Fireplace Insert versus freestanding Stove

Discussion in 'Modern EPA Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Haftacut, Nov 25, 2021.

  1. Haftacut

    Haftacut

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    My brother is trying to lessen his power bill each month and so has decided to install a wood burning device in his living room. He currently has a fireplace, so either is an option. Anybody on the forum have experience with both styles? In my mind, it seems that the stove would be better because of the increased surface area exposed to the room.
     
  2. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu

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    Free standing stove will make a little more heat, is cheaper, and can be used much more effectively when the power is out too...
     
  3. Well Seasoned

    Well Seasoned Administrator

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    X2- go freestanding!
     
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  4. fox9988

    fox9988

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    An insert can work well but they are a compromise. I prefer free standing.
     
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  5. wildwest

    wildwest Moderator

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    I bought a new insert for our 1950 prefab fireplace, the one that fit inside that space was way too small for our needs. We sanded and painted an old pre-epa stove and put it instead, it hangs out infront of the fireplace but we're so much happier with the heat, I'll gladly walk around it and use up some room space. Also let your brother know he'll likely need a chimney liner, and that's not cheap. Good luck and keep us updated :)
     
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  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Moderator

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    Right. All in all, free standing will give more bang for the buck.
     
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  7. hovlandhomestead

    hovlandhomestead

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    I prefer a free-standing as well, but in our primary home it was not a good option due to lay-out and space. It is a four level split (1222 sq ft living area), and our insert is in the family room on one end of the home. Our insert (2.3 cu ft firebox) does a good job heating the whole house with a few caveats. Even it thought it protrudes from the masonry into the room about 4” or so, and really heats up the brick mass for additional radiant heating, it definitely requires the stove fan running on low (can’t stand the noise on high) to do so; which a free-standing stove does not require. I keep several battery fans on stand-by in the event of a power outage, but either way we would not freeze to death.

    Also, when it is below zero, which happens for extended periods of time here, I have to keep the stove going pretty good to keep the furnace from kicking in (thermostat set at 67f), which means loading it within a 5 hour window, despite having good coals much longer. During shoulder seasons with temperatures down into the teens, I can stretch things out to 7-9 hours with good hardwood coals, no problem.

    All this being said, the 3 bedrooms upstairs can be 7-10 degrees colder than the main level. So it will be low 70s downstairs, and in the low 60s upstairs. This is generally okay with us, as we prefer that for sleeping, If needed we turn on a small portable baseboard heater on low setting for really cold temps, or when I just don’t want to tend to the stove as diligently as would be required when it is really cold.

    The basement seems to stay pretty even in the low 60s with furnace fan set to run continually, versus “auto.” I think this does even out temperatures in our home.

    Overall, it has been a huge improvement over an open fireplace in terms of heating our type of home.
     
  8. Haftacut

    Haftacut

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    Very helpful! He does plan to install a liner regardless of what method he chooses.:yes:
     
  9. Horkn

    Horkn

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    I'll echo this experience.

    I heat our house with an insert that occupies the open fireplace that we have in our living room. Yes, when it gets colder, you need the fan/ blower to really get the heat put of the insert, but you can run them on an inverter frying a car battery in case power goes out. On the several years since I installed this insert, our natural gas bills have plummeted in winter versus prior to installing the quadrafire. Only when it gets into the single digits does the LP furnace really ever kick in. If we were to add a kuuma or similar wood furnace, I have a feeling that our gas bill would never go shine the minimum billing charge, even in the coldest of months.

    I've got experience with a lopi freestanding stove at the cabin. The freestanding stove will heat better, but you still need air movement to spread the heat. Our lopi endeavor actually had a factory optional blower on it. That really helped to get the heat distributed in the a frame cabin.

    If you have the space, go free standing stove. But for as little space as the inserts need, they really work well.
     
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam

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    I removed a masonry fireplace that had a big epa lopi freedom bay in it to replace it with a freestanding stove with a modern pipe chimney.

    Many fireplaces are too small to allow a full sized stove so you’re stuck with something too small to start with.

    Then you’re further crippled by all of the masonry around the insert blocking most of the radiant heat.

    Then you have to listen to that dang fan all the time.

