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Optimal Heating For Your Hearth And Home – A Selection Of Top-Notch Fireplace Inserts

The fireplace is one of those elements impossible to ignore in a room. It instantly draws attention and at the same time, enhances your comfort. Whether with its blazing flames shining through or its elegant look, it can really set the mood.

To enhance your fireplace’s performance and design, you should consider a worthy frame. We have several wood-burning and electrical fireplace inserts to bring to your attention today. From types of inserts to most important features, we are ready to tell you all about it. Learn more on how to choose the appropriate insert for your fireplace. Make a wise investment so your warming spot looks fabulous, no matter the season. And to ensure your fireplace insert passes the test of time, we’ve also got some tips to help you take good care of it. 

Can you imagine getting warm and cozy by the fireplace? We have a carefully curated selection of six best fireplace inserts, for your fire gazing pleasure. Read through and pick your favorite.

Why Do You Need A Fireplace Insert?

You may think your fireplace is good the way it is. Or perhaps you want to make a change and you’re not sure if you’re ready to give up your current fireplace. No matter the case, the good news is a fireplace insert can do the trick.

In terms of practicality, numbers speak for themselves. The proper insert can increase the performance of your fireplace by up to 70%. The science behind? Well, a wood-fueled fireplace insert enhances the heat output of the burning process. What it does is containing and radiating warmth back to the room. The traditional masonry fireplace simply releases heat in the nearby area. So, it may seem like it warms up your whole home, but it can actually waste energy and fuel. The drafts from the chimney end up drawing the hot air out of the room.

If you are the kind of person who values comfort and modernity a lot, a simple fireplace is not enough. Just think about a fireplace insert that has extra features for more comfort. From remote control to the thermostat and predefined settings, to optimize the energy consumption. You can easily rely on it to warm up only a section of your home, keeping the main heating system off. And it also saves you the trouble of cleaning the ashes or getting wood/pellets. Sounds pretty convenient, right? Electric or gas inserts meet these requirements with ease.

What Exactly Is A Fireplace Insert?

Before getting too technical, how about we clarify what this element is? There are several components that make up the fireplace insert. It features its very own firebox, usually encompassed in cast iron or steel. As this box gets hot from the fire, the metallic carcass retains the warmth. Some models also feature a blower, to help with the hot air circulation through the room. There is also a sealing door in the front part. On this, a heat-resistant glass window is usually mounted. This allows you to see the flames burning inside. Finally, around the stove, you can notice a metal frame sealing the fireplace opening. 

As you can install them in your masonry fireplace, inserts are quite a versatile option. Such a piece can transform the way your living room or any desired space looks like. You can go from rustic to contemporary, with a very reasonable investition.

This modern alternative to a classical fireplace can also burn a variety of fuels. If you decide to get a fireplace insert, you have five different options:

  • Natural gas
  • Propane
  • EPA-certified wood
  • Pellet
  • Coal
  • Electricity.

For those of you preoccupied with protecting the environment, there is hope. Using an EPA-certified wood-burning fireplace insert helps reduce wood-burning emissions. According to the manufacturers, these models lower the emission value to almost zero. An electric insert may include an eco operating mode, adjusting energy consumption.

Benefits Of Using A Fireplace Insert

As the market offers a diverse array of inserts, you may find yourself wondering. Why should I get a specific type of fireplace insert? Here we are, providing you with a list of the most important benefits for this type of heating appliance.

  • Wood Burning Fireplace Insert 

First and foremost, the stylish look of a wood burning insert is hard to compete with. Bringing back that traditional vibe, it is ideal if you dream of cold nights, cuddling by the fire. The authentic flames and genuine cracking wood sounds will top your expectations. Not to mention how versatile its front part can be, with a simple cut, clean lines or intricate details. 

Aside from the cozy vibe this type of insert brings to a room, let’s talk about heating efficiency.  Heavy insulation is what makes these hot spots up to 80% more efficient than a masonry fireplace. As they are usually made of steel or cast iron, they are capable of containing heat a lot better. Heat distribution in a room is by far, much improved, thanks to the control over air circulation. The warm air is usually spread with the help of a built-in fain. With the right fireplace insert, you can keep areas as wide as 3,000 square feet warm and cozy, without extra help. 

