Fireplace inserts

Fireplace inserts

PostBy: dtzackus On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:31 pm

Hello Everyone!

This past fall I upgraded from junkie propane heater down in the basement to a hand fired coal unit. I must say the coal unit was a GREAT idea and even my wife agrees with me that coal is the way to go. Plus I got to meet some people at the fall meet and great and a great friend named J.C.

We have a propane gas fireplace insert upstairs. I only had to use it twice this year, last night and about a month ago when the temps got too cold and the wind picked up. My two car garage is underneath my bedrooms and I have to see how I can seal off the doors better, but that is another story.

I am considering getting a coal fireplace insert, but since I am a newby on coal. I have a few questions. I guess in the spring I will have to take my propane insert out and get the measurements of the fireplace it self. But how long of a burn can I get out a coal fireplace insert. Anyone out there who has one and wants to brag about their unit or heck even give me the cons of theirs or even better, the "what I should have gotten" comments.

Thanks again everyone.

Dan
dtzackus
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Gibraltar LCC
Stove/Furnace Make: Gibraltar
Stove/Furnace Model: LCC

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:42 pm

Do a search for the 'Hitzer 503 insert' on the Hand Fired forum!
The 503 rocks!
2000 sq/ft house 10* 30 mph winds and the stove body was only at 325*, kept the house above 68*!
The 'rents have not had the stove above 350* yet!
I told them to open up the air and get the stove to 450* because they like it at 72-74* in the house.
May just have to go up there myself as they are in uncharted territory for them!
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: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: jeromemsn On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 8:58 pm

Harman Elite, all pro's no con's. She will keep you warm just like a good woman should. She act's, walks and talks just like any hand fed. Just shake her down and feed her every 12 hours and she will be happy. As the temps get near 60 she tends to want to stop working, which is fine with me because at 60 outside temps it really gets hot inside even with the windows open.
jeromemsn
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker 90 dvc
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman elite fireplace insert

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Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: bear creek burnout On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 9:24 pm

I have the 503 but after reading Jerome's post I'm all of a sudden smitten with the Harmon..... :inlove:
Seriously Dan....both are top-of-the-line stoves that throw off 60K BTU or more. You can't go wrong with either company and their line of inserts.
bear creek burnout
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: Ashcat On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:03 pm

Harman and Hitzer are both great choices, I think, but there are other options available. I have the Hitzer 983 and am very happy with it. The 503 people love their stoves but never seem to mention the possibility of any other stove, let alone the Hitzer 983--may be from a sense of inadequacy on their part :lol: , because of the small firebox in the 503: 983 firebox is 33% larger than the 503, with essentially no difference in overall stove dimensions. If I want a long burn time (for example, more than 15 hours), I simply make a big pile of coal in the center of the firebox and minimize airflow--BTW, did I mention how big the firebox is? The absence of a hopper means I can burn wood easily, and never have to be concerned with condensation in the hopper or fire burning up into the hopper.
Ashcat
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 983
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Blaschak

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: Oakback On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:15 pm

Only been a coal user since the start of this winter, so I'd still qualify as a newbie.
The salesman who sold me my Harman Elite insert told me I'd curse the thing for the 1st month until I got the hang of it.
I live on a 4 acre wooded lot and used to burn my own wood in a vermont castings stove for about 10 years until harvesting the wood got old. So when the time came to burn coal, the salesman was right.
Other than a draft problem I recently solved ( not due to the insert ) the Harman has been great.
Use it to heat most of a 3000+sf home, and today the wife mentioned that the house was a little TOO warm.
It's a very simple stove. The only mechanical parts are the two 75 cfm fans.
Oakback
 

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: dtzackus On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:45 pm

What type of coal do you burn in the Harmin Elite and the Hitzer 503 Insert?

