Freestanding or Insert in Existing Fireplace

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OrngJuice

New Member
Sep 28, 2020
5
Richmond
Hi there,

I have an existing fireplace that I want to fit with a woodstove but I'm not sure how to find one that will fit. I've been creeping on the forums for awhile so I thought I'd hop in to ask for some help.

I'm looking to have the woodstove zone heat the basement and supplement heat my house. I'm really interested in having a stove that we can have an occasional hot fire in on the colder days in the winter with minimal maintenance that will bring some coziness and heat without the wastefulness and poor combustion of our existing fireplace. Something that we can cozy up around and watch the flames through the glass and heat a tea kettle hot on.

The basement area to be heated is 38' x 15' with 7' ceilings. The chimney is central in the house (no exterior wall) and next to a stairwell that will help with bringing some of that heat upstairs through natural convection. The existing fireplace is brick and I attached some pictures and a drawing with some measurements (forgive my chicken scratch).

Wood source will be craigslist locals probably. We have a covered area where we will properly season whatever we buy. We can reasonably keep 1-2 cords under there which I think will be enough given that we don’t need to run it around the clock. It would be useful to be able to burn a range of wood sizes since the suppliers will be unreliable.

Stovewise:
  • Drolet Escape 1500 - the price is incredible and it's a solid no frills option. Seems like it has a solid reputation on the forums for value and build quality. But it can only take 15" logs? that seems tricky
  • Kuma Aspen LE - They seem like they made a splash despite being new to the scene. The potential efficiency and cleanliness are appealing though it does cost double what the Drolet does. Again only 16" logs which is not going to be fun with my woodsource

I looked into a ton of other options off the 2020 EPA list, but everything is too tall. Even something like a Timberwolf 2100 is 31 1/2" from the foot to the outlet. Would it even be possible/recommended to cut the legs down to fit? Or should I keep my options small.

Would I need to extend the hearth to make this work? Or could I get away with a little pad to catch embers when we're firing it with the door open? I do NOT want an insert, but I'll suffer it if my fireplace is too small. Anything to stop the dirty drafty open fireplace fires we've been having so far. Any and all advice is deeply appreciated.

IMG_7325.jpg IMG_7326.jpg
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
810
SE North Carolina
Couple thoughts. To meet all wants it sounds like you want a hearth mounted stove. What you need to look for is one that is rear vented and has ember only floor protection. I top vented my F400 and have it pretty much flush with the stone face the reason was I didn’t want to add any floor protection. No tea kettle for me.

you can always pull the insert out as far it will allow and not install the surround. You get a leg less stove with a convective blower.

if it were me and I was on a budget the Drolet 1800 insert from Costco would be my choice. If I had 4000$ to spend I’d look at the jotul F45 with a short leg kit. Down side there is no tax credit with either of those. If I wanted the tax credit I would be looking at a blaze king insert or see how I could install a free standing stove if I really wanted the kettle. I wouldn’t cut legs on a new stove.

600 sq ft will heat up pretty quick if it’s insulated with a 2+ cu ft stove. All those options would make you basement tropical pretty quick.
I’d start getting wood now and wait till summer when more hopefully there are more stove on the 2021 tax credit list.
Get your self a 14-16” chainsaw and appropriate PPE learn how to use is safely and you May end up burning a lot more than you think. I’m into my second cord this season as the stove has carried 90% of our heating load.

just my two cents.
Evan.
 

OrngJuice

New Member
Sep 28, 2020
5
Richmond
Very interesting idea. I never thought about just leaving the surround off... I don't really want to use the blower partly for noise and partly because I don't think I'll need it to heat our space. Also the tea kettle isn't a deal breaker by any means. In fact, I don't really have the option to do any permanent floor protection in front of the existing hearth. I guess that's another consideration...

There is a stairwell right next to the opening of the fireplace so some of the heat may convect its way upstairs, but overheating the basement could definitely be a problem...

I've always read your stove runs cleanest when it's nice and hot, so would it be smarter to get a smaller stove (like the 1400 or 1500) instead of the 1800? The blaze kings are nice but pricy, and pretty oversized for what I'm looking for as well. I'm in VA so we don't get too cold here, maybe into the teens at night, nothing sub-zero.

I've got a stack of wood that we've been using for our fireplace and outdoor firepit, but I usually buy and let it sit stacked and covered for 12-18 months before I burn it.

How do you know which ones are eligible for the tax credit? The EPA list shows the Escape 1500 and 1800 (both the stove and the insert), so I figured they were eligible. Also when do you think the 2021 tax credit list will roll out?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,257
South Puget Sound, WA
I'd go for the 1800. A lot of heat will convect upstairs with the stairwell close by. Run the blower on low speed as needed.

