ZC - New build - 2300 sq ft ranch (1.5 story with just bonus area/play room up top)

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DadEyeMoody

New Member
Dec 26, 2023
13
NE-WI
I am trying to figure out what would be best for my needs. We are in the process of building a new construction home and will have a ready supply of hardwood. The setup is a split ranch, 4 beds with the main area being kitchen, dining, living, foyer. That main area is about 730 sq ft. We will have a basement (unfinished today, will finish eventually) and a play room in the roof. Fireplace will be on an exterior wall, but will be in the house and not an external chimney. The house will have a propane furnace, but I would like to burn as much as I can to offset the cost. Heat dumps would be great to the basement and play area, but can you really move hot air to the basement?

There is so much conflicting information on cat vs non-cat, if I am leaving the fire to burn all night it seems like maybe non-cat is best?

I like the FPX 44 Elite if cat is okay for the use case

I cannot make heads or tails of the non-cat models. Is there much advantage to using the Pacific Energy FP30 vs the HHT Constitution or SBI Products? I do like the idea of NS loading for overnight burns.

Thank you!
 
With WI code requirements for insulation and proper air sealing the ability to run low and long with a cat appliance could be beneficial with the ability to run hotter when it's cold.

That being said, we installed an Osburn Stratford II tube ZC in our new build in the Northwoods. There is a forced air kit available if we decide to try to get some of the heat into the lower level. North/South loading requires 12" splits which is what I am cutting to for up there now. It doesn't like East/West loads.
 
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Many if not most ZC fireplaces are E/W loaders. Look at the firebox dimensions if the desire is to burn N/S. The FP30 is an exception. It will take up to 18" splits loaded N/S. I'm not sure about the RSF Focus 3600 and Pearl 3600. They have a deeper firebox too but I don't have a measured depth handy. These are 2.1 cu ft fireplaces. The Opel 3+ is their larger 3.6 cu ft model.
 
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With WI code requirements for insulation and proper air sealing the ability to run low and long with a cat appliance could be beneficial with the ability to run hotter when it's cold.

That being said, we installed an Osburn Stratford II tube ZC in our new build in the Northwoods. There is a forced air kit available if we decide to try to get some of the heat into the lower level. North/South loading requires 12" splits which is what I am cutting to for up there now. It doesn't like East/West loads.
It's interesting that the Stratford doesn't like EW loading, I was under the impression that was the design. I think we have it narrowed to the Pacific Energy FP30 Arch or the Valcourt Waterloo in square or arch. Similar BTU and forced air kits.

One thing I find interesting - there are two retailers that sell the PE model and one of them recommended skipping the OAK and just using inside air, like a stove would do. Anyone have feedback on this?
 
Like the Ventis, the Waterloo and Stratford are much the same internally. Both SBI fireplaces, primarily E/W loaders.

In a new, tight home construction definitely have the OAK connection. In our state it's not an option. I'm surprised a dealer suggested not to put one in. Note that in a cold snowy climate the outside inlet should have a rodent screen, but set up to not be blocked by snow. The duct should be insulated and routing it to include a cold trap (inverted P) is a good idea.
 
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I'm nearing completion of my FP30 build. You can run two ducts off the stove, and each could be on separate t-stats for different areas. The main thing to consider here is the side space needed for the ducts to double 90 with the air clearance. My pipes got pretty wonky here b/c it was a remodel and I had to get them outside of the existing concrete slab area and miss joists. But you will likely need a couple more inches than the minimum 7" side clearance - more like 8 - 9, and possibly more depending on joist locations.

Other big consideration for the ducts running to basement would be your floor joist direction and how to get the ducts to the opposite end of the house or wherever you were wanting them to outlet. The B-vent will fit in the joist cavity (just remember to maintain all air clearances and support it well).

If you continue researching the FP30 you'll see the $700 MFG's remote heat kit is garbage. You can DIY the same kit for under $200 with the AC Infinity fan from Amazon that has a smart t-stat and smartphone app.

I have mine in a 600sf room w/vaulted ceilings and it is overkill. After I get the fans running in the basement this will help keep the main from getting too hot. It was also the warmest December in Iowa since the late 1800's though. Depending on your layout and if you're able to get basement ducts to opposite ends of the house I would think you could come close to heating the house solely with wood.

ZC - New build - 2300 sq ft ranch (1.5 story with just bonus area/play room up top)
 
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Like the Ventis, the Waterloo and Stratford are much the same internally. Both SBI fireplaces, primarily E/W loaders.

