Question: I recently purchased a 13 year old contemporary cape with open floor plan and some cathedral and some 8 foot ceilings. The masonry fireplace has a 8" raised hearth that is 20" deep. I have received conflicting advice from two retailers in my area as to which will more efficiently heat my home. One says that because a freestanding cast Iron stove extends further into the room, it will provide more heat. The other says that even without a blower, a Quadrafire or Avalon protruding insert will provide more heat because of the convection technology. He also says that cast iron stoves require more maintenance than steel. Which dealer is correct? What is my best option? Your response would greatly appreciated. Thanks! PS. I tend to believe the latter because he sells both whereas the former sells mostly free standing. Answer: In this case, both are right..and neither are right. Depends on the specific model and design of the stoves you are comparing. For instance, Avalons mid sized unit, which extends 9" or so onto the hearth and has a very open convection shell may be similar to the free standing stove - however, they also make an Avalon which is much further back in the fireplace and less open around it would not be quite as good. It could be generally said that a stove on the hearth is more efficient at transferring heat to the room than an insert. However, an insert can still be a good compromise and may fit better in many situations.