Looking for Woodstove Input - Soapstone preferred

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Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
So my wife and I are building a home in north western Montana.

We would like to use the wood burning stove for primary heat, with secondary being supplied by a propane furnace. Whole house is 3k sqft, not including basement, so I don’t expect to heat the whole thing with a stove.

We would love to work with the Woodstone Progress Hybrid, but my brain can’t currently wrap around how it would work in the below fireplace location. Feels like with the side loading it would have to hang out almost completely from the “fireplace” and then we would have a much larger hearth area… thoughts?

Are there good front loading soapstones? Should I just “move it more into the room”?

We love the look of the progress hybrid, and soapstones in general, but also don’t want to shrink the room something crazy just for the fireplace.
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,165
Long Island NY
Why build an alcove instead of making it free standing? Allows for side loading.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,510
SE North Carolina
The fireplace is an extra expense if you are planning a stove. Where are you in the design/build phase can that be changed?
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,986
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Just move it out. The big hearth is a feature, not a bug. You have 3000 sf for crying out loud! Tucking that stove in a hole only acts to limit its performance. The PH is a mostly radiant heater.

I’m not a fan of soapstone and the PH is a smaller stove than I would want for full time heating much more than a normal sized home. The look is unique though and if your heart is set on it then people are very seldom unhappy with their PH.

Be sure you have large propane tanks.

Oh and that PH is god awful heavy. Be sure your floor can support it and have help moving it. Buy an extra cat, Woodstock has had problems keeping the supply steady and an extra is always a good idea. Plan on 10,000 burn hours per cat. More or less.
 

Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
We’re awaiting construction drawings so the build hasn’t started. We don’t like the idea of the pipe being visible so the alcove is our idea to make it look more integrated.

However it wasn’t until last night I started thinking about how that alcove impacts stove selection.

We have $12.6k for masonry materials and $7.6k allocated for fireplace/stove.

The Hearthstone Mansfield does appear to fit the bill. Just all the levers for airflow would be hidden in the alcove.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,165
Long Island NY
I believe the Woodstock Progress Hybrid can also rear vent. That way the pipe goes directly thru the wall behind the stove and you won't see much of it.

Don't know the quality of this model @begreen is the wizard with a stove database in his head.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,214
South Puget Sound, WA
I have to assume that new construction in Montana means some serious attention to insulation and heat loss. Is that correct? The caveat in this drawing is the large amount of glazing. If this is floor-to-ceiling glass with a cathedral ceiling, I hope these windows are over R6. Otherwise, the heat loss will be significant. In that case, I agree with skipping the alcove idea. The more of the stove in the room the better to take advantage of its radiant heat. Also, rear-venting directly out the wall may lock the flue outlet location to this stove. I suggest the Progress Hybrid over the Mansfield here for a more proven design.

Alternatively, this setup may be better served with a high-quality, large Zero Clearance fireplace. The benefits will be a much larger fire view, more heat, larger wood pieces, and an integrated design. The surround can be faced in soapstone if that's the desired look.

Regardless, be committing to a final plan, be sure to calculate in heat loss of the building and perhaps factor in much higher energy costs for future-proofing the home unless the plan is to shut off the great room during the cold extremes of winter.
 
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Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
I have to assume that new construction in Montana means some serious attention to insulation and heat loss. Is that correct? The caveat in this drawing is the large amount of glazing. If this is floor-to-ceiling glass with a cathedral ceiling, I hope these windows are over R6. Otherwise, the heat loss will be significant. In that case, I agree with skipping the alcove idea. The more of the stove in the room the better to take advantage of its radiant heat. Also, rear-venting directly out the wall may lock the flue outlet location to this stove. I suggest the Progress Hybrid over the Mansfield here for a more proven design.

Alternatively, this setup may be better served with a high-quality, large Zero Clearance fireplace. The benefits will be a much larger fire view, more heat, larger wood pieces, and an integrated design. The surround can be faced in soapstone if that's the desired look.

Regardless, be committing to a final plan, be sure to calculate in heat loss of the building and perhaps factor in much higher energy costs for future-proofing the home unless the plan is to shut off the great room during the cold extremes of winter.

6” walls around. Triple pane windows if in budget. Otherwise double. (Preferably Marvin ultimate, Loewan, or Kolbe). Foam in ceiling and key loss points. The great room has a west-south-west view and a bunch of south facing windows for winter.
I don’t think we can afford to thermally break the whole house with 1” insulation on the outside but will try and see cost.

What zero clearance stove do you recommend? Have not dove into that realm of options yet and had been focusing on stoves.

We will have a 1,000 gallon propane tank and hydronic heating in the basement floor.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,214
South Puget Sound, WA
RSF, Astria, Quadrafire/Heatilator, and Valcourt are some companies that make large zero-clearance fireplaces.

It might be worth considering geothermal heating to supplement the propane. Fossil fuels eventually may get a carbon tax added to the cost. For a comparison, right now propane costs over 3x what it cost in our area 25 yrs. ago. As a fuel, it is very susceptible to the whims of the market and transportation costs.
 

Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
RSF, Astria, Quadrafire/Heatilator, and Valcourt are some companies that make large zero-clearance fireplaces.

It might be worth considering geothermal heating to supplement the propane. Fossil fuels eventually may get a carbon tax added to the cost.
We have the property for it but not the budget today (10 ac).
I don’t know the difference in cost between “now” and “later”

We have around 40 Dougfir and 5 Larch to drop for wood ‘today’ so should have a bunch of cords. (33% are probably 30-40’ and 66% are 60’)
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,214
South Puget Sound, WA
Larch and doug fir are good for firewood. The wood will need time to dry, a year ideally, but at least 8 months if top covered or in a well-ventilated woodshed. It doesn't start drying until split and stacked.

