Help with deciding between ZC fireplace or free standing wood stove

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BrianVA

Member
Oct 28, 2020
107
Central VA
That's a bummer. Have you looked into an insert? You have to make sure it's approved for your prefab. My Lopi insert has a list of approved ZC fireplace installs in the manual. You have to know what you've got and make sure it is approved.
 
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Brawndo71

New Member
Nov 21, 2021
36
MO
Yea sounds like a lot of extra work and money. If someone else is doing all the work and money isn't an issue, I'd still compare quotes for that versus the ZC install. Most ZC I was looking at went up 10% recently. Now $5500 just for the fireplace. Think my new ZC just got delayed another year due to coming medical bills.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
16,991
Philadelphia
That's a bummer. Have you looked into an insert? You have to make sure it's approved for your prefab. My Lopi insert has a list of approved ZC fireplace installs in the manual. You have to know what you've got and make sure it is approved.
We should be sure the OP clearly understands the difference between insert and ZC.
 

mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
801
ontario
Fwiw. We put in a zc in our new build home (2018) The heat output is remarkable.
I never planned on it being able to heat the entire home (3100sqft mainfloor AND 3100sqft basement) but it does.
Our forced air propane furnace does not come on at all.
We have one remote duct that goes to the fully insulated basement.
In a power outage i would either run my generator to power the fans or run small loads without the fans.
Our choice was to install the PE fp30 and couldn't be any happier. I did look into the RSF line of zero clearance fireplaces as well. For reference
We burn aprox. 4 cord a year in the house. 2.5 loads per day keeps the house very warm in the depths of winter 1 full load in the morning,1/2 load when I get home from work 1 full load before bed. Usable coals for 10-12 hrs with hardwood.
 
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Brawndo71

New Member
Nov 21, 2021
36
MO
I like hearing this. The PF30 is too big for my install site unfortunately. But any ZC that can heat reasonably would be great. 4 cords year? Wow. As long as I get access to free wood could I could i get close to that. Buying is out of the question. $250-300/cord usually. Thats not saving money. Might as well turn the furnace up to 75.
 

AlwaysStacking

New Member
Aug 25, 2020
15
Syracuse, NY
If you are looking at doing work in that location, I would be realistic with yourself on what it will take to keep the stone wall that you currently have. You may break even in the long run to rip down that whole wall and start with a fresh canvas, which would mean being able to pick between a free standing stove and a new ZC fireplace while getting exactly what you want. Even if it costs a little more money, you can get exactly what you want.

When we ripped out the old homebuilder ZC, we took out the framing and stone, and all of a sudden, the room was much bigger with essentially just a hole in the ceiling where the stove pipe was previously located. You can reallly make it your own and get whatever makes you happy instead of compromising.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
16,991
Philadelphia
I like hearing this. The PF30 is too big for my install site unfortunately. But any ZC that can heat reasonably would be great. 4 cords year? Wow. As long as I get access to free wood could I could i get close to that. Buying is out of the question. $250-300/cord usually. Thats not saving money. Might as well turn the furnace up to 75.
I’m not sure what fuel you feed to that furnace, but you clearly have not checked oil prices, recently.
 
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Brawndo71

New Member
Nov 21, 2021
36
MO
Yea when I do this, the whole wall is going, with a new stone veneer, and any clearances accommodated with the wall. I have a new natural gas furnace, and spend $700 a year to heat the house, not including the sunroom, which needs its own hyper heat pump mini split to be efficient. Gotta have the SO comfortable, she uses it as her office year round.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
16,991
Philadelphia
Wow, $700 per year ain't bad. I see what you're saying, now.

Our last visit from the oil man was $702, nine days ago. He'll be back mid-March, with an even bigger bill, seeing as what Putin is doing to our oil prices this week.
 

Brawndo71

New Member
Nov 21, 2021
36
MO
Hopefully the OP gets some good quotes and can make a decision regarding stove versus ZC. See whether there is ROI for moving one way or another. Thats a really nice-looking room he has, cluttering it up with a stove would be lower priority if a ZC can get done, and provide the heat and potential savings desired. Or a stove goes where the ZC is and rebuild the wall completely. Big decision.
 
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BrianVA

Member
Oct 28, 2020
107
Central VA
Yea when I do this, the whole wall is going, with a new stone veneer, and any clearances accommodated with the wall. I have a new natural gas furnace, and spend $700 a year to heat the house, not including the sunroom, which needs its own hyper heat pump mini split to be efficient. Gotta have the SO comfortable, she uses it as her office year round.
I would still recommend at least exploring the potential for an insert. It may be that the model ZC fireplace you currently have will not accommodate one. But if it does, it will be an effective heater, will look good, and will not require tearing the wall out. It would be a fairly simple install. Once again, this depends on the model you currently have, and compatibility with what you put in.

I know the Lopi large flush and medium flush are compatible with a few different models of ZC fireplace. Refer to the manual on the Lopi website for details.

Or maybe you have other reasons you don't like the idea of an insert.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,361
Colorado
Here I go and I am an old woman who knows "nothing" about the mechanics of things but I do want to say your great room is very beautiful and modern..Number one if it were me I would tear out that fireplace like you considered doing and put a free standing stove in that very space because if you are going to live in your home for thirty years you would have more flexibly with your options in buying a nice stove and there are all kinds of varieties out there and something more modern would really accent that beautiful room.For an emergency get something that would heat just that great room if necessary and something for ambiance but if you want it to heat the whole house or something that is a very different option...But the point is you would have options..Tear down that wall...old clancey
 
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Brawndo71

New Member
Nov 21, 2021
36
MO
I would still recommend at least exploring the potential for an insert. It may be that the model ZC fireplace you currently have will not accommodate one. But if it does, it will be an effective heater, will look good, and will not require tearing the wall out. It would be a fairly simple install. Once again, this depends on the model you currently have, and compatibility with what you put in.

