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Zero clearance pellet stove in new construction

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by ort5, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. ort5

    ort5 Member

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    Hello all,

    I recently signed the papers on a new home to be built in the greater Boston MA area. The home will have a natural gas connection from the street and the primary forced hot air furnace will burn that. The home plans also call for a direct vent NG fireplace in the living room.

    I'm happy about the NG primary heat and may be satisfied with the proposed fireplace as well. It's certainly easy, efficient and zero maintenance. That said, I've always wanted a pellet stove and now is the time for me to make this sort of decision.

    What are the relative pros and cons in your opinion? I previously had a wood burning fireplace insert in my last home which I liked very much. I just didn't like messing with wet wood and the constant feeding of the fire. Also my wife never did feel completely comfortable starting and tending the fire. I like the idea of using pellets as an alternative fuel source when/if NG prices go up and I generally like the idea of a biomass heater for ecological reasons.

    Which models should I consider? The home will be a 2000ft^2 colonial with an open floor plan on the first level. Can a zero clearance pellet stove fit in the same space a zero clearance NG fireplace would normally occupy? Will it cost me significantly more to purchase and operate?

    I appreciate your thoughts.
    Dave
    kinsmanstoves likes this.

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  2. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    A 0 clearance will be a PITA to clean. If you do get one, make sure it has a rail kit that let's it slide out with ease. And some kind of easy disconnect exhaust set up.
  3. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    A zero clearance insert sounds like what you want. I had a Mt Vernon AE installed last year and I am quite pleased with it's performance. My first floor is approximately 1500 sq ft and the Mt Vernon can easily cope with the coldest of days. Today it was 9 degrees in the morning and the pellet consumption was only about 20 - 25% of the stove's capacity. I am basing that on the advertised BTU capacity and the pellet consumption rate assuming that pellets are approximately 8500 BTU/#.
    Pellet stoves do require some maintenance such as weekly cleanings and seasonal cleanings, and yes you do have to move 40# bags of pellets to the stove (for me avg 1/day, peak 2/day).
    The pellet stove makes sense to me on both and economic and an ecological point of view.
  4. Mr. Spock

    Mr. Spock Minister of Fire

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    One point that may be a deal breaker for some is that pellet stoves make some noise. This may or may not present an issue depending on the install location relative to room functions. My XXV is located right next to the TV so when it's full burn the Volume needs to go up bit. This doesn't bother me or the g/f but some find the operational decibel's very irritating. Personally I find it relaxing.
  5. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    The Mt Vernon AE has a quiet mode for situations where noise is an issue. My insert is 20 feet from my TV and I run it at full speed. It is quieter than a typical fan on low speed. Still some people are more sensitive to extraneous noises than I am.
  6. Tim Linden

    Tim Linden Member

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    Pellet stoves will be a bit more work.. Less than wood stoves but more than NG. You have to feed it and clean it. But the wife can turn it on by turning a knob (at least if it's a Harman, guessing others have ignitors too). Just tell her to not use the vacuum to clean it (my dad just told me my step mom did on hot ashes using the reg house vac..). Price wise, I saw somewhere pellets were slightly less than NG. I moved from oil so the difference is bigger but still worth it for how great they heat.
  7. Mr. Spock

    Mr. Spock Minister of Fire

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    Exactly the point I was trying to make. Folks have different thresholds.By no means do I mean the XXV is noisy it too has a quiet mode where you can turn off the convection fan for radiant heat only (or adjust the fan to any speed you want). But if you are trying to get the heat out in a hurry it moves some air. If it's maintaining temp I find the unit to be very quiet. Actually he XXV is maintaining temp now and I can barely hear it compared to the tv and the tv volume is low. Again mileage may vary!
  8. sticks

    sticks Member

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    IMHO the ecological reasons dont hold up. If they dont use it for pellets they can use for MDF furniture or OSB . We had a pellet mill close to us about 15 to 20 years ago. The machine broke down and repair was expensive so they sold the raw material for 10 dollars less a ton and did nothing to it. So it does not go to waste
  9. Mr. Spock

    Mr. Spock Minister of Fire

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    Funny! Made me laugh.
  10. Mr. Spock

    Mr. Spock Minister of Fire

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    I'll take your word for it. I honestly thought you were making a joke.
  11. Pelleting In NJ

    Pelleting In NJ Feeling the Heat

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    Check out the Quad Edge60 zero clearance pellet fireplace. They are the same guts as the Mt Vernon, and the entire chassis rolls out for easy cleaning. Check around at Quad dealers, they are on clearance, about $2000 off the original $5000 price.
  12. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    You missed the point. I am no longer burning fossil fuels so I am no longer releasing CO2 into the environment.
  13. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    One of the easiest Z/C to work on would be the Edge 60 (Mt. Vernon but FANCY) and on tracks!

    Slides right out. 60,000 BTU and Beautiful.

