Pls Give Wood Insert Advice on These Models

luvmylabsJuly 1, 2008

Hi Everyone...Im a first time poster and would like to thank you for everything IÂve learned here this past week by reading up for hours at a time!! I would be very grateful for advice on picking a wood burning insert for our fireplace because we just canÂt face the oilman this coming fall and would like to see as little of him as possible!!! I donÂt think we can commit to burning 24/7, but will probably keep it going everyday as much as possible as well as overnight, and hopefully the oil burner will only kick on for showers, laundry, and if it gets really bitter cold.

We have a bi-level or raised ranch home in CT, 1250 sq feet upstairs, 450 downstairs, total 1700 sq ft, five new windows, original picture window in living room, probably not well insulated, original slider downstairs, newer Pella slider upstairs, no carpeting on the hardwood floors on main (upstairs) level. Uncarpeted bedrooms are over the unheated garage below.

The masonry fireplace is downstairs in the rear far corner of the family room (which has 7 foot ceilings), caddy corner, and has the chimney running inside the house (if you look at the house, there is no external chimney until it breaks through the roof). It has an arched opening. Some arches are basically a rectangle with just the top slightly arched and you can measure like it was a rectangular opening for all intents and purposes, but not in our case. The side walls are straight up and down for only about 17 inches, and start to arch from there. The bottom opening along the fire box is 36.5 inches across in the front. The very top of the arch has an opening of 30 inches.

I will probably have to use a deflector (easier, but not the look I was hoping for) or replace the cheap wood mantle with something non-combustible to use most of the inserts we are looking at (more money - nothing is simple!) as well as the large size surround to hide the arch which tops out at 34 inches if I want to hide it. From the hearth floor to the mantle is 41.5 inches - short by up to six inches for some models. Oh, if only the mason 34 years ago had used just two more courses of brick!!! Always hated the cheap mantle anyway!

I pretty much have it narrowed down to Regency/Hampton, Quadra-Fire, and Jotul. Some I like more than others for looks though they may be too small. But if you had to choose among these, which would be my best bet in terms of heating capacity, quality of workmanship, features, value for the money, service and warranty / warranty claims? I just donÂt want to make a very costly mistake!!

Inserts: Regency I2400,I3100 - Hampton H1300 - Quadra-Fire 3100i, 4100i - Jotul Kennebec, Winterport

So here is what is on my mind:

How do these brands rate? (I had never heard of Regency before.)

I know Regency and Hampton are the same company - are the stove components equal quality?

Other than looks, is there any benefit to the cast iron fronts - are the fireboxes all steel inside on all the models anyway?

Are all of these big enough for my square footage using a few strategically placed fans upstairs?

Will any of them blast me out and make it impossible to be down in the family room to watch TV?

Hubby asks if any of these are better than the others at natural convection (in case of power outage or if the blower breaks)?

I am curious which has the quietest, least annoying blower (hard to check for ourselves - no stove shop has them burning in the 90 degree heat).

And will I get to see the secondary burn in all of these models or only some - so pretty in online videos!

We want one that can handle it, maybe have some extra capacity, but not one I have to burn too low and risk smoldering (see - a little knowledge is dangerous!)

Will any of these be capable of an overnight burn and still be hot enough to throw a log on in the morning and stoke itself up, or is that not a realistic expectation for these inserts? We have been told different things regarding their ability to heat the square footage by different dealers - so IÂm not sure what to think at this point.

What do you like or not like about them?

Do any of them have features the others donÂt such as auto-on blowers??

And lastly, how many cords of wood might I burn from Oct - May in the house I described? (I know I needed it yesterday!)

Please let me know if you need more info, and THANK YOU for taking your time to guide a newbie VERY afraid of making an expensive mistake!!

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I've been trying to get some feedback off this site for about a month now. I guess everyone has Summer on their minds and/or don't want to think about the Winter.

Anyway....Here's what I've got:

I have a 2,000 square foot colonial and live in Northeast Massachusetts. I just purchased a Jotul C550 Rockland Fireplace Wood Insert which is rated for approximately 1,800 square feet - it's going to be installed on July 31st. The Jotul C450 Kennebunk and C350 Winterport are rated for approximately 1,600 & 1,300 square feet respectively.

All the feedback I got on these models was very positive. The only drawback I kept hearing on the C450 Kennebunk was the fact that it had 2 doors to open/close as opposed to just one door on the C350 & C550 models.

Many wood burning homeowners I've spoken to tell me that they burn about 3 cords of wood a season and most have home sizes similar to mine. Most burn all season long and use wood as their primary heat source.

All have told me that when stoked properly there are at least ambers still glowing in morning. They place a couple of logs in the box and they are back in business.

Hopefully this helps and someone will be along soon to answer your other questions.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 7:07AM
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