Comparing A JUCA Model L-8 Fireplace Insert
As you research your choices of products available, you will
find that virtually ALL of the competing products are so-called
AIR-TIGHT devices. Some are called CATs and some are
non-CATs, depending on whether they have a catalytic combustor.
ALL of the competing products have rather small fireboxes.
That makes it so that they can ONLY take small, thinly split,
pieces of wood, which then requires those products to use suffocation
techniques in order to make the fire last longer. Their
approach does accomplish this, but at a cost. The airtight product's
NECESSARY limiting of oxygen to the fire, of not letting it have enough
oxygen to burn properly, creates terribly incomplete combustion.
That old fireplace was always allowed to have adequate oxygen for complete combustion! Virtually everything which could be burned, WAS burned! Virtually no pollution. Virtually no creosote.
Unfortunately, also virtually no HEAT!
Since this product is non-air-tight, it is exempt from the requirement of the direct-connect kit, and rightfully so since it doesn't accumulate creosote in the firebox when used properly. It is also exempt from the EPA restrictions on pollution particulate matter (grams per hour) which all air-tights must conform to.
Since the direct-connect kit is not used, installation and removal are remarkably easy (except for the fact that the unit weighs about 350 or 400 pounds!).
OK, so the JUCA Fireplace Insert is friendly to the environment and to your chimney. You're not interested in buying one just to be a nice guy! So how does it work?
Since the JUCA Fireplace Insert allows the fire to burn relatively normally, is was necessary for the JUCA designers to surround the fire with high efficiency, computer-designed heat exchangers to capture the heat and send it out into the house. The sophisticated heat exchangers are unlike anything in the industry. Very efficient. AND, they are each individually custom-designed and built for a specific fireplace!
Where most competitors use a minimal fan (usually 60 or 100 cfm), the JUCA L-8 uses a 465 cfm blower to accentuate the efficiency of the heat exchangers and additionally to more aggressively spread the heat around your house. (The L-10 uses a 336 blower). Where competitors sent their small amount of very hot air slowly out vents which are usually at the top of their units (and heat rises, so it immediately aims for the ceiling), the JUCA sends the warm (not hot) air nearer floor level to warm your feet and distribute the heat more evenly around the room and even into adjoining rooms.
Comfort levels are MUCH improved!
We've taken care of clean burning, environmental friendliness, high combustion efficiency, and high heat transfer efficiency, and all that is left is burn time. Since that was the original reason air-tight products came into existence (to extend burn times), let's discuss how a JUCA accomplishes this goal.
JUCA custom builds each and every Fireplace Insert specifically for that one particular fireplace! This allows you a very large firebox, in which to put quite a lot of wood. More importantly, you can use THICK pieces of wood. It turns out that the thicker a log is, the longer it will burn. Think about camping out overnight. In the morning, which pieces are still hot and glowing or sometimes even still burning? The thickest ones! 8" diameter logs in a JUCA will burn about 10-11 hours! The fact that they have relatively little flame seems like a disadvantage, but it actually turns out to be a plus.
By burning leisurely, the fire burns amazingly completely. Combustion efficiency is at its highest. The highly efficient JUCA heat exchangers then extract the bulk of this heat energy for the house. The heat production is very long, very constant, while still being very clean-burning.
An ideal solution! There are some air-tight products which have come on the market which don't use a catalytic combustor (non-CATs). Most have VERY small fireboxes which then usually need their draft controls to be left wide open in normal operation, effectively acting as a NON-airtight much of the time! They are almost trying to be like Mike! (Oops! Sorry! JUCA!)