Zero Clearance Fireplace Recommendation for New Construction

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klitscher

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
10
West TN
Thanks in advance for any advice you can give. I want to be sure I'm thinking things through correctly before purchasing a ZC insert fireplace.

We are putting an addition onto our home in West Tennessee and want to have a traditional fireplace look in the new living room. Therefore, want to go with a wood burning fireplace rather than wood stove, and don't have or want to build a masonry chimney so need a ZC insert fireplace correct? We would use this as supplemental heat in the winter in a ~1500 sqft open floor plan area (living, dining, and kitchen).

I believe the only ZC insert fireplace that is certified for the 26% tax credit is the Astria Montecito Estate (or the corresponding Superior WCT6940WS). That runs around $7100-7800 purchase price, plus installation costs. The 26% credit would apply to the cost of the fireplace, chimney/installation materials, and installation labor.

If we go with a ZC insert fireplace that does not meet the 75% HHV emissions standard, we would not get the credit on any of it. Therefore, if we went something like the Osborn Stratford II for $3999, we would save about $1775 on the unit ($7800-26%=$5772). This means that installation materials and costs would need to be more than $6827 for the Montecito Estate to be the cheaper buy on the front end (26% of $6827 is $1775).

I think my math works out here if I understand what is refunded with the tax credit. My questions are:

1. Do installation materials and labor costs in the first floor of a two story building typically reach close to or above $6800? (I know this is all dependent on the installer, but I'm just looking at ballpark estimates here. My local fireplace company doesn't carry the Montecito Estate so I would need to order it and have it delivered.)
2. If not, do you have other recommendations for quality ZC inserts fireplaces at a lower price point? I've looked at the Osborn Stratford II and Pacific Energy FP30. Are there other ZC inserts fireplaces that qualify for the tax credit that I haven't discovered?
3. Is there anything else I am not considering?

Thanks again for your help.
 
Last edited:

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
94,485
South Puget Sound, WA
It is safer to call this a ZC fireplace. An insert usually goes into a fireplace while a ZC unit is standalone and complete. Your math is correct and something folks need to factor in. Installation costs are going to vary widely with the local cost of labor, the details of the installation, and finishing costs. It's not unrealistic to budget $6000 for the installation, but given this is new construction, a competent contractor that can follow directions can do it for less, depending on the final finshing.

One thing to note in fireplace design is the firebox. My bias is toward more square and deeper fireboxes like the FP30 because one can load the firebox either N/S or E/W. The Stratford is an E/W loader. A N/S firebox that is 18" deep can hold a larger load of wood without concern of it rolling against the glass. Another factor is baffle design. Consider how the fireplace flue will be cleaned and the durability of the baffle system. However, you may not need the output of the FP30.

As noted, the only ZC fireplace that qualifies for the tax credit so far is the big Astria Montecito Estate. That could overheat the place if it is modern well-insulated construction. Even the FP30 is a bit oversized, but it runs ok with a partial load of wood. I would also look at 2-2.5 cu ft fireboxes. PE makes smaller fireplaces in this range, RSF makes good quality units too and the Astria Montecito is a 2 cu ft unit that has been around for a long time.
 

klitscher

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
10
West TN
It is safer to call this a ZC fireplace. An insert usually goes into a fireplace while a ZC unit is standalone and complete. Your math is correct and something folks need to factor in. Installation costs are going to vary widely with the local cost of labor, the details of the installation, and finishing costs. It's not unrealistic to budget $6000 for the installation, but given this is new construction, a competent contractor that can follow directions can do it for less, depending on the final finshing.

One thing to note in fireplace design is the firebox. My bias is toward more square and deeper fireboxes like the FP30 because one can load the firebox either N/S or E/W. The Stratford is an E/W loader. A N/S firebox that is 18" deep can hold a larger load of wood without concern of it rolling against the glass. Another factor is baffle design. Consider how the fireplace flue will be cleaned and the durability of the baffle system. However, you may not need the output of the FP30.

As noted, the only ZC fireplace that qualifies for the tax credit so far is the big Astria Montecito Estate. That could overheat the place if it is modern well-insulated construction. Even the FP30 is a bit oversized, but it runs ok with a partial load of wood. I would also look at 2-2.5 cu ft fireboxes. PE makes smaller fireplaces in this range, RSF makes good quality units too and the Astria Montecito is a 2 cu ft unit that has been around for a long time.
Thanks for your help. I've edited the title to reflect the appropriate term of ZC Fireplace instead of insert.

