New home: Fireplace or wood stove?

Should we have wood stove or fireplace?

  • wood stove only

    Votes: 17 77.3%
  • Fireplace and wood stove

    Votes: 5 22.7%
  • fireplace only

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    22

Liam4175

New Member
Aug 14, 2018
8
Highland Township, PA
We are building a 3500 sf ranch home outside of Philadelphia on 50 acres. We have 10 acres of woods that should give us enough wood to burn. In the center of the house in a great room we are planning a fireplace because one person really wants a fireplace more for the enjoyment of an open fire. We were also thinking of a wood burning stove for efficiency and heat in the same room. As I research it seems what is best may be only a good wood stove with a glass door that may give same experience of a fireplace and be less costly and more efficient. Any thoughts from the experts out there?
 

adrpga498

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2005
924
New Jersey
Ambieance= fireplace. Heat = woodstove. Jotul f600= both . I've had the smaller f400 and wish I bought the larger f600. 16 years still going like day 1 so I don't see an upgrade in the near future,lol.
 

Alpine1

Feeling the Heat
Apr 27, 2017
341
Eastern Alps, Italy
Ambieance= fireplace. Heat = woodstove. Jotul f600= both . I've had the smaller f400 and wish I bought the larger f600. 16 years still going like day 1 so I don't see an upgrade in the near future,lol.
+1 on this. If you look for 100% ambiance and -% efficiency go for an open fireplace. Inserts are a “make do” IMO (had one in the previous house). Wood stoves offer great efficiency (well, if you do the right choice) but very little on the entertainment side. A large wood stove with huge glass is a passable option. But if you really want the best of both worlds... buy them both if you can afford it. We sacrificed entertainment buying a BK (see my avatar) but the look of the stove at least satisfies the lady of the house.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Liam4175

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,822
South Puget Sound, WA
Sometimes a modern EPA fireplace with ductable output (or intake) can help solve the heat distribution in a ranch style home. Ranch homes can be a challenge to heat, especially if the bedrooms are down a long hallway. If there is a great room with a very high ceiling that compounds the problem.

It would help to know more about the home, its layout, insulation, ceiling height, glazing extent, etc.. to know best options. In some big houses having both a stove and a fireplace provides the best solution.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Liam4175

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,563
Philadelphia
3500 sq.ft. on a single floor is quite a sprawling floor plan. Are you including garage and unfinished or basement space, in that number?

I’m outside Philly as well, and went with two wood stoves, to heat a similarly sprawling (but also multi-story) floor plan. One stove at each end of the house, overlapped with six zones on an oil-fired boiler, to manage temperature throughout the house. It works great, despite some non-ideal characteristics of the house (it’s old).

I grew up in a house with several open fireplaces, and this house had two large cooking fireplaces already populated with a wood stove in one and a gas insert in the other, when I bought it. My plan was to tear them out, to get back to the ambience of a large open fireplaces, before my wife convinced me to just give the wood stove a try.

That lead me here, and to the realization that I could have my pyro fun while simultaneously saving several thousand dollars per year on my heating costs. Fast forward a year, and I had torn the gas insert out of the other large fireplace, and now run two wood stoves all winter.

There are many great things about this setup, but I won’t bore you with them all at once here, there is plenty to read already. In our case, we have an open fireplace on our back patio, and that’s purely for ambience. If you can swing the expense, I’d highly recommend this. We also have a large stone fire ring in the back yard, which I use primarily for burning yard waste and splitter swarf, but is also great for camp fires with the kid and roasting marshmallows. So, you can have your stoves in the house, and your ambience in the back yard... if cost is not an issue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Liam4175

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,563
Philadelphia
Some photos to go with my post, above.

Stove no.1, in our great room (original summer kitchen):

fl1 great 2.jpg

Stove no.2, in my home office (original kitchen of the house):

first fire 2016.jpg

Fireplace on one of our back patios:

exterior patio 2.jpg

Spare stove in one of the basement recreation rooms, not actually connected:

basement stove.jpg
 

Liam4175

New Member
Aug 14, 2018
8
Highland Township, PA
3500 sq.ft. on a single floor is quite a sprawling floor plan. Are you including garage and unfinished or basement space, in that number?

I’m outside Philly as well, and went with two wood stoves, to heat a similarly sprawling (but also multi-story) floor plan. One stove at each end of the house, overlapped with six zones on an oil-fired boiler, to manage temperature throughout the house. It works great, despite some non-ideal characteristics of the house (it’s old).

