Advice on which wood stove to buy

Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
818
Western Washington
Masonry is not an option for us, but thanks for the information. After reading all the valued advice, I think we might like a gorgeous bigger unit on the main floor and a smaller, quicker heat up (and less expensive?) unit in the basement to use when company is over. I've been trying to compile a pros/cons list. Long burn time overnight would be ideal so we don't have to start the fire from scratch in the morning. Not over/under heating is very important as well.
Which models of Hearthstone, Blaze King, Woodstock, Lopi and now Jodel would you recommend? (Was hoping to stay American-made). Will possibly start a new thread on lessons-learned advice on building a new home :)
For me it would depend on how much downstairs I would want to use. If I didn’t spend much time down there I’d run a king downstairs and a princess upstairs that I could run a little hotter to keep the glass clean if I chose or just plug the king full and I suspect it wouldn’t do too bad at offsetting most of the heat requirements for the whole house most of the time
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
535
SE North Carolina
Couple thoughts. We have a 2000 sq ft reach with a walk out 1000 sq ft basement. Medium jotul upstair. With a woodstove upstairs or not the basement needs to be on its own thermostat. Consider an outside air kit a requirement As any outside air make up air will just cool basement. depending How far along the building process you I really think if you air seal and insulate really well with an erv and high efficiency heat pump, a wood stove is for aesthetics and enjoyment and hardly a necessity. I think that has impacts on stove choice. When I wanted a fire I want to feel the fire. If is 45 and wet out and I just came in from (insert activity here) and I want a fire I want To feel it in 30 minutes or less. I want it to fit the decor and look intended. I didn’t need a stove. I was tired of looking at an empty fireplace that we never used But the heat is nice when the heat pump can’t keep up. We got by for 8 winters with out it We just weren’t as warm.
im pretty sure they only way I could run two stoves is if they both had temperature alarms ( probably the only way I’d let my in-laws or kids run it too). dry wood is the most important part. A wood shed would be part of the build. 6 cords seems about right? Whose going to clean the flue? If it’s you the easier it is the more likely you are to do it. Top dow, bottom up? Things to think about.
If I had to buy a stove for a new house today it would most likely be a PE T5. If I gas I’d probably do a gas stove in the basement.

just some rambling thoughts

Evan
 
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Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
818
Western Washington
I think in the newer home, even the bigger sq ft, the big king might be in black screen mode most of the time if it’s upstairs. I really think it depends on lifestyle. The longer burn times and control of the heat works very well for me. My wife simply turns the thermostat up if she feels cold (even if the inside temp hasn’t changed) and it’s still has plenty left to last 12+ hours that fits my work style. Plus, I rarely build a fire, just throwing more wood in.
 
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jfowler10

New Member
Feb 13, 2021
17
Burke, VA
I think in the newer home, even the bigger sq ft, the big king might be in black screen mode most of the time if it’s upstairs. I really think it depends on lifestyle. The longer burn times and control of the heat works very well for me. My wife simply turns the thermostat up if she feels cold (even if the inside temp hasn’t changed) and it’s still has plenty left to last 12+ hours that fits my work style. Plus, I rarely build a fire, just throwing more wood in.
Forgive my ignorance, but what does "black screen mode" mean? And big king is Blaze King, correct? Heat control and constancy are very important to me. Thanks for your advice!
 

jfowler10

New Member
Feb 13, 2021
17
Burke, VA
Couple thoughts. We have a 2000 sq ft reach with a walk out 1000 sq ft basement. Medium jotul upstair. With a woodstove upstairs or not the basement needs to be on its own thermostat. Consider an outside air kit a requirement As any outside air make up air will just cool basement. depending How far along the building process you I really think if you air seal and insulate really well with an erv and high efficiency heat pump, a wood stove is for aesthetics and enjoyment and hardly a necessity. I think that has impacts on stove choice. When I wanted a fire I want to feel the fire. If is 45 and wet out and I just came in from (insert activity here) and I want a fire I want To feel it in 30 minutes or less. I want it to fit the decor and look intended. I didn’t need a stove. I was tired of looking at an empty fireplace that we never used But the heat is nice when the heat pump can’t keep up. We got by for 8 winters with out it We just weren’t as warm.
im pretty sure they only way I could run two stoves is if they both had temperature alarms ( probably the only way I’d let my in-laws or kids run it too). dry wood is the most important part. A wood shed would be part of the build. 6 cords seems about right? Whose going to clean the flue? If it’s you the easier it is the more likely you are to do it. Top dow, bottom up? Things to think about.
If I had to buy a stove for a new house today it would most likely be a PE T5. If I gas I’d probably do a gas stove in the basement.

