Regency Wood Insert vs. Heatilator Accelerator
We have a small zero-clearance/factory built fireplace from the mid 1980s. The chimney is in good repair, with no rust or pitting. The problem is this fireplace doesn’t add any heat to the house, and actually takes our heated air out the chimney. We are looking for a replacement that will add some secondary heat to our home, and some ambiance.
Local installers fall into 2 camps. Some say that the Regency Alterra insert http://www.regency-fire.com/Products...ts/CI1200.aspx can fit into our fireplace with a new chimney liner. Others say they would never put an insert into a factory built, and suggest going with a modern zero-clearance, the Accelerator by Heatilator http://www.heatilator.com/Products/A...Fireplace.aspx The Accelerator would be more work, as it requires a new chimney, but we would end up with a bigger view of the firebox.
Although the maximum BTUs on the Accelerator is much greater (55,000 vs 100,000), I can’t find any information on efficiency, and the dealers won’t say for certain the new models aren’t as drafty as the old ones, and I am afraid we will still lose more heat than we will gain.
Any thoughts on which would be better, or if the new factory builts still suck out air from the house? We are in Canada, and although we have other primary heat, we still like “feel” of wood heat, and would like something than can at least provide a little heat if the gas furnace goes out - that is more important than the viewing area of the firebox.
hybrid stove/ fireplace
I hope this post doesn't turn you into all frowns!
You should NEVER install a woodstove insert into ANY factory built fireplace regardless what the mfrs. say. There is no way to test or list any combination of fireplace, stove and liner together. The UL task force I instigated could not come up with even a basic meeting ground on how to start such a listing. If you shove a stove into a fireplace, it must be modified and is no longer the same fireplace that was tested and listed. Thus all the clearances to combustibles go out the window. There is no liner listed for use in factory chimney. No factory built fireplace is listed for use with a woodstove. I could go on but search this forum for previous discussions.
The Heatilator Accelerator is simply another open hearth factory built fireplace. It should not have any mention of BTUs or heat output and it is not designed, intended, tested or listed as a heating device. It, just like any other open hearth fireplace, will suck 400-600cfm of heated room air up the chimney and cool your room down.
What you should look into is a hybrid factory built fireplace/ woodstove such as the Heatilator Constitution/ Quad 7100i/ Heat&Glo Northstar or other mfrs. versions. As long as it is tested and listed with its own chimney, air kit, etc. then you should be in good shape. This way, you get the heating horsepower of a stove with approximate look and beauty of a with a large viewing area and can be burned with the doors open (though you lose heat and efficiency this way).
Check out your local dealers to see who has a record of good support after the sale then look at whatever brand they sell. Most brands of these hybrids are really good. Most hearth retailers leave a lot to be desired quite frankly when it comes to technical support and service.
Keep the fire inside the fireplace.
If you want heat AND ambience, why not consider a free standing wood stove?
I don't think ANY insert can compare in effiency with a free standing.
Wow...I do have many frowns but at least I now understand why 3 retailers said they would not put an insert in a factory built, and 3 said it was fine. Heartman, as always, made some really good points, and thank you as you were able to explain why it shouldn't be done - the dealers that were against it were actually just surprised when I mentioned to them that the manufacturer said it was OK, but wouldn'y do it anyway. The other three have said they do it quite often.
I suppose if there is no UL listed test, then the manufacturers can use whatever testing methods they want - not a good thing, but you would hope that they want to sell a safe product. Regency specifies the liner kit to be used with that insert - I just assumed it was UL or CSA tested.
I don't have room for a free-standing wood stove, but I may have a look at the hybrids if they are not too expensive, unless there is a wave of professionals on this forum that want to counter hearthman....