Isokern fireplace units: anyone have experience with these?

azdreamhomeMay 7, 2005

We are building a home in the Phoenix, AZ area. I went to a design showcase house and they had installed two of these gas fireplace units. It was the first time that I actually LIKED a gas fireplace. It truly had the look/feel of a traditional log burning fireplace.

Therefore, I'd like to consider these for our new home but was wondering if anyone has personal experience with them?


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There is a dealer who carries a similar brand who is local in Phoenix. Contact Arizona Fireplaces and look at their Contempo brand.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 1:19AM
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I think we had better meet. Great minds think alike. I have 2 isokerns installed. So come see my Lacanche and my Isokerns in Portola Valley.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 2:20AM
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Cool! Are you happy with them? I saw two of them installed at a design showcase house my friend/interior designer did. They were the best-looking gas fireplaces I've seen to date. You know, they looked the most real. I've never been a fan of gas fireplaces that have glass front doors and I really like that the Isokerns are open.

I spoke to a salesperson at Isokern today and should hopefully be getting a quote by fax later today.

I would love to see you fireplaces as well. Thanks Amy!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 5:52PM
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Macey -- thanks for the info on Arizona Fireplaces. I will check this out also.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 5:53PM
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We are very pleased with them. NO problems what so ever. They are masonry, technically speaking, and are a 3rd the cost of a traditionally constructed masonry fireplace.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 11:27PM
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We had two of them installed three years ago and we love them. The nice thing about them is that because they use lightweight volcanic rock they don't require the heavy foundations that traditional masonry fireplaces need. I was told that they can even be installed on the second floor (although we didn't do that). They aren't cheap, however.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 4:52PM
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I'm so glad to hear that both of you have had great experiences with Isokern. We received our quote and will definitely (especially now that I hear you really like them) be putting one large one in our great room and a smaller one in our master bedroom. Debating on whether we should put one in the courtyard or not (worth the cost)?

New questions:

What type of starter did you put in? Manual, pilot light always lit (can't remember the name of this) or electronic ignition with remote control)? DH and I are thinking manual for the great room and electronic with remote for the master bedroom. Is electronic worth it?

Also, how has maintenance been on them? Any servicing needed? How about keeping them clean? Is this an issue?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 6:43PM
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Glad to hear of the good reviews. We are planning to put a 42" wide isokern in our family room. Anyone have photos of their isokerns to check out? Bosche, your Lachance is FANTASTIC! Got any shots of the mantle over the isokern?? Would like to see how y'all treated your fireplaces with mantles, tile, chases and benches.

AZdreamhome, how would you be triming yours out? Not sure how we will trim ours out. Looking for ideas. And what did your isokern quote in AZ run you? We are in SoCal and got a quote for ~$9000 installed (including one bend in the flue). A lot of money for a fireplace compaired to gas-insert. But like you said, 3X LESS than traditional masonary. We have the potential to put one in the MB too but have to wait to see how the $$$ works out.

Keep us posted on your progress.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 1:47AM
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shonikman -- I don't know where you are getting a bid from but that price seems really high. Send me an email and I'll let you know what we were quoted.

Here is the Isokern AZ site which has some photos. We are probably going with a carved cantera stone mantel with raised hearth (or cast stone). I'm still in the beginning stages of my research on this. We have 16' ceilings in our great room but I don't think I want an overmantel.

Check out the photos in the "online showroom" section for ideas. Plus if you Google "cantera fireplaces" "cast stone fireplaces" "limestone fireplaces" etc. you will see lots of companies online with their own photos.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 1:04PM
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The mantles are exactly the same in material and style as over the Lacanche-cast stone.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 10:42PM
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I built a mantel and overmantel on our living room Isokern (13' ceiling). The other one is in the kitchen. I have pictures but don't know how to post them. If you can tell me how to do it, I would be glad to. Otherwise, you can send me an e-mail and I'll e-mail pictures back to you.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 8:28PM
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ventupete -- I rec'd your photos and your fireplace is gorgeous! Thank you for taking the time to send them to me. I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 10:44PM
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Does anyone have the vent-free tpye of isokern? How does its cost compare to the $9k system? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 6:27PM
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It's nice to hear everyone is happy with thier Isokern. We just bought one & will be here next week...I'm going to install it myself. We paid a little over $3,000 delivered...can't wait to start....

