Are inserts worth it?

Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: NJJoe On: Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:27 pm

Planning on buying a house that has a wood burning fireplace in a centrally located part of the home. It is a hearth raised from the floor and I would really like the idea of using it full time in the winter, but to burn coal instead. There is not much space in the living room to install a stove, an insert probably makes the most sense space-wise.

I've searched for a bit and it seems that fireplace inserts don't get much love here... I know Harman makes a coal insert, but I'm somewhat reluctant to buy a Harman after reading about some users here with customer service difficulties. Hitzer has one advertised but I don't know much about this company.

Can anyone recommend a good insert or tell me if I should avoid them?

Also, I'd love to get a non-stoker insert. I see that inserts have fans, but I can't tell if these are fans solely for distributing the heat or there to maintain the fire. The reason behind this is that if we have a power outage, the coal will continue to burn and not rely on electricity to power a forced draft fan. I don't mind loading and ashing the insert by hand if it means electricity is out of the picture entirely.

Can anyone tell me what size coal the Hitzer insert takes? Can't seem to find that on their website. The Harman insert I found burns pea, nut or stove. Thanks for the help...
NJJoe
 

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:43 pm

Nut size is optimal for the Hitzer hopper-fed insert, but it can handle pea size as well. The fans are for distributing the heat, they have nothing to do with keeping the fire going.

How far does the hearth extend past the face of the fireplace? I would see if you can fit a small radiant stove in there like a Chubby or a Crane 44...or maybe a restored anique stove.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: mikereliant On: Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:21 pm

Leisure line makes a fireplace insert. Its called the hearth model, comes with coal troll , 70 pound hopper burns anthracite rice and is 90,000 btu. I just bought one for my rental property. Great stove company to deal with. Their customer service is top notch.
mikereliant
 
Stove/Furnace Make: leisure line
Stove/Furnace Model: pocono

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Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: Ziggy On: Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:30 pm

In my opinion, inserts have their place and will perform well, as long as you expect them to behave like inserts, not stoves or boilers. My daughter and son in law recently purchased a 2400 SF two story home that has a fireplace. I located a Hitzer 903 coal insert which is intended to be hand fed, but modified it into a hopper fed style similar to their model 503 insert. It ran flawlessly all winter, providing around 80% of the heat needed for the house. The stairway provided a natural duct for convection flow of heat to the upstairs. The living room stayed around 75-78 degrees and the upstairs was 68- 72 all winter long. On the coldest or windy days, the heat pump would need to supplement the coal insert, but as a whole they are now coal lovers!

Anyway, I have an EFM 520 boiler and would recommend something similar as the best way to use coal for heat, then a free standing stove, preferably a stoker second, then a fireplace insert last because of the reduced efficiency and increased maintenance with each method. I would still take a coal insert over wood fuel of any kind, unless the wood is free.

Good luck!!
Ziggy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 520

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: Fritzi On: Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:13 am

My Harman insert is probably the single best investment I've made for my home. I was lucky enough to find a display model that was being sold off and got a tremendous deal. We burned nut coal all last winter. Our house has never been more comfortable, with less effort and lower cost! My wife couldn't be happier. ;-) And really, what's more important than that?
Fritzi
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnafire Elite

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:48 am

Hitzer 503...
very nice
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: NJJoe On: Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:01 pm

Rob R. wrote:How far does the hearth extend past the face of the fireplace? I would see if you can fit a small radiant stove in there like a Chubby or a Crane 44...or maybe a restored anique stove.


The hearth extends from the fireplace face 14.5 inches. Its relatively small so I don't think a stove may fit on top of there. Which is why I was thinking that an insert tucked into the fireplace would fit better.
NJJoe
 

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: freetown fred On: Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:16 pm

Joey, you don't have that friggin insert installed YET--- :clap: toothy
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: ONEDOLLAR On: Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:19 pm

NJJoe

You can fit a Chubby Jr on it with a little room to spare.
ONEDOLLAR
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: 2014 Chubby Prototype
Baseburners & Antiques: Crawford #2 Base Heater
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Anthracite

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: davidmcbeth3 On: Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:27 pm

CapeCoaler wrote:Hitzer 503...
very nice


I examined several inserts ... went with Hitzer 503 ... 2400sqft house 2 floors.

Its the only fuel I burn for heat - 4 tonnes/yr ....

After 5 yrs ... its a good stove and can put out some heat and you can lower to heat to a putter, just to keep it going.

I wanted a hopper stove ... not too many inserts with hoppers ... hopper is simply gravity feed ... only moving parts are damper, shaker, and fans .. simple machine.

I don't know , but I had to order my stove in May or June to get it in and installed by winter....
davidmcbeth3
 
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea/anthra
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: NJJoe On: Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:13 am

freetown fred wrote:Joey, you don't have that friggin insert installed YET--- :clap: toothy


Haha well in all fairness I still don;t have the house. My GF's parents will sell us the house in the future after they retire (in a few years) and move to Europe. Since we learned about their future plans for the house, I began to look for a way to get coal in here. House currently burns oil and its expensive.


Another question: My GF likes the idea of the wood burning fireplace; the wood smell and crackle of logs. Can the Hitzer (or any insert) burn wood too? I understand that no stove is truly dual fuel and efficiency may suffer while burning wood. This is mainly to appease her for when she wants a wood fire. Possible to burn with the door open? Otherwise, it will usually be coal burning to offset as much oil consumption as possible.
NJJoe
 

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:21 pm

I had a hitzer 983 insert. It kept a drafty 3000 square foot house toasty warm burning coal without even pushing it hard. It will burn wood well for ambiance and heat during warmer spells. You can place a fireplace grate in front of it if you want to hear the crakeling fire. That, of course would cut down on the efficiency. In a new home now and am in the processes of installing a used Keystoker KA-6 Boiler in the basement. I think I'll keep my eyes open for a used 983 to put in the great room for just the purpose of being able to burn wood for shoulder seasons. Would also provide heat if electricity goes out. I burned about 4 tons of nut coal/season in my precious home.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:22 pm

Make that "previous" home. Lol!
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: dcrane On: Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:54 am

a Crane 404 has a depth at feet of 14" and can be placed in most fireplace slightly if needed. My set up is shown here... Once My soapstone top is on it and its pushed back slightly it will almost "appear" as an insert but will have all the heat and function of a dual fuel free standing stove. Its 60,000 BTU rating is extremely conservative.
404 in fireplace.JPG
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dcrane
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404

Re: Are inserts worth it?

PostBy: NJJoe On: Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:03 am

Thanks to all for the responses so far. I'm researching all suggestions; inserts & stoves. The research will be worth it when I can enjoy myself in front of the fire and fee nice and warm :D
NJJoe
 

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