And if you get to turn off your central heating system, that means your heating costs decrease. Now, if you think burning wood will melt your budget, think again. Compared to a standard fireplace, an insert makes firewood burn far more efficiently. As less heat goes up to the chimney, less waste of energy takes place. Reducing the number of logs needed for fueling your home blaze means less money spent.

If you are, by any chance, worried about your environmental footprint, just breathe. Wood burning fireplace inserts are a wise choice when it comes to this. Thanks to the latest innovations, they not only need less logs to burn, but also produce less smoke. Plus, the emissions that can pose a risk for your health or nature are also reduced close to zero.

Finally, you may want to know a fire insert helps keep the temperature inside your home even when the fire’s off. A classical masonry fireplace has plenty of spots for the air currents to move. Even when you close the damper, it is unlikely that this will seal the chimney airway completely. That means air will be going back-and-forth through the house and chimney. You can say goodbye to sudden chills with an insert. And this also means that carbon monoxide and other harmful gases are safely kept sealed. Rely on the effective sealing doors to prevent air leakage in any season.

  • Pellet Burning Fireplace Inserts

Performance-wise, these inserts are rather similar with the wood-burning ones. Even from the perspective of design, they are quite pleasing for the eye, thanks to the frontal window. They allow you to admire the flames and provide a great amount of heat. Compared to wood, however, pellets are a more affordable alternative as combustible. 

  • Electric Fireplace Inserts

If you want to experience that gleaming logs vibe in your room, but not go chopping wood, this is your ideal insert. It’s easy to maintain, as you don’t have to clean the ashes or always ensure you have enough wood supplies. It usually offers several degrees of heat intensity, light. It can also feature an option where it only displays the burning wood, without the heat, for the sake of cozy vibes. Long story short, these inserts bring all the modern commodities a button away.

  • Gas Fireplace Inserts

Though they lack the ember glow of burning logs, gas inserts save you more time and energy. Getting them started is less nerve-racking, compared to wood burning ones. There is no unpleasant smoke or ashes, while the heating power is at a high level. Safe to use and practical, they only require extra-effort in connecting them to a gas line. Once you finish that step (with the help of a professional, preferably), you can enjoy warmth. Their design allows evacuating the carbon monoxide and other gases outside. That means your indoor air remains safe to breathe.

How To Choose The Best Fireplace Insert For Your Home?

To each their own, they say. When it comes to choosing the best fireplace insert for your home, the rule applies. However, beyond your personal preferences, there are some important aspects to look for. Below, you’ll find a list of the main characteristics you need to look at, when buying a fireplace insert.

There is more than meets the eye, so try to look beyond appearance. As appealing as the design of an insert can be, you need to find the one that fits best in your available space. To get a clearer idea of what you need, measure the depth, height and width of your fireplace. This way, you can identify the size of the suitable insert.

Check the BTU performance. That stands for British Thermal Units, reflecting the amount of heat a unit can produce in an hour. As a general rule, the larger the space you want to heat, the higher the BTUs you need. Inserts are usually capable of delivering from 30,000 to 90,000 BTUs and more. You can calculate the BTU you need and get a rough estimate using an online calculator. We’ll include a table for reference below too, to make it easier for you.

Of course, there are some variables that influence the BTU needed for your home. Among them, we mention: the specific climate in your area, how well insulated the house is, the age of the building. Also, how many windows you have matters, as well as what materials is the house made of. 

One more thing to keep in mind. Decide if the wood burning fireplace insert will be the primary heating source. There is no need to get a high BTU one if it’s going to be only a complementary one. Remember, you want your room to be warm and cozy, not scorching hot.

