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Stove, Insert, or does it matter?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by nibbs, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. nibbs

    nibbs New Member

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    Hello all- first off, thanks for all your previous posts as I've been lurking around the past week!

    We're getting a stove or insert to put within our existing fireplace. We have a 1200sf ranch that we'll be placing this stove/insert on one end in our living room. Our living room, kitchen, entry hall, dining room are relatively open, and then you have that nice long ranch hallway with the bedrooms off of.

    My plan- have a blower no matter what I get, and I'll be putting in a switched box fan above our hallway door to assist in pushing the air down the hall (or at least past the thermostat!).

    We'd like to recess this within our firebox as much as possible- so limited on our options as stoves go. Price point is a factor, which limits us on the inserts as well. Here, so far, is what I'm considering my options are, and then questions to follow...

    Lopi Republic 1250 stove. (fits, could even cut the legs down a bit to make it fit better)

    Hearthstone Craftsbury (was almost going to go with it, but with the price quote on that at 17" log length, thinks it's beyond ruled out now).

    Heatilater ECOchoice WINS18 insert (mainly due to price)

    NOW... the questions... I also was introduced to the Avalon units, the rainier in particular which has a bit larger of a firebox and can take bigger logs, but also is $700 more than the lopi 1250. Similar, the Lopi Leyden would be a bit larger, but also more expensive.

    I'm really wondering would I have wished to go larger than that 1250 republic... I know it could do a satisfactory job, especially with a blower, and I also know that having a larger model could easily sweat us out of the living room, but be better for overnight burns/general heating.

    Any suggestions and thoughts are welcome, and thank you all in advance. Other model suggestions are welcome as well- just bear in mind my existing firebox is 30" high, and we're really looking for a blower to assist with the air movement.

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  2. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

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    We here will definitely want details, fireplace size, location, with pics etc.

    As for insert vs stove,....that sorta depends. Is it an external fireplace or a centrally located fireplace. Even then things can be done to get the most out of the insert like insulating the fireplace box before the stove goes in. We will ask lots of questions to get you the most bang for your buck. Also there are industry professionals here who can point you in different directions.

    The most important thing I can add is to get as big as you can in there!
  3. Mike M.

    Mike M. New Member

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    Insert vs Stove - I have both an insert and a free standing stove. Also, I am new to burning in EPA appliances, going on my second season in Wisconsin. I would say that the insert moves much more air, heats quicker and tends to be easier to control. However because of the larger dual fans on the insert it is much noiser and without the fans it doenst heat anything. The free standing stove is much more economical, and much much less noisy. Note that my free standing stove also has a blower. If I knew that the insert would be so loud I never would have spent the money on it. If you plan to spend time in the room with the appliance, especially if watching TV, I would lean toward the free standing stove. A huge bonus, they heat awesome in a power outage. Anyway thats my 2 cents worth - Cheers!
  4. nibbs

    nibbs New Member

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    Our firebox is 36" wide, 20" deep, 30" high. Open space area that can be easily heated is approx 500 sf, with the additional 700sf down the hall. It's a pretty straight shot (open) from fireplace to hall so with the blower and the transom fan, I'm thinking we'll be able to move air pretty well.

    Great point about losing power - though rare that we're out of it for that long, we were for 8 days last year in that northeast storm.

    I guess one thing I'm really wondering- though I'm a fan of the "go big, go home happy" mentality- in this case, with our every night seating within 10 feet or less of the fireplace, I'm thinking it may be too much with a larger stove, and in either case we'd be moving the same heat down the hall except for when we call it a night as loading a larger one would then become more beneficial.

    Thanks for the thoughts thus far!
  5. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I think you'll get a bigger firebox in there with an insert versus a stove. Inserts are designed to fit small spaces, stoves aren't. I'd choose the largest firebox you can fit, so that you can get longer burns. I don't think any insert that will fit in there is going to be too much stove for your home. When it isn't very cold outside you can always burn smaller fires.
  6. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    With the size house you have and the floor plan you should have no problem heating your barn with the stoves mentioned. I would go with the largest box I could afford and if need be just build a smaller fire. The heat should be distributed nicely with the blowers on the insert, when my blowers on I can hardly hear it unless I turn it on high which I never have to do.
    BTW, I lost power for almost a week in the snowstorm and my insert did a great job heating the house, of course the farther away you were from the stove the colder it was but the room the stove is in was toasty. My house is close to 3000 sf so your 1200sf shouldnt be a problem at all. If your fireplace is on an outside wall you may just need to insulate the outside walls of your fireplace, insulate the liner and put a block off plate, directions to do all the above are on this site.
  7. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Basic reality of an insert is that it is more challenging to get the heat out and into the room than a free standing stove. An insert will have to rely on convection to draw air around the back of the stove (not very efficient) or have active fans pushing the air (noise and electric use).

    Now the free standing stove has the disadvantage of requiring more space that will have to be dedicated to the stove (clearance around the stove back and sides). In a smaller home in particular this could be a significant factor. Now this can be mitigated a bit if you have a brick fireplace as the back clearance becomes a non-issue.

