Fireplace insert - where to start?

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New Member
Dec 28, 2023
Hello friends, I am just embarking on research to put a wood stove insert in my fireplace. I went to a few local dealers and they had opposing ideas about stoves with catalytic combustion. Because I'm likely to be more on the casual usage end of the spectrum, rather than firing up the stove every day as a sole source of heat, one place advised catalytic-free (Pacific Energy) because then I wouldn't have to fuss as much. However, much of the online reading I've been doing here and elsewhere on the internet would imply that catalytic combustion is the way to go regardless.

I'd also be interested in suggestions for a flush appearance insert that would fit my fireplace dimensions: 36"W x 31.25" H x max depth at bottom 27.5"/min depth at top 16" (see drawing attached).

Are there any brands or features to avoid?

Among the varieties that I find attractive (some of which I've seen discussed on this forum) are:
  • Regency Ci2700
  • Lopi Large Flush Wood NexGen-Fyre Rectangular
  • Blaze King Sirocco 25
  • Pacific Energy Neo 2.5 Insert LE
Thank you in advance for your help!

Fireplace insert - where to start?
That's a good selection. How tall will the flue liner be on the insert? How large of an area is it located in? Is this area open to the rest of the house or closed off?

How/when do you see yourself using the insert?
Oh boy, I have no idea how tall the flue liner will be, but it's a single story home 1925 Craftsman, with the original single paned windows (beautiful, but drafty as you can imagine). The fireplace is in the living room ~ 16'x16' and is open to another larger room via a wide opening where I presume there used to be French doors). The larger room is ~21'x 12'.

Since COVID, I mostly work from home so I could see using it almost daily in the winter. That said, I don't have room to store more than maybe a cord max at a time. So that might be the limiting factor.

Right now, I use the fireplace on a casual basis for ambiance. Because the home is older, likely has minimal insulation (except the attic which I insulated), and has the original single pane windows, I am hoping for more continuous heat. Now, as the furnace cycles, I am a little chilly before it kicks in.

Opinions on whether the catalytic combustion is right for my situation would be appreciated! Thank you!
A catalyst will be most helpful for heating during milder weather if there isn't other supplemental heat. Considering that only a cord of can be stored, you may want to limit the stove to days when the temp drops below freezing. If that is when the stove is primarily used, then the advantages of a catalytic stove's low and slow heating are diminished. A non-cat stove is simpler with lower maintainance and potentially with higher output. Hybrids run in between.

It looks like only flush inserts are being considered. Flush inserts rely mostly on the blower to convect heat into the room. How frequent are extended power outages?
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A hybrid uses both tube secondary combustion and a catalyst to burn up the wood gases. The Regency i2700 and the Lopi large flush are both hybrids. The Blaze King is a purely catalytic insert and the PE Neo is a non-cat.