ROUGH ESTIMATION OF THE RECOMMENDED BTUS VALUE FOR YOUR SPACE

SURFACE (SQ.FT)RECOMMENDED INSULATION (BTUS)MODERATE INSULATION (BTUS)POOR INSULATION (BTUS)
Up to 200 4,000 BTU6,000 BTU9,000 BTU 
Up to 400 8,000 BTU12,000 BTU18,000 BTU 
Up to 600 12,000 BTU18,000 BTU27,000 BTU 
Up to 800 16,000 BTU24,000 BTU36,000 BTU 
Up to 100 20,000 BTU30,000 BTU45,000 BTU 

Discover Our Most Recommended Fireplace Inserts

Time to get down to business. Enough theory, it’s time to reveal our top picks. Six most impressive wood-burning fireplace inserts are ready to come in front of you. A quick overview of their strengths and specs is available in the table below. And for those eager to read more, we have a thorough analysis. We go through each model and tell you why we find it a great candidate to warm up your home. Get cozy, cause this topic’s gonna heat you up!

ProductBTUsType Coverage AreaSize

(inches)
WarrantyBest Feature
Ashley Hearth 1800 sq. ft. Wood Stove Insert69,000wood burning

insert
1800 sq. ft23.5 x 27.2  x 23.25limited lifetimetop performer, adjustable high-speed blower
ClassicFlame 36" Traditional Built-in Electric Fireplace Insert8,900electric insert800 sq.ft.36 x 7.62 x 24 1 year limitedideal for zone heating; multifunctional remote
PuraFlame 33 Inches Western Electric Fireplace Insert Heater with Fire Crackling Sound5,800electric insert400 sq.ft.35.04 x 8.78 x 26.991 year limitedsleek, elegant design, easy installation, genuine-like fire experience
Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Ventless Insert-32,000 BTU32,000natural gas/ liquid propane insert1500 sq. ft29.5 x 29.1 x 15.61 yearzero-clearance approved, ODS sensor, compact and powerful
Breckwell SP24I, Matte Black50,000pellet insert2200 sq.ft26.5 x 38.5 x 215 years limitedlarge capacity for refill (60 lbs hopper bin), 60h burn time
Drolet Escape 1500-I Wood Insert with faceplate65,000wood burning insert1800 sq.ft.36.2 x 32.2 x 26.5lifetime limitedvery low carbon footprint, powerful secondary combustion system 

Ashley Hearth 1800 sq. ft. Wood Stove Insert

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In an elegant shade of black, the AW1820E Ashley Hearth Wood Stove Insert is a top performer. With an impressive heating capacity, this insert can create the warm, cozy vibes in spaces up to 1,800 sq.ft. It proudly meets even the strict guidelines of EPA. So you can rely on this certified device to safely heat up your home. This insert features a hearth surround that allows you to seal your current fireplace. Indulge yourself in blazing flames shining through the air washed ceramic glass window. The heavy cast iron door will keep the hot air well sealed, for optimal performance. Energy-efficient, this fireplace insert also includes a powerful blower to help distribute heat.

Your room temperature will rise, but you should not be afraid of any burns. The wood handle stays cool to the touch, even after hours of fire burning. Such an addition to your room will enchant all your senses. It’s easy to install, thanks to the spring-loaded self-adjustment. Powerful, efficient, with a stylish design, it lets you listen to the crackling fire in the cold season. No dangerous emissions reach your home’s interior, as the smoke is completely sealed.

Pros:

  • top performance (69,000 BTUs)
  • large ceramic glass window ( 16.5″ x 9″ )
  • blower included  (up to 100 CFM)  
  • cold touch wood handle
  • more than 75% efficient heating
  • lifetime warranty
  • EPA compliant ( Step 2 certified).

Cons:

  • no remote control.

ClassicFlame 36″ Traditional Built-in Electric Fireplace Insert

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The perfect match for zone heating, the ClassicFlame 36″ is full of pleasant surprises. Look at it as a modern, sleek alternative to a wood burning fireplace. This electric insert gives you more than temperature control with its top-notch features. You get a multifunctional remote and an integrated junction box for hard-wire applications. Prepare to get cozy by the fire, all year long. This beautiful insert allows you to operate the flame effect without heat. So you can admire the glowing rustic-looking logs and ember bed even in the summer. When the cold season arrives, you can rely on this modern masterpiece to provide heat for up to 800 sq.ft. 

Making flush mounting possible with its design, it is perfect to warm up only one area of your house. And it adds a classy note to your room, with its built-in fireplace effect. The on-screen indicator displays the heater and five flame effect settings. You have up to six mood light color options to choose from. Take control over the room temperature, using the wall-mounted thermostat and remote control. Save space, energy and enjoy the comfort provided by this electric fireplace insert. 

