Insert recommendations and hearth clearance question

  • Active since 1995, is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.


New Member
Dec 11, 2023
I have an open fireplace I'd like to convert to a high-efficiency insert. I have had a couple of chimney companies come out to look at it. Both recommended MF Fire Nova 2, and one gave Regency ci2700 as an option. The Blaze King Sirocco 25 also looks good and there is a local dealer, but I'm wondering what the pros and cons of Blaze King (which seems to be highly regarded and promoted by BK dealer(s) on this forum) compared to the other options. I wasn't impressed with the Nova 2 features or reviews.

Another question: I understand that 16" is the minimum hearth depth in front of a fireplace (confirmed with my state's residential code, which says 16" for fireplaces with <6' square foot opening). I have 18" of tile between the existing fireplace and the wood floor. The ci2700 and the Blaze King both protrude from the wall quite a bit. For example, the Sirocco 25 extends 2.7" from the back of surround to the firebox opening, and their brochure states, "If unit is installed on a hearth flush with a combustible surface, then R1.1 protection is required 19” in front of the door opening and 8” on the unit sides." I'm guessing BK says 19" because 16+2.7 is about 19.

So I would have 15.3" of clearance between the firebox opening and the wood floor. Are these inserts going to pose a problem? Do inspectors check this?

Modern inserts seem vastly safer and I'd hate to have to redo the hearth, which would add more money to this already very expensive project.
The Sirocco is a more sophisticated stove and a better designed insert, IMO. In catalytic models, you might also consider the Kuma Cascade LE if it fits the fireplace. In hybrid flush units, the Lopi Large Hybrid or Regency 2700 Hybrid are good choices.

Is the hearth extension raised or right at floor level? This may affect the options that are available. Worst case scenario the Sirocco might need a hearth pad in front of it.

Yes, a good inspector will check the hearth extension. A bad one might just look and say it looks fine.
Thanks! The Kuma LE looks pretty good, although it only takes 18" logs. I would prefer an insert that can handle longer logs.

The Regency just misses the cut for the tax credit (74% HHV) so that strikes it from my list.

The Sirocco doesn't mention a blower fan, but there does appear to be a blower listed in the manual. I definitely want a blower to help distribute the heat.

Are there other options that folks would recommend? I want a fairly modern look, at least 75% HHV, blower fan, 22" log handling, and good adjustability. I'd also consider non-cat inserts, but I do like the idea of being able to get a low burn for long periods.
Personally, log length as long as it 16" of longer is much less important than loading direction. I really prefer a N/S loader. It holds more wood without the worry about a log rolling off the top and against the glass. That said, it sounds like the BK ticks all the boxes for you and is probably the best choice.

A flush insert will need a blower to convect heat well.
Fair, I just have a large tree's worth of red oak logs that have been seasoned for 2.5 years and I'd hate to have to saw them all down. Many are under 18" but probably at least a third of them are longer.

I don't know what N/S loader means, but I'm inferring that north means the back of the stove, so the ends of the logs would be facing the door. Does the Sirocco 25 or any of these inserts allow N/S loading?
Correct. N/S loading means the logs are loaded parallel to the stove sides.

Every stove will be a compromise of some sort or another. The fireplace has to have a deep firebox to accomodate a deeper N/S loading insert. That's why many are E/W loaders. And not every stove will make the EPA list. That doesn't mean it's not a great stove, it just means that there is a percent or two between qualifying for a bureaucratic red line or not. For some, the short term savings means little over the life of the stove, especially if one is paying $500 every few years for a catalyst. This isn't to say the BK insert is not a good heater. It's a well made and supported NW-made heater.
Of course, nobody local to me has Blaze Kings in-stock. Looks like a 5-7 week delay to get one, versus a day or two for Regency. I guess I'll start looking at other options. I like the idea of the higher efficiency that a catalyst can provide, and would hope to get more than a few years out of it since it won't be the primary heat source. However, it's likely I might rent the house out in the next couple of years, in which case the lower maintenance of a non-catalyst would be beneficial. I appreciate any thoughts on that, and recommendations for similar non-cat models.
Yes, this is peak season so availability can be a question. The Regency i2450 is a non-cat. So are the Osburn 2000i and Pacific Energy Super or Summit inserts. Double check measurements for fit.