Meridian & Ceramics


The urgent need for an alternate fuel to heat our homes became painfully evident with the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. Today, that need not only remains, but is even greater. There is are economic, ecological, and political reasons for seeking an alternate, renewable source of fuel for heating and cooking. If your budget is straining to cover oil at its current cost, think how cold (or broke) you could be in another couple of years.

The oil embargo was the impetus for Richard Johnson to start the design work for his Meridian stove. Richard foresaw an immediate and a long-term need for a stove that used wood (a renewable resource), and that was highly efficient as well as aesthetically outstanding. It was, Richard felt, time to evolve beyond the down and dirty (and inefficient and ugly) metal stove to something that made use of state-of-the-art materials, design principles that incorporated an advanced knowledge of thermodynamics, and was so distinctive and distinguished in appearance that people would welcome it as a centerpiece for their living rooms.


Besides the beauty, what is the benefit of ceramic over metal?

In all high-heat furnaces and kilns, refractory ceramic is the mandatory material. Ceramic walls allow higher temperatures for complete combustion, and will not deteriorate from excessive and continuous firings. Ceramic furnaces and crucibles are used to melt metal and cast iron.

Ceramic has the extraordinary characteristic of heat retention, while the thermal mass allows the heat to be stored and released long after the fire has gone out.

Ceramic heat has a unique, mild but penetrating warmth.

The exterior of a Meridian ceramic stove is safe to touch at all times.

Characteristics of Ceramics.

Ceramic bodies have widely differing compositions and characteristics. The foremost criterion for our Meridian is the ability of the ceramic to withstand the high temperatures that occur in the combustion chamber. Basically, we must have a zero coefficient of expansion ceramic body. That is, one that does not expand or contract with heat so that neither the rate at which temperature rises or the peak it attains damages or degrades the ceramic. We use this wonderful refractory formula in our brass foundry furnace, and our Kamado ceramic barbeque grills and kiln. There is nothing better than our Meridian ceramic formula.

Second, the Meridian has an extremely low R factor. This is the rate at which heat passes through the walls. It’s a measure of heat retention ability. The Meridian combustion chamber walls have the finest available formula, which results in high heat for complete combustion, and the retention of that heat in the outer walls. This permits slow release of the heat, over a long period of time, an ideal characteristic for a stove.

Consider how different two ceramic mugs are in terms of how they transfer heat. One, thin walled, will rapidly pass the heat of its contents through and literally be too hot to handle. Another, the same size but with thicker walls, holds much of the heat within, and can be handled comfortably. Our Meridian furnace mimics the latter, tightly holding and then slowly dissipating its heat.

Yet a stove isn’t of much use if you can’t warm your hands on a cold day. The ceramic glass on the Meridian provides a heat as well as a visual window through which warmth passes readily, to provide quick warmth while the stove retains its overall efficiency.

Why install a Meridian insert into a beautiful fireplace?

The Meridian you install will be no less beautiful than the existing fireplace, and may in fact be more attractive! But the most important reason for installing the Meridian is to replace the inefficiency of a traditional fireplace with a ceramic insert that is vastly better at making full use of the fuel to warm your rooms, rather than the outside! That increased efficiency translates very directly and substantially into a decrease in heating expense.

Unfortunately, your beautiful fireplace is very inefficient as a heat source. It does provide wonderful radiant heat while sitting close in front of the fire, but at the same time it is drawing cold outside air in and sending 80% of the warm air up the chimney. The net warmth, if any, is negligible. This is one reason most fireplaces are seldom used

Ease of use is another reason for choosing a Meridian. An open fireplace is often difficult to start, difficult to refuel, and difficult to keep lit. A Meridian is easy in every way. Its spherical ceramic combustion chamber is fast to start, easy to keep going, long burning, and needs little or no attention. You will enjoy using your Meridian often. We have customers who have used their Meridian continuously all winter long for more than 20 years.

