recommendations on a good insert

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1990dtgl98

New Member
May 21, 2021
18
Pennsylvania
Hey all,

So I'm not new to wood stoves, but am new to epa/catalyst/high efficiency stoves. Grew up on coal and wood, then went to pellet as a kid growing up with the parents.

Got out of a wood stove for a while as my house didn't have one. Now I have a new house that has a fisher insert that can crank out some heat, but has some serious drawbacks (mainly runtime). I do like the fact it juts out into the room rather than being flush.

The house is located in central Pennsylvania, 1900sq/ft. Built in 1994. It's fairly well insulated (2x6 with insulation plus foam board instead of osb for exterior sheathing). Older windows (original to the house) are a little drafty. Open down stairs with the kitchen and family room one large room, and the living room having a 6' opening from the family room. Only the dining room is kind of closed off. Insert in in the family room opposite the kitchen and next to the transition to the living room. 2nd floor is 3 rooms (both kids rooms opposite side of the house from the insert) and master is on the insert side. There is a ceiling fan in the family room 6' from the insert.

Chimney is roughly 26' with a stainless 6" flex pipe liner that's insulated. The fireplace opening is 30" wide, 28" high and 21" deep. Small slope toward the back (back is 28" wide, 26" high).

I can usually keep downstairs at 74 in the winter, which in turn keeps the upstairs kids rooms, with the doors cracked, around 67-68.

I usually set the house hvac to run an intermittent fan to help get some heat upstairs at night. I have geothermal but it's not super efficient in the winter (for some reason it likes to go into aux electric heat and run the 3500watt coils if it gets below 30).

My biggest gripe is the output. I can't get 5-6 hours out of the fisher on an overnight burn. I get more like 4 or so hours. The old fisher had a "gasketless airtight" door, but I don't know if mine is bent. If I load up the firebox to try to get 6 hours, it will run uncomfortably hot (700 or higher stove top, verified with 2 thermometers).

That lengthy backstory brings me to my question. I see they're offering 26% rebate. Im debating buying a new stove to get overnight and at work burns. I would like to know what inserts y'all would recommend. It doesn't need to be 75% efficiency to get the rebate (but I figure if one is 4k with 1k back and the other is less efficient and 3k, might as well go big). I've been eyeing up the blaze king princess as it also extends into the room like the fisher, but am open to any and all suggestions based on my house. I've never ran a catalytic stove but I'm not opposed to one. Vice versa, if something was significantly cheaper than say a princess and got me 90% of the performance, I'm definitely ok with that too. Spending 4k just to get a 1k rebate vs 2k out of pocket total doesn't seem like a great idea either.

I briefly researched Kuma, blaze king and regency. However, like I said, I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Thanks for the help, sorry about the winded post. I just wanted to get as detailed as possible.

P.S.- On a semi related note. The liner is close to the top of the fireplace since the fisher is dead on top and extends up a good bit. Most inserts I saw are on the back at a 45* angle. Am I going to need a new liner, or is there a way to code to extend either the liner or insert to fit? The previous owners installed it just 2 years before I bought it (in 2016) and I would like to try not to spend money to replace the entire liner.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,681
South Puget Sound, WA
The big Osburn 3500 insert is worth looking into.
 
Last edited:

dafattkidd

Minister of Fire
Dec 11, 2007
1,767
Long Island
The Osburn 3500 insert is a beast and vents straight up off the top of the unit. When I purchased mine (which is a very similar unit) 12 years ago it was the largest firebox I could fit in my fireplace at the lowest price. Loaded with hardwood you can easily get long hot overnight burns.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,586
central pa
Is the Osburn 3500 better than the blaze king princess if the price is within 400 of each other?
That depends completely upon your needs
 

BKVP

Minister of Fire
It's not a rebate. It's a tax credit used to lower tax liability. If for example you have a total credit amount of $2,000 and you owe $3000 in taxes, it lowers the amount owed to $1,000.00

If you owe $1,000 in taxes and you have a $2,000 total credit, your tax liability is reduced to zero. You do not receive a $1,000 tax refund but you can carry forward the remaining $1,000 to the next year to help reduce tax liability.

