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Need opinions on fireplace inserts

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by SFlynn, Aug 9, 2008.

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  1. SFlynn

    SFlynn New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
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    Loc:
    Warwick RI
    Hi everyone,
    So I have recently got my new budget plan for my oil bill, $470 a month!

    This is obviously ridiculous.

    Anyway I'm really interested in the pellet insert for my fireplace.
    It also seems that I've missed the boat here and selection is pretty limited.

    I have managed to find the following units available.

    St. Criox York Fireplace Insert
    Napoleon NPI40
    Hudson River Saranac Pellet Stove Insert
    Breckwell SP2000i

    I can't find much of any reviews on any of these units except people saying they have one.
    Also if anyone in the Mass/RI/Ct area knows of any other fireplace units available I'm very interested

    Any help for this newbie is greatly appreciated.

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  2. packerfan

    packerfan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    frozen tundra
    Englander also makes an insert, and from what I have heard, they work pretty well. They may also be a little cheaper than the others you have mentioned, and can be found at a local home depot or lowes store. They might be worth checking out.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    The usual caveat applies - who is going to install the unit and who is going to fix it when it breaks down? Most pellet stove buyers use a local dealer for purchase and install just for this reason. A dealer who has been in business for a couple decades will most likely be there when you need parts, service and advice in the future.

    As to the brands, St. Croix is pretty well known and made by a company with decades of experience in the business. Breckwell also....the other models you mentioned are relatively new(er), which does not mean they are bad....

    Also, keep in mind that fuel oil has come WAY down, and is currently as low as $3.50, which puts it not too far above pellets burned in an insert (inserts are not as efficient as freestanders in terms of delivering heat to the house) - so perhaps your monthly budget will come down a bit. $3.50 oil is still higher than pellets, but only by 15-25% in many cases.
  4. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

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    I love it! Who here would have thought a year ago that we'd be saying "oil has come WAY down" to $3.50 a month? And thought that $3.50 was a fine price? Nice example of the very short-term memory of humans.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    And who would have thought folks would be bragging about putting up 3 tons of pellets at $300 a ton each delivered?

    We have a very short term memory, I'd agree.......

    To really put things into perspective, think about the quote from one year when Dane Harman said "I have 23,000 stoves and can't give ONE of them away"........

    Personally, I think ALL of these short term outlooks are poor ways to run a household or a business (or a country, for that matter), but it appears to be the American (or human) way.
  6. SFlynn

    SFlynn New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Warwick RI
    Thank you all for the input!
    Searching on this forum gave me the best input I could find... Go Hearth.com!
    I was pretty surprised how much the web was lacking for pellet stove reviews and general user input(trust me I searched for probably 12 hours).

    I think that I would probably go with the St Croix model... seems to have the least amount of complaints and quite a few people seem to use them (funny it's also the first model I looked at... funny how this seems to happen more often than you think). Also there is a local dealer who has been in business as long as I have lived in the area (about 20 years)... I actually went to elementary school with the owners daughter.

    Ultimately, thanks to other forum threads, I have decided that my most economical choice would be to switch to NG.
    I already have a meter on my house and it would only be the matter of a new boiler and hooking up the gas. I have a friend who is a plumber so hopefully this will be a fairly minimal cost. My wifes uncle is a pipefitter so that should take care of the other side of the hookup.

    I must say that after looking so much at the stoves, I would really like one to have the fire all winter long... my wife as well. All winter long our fireplace sits unused because we are afraid to suck all the heat from our house. Ultimately I guess you need to think with your head rather than your heart, money is tight and the whole reason I started looking into pellet stoves was for a financial investment.

    I think we will consider either a wood burning insert or ideally if we can wait I really liked the quadra fire Mt Vernon model because it can burn all different types of fuel.
    With this market you really can't tell what fuel source will be cheap from year to year. It's always nice to have options.

    Maybe if the cost is low enough for the NG conversion I can put the Mt Vernon on order and just be happy when it shows up at the end of the season
  7. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

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    Exactly. That's why buying a stove makes sense. With oil (or NG or LPG) you've got 1 fuel option and likely 1 source (multiple dealers maybe, but most of them share the same wholesaler). So if the price goes up....well, you pay more.

    We've insulated, replaced the windows, turned down the thermostat, have solar hot water...the only thing left that provides a reasonable solution is a stove. A wood stove is inconvenient and I don't own enough land for "free" (don't count the labor, the chainsaw, fuel, splitter, etc) for fuel. But a pellet stove makes sense - or in my case a pellet/corn stove (I can burn either).

    If oil stays high and pellets are cheaper, I burn pellets. If oil is high, pellets are high and corn is low, I burn corn. If oil is low, I burn oil. The bottom line isn't whether I'll save money but that I have control over my options. Even at $300/ton and $3.50/gal (about 75 cents less than it is now) oil at the end of the winter I can have spent $3500 for oil and stayed cool (that's with the thermostat low)...or spent $2,500 for a stove & $1,000 for pellets and stayed warm.

    Some would say it doesn't make sense to do pellets in that environment - but, at the end of the winter I've either spent $3,500 and have nothing left or I've spent $3,500 (plus some amount of oil - don't expect to get 100% with the stove) and at the end of the winter I've been warm & I have a stove for next year...when perhaps pellets will be $200 again or oil $2. Either case I win because I have the ability to choose the fuel that provides the best cost/benefit.

    Even if I spent $5,000 on the stove, I'd still be better off because I'd only be $2,500 behind and I've still got a stove to go into the next winter - when I'd break even.

    Of course if oil goes back to $1.59 then I've probably wasted a bunch of money.
    :)
  8. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

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    I have always wanted a flame in my living area, so either way I win.
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