If you’ve got an existing fireplace in your home, then you have a wonderful tool that can help you lower your heating bills. Fireplaces by themselves are not energy efficient units, but if you install a fireplace insert into one, you’re creating what amounts to a new stove that can heat your entire home if need be. How do you find the best fireplace insert that will work with your existing structure?
Information is what you need to be able to make an informed, empowered choice. The chart below will help you quickly see what fireplace inserts you’ll want to look at in more detail.
|Napoleon EPI-1402P Woodburning Insert||Wood Burning||$$$$$||4.0|
|Napoleon Cast Iron Contemporary Black Wood Burning Insert||Wood Burning||$$$$$||5.0|
|Vogelzang TR004 Colonial EPA Wood Stove||Wood Burning||$$$||3.9|
|Timberwolf Economizer Wood Burning Fireplace Insert||Wood Burning||$$$$||4.0|
|Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert||Wood Burning||$$||4.5|
|ClassicFlame 23EF031GRP 23" Electric Fireplace Insert||Electric||$||4.7|
|Duraflame Electric Fireplace Insert||Electric||$||4.5|
|Sure Heat Burnt River Oak Vented Gas Log Set||Natural Gas||$||4.3|
|Real Flame 24" Convert-to-Gel Log Set||Flame Gel||$||4.3|
|Pleasant Hearth 20" Electric Crackling Natural Wood Log||Electric||$||4.5|
What Does a Good Fireplace Insert Look Like?
The best fireplace insert is going to be made of a durable material that can stand up to the heating and cooling that take place inside of their firebox. You need something that has a good weld to it so that the expansion and contraction that occurs will not damage your insert or the structure of the fireplace itself. This means material is less important than the quality of the construction, so be sure to read each comprehensive review to take reputation into account.
A good insert will also have options to vent the exhaust out your existing chimney without much difficulty. Look for a fireplace insert that won’t require you to install elbow units or require side venting in order to operate. If you have a difficult chimney location, you may wish to consider a ventless heating unit instead so that you don’t have to route exhaust through the exterior of your home.
You’ll also want to consider the hearth of the insert as you shop around for the best one to meet your needs. Heat needs to be distributed from the metal that makes up the firebox somehow, so instead of demanding that your bricks, exhaust piping, and flexible chimney liner take on that responsibility primarily, a good hearth safely secure the heat and radiate into the room instead.
The final option to consider with your new fireplace insert is to have an adjustable air flow that you can control. Airwash is important for these inserts because that helps to distribute and control the amount of heat your home receives. This lets you have more precise control than limiting or increasing the amount of wood that is being burned.
What Are the Advantages of a Good Fireplace Insert?
As with other heating options that essentially take you off of the power grid, the primary benefit of using a fireplace insert is that you’ll save plenty of money on your heating bills. Even fireplace inserts that come with dual blowers can save the average homeowner up to 50% on their annual heating costs. That means the average insert can pay for itself within 2 years and some homeowners may see savings that make a unit pay for itself in just a year.
The secondary advantage of using a fireplace insert is that you get to use the existing structure of your home to heat the home. For houses that have a central fireplace, an insert is an effective heating option because the chimney will naturally radiate heat throughout the home. Any fireplace with a blower/insert combination will be able to accomplish the same feat, however, so you won’t have to install a new stove AND have a fireplace to clean as well.
Most fireplace inserts also work with current chimney exhaust venting with only a few minor modifications. You’ll likely need to install a flexible liner and potentially install some flue piping to route the exhaust directly upwards from the insert, but that’s often it. Even with these added costs and an additional faceplate like some models may require, you’ll still save more cash on this option than other off-the grid options for your home.
How Do You Find the Best Fireplace Insert?
The first feature and most important is the efficiency of the unit you’re thinking about purchasing. High efficiency units not only distribute more of the heat throughout your home for less overall fuel, but they also qualify many US purchasers for a potential tax credit. These are the other features you’ll want to consider with the best fireplace inserts today.
- Adjustable Air Flow: To get the most out of your new insert, you’ll want to have some method of controlling the airwash that comes over the wood or pellets that you are burning. This control will let you be able to regulate the heating that you’re receiving within the home so that you can always maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Direct Venting: Whether you are going for a vibrant flame or quality heat from embers, you’ll need the option to directly vent the exhaust from your unit in some way. There are a variety of different venting options, so select the one that best works with your current structure to maximize your investment.
- Cast Iron Doors: Although the main body of most fireplace inserts today are steel, at the very least you’ll want to purchase a unit that has a cast iron door. The cast iron resists the heat more effectively for you, letting you access your coal bed with less risk that simple steel doors that come standard on certain units.
What Are the Best Fireplace Insert Prices?
Fireplace inserts are one of the most cost-effective methods of heating your home that you’ll find today. Entry level inserts can be found for less than $1,000 and are price similarly to entry level cast iron stoves. The difference, however, is that you get to use your existing structure to install the unit and so the needed installation accessories often cost less than any other model. Top of the line models are also competitively priced, topping off around $2,500 on websites such as Amazon.
The average price point for a quality fireplace insert is about $1,600. At this price range, you’ll find some variable air flow control, cast iron features, stay-cool handles, and easy connections to your venting system.
What Do Our Comprehensive Reviews Have To Say?
At 28.75 inches wide by 22 5/8 inches tall, so it won’t work with every fireplace. You’ll also need a shroud kit or a faceplate to make sure this unit works well, but in return you’ll receive 65k BTUs to heat a home of about 1,800 square feet. Best of all, it carries a budget friendly price. It’s very easy to install this unit once you have all of the additional items that are required to finalize the installation. It’s a bit tricky to get the fire going in this unit because of its increased airwash in the design, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have a lot of hot air at your disposal.
With intelligent features like rollers on the rear of this unit and oversized levelling screws to make it easy to install, you’ll be able to warm up your home easily and effectively once you complete the quick and simple installation. The primary feature that we noticed with this fireplace insert is the largest ceramic glass viewing window of any of the models that we’ve reviewed, allowing you to enjoy the relaxing view of the flames. A built in electric blower also allows you to heat your whole room quickly and efficiently. The total BTU output is 50k.
The primary advantage that you’ll find with this unit is the fact that it isn’t reliant on your internal power systems to function. Even when the power goes out, you’ll be able to effectively heat your home thanks to the design of this unit if you’re burning wood. If you are using the pellet insert, however, you won’t be able to use the unit because it requires electricity to feed the pellets into the heating system. The other advantage that you’ll receive with this unit is that it can burn up to 9 hours with seasoned wood quite efficiently.
With the Vogelzang Colonial, you’ll get one of the best home heating units in the market today that combines efficiency and price. It includes a large hearth for a classic look, heats a home up to 1,800 square feet with ease, and with reinforced plate steel will still stay cool enough to the touch. This insert meets all low emissions standards with an output of just 4.02 grams per hour. It is fairly lightweight at 265 pounds, but it is heavy on the value that you’ll receive.
As long as you remember to dampen this insert when you’ve got a full load you’re trying to burn, you’ll avoid the contraction and expansion issues that are typical of inserts of this size. Instead of a single blower that works on different stages of heat or has variable speeds, the Timberwolf is designed with a dual blower system that maximizes heat distribution. Once you spend 45-60 minutes getting your bed prepared, you’ll have reliable heat throughout your home that can last for up to 8 hours, reducing the amount of seasoned wood you’ll need throughout the season.
If you have a fireplace and your heating bills are high, the best fireplace insert for your home’s structure can help you save a lot of money. Use our reviews to get the information you need to select the perfect fireplace insert today!