Questions for the correct ZC fireplace

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New Member
Jan 7, 2023
Oxford, Mi
Hello all,

Long time lurker. I built a house in 2017 with the plans of adding a ZC fireplace down the road. I would be doing the installation. It is roughly 3000 square feet with a 2 Story great room all on an unfinished walkout basement. The house was built with insulated foundation walls (superior walls) and structurally insulated panels (SIPs) for the walls with traditional truss roof and blown in insulation. The house is very efficient and I had to do a lot of talking with a lot of different HVAC companies to size my force air furnace properly base on the beOPT government modeling software. Ended up with a 60K BTU furnace that has zero issues heating the home on The coldest of weeks.

The fireplace would go on an exterior wall in the 2story great room and into an already built uninsulated chimney chase. The chase was built using stick construction with fire stops every 8ft and then sided with brick veneer. This goes up the outside of the house and doesn’t penetrate the roof or attic. There is access in the attic to get into the chase. It is a large chase being about 6ft wide by 3ft.

My plan is to punch in whatever is the appropriate size hole into the SIPs, adding the appropriate jack studs and header per SIPs For the ZC. Have an outside air kit and heat dump into the basement. I also planning on insulating the chase up to the first fire stop. We would like a raised hearth and mantle with TV above it. I have attached a picture of the current layout. The mantel in the picture is 7ft wide and 54” off the floor for reference and isn’t necessarily the mantle to be used with the fireplace.

The ZC we really like so far is the FP15A. Either in the Osborn Horizon or the Valcourt Waterloo. This is approved with a multitude of chimneys and we feel will fit the room well. The main issue is in reading the manual they have some crazy restrictions if I am reading it correctly for non combustibles and mantel. I believe they want 84” of non combustible up from the bottom of the fireplace? I also am having trouble figuring out what is the lowest a mantel both non combustible and combustible needs to be from the bottom of the fireplace. Like I mentioned we would be looking to do a raised hearth in stone but would like to keep it small and not go all the way up on the ceiling and have the mantel as low as possible.

Based on those concerns of 84” Of non combustible from the bottom of the fireplace and possibly changing the look of the hearth/mantel/TV I started looking at other alternatives. The Pioneer iii Quadra Fire also looks promising. Installation for non combustibles and heights looks much more reasonable and to a first timer the manual is much more clear. I have concerns with the SL300 chimney mainly as I am not familiar with it. They also say approved with DuraPlus $$. I guess I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be approved with other brands as long as is meets the same specs as duraplus? The other thing concerning based on some threads here is how smart the stove is with the thermostat and SBT. Can it still be configured to have a heat dump into the basement?

Ideally we would like the FP15A but just can’t figure out how to make the hearth work for the room and not be looking at a TV 10ft in the air if I am understanding the manual correctly. Are there other options I should be looking at? Or am I missing some basic understandings on the two stoves above? Are there non combustibles that can be finished like drywall and painted?


Questions for the correct ZC fireplace
What model is the FP15A ? Did you mean the PE FP16? Based on the description, it won't take a lot of BTUs to overheat the place. A 2 cu ft fireplace wlll probably be sufficient so staying on the smaller side is a good idea. You might also want to look at fireplaces by RSF and Astria for more options.

Televisions over fireplaces are popular, but hard on the neck due to the viewing angle. You can put a non-combustible mantel up which will not have the clearance issues. There are many good options for this. It will also act as a heatshield for the tv.
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@begreen the FP15A is either the Osburn horizon or the Valcourt Waterloo. We looked at the FP30 by PE but ultimately my wife didn’t really like the looks. I was hoping I could install the fireplace flush with the wall then have the stone or brick sit proud and then the mantel on top of that to act like the heathield you described. My issue would be the 84” above the bottom of the fireplace the the FP15A calls for, where the Quadra Fire Pioneer III is only 63”.
I think the Pacific Energy FP30 would be too much heat. The PE FP16 is half the size. Take a look at the 2 cu ft RSF and Astria fireplaces for some more options.
The Pioneer II is an E/W loader. The firewood would need to be 12" to burn N/S. Look for reviews of the Quad Expedition II and the Vermont Castings Montpelier II fireplace inserts for more info on burning a single burn rate stove with ACC.
The Astria Montecito has a similar look with a deeper firebox.
The Pioneer III is still an E/W loader and oversized for what has been described.
So I received the quote back for the Pioneer III and I had it quoted with 32' of Chimney in both the SL300 and the DuraPlus. The DuraPlus chimney comes in at a premium of ~$5000 over the SL300. Basically the DuraPlus is the same cost as the slove. They are pretty proud of that stuff. What I still do not understand is why I cant use any 8" UL103HT spec'd chimney with the proper anchor plate? If the answer is safety I complete disagree with that for the main reason per the installation manual for the Pioneer 3 I can install the SL300 air cooled chimney in an uninsulated chase. From everything I have read and understand that has a much higher chance of creosote build up than running a UL103HT spec'd chimney regardless of triple or double wall.

If that answer is EPA testing then I also disagree. Looking at a similar fireplace in the Osburn Horizon or the Valcourt Waterloo you have the following
Questions for the correct ZC fireplace

Followed with Approved list of
Questions for the correct ZC fireplace

Pretty much any current supply of UL103HT chimney is approved which is how specifications are suppose to work. Or do you think there is an EPA test for each chimney listed above?

So I dont understand why the Pioneer III only list one UL103HT chimney and it cant be spec'd out with a much more reasonably priced double wall chimney with the proper anchor plate which could be much more inline price wise of the SL300 and in my opinion safer.