An Alternative to a Fireplace Insert

DW hearth heater, DW Trimline Doors, Black & Pol. Brass, Top & bottom Fullview
DW hearth heater

For people who are either in a mild climate, or otherwise want to IMPROVE the performance of a fireplace to a moderate extent, or who insist on a very "standard" appearance of their fireplace, we have a suggestion. This arrangement does not actually involve anything we manufacture, (so our currently ridiculously long production times for our custom built units would not apply) and the heat collection is somewhat less, but there is incredible flexibility of appearance, where the fireplace could look very "standard". In many cases, since we can supply these set-ups at our normal discounts, the final cost is actually even far less than that of our L-8! (Pretty effective job of salesmanship, huh?)

This approach gives a VERY traditional look to the fireplace, while still getting some heat out of it. Your first thought on the photograph above was probably that this is a picture of a fireplace with a normal set of fireplace doors. You only get a C- for that observation! Do you see those two little sets of (dark) slots below the doors? They are part of a brass strip across the bottom that is actually part of an entirely different product! One of the sets of slots is where room air is drawn in and the other is where warmed air is sent back out.

There are actually TWO separate products involved here! The first (which only shows as that narrow bottom strip just mentioned) is called a hearth heater or fireplace heat exchanger. Several brands are available of this. We know of three, and we can supply any of the three. Each has a little blower (often 60 cfm) and some hollow tubes where the log grate would normally be. The blower pushes air through these passageways, to heat it up, and then back out into the room. In principle, a really neat idea! The front (visible part) of each brand is only 1 3/8 inch tall, and it has a little shelf top.

This allows the second part of the concept, ANY normal fireplace door set to be used above it. This includes ALL of the 2,000 different door appearances that we can supply (at a discount, of course!) [The doorset would actually be selected for an opening 1 3/8" less tall than the actual opening.]

The net effect of this combination is that you can get any possible final appearance you wish for the fireplace, while keeping from losing room heat up the chimney (the glass doors) and also getting some extra heat from the fireplace. The hearth heaters are about $450-$500 (for burning wood) or $350-$400 (for burning gas). The door set prices are all listed (for a particular sized fireplace) in the page link above, and our discounted prices for them generally range from $300-$2200. If you are intending to burn gas logs in a rectangular fireplace, and you have moderate tastes, that means you may only need to spring for $350 plus $300 or $650 total cost! WAY less than the L-8's $1500 or competing products $2200 or more. (Another EXCELLENT job of JUCA salesmanship!)

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The JUCA Commercial

This arrangement in not QUITE as perfect as it first seems. There actually ARE situations where a JUCA L-8 is worth buying! As we mentioned before, these hearth heaters produce SOME heat, but only a moderate amount. If you're SERIOUS about getting heat from the fireplace, if you truly want to heat most of the house, these are not the way to go, and an L-8 is the obvious (and probably ONLY) solution. The continuing discussion only applies to the categories of people mentioned at the end of our L-8 home page, who do not particularly need the huge amount of heat or want the appearance of an L-8. To supply a good amount of heat for the room the fireplace is in, these are fine!

Back to the Show!

We'll assume you already know about the vast choice of doors we have available. At least one of them is BOUND to ring your chimes. Hopefully, it's not one of the $2,200 door sets! Even if you want it to be Pewter or Chrome or Antique Copper, we have lots of choices for you! So we'll just discuss the OTHER part of this concept here, the hearth heater.

To clarify this situation, we're going to now give you two pictures, the first with JUST a hearth heater installed, and the second, after a door set was installed above it.

HG heater without the door set

HG hearth heater before the doors are installed
Same HG heater with antique brass doors installed
Same HG hearth heater after HG Antique brass doors are installed
Now you should have a pretty good idea of the general concept. We'll give you a few more pictures of fireplaces with various of the available hearth heaters. Leave the mouse over any picture to know which heater is being shown.