I was just reading a thread about loading E/W vs N/S. It seems function is better for N/S to keep logs from rolling, but you get the wider panoramic view with E/W?

So many things to think about. I'm checking with our tax accountant to see what can all be included in the tax credit, but did stop by the the local wood stove/fireplace store to ask some questions over lunch. She said install would be $900, plus about $1200-1500 for pipe/chimney materials, which seemed like a pretty good deal. Can the surround/hearth/masonry be included in the tax credit as well?

We do have two bedrooms directly above the room with the fireplace and a master on the same floor; the FP30's heat distribution system is intriguing to funnel heat to those rooms, which could also keep us from cooking ourselves with the output of that fireplace. I think the Montecito Estate has something similar as well. Thanks again.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
94,485
South Puget Sound, WA
Visually the Estate is a large fireplace for 1500 sq ft in TN. It takes 7" chimney which is more expensive so factor that in too. That said, it is a catalytic fireplace that can run on low, though that may be with a blackened glass.
 

klitscher

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
10
West TN
Thanks - our house total (2 stories) will be about 4,200 sqft, but the main open area will be about 1500. The first floor master will be about 500, but furthest away from the fireplace. That's a helpful reminder about the 7" chimney being more expensive.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
94,485
South Puget Sound, WA
Thanks - our house total (2 stories) will be about 4,200 sqft, but the main open area will be about 1500. The first floor master will be about 500, but furthest away from the fireplace. That's a helpful reminder about the 7" chimney being more expensive.
OK, there's a big difference between a 1500 sq ft house and a 1500 sq ft area. The Monty Estate should be a nice fit.
 
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LJVP

New Member
Dec 18, 2021
6
Michigan
BBF85B92-0FD7-405E-8D3B-11CC8BB185AF.jpeg

It is safer to call this a ZC fireplace. An insert usually goes into a fireplace while a ZC unit is standalone and complete. Your math is correct and something folks need to factor in. Installation costs are going to vary widely with the local cost of labor, the details of the installation, and finishing costs. It's not unrealistic to budget $6000 for the installation, but given this is new construction, a competent contractor that can follow directions can do it for less, depending on the final finshing.

One thing to note in fireplace design is the firebox. My bias is toward more square and deeper fireboxes like the FP30 because one can load the firebox either N/S or E/W. The Stratford is an E/W loader. A N/S firebox that is 18" deep can hold a larger load of wood without concern of it rolling against the glass. Another factor is baffle design. Consider how the fireplace flue will be cleaned and the durability of the baffle system. However, you may not need the output of the FP30.

As noted, the only ZC fireplace that qualifies for the tax credit so far is the big Astria Montecito Estate. That could overheat the place if it is modern well-insulated construction. Even the FP30 is a bit oversized, but it runs ok with a partial load of wood. I would also look at 2-2.5 cu ft fireboxes. PE makes smaller fireplaces in this range, RSF makes good quality units too and the Astria Montecito is a 2 cu ft unit that has been around for a long time.
Thanks for sharing all this info!! I’m also trying to determine what zero clearance fireplace to install so this thread is helpful to read. I’m a bit confused though, I thought to be eligible for the tax credit, the HHV needed to be at least 75%. Where do you find that info for the Astria Montecito Estate? I’m only seeing ‘thermal efficiency’ as 70%. (I attached a screenshot of what I was able to find.) I’m guessing the ‘thermal efficiency’ term is a generic term. How do I find the HHV? Or perhaps my understanding of the tax credit is wrong?
 

LJVP

New Member
Dec 18, 2021
6
Michigan
Thanks for sharing all this info!! I’m also trying to determine what zero clearance fireplace to install so this thread is helpful to read. I’m a bit confused though, I thought to be eligible for the tax credit, the HHV needed to be at least 75%. Where do you find that info for the Astria Montecito Estate? I’m only seeing ‘thermal efficiency’ as 70%. (I attached a screenshot of what I was able to find.) I’m guessing the ‘thermal efficiency’ term is a generic term. How do I find the HHV? Or perhaps my understanding of the tax credit is wrong?
Using your info from another thread, I think I found what you had looked at. Again, thanks for sharing all your expertise!

2F3C66B9-25A3-4EA4-B30B-208DD062B0C3.jpeg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
94,485
South Puget Sound, WA
HHV is what is important. It's listed on the EPA website's spreadsheet as 79%.

 
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LJVP

New Member
Dec 18, 2021
6
Michigan
HHV is what is important. It's listed on the EPA website's spreadsheet as 79%.

Thank you!!