Fireplace Xtraordinair Large Flush Insert questions

LoveToBurnInVa

New Member
Aug 19, 2019
13
Virginia
All,

Apologize in advanced if any of my following questions have already been addressed elsewhere in this forum and I've missed them.

I'm in the market for a new wood burning insert for my existing fireplace. My local "reputable" fireplace dealer only really gave me 2 options to look at in their showroom even though they carry others.The two that I looked at were: 1) Vermont Casting Merrimack, 2) Fireplace Xtraordinair Large Flush by Travis Industries

I've heard that V.C. has gone down over the years, so I'm leaning towards FPX. However, I've been hard-pressed to find any pricing information much less any detailed reviews of peoples' experiences with the FPX. It seems the only thing I can find online is for brands like Napoleon, Osburn, Pacific Energy and the like. I have come here to see if anyone can give me their experiences or know of people that are happy/disappointed with this brand of insert. Also, my local dealer quoted me a "sale" price of $4485 for the insert with $1200 for installation. It seems a little more pricey than I would expect, but that just may be my ignorance of this industry to begin with. I've also looked at possibly considering Pacific Energy inserts as a potential alternative as I've read they are pretty bullet-proof.

I'm looking to make a final decision by week's end. ANY and all advice you may have to give, I readily welcome. Thank you in advance!

-Jon
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,681
South Puget Sound, WA
Welcome to Hearth.com. Lopi/FPX units are a bit pricey, but the quality is good. More to the core of the question is whether that unit is the best for your needs. Do you need a flush insert? Is the added complexity of a hybrid ok?

Tell us how you will be using the insert, 24/7 heating or mostly nights and weekends? Tell us about the house floorplan and location of the fireplace. How large an area will it be heating? Are you in an area of frequent power outages where the insert may be needed as the sole heat source?

FWIW, the Merrimack is not a bad insert. It does not have the complexity of freestanding VC stoves.
 

LoveToBurnInVa

New Member
Aug 19, 2019
13
Virginia
Welcome to Hearth.com. Lopi/FPX units are a bit pricey, but the quality is good. More to the core of the question is whether that unit is the best for your needs. Do you need a flush insert? Is the added complexity of a hybrid ok?

Tell us how you will be using the insert, 24/7 heating or mostly nights and weekends? Tell us about the house floorplan and location of the fireplace. How large an area will it be heating? Are you in an area of frequent power outages where the insert may be needed as the sole heat source?

FWIW, the Merrimack is not a bad insert. It does not have the complexity of freestanding VC stoves.
Thanks for the reply begreen. I wouldn't say we "need" a flush insert so much as the wife prefers it and finds it aesthetically pleasing. ;) As for a hybrid, I'm ok with incurring the potential maintenance issues and costs associated with the catalytic. I grew up with an old fashioned wood burning non-catalytic stove insert, so it would be a change. Generally, I'd think the plusses in terms of burn time and heating efficiency would make up for any added costs associated with a hybrid.

As for usage, I live in the mid-atlantic and this wouldn't be a 24/7 thing. I'm looking at using it on cold days during the winter months; on the weekends and maybe 2-3 days in the middle of the week at MOST during peak winter time.

House above ground is 2329 sq. ft. and has a finished basement. Existing fireplace is on the 1st floor, middle level in our living room right next to our deck and sliding glass doors. We don't have a lot of power outages and we are using this as a secondary heat source. My wife and I are looking to ameliorate our regular HVAC system since we have a lot of open spaces with windows.

Also, being on the 1st floor, I've read in some places that weight of the stove insert could possibly be a concern in terms of loading?
 
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Carlv123

Member
Feb 17, 2015
104
Asheville nc
I'd look into something other than the FPX. I have one now and it's been quite a problem so far. It doesn't get anywhere near the claimed burn times and Lopi has been less than helpful in troubleshooting.
 

LoveToBurnInVa

New Member
Aug 19, 2019
13
Virginia
I'd look into something other than the FPX. I have one now and it's been quite a problem so far. It doesn't get anywhere near the claimed burn times and Lopi has been less than helpful in troubleshooting.
What kind of problem(s) if you don't mind me asking? Or is it just the burn time problem (as if that wasn't bad enough)?
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,681
South Puget Sound, WA
I am not sure hybrid inserts provide a much longer burn time than a good non-hybrid. If low, long burn times are desired you will need to get a cat insert.
 

