Trying to pick a good, small cat insert......

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Hey all, I'm a bit of a newb....after 12+ years posting here at Hearth.com, I am thinking of buying a new wood-burning insert! LOL.

I have a normal-sized fireplace, attached to a tall, 6" clay-lined interior masonry chimney. I currently have a 40+ year old coal insert in there, with a direct connect running up to the clay liner. I mostly burn wood bricks I buy on sale at Tractor Supply. My house is all-electric, so I want to have a backup winter heating source. Its also a heat pump, so on the few really cold days, I burn to offset $$ backup usage. Otherwise, I just burn for ambiance.

My house is 2250 sq ft, 1960 build, better sealed and insulated than most. Typical January heating loads are maybe 20-25,000 kBTU/h, so I don't want a monster heater. I would love to get a cat that would burn clean at that power, and that I could throttle down to even lower heating rates than that during milder weather.

I think I worked out that a 5 or 5.5" insulated SS liner would fit in my chimney, but a 6" wouldn't, but I don't think that will be a problem.

I haven't shopped inserts in many years, so I thought I would just post here to get folks recommendations....I don't care about beauty or longevity burning 24/7. Lower cost would be good.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
Small + Catalytic + insert + ok for a 5" liner - could be a tough order to fill. As far as heat output, you control that with the amount of fuel in the loading.

What are the full dimensions of the fireplace? What is the flue ID and height?
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
18,776
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
The list of catalytic inserts currently legal for sale is exceedingly small and not inexpensive.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
Yeah, I'm wondering is there is room for a small, Woodstock freestander in there? Otherwise, a non-cat from Drolet or True-North may be the best option.
 
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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Fireplace is 20.5" deep, 31" high, 36" wide on the face, and has the usual taper to 29" wide at rear. The clay tiles are what I think is called 6x10", and the ID is a little over 6" if I recall. Cap is 25' above the floor of the fireplace.

I was afraid y'all would say no cats. But I think anything I get will burn cleaner than my pre-EPA wonder. And can probably be regulated better.

I'd probably still lean towards a smaller stove, or one with a max heat rating not too far over 30 kBTU/h.

Of couse, I would love a single, large glass window, and a more modern design ethos.

That's all. LOL.

Edited to add/correct dimensions....
 
Last edited:

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
I would be interested in a freestander, if it was attractive and didn't poke out the front too far. And had a nice viewing area. Room layout mean you have to walk in front of it.

I took the ugly shroud off my insert a decade ago.

I did fantasize about the little woodstock cats a few years back....
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
For inexpensive, take a look at the Drolet 1500 or 1800 insert and the True North TN20 insert. They will operate in the 16,000 to 30,000 btu/hr range. In cat inserts there is the Blaze King Princess 29 insert. Woodstock's Survival Hybrid fits the requirement, but you would need to cut down the legs a couple of inches.

For heat output, figure 3 bricks will be about 48,000 btus. If they burn for 4 hrs that will be around 12,000btus/hr. In the dead of winter they can be stacked to create a wall. That will provide a longer controlled burn if the power is out. This is a test I did in the Castine many years ago burning BioBricks - https://www.hearth.com/talk/wiki/biobricks/

I am going to guess that you have a conventional 8x12 OD flue liner which is roughly 6.5x10.5 ID. If so, an insulated Duraliner oval liner will fit. It's designed for this flue size.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Awesome, I just looked at freestanders, and the Woodstock Keystone would fit well, assuming I could set it back fully with top venting option, but the right side loading rules it out. Plus, I am not looking for soapstone....I want something that heats up fast.

The other freestander cat would be the Jotul Oslo, frontloading, top venting, short leg option.

Of course, I have wooden millwork around the fireplace and a wooden mantle. wood is 7" from edge of brick face on the sides and top (38" from floor, 50" side to side) .... so I assume that puts me back to insert land unless I want to pull that all off....
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
Awesome, I just looked at freestanders, and the Woodstock Keystone would fit well, assuming I could set it back fully with top venting option, but the right side loading rules it out. Plus, I am not looking for soapstone....I want something that heats up fast.

The other freestander cat would be the Jotul Oslo, frontloading, top venting, short leg option.

