|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
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!)
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 hearth heater before the doors are installed|
|Same HG hearth heater after HG Antique brass doors are installed|
|DW wood hearth heater with DW Trimline black and brass doors installed|
|HG hearth heater, with arch-top doors installed|
Some hearth heater products HAD been on the market that included their thin-gauge tubes up the back and even over the fire. Such products tended to burn out very rapidly. They seem to have completely disappeared from the market. Probably, just as well!
Grit your teeth! We're going to go into some technical stuff here! Each of these hearth heaters has a room outlet grille area of roughly 2 square inches area. I'll jump ahead for a moment and tell you that these units count on producing air of up to 500°F (to send out into your room!) at their maximum claimed output! The Ideal Gas Law from Chemistry tells us that air at 500°F has expanded to about twice the volume it had at room temperature. With their 60 cfm blower, this would suggest that 120 cfm of very hot air would come out through that little grille. Let's think about that. 120 cfm is 2 cubic feet per second. Since the area is 2 square inches (1/72 square foot), that means that the air would have to be coming out into the room at 144 feet per second, or around 100 mph!
Do you think their tiny little blower is capable of firing air out into your room at 100 mph? Would you WANT it to? Especially, if that air was at 500°F?
Their heat exchange tube air path is not very aerodynamic, either. Such very high speed air would have huge frictional losses, and it would likely take a blower motor of several horsepower to actually push air through it at those speeds. As such high speed air passed through their grille, it would also sound like a steam kettle!
This suggests that the ACTUAL airflow through their blower is not the free-air value of 60 cfm, but possibly 30 cfm, tops.
In a VERY approximate sense, heating one cubic foot of air per minute by 1°F takes about 1 Btu/hour of heat. (Strictly, there are DOZENS of variables that affect the actual amount.) If you took room temperature air and heated it up 570°F higher (raising it by 500°F, and ran one cubic foot of air per minute through the hearth heater, that air would have captured about 500 Btu/hr of heat. Since we're discussing doing this to 30 cubic feet every minute, just multiply 500 times 30. This means that if the air came out of the hearth heater at 570°F, that air would be bringing about 15,000 Btu/hr out into the room.
Most people don't realize that a good sized room often only needs a total of 8,000 Btu/hr even in the dead of winter in a nasty climate. So, 15,000 Btu/hr would easily heat that one room. Actually, since the room only needs half that, even when outdoor temps are below zero, the air coming out of it would almost never need to be above 300°F to keep that room nice and cozy warm. (That very hot air quickly mixes with other room air and quickly cools down to safe temperatures.)
On milder days, or in milder climates, that room would probably only actually need 4,000 Btu/hr of heat, and the hearth heater could EASILY produce that!
So! Will a hearth heater supply enough heat to keep a decent sized room warm? Absolutely! Will it produce the impressive numbers that they choose to claim in their adertising? Probably not! It's hard to figure why they feel the need to exaggerate so much in their numerical claims, since it actually can do a good job at what it is actually intended to do!
We know we've made a big production here, but it should help clarify why we suggest a JUCA L-8, with its far more sophisticated design and much larger blower, for very serious heating needs. But, that, at the same time, one of these hearth heaters could work excellently for many less demanding heating needs. And, with 2,000 door normal fireplace door appearances to choose from, the appearance doesn't change the fireplace like an L-8 (or any competing fireplace insert) would.
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 wood hearth heater|
|DW gas hearth heater|
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!
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?
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.
E-mail to: JDoor1