Researching for our first wood burning insert.

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Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
I’ve just started researching inserts for this coming winter. Install will be going into a typical fireplace box. House is a traditional center-hall colonial, 3000 sq. ft, that I completely opened up on first floor. My plan would be to primarily heat with the insert, and supplement only when necessary. I would go with a catalytic, but would consider a hybrid unless there are reasons not to.

Insert recommendations appreciated.

Thank You.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
Welcome. 3000 sq ft in CT is a lot to heat with an insert, but it should be able to carry the load on many fall and winter days. For greater output on the colder days I would also look at non-cats to maximize output.
Can you provide the full fireplace dimensions? A sketch of the first floor would also be helpful along with a shot of the fireplace. Are power outages a concern?
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
16,527
Philadelphia
You have a good plan, in sizing the stove to allow the central heating to supplement on the coldest nights/days, rather than sizing the thing as if you had no additional heat source. This will keep your central heating system operating, lest it fall into disuse, and also allow you to keep far corners of the house more temperate than a stove alone, on the coldest days.

As to your desire for a cat stove, I went that way, and glad I did. But there may also be non-cats that can do the job. Since you're sizing an insert, which has more constraints than most free-standing situations, I'd not let the cat vs. non-cat thing be the top priority, rather find the largest highly-reviewed insert that will fit your fireplace and satisfy your cosmetics. Bonus if it is a cat, but even this cat stove fan would go with a well-reviewed non-cat over a too small or too ugly cat stove, if shopping inserts.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,978
Iowa
I’ve just started researching inserts for this coming winter. Install will be going into a typical fireplace box. House is a traditional center-hall colonial, 3000 sq. ft, that I completely opened up on first floor. My plan would be to primarily heat with the insert, and supplement only when necessary. I would go with a catalytic, but would consider a hybrid unless there are reasons not to.

Insert recommendations appreciated.

Thank You.
If you have contact with your homeowners insurance rep relating to the wood stove install. They most likely don't want to hear that the wood stove is going to be your primary heat source. That won't fly well normally. They want the wood stove to be considered supplementary. Heads up.
 
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Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
Hey folks, sorry just getting back. Here is the pic of my opening.

45” wide at front
35” at back
29” height
45” depth to front of stone.

And yes this would be supplemental. I have no visions of heating 3000 ft.² solely on wood but to drastically reduce oil consumption. We have no NG service in my neighborhood. Thanks, Ultra

08C7EFEE-22F4-4BEB-9BF8-70412F7122B0.jpeg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
That is a nice big fireplace which opens up several options to large isnerts. However, the catch will be clearances to the mantel. It appears to have fairly thick side trim. Not sure at what height the mantel shelf resides, but this may narrow down choices considerably.
 

spudman99

Feeling the Heat
Jan 26, 2018
378
Yardley, PA
My old fireplace was almost exactly the same to include some drywall that came close to the glass doors. Here is a picture of my princess insert which is now 3 years old. I know my panels are also close by, I filled any air gaps with rockwool, and check frequently with the ir thermometer. Never gets above 90 deg. I intend to remove them next month and install stacked stone.

My house is a 40 yr traditional center hall colonial with 8' ceilings. I cannot heat the entire 3,000 sf with the insert as I have a near 8 deg difference upstairs v downstairs. What I have eliminated was any 2nd stage heat (propane in my case) and drastically reduced the heat pump run time.

If you are truly gonna do this, I recommend getting wood now. Scrounge some if you have the tools to cut split and stack. If not go ahead and buy 2 cords NOW and get them stacked in the sun. I guarantee purchased wood is not seasoned enough for an insert. I cannot over emphasize that need for dry wood before you start burning.

20220703_100705.jpg
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,678
central pa
My old fireplace was almost exactly the same to include some drywall that came close to the glass doors. Here is a picture of my princess insert which is now 3 years old. I know my panels are also close by, I filled any air gaps with rockwool, and check frequently with the ir thermometer. Never gets above 90 deg. I intend to remove them next month and install stacked stone.

My house is a 40 yr traditional center hall colonial with 8' ceilings. I cannot heat the entire 3,000 sf with the insert as I have a near 8 deg difference upstairs v downstairs. What I have eliminated was any 2nd stage heat (propane in my case) and drastically reduced the heat pump run time.