Zack R

Feeling the Heat
Sep 27, 2017
392
Sisters, OR
flic.kr
I friend of mine has the large FPX and although it looks pretty the heat output isn't quite what he hoped for and its difficult to keep the glass clean. I imagine a lot of it has to do with operator error and marginal wood but if it were me I'd see if there's a way to install a freestanding stove.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,681
South Puget Sound, WA
There are good heating inserts. Hogwildz and others have been heating their places with an insert for many years.
 
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Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
846
CT
I'm going on my 4th year with this stove. Heating 24/7 in CT, 2000sq ft ranch. It's a good heater if you have dry wood and learned how to operate it. I load 2-3 times a day, never use oil. If lovetoburn will use it as he intends it would be good heater for him. This is the best looking flush insert on a market. Thing is, most of the guys ending up burning more that they wanted initially. That's when you regret getting insert , as free standing stove more efficient. i'm happy overall with insert, it's great looking , throws serious heat with right wood and operation. The only other insert i would look at is Kuuma Sequoya. But I'm sure your wife will not approve it after seeing FPX.
 
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Carlv123

Member
Feb 17, 2015
104
Asheville nc
What kind of problem(s) if you don't mind me asking? Or is it just the burn time problem (as if that wasn't bad enough)?

We have a 30 ft chimney in the center of the house. The insert is very picky about the setup you have and the height of the chimney. A bit too tall and you lose burn time... too short it won't burn. All in all its been a pain to deal with. If you want to heat a house get a BK, kuma or the giant Buck stove.

If your hell bent on a FPX, I may sell mine.
 

davo

Member
Apr 24, 2015
131
CT
Hello! I am surprised to see the responses on this thread. I have had that insert and have been using it for the past 5 years and this is my 6th year using it. It heats our leaky colonial, 2,300 effectively in the winter and we go through about 4-5 cords. The key is dry seasoned wood and learning how to operate it with the cat. I am very happy with this unit and we only sporadically use our oil (more for when we are lazy). The blower kicks out loads of hot air. Any questions, feel free to ask.
 
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Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
846
CT
Hello! I am surprised to see the responses on this thread. I have had that insert and have been using it for the past 5 years and this is my 6th year using it. It heats our leaky colonial, 2,300 effectively in the winter and we go through about 4-5 cords. The key is dry seasoned wood and learning how to operate it with the cat. I am very happy with this unit and we only sporadically use our oil (more for when we are lazy). The blower kicks out loads of hot air. Any questions, feel free to ask.
completely agree
 

FPX Dude

Feeling the Heat
Oct 4, 2007
341
Sacramento, CA
As an insert, I have zero regrets and the Mrs. liked it, ton's of heat for me, but I'm not in the climate some of you are.
 

LoveToBurnInVa

New Member
Aug 19, 2019
13
Virginia
To those of you that have this insert, did you opt for the GreenStart wood igniter? If so, how useful have you found it compared to a manual start? Worth it? Or just another component to go wrong? Thanks in advance.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,681
South Puget Sound, WA
The igniter works but it's noisy. If one has good dry wood and kindling then it's not a big deal to start a fire. If one is burning 24/7 then cold starts are infrequent.
 
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Sailrmike

Member
Sep 20, 2017
102
06371
I burned the FPX Large flush hybrid for a few seasons, it can certainly crank out a lot of convection with the blowers, and radiant through the big glass. I found it to be difficult to load fully with wood, it has a weird firebox shape. My catalytic converter self destructed very quickly because it was designed with no protection like other cat/hybrid stove manufacturers use. That house had a center 28' chimney and burn times were 6-8 hrs with dry oak.
 

LoveToBurnInVa

New Member
Aug 19, 2019
13
Virginia
So, I pulled the trigger on the FPX Large flush, had it installed early last month, and finally had a chance to break it in/cure the paint this past weekend. On a second burn this thing got pretty hot at 1200F with everything going through the catalytic bypass and minimal air. I didn't keep it there for long and "cooled" things down a bit by opening up the bypass and giving it more air.

My concern: What temperatures should I watch out for regarding overfiring? I read somewhere in this forum to keep it under 1800F but that seems awfully hot. The only advice the directions give is that you will "void your warranty if you over fire" and that you can tell if you are doing so by the metal starting to "glow red". Aren't there any suggested temperature ranges to watch out for with this insert??

Finally, for those of you that have this insert, what has been your experience and what do you find to be the ideal "cruising range" for an overnight burn?

Thanks in advance!
 

LoveToBurnInVa

New Member
Aug 19, 2019
13
Virginia
Contacted my dealer about this and even they didn't have a number. So they contacted the manufacturer (Travis Industries) and they told my dealer the same thing in the owner's manual - "When it starts to glow red". I must say I'm surprised that there isn't a known temperature range where there's a risk of this occurring.
 

Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
846
CT
Can't answer that as i have no cat prob. It was optional when i got it and i didn't install it. I got probe on a top of firebox that i installed by myself. I run it in 500-700 range. but again, thats top temperature. If you think you are overfiring cut the air and put blower on full
 

clydesdale

Member
Mar 8, 2016
129
New York
I think 1200 on the cat is about max you want to go. I went through 2 cats in 3 years. The second cat lasted 2 years. This unit does take some getting used to. You also have to take the cat out and clean it periodically. Having said that, it looks great and heats well. I opted for the custom cut surround plate. My dealer recommended it. It is cut to the same dimensions of the arch of the face plate. I looks great. I put 5 markings on the air control. I usually run it at 60-80 percent backed down. With that, it will run through the night. It does not kick off the heat of a free standing stove, but it is pretty good and looks way better than most of the competitors. Travis tech line has been very good to me.
I think I may have sped the demise of the first cat. I ran some crappy wood through it.
 
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LoveToBurnInVa

New Member
Aug 19, 2019
13
Virginia
Dmitry, Davo, FPXDude and the other FPX insert owners here:

What kind of overnight burn times have you all been able to achieve. So far, I've been pretty satisfied with the heat this unit puts out. Unfortunately though, I haven't been able to get 8-10 hours overnight as advertised. 6-7 maybe. Wood isn't a problem as I've checked that and I'm looking at around 16-18% moisture max. So it's either this is the realized overnight burn time, the peculiarities with my setup (chimney location/size, draft, etc), or I just have yet to figure out how to run this stove ideally. I'm able to get it super hot before the overnight burn (~1200F +) and then cut back on the air; I found that pulling the air control all the way out (as the owner's manual suggests for an overnight burn) doesn't really work well. Somewhere in between seems to be ideal. Thanks in advance.
 

Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
846
CT
Dmitry, Davo, FPXDude and the other FPX insert owners here:

What kind of overnight burn times have you all been able to achieve. So far, I've been pretty satisfied with the heat this unit puts out. Unfortunately though, I haven't been able to get 8-10 hours overnight as advertised. 6-7 maybe. Wood isn't a problem as I've checked that and I'm looking at around 16-18% moisture max. So it's either this is the realized overnight burn time, the peculiarities with my setup (chimney location/size, draft, etc), or I just have yet to figure out how to run this stove ideally. I'm able to get it super hot before the overnight burn (~1200F +) and then cut back on the air; I found that pulling the air control all the way out (as the owner's manual suggests for an overnight burn) doesn't really work well. Somewhere in between seems to be ideal. Thanks in advance.
there is no definition of so called " burn time " , manufacturers just trowing pretty number at you. If I load it at 11 , I'm able to start fire in a morning with good amount of coals. I keep my air controller 3/4 out. Wood is around 20%, chimney 15 ft. Works good for me with clear glass in a morning.
 

FPX Dude

Feeling the Heat
Oct 4, 2007
341
Sacramento, CA
Multiple variables in overnight and long burns. I've had some 8-10hrs., but mostly like you 6-7. I don't think it's the unit, but things like box size being the biggest part of a long burn.
 

SeaDog2020

New Member
Apr 21, 2020
2
ME
Hi all,

I'm a new FPX (Lopi) large flush insert owner and wanted to weigh in / ask a few questions here.

My impressions so far:
- It's a good looking unit. Clean lines, minimal.
- It's easy to get up to temp from start. I've followed Travis' recommendations to get a smaller, intense burn going before adding.
- Even with the air wash and running good burns without much smoke, the glass does get dirty. Fortunately, it's been relatively easy to clean with glass cleaner and water/ash, but I'd rather not have to do this every time! Any recommendations here?
- My main issue so far is that the blower doesn't kick on for a long time. Often it takes 30-40 mins and cat temp is 800-900 degrees before it starts up. Seems like a bad spot to put the snapdisk (lower right). Anyway, the store recommends trying to bend the disk closer to the unit, so it heats up faster. I plan to do this, but need to figure out how to disassemble the front to get access. I'll check the manual, but appreciate any directions here.
- The blower fan, which is loud itself, often creates rattles in the lower vent. I'm guessing there's not much you can do about this, but am open to suggestions.

Thanks in advance for any help!