What is meant by the term „Meridian heat“?

There are four types of what we call „Meridian heat“:

1. Slow Radiation. The heavy ceramic walls or ceramic mass store and release the ceramic heat as a slow, penetrating warmth. Often called a „Kachlofen“ heat after the famous centuries-old German and Scandinavian ceramic tiled stoves. There is nothing like ceramic heat.

2. Instant Radiation. The ceramic glass emits instant radiant heat from the fire, almost as if there were no door. Returning home after being away, you will be warmed the second you start the fire. There is no waiting for the ceramic mass to become heat soaked.

3. Infrared Rays. Infrared, or long-wavelength radiation is much like the warmth we receive when in the sun, versus that in the shade. If you can see the flames through the ceramic glass door from where you are sitting, you are being warmed by infrared as the rays pass through the glass.

4. Convection. After the warmth of the ceramic walls, nothing is more important than having the warmth from natural convection obtained from the double walled construction. All Meridians are designed with an airspace between the combustion chamber and the outer walls. The extremely hot, trapped air expands, moving upward and out of the Meridian. This air circulates air throughout the room(s). This natural, convective warm room air does not require a fan (more cost savings), since its movement depends on the fuel load of the fire. Convection, created by the double wall design, is an absolute necessity for proper operation of a stove or fireplace.

Is there an advantage to the round or spherical combustion chamber?

Yes! A spherical combustion chamber is the single most important factor in proper combustion. The general engineering design rule is simply that „round is better than square“ in combustion chambers. This is true in our car engine cylinders, jet engines, better kilns, furnaces, and a properly designed wood stove. This is an easy choice from a design point of view, but a difficult choice from a manufacturing perspective! A good sphere is very difficult to make. But it’s essential, so we’ve mastered the art of doing it. You will be rewarded by seeing the proper circulation and mixing, and the complete combustion resulting from the spherical design, or when viewing the flames through the glass. Or, more important, when you and your neighbors view the emissions from the top of your chimney…nothing but clear, smokeless and clean emissions.

Do the heavy ceramic combustion chamber walls increase the efficiency with which wood is burned?

Yes. The heavy walls are extremely important. Heavy ceramic walls are nearly as important for proper and complete combustion as a spherical design. You will find that there is virtually no ash. You will find you need to remove ashes very infrequently, and when you do they will remarkably different and more compacted, indicating a very complete burning or consumption of the wood.

Where does the insert obtain its combustion air?

The combustion air and its oxygen, needed to burn the wood or provide oxygen to the gas log, is provided by air drawn down the chimney. Nice warm room air is not used for combustion. This feature is one of the keys to the efficiency of the Meridian insert. You are not wasting warm room air to feed oxygen to the fire. To do so would displace this warm room air and replace it with cold air drawn from outside your home.

Is a Meridian a radiant heater or a convective heater?

Meridian stoves provide both radiant and convective heat. They provide immediate and intense radiant heat through the large ceramic glass, and continue providing penetrating and mild ceramic heat from the thermo mass of the ceramic structure.

Equally important is that Meridians are double walled. That is, the combustion chamber is entirely separate from the exterior walls, leaving airspace between them. The extremely hot air between expands and rises, pushing hot room air through the Meridian exhaust vents and creating circulation by natural convection.

Is a fan or blower necessary to circulate the heat from the double wall?

No. Natural convection will do an excellent job, without the need for a noisy (and expensive-to-operate) fan or blower. The amount of convective heat being circulated depends on the fuel load. The hotter the combustion chamber, the hotter the air is and the faster heat is circulated. Cold air is never blown around the room.

Does our fireplace opening need to fit the Meridian insert exactly?

No. We take your fireplace opening dimensions and make a „surround“ or collar, matching stove’s tile color to cover and seal the space, if any, between the insert and the opening. It is important to close this airspace, and it can be done attractively by the surround.

