Valor vs Mendota

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Old Rocking Chair

New Member
Jan 14, 2020
4
California
We are getting ready to replace our 30 year old gas insert. My wife has decided she wants something that looks like the wood stoves we've had in the past like the Vermont. This means she wants the look of double arched doors. I want the most realistic fire we can get. So far we have looked at Heat & Glo, Regency, Quadra Fire, Ironstrike, Jotul, Solas, Mendota, and Valor. Only the last two have the arched double door option. The Valor G3 is sized right for us as 1/3rd of our house has radiant floor heat. We also have forced air but we limit its use as we hate forced air. We are hoping to eliminate using it almost entirely as the living room, where the insert is, is in the middle of the house and I plan to install a vent in the living room ceiling and push some air into our bedroom which will create an air flow loop. Our winter days range from 30 at night to the high 50s in the day during January. It appears no one beats Valor for turndown (24,000/6500 BTUs) and I have heard good things about their quality. At $3200 it seems a competitive price. On the other hand, the Mendota FV33i has, hands down, the most realistic fire I've seen in a gas unit with either the oak or birch logs. Its turndown is better than most (31,000/13,000) and the fan, on low setting, is very quiet. I would go for the Mendota in a heartbeat except for two things. It is 50% more expensive than the Valor and we get regular power outages. I know the Valor can run when the power is out. I am not sure on the Mendota. Any suggestions? Also, we are not in a rush. Do these things ever go on sale?
 
Jan 9, 2017
169
Upstate NY
Go with the Mendota!
The Valor uses a control system that is junk.(imo)
I would not recommend buying ANY gas stove/fireplace that does not use the SIT gas control system.
(I have no affiliation with either brand)
 

Old Rocking Chair

New Member
Jan 14, 2020
4
California
Thanks Furnace. We were strongly leaning Mendota for aesthetics, that being the two row burner and incredibly realistic logs. It also seems better built. The downside is the 50% higher price, but I figure if it lasts 20 years that's $150 a year. We eliminated Heat & Glo because the turndown was still pretty high and not as nice looking. Everything else we looked at seemed second rate or worse. The valve information ices our choice. I was hoping there might be a sale at the end of the season but I am not seeing any track record of that being the case. Seeing as you have 'Furnace' in your handle, what do you think of placing a vent in the ceiling 15 feet back from the insert and ducting the air to a back bedroom using a quiet inline fan?
 
Jan 9, 2017
169
Upstate NY
I would be hesitant to run it to a bedroom. The fan, although quiet, might still produce too much noise. The fireplace will always make noise when it warms up. Some more than others. As the metal goes from cold too hot, there is always ticking and snapping noises.
Not saying I would absolutely never do it, just keep it in mind you might not like it.
 

Old Rocking Chair

New Member
Jan 14, 2020
4
California
Thanks - I will let you know how it works out. We won't be installing the Mendota for at least another month. Then I will take some temperature readings in various parts of the living room, where the insert is being installed, in order to determine placement of the ceiling intake vent. I plan on running 8" insulated flex duct with a Cloudline T8 inline fan halfway between the living room and bedroom. The rating on this fan is 39 db which, if my calculation is correct is equal to 1 sone, which is quieter than my forced air vents. And while the fan is rated at 745 cfm, I figure I only need to run it a quarter speed to get a 4 x hour air exchange. I understand the air will 'feel' cold coming out at 75 degrees so I will aim the exhaust vent away from people. I might even run it into a closet that has louver doors. If the experiment fails I'll be out a day's work and $400 dollars. If it works we will hardly ever run the damn furnace.
 

OldHouseChimney

New Member
Jan 2, 2020
5
MA
Hi Old Rocking Chair,

Thanks for your post. I have an old masonry fireplace in a three story home and am also considering a Mendota insert - the FV33 or FV44 with a custom surround. I have a low mantel clearance (about 36") so the Mendota works in that regard and ticks all the boxes for, realism, flat front/low profile etc. that a lot of people are looking for these days. As you say they are definitely not cheap but perhaps "worth it" for something you will look at everyday.

I am curious to know how large is the room you will be running it in is. Our living room is about 19 X 16 with lots of windows original to the house that was built in early 1900's. I think the room will be big enough for such an efficient/hot insert but wonder what your take is on concerns about Mendota being "too hot". I suppose that's the point and they do have a nice turn-down aspect.

I've also wondered about sales, too, as I don't have a timeline for purchase. If I find anything about sales, I will post here.

Furnace: Would you have any concerns running this insert on high in a fireplace where the minimum clearances are all met by a slim margin (about a half inch)?

Thanks!
 

Old Rocking Chair

New Member
Jan 14, 2020
4
California
Hello Old House

We have settled on the FV33. The information that put it over the top vs. the Valor is a reply I received that said he would not recommend any insert that does use an SIT valve, and Valor doesn't. Also, when we penciled it out, the Mendota was only an extra $7/month which over a 20 year period for something, as you pointed out, you look at everyday, is worth it. Finally, while the Mendota costs 50% more, it puts out 7,000 BTUs more. And no one beats them for realism. That two burner system really makes a difference.

As for my room size, the dining room is wide open to the living room so this area is roughly 14 x 35. And the hallway from the dining room to the family room is really a 6 foot wide open area only 8 feet long so the heat will not be that compartmentalized. We also have tons of windows and while they are all fairly new top of the line Anderson, they still leak heat much more than an insulated wall. That being said, we have a more temperate climate. It rarely gets below 25 in the winter, which happens on clear days, which means the daytime temperature will be in the 50s or low 60s. And we also have radiant floor heat in family room/kitchen area of the house that leaks into the living room a little. As for too hot, remember you can completely turn off the back burner and turn down the front, so I would think 13,000 BTUs should work. Remember, except for the Valor, which turns down to 6500, nothing else that I have seen comes close. Finally, it has a thermostat so if the room gets too hot, the fireplace will automatically shut off, coming back on when heat is needed.

