Wood Burning Insert - choosing a model - Please ADVISE!

nursecynthiaSeptember 27, 2013

My husband and I have never had a wood burning insert, just a standard wood burning fireplace. We are looking at getting an insert to help boost our energy efficiency. We have been to several area dealers and seem to get a different "story" from each of them. We want something as attractive as can be but still functional. I really like the look of the enameled cast iron but was told that it can chip easily and that cast iron requires a lot of maintenance.

Our #1 requirement is that we will be able to use the unit with the door opened or closed as we like. I know that kills the efficiency but we really love the ambiance of an open fire from time to time.

The Lopi (Lopi Freedom) dealer told us that Lopi has a patent on its damper and its the only brand that you can truly burn with the door open, otherwise he told us smoke would pour into the house. He also said with other non-Lopi brands the house will smoke up every time you open the door to throw a log on. He also promised that the glass door on the Lopi would always stay clear and not turn black.

The next store we went to highly recommends the Regency 2400, he said that it also has the capacity to be used with the door open, a screen is available, the glass stays clear and there should be no smoke in the house. He thought what the Lopi dealer told us about a patented damper was nonsense.

I really love the look of the Hearthstone Clydesdale, but it is too wide for my fireplace.

So its pretty much Lopi vs. Regency, unless someone can make another recommendation.

Does anyone have experience with either of these models, or any helpful information about wood burning inserts in general. Its a large investment for us and I don't want to make a poor choice.

Thanks so much!

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Go to www.hearth.com for a world of information, including many reviews by actual owners. There are also more choices than the two you've looked at.

BTW, I would avoid both of the dealers - but especially the Lopi one - because of the misinformation they've given you. For example: 1) Smoke pouring or not pouring into the house is a function of the draft provided by the chimney height, chimney liner, temperature differential between indoors and outside, etc., not just a "patented damper". 2) Enamel finishes do not chip easily unless you're very careless and cast iron does not require a high degree of maintainence. 3) Keeping the glass clear has much, much more to do with the dryness of the wood you're using and the strength of the draft than it does with any particular brand of stove or any "clean glass" system.

I think you do have to face the fact that no insert works as well with the doors open as it does with them closed. Also, no insert puts out as much heat as a free standing wood stove. You might want to consider one of them if you have the space. This would also expand your choices greatly. Most people find the ambience provided by glass doors sufficient unless you really, really love the smell of smoke.

I also hope you've had your chimney checked for safety and llooked into liner options if yours is unlined,

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 5:43AM
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I second everything akamainegrower has said, Hearth.com will give you ocean of info about wood burning stoves and inserts. I own Lopi Declaration for past 4 years and I've been very pleased with this insert but again doors will get dark if my wood is not dry enough.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 8:21PM
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I agree with what the others have said...not to mention, with an open door while you are burning, you substantially increase the risk of damage from flying sparks, embers. The open fire is safer when you have the old fashioned large fireplace that gives the fire plenty of room - really not so much with today's efficient stoves and inserts. You'd be better off with a model that has a large glass door.

Whatever you wind up with - stove or insert - don't forget a built in blower. They are almost entirely necessary with an insert, less so (but still helpful) with a freestanding wood stove.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 6:09PM
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