just some rambling thoughts

Evan
We have not started building; the architect is drawing up the plans now. Starting to second guess the idea of putting a wood stove in the basement. Honestly, I don't envision us down there that much. I was planning on probably needing 2 heat pumps -- one for main floor and one for basement. Hoping the wood stove on main floor would mean not needing to run the heat pump much in the winter, and we could set the basement thermostat to pretty chilly since we aren't down there much. What is "outside air kit" == is that the outside source of air for the wood stove so it's not sucking air from the house? That sounds like the only way to go. The only gas we might have is propane tank to power a back up generator so not a good use for a heater in the basement. We might not need the generator if we do solar panels with batteries. Too many decisions. I'll add the PE T5 to the list! I was leaning toward the Woodstock Progress Hybrid. Thanks so much for your help.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
535
SE North Carolina
We just finished a 2 bath + laundry renovation and I’m in the middle of the basement diy. I really can’t imagine a whole house. It’s a dream I have but my wants of what’s possible aren’t easily accomplished by many/ most contractors that are in my budget. Browse the forum for pics there are some really great looking vaulted installs that have been posted.
We have not started building; the architect is drawing up the plans now. Starting to second guess the idea of putting a wood stove in the basement. Honestly, I don't envision us down there that much. I was planning on probably needing 2 heat pumps -- one for main floor and one for basement. Hoping the wood stove on main floor would mean not needing to run the heat pump much in the winter, and we could set the basement thermostat to pretty chilly since we aren't down there much. What is "outside air kit" == is that the outside source of air for the wood stove so it's not sucking air from the house? That sounds like the only way to go. The only gas we might have is propane tank to power a back up generator so not a good use for a heater in the basement. We might not need the generator if we do solar panels with batteries. Too many decisions. I'll add the PE T5 to the list! I was leaning toward the Woodstock Progress Hybrid. Thanks so much for your help.
 
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Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
818
Western Washington
Forgive my ignorance, but what does "black screen mode" mean? And big king is Blaze King, correct? Heat control and constancy are very important to me. Thanks for your advice!
Sorry, Blaze King, King model. I nicknamed it black screen when it’s at a low setting. It basically shows very little or no flames and just a little glow of some coals. It will run like this for a very long time and produce a lot of heat. The glass will turn black which adds to the darkness. It may sound awful but it’s actually quite fascinating. It’s burning the gasses from the wood with the catalytic. I have a princess in a newer, smaller home downstairs and I’m able to run mine a little higher so the glass stays fairly clean and I can crank it up on high and clean the glass whenever I feel the need but it definitely pumps out a lot of heat during the process. Even running at a higher setting, it still lasts an easy 12-15 hours. Lots of folks getting 24 hour burns and the king can go 40 . I’ve even heard 60 hours. I like the classic looks . All the newer style stoves look the same to me.
 
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MR. GLO

New Member
Jan 26, 2021
91
Massachusetts
We are going to build our retirement house in West Virginia, a one story with a walk out basement, about 2300 sf on the main floor and about 1800 finished in the basement. Since it is a new build, I was advised to not build the traditional fireplace with insert but have a free standing wood stove. I have been researching different companies and models and would appreciate advice. We have never had a wood stove, so please excuse my ignorance :) From online research, we are considering Hearthstone, Blaze King, Woodstock, and Lopi. Is there another brand to consider?
1, Is having the Soapstone on the stove as critical as they make it sound? We would very much like even heating and it sounds like soapstone delivers that.
2. Is cooking on top a great option for power outages? They make it sound so. Some soapstone models look like we couldn't do that.
3. If we can afford it, would you recommend having a 2nd wood stove in the basement? Would it be worth about doubling the cost?
4. How does the heat circulate to the other rooms? We have an open floor plan for family room/kitchen/dining room, but the bedrooms and bathrooms are of course separate rooms. Does the traditional furnace air handler move the heat around if we set the blower to "on" constantly?
Anything else to consider?
Thanks so much in advance for advice!
Take care,
Julie
I have a walk out basement and one story and my Jotul Rangeley is oversized, but this is my first year with it and we have not really had deep freeze yet. My other house had a Morso and that was oversized too... That was on the main floor in the middle of the house.