The sizing is something your dealer should be helping you with but I would think, if you are only heating that one room, the smaller unit would work fine. The clearances is something your dealer should be helping you with. I wouldn't have a clue but I would think if you are running the fan, even on low which is whisper quiet, it will push the heat into the room enough to mitigate any issues.

We are putting off our purchase for a least a month as we are in the middle of refinancing our house. One other thing I found out which was a little disappointing on the Mendota. We live in an area where the power goes out periodically, sometimes for more than a day. While Mendota claims they can run without electricity, it requires plugging in an external battery pack (4 AAs) and the socket is buried in such a way to make it a major hassle. My dealer called Mendota and they told him the best workaround would be to relocate the socket into the surround (what were they thinking?). I will have the dealer do that. I understand some of the reasoning as they deliver their stoves to regional warehouses what assemble the final product to your specs (liner, front, surround, log set) but you would think they would have come up with a better way.

Best of luck. I will be interested how it works out for you.
 
Jan 9, 2017
169
Upstate NY
Hi Old Rocking Chair,

Thanks for your post. I have an old masonry fireplace in a three story home and am also considering a Mendota insert - the FV33 or FV44 with a custom surround. I have a low mantel clearance (about 36") so the Mendota works in that regard and ticks all the boxes for, realism, flat front/low profile etc. that a lot of people are looking for these days. As you say they are definitely not cheap but perhaps "worth it" for something you will look at everyday.

I am curious to know how large is the room you will be running it in is. Our living room is about 19 X 16 with lots of windows original to the house that was built in early 1900's. I think the room will be big enough for such an efficient/hot insert but wonder what your take is on concerns about Mendota being "too hot". I suppose that's the point and they do have a nice turn-down aspect.

I've also wondered about sales, too, as I don't have a timeline for purchase. If I find anything about sales, I will post here.

Furnace: Would you have any concerns running this insert on high in a fireplace where the minimum clearances are all met by a slim margin (about a half inch)?

Thanks!
As long as you meet all the minimum clearances, you are good to go. It varies. Some manufacturers, I would feel comfortable cheating the clearances substantially. Others I wouldn't dare to cheat a quarter inch! I feel some manufacturers are just too lazy, and cheap, to do enough testing to make sure they get the closest, yet safe clearances.
I see some fireplaces that have clearances of 150% of another brand fireplace of the same BTU rating.
That being said, Mendota's as a whole, are meant to be operated with the blower on. most other fireplaces you can turn the blower off and you are fine running on high. Mendota fireplaces (not sure about inserts) are not to be run without the blower on. the manual states that if you have a power outage, and are running on battery power, you are not supposed to run it on high.
The ProFlame 2 gas control system, has an option that they call Smart thermostat. this will modulate your flame height, based off of Set Point temperature differential to room temperature. (As your room temperature nears your set temperature, Your Flames will go down on low.)
 

OldHouseChimney

New Member
Jan 2, 2020
5
MA
As long as you meet all the minimum clearances, you are good to go. It varies. Some manufacturers, I would feel comfortable cheating the clearances substantially. Others I wouldn't dare to cheat a quarter inch! I feel some manufacturers are just too lazy, and cheap, to do enough testing to make sure they get the closest, yet safe clearances.
I see some fireplaces that have clearances of 150% of another brand fireplace of the same BTU rating.
That being said, Mendota's as a whole, are meant to be operated with the blower on. most other fireplaces you can turn the blower off and you are fine running on high. Mendota fireplaces (not sure about inserts) are not to be run without the blower on. the manual states that if you have a power outage, and are running on battery power, you are not supposed to run it on high.
The ProFlame 2 gas control system, has an option that they call Smart thermostat. this will modulate your flame height, based off of Set Point temperature differential to room temperature. (As your room temperature nears your set temperature, Your Flames will go down on low.)

Thank you! This is very helpful. Definitely not looking to cheat any clearances, especially when the inspector walks in and has to sign off on it.

A good example of variance is the Jotul 535 (a nice looking unit with similar BTU output to the Mendota) but the clearances are different on the Joutl. Why they are different probably has to do with the way it was tested or how it was built - I can't really be sure. Your point is well taken though and is something I've seen in comparing models. The dealer I'm working with would not install the Jotul in my home because of the clearance issues.

Relatedly, do you have any thoughts on whether the FV44 would be too hot for a 9X16 room with 3 old windows, little insulation and a front door? The room is fairly open (stairwell upstairs, and a wide entry way to living room)

We like the look of the FV44 better and both would fit but I wonder if the FV44 would be too much heat in a room of this size (even with the modulating flames). This also might be a matter of preference so understand if you don't have a an answer to this question.

Thanks again to all for the help.
 
Last edited:
Jan 9, 2017
169
Upstate NY
Does the Jotul allow you to turn the blower off?
I would go with the bigger unit. Even if you don't need the heat, a bigger fire box and a not so big surround will definitely look better.(easy for me to say when it's your money!)

. I don't blame the dealer for not installing without meeting the clearances. I would never install somebody else's fireplace without meeting the clearances.
I see many stockings hung on mantels that are way too close to meet clearances! If one of those happens to catch fire, you will get all the blame. (Or any other incident for that matter.)
I don't want to confuse anybody here, I am just saying I feel that some of the clearances are way overrated! And others are right on and I would never want to go closer than the clearances. Any install that I do for a customer, will always be at least to the minimum.