As to the liner, I do believe you can purchase a fitting that you can attach to both the current liner and the added length you may need.

You may wish to use that as part of your purchase negotiation, "can you include 24" of a prior cut-off from your scrap pile and a joiner if I buy from you?"

As to which model you should purchase...your Fisher may not have long burn times, but it does provide some nice features. The Princess insert, like your Fisher does have a deep belly that keeps ash removal intervals down. I'm hesitant to tell you more as I work for BK. As everyone here knows, you should buy the best model for your needs.

My suggestion is to go see both. Compare things you like about your current insert to the models you look at. Don't overlook something and then later say "my old insert had xyz.

Have you considered repairing your Fisher or somehow tightening up the door fitment?
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,586
central pa
Yeah the liner is no problem you can use a coupler and section of liner. Or just an elbow may be enough
 

dafattkidd

Minister of Fire
Dec 11, 2007
1,767
Long Island
Is the Osburn 3500 better than the blaze king princess if the price is within 400 of each other?
I cannot imagine the Osburn is as good as the Blaze King Princess, but they are two different units. Blaze King has a cat system that allows for super low, long burn times. The Osburn cannot do that. My 2400i is a large firebox that can burn really clean hot fires. I liked the Osburn because it was the least expensive option at the time (by way more than $400). I also burn a lot of construction debris at the time, so a non cat seemed to be a better option for me.

Blaze King owners tend to really love their units. It's certainly an avenue worth pursuing.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,578
Eastern Long Island NY
Compare outputs per hour, and total burn lengths for the ones you are looking at, and with what you know about BTU needs that your home and preferences have.

Note that a BK, while (also?) giving long burns, often does have less of a flame show as compared to non cat stoves. I.e. views versus control over output at the low end (shoulder season).

One thing I like much about my BK (as compared to my previous stove) is the level of control and the consistency of heat output over a burn cycle. The thermostat allows an even output. There are a few other stoves with a Tstat, I believe (though maybe no other inserts?).

In the end, it is important to know what makes you happy. While BKs make a lot of people happy, some are not. And given the price, they are then very much not happy...
Either because they bought something not suitable for what they need, or not compatible with the specs of the rest of the system (chimney, house tightness etc). So carefully check the requirements of any stove you buy.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,586
central pa
I cannot imagine the Osburn is as good as the Blaze King Princess, but they are two different units. Blaze King has a cat system that allows for super low, long burn times. The Osburn cannot do that. My 2400i is a large firebox that can burn really clean hot fires. I liked the Osburn because it was the least expensive option at the time (by way more than $400). I also burn a lot of construction debris at the time, so a non cat seemed to be a better option for me.

Blaze King owners tend to really love their units. It's certainly an avenue worth pursuing.
If you need low btu output then yes the bk is a clear winner. But if you need more btus not so much. I run pretty much the same burn times and use the same wood that with the princess that I did with a regency 3100. And when temps really drop the regency could keep up better. It is all in matching the stoves strengths to your needs.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,578
Eastern Long Island NY
The OP is not in central PA, but in NC - which is almost like your "shoulder season" in January...
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,586
central pa
The OP is not in central PA, but in NC - which is almost like your "shoulder season" in January...
Absolutely. I would think a bk should work well there.
 

1990dtgl98

New Member
May 21, 2021
18
Pennsylvania
That depends completely upon your needs

Mainly for long burns. Between work and overnight I only really get to load up the box 2-3 times a day. The house isn't big so I don't think I need to really crank out btus.

As to which model you should purchase...your Fisher may not have long burn times, but it does provide some nice features. The Princess insert, like your Fisher does have a deep belly that keeps ash removal intervals down. I'm hesitant to tell you more as I work for BK. As everyone here knows, you should buy the best model for your needs.