I am well insulated and air sealed. The heat rises up the stairwell. I have box fans filtering the house air anyway. So this helps. The warm air does get to the other side of the basement, but not even close as upstairs. After 4-5 hours I see the heat increase so much I do not add wood after 11 pm, but im still sweating at 75 degrees. Stove top temp is usually has been only 550 max I tried cutting down to 3 logs but that causes more frequent reload.

I tried opening doors to a colder room like a garage or breezeway but that seems to push hot air up. I am going to try a smaller stove next year. I dont want to open windows. If you go to the basement and external chimney make sure the hole to outside the wall is high enough to clean outside t cap and enough clearance from to combustibles at inside ceiling, and where you dont have long funky angle pipe runs. If the t cap is too low to ground you will be digging dirt outside to access and clean it. I used a coring company with water and it was a nice clean hole and had them put a 6 inch hole in same room for fresh air / passive air and in summer I use the hole for ac vent. Burn good wood and only load on refill and start a quick fire and you will be ok in the basement. Make sure your finished basement ceiling height is tall for clearances. Get an ultra low reading co meter.

I wanted my stove in the basement to warm the entire house. If you put the stove on 1st floor im not sure if you could get the heat to the basement. Maybe someone else will chime in. But I like throwing the wood on the basement concrete floor, splitting it to test for moisture and keeping a good supply of wood inside. Make sure you get your wood ASAP before you get the stove. I keep making that mistake over and over.... It is a pain to keep going to the basement but a good camera and wireless temp gauge solved that issue. Most people probably want the stove near them while watching tv. So if cost isn't a factor, maybe put two internal chimneys in and see which spot you like best.
 
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Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
818
Western Washington
I think that’s why if I was building a house similar to yours I would go ahead a place a king model downstairs and i suspect it would do most of the heating for the whole house. If I was going to put a stove upstairs, I would want a catalytic for the control so I didn’t overheat. If I wanted to be able to watch the fire, I would let the downstairs fire go out and then I should be able to run the princess high enough to keep the glass clean and see flames. It’s really hard to say how everything would work for sure but there some very knowledgeable folks on here that are very helpful in many situations. I definitely think having a wood heat source in a house is a good plan
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
553
Eastern Long Island NY
Masonry is not an option for us, but thanks for the information. After reading all the valued advice, I think we might like a gorgeous bigger unit on the main floor and a smaller, quicker heat up (and less expensive?) unit in the basement to use when company is over. I've been trying to compile a pros/cons list. Long burn time overnight would be ideal so we don't have to start the fire from scratch in the morning. Not over/under heating is very important as well.
Which models of Hearthstone, Blaze King, Woodstock, Lopi and now Jodel would you recommend? (Was hoping to stay American-made). Will possibly start a new thread on lessons-learned advice on building a new home :)
For long burn times a cat stove would
We have not started building; the architect is drawing up the plans now. Starting to second guess the idea of putting a wood stove in the basement. Honestly, I don't envision us down there that much. I was planning on probably needing 2 heat pumps -- one for main floor and one for basement. Hoping the wood stove on main floor would mean not needing to run the heat pump much in the winter, and we could set the basement thermostat to pretty chilly since we aren't down there much. What is "outside air kit" == is that the outside source of air for the wood stove so it's not sucking air from the house? That sounds like the only way to go. The only gas we might have is propane tank to power a back up generator so not a good use for a heater in the basement. We might not need the generator if we do solar panels with batteries. Too many decisions. I'll add the PE T5 to the list! I was leaning toward the Woodstock Progress Hybrid. Thanks so much for your help.

Yes, an outside air kit is a tube from the outside to the stove, so that the air it "breathes" comes from outside, and you don't create a "vacuum" in your home (leading to smoke coming out of the stove sometimes). For a tight home, I'd plan for that.

I would not put a stove in the basement if you're not there often, as it won't help much with the main floor. Instead, find something you like (visually) for the main floor. There are many.

IF you choose Blaze King, I'd look at the Ashford (a bit classical look) or Sirocco - the Princess is fantastic in being functional, but a lot of people don't like the looks. These stoves have good, even, long heat output. If you want a modern look, Sirocco or Chinook (my stove).