    Quadrafire Edge 60. Look it up..
  14. flynfrfun

    flynfrfun Minister of Fire

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    I removed my NG insert and replaced it with my Enviro M55 insert. Pellet stoves are WAY more work than a NG insert because there is essentially NO work involved with the NG insert. However, like you I like having diverse heating fuel options for the home if one or the other skyrocket. Basically, the pellet stove will cost more per BTU than NG, but can save you $ anyways and I'll explain why. I let my NG furnace maintain 65F for the house while we are gone to work and at night (this costs me about $50/month in NG, 2000sf house). When we get home from work and on the weekends, the pellet stove heats our bottom floor living area to about 80F (costs about $100/month in pellets). Now, if I were to turn the NG furnace up to 80 we would be spending way more because it would take a lot of NG to heat the whole house up to that temp. So, for $150/month we are nice and toasty. Prior to the pellet stove, we spent about $200 in the coldest month and that was only turning the furnace up to 74F when we got home (wife still felt cold). Also, my NG furnace would not even get the house to 80 from the time I got home from work to the time we go to bed. If I didn't care about diverse fuel sources, I'd definitely go with a NG insert because they put out lots of heat too.
  15. ort5

    ort5 Member

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    Thanks for the great replies, they're helpful.

    I certainly expect the pellet stove to be more work than the NG fireplace, but I'm OK with that. Some primal part of me actually LIKES the "man make fire" process, so the pellet stove caters to that somewhat better than NG.

    I had not considered the difficulties presented when cleaning a ZC pellet stove, so a model that has rails is at the top of my list. I'll check out the Quad you've suggested and see if I can find others.

    The challenge may be convincing my builder to make the substitution for me. I suppose I could alternatively add a free standing pellet stove elsewhere in the house. It just makes less sense than utilizing the space in the designated "hearth" area.
  16. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    I would go with a Harman Accentra with a rail kit. The quick disconnect on the exhaust makes it one of the easiest inserts to pull out for service. Also the quality and looks makes it one of the best! The heat it throws out is superb!
  17. ort5

    ort5 Member

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    I love the Accentra, but would it work in a ZC installation?
  18. Chain

    Chain Feeling the Heat

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    Since the house isn't built yet and you mentioned you could have your contractor design and build for a free standing stove, I'd go that route and completely get away from an insert. I think free standing stoves are just easier to clean and maintain. They also will radiate more heat naturally into your living area as compared with an insert. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the exhaust set-up needs to be accommodated in your design and build. I would recommend a straight up through your roof set-up as it will vent better should you lose power. And since you haven't built the home, a good contractor can easily accommodate the installation of a nice hearth area with vertical venting up through the roof system. The other option is to vent directly out of the wall horizontally and then up vertically along the outside wall. This avoids the entire roof design issue but it also doesn't vent as naturally in most cases should you lose power.
    briansol likes this.
  19. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    Agreed.
    As an insert owner, I'd never do it again. I wish i went free-standing and kept my fireplace for a wood fire when th epower goes out, and ease of cleaning.
  20. Harvey Schneider

    Harvey Schneider Minister of Fire

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    I am 66 and I have an insert that is not on rails. Cleaning it just isn't that difficult. Yes it is a little harder to get at the screws to loosen the blower motors, but not insanely difficult. The flue connector is held by four screws and although a quick connect is a nice idea, for the once a year I have to deal with, I wouldn't spend the extra to add it to the stove.
    I don't find any reason to remove the stove entirely from its normal operating position, but if I did, it can slide on its base with little difficulty. Mine is sitting on a stone hearth and it doesn't take much muscle to move it.
    Maybe my attitude is influenced by that fact that my insert hasn't needed much in the way of maintenance.
  21. flynfrfun

    flynfrfun Minister of Fire

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    There are 2 pellet stoves that slide/roll out on wheels: Harman Accentra and Enviro M55 Cast. Both are great stoves. The Accentra has a better engineered "docking station" than the Enviro because Harman made both the exhaust and the OAK connect automatically. The M55 only connects the exhaust automatically. In my case, connecting the OAK is easy because my insert is in a pre-fab or "doghouse" built onto the side of the house. I can reach thru the OAK hole in the exterior of the house and pull it thru. The M55 inputs 55,000 BTU vs the 40,000 of the Accentra. I also think the M55 is probably easier to work on since you have to tip the Accentra up to get to the bottom mounted convection blower for cleaning and these stoves are 300+lbs!

    Rolling my stove out is about a 10 minute job (including setting up the rails) and is super easy as the rollers are ball bearings. I can roll it out with one finger, it's that easy! The nice thing about that is once out you can get all the way around it without having to remove any body pieces etc. When you hear people talking about how difficult inserts are to work on, they are probably talking about inserts that don't roll out on wheels. I feel that once rolled out, my stove is easier to work on than a freestanding corner unit. The two adjacent walls keep you from getting to the back of the stove very easily IMHO.
  22. rickwai

    rickwai Feeling the Heat

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    Yes it will. You will need theHarman zero clearance box for the install. Very well made and easy to install. Accentra is easy to service. Best thing is you dont have to mess w/ exhaust when servicing. Some inserts you have to be careful not to knock exhaust loose.
  23. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

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    If it's a new construction, why not a pellet furnace?
    DexterDay likes this.
  24. ort5

    ort5 Member

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    I'm not ready to put all my eggs in the pellet basket I guess. Having never owned any pellet burning appliance, I'd rather start with a space heater and then work my way up to a central heater if I see fit.

    I also think the convenience of NG can't be beat and the cost is much lower than the oil I am coming from.
  25. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    A direct vent natural gas unit is almost no maintenance. Some do throw some heat but they are not that efficient since there is almost no restriction on the exhaust venting. You will get more btu from the NG by using the furnace than the fireplace. Current cost of NG in this area is very cheap compared to oil and older electric furnaces. The fire place does give you flame to look at. Make sure it is a quality unit and as for pulling the unit out that is not needed.

    As for pellet, you will get more usable BTU but more mess.

    Eric

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