If the hearth or bottom of the fireplace is below the front opening of the insert, the hearth must be raised level with the front of the fireplace. Often, all that’s required is to place bricks or pour a small amount of concrete to make the floor level and even with the front of the insert’s opening. Often this hearth or floor is raised, so there is no airspace above the insert and the top of the opening of the fireplace.

How heavy is the insert?

The Meridian insert weighs approximately 600 pounds.

If I buy a gas Meridian insert or stove, can I later use wood? Or vice versa?

Yes. The Meridian gas insert can be operated on wood or gas and converted without major modification, by just removing the gas burner and plugging the hole with HTC. The chimney or flue must be an all-fuel system.

Is the glass in the door subject to cracking due to high temperature?

No. The glass is a high temperature ceramic glass that will withstand all temperatures that can be obtained from wood. The glass is guaranteed to withstand 2000 degrees F.

What about the door?

The door, frame, and handle are over 50 pounds of solid brass and will never deteriorate or lose their beauty.

What is the maximum BTU per Hour?

Approximately 45,000 BTU per hour British thermal units, a term often specified in the heating capacity. This output varies greatly depending upon of the moisture content of the wood, type of wood, altitude, and operator.

What is the average BTU output for a 8 hour burn?

15,875 BTU/hour.

Heating efficiency ?


Particulate Emission ?

2.9 grams per hour. Note: Maximum allowable emissions under Phase II regulations are 7.5 grams/hr.

Emission Opacity percent ?

2% opacity. Clear glass being zero and brick being 100%. Maximum allowable (some states) 20% opacity.

Maximum log length ?

20 ½ inches.

Maximum hardwood capacity ?

36 pounds.

Heating Capacity ?

700 to 1200 square feet. The Meridian Insert will no doubt heat the room in which it is located, and some heat will diffuse into immediately adjacent rooms with a considerable heat gradient.


Do I have a choice of tile colors for the Meridian insert and surround?

You certainly do. We offer a wide selection of tile colors and textures. Your Meridian will be custom made for you, with close attention to your selection and direction as to the color scheme and texture. Matching your décor is of the utmost importance in warming your heart as well as your room.


What measurements should I send you when ordering my Meridian insert?

We need the measurement (in inches) of the height and width of the front of the fireplace opening, the height and width of the rear (back), and the depth (distance from the front to the back). With these measurements, we can determine the dimensions of the surround that will seal the opening, if any, between the insert and the fireplace opening

Does our fireplace opening need to fit the Meridian insert exactly?

No. We take your fireplace opening dimensions and make a „surround“ or collar with tile to match the stove. It is important to close this airspace, and this is accomplished attractively with the surround. The surround is mortared or otherwise secured to the fireplace wall to form an airtight seal.

Can the average homeowner install the Meridian insert?

Absolutely. There are no structural modifications whatever to your fireplace. You can expect to reward your friends with a beer or two for helping with the moving portion of the installation, as the Meridian is approximately 600 pounds (relatively heavy). It is, however, fully assembled, strong and in no way fragile.

What tools and equipment will I need to install the Meridian insert?

There are no special tools needed. A piano dolly, pallet jack or sturdy cart is helpful in moving the Meridian to the fireplace. A set of Teflon skid pads, available at most home supply places, can also make the job easier. A power screwdriver is handy for dismantling the crate.

How will I install my new Meridian insert into the fireplace opening?

Your new Meridian insert will come with simple and detailed instructions. Basically, the insert will just slide into the fireplace opening, and rest flush with the front of the fireplace.

Placing the Meridian insert is facilitated by having two 1/8 t“ x2″x24″ metal runners on the bottom of the insert, 20 inches apart. Before installing the insert, two similar thin metal strips are placed on the fireplace hearth. When a light coat of oil or grease is applied to one of the strips, the Meridian slides easily into the fireplace opening. These metal strips are supplied with the Meridian.