I grew up in a house with several open fireplaces, and this house had two large cooking fireplaces already populated with a wood stove in one and a gas insert in the other, when I bought it. My plan was to tear them out, to get back to the ambience of a large open fireplaces, before my wife convinced me to just give the wood stove a try.

That lead me here, and to the realization that I could have my pyro fun while simultaneously saving several thousand dollars per year on my heating costs. Fast forward a year, and I had torn the gas insert out of the other large fireplace, and now run two wood stoves all winter.

There are many great things about this setup, but I won’t bore you with them all at once here, there is plenty to read already. In our case, we have an open fireplace on our back patio, and that’s purely for ambience. If you can swing the expense, I’d highly recommend this. We also have a large stone fire ring in the back yard, which I use primarily for burning yard waste and splitter swarf, but is also great for camp fires with the kid and roasting marshmallows. So, you can have your stoves in the house, and your ambience in the back yard... if cost is not an issue.
Thanks for the all the information. No garage or basement. We are two couples who own horses creating our last house with no steps. We have two identical sides with a large great room in the center for kitchen, dining and living room. Each side has a small private sitting room. The rear of the house has a gym, mud room, guest bath and offices with Murphy beds for guests.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,563
Philadelphia
Sounds very cool. I assume the stove will go in the central great room?

Managing stoves with two couples sharing a house has the advantage of more people to do the work, but the possible disadvantage of different preferences in temperature, and maintenance of the fire. Could work well, with the right personalities involved, or could become a point of irritation.

I’d always opt for a free-standing stove in new construction. No need for a fireplace, just stick the stove along a central wall, and go straight up with the chimney. Great radiant heating off all sides, and good natural convection, without the need to forcibly move air around it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Liam4175

yooper08

Minister of Fire
Jan 4, 2016
618
South Lyon, MI
What about a stove in each wing? That way each couple can moderate the temperature on their side of the house as they see fit...in case some like it cooler or warmer. Of course, this may depend on the floor plan, but each stove heats each wing and heat from both may move towards the central living space.

Ambience is nice, but somethings are best outside. Build a fire pit or something out back and enjoy the scenes with a fire and choice of drinks.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Liam4175

Liam4175

New Member
Aug 14, 2018
8
Highland Township, PA
Sometimes a modern EPA fireplace with ductable output (or intake) can help solve the heat distribution in a ranch style home. Ranch homes can be a challenge to heat, especially if the bedrooms are down a long hallway. If there is a great room with a very high ceiling that compounds the problem.

It would help to know more about the home, its layout, insulation, ceiling height, glazing extent, etc.. to know best options. In some big houses having both a stove and a fireplace provides the best solution.
The house is 85' wide by 40' deep. The center great room in the front of the house is 47' x 19' with a vaulted ceiling. Each side is 17.5' wide and will have 9' ceilings. The sides are master suites. The rear behind the great room will be laundry, mud room, two guest rooms and guest bath. 9' ceiling there. Open hallway to great room. Current plan has fireplace on rear right wall of great room and wood stove on rear left wall next to kitchen.
We are still in the designing stage and I am not sure of insulation and glazing. Hope this helps. Will hope to zone HVAC into 2 to 4 zones.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,053
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I get it . . . the idea of a fireplace with the crackling wood and the other treat for the senses has a real visceral appeal, but I would argue that a modern woodstove can offer up some of the many advantages of a fireplace in terms of a large view (albeit with glass -- although some stoves do have a fireplace screen option: spoiler alert -- most folks who have bought the screen say they have used it once or two times and then stored it in their garage), you can still hear some of the snap, crackling and popping of the wood (again, muted a bit due to the stove's construction), etc. . . . but the trade off is an unbelievable heat that warms you to the bones to your very soul.

You can go with an insert, but generally these tend to be used by folks who are retrofitting fireplaces vs. starting from scratch. That said, there is nothing that says you cannot go with an insert, although a fair number of folks here would argue that a free standing woodstove is more efficient . . . and quieter as a rule since most inserts use fans to move the heat whereas most woodstoves do not require a blower (although many of us use fans -- a desk fan in my case -- to help distribute the heated air through the home.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,146
Fairbanks, Alaska
This is an attractive retirement plan, nice thinking.

FWIW my suggestion would be to have the builder install a class A chimney in each suite somewhere that makes sense. if you want a wood stove on your side, put one in. If you want to park a whatever under the chimney, cap it. Sooner or later a future owner is going to look at all those trees, the chimney cap over the Hepplewhite high boy and the back account and a light bulb will go off....