In a new, tight home construction definitely have the OAK connection. In our state it's not an option. I'm surprised a dealer suggested not to put one in. Note that in a cold snowy climate the outside inlet should have a rodent screen, but set up to not be blocked by snow. The duct should be insulated and routing it to include a cold trap (inverted P) is a good idea.
Thank you for this. Now she is leaning toward FP30 or the Vents 350, not sure we can get the Vents. I know they are the same, but we don't technically have a dealer. Maybe the Valcourt Dealer can get me a Ventis. There are a few Pacific Energy dealers, I will go with the company that recommended the OAK.
 
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I'm nearing completion of my FP30 build. You can run two ducts off the stove, and each could be on separate t-stats for different areas. The main thing to consider here is the side space needed for the ducts to double 90 with the air clearance. My pipes got pretty wonky here b/c it was a remodel and I had to get them outside of the existing concrete slab area and miss joists. But you will likely need a couple more inches than the minimum 7" side clearance - more like 8 - 9, and possibly more depending on joist locations.

Other big consideration for the ducts running to basement would be your floor joist direction and how to get the ducts to the opposite end of the house or wherever you were wanting them to outlet. The B-vent will fit in the joist cavity (just remember to maintain all air clearances and support it well).

If you continue researching the FP30 you'll see the $700 MFG's remote heat kit is garbage. You can DIY the same kit for under $200 with the AC Infinity fan from Amazon that has a smart t-stat and smartphone app.

I have mine in a 600sf room w/vaulted ceilings and it is overkill. After I get the fans running in the basement this will help keep the main from getting too hot. It was also the warmest December in Iowa since the late 1800's though. Depending on your layout and if you're able to get basement ducts to opposite ends of the house I would think you could come close to heating the house solely with wood.

View attachment 322101
Any chance you have links for the kit? I have 5'6" total, I figure I will lose 7" at least to framing. That should give me about 8" on each side of the unit. I will work with the stores to figure that out, thanks!
 
Definitely go with the outside air or you will have a nightmare with negative pressure.

Yes, many zc's are designed to be loaded e/w; but I feel mine burns much nicer loaded n/s. Once we get up there full time I might play with the e/w more.
 
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Definitely go with the outside air or you will have a nightmare with negative pressure.

Yes, many zc's are designed to be loaded e/w; but I feel mine burns much nicer loaded n/s. Once we get up there full time I might play with the e/w more.
You haven't had any issues with the 12" cuts, just dealing with making sure they're small enough?
 
You haven't had any issues with the 12" cuts, just dealing with making sure they're small enough?
Can't stack as high or they get unstable is about the only issue... It equates to a bit more work vs 16" splits because of the extra cutting and splitting, but I feel it is well worth it.
 
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Can't stack as high or they get unstable is about the only issue... It equates to a bit more work vs 16" splits because of the extra cutting and splitting, but I feel it is well worth it.
Thanks! I will mention this as consideration but will ultimately let the better half pick the look she wants. In my heart, I want the FP30 for function. But the SBI large models are a great alternative.
 
Definitely go with the outside air or you will have a nightmare with negative pressure.

Yes, many zc's are designed to be loaded e/w; but I feel mine burns much nicer loaded n/s. Once we get up there full time I might play with the e/w more.

I have a Flame Energy which used the same firebox as the EPA I version of your stove. I load E/W but when there aren't many coals I put a small short split under one side of the E/W splits to get them up above the level of the air jet in the center andiron. I also try to leave a gap between the two rows of E/W splits and not have the back split hard against the back wall. These gaps leave room for air to circulate under and through the splits and makes for much better burning than when the gaps are not there. The loading I use looks a lot like the "EPA loading" in the Stratford II manual, but with smaller gaps and larger splits except one or two small ones on top for cold starts.

I tried N/S loading a few times and found it burns even hotter, and with my 30+' flue can it can get too hot.

For the OP: I'm in the early stages of designing a custom house. It's going to have a wood stove, not a ZC. The ZC I have now was the right choice for a small living room where I didn't want to take up floor space. I could put the body of the ZC in a closet on the other side of the wall and that lined up with the existing chase. But having lived with a ZC for a few years I'd prefer a regular stove if it fits. There's a broader selection, you can change the stove if you need to without having to rebuild the surround, and most of all, most stoves don't require a fan to work properly. By the end of wood burning season I'm pretty sick of the fan noise. Of course if you need a fan to blow warm air into remote rooms the ZC might be the only choice. But that's going to have TWO fans. Ugh.
 
