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Insert or Freestanding ?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by deercamp, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. deercamp

    deercamp New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
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    se mass
    hello, this is my first post after reading many great post on here. i need some suggestions please.
    i have a 2500sq ft colonial with a very open floor plan. in my 16 x 20 family room with a 15ft high
    cathederal ceiling we have a beautiful random rubble (stone) arch fireplace from floor to ceiling.
    we are sick of paying the oil bill and i actually even have a brand new buderus boiler. we want to put
    a pellet stove in and the accentra would be our choice. my problem is that i don't think this stove will heat the whole house even though it is very tight. here is where the freestading comes in. the
    harman p68 is my other option that i am thinking about. i would have to add another piece of blue stone
    12"deep x 25" wide to the hearth that i could blend into the existing for proper floor cover. now this stove should heat the whole house no problem i would think. i know the wife gets pulled into to everyone of these type of threads on here that i have read so you know what she wants. i agree 100% any insert would look nicer than a freestanding even with the bright nickel finish and the picture of the deer on the front plate. so do i want to heat the whole house or have it look pretty. do you think that it would not look nice having the stove on the hearth like that? need some help here please
    thanks........... happy new year to all.............

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  2. Danny Cathcart

    Danny Cathcart Member

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    How thick is your wallet?

    Do it once, do it right. (keep wifie happy)
    Richprint29, ltlhawk and WhitePine like this.
  3. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    the thing with this question IMHO is this.

    an insert saves space and allows the fireplace to be a focal point while getting a much higher efficiency yield. downside is whenever any maintenance is needed it has to come out of the hole to be done. all the "stuff" is inside the fireplace and inaccessible

    OTOH a freestanding unit can be placed anywhere on an outer wall and vented which usually is less expensive due to the pass-through set being less expensive and easier to install and maintain than a liner up the flue. the stove being out in the room allows easier access for PM as well. the downside is the extra space occupied by the stove in an area other than the fireplace.

    one thing you also have with a free-stander not in the fireplace is an emergency heat source in case of power outages, you cant build a fire in a pellet stove occupied chimney.

    BTW, your choice on the accentra is a good choice, its an excellent pellet stove. (which is saying a lot for me cause i compete with Harman with my stoves);) .
  4. deercamp

    deercamp New Member

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    how would i vent the freestanding stove if i was to go that route? would i go right up the chimmney like the insert or would i go straight out the back of the fireplace.
    i am guessing that it would be harder to clean but i should probably go up the chimmney because if the stove ever got taken out down the road there would be a big hole
    in back of the fireplace.
  5. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    well, if you went freestanding in front of the fireplace i would still vent up the flue, but if i were to do that i would stay with the insert anyway. if i went freestanding i would select a different location for the stove so as not to "tie up" the fireplace in case i wanted to build a traditional log fire (you know , wine, cheese , a bear rug and your honey;) )
  6. deercamp

    deercamp New Member

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    how well do you think the accentra insert would heat my the house?
  7. Cranky64

    Cranky64 Member

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    I went with an insert because I was replacing am LP gas insert. I wanted it to look nice and cause as little as possible work. Yes you have to slide it out for the deep cleaning. I think the biggest drawback is the ash pan on mine. I have to clean it every 3-5 days. My house is 5 bedroom 3100 feet and the room in this photo is 18x24 with an 18 foot ceiling. it is just the 2 of us and I close all the doors except our bedroom. On our coldest nights it can get to 58 in our bedroom.

    Attached Files:

    Danny Cathcart likes this.
  8. deercamp

    deercamp New Member

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    i assume that your house is two levels. that sounds like the stove is doing a pretty nice job heating an area that size. our downstairs is pretty much wide open from the family room through the kitchen take a left to the dinning room and living and with an open foyer to the upstairs. there our no doors on any rooms downstairs they are all cased openings so hopefully the heat will move right through.
    i love the dog we have a german shorthaired pointer very similiar to your weimeriner.
  9. CygnusX1

    CygnusX1 Feeling the Heat

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    Central MA
    As stoveguy said, an insert does save floor space, but it's a real pain when you have to pull it out for cleaning.
    If you go with the insert, get a rail system. I did that and it made my life so much easier.

    Insert installs tend to cost more due to the length of tubing required.

    Another thing to consider is hopper size. Most inserts have a 50-60 lbs capacity, while free standing stoves go from 130 lbs and up. This makes a difference if no one is at home for long time during the day. it's not fun to come home to cold house because your hopper ran dry.