However, if you mainly want the ambiance and will additionally benefit from the heat, you may want a tube stove instead - more flames to stare into. You can run a Blaze King with flames, but then it puts out a lot of heat, and I don't know when you will be roasted out of your living room (vaulted ceilings, but still...). BK's can provide long heat outputs (12-24 hrs) but that's visually less appealing (choosing function over form). Instead there are quite a few folks getting overnight fires (having enough coals in the morning to easily relight) in stoves other than BK's. So that (overnight fires) still leaves you a range of stoves within which you can see what you like to look at for the next decade...

Again, compare BTU needs (see HVAC system design folks) with the estimate BTU output ranges from the stoves you like.

Finally, a wood stove will always be a space heater, so while you may be able to move enough heat to the corner rooms of your home for your taste (see my "create an air loop in your home remarks earlier), there are drawbacks. However, if you like you bedrooms colder, and spend most of your time in the living room, it may save considerably on heating costs (depending on how you source your wood fuel...) by possibly only having to boost the temps in e.g. the bedroom half an hour before you go there.
 
Dec 14, 2020
108
Lisburn, PA
How on earth does the heat pump push the heat to the water heater? Did you hire a specialist to design this?
@jfowler10 you must be in information overload. Lot's of good advice, experience and opinions on this thread.
To precisely answer your question on heat pump water heater let me describe my system. Our house has 4 geothermal heat pumps that use underground water loops to either transfer heat out of the ground in the winter or transfer heat into the ground in the summer. This type of heat pump can be modified so when in AC mode, instead of moving all of the heat from the house into the ground, it moves a lot of the heat into a separate water tank to preheat domestic water before it goes into your water heater.
My wife no longer frets about crankin up the AC in the summer because our electric bill doesn't go up.
I worked in commercial construction for 35 years doing design build projects and learned a lot about space heating, ventilating and cooling, fresh/make up air, water heating, energy efficiency, building codes, etc. I also learned how to look for cost effective design solutions. Architects, engineers, mechanical and electrical contractors are all playing in the same concert but they are on a different score.
You will have ducted air conditioning and should insist on having make up/fresh air incorporated. Fresh air is important for more than making a chimney work.
A geothermal heat pump system will cost more up front, but can operate in the coldest winters because the ground temperature is constant. My system is 13 years old and I have recouped the additional upfront cost twice now and had 1 control valve, $183, fail so far.
I assume you have a realtor involved. Ask them about resale value and geothermal.
Other electrical and mechanical things I would do.
Small propane powered standby generator with under ground storage tank, 3 RV marine batteries with charger from generator and solar, 3 solar panels on the wood shed, separate electric panel feeding critical circuits (not lights) from the generator, RV/marine 12 volt lights connected to the batteries batteries, outdoor wood boiler feeding radiant heat in house and garage and domestic hot water storage tank.
If I keep at it, I can spend all your retirement savings!
 
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IowaRSFBurner

Member
Dec 27, 2017
47
Pella, Iowa
If you would like a fireplace on the main floor, why not consider a high efficiency zero clearance such as those made by RSF or Fireplace X? They have some very nice options, granted more expensive than a traditional wood burning stove. But you get the look of a fireplace with the heat of a wood stove. Additionally, most manufacturers make kits to tie in to your HVAC so you can move the heat throughout your house. I know, another option to consider. Its the tradeoff I made when we built our house and my wife wanted the look of a fireplace but I wanted the efficiency of a wood stove.
 
