How to Choose the Best Fireplace Insert (Buyers Guide)

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Fireplace inserts are often used with masonry fireplaces, and it goes inside your fireplace to replaces its function. If that’s all it did, there would be no reason to replace a perfectly good fireplace with an insert.

Not long ago, that was the case, in the days when fireplace inserts had a reputation for being inefficient, expensive to maintain, and considered unsafe by many people. The direct-connect method was developed to improve the inserts’ features, but it was still quite a hassle to maintain a fireplace insert.

A modern day fireplace insert, on the other hand, is a completely different piece of equipment, as inserts have significantly improved. Fireplace inserts are now up to 80% more energy efficient than fireplaces, are able to produce more heat output, and also enhance the esthetical aspect of fireplaces.

Inserts are also useful for reducing electric bills and one’s carbon footprint because the inserts require little to no fossil fuel. Finally, they're pretty easy to set up, and you can find a simple guide to what's involved on the here.

Quick Comparison: Top Fireplace Inserts

PRODUCTDETAILS
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PuraFlame Western Embedded Electric Firebox Heater with Remote Control

  • Electric fireplace insert comes with energy-saving LED technology
  • Get more precise temperature with adjustable thermostat and electronic temperature control
  • Life-like logs, ember bed, and variable brightness and intensity ensure a realistic look
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Dimplex DFI2309 Electric Fireplace Insert

  • Electric fireplace insert with remote control and patented flame technology
  • Comes with three heat options so you can use it year-around
  • Has a built-in heater that distributes heat quietly and evenly
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Pleasant Hearth 20” Electric Crackling Natural Wood Log

  • Electric wood logs made of real American birch logs
  • Easy to install and can be inserted into all fireplaces
  • With the realistic crackling sound and glowing ember bed, it looks very life-like
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Touchstone 80004 Sideline In-Wall Recessed Electric Fireplace

  • Helps you save space with its in-wall design
  • With the two heat settings, you can find your desired temperature
  • Three color changing options give the flame a realistic look
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Best Choice Products KSY Embedded Fireplace Electric Insert Heater

  • Dual heat settings allow you to achieve the ideal temperature
  • Electric fireplace that takes away the worry of high energy costs or smoke
  • CSA certified with overheat protection for safety purposes
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The Best Fireplace Inserts

Inserts are small investments compared to renovating an entire fireplace, and modern day inserts could be used anywhere heat is needed – there are even people going so far to install fireplace inserts in recreational vehicles. Inserts are a viable option if you want to improve the features and appearance of your existing fireplace, or if you have a chimney or a hole big enough to fit it and want the insert for decorative purpose.

We wanted to find out the good, bad and ugly about fireplace inserts, and tried out some inserts ourselves. Here is a list of our favorites fireplace inserts:

PuraFlame 33 Inches Western Electric Fireplace Insert Heater with Fire Crackling Sound, Remote Control, 750/1500W, Black

First up is PuraFlame’s bestselling fireplace insert with an energy efficiency rating of 100%. This fireplace insert comes with built-in electronic temperature control to provide precise temperature, an adjustable thermostat with temperature range of 60°F to 84°F, the ability to provide supplemental heat for up to 400 sq. ft., and a remote control for easy operation.

One of the best features of this fireplace insert is its charming appearance, as this insert provides superb visuals with its ultra-realistic flames. This device also functions as a heater, just like a real fireplace – but with slightly weaker heat output. We found this gadget to give out a pleasant amount of heat, but some of us felt it was slightly weaker than anticipated. This insert provides minimalistic features of 3 modes of flame intensity and 2 modes of heat adjustment, which may not be enough for everyone.

We noticed that this fireplace insert has a rather fragile build and its glass door sometimes gets stuck, but haven’t found any major flaws with this device. This insert provides a great value at an affordable price, and we were satisfied with this machine’s appearance, price point, and functionality. The device is fully electric and installation is relatively easy, but we recommend getting professional help when installing fireplace inserts.

2. Dimplex DFI2309 Electric Fireplace Insert

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Dimplex DFI2309 Electric Fireplace Insert

This easy-to-use fireplace insert comes with patented flame technology and a built-in, fan-forced heater to distribute the heat evenly yet quietly. It also features a remote control for easy access and a plug that fits standard household outlets. This fireplace insert has a fun feature called ‘flames only mode’, which completely excludes heat to enable you to use this fireplace insert in warmer months.

Dimplex’s fireplace insert provides a great value for its price point, and its biggest appeal is that it give you complete control – you can turn off either the heat or the virtual flames as you desire. The gadget has minimal features but excels at what it does, and it also greatly conserves electricity bills with its energy efficiency rating of 100%.

However, some of us expressed concern about this gadget not meeting expectations - it is not as warm as expected, and some units had a strange, chemical odor. The customer service of the manufacturer is known to be less than ideal.