Hmm, like I women, lol....the wife just loved that comment. Also, do I really need to deal with another women? lol

Dan
dtzackus
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Gibraltar LCC
Stove/Furnace Make: Gibraltar
Stove/Furnace Model: LCC

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: jeromemsn On: Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:52 pm

I burn Superior nut in my Harman and she loves it. You would love this lady too if she saved you over 2 grand a year in heating cost. She does what a good woman is supposed to do, watches every penny. If you do get into coal burning talk to coal berner about the different places to get coal at and experiment with several, I did. In the fall and spring I burn U.A.E. then during mid winter I burn Superior it really works good for me and have coal berner to thank for it.
jeromemsn
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker 90 dvc
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman elite fireplace insert

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: Jim503RI On: Fri Jan 02, 2009 9:01 pm

I have a Hitzer 503 insert. After learning on an old Chappee' coal stove this year, I've come into the new age. Unbelievable stove. I mix nut with 25% pea coal. I shake and rod the greats and load 20-25 lbs.every 12 hrs. I loaded the stove and hopper and the stove went 30 hrs. no problem. A real user friendly stove. The hopper is removable so you can burn wood. The larger size Hitzer insert does not have a removable hopper. Because it's
a insert, the draft control is basically at the ash pan vent. My stove top temp. is 300* and this old drafty 1860 home is 78*. Very happy with this stove. I purchased the 503 because of everything I learned on this forum. An endless amount of knowledge and people glad to help.The stove fit my needs. The stove is a nice clean fit into the fireplace which the wife likes, "good thing." The fans produce great heat . The large glass door gives you a great view. Also Hitzer.com Good luck.
Jim503RI
 
Coal Size/Type: Nut & pea
Other Heating: none
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: av8r On: Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:51 pm

Have you considered a hearth model stoker? A lot less work tending the fire, more output (90,000 btu gross) and probably less money to purchase as well.
av8r
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Leisure Line Hearth with twin turbos (sounds like it)
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Hearth model with twin turbos

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: BM-80 On: Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:35 am

Ashcat wrote:Harman and Hitzer are both great choices, I think, but there are other options available. I have the Hitzer 983 and am very happy with it. The 503 people love their stoves but never seem to mention the possibility of any other stove, let alone the Hitzer 983--may be from a sense of inadequacy on their part :lol: , because of the small firebox in the 503: 983 firebox is 33% larger than the 503, with essentially no difference in overall stove dimensions. If I want a long burn time (for example, more than 15 hours), I simply make a big pile of coal in the center of the firebox and minimize airflow--BTW, did I mention how big the firebox is? The absence of a hopper means I can burn wood easily, and never have to be concerned with condensation in the hopper or fire burning up into the hopper.


Opinions are as numerous as people on this forum (its all good) but I've got to agree with Brother Ashcat. I also have a Hitzer 983. I bought it because if I have to, I can burn wood in it. I do this in the spring and fall when I don't need a fire all day long and just need a quick night fire (4 hours or so) to take the chill out for the night. Also, the the 983 is rated for more BTU than the 503. That being said, if I didn't get a 983 I would have gotten a 503 like my "cousin" 503 owners.

I looked at the Harmon. It's a BEAUTIFUL stove and works just as well as the Hitzer. The problem with Harmon is the way the manufacturer treats the customer. (Just look around here...there3's a thread about it somewhere in this forum). Harmon WILL NOT ALLOW phone calls to the factory, you can ONLY call the dealer. And I have heard horror stories about getting warranty service.

Hitzer, on the other hand, is made by the Amish. I called the factory when I was researching different brands. They went and got a very knowledgable guy off the production floor and he spent 20 minutes answering my questions in an extremely polite and helpful way. I also understand that if you have warranty issues its MUCH easier to get help.
BM-80
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 983 insert

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: sharpfocus On: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:50 pm