DW wood hearth heater with DW black and pol. brass Trimline doors installed

DW wood hearth heater with DW Trimline black and brass doors installed
CF gas hearth heater with CF polished brass doors installed
HG wood hearth heater with HG arch-top doors installed
HG hearth heater, with arch-top doors installed
Each of these looks very much the same, and the overall appearance is obviously dominated by the door set chosen. Each is generally available with a facing that is either Black or Polished Brass or a few other finishes (sometimes at extra cost). We have only shown one of them with an arch-top door set, but any of them are compatible with any Flat-Arch, Full-Arch or Rectangular door set we offer.

The Negatives

We felt it necessary to go through all this stuff because of the astounding hyperbole in sales literature of all hearth heaters. If you have seen such literature, the hearth heaters seem almost magical. They are not.

Given the unbelievable backlog regarding production of our custom-built L-8 units, where we cannot see the possibility of accepting new orders for L-8s for a LONG TIME, we think that considering this hearth heater approach might make sense for most people, because their needs and desires do not involve trying to heat the entire house. Since we can supply both the hearth heaters and the door sets pretty quickly, there would not be any long wait involved! And, even if you use one of these extremely hard and it conks out in 5 years, you would probably have gotten good value during that time. And even in that situation, the door set could still be used and just the $400 hearth heater might have to be repaired or replaced. In practical terms, we think this approach has enough merit to seriously consider.

You probably are sick of engineering by now and want to see more pictures. The following are some hearth heaters, and even their inside workings. They all appear to us to be very similar in design(?) and construction. We don't really see much reason for encouraging you to consider one or another, except on price.

DW

DW wood hearth heater

DW wood hearth heater
DW gas hearth heater
DW gas hearth heater


Current (2005) LIST prices are (before our discount):
(The first number in the size is the width at the back, so the rear wall of the fireplace needs to be at least that wide. The second number is the depth dimension, so the fireplace needs to be at least that depth.

You can see that they all offer virtually identical products! The gas log heaters are compatible with most brands of gas logs from 16" to 30" size gas log sets. (The gas logs and burner are NOT included with the hearth heater! The gas burner goes UNDER the hearth heater and the logs sit on top.) All of these varieties are generally immediately available. Availability of the 2000 different door sets vary from immediate (for many stock styles and sizes) to a number of weeks (for unusual sizes or arch top where the doors are custom built).

Our prices for each of the hearth heaters is 15% less than the list price indicated above. In other words, the DW gas hearth heater, which lists for $425.00, would be $361.25 from us. The DW wood hearth heater, which lists for $525.00, would be $446.25 from us. Just take 15% off any of the price (totals, if options) shown above for our cost. A few other modifications and options are available on each, for various extra amounts! E-mail us for specifics!

Bulletin!

We have just learned that the blower motors that all these units depend on are no longer imported! (Some other issues existed, too.) In any case, DW just informed us that they have stopped manufacturing their hearth heaters, and never expect to make any more. We learned that HG stopped manufacturing them a couple months ago, for the same reason. This apparently leaves no one still manufacturing them! Bummer!

We will leave this page up for some time, in case anyone again starts to manufacture them, because we think it is a very informative page.

There is actually (a little) good news that we can contribute! We (JUCA) are finally making a SMALL number of our L-8 units again. NOT enough to fill the thousands of orders that are "out there waiting" so we are not (yet) updating the "Bad News" about this. But you might consider sending us in an e-mail!

Let's see! About the only thing we haven't mentioned is installation! Pretty simple! The hearth heater is not actually attached to anything, so it just gets placed in the fireplace and its electric cord plugged in. Then, the standard set of fireplace doors (but 1 3/8" less tall, of course) gets installed by any of the several simple and quick methods that are always described in the installation instructions of that door set. Generally, the entire installation can be done in under an hour!

Have we done a thorough enough job of talking you out of getting a JUCA L-8 Fireplace Insert?


Additional Note

There have been a LOT of people who read the information above and have great interest in buying one of these hearth heaters from us. In the process of trying to decide which one they want, they tend to have lots of specific questions for us about them.

Please realize, that in "normal" times, these products are essentially competitors of ours! Prior to our various production difficulties and the enormous demand for all of the JUCA models, our only interest in such competitive products was so we could describe why our stuff was better!

