Lopi versus Jotul for a used gas stove?

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Jan 10, 2017
10
Philadelphia
Hi all! I just actually signed up to this forum, but I've been reading it obsessively for the past month! To introduce myself, I am a young woman who recently bought an old (1800s) rowhouse in historic Philadelphia, and I am attempting to restore it to its former glory... on a budget! :) I'm sure I'll have lots more questions for all of you experienced folks, but right now I have three. The house has several fireplaces, and I am currently trying to fit each with a gas stove or gas direct-vent insert, to use as the house's primary heating.

(A) I'm looking for two smaller stoves/inserts for bedrooms in the upper apartment (one to heat a 3rd floor bedroom of about 150 ft2 with 7' ceilings and a ceiling fan on reverse, and the other to heat a 4th floor attic bedroom of about 160 ft2 with sloping ceilings that reach 6' max). I believe the house's insulation is quite poor (I think one wall is just plaster on the outer brick!). I'm thinking of around 6000-15000 BTU a piece for those two rooms - does that sound right? I was thinking either a Jotul DV Nordic 100 or possibly a Lopi Northfield. Or maybe a mini Franklin from Woodstock Soapstone. I have found a few used Jotul Nordic 100s and I'm thinking of buying two - one for each of those bedrooms. As a primary heat source for 150 ft2 in a poorly insulated house, does that sound about right? One would be $450 and the other would be under $800. I've also seen some Jotul DV Lillehammer 200s used - would that be a better choice? Are used gas Jotul stoves pretty reliable? Any years to avoid? Would Lopi be better?

(B) Another stove/insert needs to be larger: it would be in the masonry chimney of the living room of the upper apartment (living room is approx. 250 ft2 and adjoining kitchen is about 150 ft2); whole apartment is about 800 ft2). I'd like it definitely to heat the living room and kitchen, and ideally some heat would flow upstairs (I know that depends on air movement). I'm thinking of getting a used Mendota D-40: it's ten years old and would be $1500 with various accessories included (venting, faceplate, inlay, backplate, etc.). Is a decade-old Mendota likely to be any good? The reason I like it is that the input ranges from 6500 BTU to 40,000 BTU, giving lots of flexibility.

(C) The last stove/insert needs to heat a separate apartment of around 400 or 450 ft2. This apartment occupies the first floor of the building. Ceilings of about 9' (maybe 9.5'), would be installed in masonry fireplace in living room, which bedroom adjoins. Both rooms will have ceiling fans on reverse to spread the air. Because this will be the primary heat source for this unit, I would really like as much turn-down as I can get for versatility. I was thinking of a used Lopi Berkshire. I've seen a few - one from around 2006, one from 2003, and one from around 2001. Have they changed much over time? I'd be paying $500-800 - does that seem fair? If that's not enough heat, I could possibly also add a Rinnai wall gas heater in the bedroom.

Thanks for reading! Really appreciate any thoughts or advice on any aspect of this!
 
Jan 10, 2017
10
Philadelphia
Forgot to mention: the alternative to the used options for B and C would be to buy new. I'm primarily looking at 2 new Regency LRI6E gas inserts. My priorities are heat and efficiency rather than aesthetics. The reason why I'm leaning against the new Regency inserts is the high price ($4500 each after the discount).
 

DAKSY

Full Time RVer
Staff member
Dec 2, 2008
9,101
Wherever we're parked
For starters, I would avoid the Jotul Nordic if you are going to vent vertically thru the existing chimneys. That unit does NOT have a heat exchanger & a vent over 15 feet will suck all the heat out of the unit before it warms the room. If you have 0 insulation, you're gonna need a MINIMUM of 50 BTU per sq. ft. to heat those areas, but MORE is better.
 
Jan 10, 2017
10
Philadelphia
DAKSY, thanks so much, that's really helpful! I sound like an idiot, but could you elaborate on what a heat exchanger is and why it matters more if the venting is tall? There's a Jotul Allagash (300) that I could possibly buy instead (or a Lillehammer (200), which is the next bigger size from the Nordic) - but I figured both of those are too big and would either be too hot or would be cycling on and off... No? Do the Lopis have heat exchangers, do you know? Do most Jotul/Lopi stoves have heat exchangers? Are they a new thing - as in, would they usually be in stoves 5-15 years old anyway? Do high-efficiency inserts have them?
 
Jan 10, 2017
10
Philadelphia
Would the Woodstock soapstone stoves be any better - e.g. the Mini Franklin? I was thinking of one of those for one of the bedrooms, perhaps, if I can get my hands on one for a decent price! :)
 

DAKSY

Full Time RVer
Staff member
Dec 2, 2008
9,101
Wherever we're parked
DAKSY, thanks so much, that's really helpful! I sound like an idiot, but could you elaborate on what a heat exchanger is and why it matters more if the venting is tall? There's a Jotul Allagash (300) that I could possibly buy instead (or a Lillehammer (200), which is the next bigger size from the Nordic) - but I figured both of those are too big and would either be too hot or would be cycling on and off... No? Do the Lopis have heat exchangers, do you know? Do most Jotul/Lopi stoves have heat exchangers? Are they a new thing - as in, would they usually be in stoves 5-15 years old anyway? Do high-efficiency inserts have them?

A heat exchanger is an apparatus, generally made from cast iron, that gets heated from the flames & then that heat radiates or is moved in to the room by a blower. Without one, the heat will go up the exhaust vent instead of into the room, if that vent is too high.The Allagash is my favorite Jotul gas unit. Looks nice. Great heater. 50% turn down. Has a heat exchanger. I don't think it'd be too big, especially in an uninsulated or poorly insulated structure. If you put a gas unit on a thermostat, that's the only way it will turn on & off. If you turn the regulator on the gas valve down, this will happen less often, but initially it will take longer for the area to heat up. Not sure about the Lopi units, but I would guess they DO have heat exchangers, & no, they are not a new feature in a stove. Most inserts have them as well, since they are heater-rated appliances.
 
Another concern for me are the BTU's needed. I read one of your posts to another person and you said figure 50 BTU's per sq. ft of heated space. We heat about 700 sq feet, so that would be 35000 BTU's. The Allagash is 24K. The Sebago is 30K - 32K which is closer to your recommendation.
I was in Canada this weekend visiting relatives. They heat their very large family room with a little 15K NG stove. The area is larger than ours and has a large opening at the ceiling that is open from the upstairs - similar to a loft. He tells me that he rarely uses his furnace.