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jfowler10

New Member
Feb 13, 2021
17
Burke, VA
@jfowler10 you must be in information overload. Lot's of good advice, experience and opinions on this thread.
To precisely answer your question on heat pump water heater let me describe my system. Our house has 4 geothermal heat pumps that use underground water loops to either transfer heat out of the ground in the winter or transfer heat into the ground in the summer. This type of heat pump can be modified so when in AC mode, instead of moving all of the heat from the house into the ground, it moves a lot of the heat into a separate water tank to preheat domestic water before it goes into your water heater.
My wife no longer frets about crankin up the AC in the summer because our electric bill doesn't go up.
I worked in commercial construction for 35 years doing design build projects and learned a lot about space heating, ventilating and cooling, fresh/make up air, water heating, energy efficiency, building codes, etc. I also learned how to look for cost effective design solutions. Architects, engineers, mechanical and electrical contractors are all playing in the same concert but they are on a different score.
You will have ducted air conditioning and should insist on having make up/fresh air incorporated. Fresh air is important for more than making a chimney work.
A geothermal heat pump system will cost more up front, but can operate in the coldest winters because the ground temperature is constant. My system is 13 years old and I have recouped the additional upfront cost twice now and had 1 control valve, $183, fail so far.
I assume you have a realtor involved. Ask them about resale value and geothermal.
Other electrical and mechanical things I would do.
Small propane powered standby generator with under ground storage tank, 3 RV marine batteries with charger from generator and solar, 3 solar panels on the wood shed, separate electric panel feeding critical circuits (not lights) from the generator, RV/marine 12 volt lights connected to the batteries batteries, outdoor wood boiler feeding radiant heat in house and garage and domestic hot water storage tank.
If I keep at it, I can spend all your retirement savings!
Thank you so much for all the tips! I have so much to learn and decide on. Would geothermal work on a mountain? We are up about 1800 ft elevation. Our well is 800ft. I do like the idea of solar and thought we might put it on the house roof -- would wood shed be better? (Someone said to have a 6 cord shed built. Do we really need one that big?) Been reading about selling leftover energy back to the power company instead of having batteries. What do you think? How many geothermal heat pumps would my house need (the rough drawings are on here somewhere). I would love to keep in touch with you if you don't mind offering more advice as things come up.
 
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jfowler10

New Member
Feb 13, 2021
17
Burke, VA
If you would like a fireplace on the main floor, why not consider a high efficiency zero clearance such as those made by RSF or Fireplace X? They have some very nice options, granted more expensive than a traditional wood burning stove. But you get the look of a fireplace with the heat of a wood stove. Additionally, most manufacturers make kits to tie in to your HVAC so you can move the heat throughout your house. I know, another option to consider. Its the tradeoff I made when we built our house and my wife wanted the look of a fireplace but I wanted the efficiency of a wood stove.
That is exactly what I wanted but was advised that those are for retrofits and we would lose a lot of efficiency by having 5 of the 6 surfaces enclosed. I would prefer the look of a fireplace but was willing to settle for a pretty stone hearth backdrop. Tying into HVAC would have its advantages, too. Can you please share your experience?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
553
Eastern Long Island NY
Thank you so much for all the tips! I have so much to learn and decide on. Would geothermal work on a mountain? We are up about 1800 ft elevation. Our well is 800ft. I do like the idea of solar and thought we might put it on the house roof -- would wood shed be better? (Someone said to have a 6 cord shed built. Do we really need one that big?) Been reading about selling leftover energy back to the power company instead of having batteries. What do you think? How many geothermal heat pumps would my house need (the rough drawings are on here somewhere). I would love to keep in touch with you if you don't mind offering more advice as things come up.
Generally it does not pay off to invest in a solar system that is too big - you don't get paid enough selling it back to make it worth your while.
If your utility company does net metering (i.e. your meter runs backwards on days you produce more than you use, so you can use it and have the meter run forward out of negative territory in the evenings and winters - i.e. without any extra cost), then the only reason for batteries is if you have a lot of power outages that you want to overcome. However, an outage of a couple of hours is much more cheaply mitigated by a generator that powers your fridge, router, tv, and some lights (though no AC) than batteries can. It's dirty though, such a small generator. If you want to be sure to get through a prolonged (week or so) power outage, you need to properly size your battery pack, and you'd still be dependent on the solar panels recharging them (partially) during the day. Winter ice and snow storms (long outage, low light) might then still be problematic.

Panels on your shed or home - it does not matter, except for some very minor installation cost difference (running the lines), and the aesthetics. The latter could be important, if you are so inclined. What is most cost efficient is a sloped (35 deg plus) roof facing the South, unobstructed by trees. Snow will slide off quickly, and south-facing increases the power generated per panel, so you'd need less.

If you intend to burn 24/7 during November-March, a 6 cord shed is not too much, because you can't (almost ever) buy properly seasoned firewood. Meaning you will have to store it dry for 2-3 years (depending on the type of wood; oak often a bit more, pine less etc.). Burning 2 cords a year makes a 6 cord shed precisely what you need.
IF however you want some warm flaming ambiance 4 nights a week (because your heating is "free" using the heat pump and solar...), then you could do with less.

