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Looking for Contemporary Insert (I think)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jeffesonm, May 29, 2012.

  1. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    Hi all,

    I just bought my first home... an 1800 sq ft ranch in central NJ. The house was built in 1957 and has baseboard hot water heated by an oil boiler. That boiler is original and huge, probably weighs a ton, but has been very well maintained over the years. The house has two open masonry fireplaces, one in the unfinished basement and one on the first floor. The furnace goes into a third flue. Given the price of oil and the fact that I'm surrounded by trees, seems like it would be good to supplement as much of the winter heat as I can by burning wood.

    Originally I planned to stick an insert in the basement so I could keep the upstairs fireplace open (wifey likes the ambiance of an open fire). I almost bought a 1980 vintage Hutch Rebel off craigslist, however from what I've read the older stoves aren't as efficient as the one ones. Also it sounds like I'll be losing lots of heat through the cinder block walls and be fighting to move what's left upstairs and throughout the house.

    Now I'm looking into inserts for the first floor fireplace. I'd like something contemporary to go with the mid-century modern feel of the house and I'd like a big window to replicate the open fireplace feel as closely as possible. Based on all my research I've narrowed it down to a few candidates. I excluded some brands since they seem too fancy/expensive/obscure (Don-Bar, Bosca, MCZ, etc). Also the Scan and Rais models seemed too small to try and heat the whole house. Here's what I am left with:
    Am I headed in the right direction with newer vs older stove and 1st floor vs basement? Drawbacks/advantages to consider between those listed? Any other brands or models to consider that might fit the bill?

    Thanks in advance.

    Jeff

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  2. nyyfan

    nyyfan New Member

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    Morso was going to be my recommendation based on the look that you are going for. FWIW I ve heard they are good stoves as well.
  3. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    "Contemporary" is in the eye of the beholder. To me, those inserts look super-modern space-age, but admittedly a goal of late 50's (or at least 60's) architecture too. If you have one of those open-plan, angular, large window-walls type of home, those stoves could look great. Personally I would be trying to hide as much of the 50's "style" as possible...

    Don't expect too much from an insert in the basement, I can't move enough heat from the first floor to the second floor, and that's with an open stairwell. An insert has all the ambiance and warmth of an open fire, with the added benefit of actually heating the house too... Try bringing the Mrs to a stove shop that has inserts burning, she will change her mind.

    Finally, don't underestimate how long it takes wood to season properly before it will burn well in a modern stove. If you haven't got wood already split and stacked, you may be too late for winter 2012/2013.

    TE
    kingquad likes this.
  4. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    Definitely put it on the first floor if it is an option. Is the floor plan fairly open? What are the dimensions of the fireplace and chimney? Insulation?

    Ignore manufacturer BTU/sq ft ratings, as they are pretty much marketing hype. If 24/7 heating is your goal, or a possibility, get the biggest insert you can fit in the fireplace. Firebox size is a better indicator of heating capability. A bigger firebox will give you longer burns, and you can always build a smaller fire. Unless, of course, the house has some crazy insulation, the room is really small, or you think you might have trouble moving heat through the house. For 1800 sq ft, I would be looking at at least 2 cu ft.

    Also consider a ss liner for the chimney as mandatory, and insulated if it's an exterior chimney and it will fit. EPA stoves need a good draft to work properly. And a block off plate to keep from losing heat up the chimney, around the liner.

    If you are thinking about burning next winter, you need to have wood drying NOW. Low moisture content, fast drying wood like ash and cherry might have a chance to be ready if split small and stacked out in the sun and wind, in single rows, but it's getting late. Truly dry, seasoned wood is almost impossible to buy when you want it. Dry wood is absolutely key for a modern stove.
  5. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    Is this 900 sqft up and 900sqft down?

    Floor plans and fireplace dimensions=better answers;)
  6. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    Here is a picture of the living room with the fireplace as well as a floor plan of the house. The garage is over a slab, den and dining room over a crawlspace and the rest over a 7' ceiling basement. Dimensions of the fireplace opening are 36" wide by 28" high and it is 24" deep in the middle (the sides and top taper down a bit toward the back).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'd like to heat 24/7 with the insert and use oil just for hot water. As far as firewood I have probably 4-5 pallets worth stacked 6' high that is 1-2 years old... still stacked up at the old place waiting to get moved sometime before fall, so all good there.