My suggestion is to go see both. Compare things you like about your current insert to the models you look at. Don't overlook something and then later say "my old insert had xyz.

Have you considered repairing your Fisher or somehow tightening up the door fitment?

It's not that it's the door fitment as I think its a generally older and drafty stove. Even if I could get a better seal on a gasketless door, I dont know if I would trust loading it up away from home. Too many times I had everything shut down and put 3 pieces in and came down to it overheating.


Compare outputs per hour, and total burn lengths for the ones you are looking at, and with what you know about BTU needs that your home and preferences have.

Note that a BK, while (also?) giving long burns, often does have less of a flame show as compared to non cat stoves. I.e. views versus control over output at the low end (shoulder season).

One thing I like much about my BK (as compared to my previous stove) is the level of control and the consistency of heat output over a burn cycle. The thermostat allows an even output. There are a few other stoves with a Tstat, I believe (though maybe no other inserts?).

In the end, it is important to know what makes you happy. While BKs make a lot of people happy, some are not. And given the price, they are then very much not happy...
Either because they bought something not suitable for what they need, or not compatible with the specs of the rest of the system (chimney, house tightness etc). So carefully check the requirements of any stove you buy.

I definitely prefer burn times and consistency vs sheer output. Even my old fisher can get my downstairs up to 76-78* on a 20* day. It just doesn't keep that temperature unless I feed it every 2 hours.


The OP is not in central PA, but in NC - which is almost like your "shoulder season" in January...

I am in south central pa. Outside Harrisburg.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,578
Eastern Long Island NY
Ok.
Well, if that is important than a BK should be in the final list; it gives consistent heating (no overheating) because of the thermostat.

Burn times depend on your BTU needs. Shoulder season (low BTU needs) will allow you to get 24 hrs between reloading. I've not gone below 14 hrs. But my climate is less cold than yours.

Check the chimney requirements for these stoves; to get all (the best) out of it, it's highly advisable to meet those requirements.

I have not read all back posts again, but if you have oil or propane in your home as well, you can estimate your BTU needs (for the coldest days) to compare to (highest) stove outputs.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,681
South Puget Sound, WA
I now also see hearthstone is going to be offeringa new model the clydesdale.
That has been posted for almost a year now. Still a no-show. From what you are describing, a Princess insert with thermostatic control sounds like it would work well.
 

1990dtgl98

New Member
May 21, 2021
18
Pennsylvania
So I looked into the princess and 3500 at local dealers. Both seem like nice stoves. The osburn concerns me with its "up to 10 hours" burn time claim for longer burns. If I run it hotter for those high of 10* weeks, am I not going to get an overnight burn out of it?

Conversely the dealer my way was pretty honest and open about limitations. He said the princess inserts are awesome but on low you can damn near touch the top of the stove its so throttled down. So if I have to run it 3/4 open on 40* days, can it even handle the weeks we get down to 10-20 highs? He was saying the osburn you could run at 500-600 stove top temp vs the blaze king that might stay cooler at 300-400.

(Preface this with my wife likes heat. She'd have the house face meltingly hot if she could)

If I have to run a princess wide open all the time except shoulder seasons....is it worth the long burn times?

Also found a new stove that might combine the best of all the stoves. The buck model 91. Seems like it has a huge firebox, is tax credit eligible unlike the obsurn, about 1200 cheaper than the blaze king. But I haven't seen much on them. Should I be considering it?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,681
South Puget Sound, WA
All will depend on how well-sealed and insulated the home is. If the temps drop into the low teens, it's ok to supplement with the central heat to keep things reasonably comfortable. If there is a basement it's actually good to let the central htg system run once in a while. That can help keep pipes from freezing and floors a bit warmer.