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In my climate, Mrs. FPX would only let me put in something more contemporary. In your climate, I would go with a freestanding stove, and for all the reasons you can search on. Check out BK/PE threads and see why...
 
@FPX Dude and @ericm979 Thank you for the feedback on the stoves. I agree wholeheartedly, but the better half wants a fireplace. I worked it to a heating fireplace vs just a decorative. If it were my choice alone, I would do a big stove in the basement and let the heat rise.
 
Any chance you have links for the kit? I have 5'6" total, I figure I will lose 7" at least to framing. That should give me about 8" on each side of the unit. I will work with the stores to figure that out, thanks!
Here is the link to the fan + t-stat:


Duct take off for connecting to the top of the unit:

https://www.menards.com/main/heatin...44432222414-c-14260.htm?missingVariation=true

Per some other threads on the FP30, I skipped the back draft damper; but it would be easy to find one. I haven't gotten mine installed yet, so I'm not sure if the fan kit came with t-stat wiring or not and other little misc. parts like that. Regretfully, I purchased the MFG kit for one remote duct, and used the AC Infinity for the other. At the time I was needing to order my stove I didn't realize how much money I would've saved. As most FP30 threads note, the MFG fan will go out in a year or two and I'll have to replace it with one of the AC Infinities.

I think I ended up with about the exact same overall width on my framing but it was very tight. The double 90's could be angled a little to the back/front to tighten the vertical leg up to the side of the stove. I ran mine out straight east/west and my vertical leg ended up partially in the wall cavity which was OK in my situation.
 
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Got it, oh and one of my reasons for FPX was the ability to remotely locate the blower. Listening to a squirrel cage would drive me nuts.
 
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Got it, oh and one of my reasons for FPX was the ability to remotely locate the blower. Listening to a squirrel cage would drive me nuts.
Super cool feature. Is that only available on the FPX cat models or is available on some of the non-cat models by other manufacturers?
 
@bcar did you need to install 2 fire stops per duct? One in the floor and one at the bottom of the truss/joist? Thanks! I’m going to duct mine this week.
 
Here is the link to the fan + t-stat:


Duct take off for connecting to the top of the unit:

https://www.menards.com/main/heatin...44432222414-c-14260.htm?missingVariation=true

Per some other threads on the FP30, I skipped the back draft damper; but it would be easy to find one. I haven't gotten mine installed yet, so I'm not sure if the fan kit came with t-stat wiring or not and other little misc. parts like that. Regretfully, I purchased the MFG kit for one remote duct, and used the AC Infinity for the other. At the time I was needing to order my stove I didn't realize how much money I would've saved. As most FP30 threads note, the MFG fan will go out in a year or two and I'll have to replace it with one of the AC Infinities.

I think I ended up with about the exact same overall width on my framing but it was very tight. The double 90's could be angled a little to the back/front to tighten the vertical leg up to the side of the stove. I ran mine out straight east/west and my vertical leg ended up partially in the wall cavity which was OK in my situation.
Did you use duct sealant on the takeoff collar? Also, did you tape or otherwise seal the collar to the first b vent? Or how did you make that adjustment? I’m installing very soon. Thanks!
 
Did you use duct sealant on the takeoff collar? Also, did you tape or otherwise seal the collar to the first b vent? Or how did you make that adjustment? I’m installing very soon. Thanks!
My basement is not finished so I just did one fire stop at the actual floor level. I couldn't comment on any different requirements for if basement ceiling is finished out.

I got foil duct tape rated for high temps from menards to tape some of the B-Vent joints, definitely not required, but with how many adjustable elbows I had in there I just wanted to help hold everything together.

I don't think I sealed the takeoff collar to top of stove (if it draws some air in here that's not too much of an issue). Take off collar to first piece of B vent was a pretty snug fit if I recall, but I did foil tape here.
 
My basement is not finished so I just did one fire stop at the actual floor level. I couldn't comment on any different requirements for if basement ceiling is finished out.

I got foil duct tape rated for high temps from menards to tape some of the B-Vent joints, definitely not required, but with how many adjustable elbows I had in there I just wanted to help hold everything together.

I don't think I sealed the takeoff collar to top of stove (if it draws some air in here that's not too much of an issue). Take off collar to first piece of B vent was a pretty snug fit if I recall, but I did foil tape here.
Thank you! Did you do a non-combustible mantle? I’m considering a regular mantle, as the height requirement isn’t too bad. Not sure how hot the underside gets. Thanks!

Picture for progress

ZC - New build - 2300 sq ft ranch (1.5 story with just bonus area/play room up top)