Wood burning fireplace inserts anyone?
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  1. #1
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    Wood burning fireplace inserts anyone?

    Seriously thinking about buying one of these this year - natural gas is about 2x what is cost last year at this time, so I'm a little concerned about heat this winter.

    Looking for advice on buying one of these - thanks.
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  2. #2
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    I ditched mine, but for other reasons

    I used it on weekends, etc. Nice supplimental heat and it gave the house a real warm feeling. But, after a while, splitting, retreiving wood from the shed at -10F through snow, just became a drag. I changed to a propane ventless insert and closed the chimney. I know propane is expensive, but I only used ~$300 for the winter. That's = 2 cords which is about what I was burning in wood. The dirt, backdrafts on still and humid days, "tweener" days when it's chilly, but not cold enough and you over-warm. I don't miss it.

    I know they make natural gas inserts, google fireplacess4less or something like that. Monessen is one brand.

    The whole conversion was ~$1200; not cheap, but worthwhile to me.

    If you're reasonably capable, I'd install myself and hire a licensed contractor for hook-up only. Wasn't worth the install fee for the job they did.
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  3. #3
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    I used for a few winters and quit for essentially the same reasons that pitt83 did. You get up in the morning in a cold house. Start the fire, bring in another load of cold wood. By the time the house is getting warm, it's time to go to work. When the fire is trying to get going, the smoke often blows back into the house. So you go around smelling like smoke.
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  4. #4
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    My parents' wood-burning insert is their primary source of heat in the wintertime. It's in our den, which is open to the kitchen, so it's a good amount of open space to heat - it often gets to 80 in there, no problem. They supplant it with a couple of electric oil filled heaters in the back, and the house is pretty comfy.

    It's a heavy thing, and has been in use since the house was built in 1976. Two electric motors suck in cool air and blow hot air out to circulate the heat. My dad and I get the wood for free, so basically all we pay is some gas to pick it up in the truck, and a small electric fee to power two motors.

    It's cheap, but requires cleaning once a year, a constant stream of wood (my dad wakes up at 2am to put wood on every night), and time spent finding/chopping wood.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pitt83
    That's = 2 cords which is about what I was burning in wood.
    We've never had any problem finding free wood - as long as we went and got it ourselves.

    The dirt, backdrafts on still and humid days, "tweener" days when it's chilly, but not cold enough and you over-warm.
    That's when we don't put as much wood on and turn the blower down. Or hang out in the back of the house where it's cooler.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeBiker
    I used for a few winters and quit for essentially the same reasons that pitt83 did. You get up in the morning in a cold house. Start the fire, bring in another load of cold wood. By the time the house is getting warm, it's time to go to work. When the fire is trying to get going, the smoke often blows back into the house. So you go around smelling like smoke.
    That's why my dad would put wood on in the middle of the night - a pain, but it worked. We've never really had much of a problem with smoke, either. But we're constantly cleaning a layer of dust/ash from everything in the room.

  6. #6
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    Although not a fireplace insert I switched to a pellet furnace a few years ago as my sole source of heat. So far its worked out great. Costs about $400 to heat my house for an entire (New England) year.

    They have pellet stove inserts for fireplaces.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by firstrax
    Although not a fireplace insert I switched to a pellet furnace a few years ago as my sole source of heat. So far its worked out great. Costs about $400 to heat my house for an entire (New England) year.

    They have pellet stove inserts for fireplaces.
    holy schnikes - that's cheap! how much did the conversion run, if I may ask?
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumbergh
    holy schnikes - that's cheap! how much did the conversion run, if I may ask?
    $1800 for a higher end model if you buy it in June/July. I buy the pellets in the summer to get a better price. Everyone here on the cul-de-sac burns pellets so we co-op and get a bit of purchasing power.

    A few interesting pellet facts:
    • All wood goes into pellets. Hard, soft, twigs and saw dust. It all gets compressed to the same end density so its all the same.
    • The pellet factory is steam powered. The steam is generated by pellets.
    • The pellet stove does not need a chimney. Its a powered draft so you can just vent it out the wall. I have a wood stove so I just vented into the old flu.
    • Stacking bags of pellets beats stacking cord wood any day.
    Heres what 24 hours of heat looks like. The pellets are slowly fed into the burn cup with an auger.
    Last edited by firstrax; 06-05-2007 at 09:47 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by firstrax
    [*]The pellet factory is steam powered. The steam is generated by pellets.
    I think you've discovered perpetual motion!

  10. #10
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    We have a wood fireplace that has never had wood burned in it. Immediately installed ventless natural gas logs. I love it but wife complains about the uneven heat. It is great when a warm spot is needed, or when my cold natured mother visits. Our main heat source is a high efficiency gas furnace. Since the gas logs don't require electricity they are a potential heat source during a power outage. Sure hope heating costs don't go completely thru the roof.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevee
    Sure hope heating costs don't go completely thru the roof.
    Sadly, I think you can pretty much count on gas heating costs to go thru the roof, as well as electricity:
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  12. #12
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    Wood has never been burned in our fireplace but there is a first time for everything. Brick fireplaces and chimneys were a requirement according to our covenenants originally, but there has been some relaxation or violation as the case may be. I have seen a few houses that have the telltale vent of pellet stoves. When I was a child our abode was heated with coal. The pristine snow was covered with black specks almost immediately, and childrens boogers were omnipresent. I hope that we don't regress to something like that.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevee
    When I was a child our abode was heated with coal. The pristine snow was covered with black specks almost immediately, and childrens boogers were omnipresent. I hope that we don't regress to something like that.
    My Grandma burned coal when I was younger, up until perhaps 12 years ago. I used to marvel at being able to burn such large lumps of black stuff.

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