Pros:

  • ideal for supplemental zone heating for up to 800 square feet 
  • multifunctional remote 
  • wall mounted thermostat 
  • flame effect operational with or without heat
  • automatic timed shut off (30 min to 9 h).

Cons:

  • limited warranty
  • no ventilation
  • some clients accused a defective circuit board.

PuraFlame 33 Inches Western Electric Fireplace Insert Heater with Fire Crackling Sound

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Enjoy realistic flames all year long, with no smoke emissions. The PuraFlame Western Electric Fireplace Insert makes heating and fire gazing independent. This 1500W electric heater comes with a remote control, for extra comfort. Adjust the flame intensity and brightness, even with the heat turned off. Put your imagination at rest with this insert. Its genuine-looking resin log and ember bed give you the full fireplace experience. The fire crackling sounds top this and let you relax, all year round.

Energy consumption is highly optimized, thanks to the 100% energy-saving technology. This model also includes an adjustable thermostat, for better temperature control. As an additional heating source, this unit can warm up any room up to 400 square feet. The brick wall interior combines with the frontal clean glass window, for a sleek look. Enjoy great performance with no hassle of cleaning ashes.

Pros:

  • sleek, elegant design
  • easy to install
  • remote control
  • adjustable thermostat.

Cons:

  • cannot be hard-wired
  • limited (one year) warranty
  • only suitable for small spaces.

Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Ventless Insert-32,000 BTU

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Thanks to its state-of-the-art features, this Duluth Forge Insert can only impress you. Proudly manufactured in the USA, this ventless fireplace insert can provide up to 32,000 BTUs. That makes it an outstanding candidate for heating up to 1,500 square feet. It operates with either natural gas or liquid propane. Gas consumption stays at an optimal level,  with the help of a customizable thermostat. The promise is 99.9% efficiency, in an eye-catching, safe to use design. Indulge yourself in fire gazing, as this insert comes with a dual burner and 6 realistic ceramic logs.

The unit also has a built-in oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). This allows the heater to automatically turn off, as soon as it detects any trace of carbon monoxide. And to start the fire, things are simple, thanks to the battery-assisted Piezo ignition. With a stylish design, including two screen doors and a brick interior, this insert can melt any heart. Generous flames, without additional air gaps or spacing needed is now possible. This zero clearance approved insert awaits to become a part of your home.

Pros:

  • high performance
  • patented dual fuel technology
  • adjustable thermostat
  • stylish design, realistic ceramic logs
  • Piezo ignition
  • zero clearance approved
  • built-in ODS sensor
  • automatic shut off.

Cons:

  • no remote control
  • limited warranty
  • rather fragile, prone to damaging during transportation.

Breckwell SP24I, Matte Black

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Our top pick from the pellet fireplace inserts is the Breckwell SP24I. Get ready to experience powerful heat, as this unit can produce up to 50, 000 BTU per hour. Keep your house warm and customize your heating settings. The model offers five heat range speeds and auto-ignition. It can operate with or without a thermostat. You can personalize it with a gold or nickel door, a log kit or a brick wall panel kit as well. However, these are extra-costs. The basic package generally comes with a fully black design, all matte.

When it comes to fueling the flames, you’ll be happy to know that this insert features a 60 lb. hopper bin, for large refills. The LED control panel makes adjustments a breeze. You can fine tune the heating level, fan speed, fuel feed and more. And with the air wash glass system, you know the window stays clean without your intervention. 

Pros:

  • good performance
  • high capacity hopper bin
  • five heat range speeds
  • heavy steel structure
  • 60 hours of continuous burn time  (auto fuel feed option)
  • auto ignition
  • single touch digital control panel.

Cons:

  • no remote control
  • extra features can be costly
  • high end product
  • limited warranty.

Drolet Escape 1500-I Wood Insert

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The Drolet Escape 1500-I is a high-performance wood insert you want to take a look at. Proud of having a very low carbon footprint, this model has an average emission rate of 1.26g/h. Transform your home into a warm and welcoming space. Add some extra charm and a lot more efficiency to your antique masonry fireplace. Get ready to get blown away. Not only by this wood insert’ elegant black faceplate, but by its powerful blower. Heating distribution is a breeze with this premium feature.

