Warring Fireplace Experts...What to do...

Old 08-17-18, 05:29 PM
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Question Warring Fireplace Experts...What to do...

I live in northeast Florida where it becomes chilly and sometimes cold. I have a zero clearance fireplace that I hate. My house is 2300 sq. ft. and was built in 2005. I'm not looking to heat the entire house, only to supplement the heat pump, mostly in the family room kitchen area where the thermostat is located. I wish to avoid the red (electricity) light coming on, and to enjoy some evening fire in the family room. So I got estimates from 2 different fireplace/wood stove contractors to upgrade my fireplace. Both businesses have fine reputations. Both estimates are from the business owners who are competent, intelligent experts. Yet they have totally different opinions on safety, which leaves my head spinning.

Expert #1 recommends a Buck Bay Series Model 18 wood stove. It comes with a blower and thermostat included. The fireplace expert and the brochure both say that it is pre-fab approved and mobile home approved. It costs $3100 installed and that includes the new flue liner. It will fit inside my current fireplace, so I do not have to redo the wall around the fireplace.

Expert #2 says: "We propose to remove the existing fireplace and chimney so that we can install a RegencyEX90 Excalibur Fireplace with arched surround, blower, ash drawer, and your choice of chimney. We will then install an aluminum chase pan and spark arrester.
This with air cooled chimney will cost: $8121.
This with solid packed 2100 degree chimney costs $9621.
The cost for this project does NOT include facing replacement. (The wall and mantel will be wrecked.)

Expert #2 is adamant that what Expert #1 proposes is unsafe and might burn my house down. I pointed out that the manufacturer's brochure says that Expert #1's equipment is safe in my type of fireplace. Expert #2 says that the Buck Bay Model 18 was never tested in my model of zero clearance fireplace, so no one knows if it is safe or not. He says that the manufacturer pays lawyers lots of $ to fight lawsuits. Expert #1 says that they have installed over 200 Buck Bay Model 18 wood stoves in zero clearance fireplaces within the last 2 years and have not had any problems. He says to burn oak or hickory, no soft wood, and no cherry (which burns too hot).

Expert #2's unit is about 10% more heat efficient, but the Buck Bay Model 18 is adequate here in NE Florida (63%). It heats 800-1200 sq. ft. which will keep my open concept family room/kitchen area toasty.

I favor Expert #2's Bucky Bay Model 18 because it is about 1/3 the cost of Expert #1's recommendation. But I do not want to burn my house down.

Advice please? Has anyone used the Buck Bay Model 18 in a zero clearance fireplace? Why is this so controversial?

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