    I priced out the models above and they all seem to be in the $3,000-$4,000 range, including a stainless liner, but not including install which I intend to do myself with some help from a friend who did his. Also new on the list is the 33 Elite Plus which is basically the Avalon with a different face plate.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome Jeff. You're looking at some good inserts. I haven't heard of the B&G InFire. It looks quite nice. Are they sold in the states? Do they have full secondary combustion?

    The Morso and Regency might be a bit small if the intent is to heat with the insert. Another insert you might consider is the Hearthstone Clydesdale.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I would also go as large as possible within the contraints of your fireplace and design.
    I went from a 1.7 ft3 Quadrafire 2700 to a 2.3 ft3 Hampton HI300 and it made a big difference.
    A big point for me was the ability to load N/S, but you're probably not going to be able to do that give your design constraint of flushness.
  9. robertmcw

    robertmcw Member

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    Looking the plans, it may be a problem getting to the heat from the den to the bedrooms and you have a lot of glass.

    My house has a lot of single glass and that makes a lot of cold to heat. My dad build it in the late 1960’s and it the winter it needs a lot of heat.

    We have an Avalon 1190 Insert and the house has about 1200 sq ft and the insert works well in the Houston area. It has ceiling fans an open plan but it still hard to move the heat to the bedrooms. I may try some tower fans this year. I would say to you to get the biggest insert you can fit in you fireplace because where you live is much colder than in Houston and it looks too your house has a lot of glass and I’ll bet that is single glass will get cold fast.

    I looked at the Hearthstone Clydesdale and I liked it, but I got the Avalon because I got it used and got a great price. I like the cook top style now – we use it every year to cook. Lopi has a nice a flat face and you can get black and nickel color faces (but to not cook on a flat face style).

    Robert
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I would give thought to insulation under that floor also. If the boiler isn't heating the basement that hardwood with a cold basement under it is gonna suck heat out of the first floor like crazy.

    BB- Who often has a warm house and cold feet on the first floor.
    jeff_t likes this.
  11. Iembalm4aLiving

    Iembalm4aLiving Feeling the Heat

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    Love my Osburn 2200....a contemporary look with bay windows.

    [​IMG]
  12. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    I'd definitely be looking at 2cuft+ sized inserts cause of output and burn time. Personally, I'd be going 2.5cuft+. Have you looked at the Enviro Venice 1700. It has sort of a contemporary look. Beast of a stove with long burn times. N/S or E/W loading. Very happy with mine. The Osburn 2200 and the Avalon Perfect Fit-Plus are nice looking stoves that would get the job done too.

    My house, which I'm selling, was built in '59 and had very similar styling. We installed a plain looking model (Enviro Kodiak) insert with black door and trim. It has a kind of industrial look which my wife and I felt complemented the house. I actually let my wife make the final decision between the various Enviro styles. I figured she would go for the Venice, but she choose the Kodiak and it looked very good.

    You could always photoshop pics of various inserts onto a pic of your fireplace to give you an idea of what it would look like.
  13. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks all for the feedback. Sounds like I really need something on the bigger end of things which really just leaves the Avalon from the choices first listed.

    kingquad - Good suggestion on the Enviro models... had not seen them yet. The Kodiak is pretty nice and simple. Also I found your install thread... great job!
  14. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. Let us know what you decide. Also, if it hasn't been said already, get your wood for the next two years know. Unless you find a good seller(a rarity), then you're first year will be rough. If you're cutting your own, then it won't be ready. These EPA inserts need really dry wood.
  15. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    Well I'm getting ready to pull the trigger here on an insert here. I took off doors off the fireplace and remeasured everything and it looks like I can fit the FPX Large Flush Hybrid-Fyre insert.... 3 cu ft firebox, 24" log size. Will this be too big for an 1800 sq ft house or should be okay?