Enjoy extended warranty for this Drolet proudly-manufactured product. Reaching up to 65, 000 BTUs in an hour, this top insert comes equipped with a secondary combustion system. According to the user’s manual, you can install it by yourself or rely on a professional to get this insert in place. 

Pros:

  • high performance
  • low carbon footprint
  • EPA approved
  • lifetime warranty (limited)
  • secondary combustion system
  • easy to install.

Cons:

  • no remote control
  • rather heavy (several people needed for installation).

How To Take Care Of Your Fireplace Insert

Proper cleaning and care contribute to the optimal functioning of your fireplace insert. And this is not something that should leave you fuming. Periodical maintenance keeps fire hazards and unwanted repair costs at bay. Installation can be easy enough for you to do independently or you can rely on a professional to help. Same goes for the system verification and cleaning. Below, we’ll give you some general ideas of what you can do to keep your fireplace working at its best. The better care you take of it, the more you prolongue its years of life.

Before you start cleaning your insert, make sure to:

  • Let your fireplace cool down for a good while (ash can also cause burns).
  • Protect your eyes, use gloves and a mask.
  • Review the recommended steps for your model of insert. Check the user manual for  cleaning/removal/replacement guidance.
  • Place some old newspapers or a plastic cover in front of the fireplace door, to protect your floor.

Here are some recommendations, adapted to each type of insert (according to the fuel used).

WOOD BURNING INSERTS

  • Try to clean the ash every 1-2 weeks, for better performance.
  • The fan should get cleaned 1-2 times per season, depending on how much you use it. Thick layers of dust can block the blades from working smoothly and quietly.
  • Creosote deposits or animal nests can be the reason why the chimney liner or cap don’t work well. Check for any blockage and clean before (and after) every season. 
  • Ensure the door and window gaskets are in good condition. Their life expectancy can vary so you should keep an eye to replace when needed.
  • The interior bricks and air tubes also need verification. They are, by design, meant to last for years. They require replacement only after a long usage, when they get worn out.

PELLET BURNING INSERTS

  • Keep an eye on the heat exchange tubes. They require frequent cleaning to avoid blockages. You can use the built-in scraper for this, when you refill the hopper.
  • Clean the burn area weekly, including the burn pot, fire back and ash pan. These are the main areas where debris can easily become a fire hazard.
  • Once or twice a season, ensure the fan, chimney liner and cap are free of dust or ash blockages. 
  • Take a look at the door and glass gaskets. Replace when needed (usually every few years).

ELECTRIC FIREPLACE INSERTS

  • Check the fan and clean it as needed. Use a vacuum to remove excess dust that might block the smooth spinning of the blades.
  • Clean the glass, to avoid any unpleasant burnt smell.
  • Have a professional check the integrity of the circuits every season.
  • Replace any faulty component, to ensure safe usage of your insert.
  • Do not use damp cloths or flammable liquids to clean the interior of the insert.
  • Always turn off and unplug your device before proceeding with any of the above steps.

GAS FIREPLACE INSERTS

  • Every season, clean the fan once or twice, according to your needs.
  • Check the gaskets at the end of the season.
  • Remove any soot, spider webs and other debris from the burn area as often as needed.
  • Do not use any flammable cleaning solutions inside the burning area.
  • Get a certified technician to verify the burner assembly every year.
  • Check and replace the batteries in the remote accordingly.
  • Do not use improvised solutions, always rely on a professional to ensure your gas insert is safe to use.

Final Thoughts

A fireplace insert is ideal as a supplemental heating source. Practical, powerful, energy efficient, it can also add a note of elegance and style to your room. We hope this extensive article answers your questions and gives you a clearer idea of what you need. Feel free to comment and tell us what kind of fireplace insert won you over. Today’s selection focused on models that don’t deprive you of the pleasure of fire gazing. Gleaming logs and fire crackling is now possible with any type of fuel, as you can see. For an even more daring idea to transform your space, check these fireplace ideas too.