Zero Clearance Fireplace vs Wood Stove in Alcove - New Construction

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klitscher

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
10
West TN
Hello,

Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide. We are building a home addition and want to have a wood burning supplemental heat option and just can't land the plane on what we want. We'd love to take advantage of the tax credit, but that leaves us with only the Astria Montecito Estate as a ZC fireplace. It's expensive (quoted $13,246 delivered w/ chimney, without install) and might be too big for the room, aesthetically. Our design has the fireplace/wood stove centered on the wall between a set of doors and windows (See below). Given the doors and windows, we'd like to keep our TV above the mantel in the 8' high room. We're also considering the Pacific Energy FP30 Arch (quoted about $9500 delivered w/chimney, not installed), but that doesn't qualify for the tax credit. From what I have read, the Montecito Estate requires the mantel to be no lower than 56" above the base, and the FP30 is 51-55" from base, depending on how deep the mantel is. 55-56" is about as high as we'd like to go for a mantel to be able to have room above for the size TV we'd like.

So, we're also looking at potential wood stoves and had the following questions:
1. Can a wood stove alcove be built to protrude out an exterior wall, allowing us to keep floor space in the room and have the stove pipe go up a chimney soffit on the exterior wall? Basically have the stove set back in the exterior wall and have the stove pipe behind the wall.
2. I haven't been able to find much information on the minimum height above a wood stove a mantel can be placed. I'm assuming this differs based on the stove, but when I've read some Lopi and Hearthstone manuals, it has been unclear. In the second screen shot, there is a measurement in a Blaze King manual for "J" - is that the height of a combustible mantle? Ceiling? Either? Is that somewhat standard (Blaze King had this at 37")?

We're trying to find the balance of cost, function, and keeping that TV above the fire and would appreciate any input from the experts here. IS there anything else we're not thinking of? We've looked at other options to move the stove, but it puts the chimney/pipe in a weird location outside as well. Thank you!

Screenshot 2022-02-04 141248.png Screenshot 2022-02-04 142345.png
 

wagne223

Member
Jul 10, 2019
57
North Florida
If you want heat, a freestanding stove in the room (not tucked in an alcove) is what you want. There is no comparison.
Just have to design the hearth a little different.

I grew up with fireplaces in brick hearths like you show so going to a freestanding stove felt a little weird. But after bricking the wall, and building a tile hearth for the stove, I really liked the look.
Plus the heat and operation of a stove is far superior.

Personally, I would put the stove in room where you show the fireplace, and run the flue straight through the ceiling.

In either case, putting a TV above your heater could drastically reduce the life of the TV.
 

jalmondale

Member
Dec 16, 2021
140
NY
For my stove, the clearance to a mantle is 30" without a heat shield, but only 12" with a heat shield, so I think it's safe to say it varies between stoves, but 37" will work for at least two models =P. I believe you can install in an alcove, but that can change the clearances because the heat will tend to collect in such a small space - you'd want to check with the manufacturer about an alcove install if it's not in the manual (example of alcove specifications: https://www.manualsdir.com/manuals/162808/lopi-liberty-wood-stove.html?page=12). At least for that manual, the alcove (if made of non-combustible material as defined on that page) could be as low as 6" above the top of the stove (so potentially under 40"). You'd also likely want a fan/blower for that setup to get the heat out of the alcove. I would guess that a freestanding stove will be cheaper than a zero-clearance install as well.
 

klitscher

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
10
West TN
For my stove, the clearance to a mantle is 30" without a heat shield, but only 12" with a heat shield, so I think it's safe to say it varies between stoves, but 37" will work for at least two models =P. I believe you can install in an alcove, but that can change the clearances because the heat will tend to collect in such a small space - you'd want to check with the manufacturer about an alcove install if it's not in the manual (example of alcove specifications: https://www.manualsdir.com/manuals/162808/lopi-liberty-wood-stove.html?page=12). At least for that manual, the alcove (if made of non-combustible material as defined on that page) could be as low as 6" above the top of the stove (so potentially under 40"). You'd also likely want a fan/blower for that setup to get the heat out of the alcove. I would guess that a freestanding stove will be cheaper than a zero-clearance install as well.