The 2021 tax credit is already in effect.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
810
SE North Carolina
I could be wrong but I don’t think the 1800 meets the 75% efficiency for the 2021 tax credit. The list was pretty short in fact I don’t think I saw anything by SBI on there maybe I looked at the wrong or have wrong specs. Check the tax credit thread. Posted on this past week.
Did the math and DIY 1800 is still cheaper than 26% off a BK.
 

OrngJuice

New Member
Sep 28, 2020
5
Richmond
I could be wrong but I don’t think the 1800 meets the 75% efficiency for the 2021 tax credit. The list was pretty short in fact I don’t think I saw anything by SBI on there maybe I looked at the wrong or have wrong specs. Check the tax credit thread. Posted on this past week.
Did the math and DIY 1800 is still cheaper than 26% off a BK.
Ahh I see now, you're right EbS-P. It might be back to the drawing board to find one that meets that new higher standard. With the cost of the liner and the rest of the install all roped in under that 26% discount, I could end up with a nicer stove for the equivalent cost. I'm going to hit the lists to see if I can find something that will fit and meet those requirements. Since I need a liner installed in the chimney anyways, that 26% will really save me.

Am I wrong for looking at freestanding stoves at all? There are very few inserts that meet that 65% requirement I've come back to a few more models:


MORSØ 6140 WITH LOW BASE - I really like the look but 11" logs length will mean a lot a lot of chainsawing.

Lopi MEDIUM FLUSH WOOD RECTANGULAR NEXGEN-FYRE - This might be overkill and also might break the bank. I'm having trouble chasing down pricing for this, but it's appealing

Kuma Aspen LE - tiny and efficient and affordable. Shortish log length. I wonder how it would look in the actual fireplace?

Thanks for the feedback everyone. It's very valuable to me
 

Perry13

New Member
Jan 11, 2021
1
Michigan
Hello! I'm a first-time poster but lurking on this forum has helped me out a lot. I just installed a Buck Model 74 into a similar situation as yours. I left the surround off, but I understand it could be adjusted to the opening if I decide to put it on at some time in the future. My fireplace had a very shallow hearth with carpeting up to it (obviously no good), so I tore out the carpeting and tiled out two feet. I went with a blower; I don't have to use it (and with the mild winter we've had so far I haven't had to), but it's there for the 0 degree F days.

As a newbie probably the best advice I can offer you is that you won't regret the upgrade from a drafty fireplace to some good quality radiant heat.

Good luck!
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
810
SE North Carolina
So the Kuma I think would look nice but since it’s top vent only you will have it way back in the fireplace or all the way out so you can go up first then back through the brick to connect tor the liner. Not ideal as it would really have to stick pretty far out and probably need the elevated bricks to be extended. Then add 16” of floor protection.
Wanting to take advantage of this tax credit has added a whole new wrinkle to picking new hearth mounted stove or insert. The choices were already limited by the new emissions requirements. Have you thought about a pellet stove? For it it all comes back to the 1800i being an incredible value. Even if you paid for the install and insulation wrap I’m guessing you could it so t for 3000-3500%. Including taxes. My F400 cost me north if 5000$ installed.
Evan
 

OrngJuice

New Member
Sep 28, 2020
5
Richmond
So the Kuma I think would look nice but since it’s top vent only you will have it way back in the fireplace or all the way out so you can go up first then back through the brick to connect tor the liner. Not ideal as it would really have to stick pretty far out and probably need the elevated bricks to be extended. Then add 16” of floor protection.
Wanting to take advantage of this tax credit has added a whole new wrinkle to picking new hearth mounted stove or insert. The choices were already limited by the new emissions requirements. Have you thought about a pellet stove? For it it all comes back to the 1800i being an incredible value. Even if you paid for the install and insulation wrap I’m guessing you could it so t for 3000-3500%. Including taxes. My F400 cost me north if 5000$ installed.
Evan

I think you might be right on here. The more and more I look at it, the more I'm leaning towards that 1800i. That costco price is too good. I guess the next steps for me would be getting someone out to sweep and inspect the chimney and then give me a price for installing the liner? Is there a good database for finding certified installers for the liner and the stove? I'd love to get out of this thing for 3-3.5K but I also want to make sure it's done well enough to make my homeowners insurance happy.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,706
Iowa
I think you might be right on here. The more and more I look at it, the more I'm leaning towards that 1800i. That costco price is too good. I guess the next steps for me would be getting someone out to sweep and inspect the chimney and then give me a price for installing the liner? Is there a good database for finding certified installers for the liner and the stove? I'd love to get out of this thing for 3-3.5K but I also want to make sure it's done well enough to make my homeowners insurance happy.
 
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