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Need advice on which pellet insert is best for my house

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by smirnov3, May 1, 2006.

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  1. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    Ok, I'm looking to buy a pellet insert to put into my fireplace, but I have a couple of concerns:

    1) how well do you guys think the heat will permeat the house? I figure the first floor will be ok, but my home is a colonial, and I want to keep the first floor at 70, and the second at no lower than 60, so I don't know if that'll work. ( I put up a floor plan, but the dimentions got screwed up: the room with the fireplace is 13'x22', and drawing is to scale)

    2) I am a lazy bum - I'm looking for the lowest maintenance insert out there. any advice? And where would I find such a stove in the south eastern MA area?)

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  2. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    pellet inserts are not realy for lazy bums, i would consider a gas. All pellet stoves require maintenance. As far as keeping your upstairs warm, that shouldnt be to much a problem. I have never been in a house wear the upstairs is cooler then bottem floor.
    If your willing to wait till fall, quadrafire has come up with a self cleaning pellet stove insert. But, if i were you i would wait for 2 years before i would buy this model, you dont want to R&D in the field for them.
  3. PutnamJct

    PutnamJct Member

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    Not sure about size/btu's (I'll leave that to the experts). I have a Quadrafire 1200i insert that is very low maint. I pull a few cleaning rods once a day and vacuum it out weekly during the heavy use season. Other then cleaning the glass, that's it. It keeps all but 1 out of the way room at 70 degrees on the first floor, 73 upstairs in a split level open floor planned house. In hindsight, I would have more thoroughly investigated coal stoves, You get more heat for the buck and coal doesn't seem have as many supply issues as pellets.

    John
  4. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    sizing a pellet stove is not to hard, most run on a thermostat. I have always been in the school of buy the biggest stove you can fit and run it at a lower speed. The unit will last longer. Bottem line, some would consider Johs cleaning regimen high maintenance, but he is doing the right thing. You really need to pull the burn plates, and vacume out the motors and what not too, expecially if you have pets and hard wood floors. Pellet stoves love to suck up pet hair into the combustion blower.
  5. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    The problem with the second floor of this house is that it is almost completely closed off from the first, so that a large part of the heat would have to go through the ceiling / floor
  6. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    you can cut passive floor vents, but then you have noise issues. other then that, if you have a stair well, you can put a fan in the top of the stair case, and run it on low in reverse. If its very well insulated between the top and bottem floor, you might consider two zone heaters.
  7. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    I'm with MSG. The great thing about pellet stoves is your ability to really control heat output. Meaning you can get that large hoppered beast capable of putting out 40,000 btu and simply turn it down if need be. And yeah for your floor plan two zone heaters might not be a bad idea.
  8. HarryBack

    HarryBack New Member

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    well, heres my 2 cents worth:

    The biggest insert you can afford, thermostatically controlled would be best, in my opinion, as well as the opinion of the illustrious MountainStoveGuy......but, I disagree with him on the second floor always being warmer than the first....maybe thats true in an open floor plan/loft situation, but not so in a colonial. It will be cooler upstairs than downstairs, you will be further from the radiant heat source. In my home, a colonial saltbox, my pellet stove in the living room is set at 73-75 degrees....a bit warm, but I find I need it set there to maintain 65 degrees upstairs. I didnt cut floor vents, we let the heat radiate up the stairs and leave our bedroom doors open...if you dont, its gonna be cold in the morning......Im from MA too, and we do get a few days of cold weather per year....Im a bit more inland than you, so were possibly a bit colder than the coast.

    My suggestion is to visit a bunch of dealers, quiz them all, see if theres any common denominator in stove brands, then go with your gut instinct.

    As for cleaning.....I own a Harman. The burn pot needs to be scraped once a week....can be done with the fire going, takes me all of 30 seconds. Once a month, I dump out the ashes and do a thorough cleaning of the unit...takes me about an hour...this needs to be done with the fire OUT! My stove is a freestanding unit, an insert ashpan is usually smaller, so you'll need to dump maybe every 2 weeks (with a Harman anyways). Maintenance is key with any pellet stove...is you are lazy and dont clean it, it WILL go out eventually, and it WONT be covered under warrantee.........

    Bon Chance!
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Anton, what region do you live in? We also have the Quadrafire 1200i (though remodeling so it will soon to be up for sale) and it has been a great stove. I'm lazier than John. I do nothing but add pellets (average a bag a day) and clean it every other week. Cleaning takes 15 minutes for vacuuming and glass. We love it's thermostatic operation on a digital thermostat and 60lb hopper.

    However, our house has a mostly open floorplan and we are in the Pac. NW with a winter ambient in the 30s and 40's. YMMV depending on the climate. We have the thermostat set to 62 at night, 67 in the morning and 68 in the evenings. Upstairs is about 2 degrees cooler with an open staircase.
  10. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    So the impression I am getting is that y'all live in split levels or ranch or other open floor plan homes?

    Does anybody here live in a dour little colonial, like me?
  11. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    Most users are on the east cost here, i forget that things are different out west. No colonials here in the mountains, mosty open floor plans with lofts.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Never lived in a split or ranch or a house younger than 60 yrs.. Our Seattle house was made in 1906, had a nice open floor plan. Current farmhouse was made in 1924. Colonials can be nice too, just never had one come our way. But it's pretty typical in old colonials to see multiple fireplaces to heat rooms individually. To me that seems a bit inefficient, but lots of folks like it that way, maybe it gave them more privacy.

    But the reason I'm asking what region is to figure out how much heat you'll need. That's hard to do without knowing the rough size of the space to be heated, how well insulated the house is and what the average winter temps are. If you live in a leaky, big old colonial in Vermont, with single pane windows, my guess is that the pellet stove wouldn't be a good bet, except as a big room heater. If this is a modest, colonial in the Carolinas, then it would probably be just fine.
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