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Looking for advice on a fireplace insert

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by MrWrestlingII, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. MrWrestlingII

    MrWrestlingII New Member

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    Hi,

    I’m new to the forum and am looking for options to convert my fireplace to something I can use to heat my house. I live in Minnesota so the winters can get really cold and the house has a forced air, natural gas, furnace. The house is 1 ½ stories, 1800 SF, with a vaulted ceiling and sub-par insulation for this climate- insulated 2x4 walls, allot of windows and the roof is around R-16. The living area is totally open with the fireplace in the middle of the room. There are ceiling fans mounted on each side of the fireplace. I expect on the really cold days I’ll need to use the furnace to supplement the wood burning heat. I’m not worried about heating the bedrooms as I have electric heaters that work well in those small rooms.

    The fireplace dimensions inside the house are 6’ wide, 15’ tall and 29” deep. So it’s pretty big. The total chimney length is about 17’. The firebox is 32” wide at the front- tapering to 23 ½ “ at the back, 24” tall, 22” deep at the bottom tapering to 19 ½ “ at the top. I’ve attached pictures showing the inside of the chimney, firebox and fireplace. The firebox is not in an optimal position on the fireplace. The fireplace splits the living area into two large areas on the left and right, the firebox is facing what I use as a dining area between the two large areas on either side.. When I have fires the heat radiates into the dining area with very little heat reaching the areas on either side of the fireplace.

    I don’t have room to put a stove in front of the fireplace so I’ll need some type of insert. With a decent burn time I should be able to keep a fire burning nearly full time. Because there is so much mass to the fireplace and my burn times will be long, I’m wondering if I should be trying to transfer heat into the fireplace and allow that to radiate heat into the space? From the reading I’ve done it seems that most inserts are designed so they don’t transfer heat to the fireplace.

    Any advice on products and installation would be much appreciated.

    Attached Files:

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  2. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Transfering heat to the fireplace will be next to impossible. Most will go up the flue. You will want a good insert with a blower. You will need to install a Stainless Steel liner, and a block off plate would make it even better. There are alot of options out there for 1800 sq. feet. Look at Lopi, Regency, Quadra-fire, and for a prettier option, Jotul and Hearthstone. There are alot of options out there, these are a few of the more common ones.
  3. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Heck..you could put a stove on each side of that !
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome. Where are you hailing from? If this is in a milder climate then a 2 cu ft insert should work fine. Take a look at the Napoleon 1401, Pacific Energy Super, Enviro Kodiak 1700 (or Venice), Osburn 2000, Hearthstone Clydesdale, etc.. for starters. I'll check the specs on some others later. Let us know what style you like the best.
  5. MrWrestlingII

    MrWrestlingII New Member

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    I’m about 40 miles west of Minneapolis, so we normally hit a few winter nights at -15 F or even a bit colder. I’m not expecting to be able to heat the house w/o using the furnace when it gets real cold, but it would be nice to have the house more comfortable. Thinking about my earlier comments, the entire house is about 1800 SF so I suppose the area I’m trying to heat would be closer to 1400 SF or so. It’s too bad the fireplace isn’t turned 90 degrees with a double opening, that would be ideal.

    I did some research on here earlier and found instructions for how to make a block-off plate, I’ll definitely do that for the install. So it sounds like I’ll need the biggest unit that I can fit along with a fan? I take a look at the units suggested and report back.

    I’ve got another question too, looking at a thread earlier there was a comment saying the ceiling fans should be pulling the air up. Can anyone tell me why this is? I currently run mine on low pushing the air down, I figured since the heat was rising that I’d want them to push it back down. Sounds like I should be running them the other direction maybe?

    Thanks for the comments, keep’em coming
  6. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Imho the only thing that reversing the fans does is make the ceiling look dirty. The fans make the air move in a circular pattern, I can't see how it matters which way the circle is flowing. Oh, and you should be glad that you don't have a see-thru fireplace, that would make it much harder to make an insert fit, and look good.
  7. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    By pulling the heat up then shoving it down the walls then back up again it's more efficient they say..and you won't have the draft from the fan hitting you directly.
  8. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum. I think you found the right place. It is no surprise that you felt cold with the fireplace going. Fireplaces pull warm air from the room and send it up the chimney. The warm air gets replaced by cold air from outside which means fireplaces can have a negative energy balance. The only place you will feel warmth is in front of the fire where the heat radiation hits you. However, you will be surprised how different that will be with an insert.

    Given your climate and your subpar insulation I would consider a larger insert. At least 2.5 cu ft, better 3. I checked the Pacific Energy Summit but that may just be a smidgen too big for your fireplace. The Regency I3100 may work. You can also check the companies BeGreen gave you and see whether you like their style and if they have a larger insert. It would help if you can tell us what is your budget.

