Thank you for any advice you can offer! I am looking to put an insert into my wood fireplace located in the interior (center) of my 1920 home. The fire place is in the central wall in the center of the room that is a completely open living room and dining room. On one side of the fireplace takes you behind to the kitchen and door to utility basement, and the other side takes you behind to the bathroom and then up the stairs to the three bedrooms (so the staircase runs directly behind the fireplace). I believe the footprint of the home Is 24x26. I have taken off the old fireplace door, thoroughly cleaned the inside of the firebox, and busted off the old hearth that i will replace with the correct dimensions (the hearth broke off clean from the construction hearth seen in the pic). I've been debating between a gas insert (ease of use) or a wood insert (i think my hearts desire when I'm not worrying about the learning curve and worried friends). I love all the qualities, authenticity and intentionality of a real fire. I haven't shopped around bc the guys at the local lopi dealer have been so helpful and patient with me and they do all their own installing. ...I'm all about quality, but also on a definite budget. ...this has led me to the consideration of the Lopi Republic 1250i and 1750i. My firebox clearance is 29 1/2 in wide by 27 inches high by around 22 inches deep and 24 inches wide at the back wall. That front room is 25ft in length by 11 1/2 ft in depth (more like 10 1/2 ft where fireplace juts out). I have an old natural gas furnace which is my only heat source at this point. I know the woodstove will be absolutely used for regular (hopefully) daily fires that have the bonus of heating my house. I won't stress myself out this year about trying to use it as my main source bc i need to learn the art and find a good wood source, but i want to have the option of growing into that choice if i so desire. My rebuild of the hearth will be impacted by my stove choice. I have a bit of an uneven floor and am not so sure i should busI out that remaining hearth, so I don't think my hearth can be flush with the floor... So we will have to be aware of its presence when running through to the upstairs (i say running bc I have 4 kids that will need to be educated on the heat dangers of a real stove. They are used to a fake little electric stove i have had sitting on the hearth, but of course that is not hot. Pros i see to the 1250i is that it wont stick out but 3 inches, maybe safer for kids and dogs.. But i worry it might not put enough heat out? Pros to the 1750i is being that it does jut out 9+ inches, there is added radiant heat, more log space, plus i love the idea of a steam pot sitting on it. My concern is will the extra hearth depth be in the way and will it be too much heat with an efficient burn? Other considerations: i have thought about installing it without the framed in shroud, bc i like the look of that and wonder if it helps put the heat in the room... And if so, another question i have is does my inside hearth need that top layer of firebrick to guard from the heat or can i bust it out and gain a couple more inches in height? Also, is the insert built different than the freestanding? Could the freestanding be shoved in the same hole or does it require all the clearance, even inside a fireplace? Sorry i put so many questions in here, but the sooner i can make my decision the sooner i can order and be on their install list. Mn winters are long and cold! Last question is, do you think the blower fan is absolutely essential? I am not sure if aesthetically i like it... Also, the dealer is talking about finding me one of those radiant heat activated stove top fans, but in reading about how they sit on the stove, I'm wondering how that would work in this situation? Also, if you have any encouragement for braving it and going with wood over mindlessly convenient options, I would love that! ...unless of course you think a gas fireplace makes more sense. Again, thank you so much! .....it won't upload my pic but i can try later.