The Buck 91 has a good reputation. It's a little more complicated to run than the Blaze King, but a solid stove that has been around for a while.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,578
Eastern Long Island NY
I see you have a 2x6, fairly well-insulated home of 1900 sqft.
My home is 2x4, walls decently insulated, the attic exceedingly well, and windows are very good too.
A BK is properly able to heat here when it goes down to 10 F at night. I still get 8-12 hr burns then. THat is enough for overnight to me. And that is with the Tstat at 1/2 to 3/4 open (rather than a slow long burn at 3/4 closed).
I cannot touch my stove top (Chinook, which has this convection jacket) at all. My stove is in the basement.

In short, I see no reason why the BK should not meet the needs there IF the heat distribution throughout the home works with you. (But that is an issue for all stoves.)

That is not to say that another stove would not work as well, or that BK is always the best. I understand your concerns, but my personal observations make me question the doubt of the stove dealer.
 

1990dtgl98

New Member
May 21, 2021
18
Pennsylvania
All will depend on how well-sealed and insulated the home is. If the temps drop into the low teens, it's ok to supplement with the central heat to keep things reasonably comfortable. If there is a basement it's actually good to let the central htg system run once in a while. That can help keep pipes from freezing and floors a bit warmer.

The Buck 91 has a good reputation. It's a little more complicated to run than the Blaze King, but a solid stove that has been around for a while.

My fisher insert would run about 500 stove top temp, burn about two 20" splits (basically a 16-18" round split into 4) every 2-3 hours, and keep my downstairs at 76* (measured off the house thermostat in the furthest downstairs room) when it was is the mid 30s. Fan in the room with the stove to help circulate air as well.

More complicated than the blaze king how?
 

1990dtgl98

New Member
May 21, 2021
18
Pennsylvania
I see you have a 2x6, fairly well-insulated home of 1900 sqft.
My home is 2x4, walls decently insulated, the attic exceedingly well, and windows are very good too.
A BK is properly able to heat here when it goes down to 10 F at night. I still get 8-12 hr burns then. THat is enough for overnight to me. And that is with the Tstat at 1/2 to 3/4 open (rather than a slow long burn at 3/4 closed).
I cannot touch my stove top (Chinook, which has this convection jacket) at all. My stove is in the basement.

In short, I see no reason why the BK should not meet the needs there IF the heat distribution throughout the home works with you. (But that is an issue for all stoves.)

That is not to say that another stove would not work as well, or that BK is always the best. I understand your concerns, but my personal observations make me question the doubt of the stove dealer.

Honestly that's good to know. And to be completely transparent I might be overanalyzing this as well.

I worry because my attic insulation is subpar in my opinion (can still see the truss beams) and the windows are original (25yo) and in high winds, can actually feel them and hear them draft a bit. Walls are 2x6 and insulated with foam board exterior, so we'll done there.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,578
Eastern Long Island NY
Honestly that's good to know. And to be completely transparent I might be overanalyzing this as well.

I worry because my attic insulation is subpar in my opinion (can still see the truss beams) and the windows are original (25yo) and in high winds, can actually feel them and hear them draft a bit. Walls are 2x6 and insulated with foam board exterior, so we'll done there.

ok. The caveat is that your climate is a bit colder than mine, but I did not (nearly) max out the BK.
@bholler is in PA (and has less favorable opinions about the efficacy of heating with a BK) - so it's good to hear from him too.

Regardless of what stove you get, improving the attic (and windows, but $$...) seems like a good idea.
The attic could be done by yourself - I did. Moving (a section of) the old insulation to the side, foaming all seams around top boards and outer walls, and caulking around electrical boxes (no combustible foam protruding inside them...), putting back the insulation and either adding batts (I added R38 on top of the original R19) or blow-in insulation greatly helps. (Make sure if you have soffit and ridge vents to keep a channel for the air to move from vent to ridge top.) For my 1000 sqft attic the total cost (I used batts) was about $1000.

Windows: can you look at sealing/weatherstripping where they leak? If it is single pane, I think it's best to replace (but $$...)