Advice on Wood Inserts

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New Member
Apr 24, 2024
Northeast USA
Hi All,

My family heated with wood all through my childhood, but as a kid it was never on my shoulders to make the difficult decision on what gear to get. Now it's time - I recently purchased a house in the northeastern USA - it has a fireplace (see pictured) that I'd love to fill with a wood insert. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on brands/models I should consider, and any other related advice.

The house is a 2300 sqft two-story colonial. It is currently heated by a forced-air propane furnace, which I plan to replace with a cold-climate heat pump system (either ground or air source). The fireplace is located at one end of the house on the first floor. I would love for heat from the insert to reach as much of the house as possible, to help reduce electric bills and to be an effective backup during power outages. However, this will likely be difficult due to the closed floor plan and two floors. Perhaps a more realistic goal would be for the insert to be able to keep the first floor above freezing, while keeping the room in which it's located comfortable (that room's temperature is the top priority - I don't want it blazing hot). I'd welcome advice on what to reasonably expect from an insert in this situation.

I'd like for the insert to be as efficient as possible, but don't have a strong preference on cat vs. non-cat. My priority is reliability. My wife and I work from home, and could keep a relatively close watch on the fire.

Brands I've been considering: Lopi, Regency, Blaze King (the Princess is intriguing given it isn't flush and might radiate more), and Pacific Energy. Have I missed any big players? What models should I consider? Should you try and cram the biggest stove possible into the fireplace (I'd like that room to remain comfortable)?

Relevant dimensions:
- The 2300 sqft is split pretty evenly between the two floors (the first floor has 4 rooms). The first floor room with the fireplace is 13'x21' with an 8' high ceiling.
- The fireplace opening is 3' wide and 30'' tall (to top of arch).
- The fireplace is 21.5'' deep (at the bottom). The width narrows a bit as your go into it, and as you go up the back tilts towards the front. Please advise on what measurements would be useful here.
- The stones in front extend 21'' away from the fireplace opening.

Thank you!

Advice on Wood Inserts Advice on Wood Inserts
Regardless of insert, that room will be the hottest unless cooler air is blown into the room from the adjacent space.
What is the chimney height? Can you fit a 6" insulated liner (about 8" OD) inside the chimney? There are some devices to help move heat from room to room, some users have posted their results here over the years. You may wish to consider an insert that sits on the hearth to help with radiant heat. Flush inserts are nicer looking but they are convective.

The safety standards require 16" hearth protection in front of the door opening. Your tile looks to be large, but if you go with an insert that sits out on the hearth, you may need to get some floor protection. You have option with this as well.

A medium sized insert (2.0CF firebox-ish) would probably be a good compromise of living in the room, but will depend on how well air dissipates to other areas. Any of those brands would be a good general choice, you'll need to look at them and come up with your choice.
Nice fireplace, an arched surround would look nice too.
To keep the room from overheating I'd plan on a putting a table or box fan outside of the room, placed on the floor, pointing toward the insert. Run on low speed, it will quietly blow the cooler air down low, toward the woodstove. The denser cool air will be replaced with lighter warm air from the stove room. This will keep the stove room cooler and it will distribute hot air outside of that room.
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