Help me select a fireplace for my new house...

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merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Hi all...I'll be starting to build my new house in the CO mountains next spring so I'm looking for some suggestions on where to go with a wood burning fireplace. Here are some of the particulars:

Location: CO mountains west of CO Springs, 8000ft
House size: 2250 sq ft, single story with loft and upstairs bedroom
Hoping to use fireplace as primary source of heat, but will have propane furnace available
Unlimited wood supply
Fireplace will be in the center of the house on the main floor

I'm considering the Quad 7100 right now but looking for other suggestions.
 

branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,758
southern NH
Welcome to the forums!

If I had the funds (a big "if")and was building a new house, I would without doubt center it around a masonry heater (w/ bake oven).

Check 'em out:
http://mha-net.org/html/gallery.htm
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,319
South Puget Sound, WA
There are lots of good units on the market. Also check out fireplaces by BIS, Kozy, RSF, Pacific Energy, Valcourt. Plan on adding extra to the chimney to compensate for the high altitude location.

Another seriously beautiful masonry system to look at having installed would be a Tulikivi.
 

Isaiah53

Member
Jun 6, 2014
90
Northern CO
In addition to the ZC fireplace units listed above, I would add the Fireplace Xtrordinair 36 and 44 Elite, Napoleon NZ3000 (or NZ6000 if you truly have unlimited wood supply and you can legally install it in your area) and the Lennox Montecito Estate (I think it is now part of IHP). If you are not concerned about wood consumption, the larger firebox units with larger blowers produce a lot of heat and make a very nice looking traditional fireplace with a large glass area for viewing the fire.

I recently built a mountain home at about 9000' elevation south of Estes Park and went through the same decision process. Some of the things I considered other than firebox size were zone heating and the option for a remote blower. Some of the units can be set up to duct into other rooms. Most of the reviews I read indicated these did not work real well expect for going up short distances. If the fireplace is centrally located this may not be of much benefit. I also noted that blowers can be rather noisy which can ruin the effect of the fireplace. I ultimately selected the FPX 44 Elite largely because I wanted to make sure I would have enough heat and one of the two installers my home builder was willing to work with was an FPX dealer (and the other was a VC dealer). We do like the large blower and firebox, and the heat it produces. My wife and I also really like the remote blower (installed in the attic) for the quietness. I did not want to be constantly hearing a blower when sitting by the fire in a mountain home. The downside is that it is does have a catalytic combustor (a negative for some people) and it goes through quite a bit of wood. I used about 5 cords heating my 2700 ft2 home last winter with very little supplemental propane. Like you, I have a lot of available wood on my surrounding property. I suspect many of these larger ZC fireplaces (>3.4 ft3 firebox) are similar in that regard. The FPX dealer for northern Colorado is very strong and professional in my experience. I know they have a nice showroom near Colorado Springs, although I used the Fort Collins location.

I think any of the units listed in this thread will work if properly sized and installed. It mostly comes down to your preference and the installation support.

Good luck
 

merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Thx for all the suggestions! I had been considering a masonry system but thought it would be way beyond my price range...maybe I'll investigate again since its been a while since I checked. FPX will be on my list to visit next time I pass through the Springs.

Also, since we're starting with a clean sheet on paper, I wonder if a free standing stove would be better for our situation. The wife likes the looks of the fireplace but I think the free standing stove is more efficient. Here in the CO "banana belt" just SW of the Springs our heating requirements are fast heat in the AM and a small amount of sustained heat until the sun begins produce heat in the PM. Thoughts?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,319
South Puget Sound, WA
It's good that you are open to ideas. A freestanding stove will be a better heater, especially during a power outage. I like our Alderlea T6, it has never overheated our 2000 sq ft house yet does a great job of providing steady heat. The fire view is excellent. Some other options would be a Hearthstone Mansfield, Jotul F55, Blaze King Ashford 30.
 

tradergordo

Minister of Fire
May 31, 2006
820
Phoenixville, PA
gordosoft.com
Since you haven't even started building yet, I would go with a woodstove instead of a fireplace, cost will be lower, heating performance much better. If you want a fireplace for ambiance for some reason, I'd build a "fake" one. Next consider the chimney system, most modern builders have no clue how to design/build a proper chimney (see: http://woodheat.org/outside-chimney.html). Ideally you want the flue running right though your living space, and you pretty much never want a chimney sticking out of the frame of your home.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,319
South Puget Sound, WA
Good advice. Welcome back tg! Are you still running the Dutchwest?
 

tradergordo

Minister of Fire
May 31, 2006
820
Phoenixville, PA
gordosoft.com
Hah, yes I am, trying to see how long I can use it without purchasing any of their insanely expensive replacement parts. I've got 8 cords in the shed, chimney swept, but I am going to replace all the gaskets and polish the glass (cerium oxide) before I start burning (It hasn't been very cold yet in PA).

p.s. When the dutchwest dies, this is what I will do with it:
 
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Isaiah53

Member
Jun 6, 2014
90
Northern CO
The wood stove will certainly be more efficient with longer burn times, less wood consumption and a greater degree of control, especially in the warmer shoulder months. And the ability to operate in a power outage can be significant. The stoves are also much easier to replace than a ZC fireplace if necessary. We originally wanted a large wood stove, but several builders, real estate agents and the interior decorator convinced us it would not be a bad idea to build a home in this area without a fireplace from a resale standpoint. I have to admit that it is difficult to make a stove installation look as nice as the fireplace, and the flame show is never going to be as nice unless you just run the stove wide open.

