When Katie McKellar and her family moved into their 1980s-era house last year, they knew they needed to make a decision about their heating plans. The home’s previous owners had converted a wood-burning fireplace to a gas unit, but then had taken that gas unit out completely, leaving them with an empty, unproductive space in the center of their living area.
“As fall approached, we knew we had to do something to supplement the wall-mounted pilot heaters we had in each room,” McKellar, a resident of Seattle, Washington, says. “We thought about going back to the original wood-burning fireplace, but the idea of tromping back and forth into the living room with wood just wasn’t appealing.”
They reached out for advice from a friend who’s also an expert—Ken Gross, Quadra-Fire’s senior product manager. Their timing was perfect, because Gross had been looking for a family to serve as “beta testers” for the prelaunch of the Trekker pellet stove and insert.
After their first full winter of using a Trekker pellet insert, we checked in for a report from the family. “Trekker was our only heat source all winter, and it worked so well for us,” Katie reports. “From a practical standpoint, I really appreciated the clean burn. Plus, we weren’t tracking moss and bark across our floors, the way we would have been doing with wood.”
“As a design element, Trekker fit right in with our décor,” Katie says. “The cast iron black is a great color, and I appreciated the grate over the front for safety, since we have a three-year-old son. I felt very safe having him around the stove, and he loved how cozy it was. He even helped us fill it up with pellets.” The space soon became a cozy gathering spot: “Even the dog loved stretching out in front of it,” McKellar says.
Setup and use
Installation was a concern, given the existing narrow chimney, but the Trekker insert ended up fitting perfectly into the space. The family decided to put the Bluetooth thermostat down hallway, away from the living area, to encourage full-house heating. McKellar explains: “The thermostat was closest to my son’s room, which was my main concern. It kept him warm all season.”
Bluetooth thermostat technology
“Having a Bluetooth thermostat made the Trekker very easy to operate,” McKellar says. “That wireless control panel was awesome. If we ever ran out of pellets, it would let us know. I liked being able to set the heat level on a one through five scale, because if we didn’t want to push heat out super-fast, we could set it down a notch.”
Given the family’s busy schedule and occasional weekend travel, she especially appreciated the seven-day programmable scheduler. “We would set it to within two or three degrees of the range we wanted it to be, and it would take care of the rest. We always woke up to and came home to a warm house.”
Cost savings, too
Entering into the beta test, McKellar wasn’t sure what the cost differential would be between traditional heat and the Trekker pellet insert. “We compared this winter’s electric bill with last winter’s, and it’s unquestionably been cheaper to use the Trekker,” she says. “We’ve had a cold winter and a few days of snow, but we’ve definitely saved money this year.” Asked if she’d recommend the Trekker, McKellar says: “Absolutely, especially because of that that Bluetooth technology on the wireless thermostat. It’s just super-easy to use.”
Want to learn more about Trekker, available in both a fireplace insert and freestanding pellet stove? Connect with a Quadra-Fire dealer near you today!