Another Large Insert Thread - Current Model Dare IV

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ChessPapa

New Member
Dec 6, 2022
11
NC
Hello helpful Hearth posters.

We've been advised by our chimney sweep that it's time to replace our 40+ year old insert. We bought a 70s estate house a few years ago and have been using the Harrington Dare IV unit that was existing for the last four winters. We essentially heat our entire downstairs (~1500sf) with this fireplace. This is the first insert we've ever used but have been told it is incredibly inefficient. It puts out a lot of heat, but eats a lot of wood.

The room that this fireplace is in is rather grand - high ceilings, lots of windows, huge brick fireplace. The actual opening would accept 48" plus logs if we removed the insert. The masonry for the fireplace is ~13' wide and 12' tall. My wife is an artist with an interior designer mother, so she has strong opinions and pretty much hates most of the modern inserts. The biggest I can find are the Obsurn 3500 and Buck Stove 91. She's not really a fan of either.

My question is, do I have any other options? Are there any inserts that have more of an aesthetic/estate-like look? The Dare IV isn't winning any beauty contests but it came with the house. To spend the $$ to update, we want it to be right and fit the house. One option I found was the Vermont Castings Defiant - it wouldn't be an insert but she loves the look and we could sit it in the fireplace opening. I'm not sure from a maintenance/usability standpoint if it would be a pain.

The only other option I could think of would be to completely retrofit the fireplace/chimney to handle what I think are called the 'zero-clearance' fireplaces, i.e. you should just build the house around the dang thing. Something like Napoleon High Country or Accucraft. In that space, there seem to be a lot of gorgeous fireplaces (and $$$), but I can't imagine what it would take to install one. There is a crawlspace under the fireplace so it can be accessed and the chimney is on the exterior of the house.

Any other ideas I would greatly appreciate!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,593
central pa
Hello helpful Hearth posters.

We've been advised by our chimney sweep that it's time to replace our 40+ year old insert. We bought a 70s estate house a few years ago and have been using the Harrington Dare IV unit that was existing for the last four winters. We essentially heat our entire downstairs (~1500sf) with this fireplace. This is the first insert we've ever used but have been told it is incredibly inefficient. It puts out a lot of heat, but eats a lot of wood.

The room that this fireplace is in is rather grand - high ceilings, lots of windows, huge brick fireplace. The actual opening would accept 48" plus logs if we removed the insert. The masonry for the fireplace is ~13' wide and 12' tall. My wife is an artist with an interior designer mother, so she has strong opinions and pretty much hates most of the modern inserts. The biggest I can find are the Obsurn 3500 and Buck Stove 91. She's not really a fan of either.

My question is, do I have any other options? Are there any inserts that have more of an aesthetic/estate-like look? The Dare IV isn't winning any beauty contests but it came with the house. To spend the $$ to update, we want it to be right and fit the house. One option I found was the Vermont Castings Defiant - it wouldn't be an insert but she loves the look and we could sit it in the fireplace opening. I'm not sure from a maintenance/usability standpoint if it would be a pain.

The only other option I could think of would be to completely retrofit the fireplace/chimney to handle what I think are called the 'zero-clearance' fireplaces, i.e. you should just build the house around the dang thing. Something like Napoleon High Country or Accucraft. In that space, there seem to be a lot of gorgeous fireplaces (and $$$), but I can't imagine what it would take to install one. There is a crawlspace under the fireplace so it can be accessed and the chimney is on the exterior of the house.

Any other ideas I would greatly appreciate!
Hampton inserts Vermont castings insert. Those are the only ones I can think of currently
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
4,254
SE North Carolina
What are fireplace opening dimensions?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,593
central pa
60" wide x 40" tall. Not sure on depth as the insert is currently in. It's 25" plus.
In that case I would probably do a freestanding stove. Any insert will look tiny in that opening
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
4,254
SE North Carolina
Pacific energy T6. Blaze king Ashford.. couple of the best looking stoves.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
4,254
SE North Carolina
Yeah that's where we've gotten with thinking the Vermont Castings stove. Unless we get some kind of custom work done...
Read up on the VC stoves. They don’t make my list.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,593
central pa

mellow

Resident Stove Connoisseur
Jan 19, 2008
5,555
Salisbury, MD
No need for rear vent with their huge firebox.

