Looking for advise! We are going to replace our zero clearance majestic firebox(builder installed-11 yrs ago) with an insert. We have identified the BIS panorama or BIS Traditional as 2 options. Anyone have experience with these units? Also, how are they in regards to general maintanence? Are there better options out there? Thanks!
BIS Trad is great + more feedback
BIS Trad is also known as the Lennox Montecito Estate since BIS is owned by Lennox. It has been a great fireplace for many of our Alpine Fireplace customers in Utah with very few problems. People love the fact that they can use up to 30" logs in it and that it has 8-10 hour burn time with a 25-lbs load of hard wood. It is low maintenance, non-catalytic, high-efficiency wood burner.
What you are asking for is technically not an insert, but a Zero Clearance Fireplace replacement. These will require access to the framing and will almost always require the flue to be changed out to the listed flue for the fireplace you choose. An insert would be designed to slide in to your existing Majestic firebox and use a liner inside the existing chimney. Inserts can be good heaters, but the firebox size and viewing area will be smaller than what you have been used to.
The Panorama is a nice fireplace but it is a catalytic fireplace. I don't like those as much as non-cat's even though their efficiency is higher due to the higher maintenance cost. Cat systems need their converters replaced usually every 4-6 years with regular use. That can be $150 to $350 for the part every time. Non-cat systems can be maintained for far less - anywhere from $0 to $80 every few years. (In regards to their emmission burning systems... Gaskets, seals, and cleanings are regular maintenance on any wood system.)
I have sold Napoleon, Majestic (yes they have some high efficiency models as well...) Regency, and others. For construction quality, looks, big fires, and low maintenance I have liked the BIS Trad / Lennox Montecito models. They have been good to our customers.
Hi Matt, thank you so much for your in depth response. It sounds like you and your customers have had great experience with the BIS. I wondered if you had any experience with the Extraordinaire 7100 or FPX 36/44. Would the BIS Trad still be your top choice over these? We are getting closer to our decision and your insight is much appreciated. Thanks again.
FPX 36/44 or Quad 7100
I am very familiar with these fireplaces even though my company doesn't sell them. They can both be very solid fireplaces, but I would give some advice with them as follows...
The FPX fireplace has some interesting ties to my company. It is my understanding that they bought the technology patent to the Wood Positive Pressure or "Posi-Pressure" technology from my company. (We kept the rights to the gas version...) I understand how it is supposed to work very well. I also know that they downsized the blower from what we used to do and removed some of the heat exchangers - at least my production guys believe they did to try to keep the system balanced... From a heat distribution standpoint - it can be the most comfortable type of fireplace heat you could be around. When we made it, it could spread heat out more evenly, comfortably, and a greater distance than just about anything you could stack it up against. It may not work as well as it used to when we made it, but it can still be a good thing.
The key is this: you have to have the system installed correctly by someone who really gets the theory of what they have. It needs outside air for it's blower. It is designed to pressurize the home. It was originally designed to create a gentle pressure into the home and be able to force heat around corners by seeking out natural leak points. In a way it can proactively help to "seal" a home. By pressurizing it would also spread heat out more evenly both vertically and horizontally. In doing this you can achieve 2-3 times more even heat distribution than anything else you could look at.
The only thing that I worry about with FPX is I wonder if they understand what they have. Over the past 10 years that I've been in the industry I have seen their brochures even carry a disclaimer at one point that didn't recommend the posi-pressure in areas with temps below 20-degrees. Why have a fireplace then?? Either they didn't have enough heat exchangers to heat the air with their blower at the time - or they really have no clue what can be done with the baby they have. I have concerns and reservations with the advertising and the installed performance I have seen with these at times. I wonder if it really is the fireplace that it could be... It may depend on the install and what they are currently making. Look close, be confident with your dealer, and be very comfortable with the installers knowledge and ability. (I say this partly because even one of the local dealers here say these same negative comments about our gas systems when they offer the same technology in a wood system... They just don't get it.)
The Quad 7100 is a good fireplace as well. I think it is a smaller version of the BIS Trad. I have had customers that owned both and liked the Trad better - but that could be personal taste. I would look further into the type of chimney's both units would use and the costs associated with both. The BIS may be less expensive.
I think they are at the extreme range of their heating ability to advertise 3500 sq. ft. range. Perhaps that's an optomistic estimate or a very well insulated testing zone?... 3500 sq. ft. is possible with a lot of fireplaces I've sold or worked with but I would ask some careful questions on how that testing number is achieved and ask to talk to some customers that have it in their home when it is called on to heat that kind of area. Customers of some of the other brands I've sold would concur with that idea. The Quad is a great fireplace, but I think a lot of other fireplaces that advertise more conservatively perform as well.
I don't buy into the long range circulating duct systems. I have seen those on many units and have never seen one work well beyond 10-15 ft. (20 at a stretch) and I don't recommend going to more than 1-2 areas other than the fireplace room. You're dividing the heat output between all those locations. Every manufacturing rep I have spoken to has confirmed my thoughts about this in any brand I have asked about including all those we have ever carried or currently offer. We go to the National HPBA Hearth show annually and this is always something we ask the reps about to see if they are getting any better at it. (I would be interested in any feedback on this if anyone else had better experiences and how they achieved it...)
Mechanically assisted duct systems can work for longer distances but may be more costly than would be worthwhile. The BIS Trad is one that has some similar options to what you can see with the Quad 7100 but keep these things in mind when deciding whether to include them.
Wood Firplace Confusion
Hi There, I am new to your forum and hope I can get some input as to which wood buring fireplace to purchase. It's for a new construction cottage and will be the primary heat source. Cottage is 1200/ft2 bungalow style.
We would like to cladd the exterior in cultured stone floor to ceiling.
We have been recommend a BIS or a RSF. The RSF is coming in at $5700.00 (cdn) without installation. We feel that this is too expensive and would like some alternatives to either the BIS or the RSF. We are looking for high effiec.
Look forward to hearing some comments.