    I have never had an insert but have seen some good ones well placed that are doing a very good of heating friends homes. I didn't have the choice but have no regrets with our stove - I would not want to have a fan on it as I get particular pleasure from the quiet heat of the stove.
  8. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

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    I would buy big and build smaller fires. Someone said on here that you can build a small fire in a big box but not the other way around.
    Snotrocket likes this.
  9. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    I only have experience with an insert. We have the Avalon Ranier in a 1700 sq.ft. Split Ranch. Our insert is in the living room, across from the stairs leading to the bedrooms. For the first couple of years we had issues getting good heat into the bedrooms, but since we added the blower, it has made the difference.....at overnight we leave the blower running on high, and when we are in the living room, just leave it on low....after a while, you can't even notice it's running.....guess getting used to the noise ???. We're still trying to get longer burns out of it....getting 4-5 hours at best....finally got a decent supply of wood, so we're hoping to raise those times. I wouldn't do an insert without a blower.
  10. whiskeypete

    whiskeypete New Member

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    I got into heating with wood only a couple years ago. I went out and bought a Dutchwest insert on clearance for $750. It had a 1.3 cu ft firebox, somewhere around 65% efficiency, but the cost was all i cared about. That little guy did heat my house, but at a coat. I had to run it hard and reload it a lot. I've just upgraded it this year to an enviro venice 1700 with a firebox twice the size and so far I'm glad i did. I wouldn't worry about getting too big of a stove of you goal is heating your house. If i had the extra space infront of the fireplace i would have done a freestanding stove so i could cook on it. But i dont think a freestander heats better than an insert. During our 8 day power outage last year i just took the surround off the insert and it heated just fine without the blower. Most insert blowers are 100 watts or lower so electricity consumption is minimal. I'm. Not familiar with the stoves you are considering but the guys on here definitely know what they are talking about.
  11. nibbs

    nibbs New Member

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    Thanks all for the replies.

    Well, as I'm sure many have experienced, the missus decided she likes the look of one better than the other- ha ha ha. We'll be going with a stove, and now, the question of cost vs how far it sticks out into our room. I wouldn't mind it sticking out more at all, but just with the layout, proximity of seating, and with a little one on the way, almost here in fact, I know we'll be needing every usable piece of real estate that we can get. I've found a few larger models that might actually fit well, so gotta get talking about some price points with some local shops.

    Last question, and forgive me for not searching as I'm sure it's plastered all over the forum (gonna search right after in fact)- installing your own liner. Doesn't seem to complicated- at all really, and I'm quite handy, but anything I should keep in my/look out for if I do it myself vs paying for the install? thanks!
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum nibbs.

    Methinks you have it all wrong on how to circulate that heat in the house. You want a fan on the insert and then a box fan to help push the warm air towards the back of the house. This is actually backwards to how you should get that heat to the further rooms. I also can picture your setup well with that hallway because we have a similar situation.

    One thing you can remember is that cool air is more dense than warm air. This is why it is difficult to move the warm air. So, we do it the other way around. All you need is that box fan or we like the smaller fans. Set the fan on the floor of the hallway with it aimed at the stove room. Run that fan only on low speed. Because the cool air is the more dense, that cool air will go into the stove room and if air comes in, some must also go out. That air going out is the warm air! When we first tried this we were amazed at how quickly those far rooms warmed up. And with the fan on low setting, you don't have the noise and don't have a strong draft in the house.
  13. nibbs

    nibbs New Member

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    Thanks all for the suggestions and input. We ended up going with the lopi 1250 freestanding as the missus really like the look of a stove better than an insert. I figure down the road if I do some work to the house or if we end up moving- it'll then make a nice little basement or garage stove. Just been waiting for the call from te dealer to say its arrived now!

    In the meantime, back to building up the wood pile for this year. Thanks again.
  14. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    You'll be happy with the stove, since the missus likes it thats the most important thing when choosing a stove :)
  15. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    i to had that little dutch west insert and it heated fine just had to keep refilling and that got old. i used it for one and a half seasons and sold that puppy.
  16. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    I dont know why people keep putting down inserts by saying " If the power goes out you wont get the heat because you need electricity for the blower motor". I have had two inserts one really small 1.3cf fire box and one medium to large with a 2.3 cf firebox. When I didnt run the blower I still got alot of heat out of the units. Both of mine did stick out on the hearth, and those huge glass viewing windows let out a ton of heat as well.
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Right you are. Some inserts are better than others at heating without power. Flush inserts often convect poorly without blower assistance. But, as you correctly noted, units that stick out on the hearth generally do a better job at this. Some are even designed to convect well with the fan off. The Regency Hearth Heater and PE inserts are examples. Your Osburn and the BK Princess also look like they would do a fair job with the blower off.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  18. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    At first, I wouldn't think was true....then one day I sat on the steps leading up to the bedroom level, and I could feel a cool breeze hitting me in the back going into the living room (stove room)....and there was no fan running...it was the low cool air leaving the bedrooms
  19. Stax

    Stax Minister of Fire

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    Nibbs, great questions. Insert = convective heat. Stove = radiant heat. While it's nice to recess an insert to an existing fireplace, it is totally reliant on its blower to provide heat. Without it, it's useless. I have a Lopi Declaration and it does a great job of heating my one story 1,700 sq. ft. open floor plan with a little help from ceiling and floor fans. A free standing stove, in my opinion is a thing of beauty and heats softer. I wish I had the room and set up of one. The other disadvantages of an insert is 1. the power issue already mentioned and 2. monitoring stove temps. Hard to get a IR gun reading on the box and or flue.

    If you go the insert route, do a search on them in here. You'll get plenty of info. Quality stoves are going to cost you money. I spent $2,700 on my unit and wouldn't have changed a thing. Please excuse the painted brick. It will be getting a stove veneer wrap sometime in the near future.

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  20. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Depends on the insert, when we lost power last Oct from the snow storm my Princess did a great job heating the house without the blower, the outer reaches (bedrooms) were colder than when I use the blower but the rest of the house was toasty warm.
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The Lopi Declaration is a flush insert. The BK Princess projects out a bit. As I noted above inserts that project out onto the hearth will usually convect naturally, some better than others. Flush inserts usually need the blower running to heat effectively.

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