Of course, I have wooden millwork around the fireplace and a wooden mantle. wood is 7" from edge of brick face on the sides and top (38" from floor, 50" side to side) .... so I assume that puts me back to insert land unless I want to pull that all off....
The Oslo v3 is not a small stove, nor inexpensive. The Jotul F45 is also worth looking at. There are some hybrids out there by Lopi and Hearthstone that may interest you. But none of these stoves are cheap. Why the fixation on a cat stove? Many modern stoves burn cleaner without one.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,673
Iowa

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
I'm completely open about the cat. EPA 2020 is fine. And can pay a bit more for an attractive stove that fit.

Both the Drolet 1500 and the TN20 looks like they would work, neither is attractive. Both have surrounds that are 29" high, versus my 31" high opening. :(

Looking for more modern and flush-mount inserts...
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Wow. The Sirocco 25 with the large surround looks like a nice fit....
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
They can be installed without the surround or the surround can be spliced on to, but it sounds like cheap and small are not that important?

Most freestanders fall in the 31-33" tall range. Take a look at the PE Neo 1.6 insert. It has an available oversized surround option.

In cat, look at the Lopi Answer and their Medium Hybrid.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,673
Iowa
Wow. The Sirocco 25 with the large surround looks like a nice fit....
Thats what I thought. Obviously not cheap but BK makes quality stoves with impressive performance.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
Wow. The Sirocco 25 with the large surround looks like a nice fit....
Yes, it does, though it is a long way from the original requested parameters.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Sorry BG...shopping is hard.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, particularly when choices have narrowed temporarily due to new EPA regs. It is going to come down to the budget. A BK insert is going to want the proper venting. For the Sirocco 25 and a new insulated liner, figure close to $6000 installed. You could cut that back a bit by DIY.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Looks like the BK will fit all around, including clearances....$6k is pretty dear. I'll call it the Cadillac option, but it gets me the cat and throttlability too. I like the large clear glass area tbh. A lot of the smaller stoves seem to have a smaller viewing area.

The ex always complained about the small viewing area of the current stove (double doors), versus an open fireplace. While that problem has already been solved, I suspect my next homebuyers could have the same conversation.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
OK, the PE Neo 1.6 does look like a good budget choice. 17" max log length, window is a lot smaller. EPA emissions are 2X greater, not a big issue tbh, given the low volume of my burning, and EPA 2020 certs.

MSRP is $1800 online. I'm too old to be wrestling a liner in my roof anymore....I assume oval liner kit and installation is $2k in my HCOL area...? And they will scrap my old one. So maybe under $4k, which about what I figured it would be. ???

Oversize surround will cover the hole, but will look 'weird', more exposed brick on the top than sides. Can a shop make a simple black surround custom, maybe recessed into fireplace?
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Looking at price quotes, looks like the MSRP on the BK is only $1k more than the Neo 1.6. If so, I would take the upgrade.

And I still remember the lashings PE got around here over the years.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,365
South Puget Sound, WA
Oversize surround will cover the hole, but will look 'weird', more exposed brick on the top than sides. Can a shop make a simple black surround custom, maybe recessed into fireplace?
Yes, and that can look pretty nice too.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,673
Iowa
@mellow

Any advice you could provide here with your Sirocco experience.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
I am working my way through @mellows long thread....
 
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mellow

Resident Stove Connoisseur
Jan 19, 2008
5,213
Salisbury, MD
Mine ran good on around 25ft of 6" insulated liner, I am not so sure you would get the same performance on 5.5" insulated, you might.

Its an expensive insert that requires dry wood and a good draft, as long as you have those requirements it is a good heater that can be run low and slow. I would recommend insulating your fireplace if you haven't already even if it is interior so you keep the heat where it needs to be.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,342
SE PA
Not a lot of local dealers for BlazeKing. The (4/5 stars) one I contacted wants $6600 for the works, including $3999 for the Sirocco unit itself. Ouch. Internet price I saw for the unit was just under $3k wo surround.

I am getting other quotes....One highly rated (5 star) outfit sells the QF Expedition II, which is also an EPA 2020 flush insert with couple surround options that would cover my (kinda tall) fireplace opening. Opinions on this new QF insert?

Given that I am selling my house in a couple years, and only burn recreationally, appearance and price might win over performance and durability.