Turning a traditional open fireplace into energy save fireplace is usually relatively easy, without too much trouble and without much annoyance for the homeowners. The small irritation is negligible in relation to the permanent and multiple benefits we have to gain. Heating appliances placed inside the existing fireplace so it can be upgraded to energy save fireplace are called insert energy cassettes.
They have ventilators and are as good as an energy save fireplace we install from the beginning.Their main differences are in the opening of the door (in the cassette the opening is only outward) and in the power of the motor (stronger in fireplaces). However, they provide the same advantages as an energy save fireplace in relation to an open, traditional one.
We know that a basic prerequisite for an energy save fireplace is the existence of a door. With the door we avoid hot air escaping from the room through the chimney to the outside environment. Also, the closed door helps to increase the temperature inside the chamber, resulting in better combustion of the exhaust gases (mainly carbon monoxide). This causes an even greater heat releasing.
The basic philosophy of making energy save cassettes is the double wall, a heat chamber that surrounds the fireplace. The motors located at the bottom of the cassette, insert the air from the space into the heat chamber, the air circulating around the cassette, is heated and exits hot from the exhaust ports on the top of the cassette.
TYPES OF ENERGY SAVE CASSETTE
There are two types of energy save cassettes: either cast iron plates surrounded by a metal casing or a double metal frame and lined internally with various materials suitable for fire (cast iron, vermiculite, fire plated or steel).
In the first category, we usually see imported European energy save cassettes and in the second category mostly Hellenic.
Types vary depending on where the cassette will be placed and the models are: one-sided fireplace, two-sided fireplace, round (with oval glazing), polygon (for corner fireplaces) and see-through.
The results are high and range from 70% to 80%. And KW produced vary from 9 to 18 ¹. Compared with traditional fireplaces where their yields range from 12% to 18%, and considering that they consume half the wood, we realize that they are ten times more efficient.
One also important reason that should encourage us to turn our open fireplace into energy save one is also its clearly “clean” operation. Classical open fireplaces emit 19.3 μg of particulate matter per kilo of fuel while the energy save fireplaces 5.1 μg. If we want to significantly reduce the smog phenomenon, which occurs in winter the days with no wind, we should not only stop burning hazardous and inappropriate materials (chipboard etc.) or fresh wood with high moisture content, but we should make sure that our appliances have the best possible burning. And this is something the energy save cassettes can guarantee.
Let us note here that the problem of microparticle emissions in the environment lies not only in their emission in the external environment through the chimney but also in the space where the open fireplace is burning².
The fact is, of course, that wood-particulate microparticles are considered to be less toxic than those produced by the burning of oil. They have zero emissions of carbon dioxide.
Energy save cassettes as well as energy save fireplaces due to the presence of a door guarantee safety and security during their burning. Sparks are not thrown out (burn carpets) and they don’t smoke. So, you can move away safely during their operation. In the evening you can create a good fire and go to bed.
Placement usually occurs within one day. The isolation of the space around the fireplace with plastic (nylon), covering of the furniture and laying of cardboard on the floor is preceded. Usually some firebricks will have to be removed from the back of an existing fireplace. It is very rare the cassette to fit exactly into the existing fireplace, on its own. We try to work from under and inside the fireplace, when of course possible, to avoid creating the need for repairs. We do not break the outer wall of your fireplace. We aim to pass through a new stainless-steel chimney all the way to the top in the existing one, which is usually made of bricks or prefabricated cement elements. The gaps that may be created between your new device (cassette) and the pre-existing open fireplace should be closed as best as possible, for aesthetic reasons but also for functional and technical reasons³.
¹ In several European countries the certification of heating appliances has strict specifications standards for the emission of air pollutants. Large emissions are not certified. Also, depending on pollutant emissions in some countries, there is a subsidy policy for the purchase and installation of wood burning heating appliances. Thus, manufacturers in Europe in order to pass certification checks prefer during the control process the lesser consumption of wood, thus the less energy released in KW. The gain, of course, is the much less pollutant in the atmosphere, as the intended certification. In Greece and in Eastern European countries, there is no equivalent legislation linking device certification to emission of pollutants into the atmosphere. Consequently, the manufacturers commercial interest is to declare that their device produces the most KW possible. I hope this will solve your probable question how it is possible cassettes from Germany or Italy, for example, certified with 10 KW and other Greek with 27 KW. Both are certified but in the certification process one burned 2.5 kg / h and the other 8 kg / h.
² Some simple, useful advice from the HCDCP experts
- We do not use as combustible material in the fireplace or on the stove: painted or varnished wood, furniture or any kind of plastic.
- We avoid chemicals, we prefer natural starters.
- We do not buy wood impregnated with chemicals for slow burning or easy lighting.
- If we wish to burn biomass for a decisive contribution to the heating of the house, it is preferable to turn to other solutions such as: central heating with water heated fireplace, pellet stoves, energy save fireplaces.
- Proper maintenance of heating appliances is essential.
- Avoid gas or charcoal heaters in the apartment or motor home.
- We prefer devices marked ‘CE’.
- If we use a stove, fireplace or biomass burner it is advisable to install a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector.
³In all cases and prior to the installation of the energy save cassette, a visit to your place is preceded by an experienced technician. After analyzing all the data, we propose and suggest how to do the job properly from a technical point of view. Remember, this is a construction not for preparation. There are no ready recipes, and each job has its peculiarities. But there is our, know-how, experience and will, for the best possible result.