22 April 2015

Sticker shock, sort of

The visit to the Invicta Shop over in Saint-Georges went well. The staff seemed helpful, knowledgeable, and low-key. No pressure. There were enough stove models on display for us to get an idea about what we would like to have in a new wood-burner.

Of course, it always costs more than you hope it might cost. The stove we picked out, after considering several smaller ones, is Invicta's Kazan unit. It will take logs as long as 58 cm (about 23 inches) — our old stove is much smaller.

The Kazan lists at about 925 €, plus tax. That's less than a thousand dollars these days. The amount of tax you pay depends on whether you buy the stove yourself and install it (20% tax on the stove) or have a professional buy it and install it for you (5.5% tax on the stove and labor). Charging professional tradespeople less in taxes is the French government's way to encourage  people like us to hire work done by artisans rather than do it ourselves, thus creating jobs.

And as an incentive for people like us to install new, more efficient, less polluting heating systems, the French government also gives us a 30% tax credit on the price of the new stove. In other words, we'll get about 300 € back when we file our taxes next year. Such a deal!

So how much is the labor and what work needs to be done to put in a new stove? Well, the Invicta people say they need to remove the old stove and everything that was done to insulate and protect the chimney and house when the stove was installed in 2006 — they start fresh. That means new insulation in the top of the fireplace and a new stainless-steel sleeve for the brick chimney. Delivery of the new stove, a sweep of the chimney, and removal of the old stove are included in the total price for materials and labor, which comes to about 2,500 € (including the stove of course).

We didn't realize that the whole installation would need to be re-done from scratch. We were surprised when we got an estimate (via e-mail) yesterday afternoon for an amount that high. But then Walt looked back in our files to see what we paid in April 2006 to have the old stove installed, and that was also 2,500 €. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, comme on dit.

Here's the old stove.
It sits inside the big fireplace
in our living room.
The new one is much bigger
but will fit.

One side benefit of the Invicta visit is that we picked up a flyer there advertising wood for sale by an outfit in the village of Vallières-les-Grandes, near Amboise. We need to find a new wood supplier since our old one quit the business. This company sells 50 cm logs for 60 € per cubic meter (or stère), delivered.

That's only 10 € more than we have been paying for the same quantity of logs cut one meter long. They also sell 33 cm logs for 66 € per stère. (A U.S. cord of wood equals 3.6 stères.) One of our options is to keep the old stove for a while longer and order some logs pre-cut to the length we need for it. That would save us a couple of thousand euros this year and give us more time to consider our options.


  1. Could you sell the old stove and get some money back that way? It looks like it's in good condition.

    1. Yes, we could try. I have no idea what we could get for it. But I really don't relish the idea of running ads and taking telephone calls. The woman at Invicta said "Don't let anybody into your house to see what you have and how you live! Do it all by posting and sending photos..."

  2. The curves of the "old" stove fit the lovely design of your fireplace nicely....
    the new one echoes the line of the bricks...
    it is a nice, crisp, modern design that isn't going to look dated in ten years!
    For a proper stove like either of the above...
    I would reckon on getting fifteen to twenty years life from them.
    And, at 330€ for five stère of the 33cm, you are only 35€ up on what we paid for the last lot!
    That's an awful lot of 33cm logs to get you to 2500€... like well over 60 years deliveries!!
    And by the time I am 120 years old, I want an all pellet or plaquet system that auto-loads!!

    Unless I win the Euromillions and can afford someone to do it all for us!!

    There is a third option you haven't mentioned...
    your local plombier[s]... ours fit and install log fires...
    in fact we are waiting for a guestimate at the moment....
    They could purchase your new one for you...

    One thing you didn't mention is the flue diameter...
    is your old one the same as your new one?
    And what is your current chimney lined with for the old one?
    If the new one is a bigger diameter you will need new sleeving...
    if it is smaller, which I doubt... small into large doesn't draw as well...
    our big central heating boiler is small into large....
    to "future-proof" it... but it is a forced airflow and that doesn't matter.

