Considering purchasing a used Quadra-Fire 3100i ACT - thoughts?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

Spacen

New Member
Nov 28, 2018
2
Jefferson City, MO
Hello everyone. I have been lurking on these forums for several months now as my wife and I evaluate options for a fireplace insert. The knowledge posted on here is fantastic and I am already appreciative of the time and effort many of you put into this forum before I even get a single response to this post. I have read through a lot of this recent post about another person with a 3100i ACT: https://hearth.com/talk/threads/quadra-fire-3100i-doesnt-heat-the-whole-house.170838/

We have a fairly large home at just over 3,800 sqft. We don't plan to use the insert as a primary heat source, but a supplementary one to reduce the use of propane, especially when the price spikes. I do plan to have the insert going nearly 24/7 during cold periods towards that goal. We have two fireplaces with two flues in one chimney. We plan to install this in the basement fireplace and then use the blower in the furnace to circulate the warm air through the house. I am, therefore, looking to get as many BTUs as I can out of this thing.

We have been looking at new inserts for quite a while but don't have the money to pull the trigger on something we feel is a quality unit with the attributes we desire. This unit isn't exactly what we were looking for either, but it appears to be a quality unit about 10 years old. We don't love that it isn't flush and sits on the hearth and we hate the brass given how we have decorated the house. I think I can easily address the brass and I think we can overlook the fact it isn't flush if it means we can stay below our budget. BTU output appears to be very respectable as I have seen on EPA certification reports for it.

My question for all of you is if you think this is a good enough unit to invest in if I can get it for a fraction of its original price. I think a local installer who sells new Quadra-Fire units will be willing to do the installation. I don't have an insert currently so I need a liner put in and some electrical work done to hide the electrical cord.

Additionally, I have some minor concerns about my particular setup. First, the minimum firebox dimensions according to the manual are 32" x 23". The opening of my firebox is exactly 32" x 24". I am concerned it will be too tight a fit. Secondly, I am wondering if since it is going to be an almost perfect fit, if I can get away without a surround. There will be a gap remaining at the top, but even the surround for these units leaves a small gap.

I am very interested in your opinions and advice. I appreciate it very much.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,337
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
Your goals of getting as many BTUs as possible and having a flush unit are in conflict with each other. The more the stove sticks out, the better it is able to put heat in the house. Flush inserts are limited to whatever can radiate through the door and whatever the fan can do.

You sound like you want the wood heater to be a full time heater.

If you want more bang for the same buck (and more BTUs from the same wood), less flush is better. Also consider extending the hearth and putting in a freestanding stove for even more surface area.

Last up, lots of people end up unhappy with their basement stoves, especially if the basement is uninsulated. The upstairs fireplace may be a better location for a stove.
 

Spacen

New Member
Nov 28, 2018
2
Jefferson City, MO
Your goals of getting as many BTUs as possible and having a flush unit are in conflict with each other. The more the stove sticks out, the better it is able to put heat in the house. Flush inserts are limited to whatever can radiate through the door and whatever the fan can do.

You sound like you want the wood heater to be a full time heater.

If you want more bang for the same buck (and more BTUs from the same wood), less flush is better. Also consider extending the hearth and putting in a freestanding stove for even more surface area.

Last up, lots of people end up unhappy with their basement stoves, especially if the basement is uninsulated. The upstairs fireplace may be a better location for a stove.
That makes sense about a flush unit not putting out the same BTUs. I'm not sure a freestanding stove is practical for our particular setup but it sounds like I should strongly consider a unit that sticks out on the hearth no matter which direction we choose.

The basement is finished and I'm pretty sure insulated. It does get pretty cool down there but that is mostly because 1) it's a basement, and 2) I have been successful in limiting propane use through other efficiency gains so that the furnace doesn't run a whole lot unless it is really cold (below 20 F outside). My hope is that since heat naturally rises and since my particular HVAC setup pulls air from the basement more than from return ducts that putting it in the basement will mean a more efficient distribution of heat. The finished basement is also my mancave so I am a bit partial to putting it down there anyway. Even still, if you have additional reason for me not to put it down there, I would love to hear why. I want to learn everything I can. I appreciate the insightful response.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
Your goals of getting as many BTUs as possible and having a flush unit are in conflict with each other. The more the stove sticks out, the better it is able to put heat in the house. Flush inserts are limited to whatever can radiate through the door and whatever the fan can do.

You sound like you want the wood heater to be a full time heater.

If you want more bang for the same buck (and more BTUs from the same wood), less flush is better. Also consider extending the hearth and putting in a freestanding stove for even more surface area.

Last up, lots of people end up unhappy with their basement stoves, especially if the basement is uninsulated. The upstairs fireplace may be a better location for a stove.
There are also many people who are very happy with their basement installs. Yes the basement needs to be insulated but many people already have that. I personally wouldnt do it any other way. If you have a finished basement and you want to heat with wood and use your basement in the winter you really have no other option.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,337
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
That makes sense about a flush unit not putting out the same BTUs. I'm not sure a freestanding stove is practical for our particular setup but it sounds like I should strongly consider a unit that sticks out on the hearth no matter which direction we choose.

The basement is finished and I'm pretty sure insulated. It does get pretty cool down there but that is mostly because 1) it's a basement, and 2) I have been successful in limiting propane use through other efficiency gains so that the furnace doesn't run a whole lot unless it is really cold (below 20 F outside). My hope is that since heat naturally rises and since my particular HVAC setup pulls air from the basement more than from return ducts that putting it in the basement will mean a more efficient distribution of heat. The finished basement is also my mancave so I am a bit partial to putting it down there anyway. Even still, if you have additional reason for me not to put it down there, I would love to hear why. I want to learn everything I can. I appreciate the insightful response.


If you specifically want to heat the basement, the basement is the place to put it. If the walls are already insulated, you're past the first hurdle already.

Your first post sounded more like you wanted to heat the upstairs. The best heat is of course going to be wherever the stove is. Some houses don't struggle to distribute the heat, but some do.