    Also the fireplace it's going into has a heatilator built-in with two vents out either side. It is a real masonry fireplace (there's one in the basement too) with the double wall, old school original heatilator built in there. I assume I just leave that part as-is? My dealer also suggested I would need to fabricate a damper block off plate through which the 6" liner would run.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This is a new insert model so it's hard to say how this would work out for you. FPX has a good reputation and makes good products, so hopefully this is a winner. If you are in a colder climate and the house is of average construction then it could be the right size, though it's also a question of the location and openness of the floorplan that determines size appropriateness. Is there a fairly open floor plan on that floor? The block-off plate is generally a good idea, especially if this is an exterior chimney. Is this a full liner being quoted or just a stub above the damper?
  17. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    Located in central NJ on the top of the hill... winters here get cold but not frigid... avg temp of 32 I believe. This is the first year in the house so hard to say how it will do. Well constructed for sure, but 1957 vintage and most of the windows are original, single pane, so I suspect I'll be leaking quite a bit of heat. Floor plan is decently open, and I suspect will become more so as time goes on and I connect the kitchen to the LR.

    Chimney is in the middle of the house and 13x13 terra cotta tiles. Straight shot up 15 or 20'. I've been reading all about flex vs rigid liners and it sounds like for the short, straight chimney, I might want to consider rigid, something like the simpson duraliner for easy install with a flex section to go around the shelf and connect to the insert.

    The stove is on sale right now for $2900 which is a bit more than some others but Travis seems to have a good reputation, and it's really the style I like. Dealer quoted $500 or so for 6" flexible liner and I think $70 or so for all the parts to put together a rigid liner and connect it with flex section.
  18. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

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    Osburn also makes a flush insert. The Matrix

    Caveat: I am an SBI salesperson.
    Heatsource likes this.
  19. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    If you go with the FPX you can get the built in electric blow torch starter ;) Nice looking unit.

    I would leave the vent's as they are, but if FPX or whoever approves you insulating your fireplace I would block the vents with Roxul so the heat stays in the insert.
  20. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    My experience with those heatilator vents is that they work very well in reverse if the fire is not lit. Mine were simply vents installed into the masonry structure surrounding the metal firebox, and that space was probably not even airtight to outside, so even with the insert lit, I would get a strong downward draft of cold air out those vents. Once I was sure that the area did not heat up with the insert installed, I filled it with insulation and sealed off the vents as best I could. If my masonry skills were better I would have tried rebuilding the brickwork to eliminate the vents completely.

    Probably less of an problem on an internal chimney, but check if you can feel a draft on cold day from the lower vent. No point in drawing in any more cold air than you need to.

    TE
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Looking at the FPX large hybrid manual I note what appears to be an exceptionally shallow firebox. It is only one firebrick or 9" deep. That would turn me off because it looks like in real practice one may not be able to load more than a few splits in at a time and only E/W loading, much like the Jotul Castine firebox.

    FBX firebox.PNG
  22. Heatsource

    Heatsource Minister of Fire

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    that is an awesome looking unit, i have 3 osburn stoves on the floor, looks like i need another!

    ps, love your web site, very nice :)
  23. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    Yeah I see what you mean there... if the firebox box is 24" wide but only 9" deep, it would have to be 24" tall to equal 3 cu ft.... that doesn't make any sense.

    The manual for the Avalon Perfect Fit Plus which is the same thing shows two other views... looks like there is some space in front of the firebricks? Anyone have one of these and can confirm what the story is here?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  24. jeffesonm

    jeffesonm Feeling the Heat

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    And Fyrebug - I did look at the Matrix, thank you.... very nice stove and comparably priced. I think I prefer the look of the FPX stove but that one is definitely a contender.
  25. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forums, jeffersonm, musta missed ya first time around:)

    I don't think a 3cf box is out of line for the area, if my FP were bigger, I would have gone with a larger fire box. On a central chimney, I'll vouch for the heat rambling through the house, it doesn't look like your floor plan is out of line for that to be accomplished. A small box fan pushing the cold air from the hallway to the LR should get it done. The back bedrooms might be alittle cooler, but with playing with the fan, you should be OK. Any ceiling fans in the house? they will help move some warm air around as well.

    Regarding the heatilator system, it looks like your vents are on the side? I could be wrong, but its hard to tell. I left my heatilator system functioning (vents in front). It still works, and if the power goes out, it gives alittle extra push to help move the warm air.

    Good luck !!

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