Ok, I don’t know what I need

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DaniWantsHeat

New Member
Oct 8, 2021
7
Nys
I’ve been reading posts on Hearth for a few years now. Bought a 1969 raised ranch 8 years ago that had *very* little insulation. 7 oil fill ups the first year (at $4 a gallon). Insulated most of the house, replaced baseboard heat with radiant, put a pellet stove in the basement. Went down to 3 oil fill ups a year, but also going through 3 tons of pellets. We considered replacing the pellet stove with a gas stove to eliminate the weekly maintenance but gas costs more than pellets. Took down some dead ash trees and are now looking at keeping the pellet stove in the basement but running it on 1 (instead of 3 on cold days — we’re in Nys, zone 6b, which can get pretty cold in the winter), and putting a wood burning insert in the fireplace.

Looking for an insert is not as easy as I’d thought! Every time I think I narrow it down, there seems to be some reason it wouldn’t be ideal. I think I DON’T want a catalytic converter, and DO want one with a quiet fan. The upstairs (raised ranch, basement and first floor) is about 1200sf and need one that can realistically burn all night, with a nice viewing glass. We often get power failures but do have a generator, although it’s really difficult to pull out and set up, especially as power outages usually occur when the weather is terrible. I’ve looked at quadrafire (burns a lot of wood/doesn’t last all night), Osborn (noisy fan), blaze king (catalytic) Jotul (stopped making inserts), and handful/dozen others but I’m not sure they’re durability. At least one seemed to lose heat once the trim was put on. Sorry I’m not specific, this is a new area for me and frankly I’m overwhelmed. If there’s one you can recommend and tell me why, I’d be grateful
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,555
South Puget Sound, WA
You will be looking at inserts in the ~2 cu ft range. Quad inserts are pretty conventional. Remember that many users blame their stoves when the real issues are with the wood, the installation, or the operator.
Are Pacific Energy, IronStrike or Regency inserts sold in your area? Another catalytic to consider would be Kuma.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,470
SE North Carolina
First thought is what’s in the basement? Is it insulated? finished? If not I’d be moving the pellet upstairs.

You will be buying sawdust bricks this winter unless you stacked firewood a year or two ago. Might as well buy pellets this winter. It’s a big purchase so you are right to think it through.

If I had to get a nice non cat insert now it would be a Pacific energy. I didn’t get a nice one I got the cheapest I could find a Drolet 1800i (value brand of SBI who makes the Osborn line. Some internals are almost identical). I shopped for 2 years. Almost convinced myself that a should get a catalytic Blaze king to get the 26% tax credit on the whole install. ( are you aware of that for Inserts or stoves with HHV 75% and up. They are almost all catalytic).

Figure a new insert installed by a pro will start at around $4000 probably closer to 5 or 6. That’s a lot of pellets. And a decent portable generator. I Did my DIY with insulated liner for $2000 including tax. Blowers make noise you aren’t required to use them. (At least in the manuals I’ve read).

Just some thoughts
 
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DaniWantsHeat

New Member
Oct 8, 2021
7
Nys
You will be looking at inserts in the ~2 cu ft range. Quad inserts are pretty conventional. Remember that many users blame their stoves when the real issues are with the wood, the installation, or the operator.
Are Pacific Energy, IronStrike or Regency inserts sold in your area? Another catalytic to consider would be Kuma.
Oh no doubt! If there’s a stove that is prone to user error, I’d rather avoid it. This will be our first wood insert, thankfully hubby is mechanically inclined. If it’s not a kitchenaid, I’m your Miss User Error! I believe Regency is available in my area. So an insert will heat just as well without a blower?
Thank you!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,555
South Puget Sound, WA
Flush inserts are pretty dependent on the blower to convect the heat. Inserts that project out 4-6" onto the hearth will do a better job of heating in a power outage. If you want simple, stay with a non-cat insert. In the Regency line that would be the i2450. In Pacific Energy it would be their Super insert. Both have fairly quiet blowers.
 
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DaniWantsHeat

New Member
Oct 8, 2021
7
Nys
First thought is what’s in the basement? Is it insulated? finished? If not I’d be moving the pellet upstairs.

You will be buying sawdust bricks this winter unless you stacked firewood a year or two ago. Might as well buy pellets this winter. It’s a big purchase so you are right to think it through.

If I had to get a nice non cat insert now it would be a Pacific energy. I didn’t get a nice one I got the cheapest I could find a Drolet 1800i (value brand of SBI who makes the Osborn line. Some internals are almost identical). I shopped for 2 years. Almost convinced myself that a should get a catalytic Blaze king to get the 26% tax credit on the whole install. ( are you aware of that for Inserts or stoves with HHV 75% and up. They are almost all catalytic).

Figure a new insert installed by a pro will start at around $4000 probably closer to 5 or 6. That’s a lot of pellets. And a decent portable generator. I Did my DIY with insulated liner for $2000 including tax. Blowers make noise you aren’t required to use them. (At least in the manuals I’ve read).