    Since you have an interior chimney you will not really need an insulated liner (but a liner nonetheless). I have a similar setup and the back of my fireplace warms actually up a little bit to about handwarm. In any case, with the insert going in the room you will certainly feel the heat also in the back of the stove.

    Now to the most important part of a modern EPA stove: nice, dry wood! Do you have already several cords of wood split and stacked for at least a year? If not I would consider getting the wood this winter and wait with the insert purchase until next year. You may be able to get a bargain in the spring/early summer and the installation may happen much sooner. If you want to buy seasoned wood you will need to ask when the wood has been split and stacked. Be there when they deliver it and check a freshly split surface with a moisture meter. It should read a moisture content of 20% or less. To reach that most wood species need a year split and stacked and some like oak even 2 to 3. Wood also rarely dries when still in logs.
    webby3650 likes this.
  9. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    I just bought and installed an Osburn Matrix and am very happy with it. My house is an 1800 sq ft ranch in central NJ... temps have only got to the 30s-40s here but it's doing a good job so far keeping the house nice and toasty.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The big difference in reversing the fans is that it creates draft free air circulation that works with natural convection instead of against it. It is the nature of air to sink as it cools. Reversing the fan works with sinking cool air on the exterior (cold) walls creating a more even warmth and draft free circulation.

    Ceiling-fans_h.jpg
  11. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    I'm glad you asked about the ceiling fans. I'd forgotten I even had the darn thing. I used it all summer and hadn't yet thought to use it reversed to stir things up. On low or medium I don't feel it at all. bg, that illustration is pretty good.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm a firm believer in working with mother nature wherever possible. Reversing the ceiling fan is similar to blowing cold air down low toward the heat. It works.

    Of course, if you like the house at 80F then this may be a moot point when you are running around in your underwear. The cool air of a fan blowing down on you may feel great at that temp.
  13. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    That makes since, nice illustrations. I've never had a house with tall ceilings, only flat, and smaller rooms really. I couldn't see any difference in my personnel situation.
  14. flyingpig

    flyingpig Member

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    Beautiful central chimney. The layout remind me of this dome house.



    I have Lopi Declaration insert and quite happy with it even though it's a bit too "hot" for mid-Atlantic climate. You may want to look into their (on FireplaceX brand though) new hybrid fireplace insert or the Elite 36/44 as in the link below.

    http://www.fireplacex.com/ProductGuide/ProductDetail.aspx?modelsku=98500104


    Welcome to the forum.....Som
  15. MrWrestlingII

    MrWrestlingII New Member

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    Thanks much for the explainations and illustrations regarding the ceiling fans. I'm gonna try reversing them and see if it changes how the room feels.

    I spent some time looking at inserts online and I think I'll need to visit some showrooms to get a better feel for the products. Obviously a bigger insert would work better in my space but I haven't seen a picture of any of the bigger inserts that I like the looks of. I like clean simple lines with an industrial/functional look. Allot of it is the big framing they all have surrounding them. I'm thinking I will probably end up making my own surround.

    Concerning my wood supply, your point is taken. I don't have enough good wood to get me through the season, so I'll probably put off a purchase until this spring when I can get a better price. That will give me time to research products and the install, which I'll probably do myself. I can also buy a few cords of oak at a better price and it can sit for the summer. After that I'll probably start cutting a splitting my own wood.

    Thanks again for the feedback, keep it coming
  16. mcollect

    mcollect Member

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    We have a weekend/retirement home in Garrett County Md. It had a double sided fireplace in it when we had it built,solid stone aat least 6x4feeet around and 16 feet tall. That is a lot of stone. My wife loves fires so we had them often. Each time in the cold winter, the house cooled by as much as 10 degrees. We have infloor heat so it takes a while to come back to temp. A few years ago she said she wanted a wood stove, for a Christmas present I said she could have any one she wanted. We went to a nearby stove shop and looked at a number of stoves. She saw the Jotul 550 and said that is what she wanted. I started using the internet and everything I read said it was a good unit. We got a couple of estimates and chose the one that came from the person I trusted the most. He installed it and we had nonseasoned wood the first year but we still used it a lot. Now on our fourth year the wood is seasoned and it heated the entire main floor, just not the basement guest rooms. The stone after a day burning starts at the lintel at130+ degrees and by the time it reaches the ceiling it is still over 80. That is a lot of thermal mass and heats the house quite
    well. We did instal a fancy blacksmith made screen to the back so it looks like a fireplace.
    pics at http://www.zigersnead.com/projects/details/western-maryland-house/
    I'll try to get pics on after this weekend.
  17. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    Better make it at least two summers for that oak.

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