If you are truly gonna do this, I recommend getting wood now. Scrounge some if you have the tools to cut split and stack. If not go ahead and buy 2 cords NOW and get them stacked in the sun. I guarantee purchased wood is not seasoned enough for an insert. I cannot over emphasize that need for dry wood before you start burning.

View attachment 296717
Is there adequate side clearance to combustibles?
 

Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
So, yeah, wood is not an issue. My shed is about done and it'll be no sweat filling it initially with the 5 chords it'll hold. My concentration is on the stove....

So, here is a better picture of the opening. All the white crappy 60's-style boarder material will be trashed. The perimeter of the brick is approx 60" wide by 40" high to where it meets drywall on the top and sides. The existing trim covers some brick sides and top. My barn beam will be the new mantle. From bottom of that beam to the top of the proposed stove would have a clearances of approx. 14 inches. Side clearance to my barn posts that will support the beam to the outer edges of the stove would be about 10 inches. Both those dimensions setting the beam and posts tight to the brick, with no drywall showing.

My interest in a CAT stove is lower temp, cleaner and longer burn time. I travel so I'd have a bit more interest is the gang at home stoking if not having to do it as often. And with the size of my opening, I should be able to source a properly sized stove.

Would love to hear some recommendations on brands.

Thanks again,

Ultra....

IMG_4866.jpeg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
The insert clearances will determine whether that plan will work. 14" is very close for a mantel shelf and not likely for an insert that isn't flush unless the mantel is non-combustible. Fortunately, there are some great products that solve this problem. This thread covers good-looking non-combustible mantels.
Does it matter whether the insert is flush or projects out onto the hearth?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
Clearances for the catalytic BK AF25 for example.

Screen Shot 2022-07-03 at 9.53.17 AM.png

For the Regency CI2700
Screen Shot 2022-07-03 at 9.56.48 AM.png
 

Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
The insert clearances will determine whether that plan will work. 14" is very close for a mantel shelf and not likely for an insert that isn't flush unless the mantel is non-combustible. Fortunately, there are some great products that solve this problem. This thread covers good-looking non-combustible mantels.
Does it matter whether the insert is flush or projects out onto the hearth?
I am not opposed to a flush mounted stove provided an adequate sized unit can fit inside the box. My fire box is 35 inches wide at the back and the height of opening is approximately 29 inches. Those are the two most demanding dimensions of the box. I'm 45 inches wide at the front opening.

Aesthetically, I could place the beam a few inches higher and the posts a bit wider. I have plenty of width available, but likely would cut my beam any longer than 7.5 feet long, so to keep things in scale.

For flush-mount stoves, what are some brands I should be looking at?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
Posted the clearances for two main brands. Both of these are flush. Clearances go up for non-flush inserts. Take a look at the non-combustible mantels. They look exactly like a wood beam.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
So, yeah, wood is not an issue. My shed is about done and it'll be no sweat filling it initially with the 5 chords it'll hold. My concentration is on the stove....
Wood that is >20% moisture content will result in degraded wood stove performance and lower heat output. Most hardwood takes at least 2 yrs to season. Ash being the exception. Wood purchased now most likely will not be fully seasoned, regardless of the seller's claims, unless it sells at a very high premium. Consider enlarging the shed if possible.
 

Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
The non-combustible products do look nice, but increase my costs exponentially I would imagine. I would likely go with a flush mount to use my existing material. While the barn from the mid-1700's that I bought was practically free, it was a bit of work bringing it home, so from a nostalgia point of view, I'd prefer to use some of that material, and go with a flush mount unit.

My posts and beam:

IMG_4869.jpeg IMG_4868.jpeg
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,678
central pa
Wood has been dried out for quite a while and I recently split it all. My concentration is on what to burn it with! Thanks.
If it was recently split it's not dry. We are focusing on the wood because no matter what stove you choose you will be very frustrated if your wood isn't properly dried.

