Inserts or Fireplace for primary heat?

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tomplant

New Member
Sep 26, 2022
2
Buena Vista, Colorado
I'm in Colorado at 8,000 feet and looking to use wood as a primary heat source. I have always had wood stoves and love them, but the house I have just moved into has a fireplace and not a good one. So, I'm trying to figure out if an insert or fireplace could be used as a primary heat source for a 2,000 sqft house? I know a good wood stove would be ideal, but I just don't have a very good spot for it and there's already a chimney and fireplace, so I'm feeling like I need to go that way if there's something that will work for heat and not just look pretty. I have about a 40" by 22" opening. Any recommendations on good models? Thanks!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,109
central pa
I'm in Colorado at 8,000 feet and looking to use wood as a primary heat source. I have always had wood stoves and love them, but the house I have just moved into has a fireplace and not a good one. So, I'm trying to figure out if an insert or fireplace could be used as a primary heat source for a 2,000 sqft house? I know a good wood stove would be ideal, but I just don't have a very good spot for it and there's already a chimney and fireplace, so I'm feeling like I need to go that way if there's something that will work for heat and not just look pretty. I have about a 40" by 22" opening. Any recommendations on good models? Thanks!
First off what type of fireplace do you have? If it's a prefab unit it is unlikely that an insert is an option
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,202
Long Island NY
If this is an open fireplace (as in a hole in a brick construction), then no doubt n insert.

If this is a zero clearance fireplace, there are very efficient ones (too).
 

Dix

Minister of Fire
May 27, 2008
6,564
Long Island, NY
Welcome to the Forums !!

Pics & a floorplan (even rough drawn !! ) will help.

Get ready to go "in depth" ;)
 
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tomplant

New Member
Sep 26, 2022
2
Buena Vista, Colorado
Thanks for the messages on this - I'm not sure what kind of fireplace it is - but I've attached a photo. The heating guy came out to do measurements and said we could go with the Lopi Medium Nexgen-Fyre insert or the Apex 42 Fireplace. Cost for the insert installed would be $7kish and the fireplace would be $10kish - But the Apex is bigger - when I look up BTUs - the Apex caps at 62,000 BTUs and says it can heat 2,500 sqft. The Lopi Medium says it heats 2,000 sqft, and BTUs cap out at 55,000. Both say fire will go for 10 hours - this part is important because we like having the fire go all night and wake to coals. I've spoken with someone who has a larger but similar fireplace (Elite 44) and he says it takes a lot of wood. Unfortunately they are both about 72% or 73% efficient, so they don't trigger the tax credits (75%).
IMG_0477.png
 

ratsrepus

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2018
774
Howell, Mi
I don't think you can install an insert in that. looks like a prefab unit. I'm sure someone that knows a lot more than I do will chime in
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,573
Philadelphia
No comment on legality of insert, I'll leave that to @bholler. But I did grow up in a rather large house with several fireplaces, and did attempt to heat the joint with them, one winter. What I learned is that you can indeed heat the room you are in with a fireplace, don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. In fact, the one my father had installed in the 1980's threw so much heat it could too-easily roast us out of the ~1000 sq.ft. space in which it was installed. But it all comes at the cost of drawing massive amounts of make-up air thru every nook and crevice in the rest of the house, such that rooms distant from said fireplace go dead cold.

The other problem with a fireplace is the ~12 hour window of time between when it stops putting out sufficient heat, and the fire is actually burned out sufficiently to safely close the damper. You lose enough heat up the flue in that window of time, that the appliance may actually become a net negative on heat production (or so I'm told).

The two rules I Iearned to keeping a house heated with fireplace(s) were "many" and "often". Keep several going, and never let them go out. That said, I still find open fireplaces very appealing. Nothing compares to the sound of an open fire, wood stoves and inserts are a very poor and distant facsimile.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,109
central pa
No comment on legality of insert, I'll leave that to @bholler. But I did grow up in a rather large house with several fireplaces, and did attempt to heat the joint with them, one winter. What I learned is that you can indeed heat the room you are in with a fireplace, don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. In fact, the one my father had installed in the 1980's threw so much heat it could too-easily roast us out of the ~1000 sq.ft. space in which it was installed. But it all comes at the cost of drawing massive amounts of make-up air thru every nook and crevice in the rest of the house, such that rooms distant from said fireplace go dead cold.

The other problem with a fireplace is the ~12 hour window of time between when it stops putting out sufficient heat, and the fire is actually burned out sufficiently to safely close the damper. You lose enough heat up the flue in that window of time, that the appliance may actually become a net negative on heat production (or so I'm told).

The two rules I Iearned to keeping a house heated with fireplace(s) were "many" and "often". Keep several going, and never let them go out. That said, I still find open fireplaces very appealing. Nothing compares to the sound of an open fire, wood stoves and inserts are a very poor and distant facsimile.
I believe he is talking about a modern epa compliant fireplace not an open fireplace.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,109
central pa
Thanks for the messages on this - I'm not sure what kind of fireplace it is - but I've attached a photo. The heating guy came out to do measurements and said we could go with the Lopi Medium Nexgen-Fyre insert or the Apex 42 Fireplace. Cost for the insert installed would be $7kish and the fireplace would be $10kish - But the Apex is bigger - when I look up BTUs - the Apex caps at 62,000 BTUs and says it can heat 2,500 sqft. The Lopi Medium says it heats 2,000 sqft, and BTUs cap out at 55,000. Both say fire will go for 10 hours - this part is important because we like having the fire go all night and wake to coals. I've spoken with someone who has a larger but similar fireplace (Elite 44) and he says it takes a lot of wood. Unfortunately they are both about 72% or 73% efficient, so they don't trigger the tax credits (75%). View attachment 299506
You need to find out what make and model fireplace you have. Most of them do not allow inserts to be installed in them. So chances are you can't legally do an insert
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,202
Long Island NY
The main point (if this was not clear) is that a zero clearance fireplace is different from an insert.
The latter is essentially a stove, and it needs to go into a full brick fireplace. It can't go in a framed "hole in the wall".