor, pointing toward the woodstove. Run it on low speed. It will blow the cooler air down low, toward the woodstove. The denser cool air will be replaced with lighter warm air from the stove room. Running this way you should notice at least a 5F increase in the hallway temp after about 30 minutes running.

    Welcome to Hearth.com and congrats on that nice wood shed. Hopefully it is full now with lots of ash and other easy drying wood for the coming heating season. Keep splitting and stacking the wood. If it's oak it'll need a couple years to season.
  7. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Go large, and you can always burn smaller loads if needed. Otherwise you will most likely find you will regret going smaller. You can always burn the smaller loads when less heat needed(shoulder seasons etc). You can only get so many btu's out of a load, and a smaller insert will also need to be run harder on those real cold days/nights, and won't give the heat you will be seeking. Another note, running a smaller insert balls to the wall constantly, in an attempt to keep up on those cold days, will result in a short life span.
  8. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    Nice job on the shed, I am looking to build something like this, can you give your dimensions and approximate cost please? Thanks
  9. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Random thoughts . . .

    Welcome to the forum.

    If you're looking for primary heat with wood you will want to go big and/or go with a catalytic insert/woodstove. Many folks would also recommend going with a free standing stove vs. insert if you're looking to burn 24/7 (not that inserts cannot get the job done as many here will attest -- it's just that many more feel as though the free standing stoves will give you more radiated heat . . . the trade off being a loss in floor space in the home.) As for the size of the stove and being too hot . . . you can always do smaller loads in a larger stove . . . but it's a bit harder to cram more wood into a smaller stove if you find yourself needing more heat (unless of course you have the TARDIS woodstove). Sometimes with a larger woodstove or insert you will find yourself a bit warmer than you want . . . but in time you will learn how to gauge how much wood to put in the stove, how often you should or shouldn't reload, etc. . . . plus you just may find yourself getting used to and even craving that warmer heat.

    Gate . . . doesn't matter if flush mounted or if it sticks out . . . young children can still stumble against the hot exposed metal or front.

    "Burn time" . . . if you've done some reading here already you may have already discovered something that many of us did not . . . the definition of "burn time" is a bit hazy . . . and as such thinking that Brand X Stove will produce meaningful heat for 10-12 hours may or may not be true . . . the definition in the glossy brochures and websites could mean the time from when the match lights the kindling on fire until the last ember goes out . . . or the time from when the stove reaches X degrees to when it falls below that temp . . . or the time from when the fire is lit until the stove needs to be reloaded . . . even here folks have not truly agreed on one single definition of burn time. I will tell you I read the brochures and expected a raging fire for 8-10 hours . . . and that was not the case . . . meaningful heat for 5-7 hours and the ability to easily relight the fire from coals with 7-9 hours. As others have mentioned the cat stoves with the ability to go low and long can have longer burn times.

    All the brands you mentioned are decent . . . and yes . . . the dealers will tend to promote the products that they sell and carry as the best . . . I wouldn't expect a Chevy dealer to be extolling the virtues of a Ford and saying how great those vehicles are . . . it's the nature of the beast. What you may find though is the occasional dealer who may favor one stove brand over another that they carry in their own store . . .

    Very nice woodshed . . . hopefully the floor is plenty beefy . . . wood weighs a lot. Just split recently? This wood may or may not be ready to go this Fall . . . will depend a lot on the weather conditions, how it was stacked, how small it was split and most important of all -- the species. If it was oak, forget it . . . other species you may luck out and have it at least semi-seasoned. Two cords? You will most likely need about double that amount . . . especially in the first year if you're planning on burning 24/7.
  11. brakatak

    brakatak Member

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    awesome info.. thanks for all the help. much appreciated.
    I went to my local dealer today and decided on the Lopi Freedom. The only question remaining is my wife wants to get this stove with the flush mount kit. She's nervous about the kids and thinks the flush mount would be better. Any advice between the flush mount version or the extended?
    Also, attached is the house layout. thanks again.

    Attached Files:

  12. brakatak

    brakatak Member

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    I built the shed 12' W x 7' H x 5' D. Once the base was built and level, the rest was pretty easy. Used all PT wood. Total Cost around $450.
  13. CT-Mike

    CT-Mike Minister of Fire

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    As others have said, stuff the largest insert you can fit in there. Better too much stove than not enough. I am going on our 5th (maybe 6th) season with our Freedom, and I couldn't be happier. Longer burn times would be nice, but this stove was available to install when we needed it.

    Was a major PITA to install with only about 5" from the top of the stove to the bottom of the lintel, but it has been worth it.

    As for keeping the little ones away, you should install one of the fences whether it is flush or stands proud. The glass can be 750 degrees F or more, and could cause some major burn injuries.
  14. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    I have never regretted the extended front on my PE. It convects enough to keep this place @ 64F when it's 0F outside, with no power for 3 days.

    Kids learn "hot, no touch" real fast.

    Welcome to the forums.
  15. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Congratulations to your purchase! I assume the dealer made sure it fits your fireplace? I would get the extended version. You will need a gate anyway and with the stove protruding onto the hearth you will have more heat when the power is out and you may even be able to warm up some soup or similar on those occasions.

    The location for the stove is great; should be easy to heat the whole house. If the bedrooms on the right get a bit cold a small desktop fan on the floor at the end of the hallway blowing cold air towards the kitchen will works wonders. Between the dining room and the living room on the left it says 4 stairs; are those going up or down? If that room is lower than the others you may also have some problems heating that up properly. Otherwise, have fun burning!
  16. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Same for me. My youngest was 2.5 years when we got the stove. I don't remember even one time that she got so close that I was scared. They see the fire and know it's hot.
  17. brakatak

    brakatak Member

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    Thanks. Very pumped for the new stove. Last decision now is choosing between Flush or Extended. Is extended only more beneficial for when the power goes out? I rarely lose power here. I guess I'm not sure on what the benefits/disadvantages are between flush & extended. I'll put on the sales pitch to my wife for whatever is best. The 4 stairs in the layout is going up to a living room and bedroom. I hope the heat can reach those 2 rooms since they are now electric heat.
  18. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Even if it is rare you will be glad you got the extended version once you are one or two days without power in the dead of winter. Plus, at least with my insert I can turn off the blower about 2 hours after lighting the fire and rely the next 3 to 4 only on the convection. That will be hard with a flush mount and those blowers can be annoying over time.

    If the stairs are going up you should be golden. Is the wall of the master bedroom the back of the fireplace and lined with brick? If that's the case you may get some beautiful radiant heat in your bedroom when the stove is running. That happens with our fireplace where the back radiates into the stairwell.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    How often does the power go out? If it is frequent in the winter and the stove will be relied on for heating, then go for the extend unit. It will convect better. A flush insert need the fan going to be a decent heater. The kids will learn quickly to stay away from the stove. Teach them early that it is Owwee and hot. And remember that in a few years this will be a moot point.
  20. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    Brakatak,
    Welcome to the forum. I have a similar set up as you: centrally located fireplace, 3 bedrooms, 1700 sf, little kids.

    We have a 3.2 cf firebox non cat insert. 9 hours is no problem from coals to coals in the dead of winter. Lopi Freedom is a beautiful unit. I'm sure you'll love it. We also have the Kidco Hearth Gate. My kids are very clumsy so we were not comfortable burning without a very sturdy protective element. My insert protrudes about 9" into the room. I really love this feature. It affords a lot of mass in the room, so I'm getting more heat from my unit. Having more mass in the room also allows more heat in the room in case we lose power and cannot run the fan. By the way, if the fan is optional with this unit be sure to get the fan.

    Good luck! Hope that's helpful.

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