But as others have said 3000 SQ ft is a whole lot for an insert
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
The clearance specs for the inserts are the guideline for the installer, inspector, and the insurance company. It may be possible to get a variance from the inspector by adding a mantel heat shield on spacers under the mantel but it probably would still require raising the mantel due to the thickness of the beam.

Does the budget also include a full chimney cleanout, block-off plate, and an insulated liner?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
When looking at costs, one should remember that this is infrastructure. It will be in place for a long time. An additional $1000 to do the job right is only $50 a yr. over say a 20 yr lifetime. And most likely, with the cost of current fuel, the installation will pay for itself in a few years. Also, for some inserts, there is a 26% tax credit this year which applies to the cost of the entire installation.
 
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Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
If it was recently split it's not dry. We are focusing on the wood because no matter what stove you choose you will be very frustrated if your wood isn't properly dried.

But as others have said 3000 SQ ft is a whole lot for an insert
Right, I'm just getting started. Will burn what I can, when I can. I'm NOT sweating the wood issue right now. Nor am I worried about heating 3000 square feet solely with this stove, OK? I'll get the best stove I can afford for the opening I have. And easy enough to trim the opening a bit with a angle grinder to get the right stove. Not that big a deal. Yes, budget allows to do it correctly. Thanks.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,751
South Puget Sound, WA
For heat output, the Osburn 3500 insert may be the best but along with higher output comes higher clearances (27") for the mantel. However, this unit is currently listed by Osburn for the 26% tax credit, so the savings could easily pay for the non-combustible mantel.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,702
Fairbanks, Alaska
We are harping on your wood supply because we have all been there personally, and it is the single most common problem among new users here every autumn. Wood that you "recently split" as of this morning, even in a Taj Mahal among wood sheds is going to need to be spruce-pine-fir if you are planning to burn it in November 2022.

Your baseline plan is good. You are looking at good quality inserts. You do have a wood shed. Going into Nov 2024 you are going to be glad you took this on. The first two years are the hardest. Always.

You are at the front of the class so far for new burners here in the 2020s, you do have wood split and stacked in a shed before your insert is even on order, so kudos on that step.

The Blaze King Princess insert, Blaze King Ashford 25 and Regency 2700 are each well liked units by experienced owners here.

I opened this thread with one question for you in my mind, that hasn't been asked by anyone else yet. Inserts are a compromise. They are not the most efficient way to get BTUs into a building. Fireplaces are more or less a de rigueur feature of colonial homes. You got 3000 sqft to work with. Additionally this year, the supply chain is jacked up. So here is my question:

If all you can buy in the next couple months is a freestanding wood stove, where could you place it in your home, and could you be happy with a free stander instead of an insert? You would get to keep your fireplace for ambience.

Please do buy a moisture meter, the kind with two pins sticking out one end, in the $30-50 range, in the next couple months. You are going to need it.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
2,659
SE North Carolina
Couple thoughts is the current heating in the house zoned? If you run a cat stove on 12 hour reloads your primary heat source will probably come on regularly December to mid February. That’s fine but a big secondary combustion insert could be $1-2k less expensive. You could burn fast and hot and I’m guessing The primary heat would be used the same amount. What’s your budget?

BKs are 12 weeks out minimum right now.
 

Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
For heat output, the Osburn 3500 insert may be the best but along with higher output comes higher clearances (27") for the mantel. However, this unit is currently listed by Osburn for the 26% tax credit, so the savings could easily pay for the non-combustible mantel.
Thanks for the info above. And I had been looking at the Osburn unit.
 

Ultrarunner

New Member
Jun 5, 2022
14
Ct
Hi Poindexter and EbS-P, as well as others: Thanks for all the good info...stoves, wood, etc... While the two living rooms on each side of the house are both good-sized...15 x 30, we're really not set up in either room to allow for a free-standing unit, hence utilize the existing fireplace hole.

Each floor is zoned, and we tend to keep the upstairs zone turned back. My additional thought is I would also install 3 small 'pass-throughs' to the 3 immediate rooms upstairs that are above the room our insert would be in (both kids' bedrooms and a small play room. This will aid in some supplemental heat going to those rooms from the stove.

From a budgeting standpoint, I was thinking 10k would have me ready to fire it up.

Thanks again, I'm learning quite a bit.