True, I mention it because some like to seal off the fireplace so you don't see the chimney or hide the chimney behind the stove.

rearvent2.jpg
 

ChessPapa

New Member
Dec 6, 2022
11
NC
Is there a significant warming difference between a freestanding stove like the T6 and one of the largest inserts?

I looked through the forums and see that VC comes up a lot, mostly people saying to avoid and that they can be overly complex to operate.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,593
central pa
Is there a significant warming difference between a freestanding stove like the T6 and one of the largest inserts?

I looked through the forums and see that VC comes up a lot, mostly people saying to avoid and that they can be overly complex to operate.
In your case I don't think there is a significant difference between an insert and a freestanding stove when it comes to output.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
98,970
South Puget Sound, WA
This is a place where a good convective stove with a blower often can do a better job than a strongly radiant stove like a big VC stove. The Alderlea T6 and Jotul F55 are large convective stoves with a cast iron jacket. The Blaze King Ashford 30 is a large catalytic stove with a cast iron jacket. The caveat with the BK stove is that it is thermostatic and the thermostat is on the back of the stove. The heat trapped in the cavity of the fireplace can skew the thermostatic operation, but this fireplace may be large enough that this will not be major issue.
 
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Reactions: bholler

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,593
central pa
This is a place where a good convective stove with a blower often can do a better job than a strongly radiant stove like a big VC stove. The Alderlea T6 and Jotul F55 are large convective stoves with a cast iron jacket. The Blaze King Ashford 30 is a large catalytic stove with a cast iron jacket. The caveat with the BK stove is that it is thermostatic and the thermostat is on the back of the stove. The heat trapped in the cavity of the fireplace can skew the thermostatic operation, but this fireplace may be large enough that this will not be major issue.
I completely agree
 

ChessPapa

New Member
Dec 6, 2022
11
NC
This is a place where a good convective stove with a blower often can do a better job than a strongly radiant stove like a big VC stove. The Alderlea T6 and Jotul F55 are large convective stoves with a cast iron jacket. The Blaze King Ashford 30 is a large catalytic stove with a cast iron jacket. The caveat with the BK stove is that it is thermostatic and the thermostat is on the back of the stove. The heat trapped in the cavity of the fireplace can skew the thermostatic operation, but this fireplace may be large enough that this will not be major issue.
That's great information, thank you. Are the other Jotuls, like the 500 also convective? Not sure I've seen that term prior to this post when I've looked at stoves.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,593
central pa
That's great information, thank you. Are the other Jotuls, like the 500 also convective? Not sure I've seen that term prior to this post when I've looked at stoves.
The 500 is not. And has a new questionable design.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
31,593
central pa
That's great information, thank you. Are the other Jotuls, like the 500 also convective? Not sure I've seen that term prior to this post when I've looked at stoves.
Convective stoves have 2 layers atleast. The walls of the firebox then an outer shell of some sort. The radiant heat comes off the firebox walls hits the outer shell and gets converted to convective heat. Inserts are constructed in this way as well just without the outer shell being decorative because it won't be seen
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
98,970
South Puget Sound, WA
That's great information, thank you. Are the other Jotuls, like the 500 also convective? Not sure I've seen that term prior to this post when I've looked at stoves.
The F400, F500, & F600 were radiant stoves made of only cast iron. The F500v3 is all that still is sold in the US from that group. It's also primarily a side-loading stove, though this big wide fireplace can handle that feature. The Jotul F35, F45, & F55 are steel stoves with a cast iron jacket.
 

ChessPapa

New Member
Dec 6, 2022
11
NC
Convective stoves have 2 layers atleast. The walls of the firebox then an outer shell of some sort. The radiant heat comes off the firebox walls hits the outer shell and gets converted to convective heat. Inserts are constructed in this way as well just without the outer shell being decorative because it won't be seen
Ah, okay, that makes sense. Thus assume these stoves all have the same blower design where the air is looped around the firebox?
 

ChessPapa

New Member
Dec 6, 2022
11
NC
The F400, F500, & F600 were radiant stoves made of only cast iron. The F500v3 is all that still is sold in the US from that group. It's also primarily a side-loading stove, though this big wide fireplace can handle that feature. The Jotul F35, F45, & F55 are steel stoves with a cast iron jacket.
Well this is helpful in that it limits the options. :) My wife would prefer the red enamel of the VC stove but this whole convective design sounds like the right path.