For the great room, i would look at doing both as a reasonable option. You got the sqft, why not, why not put in an enormous fireplace with a opening carved to look like a dragon's mouth and fire it up once a year when you have 114 people for Christmas dinner, and then when they go home go back to heating that big old barn space with an efficient freestading wood stove elsewhere in the room.

You might look at fuel cost. Imagine say a milk crate with $1 worth of dry cord wood in it. Local to me I can buy the same amount of energy as #2 fuel for my oil furnace for about $1.50, or I can buy the same amount of energy as electricity for my wife's hairdryer for about $4.25. I know, I know, my electric rates are appalling. But you got 50 acres of wood you already own.
 

Liam4175

New Member
Aug 14, 2018
8
Highland Township, PA
This is an attractive retirement plan, nice thinking.

FWIW my suggestion would be to have the builder install a class A chimney in each suite somewhere that makes sense. if you want a wood stove on your side, put one in. If you want to park a whatever under the chimney, cap it. Sooner or later a future owner is going to look at all those trees, the chimney cap over the Hepplewhite high boy and the back account and a light bulb will go off....

For the great room, i would look at doing both as a reasonable option. You got the sqft, why not, why not put in an enormous fireplace with a opening carved to look like a dragon's mouth and fire it up once a year when you have 114 people for Christmas dinner, and then when they go home go back to heating that big old barn space with an efficient freestading wood stove elsewhere in the room.

You might look at fuel cost. Imagine say a milk crate with $1 worth of dry cord wood in it. Local to me I can buy the same amount of energy as #2 fuel for my oil furnace for about $1.50, or I can buy the same amount of energy as electricity for my wife's hairdryer for about $4.25. I know, I know, my electric rates are appalling. But you got 50 acres of wood you already own.
Thank you! Great thoughts.
 

Liam4175

New Member
Aug 14, 2018
8
Highland Township, PA
I get it . . . the idea of a fireplace with the crackling wood and the other treat for the senses has a real visceral appeal, but I would argue that a modern woodstove can offer up some of the many advantages of a fireplace in terms of a large view (albeit with glass -- although some stoves do have a fireplace screen option: spoiler alert -- most folks who have bought the screen say they have used it once or two times and then stored it in their garage), you can still hear some of the snap, crackling and popping of the wood (again, muted a bit due to the stove's construction), etc. . . . but the trade off is an unbelievable heat that warms you to the bones to your very soul.

You can go with an insert, but generally these tend to be used by folks who are retrofitting fireplaces vs. starting from scratch. That said, there is nothing that says you cannot go with an insert, although a fair number of folks here would argue that a free standing woodstove is more efficient . . . and quieter as a rule since most inserts use fans to move the heat whereas most woodstoves do not require a blower (although many of us use fans -- a desk fan in my case -- to help distribute the heated air through the home.
Thank you for the thoughtful response. Appreciate the input.
 

Liam4175

New Member
Aug 14, 2018
8
Highland Township, PA
What about a stove in each wing? That way each couple can moderate the temperature on their side of the house as they see fit...in case some like it cooler or warmer. Of course, this may depend on the floor plan, but each stove heats each wing and heat from both may move towards the central living space.

Ambience is nice, but somethings are best outside. Build a fire pit or something out back and enjoy the scenes with a fire and choice of drinks.
Thank you!
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,563
Philadelphia
some stoves do have a fireplace screen option: spoiler alert -- most folks who have bought the screen say they have used it once or two times and then stored it in their garage)
...when you have 114 people for Christmas dinner, and then when they go home go back to heating that big old barn space with an efficient freestading wood stove elsewhere in the room.
This was one nice aspect of the Jotul Firelights 12 I used to run, you could purchase a fire screen to fit them, and run with the doors open. Note, this was the catalytic predecessor of the current Firelight 600, I do not know if the current model allows for open-door burning.

In any case, we host most holidays at our house, and I usually have to let the current stove on one side of the house go out for these events. Otherwise, the mass of people and my wife using the ovens for cooking tends to make it much too warm in the part of the house where we do entertaining. Back when I had the ability to do open door burning in the Jotuls, I could have a fire going without overheating the space as easily.

Of course, that really only accounts for two afternoons each year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The rest of the year, that screen would sit un-used.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Liam4175

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,117
Northern Maine
Jotul Rockland insert owner here. It fills the hole where the fireplace was. We both thought the ambiance of a fireplace was going to be nice in our custom designed home that I GC'ed. The bad side of the insert is it needs power to run the fan but the good side is it doesn't stick out into the room stealing real estate. It helps a great deal that my hearth is flush with the floor. Our home is only 2500 feet on two floors so our rising heat lands in the master bedroom.