Newbie wanting to learn all about coal fireplace inserts.
I live in North Royalton, Ohio (a suburb 20 miles South of Cleveland). I have a 53-year-old 2000 sq ft brick house (including the rec room in the basement), that was put together when heat was cheaper than insulation. It is currently heated (barely) with gas fired hot water baseboard heating. I am embarrassed to talk about how much it costs to heat this place. The home has two gorgeous (full wall) sandstone fireplaces. The first is upstairs in the living room and has an older wood-burning insert with a fan. This works great but uses lots of wood to keep the house warm and must be re-stoked every 4-6 hours and produces lots of ashes too!
I have several questions to those that have gone through this before me.
#1. What is the best fuel to burn? (Based on my searches on the web site it sounds like Nut and or Pea Anthracite).
#2. Where can I get it in my area? (I have done some searching and unless I own a steel mill I am out of luck).
#3. How much can I expect to pay and what would be a good quantity to order in a season?
#4. I will be trying to find a local dealer for an insert to look at, any recommendations for this area? (Or if there is someone nearby in my area I would love to see one in action).
#5. I always like to know the bad with the good, what are the pitfalls of burning coal in a stove/insert with a wood fireplace?
#6. Is it a good idea to have this installed by a professional? (I am pretty handy but this is new to me).
#7. Are modifications needed to the chimney?
#8. Have I asked the right questions?

Thank you to all that have blazed a trail for me.

Sharpfocus
sharpfocus
 

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: topper On: Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:52 pm

I burned wood for over 30 years. I started buring coal this past October in a Hitzer 503 and wish I had made the conversion from wood years ago. I can make no comments on other stoves as I haven't had any experiance with them. I am sure there are other good ones out there. I suggest buying a coal insert for the purpose of burning coal first - a stove that can burn wood should be a secondary consideration in my mind.

The 503 has two 100 cfm blowers. For me in this climate it is essential to have a stove that can move lots of air. I suggest getting a stove that can do that - move lots of air...

The 503's hopper load gravity feed is real nice. For me (1600 sq ft ranch) the 503 firebox is plenty large enough and the hopper holds more than enough to get me to the next loading. I load it once in the morning and once in the evening. I shake it down pretty seriously at those times. I empty my ash pan once a day. Not a big deal - but you will need a place for your ashes - that should be pretty easy to figure out.

I burn nut in my 503. I live in a cold location (northern Maine) and expect to burn 3-4 tons from October through April. I have my coal delivered to my two wooden coal bins - two tons at a time. My coal bins are in my garage. I bring in about 20 lbs at each filling with my coal hod. I am currently burning 40 - 45 lbs a day total in mid-winter up here. My Mom (75) burns nut in her Hitzer freestanding stove. I "deliver" her 40 lb bags to her home myself. Bags of coal don't seem to be a management issue for her. So, depending upon availability, bulk or bagged is not a "burning" issue with either of us. But, you will need a place to store either.

I installed my 503 myself. It is not rocket science as long as you are somewhat "handy", can follow the install instructions and have a few able bodied people that can help you place the stove in the fireplace. No matter what stove you go with consider the dimensions of the stove, the dimensions of your fireplace opening and your connection from the stove to the chimney above the stove. The dimesions are important in not only getting the stove into fireplace/hearth but then also being able to "connect" it to the chimney.

I suppose bad (you were looking for the bad with the good) is a relative term but in comparison to burning wood there is more ash (not an issue for me) and the smell coming out of the chimney, while not partiularly unpleaseant, is certainly not a wood burning smell - after all, it is coal.

If you have a good clay-lined chimey in good condition I suspect modifications to your chimney are not needed. Have it insected by a professional if you have any chimney condition concerns. Remember, there is no creosote (sp) generated in burning coal like there is when you burn wood. For me that was a nice plus - much less chanse of a chimney fire.

Be sure to get an extra ash pan - it makes the management/timing of your ashes much easier.

Best of luck. No matter your decision you are likely to enjoy buring "the hard stuff"...
topper
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: sharpfocus On: Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:27 pm

Hello Topper,

Thanks for the quick reply.