    Masonry fireplaces are undesirable in my experience as well. They crack, leak, need maintenance, suck up needed chimney heat, suck room heat to the outdoors, etc. but they can be nice looking.

    We are much happier with the conversion to freestanding. I would only consider an insert if you’re stuck keeping a masonry fireplace and can’t give up any floor space.
     
  11. Sirchopsalot

    Sirchopsalot

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    Liking our free standing. I have no experience with an insert, but we can heat water on our Jotul for dishes, bathing if needed, tea, and of course coffee, soup and the like. That was part of the need: the ability to cook on it....saving range-top use as well.
    Sca
     
  12. wildwest

    wildwest Moderator

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    I made the best ever 6 bean soup on our old Schrader when our power was out for 3 days once. Never have been able to do one that good again. My camp perk does not perk though, I was thinking about a french press or another way to make coffee, your thoughts?
     
  13. Sirchopsalot

    Sirchopsalot

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    All I use is a stainless steel percolator. No filters to replace, ever. The wood stove has to be300/400°F surface to make coffee. So sometimes the gas stove needs to be used.
    I havent used a french press, but iirc they only need hot water to use right?
    We have kept bone broth going for days on the wood stove, and made the best fish chowder (all morning) on various wood stoves. Also rendered lard on a wood stove while on a retreat.
    Sca
     
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam

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    French press works great. We have a couple but honestly went back to the less good drip through a paper filter to reduce our cholesterol. Very successfully btw.
     
  15. Haftacut

    Haftacut

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    I mentioned the ability to cook to him today when we were discussing it over lunch. I think he’s starting to lean towards the freestanding, but I’ll let you all know the verdict once he makes up his mind!
     
  16. Sirchopsalot

    Sirchopsalot

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    Besides heating, cooking.
    We're done paying big utilities any more than we need to. So the wood stove keeps the gas furnace and its fan, from running. It saves a little gas from cooking.
    I dont think we'll loose power soon, but we have, and surely will. Its about when and for how long, not if.
    As long as were on for wood heat, we felt we should get something that would meet all our winter needs, should it need to. In the mean time, it saves us a little money all the way around.

    So your choice of an "inny" or an "outie" has benefits to both sides.

    We really wanted a kitchen queen, but weighing in at 900#, i'll need to brace the kitchen floor pretty good. That stove is meant for full time cooking AND heating, with an oven as well.

    Its function over form in this house: we've been unneasy with the way things are going for a long time, (politically, socially, spiritually).

    Sca
     
  17. Haftacut

    Haftacut

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    You and me both, brother! Form over function is a great way to put it. Hopefully he’ll see it the same way. Also, I told him today That if he tries the insert and isn’t happy with it, he’s stuck trying to get rid of it. If he tries the stove and isn’t happy with it, he could always throw it in his garage and heat his shop!
     
  18. Horkn

    Horkn

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    Some inserts you can cook on as well, but there's definitely less room to cook with the inserts vs a free standing stove. You just can't do anything like that if the insert is flush mounted. You could cook on mine, and we do put pots up on it from time to time to heat up. But there isn't a lot of room, that's for sure.
    If he has the room for it, a free stander is the way to go. They are less money typically as well.
     
  19. Horkn

    Horkn

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    Selling any used wood heater is really the same. People that want an insert, know what they cost.

    Another way to look at it, is that if the freestanding stove takes up too much room, or it doesn't look right to them, then you could completely ruin the idea of a wood stove if the other half gets irked :doh:


    How big of a house/ space is it? Where in the country is this? If the fireplace puts out some heat, a good insert will really get the heat going. I know our insert can get the house downright tropical if I'm either not careful, or want the house to be 80°+.
    You could use an insert to heat the shop as well;)
     
  20. Haftacut

    Haftacut

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    We are in south central Michigan. His home is an older two story house. The room he will be putting it in is his living room on the main level. Not sure on the exact dimensions, but a pretty big room:thumbs: Good point about keeping the other half happy! She’s on board with the idea of wood heat, but not sure what her thoughts are regarding a stove that potentially takes up more space than an insert. He was paying upwards of $600/month last winter for gas and electric! Wood heat + R60 blown into the attic should make a considerable difference:thumbs: