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Should I even bother with an insert?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by DeerHunter, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. DeerHunter

    DeerHunter Member

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    Adirondacks, NY
    Hi ladies and gents,

    I've been lurking here for quite some time, and have been learning a lot about stoves. I have an open masonry fireplace on the first floor of a 2600 ft^2 colonial-style house in Upstate NY (and a $3500 oil bill!!). I love to burn wood, but it is obviously a waste to burn in the fireplace. I've got my mind set on purchasing an insert, but I wanted to get a reality check from the experts here based on my floor plan as to what type of reduction I can expect in my heating bill. Just so you know, I've been stockpiling wood and have about 3 full cord of 2+ year red oak c/s/s (and scrounging more as we speak ==c). I've included pics of my floorplan, and you can see where the exterior fireplace chimney is. Existing dimensions for fireplace box is 36" w (face), 30" w (back), 26" h, 23" d (bottom), 19" d (top).

    Right now I'm down to the Lopi Freedom, Country Canyon C310, and PE Summit (and still kicking around the VC Merrimack).

    I've got thick skin...

    Whole_house.jpg MyHouse.jpg
    1st_and_2nd_Floor.jpg 1st_Floor.jpg

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  2. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Welcome, Deerhunter, to the forums............ man, have you been paying attention :)

    The left side of the first floor, how open are those doorways? I'm assuming they are bedrooms/offices?

    Have you thought about a free standing stove more centrally located in the room with the sliding glass doors?

    Others will be along shortly, I am sure.

    $3500 for oil, I know the feeling. It's why I am here :cool:
  3. robertmcw

    robertmcw Member

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    I got an Avalon 1190 insert and my house has only about 1200 sq ft. I have needed all of the BTU’s it puts out. It looks at your house it would be a problem getting all the heat you want to get disturbed around the house, or, how what is the plan to get the house warm from A to B to C? It looks like the room will get the insert will go will get too hot in that area and you will need a way to move the heat to the other rooms. I think you should look into a really good contactor to see how to do that first.

    Robert
  4. DeerHunter

    DeerHunter Member

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    Thanks Dixie! Yes, a centrally-located free-stander would be the preference, but my DW refuses since we have 4 children (7,5,3,1). I told her they would only touch it once :oops: The only thing she hates more than fire is spending money, so we compromised on the insert with a wrap-around barrier.

    We almost always keep all 1st floor doors open.

    Oh, and there are no interior sliding glass doors - the first floor (family room - breakfast area - kitchen) is all open.
  5. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    *Laughing* Let her post here and see what she gets :)

    I meant the room with the glass door off of the back of the house to situate a wood stove. Are you aware that you can put a "fence" around the stove to kid proof it? Many members here have done this. Makes a handy drying rack in the winter, too !!

    "No, no ... hot" works. Be it puppies or kids ;lol
  6. DeerHunter

    DeerHunter Member

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    Those are certainly concerns, and I don't have a great answer yet. Here are some considerations I've had, in order of increasing drasticness (is that even a word??):

    1) Having a fan between the family room and kitchen, drawing the warm air out.
    2) Running the central heat fan squirrel cage only (the air intake is in the same room as the fireplace).
    2) Cutting a hole in the ceiling in the family room (which would be in the floor of the 2nd floor master bedroom in the corner) with a fan inside the register.

    If others have a similar setup, I'd love to hear your solutions.
  7. Locust Post

    Locust Post Minister of Fire

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    There are a lot of variables here like where you live (climate). Must be a colder climate with a high heat bill but it would help to know that, so posters could compare their situations. How well are you insulated is another. My house is not exactly like yours but my insert is on one end in the basement (basement is walk out on the back side of the house). My insert will not completly heat the whole house in the colder parts of the winter but in the mild parts it does a great job. I though in turn have hot water heat with zones so I only have to supplement the upper back part of the house. With your layout if it is well insulated and you can accomplish heating the lower floors well, my guess is you could cut that bill in half or better. The other suggestion I would make is if you do go ahead with an insert you may think of some small electric heaters in the upper far away rooms. I have had good success with that and does not seem to cost an arm and a leg on electric.
  8. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    I think the first floor will heat pretty well. It is often very difficult to tell though. Wood burners are space heaters. Sometimes they circulate well and other times they don't. Certainly though, you will cut your heating bill significantly. And you can always help the circulation of the heat by helping the cold air return to the heat source.
  9. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    As you are heating with one of the most variable expense and spendy types of heat that there is (oil), I would go with the insert, even if it only heats the living room and the upstairs. At my last residence, we put in an insert and it made the o/w useless fireplace into a reasonable heating device. The fans in it made all the difference, and it heated the living room and the second story just fine. Your second story will be heated by convection if you just leave the straiway doors open. The far side of your first story is not apt to be heated naturally, but if you use a box fan or two placed strategically you will likely get them warm enough in winter. Or shunt the oil furnace to those areas that are cooler and heat the rest with the wood insert. I have a ranch home here and the stove is on one side of the house. A single box fan is more than enough to circulate warm air through my 1300 sq ft single story home.
  10. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    For what it's worth, my 30 is similarly positioned to your fireplace, and one tower fan pushes heat pretty much all over the house. I'm not sure that there's an insert that can push out the heat like a 30, but if there is someone here will know.
  11. DeerHunter

    DeerHunter Member

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    Those glass doors lead out to our back patio with attached hot tub :cool: Yet more $$ spent on heat.