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 3:55PM
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We have a two sided Isokern in Texas and love it/them. Moved in last October and it really works well and throws out lots of heat. We have 12 foot ceilings in the areas of the fireplaces (a living area and a kitchen/dining area) One side is limestone (called Rattlesnake) and the other is "cultured" stone with a cast concrete mantle.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 7:16PM
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"The nice thing about them is that because they use lightweight volcanic rock they don't require the heavy foundations that traditional masonry fireplaces need."
I just recieved mine & it weighed almost 4 thousand pounds. So I really think you do need a cement foundation for one. They even say that in the directions.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:57PM
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We are building a new home in bitterly cold snow belt of NE Ohio and are therefore planning for three fireplaces, if we can afford to do so. We'd like two of those to be large (great room and lanai outside), has anyone done their Magnum series? We prefer wood-burning, am I correct to assume they are OK for this as well, and that the quality is comparable or at least acceptable vs. a masonry fireplace? It looks as if these would be a great option for saving some $$$ ... if anyone has experience with this product and doesn't mind sharing some cost info privately, I'd love to get an idea of the savings vs. standard masonry fireplace via e-mail.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 10:36AM
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I looked at Isokern and Firerock and went with Firerock. They are very similar but in the end, I liked the Firerock the best. Isokern says they have the only true finished sizes of 36", 42" and 48"-the Magnum series. When I was in the decision making process, the Magnum series had just been introduced but Firerock already had a full 36/42/48 in their standard model. Actually, the finished width of the Magnum 48 IsoKern is 45 3/4 per their website and my measurements of a finished one. The 48 Firerock is... 48" finished. The height of the Isokern is 36 while the Firerock is 38" (with the 8" extension accessory) and the Firerock has the more traditional rake in the back (not straight). Firerock also makes a Rumford style firebox as well (straight back). The compressive strength of the Firerock components is 2000 psi compared to 972 for the Isokern but the Firerock unit is considerably heavier I think. Firerock also offers a number of different venting options which may be an advantage for you. Firerock is built in the US and the Isokern is imported from Denmark.

Of course, if you are going with gas logs, a lot of this may not be an issue for you as both are good units. Anyway, I am a full log burner... big hefty oak and hickory logs 24" in length (but 24 to 36" in the Firerock)so the heavier Firerock appealed to me. The 48 inch Firerock basic unit is now installed in our NH and is quite massive. Before chimney blocks, its over 8 feet tall (to the top of the throat).

We are looking forward to some pretty hefty fires next winter! We love a fireplace and since this last cold snap, we have burned a fire every night for the last 2-3 weeks and all day today (and we live in the south!).

Check it out and good luck!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 7:36PM
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Sorry! I also wanted to mention the gas log lighter my GC is going to put in. He` had it left over from another job several years ago. I had posted an inquiry about it a week or so ago and got little response but since this post is getting a lot of attention, I though I would try again.

The log lighter is a heavy cast iron box about the size of a fire brick. I mounts flush in the floor of the fireplace and has a heavy cast iron top that sets on top of it with grooves in it to distribute the flame. Its a really neat unit but I am trying to find out the manufacturer so I can get another one or at least replacement covers (tops).

Any help is appreciated!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 7:47PM
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I looked into Isokern too & here is what I found:
Most Crackerbarrel restaurants on the East Coast have a 72 " wide Isokern in them. A real woodburning fireplace that gets used in every CrackerBarrel especially during wintertime. These units are like modified Rumford style fireplaces, they really put out HEAT.
Isokern East Coast distributor is in Jacksonville, Fl & they have several regional offices. Yes, the item is imported from Denmark, they have a recommendation list featuring Trump Towers, Marriott & Ritz Carlton & Cracker Barrel.
They have a model called Fire Lite which can be built on a
combustable floor as long as it has engineered truss floor to support 2,000 lbs. Most new homes have this truss bearing load built in to their houses without requesting it. They can also be built in almost 96% of the basements on the East Coast as the Code requires 3500psi concrete in the IRC2003 code book. The indor units are dealer installed, the outdoor patio models may be installed by your Mason.
They vent this model (Fire Lite) into a Metal round 14" dual lined chimney. The other Isokern models also support a Brick Ledge so that Brick doesn't have to run all the way to the footers. They (Isokern) have several models ranging from a patio models to indor models from 36 to 72" wide hearths.
NONE of these units will take an insert. They are strictly designed to be real OPEN use fire burners or to be used with a gas burning log kit. The thing I like is that you can have the option of either in an Isokern. Perfect for my woodburning days now & we I can't slog the load of logs anymore, I will convert the unit to propane (should it still be available :>))
The FireRock fireplaces are more of an West Coast fireplace company; haven't seen many units on the east coast so I can't comment on them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Isokern & Why I chose Isokern

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 5:59AM
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Actually Fire Rock is based in here in Atlanta and sells more of its product east of the Mississippi. Fire Rock and Isokern products are similar high qulaity pumice based fireplace systems. Fire Rock was created by a high end custom home architect based on improvements he thought he could make to Isokern. One of the main differences is that Fire Rock is made in America.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fire Rock Home Page and Photo Gallery

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 10:16AM
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outdoor_fireplace is a good blog on Outdoor Fireplaces

Here is a link that might be useful: Outdoor Fireplace Design and Ideas

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 10:27PM
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Does anyone have an Isokern IBV gas fireplace and has used a third party's firelog set? I am being told that I have to use the IsoFlames gas log set and grate which are packaged with the Isokern IBV fireplace. I really want to use Chesney's Alchemy Logs and one of the beautiful Chesney grates.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 10:42AM
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