Just some thoughts
Yes, replaced the 1970s single pane windows with energy efficient one and spray foamed (most of) the basement. The pellet stove is one of those standalone, direct vent ones, it wouldn’t work upstairs (at least not if we wanted to still have a living room). If we had done more research, there would have been a wood burner down there instead. Pellet stoves are a lot of maintenance, and depending on the pellets, we need to clean it at least once a week, sometimes every 3-4 days.

I’m aware of the tax rebate. Catalytic converters make me nervous, especially if they’re prone to breaking or stop working when it’s 4 degrees outside.

We did cut down a large tree last year, it’s in big logs but was planning on using that to start. Is 1 (1.5) year old wood aged enough?

I started to look at Pacific Energy but was overwhelmed by that point, I’ll take another look. Maybe between them and regency, I can pick one.

Thanks for your input!
 

DaniWantsHeat

New Member
Oct 8, 2021
7
Nys
Flush inserts are pretty dependent on the blower to convect the heat. Inserts that project out 4-6" onto the hearth will do a better job of heating in a power outage. If you want simple, stay with a non-cat insert. In the Regency line that would be the i2450. In Pacific Energy it would be their Super insert. Both have fairly quiet blowers.
I have to say, that regency model looks perfect. Thank you so much! Sending specs to hubby
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,555
South Puget Sound, WA
We did cut down a large tree last year, it’s in big logs but was planning on using that to start. Is 1 (1.5) year old wood aged enough?
Firewood does not really start seasoning in log form unless the tree was standing dead to start with. Once the rounds are split and stacked they start drying out much faster. So, if this is oak or maple, the wood is probably not ready to burn. Almost all wood sold at this point is also not fully seasoned.
 

rudysmallfry

Feeling the Heat
Nov 29, 2005
497
Milford, CT
You didn't mention if you added attic insulation. I'm in a 1978 poorly insulated raised ranch. After several years of high bills and air leaks, I went up into the attic and sealed off any air leak I could find (dirty insulation indicates air leaks) and then blew in about 15" of extra blown in insulation. It was like having a new house. I used to only get my main floor up to 64 degrees using the basement wood stove. Now I can blow myself out of the house at 72 on a good night. I wish I had looked at the attic sooner.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,470
SE North Carolina
So an insert will heat just as well without a blower?
No but on most nights you don’t NEED maximum heat output. Watching a silent fire is very contemplative experience for me. It’s nice to be able to just shut it off and meditate on the flames. Blowers are quite useful. I have one for my stove and use it 50% of the time. 80% of that is on low.

My parents have a pellet stove. I don’t think they ever burned more and two tons a year. I consider pellet stove maintenance more than wood during the burning season but most of your wood stove “maintenance” is managing your wood supply. I just spent an hour today hauling some crumby cedar from a few houses away with my wheel barrow. 25-30 cu ft Once I split it. But it won’t split easy or really at all. Should have left it. City would not have taken the big stuff so i would have to drive by it 4 times a day for who knows how long. See where this is going;). All said. I prefer my wood stove to a pellet.

Catalytic converters in stoves don’t just suddenly die. They got a bad rap. but just dusting them with a paint brush at a regular interval is about all they need. that seem quite robust lasting 10,000 hours of active burn time. I was of the same mind set when I first started shopping a couple years ago. If I was in a situation where wood heat is all I had I would have a Blaze king. I’m not. I have a decent heatpump. So a hot fire works good for us.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,555
South Puget Sound, WA
Catalytic converters in stoves don’t just suddenly die
With normal usage by the book they don't, but in the real world they do fail due to poisoning or thermal shock. This shouldn't happen if one reads the manual and can follow simple directions. How often does that happen these days? Unfortunately, some people just keep burning them with a bad cat and complain about the stove.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,103
07462
What are your fireplace dimensions? Do you have a hearth in front of the fireplace that will provide clearance in front of the loading door? How tall is your existing chimney, how wide is the existing chimney?
I ask these questions because your install is going to revolve around existing conditions, for instance the chimney itself, if its to narrow for a standard 6" liner w/ insulation then there might be an extra cost to break out the flue tiles, is its to short then you may need to install the line to a anchor plate then add additional class a metal pipe at the top of the cap. If you dont have a hearth 16" in front of the stove then you may need to build one, depending on the type of insert you get you may need one thats just ember rated or you may need some insulation properties to protect the floor underneath.
 

DaniWantsHeat

New Member
Oct 8, 2021
7
Nys
You didn't mention if you added attic insulation. I'm in a 1978 poorly insulated raised ranch. After several years of high bills and air leaks, I went up into the attic and sealed off any air leak I could find (dirty insulation indicates air leaks) and then blew in about 15" of extra blown in insulation. It was like having a new house. I used to only get my main floor up to 64 degrees using the basement wood stove. Now I can blow myself out of the house at 72 on a good night. I wish I had looked at the attic sooner.
We actually did that after our first winter. What a difference! Changed 22 50-year old windows, much of the wall insulation, entire front entrance. Still more to do but those alone have made a huge difference. We used a lot of oil that first winter, it was very difficult to get this house warm!