In order to reduce the effect of leaving prospective JUCA L-8 buyers out in the wilderness, we had looked at competitive Fireplace Inserts and found that they were all WAY too expensive and/or of too inferior a design, for us to recommend to anyone. There ARE a couple products that sell for over $3,000 that are decently designed, but they seem unlikely to ever pay for themselves in fuel savings, so we can't get too excited about them.

That pretty much left Hearth Heaters as the only remaining realistic alternative. From the text above, which some people have described as "harsh", you must see that we are not especially impressed with them, but they have two positive points in their favor. They allow a fireplace to LOOK very normal, and their prices are relatively reasonable.

That being said, remember that these products have been traditionally competitors of ours. We have NEVER used any of them (because we would far rather use JUCA products, of course!), and in many cases, we have not even physically seen some of them! This is not a particularly attractive position to be trying to sell something! When people ask how big some particular part of one is, or how sturdy one or another seems, or how noisy the blower is, or a hundred other details like that, we're really not in a position to know, and we don't want to guess at answers when people ask questions. Particularly curious to us is that these hearth heaters all seem to be rather "deep", often 20" or so, while many existing fireplaces are only 18" or even 16" deep. That has long seemed like a serious concern to us! Some of them are available as special orders for shallower dimensions, but they are a lot more cost and many more weeks in production. No one seems to ever ask about this, but we see it as about the only reason that one of them might not fit in a specific fireplace. (P.S. DW has VERY recently begun to offer a shallower 14" deep hearth heater, specifically for shallow pre-fab fireplaces! It is briefly mentioned above.)

This page is primarily meant to indicate that we, JUCA, think that hearth heaters seem to be the "best" available alternative that we are aware of, inasmuch as our L-8 is not likely to be available for a long time in the future. Probably the best situation is if you can find somewhere locally that sells such hearth heater products, and you could check it out there and even buy it there. For people who cannot find a local source for hearth heaters, we have been willing to help by selling units at the discounted prices mentioned above. We see this as sort of a public service!

As a later note to this, we have heard back from several people who, after having received a hearth heater, and used it for a while, they decided they didn't like it! They called us with the expectation of being able to return such a now-undesired unit to us. We do not have the capability of doing that! Please keep in mind that we are merely trying to do a public service here, that our actual business is in manufacturing products that are direct competition to the basic concept of a hearth heater. In other words, if we were to ever receive back either an unused or a used hearth heater, it would go directly into a dumpster! We have no showroom, particularly for products that are direct competitor products, we have no inventory of such products, and would not be involved with them at all, except in the process of trying to do a good deed!

Because of these several customers who had later changed their minds after having used the hearth heaters, we really have lost our interest in continuing to generally handle hearth heaters! After all, after giving a 15% discount and paying rapidly rising freight costs, we have never really made much gross profit on them anyway! We never did it to make money! Just to try to do something nice for people. Since that concept doesn't seem to be working out, we would rather not handle any more.

If you happen to be a person who has uncertainty about whether you might really want such a product, we are confident that there is some fireplace shop near you that carries such products, and where you would even probably be able to see one! Such local stores generally maintain an inventory of such products, so, in the event that you decided you didn't like it, they are usually set up to accept returns. Generally, if an UNUSED hearth heater is returned to such a local fireplace store, they charge a "restocking charge" of around 25% of the original cost, probably around $150. Regarding their taking back a product that has already been used, we suspect that each store has its own policies about that. Since such a used, returned product could never be sold, THEY know that and so they might either not accept back used products at all or charge a very large "restocking charge" (like 50% or more). But at least a local fireplace shop might have such policies, because they have a showroom and they keep inventory of those products.

Since we have always been a customer-centered company, we would hate for people in desolate areas to not have access to such products, in the event that they truly believe that's what they want and need. For THOSE PEOPLE, sure, we will still handle them. But still with the necessary provision that we have no capability of ever accepting one if someone decides they don't like it! (In the event of shipping damage, or a product problem during the warrantee period, the manufacturers of the hearth heaters seem to be great at taking care of such things, so that would not be affected.)

(This link is no longer needed!)
In that regard, here is Our Order Form for Hearth Heaters. As with our doors, the form would be printed out, filled in with the appropriate information, and mailed in to us at the address on the Form, along with a check for the proper amount.




The JUCA Home Page is at: juca

E-mail to: JDoor1