Note that I'm not sure what heat pump you're looking at - my HVAC system in Eastern TN was ok down to 40 F only, after which the gas kicked in. That (supplemental heat below 40 F) is standard in the South. However, there are minisplit systems with incredible efficiency down to 5 F outside temps or better. I now have a good system that still can heat my home at 17 F (and I have enough solar kWhs "in the bank", b/c my meter runs backwards in summer, to do so).
So, if you go for the HVAC + ambiance fire (only), make sure you properly cover the climate you're in on that mountain.

An HVAC system won't run on batteries (unless you go all out financially. which would not be smart for something like this), so remember that if you have HVAC, batteries, and ambiance fire (i.e. aesthetics, minor heat, rather than optimized to heat your home) only, you'll survive in the living room by that fire keeping you warm, but the rest of the home would still get cold in winter power outages.

Sorry to contribute to the info overload...
 
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IowaRSFBurner

Member
Dec 27, 2017
47
Pella, Iowa
That is exactly what I wanted but was advised that those are for retrofits and we would lose a lot of efficiency by having 5 of the 6 surfaces enclosed. I would prefer the look of a fireplace but was willing to settle for a pretty stone hearth backdrop. Tying into HVAC would have its advantages, too. Can you please share your experience?
Mine was for a new construction and I was strongly considering the Napoleon or the Fireplace X models, I wasn't aware of any of the other possibilities. I ended up going with an RSF Opel 3C that got installed long before any drywall was ever put in place. My home works out to roughly 2900 sq. ft main floor and second floor. We chose to do a clean face install so no frontal venting. As such, we had to install gravity vent kits and I put an inline blower in to help move air. My only other heat source is geothermal and I have the electric backup heat breakers turned off. I do have in floor heat in my basement as well supplied by the geo system. Our first winter in the house, I freaked out over my electric bill from running the in floor heat, heat exchanger portion and allowing the backup resistance heat to take over. So I started burning more regularly (daily).

This unit does a great job heating my entire house. I have an open floor plan for the most part, my living room has cathedral ceilings that open up to the upstairs. My kids often have to sleep with their doors shut unless its really cold out. I did not chose to go with connection to the HVAC, it was advised against. I believe now, feeling the heat output from the gravity vents that was a mistake. If I were to do it over, I would not do the clean face install but would get the front venting and then tie in to the HVAC. That way the unit can still push heat into the room via natural convection in the event of a power outage, but otherwise proved heat to all areas of the house. I have not measured the heat out put from the heat exchanger but cant imagine that its much hotter than what I am getting from this unit. And the ambiance of the fireplace look is well worth it.

I have since modified my approach. I now have turned on the in floor heat and with the combination of that and the fireplace that actual heat pump for the forced air portion of the HVAC rarely runs (until the last couple of weeks). Even then, the system is well capable to keep up with the heat load. I did not do spray foam as my builder didn't believe in it and I have lots of big windows (Marvin Integrity Ultrex all fiberglass) so there is opportunity for heat loss. Now, do I think that I am getting the same benefits as a big wood stove, probably not. I recognize that a monster Blaze King, Kuma, or any other 3.5+ cu. ft. stove will likely put out more heat to the room more efficiently. But there is something to be said about the look of the fireplace and most importantly, a happy wife.
 

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bigealta

Member
May 22, 2010
87
Utah, NJ
Fwiw, when my wife moved in she always wanted a traditional open fire. She was from NYC and just didn’t know any better. After the first winter with the Jotul wood stove in the fireplace she is 100% sold on the wood stove. It’s heat is just so far superior to traditional fireplace, it’s no contest.
That was 20 years ago and she still feels the same, even more so now.
 

jfowler10

New Member
Feb 13, 2021
17
Burke, VA
Mine was for a new construction and I was strongly considering the Napoleon or the Fireplace X models, I wasn't aware of any of the other possibilities. I ended up going with an RSF Opel 3C that got installed long before any drywall was ever put in place. My home works out to roughly 2900 sq. ft main floor and second floor. We chose to do a clean face install so no frontal venting. As such, we had to install gravity vent kits and I put an inline blower in to help move air. My only other heat source is geothermal and I have the electric backup heat breakers turned off. I do have in floor heat in my basement as well supplied by the geo system. Our first winter in the house, I freaked out over my electric bill from running the in floor heat, heat exchanger portion and allowing the backup resistance heat to take over. So I started burning more regularly (daily).

