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Newbie with a Question

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Ozymandias, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    43
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    Hello everyone. I want to thank you all already for the amount of information I have learned from this site. I'm about 2 months into owning my first home...it only took one oil purchase to have me consider a pellet insert. I do have a couple of questions and I am hoping some of you could share your insight.

    First, let me tell you a little about my home. 20 years old, two story, 2900 sq ft. I live in Plymouth County MA. The home has two fireplaces which are adjacent to each other (one faces into the kitchen and is simply a fireplace, the other faces into the living room which is in the middle of the house and currently has a Vermont Castings Propane Insert).

    The insert is nice to look at, but doesn't really throw out a great deal of heat. I am looking for additional BTU's.

    Based on what I have read so far, you all seem to recommend getting the largest insert that will fit into the fireplace. I've gone back and forth between wood burning and pellet and while the wood burning has a nicer looking fire, I like the idea that a pellet stove can run off a thermostat and I can store the the pellets in my basement which is currently unfinished.

    I think I narrowed down my choice to the Quadrafire Mt. Vernon. I am a bit concerned about the igniter issue, but it sounds as though the 3 updates which were mentioned in another thread may have addressed this. However, this past weekend I visited a retailer. In discussing the stove he mentioned the convention he just attended and that there would be some updates coming to this stove (one he mentioned was the location of the thermocouple being moved to the exhaust air to help improve temperature management). He seemed to know what he was talking about. In any event, has anyone heard of changes being introduced in the upcoming model? If so, when might these new inserts hit the stores? Finally, would they be worth waiting for?

    I plan on doing quite a bit more reading. Are there any other stoves I should be checking out and why? Also, if anyone on the forum is nearby can you recommend a reputable retailer and installer?

    Thanks!

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  2. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Harman Accentra insert or the Enviro M-55 Cast insert are two fine units, without all the automation.

    Welcome to the forums.

    With that big of a Home, install it in the most central location possible. You'll be glad you did.
    Defiant likes this.
  3. TriMom

    TriMom New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2013
    Messages:
    88
    Living in SE MA you have many dealers to choose from.

    Dealer is important as most often service and warranty work is done by them and you are locked into them due to the warranty program from manufactures. Look at cost, installation cost, and if they have in house service and installation. One dealer I visited told me that in busy season if I call for service it would take them 2-3 weeks to get out for service. Many dealers out source the installation which can add cost and has potential to do a bit more finger pointing if a problem exists.

    We have 21 year old house that is 1550 sq feet per floor. We just went through this decision process. We opted to get 2 pellets stoves one in the kitchen free standing and an insert on the other side of the house. We have 3 fireplaces on main level. We also replaced our old Garrison wood burning stove in the basement with a Jotul.

    Harman Accentra is coming out in a new version with higher BTU this summer.
  4. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,397
    Loc:
    NW Ontario
    Dealer support is an important part of the equation as TriMom mentioned. You may want to find out what other members' experiences are with a specific dealer from your area as well as checking BBB or internet ratings.

    Have you considered using a pellet furnace? With that size house, it may be your most efficient method of heating to tie into existing ductwork. A little better description of your layout may be helpful with recommendations:) ie living room central to the layout or on one end; great room, family room at the other end?

    I would suggest an OAK with the pellet insert if you go that route. Minimize the chance of improper function particularly with the propane insert in the same room.

    Welcome to the forum:)
  5. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    43
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    Thank you for the comments, all. Here are some more details about the home.

    Lake Girl, I will have an OAK installed. Also, the whole house heat is via oil fed boiler/forced hot water. I do have central air (2 zone). I hadn't considered a pellet furnace and to be honest, don't know much about them.

    The living room (currently with the propane insert) is in the center of the house. There is a french door at the room entrance. Outside of the door is the main entrance which has a cathedral opening to the second floor which contains two bedrooms. The master bedroom and bath is on the first floor adjacent to the living room (opposite the fireplace). Adjacent to the living room on the other side is the kitchen. This is not as open to the second floor, but there is a second staircase into the kitchen which would also allow some heat from the kitchen fireplace to go up the stairs. The house is really 1.5 stories with all second floor rooms on the back side of the house.

    I'm not sure if this information changes anyone's opinions. Also, in speaking with owners of wood burning inserts, they have complained about the air becoming very dry as a result. One family was even getting nose bleeds. Another complained about some of the wood in the home drying out and cracking. Is there a difference in dry air pellet vs. wood burning? I know you can put a kettle on a wood burning, what do you all recommend to humidify for a pellet?

    TriMom, do you know if this new Harman Accentra will have digital controls similar to the Quadrafire?

    Thank you everyone.
  6. will711

    will711 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2011
    Messages:
    1,221
    Loc:
    Pocono mts.
    Welcome to the forum. Have you thought about putting in a free standing stove vs an insert if you have the room? Only reason I ask is because the they are a bit easier to maintain and work on, don't have to pull it out , also gives you more options,just my 2 cents:)
    DexterDay likes this.
  7. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    43
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    Good suggestion, will711. I guess I prefer the insert because it doesn't intrude into the room as much and I also like the look of the insert more. You bring up good benefits however. Hopefully, I won't regret the decision.

    DexterDay brought up the Enviro M-55. Can somebody with experience with this unit share their thoughts? Other than the specifications which I can find online, how does this model compare to the Mt. Vernon in terms of fit and finish, reputation for durability, ease of use, etc?
  8. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    The Harman Accentra is getting an Update and More BTU's this Summer.

    As for the M-55. Its prob one of the most installed (high end) stove on this Forum. Its split between the Vernon, the M-55, and the Accentra (as far as Inserts go).

    But I will agree with Will. Ease of maintenance and also, the cold firebrick isn't trying to suck all your heat up.

    A freestanding stove doesn't have to take a large amount of space and they look attractive as well as heats better in my opinion.
    (Cold fireplace. Convection blower sucks air from behind Stove and has to heat it before coming out of exchanger).
    Inserts are nice, look beautiful when done properly, and some can be easy to work on (rail system), but there are more advantages to freestanding.
    will711 likes this.
  9. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    43
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    DexterDay, thank you. Which systems have the rails for maintenance? I do benefit from my chimney being in the middle of the home and not on an interior wall, this should help prevent the bricks acting as a heat sink.

    You mentioned the burden of having to heat colder air. Following this same logic, would an OAK be a disadvantage?

    I'll take a look at some of the free standing stoves and see what the wife thinks.
  10. fmsm

    fmsm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Messages:
    531
    Loc:
    South of Boston MA
    Living in Plymouth County I can recommend the Harman dealer down the Cape and SWilliamson to install/maintain your unit. One of the reasons I bought a Harman insert was the rail system. I recently added OAK and will never have a stove without it ( no drafts and you're not sucking in previously heated air). When you have your liner installed they can run the OAK next to liner at the same time or you can get a liner that does both. This may also preheat the incoming air. As to a humidifier it is a must! It's dry enough here in NE with ANY type of heat.

    Welcome to the world of pellet burning!

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