Another thing to consider is how well will the heat convect out of the great room to the rest of the house. With a high ceiling, ceiling fans will be necessary. Otherwise, a lot of the heat will just pool up at the ceiling. A ZC fireplace with a blower will help with heat distribution.
 

Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
Larch and doug fir are good for firewood. The wood will need time to dry, a year ideally, but at least 8 months if top covered or in a well-ventilated woodshed. It doesn't start drying until split and stacked.

Another thing to consider is how well will the heat convect out of the great room to the rest of the house.
We’re dropping the trees this year. Not sure if we will get to splitting before winter but they will be rounds. They will then sit on pallets covered by a tarp until at least next winter when the house is ready.
I don’t want to show the whole plan… but great room is open to above with almost free access to the upstairs hallway. And a slatted window into the master.

The downstairs is fairly open as well with a 8’ opening to the dining room.

The three rooms I’m most concerned about getting heat are the kitchen, mudroom, and a bedroom. Everything else is pretty damn open to airflow from the great room.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,214
South Puget Sound, WA
The open floorplan and the ceiling fans will help.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,510
SE North Carolina

Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
The BKK has much smaller clearances and would work in the alcove as shown….

Decisions decisions.

Does a ZC give a better flame view than the BKK or is the BKK good other than at low heat.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,165
Long Island NY
BKs are comparable in heat output to other modern stoves with the same size firebox on the high end of the range (the occasional user suggests BKs are putting out slightly less at high burn rates than others, but efficiency numbers don't back that up).

They have extended the low end of the range. However, while there is a nice flame view above halfway settings, the low end of the output range is rather dull. We call it the black box mode. Smoldering with the cat providing the heat and cleaning up the smoke. No flame then.

If flame is a must at all times, don't do a BK - at the cost of more frequent reloading (because smaller fires to lower heat output while still burning hot) or more cold starts (batch mode).
 
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Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
You may want to call a dealer in your area for a recommendation. Here is a link.

They’re not near me… the stores near me carry:
Store 1:
Astria, FPX, Mason Lite, Supreme - Fireplaces
Iron strike, Jotul, Lopi, Pac Energy - Woodstoves
Store 2:
Quadrafire, Heat n Glo, Heatilator - Fireplaces
Quadrafire, Vermont, Hearthstone, Regency - Wood Stoves

And then there’s a few others, but I don’t know their website navigation that well.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,214
South Puget Sound, WA
The BKK has much smaller clearances and would work in the alcove as shown….

Decisions decisions.

Does a ZC give a better flame view than the BKK or is the BKK good other than at low heat.
Yes, several ZC fireplaces have a much larger viewing area and higher heat output.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,505
NE Ohio
6” walls around. Triple pane windows if in budget. Otherwise double. (Preferably Marvin ultimate, Loewan, or Kolbe). Foam in ceiling and key loss points. The great room has a west-south-west view and a bunch of south facing windows for winter.
I don’t think we can afford to thermally break the whole house with 1” insulation on the outside but will try and see cost.
I'd spend the extra on these house upgrades way before spending it to build a "fireplace" or alcove...the upgrades will pay you back 24/7/365.
If you like the look of a stone fireplace, just sit the stove on a elevated stone hearth and do a faux stone wall behind it...through the wall pipe will limit the exposed pipe, just make sure to exit high enough as to not limit future stove choices too much.
Just make sure you get the approval of the spousal unit before commiting to a BKK...
 
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Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
I'd spend the extra on these house upgrades way before spending it to build a "fireplace" or alcove...the upgrades will pay you back 24/7/365.
If you like the look of a stone fireplace, just sit the stove on a elevated stone hearth and do a faux stone wall behind it...through the wall pipe will limit the exposed pipe, just make sure to exit high enough as to not limit future stove choices too much.
Just make sure you get the approval of the spousal unit before commiting to a BKK...

Without going into too much detail, we have a budget of around 1300 per window and door (average before labor) so we should be able to afford the triple pane (all standard sized windows/doors except for one specific window)

I haven’t yet inquired on the cost to do a thermal break and may do that when I get the most up to date bid back.

Also, jealous of you all in NE Ohio… Grew up around there… hardwood is so nice for stoves.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,214
South Puget Sound, WA
I haven’t yet inquired on the cost to do a thermal break and may do that when I get the most up to date bid back.
My BIL did a staggered 2x4 construction to achieve the thermal break, with no outside 1" foam. He was scrupulously careful about insulation and doubly so about sealing. This was owner-built, not a GC, so they took their time and did it right. This has paid off big time for energy savings. They usually just heat with the built-in wood-fired pizza oven. The wood-fired boiler only gets woken when it's really cold out.
 

Barn86

New Member
Aug 14, 2022
10
Montana
My BIL did a staggered 2x4 construction to achieve the thermal break, with no outside 1" foam. He was scrupulously careful about insulation and doubly so about sealing. This was owner-built, not a GC, so they took their time and did it right. This has paid off big time for energy savings. They usually just heat with the built-in wood-fired pizza oven. The wood-fired boiler only gets woken when it's really cold out.

I’ve read up a bunch on the different ways to do framing, the more “advanced” techniques like the staggered 2x4, etc. I think the most cost effective (with current lumber prices) is 2x6 with 1” external foam board covered with a rain guard… and then you apply the hardieboard outside that (1” is maximum hardie will attach to)

In theory, this gets me some pretty damn good R ratings… not 2x4x2x4 R ratings, but pretty good. We’re located in 5b hardiness zone, bordering 5a so we’re not an extreme extreme
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,214
South Puget Sound, WA
You are right. We have better materials and knowledge now. Back in 1980, he went mostly by Mother Earth News articles.