The hearth is about 18” and is stone. We may be altering it (apparently needs more framing support). Honestly, I don’t understand plates or that part of it but hubby does. You want a cheesecake, I’m your gal. Measuring the chimney? It sticks out above the roof and is made of red brick and that’s about all I can tell you. Thankfully hubby understands that stuff so I’ll show him your questions and comments. We did have the chimney inspected though, it’s good to go for an insert. It will be great not to spend $1000+ on pellets.
 

BKVP

Minister of Fire
Firewood does not really start seasoning in log form unless the tree was standing dead to start with. Once the rounds are split and stacked they start drying out much faster. So, if this is oak or maple, the wood is probably not ready to burn. Almost all wood sold at this point is also not fully seasoned.
BeGreen is correct. Independent studies done in the past show soft woods, once split are able to get below 20% with a full year of being stacked under cover. Hardwoods were pressed to get below the same 20%, once split and under cover for nearly 2 full years. Regardless of the stove brand or technology purchased, wood that is not properly seasoned can lead to accumulation either in the combustor, the chimney or go out into the environment.
 

BKVP

Minister of Fire
We actually did that after our first winter. What a difference! Changed 22 50-year old windows, much of the wall insulation, entire front entrance. Still more to do but those alone have made a huge difference. We used a lot of oil that first winter, it was very difficult to get this house warm!

The hearth is about 18” and is stone. We may be altering it (apparently needs more framing support). Honestly, I don’t understand plates or that part of it but hubby does. You want a cheesecake, I’m your gal. Measuring the chimney? It sticks out above the roof and is made of red brick and that’s about all I can tell you. Thankfully hubby understands that stuff so I’ll show him your questions and comments. We did have the chimney inspected though, it’s good to go for an insert. It will be great not to spend $1000+ on pellets.
Feel free to post pictures here of your fireplace. This group is really keen on helping folks. As an example, one homeowner was looking for an insert and after several posts and arriving at a decision, posted a picture of the fireplace. Immediately one of these qualified parties pointed out the mantel was too close for required clearances for that particular model. Another time they pointed out an illegal electrical outlet that was behind the shroud of the insert.

Good group here to provide guidance, recommendations and technical advice. As a manufacturer, we also would encourage you to reach out the the company that makes the product you are considering to verify any information you have collected.

PS My wife makes a killer walnut pie...not so much the cheesecake!
 
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DaniWantsHeat

New Member
Oct 8, 2021
7
Nys
BeGreen is correct. Independent studies done in the past show soft woods, once split are able to get below 20% with a full year of being stacked under cover. Hardwoods were pressed to get below the same 20%, once split and under cover for nearly 2 full years. Regardless of the stove brand or technology purchased, wood that is not properly seasoned can lead to accumulation either in the combustor, the chimney or go out into the environment.
Good to know! The trees were dead when we cut them so we’ll have to wait another year to burn them.
 

DaniWantsHeat

New Member
Oct 8, 2021
7
Nys
Feel free to post pictures here of your fireplace. This group is really keen on helping folks. As an example, one homeowner was looking for an insert and after several posts and arriving at a decision, posted a picture of the fireplace. Immediately one of these qualified parties pointed out the mantel was too close for required clearances for that particular model. Another time they pointed out an illegal electrical outlet that was behind the shroud of the insert.

Good group here to provide guidance, recommendations and technical advice. As a manufacturer, we also would encourage you to reach out the the company that makes the product you are considering to verify any information you have collected.

PS My wife makes a killer walnut pie...not so much the cheesecake!
Yes, this forum is very helpful! I’ve popped in over the past several years, always impressed with the helpfulness and knowledge offered. Well, we looked at the Regency, got a quote including installation, $5300, which seems on par with what was estimated here. Afterwards, hubby looked at the drolet 1800i online, half the price of the regency (actually, less). I’m not sure how the drolet compares. A friend who has the regency is very pleased with the “mellow heat”. Drolet is half the price but not sure if it has that same mellow heat, although it seems to be very popular.
Fireplace is 36” wide, 32” high, 26” length in rear, 16.5” depth top, 23” depth bottom.
It will get a mantle, probably after insert is installed. Hopefully that will get it out of the 1970s….

909588A9-2D4E-4E70-8DAC-B4FDC7D0F417.jpeg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,555
South Puget Sound, WA
Which Regency was the quote for? Did it include an insulated liner?
Drolet and Century inserts are a value line from SBI, a large Canadian stove company. They are good stoves with the basics needed for good heating. Owner satisfaction is high. SBI also makes Osburn stoves which are a step up.
 
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BKVP

Minister of Fire
Which Regency was the quote for? Did it include an insulated liner?
Drolet and Century inserts are a value line from SBI, a large Canadian stove company. They are good stoves with the basics needed for good heating. Owner satisfaction is high. SBI also makes Osburn stoves which are
SBI, although located in Canada, is US owned by the Empire Group...