Wood stove instead of a fireplace?

mrspeteDecember 16, 2013

We all know that wood burning fireplaces are terribly inefficient and actually suck heat out of your house. So I'm considering a wood stove instead. I've seen some attractive pictures of wood stoves in front of stone walls or even set into fireplaces. I like that look, especially the stoves with one big glass door instead of two small ones, and the price is good compared to a masonry fireplace . . . But I have a couple concerns:

- Does a wood stove look weird in summer? I mean, you can fill a "real fireplace" with beautiful flowers or candles in summer. What can you do with a wood stove, which is clearly out of season?

- Without a mantel, what can you do with it at Christmas? Stockings and mistletoe, after all, are a part of why I want a fireplace.

- What other concerns am I not considering?

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Have you looked into wood stove fireplace inserts? From what I understand, they are efficient like (or approaching) wood stoves, but fit into a fire place, which would allow you to have your mantel for stockings (I agree- totally important!).

We have both a traditional fireplace and a wood stove in our house - fireplace in the living room, wood stove in the family room. We use the wood stove almost every day in the winter, but have never used the fireplace. In the summer, I don't try to decorate or dress up the wood stove area. I just leave it alone and enjoy the break from the ashes! I really love having a wood stove, but ours isn't particularly beautiful, and when its in use it can get a bit messy (bits of ash, an errant twig, sooty fireplace gloves), so I'm glad it isn't a focal point in our house.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 9:19PM
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Yes, I want something like that too! The research I've done tells me my best bet for an efficient wood burning fireplace (don't want a freestanding wood stove) is to get a 'prefab high efficiency wood burning fireplace' also known as an EPA fireplace. These cost a lot less than a full masonry fireplace (around 10K here in New England), but provide the ambience of burning wood, with a lot of heat production.

For the façade, you can do any type of mantel you want- just like a gas or masonry fireplace. Wood trim, stone, brick, whatever.

Here's one I like:

Here is a link that might be useful: Lennox Ladera

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 10:47PM
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I love our woodstove. We have a Progress Hybrid from Woodstock Soapstone company. I think it's beautiful, it's providing almost all the heat our house needs, and it's very clean burning, unlike a lot of stoves on the market.

My answers to your concerns:

1) I don't think a woodstove looks stranger in the summer than a fireplace. If you wanted to dress it up, you could put a floral arrangement or something on the top.

2) It is true that you can't make a woodstove part of your holiday decorating if you are also burning in it. I grew up with a woodstove, and we have always been unconventional with our stocking placement. This year I think we're going to hang the stockings on the wall near the Christmas tree. When we had a fireplace, we had to remember not to use it on Christmas so we wouldn't melt the chocolate in the stockings. It is what it is.

Given your wants, an insert might be a better bet. How often do you expect you would use your woodstove or fireplace?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 12:12AM
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What about getting the fireplace unit with a glass door and a blower? This is our 1st winter with ours and it looks amazing and heats up things wonderfully. I believe ours was around $7k and we will definitely make up the savings very quickly.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 6:02AM
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Which one do you have?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 7:44AM
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I don't even know if this is even safe, but I love this picture... From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

Our plan is to replace the fireplace in the living room with an insert...partly for heat and partly to keep the cats from trying to climb into the chimney. Yes, we have those kind of cats :)

In the sunroom, we'd like to use a smaller wood stove. Something to heat a tea kettle and use for backup if the power goes out. I've seen some cute wood stoves with plants on them in the summer, but I wouldn't want anything too close when it was actually being used.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 12:38PM
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Installing a wood stove in our new house was a no brainer for us. I think itâÂÂs kind of dumb to install an open fireplace in a new home that canâÂÂt heat your house.

We went with a built in wood stove. The model we chose was the Brentwood by Lennox. This unit seems simlar to what you are looking for. HereâÂÂs a link to see it.

The total cost of the unit/ vent pipe/installation was $3900. I think we spent about another $1,000 on the rockwork and the mantel. I think it looks great and it has no problem heating our house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brentwood

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 5:37PM
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Don't have either, but would go for the efficiency of creating heat over looks. Both can create a mess of ashes. If a stocking once a year is the biggest concern, then you have no other choice.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 5:58PM
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Thank you for the link and pricing. That really helps- I agree, its a no brainer for me. I love my fireplace in my current house, and I do use it a lot. But I know that its inefficient for the amount of wood I put in. Also, we occasionally have a little smoke seep out, which would drive me CRAZY if the house were brand new. But I really have to have an actual fireplace (for aesthetics), its important to me. SO the insert (prefab high efficiency fireplace) is a perfect solution- half the cost of a masonry fireplace with double the heat production.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 6:22PM
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Lavender Lass, that looks really sweet, but you're right, it probably isn't safe. Plus, it wouldn't look like that for long. I had some greenery near our woodstove last year, and it got dried and brown almost immediately due to the heat.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 6:41PM
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We have a Heatilator Constitution WB fireplace and it is VERY efficient and with the blower on it will keep the majority of our 2400 sf on the main level very comfortable. We are 100% happy with it and our home is new this year and the might be a little woodsmoke smell when you open the doors but otherwise no smoke odor at all.
Our cost was right at $5,000.00 installed,

Here is a link that might be useful: Heatilator

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 6:51PM
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We have a small woodstove in our living room, black, two doors, each with a window. It stands on a slate tile area, with grey field stone on the wall behind it, ceiling to floor. The mason arranged for a few small stones to jut out a bit, so we can hang stuff on the stone wall. It looks fine, and the stove does heat the house well enough and is easy to take care of. When we're not using it, we generally keep something decorative on it -- a colorful kettle, fresh flowers, etc.

