Review of Fireplace Xtrordinair:Travis Industries --- FPX 36 Elite Fireplace -- Fireplace burning Wood only
Installation Type: Wood/Coal - Freestanding into metal Chimney
Satisfaction Ratings from 5 stars (best) to 1 star (worst)
Satisfaction with unit = ✰✰✰✰✰
Satisfaction with dealer = ✰✰✰✰
Satisfaction with manufacturer = ✰✰✰✰✰
Other Information about the Home and Stove
Room Size (Sq ft): 720 | House Size (Sq feet): 2800 heated
Bought in 2010 , Price Paid:
Location : Billerica, MA 1821, USA
Purchased from: Fireplace Retail Store - Chelmsford Fireplace
Apeparance - we got the hammered door/faceplate and it looks very nice (even before my wife had me build the surround and mantle)
Heat output/circulation - I was concerned that with only the blower at the fireplace, it would not be able to circulate enough of the heat for the complete house. While the upstairs bedroom area is cooler (runs about 5 degrees cooler), this is acceptable/desirable given its use. Heat takes about 45 minutes to reach far end of house with blower running at high speed. However, if Travis comes out with a venting option before we buy the next unit (new house), I will get it.
Very touchy air intake adjustment: 1" movement between full open and shut
Burn time is not 10 hr as advertised: best I get is 6-8, burning 2 year seasoned oak and beech.
Blower fan has minimal exterior housing: Unit was large and took up most of available space in framed chimney box, so fan needed to be installed outside of chimney. The factory provided unit is enclosed, but could probably use a better cowling to protect it from the weather.
Blower fan has trips GCFI breaker: has occurred 3 times this season (I suspect it indicates need to lubricate blower fan because of exposure (see previous comment), but unless required won't get to it until summer)
Fan override switch (to blow regardless of stove temp) no longer available: This would be nice in the summer to cycle air into the house. The wiring is there, but the option is not provided by the manufacturer (added DIY switch - works/looks OK).
We have heated with wood and coal in the past (previous home for over 10 years) and added this to a new home (original built without) to offset the rising cost of oil heat. Our goal was for this to be the primary heat source. Prior to installation our oil heat requirements averaged about 130 gal/month (heat+dhw). With the stove in 24/7 use we are using only about 50/month now (dhw with occasional backup heat).
When originally investigating, I saw several posts with concerns about easily smoking the glass but I have found that with a little practice, I can get the burn rate adjustment (air intake) properly set to avoid this, though some smoking occurs along the bottom sides.
The unit is large, so we opted to have it professionally installed. The location was a newly framed chimney on an exterior wall with a large sliding door access to the first floor room where it was being located. The installation required 2 people (minimum) and a handcart to move the unit but was straight forward and could be done as a DIY over a weekend. The outside air intakes, fan attachment, required wiring and metal chimney connections were simple to install for someone with minimal DIY skills.
We opted to remove the decorative log cradle and fence and use the basic 1/2" square rod fence that comes by default. This increased the volume of wood that we could put in (allowing the 8+ max burn time) and made cleaning the ash out easier.
My biggest gripe is the VERY touchy air intake control (1" play between full open and full shut). At full open, my burn for seasoned oak is about 4 hours, full shut it is about 8+. I generally like to adjust it so that I get a 6-8 hour burn without smoking the glass, but adjustments are difficult and take several attempts (watching the results -not the position of the slide control).
I cleaned the catalytic converter after the first winter. It was simple enough to do (followed directions in user manual). We did not clean the chimney (will do this summer), so I don't know how that will go, but do not see anything that I expect to be problematic.
I would love to see Travis offer some additional options
* Venting option (see comment in pros)
* Solar/battery powered fan (with plug-in backup)
* Fan override switch (see comment in Cons)
I plan to buy this stove again for a new home when it is built.
* Dates that reviews were submitted were not recorded prior to Nov. 2004