Need advice on insert sizing

  • 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 20, 2022
Hi all, first post but excited to join this wood burner community.

In central Wisconsin looking to have installed a small wood burning insert, such as the Regency Alterra CI1150. My question is: even with this small unit would we be cooking ourselves in the living room?

I’m in a small house which is about 650 sq ft on the first floor, has a similar sized unfinished basement, and has a finished half second floor attic. The hearth is in the center of the house but facing out into a small living room, about 120 sq ft. I worry about being able to comfortably sit in the living room and distributing the heat to other rooms that wrap all the way around the other side of the fireplace masonry. Would building smaller fires, turning on the whole house fan, and maybe constricting the fire box by putting in more fire bricks do the trick?

The wood burning insert would only be secondary heat source supplementing the gas furnace, which only ducts into the first floor. Currently we are heating the second floor with space heaters. The guy selling me the insert unit even said I should just go electric for the small space.

Am I just over thinking this? Worrying about nothing?
If the stove is on the 1st floor, it won’t heat the basement.

I think you’ll be fine with a 1.3 cubic foot firebox in around 1000 sq feet of house.

If it gets too hot, smaller fires will be easy to light in the small stove. It also won’t have a very long burn time. Be sure to install a block off plate and insulated liner.
I have posted frequently that my little Lopi Answer is great for my needs. Just had a fire late tonight after returning from a church Advent soup supper.
A small insert should be ok if the living room is not closed off. Can you post a simple sketch of the 1st floor layout, showing the fireplace location?
Thank you all for your responses. I wanted to wait for some real experience burning in the insert before reporting back.

We went with the Regency Alterra CI1150 because of the small firebox for our small space, and also because it had a nice flush and modern look. We had a professional install with an insulated liner per recommendations from folks here.

Following the manual instructions, the first few burns were small, let to go all the way cool, and slowly escalating in size and temperature to go through the break-in period and cure the paints. The insert definitely gave off some fumes as it baked the first few fires, but it has quickly reduced to almost no chemical smell.

The fire box is small, but big enough to easily fit 3 large splits or 5 or 6 criss-crossed smaller splits. I've been getting the hang of swinging a new X27 so re-splitting has been more out of practice than out of need. So far we haven't run a burn that goes all the way through the night, nor have we gotten up in the middle of the night to feed but we will be doing that soon as the weather gets colder again.

So far the fires have been big enough to warm the living room, but have not had an issue with getting too hot in that room even though it's only 120 sq ft. The experimentation with air flow throughout the house is only just beginning and I think will evolve with longer burns.

Lastly I'll note that the first order of Supercedars just came in so about to start the first fire using those. Hoping they live up to the reviews from here!

If anyone else has this unit and wants to chime in on it's quirks or has questions about it, feel free to ask and I can try my best to contribute as a new burner.
I'm glad it's working out so far. We need pics, or it didn't happen. ;)
I'm glad it's working out so far. We need pics, or it didn't happen. ;)
As requested:

Need advice on insert sizing
  • Like
Reactions: begreen
Hi all,
I wanted to provide an update in case any others have or are considering the same stove. The model is a Regency Alterra CI1150 and I hope that this thread is easily traceable and searchable for those looking for information regarding this specific model.

First of all, I love the design and modern look of the stove. I appreciate not having any blower components jutting out and overall the clean, flush profile. The operation of the stove is smooth and simple and the first half-ish season of burning was a complete joy. I'd say the stove was used a few times a week with a few all day burns, but mostly just evening burns.

In the off season the backyard was reconfigured to accommodate more wood storage with the hopes that eventually I can build enough storage to keep a couple of years of fuel ahead for seasoning. I also acquired a soot eater to do some cleaning and try to assess what kind of build up is occurring from using less than fully seasoned fuel. I had a lot of trouble trying to remove the baffles using vice grips to do a bottom-up cleaning so I gave up on that approach and just did a top-down cleaning from the chimney. As far as I could tell, only a fine dusting fell out and I did not see any large chunks.

If you follow my thread to the beginning, you'd see that I had some concern about sizing and heat distribution in the house. Those concerns were unfounded as it turns out. With some longer burns, the thermostat in the room with the stove remained in the mid to 70's which was plenty comfortable and realistically could be warmer, in which case I'd start looking to move heat out of that room to the rest of the house. As such I think a stove with an even larger firebox would have been ideal for even such a small house, so if I could go back and do it all again I'd re-examine my stove selection criteria to include larger stoves. YMMV but that's what I've been thinking given the burning patterns I was using from last season.

Lastly, Supercedars are the real deal and I'm never going back to starting fires any other way.

Here's to a safe and joyful next season of burning.