What's your plan to get the rising heat back down to the sitting area?
 

SteveKG

Minister of Fire
Jun 23, 2009
700
Colorado Rockies
The wood stove with glass door(s) is gonna be unbeatable to fulfill your various needs/wants. However, when I built this house, I spent an entire summer building a Rumford-design fireplace in my living room, or what would be that room. I also have a cat stove [Woodstock] in an adjoining room and a cookstove [air-tight] at the other end of the house. The stoves are very much more efficient than the fireplace, though the Rumford design is leaps ahead of the "normal" fireplace in efficiency.

From decades of living with both a fireplace and various stoves, I enjoy both. Our fireplace can blast us out of the room with heat, and we sometimes open the door to the deck to cool it down. I've learned to balance the fire so we don't usually have to do that any more. If I were building a different place, I'd likely go ahead and build another fireplace. We don't count on it for heating the house, we simply like to sit in the room with it burning. Guests quite often will comment, "Man, this thing puts out good heat" and "It is really nice to be able to sit near a real fireplace."

Personal choice. The fireplace is a bit messier to clean out than the stoves. It burns more wood, but I keep a separate stack of odd-sized chunks of wood and those the splitter or my axe just cannot get through. It isn't worth having a fireplace for just that reason, but as I said, we really like it and don't care that it's a bit less efficient than the stoves.
 

Pertzbro

Feeling the Heat
Aug 2, 2016
312
NW Iowa
Look only at tube stoves... no cat stoves. You wont get the ambiance you want. I personally find tube stove/inserts more ambiant than open fireplaces...

The difference in wood is significant. You need extremely dry wood for modern wood stoves to operate property and for you to get the ambiance from secondary combustion. You wood will need to be felled, bucked, split, stacked for 2 years minimal pending on the species to obtain sub 20% moisture content. (Read - cut your wood now even before you finish the house)

You'll also need to split the wood slightly smaller than what you would in an open fireplace. 16inches to 20 inches pending stove size. Most open fireplaces will take about any size/shape, not true of a stove.

The secondary combustion is mesmerizing. Many examples:







 
  • Like
Reactions: brenndatomu

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,563
Philadelphia
Look only at tube stoves... no cat stoves. You wont get the ambiance you want.
This is simply wrong. You can get great flame show out of a cat stove, or you can turn it way down to “black box” mode, your choice. The beauty is being able to choose either, at the turn of a knob, whereas tube stoves lack this range.

The lowest setting on a tube stove is what we call “medium” on a cat stove. You’re SOL on a tube stove, if you want to stretch a load longer, or if it’s already loaded and roasting you out of the room.
 

Pertzbro

Feeling the Heat
Aug 2, 2016
312
NW Iowa
This is simply wrong. You can get great flame show out of a cat stove, or you can turn it way down to “black box” mode, your choice. The beauty is being able to choose either, at the turn of a knob, whereas tube stoves lack this range.

The lowest setting on a tube stove is what we call “medium” on a cat stove. You’re SOL on a tube stove, if you want to stretch a load longer, or if it’s already loaded and roasting you out of the room.
I agree cat stoves are very versatile. However, if ambiance is the main feature you are after it's hard to beat tube stoves with flames off the wood and all over the top of the firebox from the tubes.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,563
Philadelphia
I agree cat stoves are very versatile. However, if ambiance is the main feature you are after it's hard to beat tube stoves with flames off the wood and all over the top of the firebox from the tubes.
Yes, I will give you that. Tube stoves have some impressive flame show. But let's not extend that to a supposition that cat stoves are dead black boxes, they can also run with beautiful flame show, when that's what one desires.
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
297
Massachusetts
Whether Cat or Tube I think a stove totally wins out on the ambiance level. I’ve been to friends burning in an open fireplace and it’s mostly half burned and smokey wood that they feed every half hour. Oh yeah and the place would stink and I felt no heat. None of those problems happen with a stove. The only thing you get with a fireplace is the crackle.

Once we bought a scented candle that had a special wick that crackled. We kept it the mantle and it’s funny how many people would say “I love going to people’s houses with a fireplace like you and hearing the feeling the warmth and hearing the wood burn”. Once I even just streamed one of those nature albums of different fire sounds and it tricked somebody too.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Tar12

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
1,582
Indiana
Yes, I will give you that. Tube stoves have some impressive flame show. But let's not extend that to a supposition that cat stoves are dead black boxes, they can also run with beautiful flame show, when that's what one desires.
My Princess box is rarely just black...my work schedule and heat load dictates that....a dull red glow is present most winter work nights...while weekends find lively flame shows....works well for us.