Money is a big concern. With current economics and natural gas prices going crazy, bagged anthracite seems like a way to ride the storm. Around here wood is plentiful but a recent infestation of Emerald Ash Beatles has moved down from the Michigan area and is threatening northern Ohio. I guess it wiped out 95% of all the Ash trees around and south of the Detroit area and is spreading quickly. It’s a nasty little bugger, (no pun intended). So now there is a moratorium on moving firewood from one place to another with hefty fines if you’re caught. But even the cost of a coal-burning fireplace insert is a financial burden although I suppose it will last a long time.

But I also wonder, just how “hot” does the coal fire in an insert burn?
Could my current wood burning insert be modified to burn coal?
It also has a blower and I agree with you, I would not want a new insert without a blower!

I’ve had my current wood burner insert “cooken pretty good” burning some old tulipwood. I have even trashed the quarts glass windows (twice) over the last 15 years because of some hot fires. I will have to replace them again with something else or fasten a plate of steel over the window holes.

Based on the comments in the blog, the Hitzer 983 seems like it would be a nice unit for my purposes. And the option to burn wood is nice too. I will have to do some more research and look at pricing and availability but I will look at the workmanship of the Harmen as well. No need to rush into it.

My biggest concern will be obtaining the fuel. I am in what “was” a semi-rural neighborhood 15 years ago. They have now put in no less than 3 subdivisions within 500 feet of me, each with 50-75 homes. Moving out is not an option right now because of home prices sliding, (this home is worth a lot more than I can get right now). So I’ll have to sit on this for a minimum of 4-5 years (or longer).

After a bunch of sniffing around, I did find the link to:

http://www.baggedcoal.com/

That company may be the answer for me but it sounds like I might have to rent a truck and foot the cost of picking up several pallets unless I can find a local supplier or some others in my neighborhood thinking along my lines. As far as storage, I have about 2 acres so storing the bags once I get them here won’t be an issue.

You mentioned that your unit has “gravity feed”, is this method something that automatically feeds the fuel down to a burning chamber as the coal is burned?
Or do you fill the hopper and you manually feed (via gravity) the coal to the burning chamber?

You have to forgive me because although I have made many a campfire and have burned wood in my fireplace for over 15 years, I am a neophyte with coal. My only experience with a coal stove involved an experience in a small shack up in Canada and after getting the fire going I stacked up some fist size pieces into a little mound and I awoke to 95 degrees and a “cherry red” coal stove. I was real lucky not to of burned down the shack!

We bought the house as a fixer upper. The guy that built the house was a mason and the stonework inside is very nice for a ranch. I think the chimney is ok but I will probably have it inspected before proceeding. I’m not sure I want to have it professionally installed (pulling a permit and all), (just incase they have some law against coal). ;~) I have remodeled the kitchen and blew out a wall to open up a room and fixed up a workshop for me. I would like to do the work on the fireplace myself to hold down costs, but this old house has so much that is still needed (new roof, new driveway).

With your suggestion, for this project, I will have to pull out the old insert to view the fireplace dimensions before proceeding. I will probably put the old unit in the basement fireplace, as they are identical.

The tip on an extra ash pan sounds like “you think like me”! Great Idea! The cleaning of the current wood-burning insert is not user friendly as there is no “ash pan”. You have to wait until the whole thing cools down and clean it out or risk hot embers falling from a hand shovel or metal ash container, (plastic garbage cans – not so good, but that’s another story).

Thanks for the advice, and I would love to hear from others mistakes and successes so my learning curve can be shorter.

Have a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year!

Ps - For our Honeymoon, my wife and I went up to Maine and camped and backpacked the coastline. I had a feast I will never forget at the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. We saw the first light that touches the USA up on Cadillac Mt. in Acadia National Forest. Then we continued north all the way to Quebec City. Beautiful country you have up in that part of the world! Someday I’m going to head back to Maine and enjoy it again!

Sharpfocus
sharpfocus
 

Re: Fireplace inserts

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:53 pm

The hopper can be removed from the Hitzer 503 to burn wood if needed.
If you do not need the heat of the 983 the hopper feed is a nice thing to have.
You can pack more coal into the 503 to get a very long burn if needed!
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

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