To keep or not to keep my wood insert, AND get a pellet stove...

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New Member
Dec 10, 2007
near Lake Tahoe
Is it ridiculous to install a pellet stove in a less than optimal position in the house because I want to keep my wood burning insert in my masonry fireplace? I had been shopping for a pellet stove insert to replace my wood insert. We had a power outage and a foot of snow on Friday and when I contemplated my life with no wood stove I practically had an anxiety attack.

So why do I want a pellet stove? So that I rarely have to use my propane furnace which is ridiculously inefficient. To upgrade I would need to totally replace my system because the ductwork was retrofit (originally an oil furnace) and is worse than the furnace! This would far exceed my budget.

So why not just supplement with wood? Because I can't cut/split my own and buying decent fireplace- ready wood here is at least as expensive as pellets. I also want something that I can leave for a weekend and know that when I return the plumbing won't be wrecked.

So.....My fireplace is centrally located and heat from the woodstove insert (an old Lopi mid-80's model) moves around nicely. The place where I would locate a free-standing pellet stove is in the corner of my family room which opens into the living room (where the current woodstove is located) with a 5' wide doorway. Is the heat from the PS likely to move around enough to heat most of the house? It's an L-shaped 2000 sq ft 2-story with an open cathedral ceiling entryway. What model/ make would be likely to work for me?

I am also a little paranoid about availability of various fuels in the future. Shortages seem likely. It seems to me that having more options for heating is wise. Do you agree? I would appreciate any help or thoughts on my situation.

Also, I love everyone's fascination with fire; the romance, the power, the spiritual aspects. I used to be a potter and am totally tied into the transformative effects or fire. Also, I'm intrigued by the way people identify with their stoves (....I burn a this or that...). So fascinating! A great site!!!


New Member
Nov 16, 2007
Upstate, SC
Wow! I think we're living paralell lives! lol I'm having the same debate with myself.....keep the old wood burner or install a pellet insert. I just installed a freestanding pellet stove and I already have a pellet insert to go into the fireplace but I'm hesitant to install it for some of the same reasons you mentioned.

I'm new to pellets so, I'll admit it, I have doubts as to how well it's going to heat the house and I know that the old wood burner will do the job even without a blower so that's a consideration. I take it that pellet supplies have been an issue in the past and I worry that it could happen again. That old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket comes to mind.

I have, in the past, had to cook in the fireplace during long power outages and that's not an option with a pellet burner.

I think that for now I'm going to hang onto my wood insert and an emergency supply of wood and see how the pellet stove works out.

For me, the new stove is more centrally located than the fireplace is and it's doing a nice job of heating the entire house with only the aid of one small fan to push cold air into the stove room. Oddly enough, the room that I expected to be the warmest, the living room which is right next to the stove seperated by only a 6' archway is now the coldest room in the house. I think a little tweaking with fan placement will easily correct that though.

BTW, I could be wrong and I'm sure someone else will chime in here to help you out but I think that most people who heat with pellets use some other source to heat their homes when they will be away for more than just the day.

The other BIG drawback to pellets is that you can't roast marshmellows. :bug: I think the engineers need to seriously address this issue! ;-)


Seasoned Moderator
Nov 17, 2005
Western Mass.
Remember that the Pellet stove would stop working in that electric outage! So get some kind of an inverter or battery backup setup.

It's really hard to make a determination as far as how heat will move - because convection currents in every home are different. But at your location, with relatively warm days and lots of sun, most stoves will go a long way....heat will spread better than here in New England....

So, no, not a bad idea to have two solid fuel units, and the one (insert) will work in a power failure, so that covers that part.

As far as output, this is not really important - because whatever size you get you will be running it much lower than it is capable of. So, in general get something that can burn up to 5 lbs or more of pellets per hour ( 40,000 BTU input). Chances are that you will use it at less than 1/2 that level.

Having various options is a good thing, IMHO.


New Member
Dec 7, 2007
We had thought about replacing our pellet stove insert with a FS woodstove but the cons outweighed the pro's for us. Wood is so much messier traveling in and out of the house. It's so much easier to deal with a bag of pellets for me when my husband is not around. We have a Breckwell P2000 insert and it heats our 1800+ square foot home just fine. Our oil heat has not kicked on at all. Sometimes it gets a little too warm in the house so we turn it down to level 1 for a couple hours. Our stove is located in our living room on the far side of our house and the heat travels upstairs to the bedrooms very well as long as bedroom doors are left open. We don't have any floor vents. Our family room which is on the opposite side of the house is probably the coldest room in the house but only by a few degrees.

Mr Whitfield

Feeling the Heat
Feb 1, 2007
Northern Cailfornia
The best thing about a pellet stove is you can set it and foget it. Pellets are easy to store. My wife can start the stove and keep it running when I'm not around. I heat my 1800 sf single story home. I would get a generator, you can use it all year long.
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