Thank you - forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean by a heatshield and where would I find that information in a manual? For instance, when I search the Lopi Liberty manual PDF(https://www.travisindustries.com/docs/100-01511.pdf), I find no mention of "heat shield" and the only mention of a mantle (figure 10), is in regards to a masonry chimney. Do I need to contact the manufacturer directly?

Thanks again for your help - which stove do you have? Do you have a mantel above it?
 

jalmondale

Member
Dec 16, 2021
140
NY
Thank you - forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean by a heatshield and where would I find that information in a manual? For instance, when I search the Lopi Liberty manual PDF(https://www.travisindustries.com/docs/100-01511.pdf), I find no mention of "heat shield" and the only mention of a mantle (figure 10), is in regards to a masonry chimney. Do I need to contact the manufacturer directly?

Thanks again for your help - which stove do you have? Do you have a mantel above it?
I have a Woodstock Fireview - it sits out a bit in front of an existing fireplace, so the mantel isn't actually directly above it. I still used the specified clearance to the mantle (even though I could probably have called it a combustible wall) just to be safe, though, and it's probably too high to install a TV over. My owner's manual specifically calls out a heat shield, but it looks like that Lopi manual is a bit more vague - NFPA 211 is the standard for constructing a heat shield, and it looks like they call them 'wall shields' and 'pipe shields', and then specify the clearances as 'reduced clearances' (I would double-check with them if you were actually going to do a Lopi install, though, to make sure I'm reading that correctly). A heat shield is basically a vented non-combustible surface that shields the thing behind it from heat - you need an (IIRC) 1" air gap behind the shield, with 1" venting at the bottom and top to allow air movement. You'll usually see details about it in the section talking about clearances, since it's a way to reduce the required clearances. Sometimes you can get them as a stove accessory along with the stove (for instance, mine has a rear heat shield), so that the shield is unobtrusive and perfectly fits that model, but that probably wouldn't make sense for the top of the stove, so you'd install the shield near the mantle instead.

I wouldn't put the wood stove out in the room if you're going to put a TV over it - high heat is no good for electronics. Another option, depending on how much you use the TV, might be to put in a projector instead - they aren't that expensive, and you can get a remote-controlled screen that drops down when you want to watch something, with all the electronics safely mounted to the ceiling on the other side of the room.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,342
South Puget Sound, WA
If planning for an alcove, all clearances become important because it is an enclosed space with a hot fire centered in it. The alcove ceiling can get particularly hot so many stoved require an alcove ceiling height of 84". The Ashford is a bit lower at 33" + 37" or 70". Still, putting a TV at a say 78 or 80" height above the alcove opening is going to be a source of a lot of neck pain unless watched standing up. Does the room have very high ceilings?
 

klitscher

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
10
West TN
If planning for an alcove, all clearances become important because it is an enclosed space with a hot fire centered in it. The alcove ceiling can get particularly hot so many stoved require an alcove ceiling height of 84". The Ashford is a bit lower at 33" + 37" or 70". Still, putting a TV at a say 78 or 80" height above the alcove opening is going to be a source of a lot of neck pain unless watched standing up. Does the room have very high ceilings?
Thanks for the info. Is it possible/code to install a ducted fan in the top of the alcove to pull heat to a different location? Or to enclose part of the front of the alcove with non-combustible materials and then duct the heat away?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,342
South Puget Sound, WA
No, that is against mechnical code. Any return has to be at least 10 ft away from the stove.

If the entire alcove was built out of only non-combustible materials, including the studs, then it would be possible to gravity vent out the top of the alcove. However, the face of the alcove would get pretty warm which isn't a good condition for tv electronics.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,541
SE North Carolina
Cost of the exterior alcove should be considered. Will it overhang foundation? If you build the alcove to specs of the stove what happens if you want to upgrade? New stove could have different clearances. Sure you could do it. I would look into a corner install and skip the zero clearance all together.