ZC replacement install: VC Encore or Ashford 30.2?

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New Member
Nov 13, 2023
We have taken our our gas stove out to install a wood stove in the opening of our fireplace. These pictures are our work in progress. Those studs in the very front will be removed, they were just for the gas stove insert, so it will be more open. We will be building/leveling the base. Then we will be putting concrete board in and installing tin tiles. The manufacturers and the stove manufacturer said tin tiles were a good option for wood stoves.

We have to decide on a Ashford 30.2 or the VC Encore. If we go with VC we need to make the top opening a little higher (up to the blue tape mark). We live in TN near AL. This will not be our primary heat source; however, we do get a lot of power outages in the winter. We are heating about 3,000 soft. I would love to have the option to cook on it (at least stew or something on top).

We would love and appreciate any expertise you have. Thank you so much!!

PS. I could not for the life of me get the jpegs to attach. Even if I reduced quality below 1mg it said they were too big.

View attachment fireplace1.jpeg.pdf View attachment Fireplace2.jpeg.pdf
Welcome. This is a bit more complicated than it looks because it is an alcove installation. This type of installation has very specific clearance requirements. I think that might eliminate the VC. The BK Ashford might work if the clearance requirements are met. Pay attention to the clearance on to ceiling, regardless of the stove choice. Many require 84". For cooking the BK Ashford top is removable but it is quite heavy. This may take planning in advance because it's probably not something one wants to do while it's hot. It will also place to stow while cooking. There are other stoves that might work better if cooking is a higher priority.
Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate it. We have the clearance for both according to alcove clearance requirements.

What other stove would you recommend? I think I’m leaning towards the Encore, but I’d love experienced people’s opinions. We are brand new.

Thank you again!
The Encore is a pretty stove but it is also the most complex and maintenance intensive over time. It can be a challenge to run well without the cat installed. I'm not sure who is recommending the stove but I just checked the manual and it clearly states -
NOTE: Installation of the Encore® is not permitted in alcoves.

If this is the first stove I would go for something simpler. The Jotul F45 or F55, or the Pacific Energy T5 or T6 are cast iron jacketed stove alternatives.
I will second what begreen said. Even if it was allowed in an alcove I would skip the VC
The VC cast iron stoves attract many buyers because they are beautiful looking stoves, but as many many here will attest to look far far down the road past the looks of the stove.
1- Operation and control is not the easiest.
2- A few years later there is UNENDING maintenance and servicing required on VC products. It is easy to find such comments and testimonials from past VC owners on this site.