    Sorry...foothills of the Adirondacks. House is fairly well insulated - double pane windows with storm windows, insulation in walls, weather stripping, insulation in attic, etc. Space heaters are definitely an option...did that last year with the TS set at 68 and it worked pretty well.
  12. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Oh, my old Buck does and then some, but of course it is old like me and they don't make it anymore.;lol
  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    If you put in an insert, which with the low height of that fireplace is about it, the sectional is gonna have to be rearranged. It will block the cold air circulation returning to the insert. I know that from experience. Have the insert running and you sit on the sectional getting frostbite on your neck from the air coming up and over.
    tfdchief likes this.
  14. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Yep, you don't sit on our couch in the winter with your feet on the floor. The cold air comes right past the front of it on the floor going to the the old Buck. Buuuurrrrrr.
  15. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    First, that is the best house diagram I have ever seen on this forum. Second, I think it is worth putting in the insert. You will not replace the oil heat, but I bet you can save the cost of the insert in reduced oil bills the first year. I have a small wood stove in a rather poor location in the house and I save a few hundred a month on my electric heat bill. Your bill is far higher than mine so I think you'll save more.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I would put a 3 cu ft insert in, but the main problem is going to be heat circulation. That is what I call a house of doors. It's going to take having all those glass doors open and a fan set correctly to encourage heat circulation. You will get better results blowing the cold air toward the warm. Try putting a fan in the dining (?) room doorway, blowing across the kitchen toward the LR. If all the doors are open, it should pull the air though the family room, into the dining room and then toward the living room.
  17. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Im heating over 2800 sf with a 2.8 cf insert, Im lucky that my FP is in the middle of the house right next to an open stairway, still had to figure a way to get the air circulating. Ive cut down my oil use to one tank per year, you should be able to put a large dent in your oil bill with the right stove and once you figure out the best way to circulate the heat.
  18. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    I would put the largest firebox you can fit in that fireplace. The insert will definitely be a huge help with your oil bills.
  19. DeerHunter

    DeerHunter Member

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    ...And so we get down to the question at hand :) Should I consider the BK Princess, or does the cat not make up for the smaller box and I should just go with the 3 cuft inserts?
  20. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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  21. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    My opinion is that long burn times are the single best feature for any wood stove. I enjoy tending the fire as much as anyone, but I am not always home and I like to sleep at night so I can't load wood as frequently as my smaller stove requires. For my next stove I'll choose a large one with long burn times. Blaze Kings are known for long burn times, and cat stoves in general are good at long burns.
  22. DeerHunter

    DeerHunter Member

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    I do like the LARGE firebox on the Buck 91. I have been calling around today and I can't seem to find any dealers that have sold any of these in over a year. Is there something wrong with them, or are they just not sexy enough for a retailer to keep them on the showroom floor? Seems like the trend is to get away from cats. Looking at the graph that Harman, I would have to say that cats are the way to go, which would limit the selection to BK Princess and Buck 91, unless you all know of another?

    [​IMG]
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The Harman graph is without any indexes and more of a marketing tool than anything else. That even burn is nice in early fall and spring, but somewhat meaningless in the winter when one is demanding heat from the stove. The majority of stoves and inserts heating 24/7 are non-cat. That doesn't mean I am against cats, they are fine. Appalachian also makes a big cat insert. Just beware of misleading marketing.

    Pay attention to flue size. You may want or need to stick with a 6" outlet size depending on your chimney throat size and configuration.
  24. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Harman is non Catalytic so I would say that is not accurate anyway its marketing ! I can say I have seen BackwoodsSavage ( Dennis ) stove which is a woodstock fireview and it burns great while throwing some real heat out ! We also looked at Blaze King and on this side of the US they are very expensive but the burn times are amazing. There is also the vc encore most seem to like it a lot as well.

    http://www.woodstove.com/wood-stoves

    http://www.woodstoves.net/vermont castings/encore.htm


    Pete
  25. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    The thing I like about the Buck 91 is the 4.4 cf firebox. That combined with a cat should make for some great burn times. Just my two cents. The dealers you spoke to won't sell you one?

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