I ended up installing a Blaze King Ashford in my basement recreation room. I have only used it a few times to date, but so far I love it. It is a great slow fire heater and deserving of all the praise it gets on this site. It is an attractive wood stove, but there is no way my wife and family would prefer it over the FPX in the main upstairs living area for heat production and ambiance. Just a steady heat output with a few glowing embers of wood in a bed of ash. Classic form versus function decision. I can imagine your wife's acceptance being an issue. If you do go with a stove, you might want to choose a secondary burn stove like the PE Alderlea mentioned above. They do produce nicer flame shows than the long burning cat stoves. Something of a compromise between a cat stove and a fireplace.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,319
South Puget Sound, WA
Hah, yes I am, trying to see how long I can use it without purchasing any of their insanely expensive replacement parts. I've got 8 cords in the shed, chimney swept, but I am going to replace all the gaskets and polish the glass (cerium oxide) before I start burning (It hasn't been very cold yet in PA).

p.s. When the dutchwest dies, this is what I will do with it:
That is a very impressive retrofit!
 

merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Just to catch everyone up, we went to see the Tulikivi heaters at a local dealer...wow, very impressive units! Online pictures just don't do these heaters justice. The installed prices were hard to get my head wrapped around but once you get past that, the beauty and performance of the heater are outstanding. Much to my surprise, my wife hardly blinked at the price once she actually saw the heater. Fortunately, some of the larger 2014 models are "on sale" (about 10% off) so that will help with the "pros" side of the decision process. Its still a huge expense we did not plan for so we'll have to see if enough adjustments to the build plan can be made to support the purchase. Other tangential costs to be factored in are reengineering the plans to support the additional weight and the associated building materials. The dealer was very helpful and offered to have his onsite architect build the heater into a CAD drawing of our house to see exactly what would be required. More to follow...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,319
South Puget Sound, WA
Can't wait to hear and see how this turns out. Take lots of pictures!
 

branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,758
southern NH
Online pictures just don't do these heaters justice. The installed prices were hard to get my head wrapped around but once you get past that, the beauty and performance of the heater are outstanding.
Great, hope you can make it happen. My next door neighbor had one of the first Tulikivis in NH, installed decades ago before he owned the house. A few years ago he wanted to get rid of it (for just a few $k) to redo his kitchen and I was ready to jump on it, until I quickly realized you can't just retrofit it into a small antique cape!

Not sure about your area, but in New England there are several masons who custom-build heaters. While still a hugely expensive project, I imagine a heater that is not a Tulikivi soapstone could be done at somewhat lower cost. Soapstone is the ideal material, but very expensive, and any stone or masonry material will work as a re-radiating heat sink so long as the contra-flow system is well designed and executed... so the only limits are your imagination and your bank account.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,319
South Puget Sound, WA
How extreme is your weather? If it gets very cold for long periods of time you may want the full soapstone when trying to heat 24/7 with wood. However if you have wild swings in temp outdoors (-10F at night and +40F daytime) and the house is sited to take advantage of winter solar gains, then the hybrid may be better. A full soapstone stove is like a freighttrain, slow to get going and slowing it down takes hours. However if these temp swings are predictable one can adjust the fire size and length of burn accordingly with a small morning fire and a big late afternoon fire in anticipation of a cold night.
 

merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Our weather here is not that extreme...Nov is when we really start needing heat. We can get down to near zero occasionally but that's rare. Normally, the winter temps range from the low 20s at night to the 30s and 40s during the day. We get a lot of sun, over 300 days a year so solar warming is a real help.
 

merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Well, the initial estimates are coming in on the Tulikivi...ouch!! Suffice it to say we'll be going in another direction for wood stove heat in our new house. The Hearthstone Equinox 8000 is looking pretty good right now!
 

NinjaTech

Member
Oct 30, 2014
151
Saint Louis
I'll throw my two cents in, if your looking to use it as primary heat take a look at some of the blaze king freestanding stoves. I have a princess insert and love it. Had I not already had a large masonry fireplace I would have gone with a princess or maybe king freestanding stove. If/when I build my own house that is what I'll be going with without a second thought.
 

merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Thx for your suggestion. I did look hard at BK once I made the transition away from the soapstone heaters. They are excellent units and are priced competitively. Only thing is, I'm still a soapstone junkie I guess...I like the way it delivers heat and the soapstone stoves look great. And since this thing will be in the center of our house, aesthetics does matter.
 

NinjaTech

Member
Oct 30, 2014
151
Saint Louis
Fair enough, the princess and king models at least do seem to be much more "utilitarian", and not quite so much for looks. The guy at the stove shop when I was looking at them said they are probably the 'ugliest' stoves he sells, but some of the best performing.
 

branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,758
southern NH
Did you consider a non-soapstone (non-Tulikivi) masonry heater? I realize that would still be well over $10k and maybe 3x or more than a stove/liner install, but I expect it could be substantially less than the Tulikivi quote. I think there may be others, like Greenstone, who do heaters with materials other than soapstone. There are also less expensive "rocket mass heaters" to consider.

You might contact this guy to explore less expensive options than Tulikivi:
http://lefthandmasonry.com/contact.html
http://www.houzz.com/pro/matthew-helicke/lefthand-masonry-llc
 

merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Yes, we did consider other soapstone heater vendors realizing Telikivi was probably a high end unit. Although some were a less expensive than Telikivi they were still well into the 5 digit realm. After a great deal of soul searching, we decided the best bang for our limited bucks was a compromise to something like Hearthstone. We have a lot of other ways to better spend that ~$20-30K savings.
 

merlin

Member
Nov 9, 2014
15
Colorado
Fair enough, the princess and king models at least do seem to be much more "utilitarian", and not quite so much for looks. The guy at the stove shop when I was looking at them said they are probably the 'ugliest' stoves he sells, but some of the best performing.
Yes, no doubt...great performers!!
 
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