    As much as I love my stove, if I had to do it again, I would go with the free standing unit mostly because the free standing units are easier to work on.
  10. stoaf88

    stoaf88 Member

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    RI
    Get a P61 or a P68 direct vent through the wall and keep your house at 77 degrees no problem.

    The P series harman stoves are the best in the biz for heating large areas.
  11. deercamp

    deercamp New Member

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    i don't know how i forgot but i just installed two central air units in my house two years ago. i put a unit in the basement for the first floor and one in the basement
    for the first floor. they are each hooked up to thier own whole house hepa filter and i can run them both on circulate. i might be able to get away with the
    insert now that i can move the air throughout the house this way. if i do not use an oak would the hvac be hurting the stove performance or helping?
    i have two suppliesand one return on the floor in the room.
  12. CtPaul

    CtPaul Burning Hunk

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    I'm happy with my Accentra insert. I get a lot of compliments. I run it almost all the time in the winter. I have a very open floor plan in a 100 year old lake house.(under insulated and drafty, working on that) if I keep it clean it keeps the 1st floor mid 70's , 2nd floor 60's. I have never maxed out the stove so it definitely has more to give :)
    However everything stated so far is correct. My stove is on rails so not to big of a deal to pull it out once in awhile. I installed a full liner for my exhaust. Hopefully I'm going to install my OAK next week. That is a little more involved and cost more than if I had a free stander. It is still straightforward and doable.

    Attached Files:

    Cranky64 likes this.
  13. PoolGuyinCT

    PoolGuyinCT Feeling the Heat

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    Insert is way to go if you have a fireplace, can't think of a more efficient pretty way to block off that money while in the wall.

    And if your not feeling the workload, hire somebody
  14. thebigo

    thebigo Member

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    live free or die
    As a frame of reference, we installed an fs accentra in our 2000 sqft house in central nh a few years back. We have not operated the oil heat since the install. The stove keeps the downstairs at 70 and the upstairs at around 65 but we have never maxed out the stove. It could easily raise the downstairs temp to 80 on the coldest night of the year. The house is well insulated. We have always purchased lowes bargain pellets at the low price point the middle of the summer - paid $188/ton this year for green supreme. I do keep the stove clean, empty and vacuum the ash along with the leaf blower every weekend; remove the baffles, blower cover and T clean-out at least once a month - typically more often.

    A couple of comments on the fs:

    -Learned about the leaf blower cleanup on this website, it makes the weekly cleaning much easier. The leaf blower will actually suck the ash out of the burnpot. Just need to do a quick scrape of the burnpot, empty the ash pan, shop vac next the ash pan and clean the glass every week. I have the routine down to ten minutes per week. I do not believe that you will be able to use the leaf blower clean out on an insert, this makes the cleaning process both dirtier and more time consuming.

    -If you do get an insert make sure there is an internal T cleanout and try to put the stove in a location where you can easily reach the exhaust. Also apply high temp anti-seize to the internal cleanout and the external exhaust cap.

    This website is a tremendous resource - especially the maintenance end and installation tips. I credit this website my ability to service and properly clean the stove, also read about the T cleanout prior to the install on this website. Harman has the fortune of selling three additional accentra fs to family members primarily due to information I have obtained from this website.

    I do think that the difference between pellet brands can be overstated, this is just my opinion. I have dumped cubex, green supreme, maines choice, maine woods, geneva, penningtons, okaganon, new england wood pellet, green team along with many others down the hopper and personally find little difference between the pellet brands - maybe some minor adjustments to the settings but they all keep the house warm and produce ash.
  15. CtPaul

    CtPaul Burning Hunk

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    One note on cleaning....if you choose the Accentra insert (or another one with a frame) you won't need the Tee. When you pull the stove out you will have access to the chimney liner. Then just get a brush with some screw on rods and you can "sweep" the liner all the way to the top. I pull the stove out at least once a ton. Every time I have the stove cleaned by the pros the comment how clean the stove is.

    Bigo is right, the website is awesome. It will definitely help you get a routine that works for you. I equate maintaining/running my stove to doing a load of laundry.
  16. XXV-AK

    XXV-AK Member

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    ANC Alaska
    Freestanding XXV with enamel coating. Heats my 2900 in the dead of winter -10 outside and 67 degrees inside. I leave my central heat fan on to moves the heat around and works like a champ.
  17. tonyd

    tonyd Feeling the Heat

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    Hughesville Md
    I have the Accentra insert and I believe the free standing stove will burn more efficient with the heat exchangers right above the flame. The way the exchangers need to be angled on the Accentra insert to gain space is a compromise. I heat a 2400 sq ft split from the family room down stairs. 70 downstairs, 68 at the stat upstairs.

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