This unit does a great job heating my entire house. I have an open floor plan for the most part, my living room has cathedral ceilings that open up to the upstairs. My kids often have to sleep with their doors shut unless its really cold out. I did not chose to go with connection to the HVAC, it was advised against. I believe now, feeling the heat output from the gravity vents that was a mistake. If I were to do it over, I would not do the clean face install but would get the front venting and then tie in to the HVAC. That way the unit can still push heat into the room via natural convection in the event of a power outage, but otherwise proved heat to all areas of the house. I have not measured the heat out put from the heat exchanger but cant imagine that its much hotter than what I am getting from this unit. And the ambiance of the fireplace look is well worth it.

I have since modified my approach. I now have turned on the in floor heat and with the combination of that and the fireplace that actual heat pump for the forced air portion of the HVAC rarely runs (until the last couple of weeks). Even then, the system is well capable to keep up with the heat load. I did not do spray foam as my builder didn't believe in it and I have lots of big windows (Marvin Integrity Ultrex all fiberglass) so there is opportunity for heat loss. Now, do I think that I am getting the same benefits as a big wood stove, probably not. I recognize that a monster Blaze King, Kuma, or any other 3.5+ cu. ft. stove will likely put out more heat to the room more efficiently. But there is something to be said about the look of the fireplace and most importantly, a happy wife.
So much good info -- thanks! Where did you bury your pipes for the geothermal? Do you think it was/is worth it? It sounds great.... Did you do the in floor heating in just the basement? Would you recommend that again? I don't know what gravity heat is. Where does the ducting off your fireplace lead? Thanks so much!
 

IowaRSFBurner

Member
Dec 27, 2017
47
Pella, Iowa
We buried the pipes in the yard all about 29 to 30 feet deep. My property is 3.5 acres and we sit on some of Iowa’s finest clay so it wasn’t exactly easy going. If I remember correctly we have 7 loops total. We only did the in floor heat in the basement floor as part of the concrete. It really wasn’t considered to add it to the main floor at all. I am amazed at how much warmer the house feels this year with the floor heat running in the basement. Taking that chill out has made a tremendous difference and has impacted my wood consumption. As far as geothermal being worth it, I have not really out pencil to paper, this is all based on opinion. My wife didn’t want to see a propane tank at all so that would have to be buried, so I don’t have any gas on or to the property. I had access to a drill for the loop install which was probably a 10k savings. There were a lot of incentives and rebates that were available that also made the decision easier. But, I also didn’t know that my rate for the coop was going to be .12 cents per kilowatt hour which is pretty high and there is no incentive for geothermal. So in the wintertime when the pump has to make heat, it gets expensive. In the summer however, it’s fantastic.

As for the fireplace, the vents just basically blow out into my great room on either side of the fireplace. I will have to get some pictures later on when the sun is up and everyone is awake.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,629
07462
If I was building new cons at 2500 sq ft total living space, in my climate zone I'd have a 3 part system.
Part 1 would be just a high rated heat pump / AC (need that in the summer) I'd more then likely lean towards ductless splits for this since the tech has come a long way, and you have the option to treat every unit as its own zone which can add long term cost savings.
I'm a ranch guy, hate stairs, always have, always will, so for Part 2, I'd install more then likely another BK princess on the main living floor, this would serve all the rooms that are the most popular.
Part 3 - my winter back up heat for when I'm away would be hot water baseboard / radiant floor heating, oil fire, I'd also incorporate a wood gasifier boiler to this loop, the actual mechanicals would be in the basement, my reasoning is easy, if I'm away the oil heat will be the main heat, the heat pumps would only be used for spring or fall take the chill off, the wood gasification would more then likely be used sometime between Thanksgiving and Xmas and would get turned off sometime in March.
More then likely the ductless splits and free standing stove would go in first with provisions for the gasifier at a later date, house construction would be a tight envelope with Zone 6 insulation value.
The basement will also have a cold room for canned storage, a reverse "dump" loop for the gasifier in the event that theres a power outage and is running, let gravity shed the heat from the hot water so nothing breaks.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
671
Massachusetts
A water/wood gasification system always looks so appealing every time I read about it. Then I remember how much it costs up front :(. I think new construction it makes tons of sense though. The new tech is incredible.
 
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jfowler10

New Member
Feb 13, 2021
17
Burke, VA
IowaRSFBurner
So the geothermal isn't efficient for heat but only cooling? So confused. They make it sound like it's more efficient pulling heat from the 50 degree ground than the below freezing air. Thanks for your insight.