Another method is to use two pieces of one inch or other diameter pipe approximately 20 inches long underneath the insert, so it can be rolled into the fireplace opening. The pipe is often left under the insert.

Is a flue pipe or other direct connecting flue necessary?

If the present chimney is carefully inspected and found to be structurally sound and clean of creosote, nothing else needs to be connected. Just slide your Meridian insert into the fireplace and it will operate beautifully.

Can the Meridian insert be installed into a non-combustible wall?

Generally (subject to local codes) yes. For homes constructed of brick, block, or other non-combustible wall materials, and where building departments permit, the Meridian can be installed much as a wall air conditioner would be. Just cut a hole in the wall and slide the Meridian in. Of course, proper bracing is necessary, as is an approved exterior flue pipe. The transformation of a cold room into a warm living room is remarkable.

When I move can I take the Meridian insert with me? Will I have to repair the fireplace after I remove the Meridian insert?

Whoever said you can’t take it with you wasn’t talking about a Meridian. You can easily remove your Meridian insert and take it with you when you move. However, you will find that the Meridian often adds considerable value if you are selling. If the home you’re leaving was a rental, be sure to remove the Meridian as you do all your valuable possessions. The Meridian is not attached to the real property, and thus remains yours (rather than the landlord’s).


How do I clean the glass on my Meridian insert?

The ceramic glass is self cleaning and you will never need to clean the glass. The combustion chamber’s high temperature keeps the glass absolutely clear.

Is the brass coated to resist tarnishing? How do I clean the brass on my Meridian insert?

The brass door is not coated and is polished the same way brass has been polished for centuries, or left unpolished for an antique, beautiful, and natural look. The most important feature of solid brass is that it is solid. You can be assured that this 50 pound solid brass door and frame will never chip, flake, or be damaged by accidentally hitting it. This is a lifetime investment in quality.

How often is it necessary to clean the chimney or flue?

You will rarely be cleaning your Meridian. The Meridian ceramic and spherical combustion chamber provides the high heat needed to burn hot and clean. The benefit is the lowest emissions of any contemporary stove. Look at the top of your chimney while the Meridian is lit and you will see. . .no smoke! Look at the combustion walls . . .they are white! Look at the glass door. . .it’s clear! Look at your neighbors faces. . . smiling!


How much area will the Meridian insert heat?

A reasonably accurate answer can only be arrived at after figuring out how well insulated the room is, ceiling height, square footage, fuel load, ambient temperature etc.

The Meridian insert is putting out ______ BTU’s per hour or more, so you can expect that a large area will be heated by radiation and convection. A quick answer would be approximately 500 to 900 square feet, and possibly much more. You will not be disappointed.

Will wood burn longer in my Meridian insert then my fireplace?

The Meridian, with its spherical, heavy-walled ceramic construction, will burn longer and more efficiently than any stove in the world, and certainly far better than your existing fireplace.

How often will I have to add wood?

That depends on the type of wood and the combustion air (draft) settings, but as an average, every 4 to 9 hours.

The Meridian will burn not only hotter, but also more controllably and above all else, cleaner than any competing stove. By controlling the amount of combustion air, you control the rate and length of the burn. One of the criteria might be the ability to have coals to restart the fire in the morning. With a Meridian, you’ll have them.


Can we cook in our Meridian insert or stove?

You certainly can. In the tradition of our Kamado ceramic BBQ grills, which are the best cookers in the world, you will have the finest oven in the world, surpassing even our Kamado. As all Kamado owners know, cooking food in ceramic is different and better. Please visit the Kamado forum, at You might want to ask a question or two about cooking in ceramic.

Where the Meridian will exceed even the Kamado is in the presence of additional ceramic mass. This is the critical component for long-retained heat and extremely high temperatures. Like „char rare“ steaks? Or the moistest turkey you have ever had? Just put one in before bed and it will be just as you like it in the morning. All you need is our simple instructions, a stainless steel grill grid, and a heat deflector