I know the Lopi large flush and medium flush are compatible with a few different models of ZC fireplace. Refer to the manual on the Lopi website for details.

Or maybe you have other reasons you don't like the idea of an insert.
I've already contacted Heatilator, and have the manual. No options for insert with their product. This thing is from 1982. I can't get any of their proprietary chimney pipe either, which is what started me down the road of replacement project. The chimney leaked a little. I could alter the chimney cap design to put stainless steel air-cooled cap with stainless steel chase cover, but that is a UL/insurance issue. It would be safer. But no company will touch it without the UL listed pipe. Honestly I could just upgrade the cap and deal with the massive inefficiency, but that is $1000 to do it myself in parts. Their chimney design looked like a safety issue, so i won't run it that way with the original cap.
 
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BrianVA

Member
Oct 28, 2020
107
Central VA
I've already contacted Heatilator, and have the manual. No options for insert with their product. This thing is from 1982. I can't get any of their proprietary chimney pipe either, which is what started me down the road of replacement project. The chimney leaked a little. I could alter the chimney cap design to put stainless steel air-cooled cap with stainless steel chase cover, but that is a UL/insurance issue. It would be safer. But no company will touch it without the UL listed pipe. Honestly I could just upgrade the cap and deal with the massive inefficiency, but that is $1000 to do it myself in parts. Their chimney design looked like a safety issue, so i won't run it that way with the original cap.
Just FYI: Heatilator is listed in the Lopi manual as a compatible ZC for the Medium Flush or Large Flush insert. It says there is a Travis ZC liner kit available from Duravent.
 

mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
801
ontario
If your happy with natural gas and have limited access / interest in processing wood, then why not consider a gas insert?
You may be able to find one that slides right into your existing setup with minimal alterations required?
A gas stove still works without hydro and would provide some heat in a power outage scenario..
 

datemm

New Member
Feb 2, 2022
8
new jersey
That's a bummer. Have you looked into an insert? You have to make sure it's approved for your prefab. My Lopi insert has a list of approved ZC fireplace installs in the manual. You have to know what you've got and make sure it is approved.
I did look into this. Can't find anybody to actually install it in my area.
 

datemm

New Member
Feb 2, 2022
8
new jersey
Fwiw. We put in a zc in our new build home (2018) The heat output is remarkable.
I never planned on it being able to heat the entire home (3100sqft mainfloor AND 3100sqft basement) but it does.
Our forced air propane furnace does not come on at all.
We have one remote duct that goes to the fully insulated basement.
In a power outage i would either run my generator to power the fans or run small loads without the fans.
Our choice was to install the PE fp30 and couldn't be any happier. I did look into the RSF line of zero clearance fireplaces as well. For reference
We burn aprox. 4 cord a year in the house. 2.5 loads per day keeps the house very warm in the depths of winter 1 full load in the morning,1/2 load when I get home from work 1 full load before bed. Usable coals for 10-12 hrs with hardwood.
This is extremely helpful and reassuring. I'm now resigned to doing a ZC despite the extra effort/cost. I would have done the insert option but the only installer in my area who could have done the work had an insurance change or something that mandated they stop doing it as of 1/1/22. Apparently installing inserts into prefab fireplaces is being phased out due to safety concerns.
 

riles246

Member
Nov 23, 2019
14
Mid-NY State
Update for anybody who cares...

Had an installer out yesterday. Basically, running the chimney for a free standing stove is going to be super complicated. I'd have to box off some living space upstairs or have my chimney stick out so far from the roof of my house that I'd need a scissor lift to access the cap. I'm totally bummed about it. Looks like I'm going to have to convert the prefab to a high efficiency ZC unit if I want to burn wood for heat.
I recently went through a similar saga but didn't have an option for a freestanding stove. I gave up and trusted a dealer who convinced me that an insert for my drafty old zero clearance would solve the issue, and I wildly regret it. Now it's a nice insert in a drafty old fireplace; still drafty and cold when the fire isn't running and super inefficient when the fire is running due to all the air it sucks up through the chimney to cool the fireplace and the venting.

I spent $6k on the insert + installation + tax/permits, $500 on 2 cords of wood, and hours stacking and moving wood. Only to save anywhere from $0 to negative $500 on my heating bills this winter. Wish I just made the right choice the first time, although I'm still not sure what that right choice is. But I do know that you're on the right track- any viable option has to include completely replacing your existing fireplace (or closing it off and putting a stove somewhere else).
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
29,145
central pa
Just FYI: Heatilator is listed in the Lopi manual as a compatible ZC for the Medium Flush or Large Flush insert. It says there is a Travis ZC liner kit available from Duravent.
Yes but if heatilator says no inserts in this fireplace it doesn't matter what lopi says it can't be done.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
29,145
central pa
If your happy with natural gas and have limited access / interest in processing wood, then why not consider a gas insert?
You may be able to find one that slides right into your existing setup with minimal alterations required?
A gas stove still works without hydro and would provide some heat in a power outage scenario..
Again heatilator told him no inserts in his fireplace. Doesn't matter if it's wood or gas it isn't allowed