But honestly? we only make a fire a few times a year, so I'd prefer to have a traditional fireplace in that room, just for the looks.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We love our woodstove and it's a no brainer over a fireplace from an efficiency point of view. It heats our house much of the winter. We have a mantel on the stone wall surround that we made out of a salvaged beam from our old house. I don't find it weird looking at all out of season. I could put a decoration on top, but I don't as I like the look of the stove. We bought a Jotul.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:42AM
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Something like that Heatilator Constitution model is what I'd love in our new home, but for my wife there is still too much metal showing. Anyone know of a similar unit that still has an integrated blower but with perhaps a bigger firebox and less visible metal?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 7:59PM
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Here's a couple of other sources (there are many):



Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 10:29AM
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This one has a nice big viewing area and integrated blower. What I was told at the showroom is that it must be set into a masonry fireplace, so it is an expensive option. I think a true fireplace will be important for resale so this is probably what we will go with.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 8:37AM
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Annie- That's a nice stove! I'm looking for a smaller version, kind of in between yours and the little one I posted. Just enough to heat up an area of the house, not the entire home :)

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Lavender - you need to look at the morso squirrel (there are several models with the squirrel I think) It's small and adorable! It's the one I want!

This post was edited by olivesmom on Fri, Dec 20, 13 at 13:48

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 1:44PM
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Cute! Thanks for the picture :)

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 8:42PM
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Yes, the one you linked to from Vermont Castings is an insert for a masonry fireplace, but Vermont castings also has 2 "inserts" that are an actual fireplace with insert- no masonry necessary. Its like buying a prefab gas fireplace- but its wood burning.

The guy at the fireplace store apparently isn't very informed on all the choices for wood burning. I too went to a fireplace store and got a strong push/encouragement to gas fireplaces or freestanding wood stoves- once they found out I was building a new house. I kept insisting on looking at wood burning fireplace options, and he kept telling my about how much work it is (even after I said we burn wood a lot).

Here is a link that might be useful: Vermont Castings Effecient Prefab Fireplace

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 10:35PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

To me, it's so much more efficient to have the fire in the room....all the blowers will help make a fireplace more efficient, but when you have the radiant heat coming off of 4 sides of the stove as well as the top, you are keeping more of the heat in the room than you can with any kind of fireplace insert.

We set up our hvac system to operate with just a fan that circulates the air from the woodstove to the rest of the house.

We have a gas fireplace in the library which is nice, clean, convenient and has a blower to circulate the heat, but it's not the same.

Jotul (pronounced YO-tl) also makes one the size of the squirrel above and they have a more modern looking one as well. We also considered Vermont Castings which makes good stoves. I think it came down to style and color as the final deciding factor.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Oh, just when I thought I wanted a wood stove...I find this cute pretty picture in Romantic Country magazine. Maybe an Aga for my tea kettle, instead...if I win the lottery :) From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 11:05PM
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Thanks, folks, for all the thoughts. So many ideas! Annie's nice stove in front of a wall of stone is closest to what I've had in my mind, and that's similar to the type of stove I was considering. I do need to investigate blowers, etc. so I can be well-informed on my options.

The squirrel stove is cute, but I don't think it'd be "enough" for the open-floor plan we're considering. If I wanted something for just one room, I'd say it's perfect.

Lovely picture there at the end with the white-washed fireplace, etc. The whole picture just comes together so nicely. It occurs to me, though, that if you want "the look" but aren't particularly concerned with an actual fire, you could build this as a "dummy fireplace" and just use candles year-round, as the picture shows. I wouldn't do this for the main room, but I would do it in, say, a sunroom or breakfast room.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 8:51AM
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We're now fIve days without heat or electricty in temps down into the single digits Farenheit. Wood stove for me!

(We moved into a home I ha ve for sale after three days roughing it. Now the hot water has failed here. One of those days.)

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Mrs Pete, my son and d-i-l live in western Michigan in a 100 yr old farmhouse. They put in a Vermont Castings stove at the base of the stairs, on a slate platform with slate going up the wall - similar but different to what Annie did, and not only does it look really nice but it heats their whole home. They've done a really good job of teaching my 13 mo old granddaughter the concept of "hot" so she doesn't go near it.
I love those enameled stoves. Good luck deciding what you are going to do.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 6:41PM
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We're now fIve days without heat or electricty in temps down into the single digits Farenheit. Wood stove for me!

(We moved into a home I ha ve for sale after three days roughing it. Now the hot water has failed here. One of those days.)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 12:27AM
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Worthy, You have my sympathy!

We once had an awful 7 days without heat or electricity (following an ice storm), but we weren't quite in the single digits. Still, it was a horrible time.

ML Weaving, I am definitely leaning towards the enameled stoves.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 3:59PM
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