    And I agree with Jean on the old one.... and a tube of lamp-black would make it look even newer!
    And if you asked half its original price, I reckon you'd get that.

    1. The stovepipe for the two stoves is the same. The chimney is lined with stainless steel. I just wrote to a man who has done roofing work and chimney sweeping for us to see if he would be able to put in a new stove this summer. I hope he says yes.

    2. As you are thinking down the same line as me... and your stainless pipe won't have changed in nine years...
      the blurb with ours reckoned 20 as a guarantee... so you've eleven or more years use out of the existing.
      Buy one and get it professionally fitted... especially with all that slow burning vine timber to use up....
      there are only so many corkscrews that people can use!!

  3. I like the look of the model you are looking at, but if you don't buy it now, in a year or two you can be sure there will be a new improved model for about the same price. Very interesting about the tax concessions and the subsidy.

    1. I'm not sure the new and improved model is always really improved. The tax issues benefits are interesting.

    2. I'm not sure the new and improved model is always really improved. The tax issues benefits are interesting.

  4. Is this outfit just like restaurants where they are supposed to have the best profit margin on wine, when a glass is the price of a bottle?

    In your case, is the warranty conditional on their installing the stove and all the trimmings?

    Before committing myself, I would check first if the stainless sleeve — and the insulation — has really to be changed after only 9 years of use! It seems to me like some kind of a rip-off. And then, as Tim suggests, I'd check with the plumber [or M. Harry Cover!] whether he can install the stove or even, if it is absolutely necessary, change the sleeve and the insulation for a better price. Good luck with this. [LOL, just saw your comment on M.Harry Cover!]

    As a last option, you still have the wait-and-see!

    1. I hope to get an answer from Haricot Vert this week or next. As for the stove's warranty, I think it would be the same no matter if we bought, a contractor bought it for us and installed it, or the Invicta people installed it.

      The Invicta people invoke insurance and liability reasons for their policy of ripping out the "old" chimney sleeve and insulation before installing the new stove. In other words, they want the work -- and our money.

  5. Cast iron wood-burning stoves are incredibly expensive here in the States-- and the huge price doesn't include installation. You can easily pay $2500 or $3000 just for the stove.

    1. Wow. I guess wood stoves are luxury items over there. We could get a perfectly serviceable one at a brico store for $500 or $600. And then the 30% tax credit!

  6. Ken, how long will the euro-dollar ratio be in your favor? I wish we were there now to take advantage of the low euro. Who knows where the euro will be come September?

    1. I gave up predicting exchange rates years ago. That said, predictions among so-called experts are for the euro to keep falling, gradually, against the dollar. Je ne demande pas mieux. I hope the rate will be in your favor in September.

  7. I'd be tempted to put it all off, but wait a second- the new stove must put out more heat, right? In that case I would buy it now for future warmth. I like the tax ideas for helping the artisans.

    1. The new stove, according to the specialists chez Invicta, is actually too hot for our space. I don't believe it. But then the one we have, which is less hot, has always been perfectly satisfactory. One factor is: we have hundreds of vine stumps -- maybe a winter's worth -- that are very difficult to cut to length for the current stove but that would fit fine in the newer model. Maybe just that is reason enough to change stoves.

    2. Ken, I was thinking this morning about the power output of the new stove...
      surely it is a good thing to have....
      hot air rises and you can leave doors open in winter, bank the fire up of an evening and use far less oil central heating...
      Callie will enjoy open doors, too... all BCs love to be able to roam unhindered!!
      Bertie, of course, being a cat.... passes through doors and walls without effort...
      unless a staff member is present... then squealing and a'wailing is used to make us do our "job"!!

    3. The people at the Invicta shop were quite adamant that we need a 6 to 8 kw stove for our space. But they haven't seen the space. The Kazan is a 9 kw stove. By the way, we almost never close our interior doors. We learned early on with the cat that he is perfectly capable of opening a door when he wants to, even if the door opens into the room he is trying to get out of. I don't know how he does it.


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