Converting Wood Fireplace to Gaz


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Old 05-25-13, 10:19 PM
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Converting Wood Fireplace to Gaz

I had a Regency Wood Insert fireplace installed in my house about 12 years ago and I have been very happy with it. I burn about 6 to 8 cords of wood every winter and keeps my 16x30 feet family room and adjacent rooms pretty comfy in the winter.

However storing and stacking the firewood every fall becomes harder every year and now I'm thinking for alternatives like a gaz or electric fireplace.

There is no gaz service in my neighborhood but have noticed some neighbors have these large gaz or propane tanks (about 5 ft high x 3 ft diameter) on the side of their house and I think they may be for a fireplace

Are gaz or electric fireplaces as good as wood burning fireplaces? I mean do they produce as much heat as wood?

My fireplace is an airtight unit; is it possible to convert it for gaz firing or it has to be replaced?
 
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Old 05-26-13, 12:47 AM
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You do realize that with a wood burning stove there is no direct out of pocket expense.
An electric fireplace wouldn't be useful at all and if it was it would be costly to run.

That leaves propane. You would have to either buy your own tank or lease it thru a propane dealer and delivery company.

You would have to contact Regency to see if they made a gas insert for your unit. I would think you'd end up changing the stove.
 
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Old 05-26-13, 06:27 AM
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Thank you PJmax for the insight

I donít understand what you mean with "with a wood burning stove there is no direct out of pocket expense". For 6 cords of wood delivered it cost me $600

Good idea about contacting Regency for a gas insert and already found on the Web that they do have gas (propane) inserts for my fireplace. I will assume this will save me a lot of money.

But would a propane fireplace provide as much heat as a wood fireplace? Searching the Web is quite confusing to compare
 
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Old 05-26-13, 08:11 AM
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I has incorrectly assumed that you were actually gathering the firewood not purchasing it.

You're right....comparing wood burning versus propane is a valid question but tough to find an answer.

In my opinion....as a rule.... the wood would produce more heat. When you check with Regency see if they list BTU output.
 
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Old 05-26-13, 08:23 AM
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Don't know if this will help or if you can really compare the two. You can at least play around with some numbers to see how much heat you got out of your wood and how much propane would be needed to get the same. Doesn't take in to account efficiency of the appliance of course, or heat lost out the chimney.

http://www.hrt.msu.edu/energy/pdf/he...on%20fuels.pdf
 
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Old 05-26-13, 09:36 AM
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Thank you both

The confusion arise from the fact that propane and wood data are given in different units and very hard to convert to something similar for a proper comparison. But I gather that wood produces much more heat and is less expensive than propane but wood also is much more work to stack and feed the fireplace plus its messy.

On the other hand propane although more expensive is clean and no work is needed to get it going.
 
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Old 05-26-13, 11:05 AM
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That why I said you can look at your total heat production as the best way of computing cost benefits.

For instance lets say one cord of your wood produces 10M btu at a cost of $100. Lets also say your cords weigh about 2500 lbs each. That's about 4000 btu per pound of wood.

It would take 4000 cu/ft of propane or about 108 gallons to provide the same btu. If you were using portable tanks (I know you probably wouldn't be) and filling them in my area....that would be about $277 (x six for the whole season). Of course no real physical labor is involved, dunno whether you'd consider that a benefit or not...lol.

Seriously...its so hard to really compare. Propane...instant on...almost instant heat...very little waste of the product (might also be able to be thermostatically controlled?). Wood...takes a while to get to operating temp and as the fire dies out less and less heat produced, wood takes up space and must be brought in, ashes have to be taken out and disposed of, dependent on your supplier for quality and seasoning of wood.

All my numbers are based on low range numbers for softwoods. If you are getting better stuff...then it shifts even more.
 
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Old 05-26-13, 11:53 AM
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Thanks Gubguy, very good info and comparison

Definitely wood has many draw backs and as I'm getting older I thought propane would be the way to go. As for the extra cost, it will compensate for keeping the house cleaner, no physical labor and storage requirements
 
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Old 05-26-13, 01:40 PM
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My parents have a sealed natural gas insert. It has the dual line exhaust/air in line to the roof. It is a fan forced unit so that when it reaches a certain temperature the fan starts. That fan is a must have for you. That unit will actually heat the whole first floor of the house. Some heat does rise to the second floor. The basement level receives no benefit from it.
 
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Old 05-26-13, 03:14 PM
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Just to add another option, if it is available in your area, but pellets are very popular here in Maine and they lessen some of the problems you mention. Not as messy, easier to handle, thermostatically controlled, and similar heat produced. The cost does track other wood products.

As for gas vs wood, gas burns at a lower temperature so I suspect it doesn't have the peak heat performance that a good wood fire provides. But, we rarely run a wood fire wide open, so perhaps the gas can deliver a similar feel. They do look nice and simplify the process.

One drawback for the pellets, they require power to operate where wood and I would assume gas can produce heat during a power failure.

Enjoy
Bud

PS my kids all grew up and moved out so I built a wood shed closer to the front door. That will work for a few years, I hope.
 
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Old 05-26-13, 03:27 PM
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My present wood burning fireplace is also a fan forced unit with a 3 settings switch (Auto, Low, High) and I think its a must for any fireplace.

Since your parents have a natural gas insert and they can heat a whole floor I will assume I can do the same depending on the square feet area. I dont have natural gas in my area and so I will have to go with propane (rental tank). I read that natural gas has a heating value of 1000 BTU/cu.ft and propane has 2500 BTU/cu.ft. and therefore I should be able to get much more heat.

My ground floor where the unit will be located is about 750 sq.ft. is it possible PJmax to tell me the approx. sq.ft. area of your parents first floor?
 
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Old 05-26-13, 03:51 PM
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Nice to have your info Bud

Donít know how old is your fireplace Bud but years ago when I was searching to buy my wood insert I also looked at them and at that time there seems to be an issue with their feeding system not been as reliable. Perhaps now its different and will be glad to hear your opinion.

However another reason of thinking to go with propane is the space required to store the firewood. Last February I bought a bigger truck and now it takes too much space inside my double garage. I used to store about a cord or so inside my garage and the rest was just next to the door outside. Now I cant do that.

So the plan was to buy a Tempo and stick it next to the garage door and store all the firewood in there. The Tempo cost about $400 but every spring I will have to take it down and put it up in the fall Ė too much extra work.

I will investigate the pellet units again; I know they come in bags and are much easier / cleaner to handle
 
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Old 05-26-13, 05:52 PM
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I have never used one, but have been in homes and everyone I've talked to loves them. I have had a couple of major power outages and have enjoyed have a good old wood stove to heat and cook on. Not a kitchen style, just a flat top, but would fit 2 pans. Our current air tight has a glass front and produces a great fire, except I'm the only one left to carry the wood in.

Some of the larger home furnaces run on pellets and they have regular deliveries just like oil. I believe they can even offer a full service where they arrange to come in and clean as needed. Maine is pushing the technology as it is a renewable energy source.

Your local propane dealer should have a unit or two set up so you can get a look. Even if they don't sell you a stove they still want the fuel business.

Bud
 
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Old 05-26-13, 06:09 PM
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Thanks Bud for taking the time to give us the info

Me too, I'm the only one left to stack and carry the wood, LOL
 
 

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