3. Pleasant Hearth 20” Electric Crackling Natural Wood Log

Pleasant Hearth 20' Electric Crackling Natural Wood Log

Pleasant Hearth’s electric fireplace insert has a very aesthetically appealing design, as this insert incorporates real wood logs with realistic ember bed to exude an authentic vibe.

This insert is excellent as a home décor piece, and is very realistic in terms of visuals and sound as not only does this insert give off the feel of real wood, but also makes little crackling noises to imitate a real wood-burning sound. We noticed that this fireplace insert makes a great night light with its beautiful, realistic flames.

On the other hand, this insert tends to be less of a heater and more of a decoration, as its heat-generating abilities are not the greatest. This device tends to protest when used as a heater, by producing loud hums and grinding noises. Defective units are not unheard of, and the device is prone to breakage, so this insert may be ideal for people living in warmer climates, or people without intention to use this machine as a heater.

Nonetheless, this insert has an attractive appearance, and does provide good value for its affordability.

4. Touchstone 80004 Sideline In-Wall Recessed Electric Fireplace

Touchstone 80004 - Sideline Electric Fireplace - 50 Inch Wide - in Wall Recessed - 5 Flame Settings - Realistic 3 Color Flame - 1500/750 Watt Heater - (Black) - Log & Crystal Hearth Options

This insert from Touchstone is designed for in-wall installation, and features two heat settings and five flame settings with authentic-looking flames. Either of these settings could be toggled by a remote, along with multiple modes for desired temperature, atmosphere, and time settings. The device comes with faux fire logs and glass crystals for added visual effect, and operates on 1500 watts with 120v.

The first thing we noticed about this gadget is its gorgeous exterior with its attractive color scheme, as it looks much better in person than in pictures. This insert is not only visually appealing but also capable of producing a decent amount of heat, regardless of its petite size and humble price.

While we have found some minor flaws with this fireplace insert, such as the strange phenomenon of the insert turning itself off after 30 or so minutes, and its noisiness when in operation, we haven’t noticed any major flaws with this device.

Overall, this fireplace insert provides excellent value for its price point, with its ability to produce sufficient heat and its gorgeous appearance.

5. Best Choice Products KSY Embedded Fireplace Electric Insert Heater

Best Choice Products 28.5in Insert Electric Adjustable Fireplace Heater Display w/ 5 Brightness Levels, Remote Control

This vent free, CSA certified fireplace insert comes preassembled for easy installation, and comes with a remote control for convenient operation.

Its ease of installation is one of the best features of this fireplace insert, and once installed, this insert heats up the room to a comfortable temperature. This fireplace insert is also very quiet, as it makes little to no noise when in operation.

However, we found that sometimes the TV remote will work with this device, which might be an undesirable side effect, but we actually found it quite entertaining. Also, we found that the heating capacity of this machine dwindles and depends on the individual unit, as some of us got great heating while some of us got none.

Overall it’s a quaint little insert with its highly aesthetic appearance, affordability, and functionality, as long as you don’t expect too much out of this device.

Deciding Factors in Fireplace Inserts

Fireplace inserts come in all shapes and sizes, but here are the things you should consider before investing in a fireplace insert:

1. The type of fireplace insert

There is a growing preference for electric inserts over other types of inserts, but some people still prefer traditional types of fireplace inserts such as wood, gas, or pellet inserts for various reasons. If you prefer non-electric fireplace inserts, you need to reconsider your surroundings and gauge the space you have for your home and fireplace to estimate the right fit for your fireplace insert.

If you don't have enough supporting materials to withstand the heat of a wood insert, a wood insert could potentially set your house on fire, so it’s better to forgo that option.

Electric inserts eliminate most problems proposed by traditional inserts, but there are pros and cons to each type, as the wood insert could keep your home warm in case of blackouts, as it does not rely on electricity.

2. The size and dimension of the fireplace insert

This concept is an extension of what we’ve discussed above, but it’s vital to consider the size and dimensions of a fireplace insert, to be sure the insert provides the right amount of heat for the size of the space. If an insert doesn’t provide enough heat output for your room, you won’t be able to feel the heat, and if it provides too much, your room may become too hot. Either way, getting the right amount of heat output is vital for ensuring a comfortable temperature.

To achieve this, you should at least measure the depth, width, and height of your fireplace to ensure a correct fit. Even as modern day inserts are designed with various room sizes in mind, it doesn’t guarantee a good fit, especially concerning aesthetics. Manually checking the dimensions can prevent such issues.

3. Venting

Venting tends to differ for different types of inserts, but it’s vital to have a good venting system in place if you are using traditional fireplace inserts, as it would be very hard to manage without proper venting. Without correct ventilation, it would eventually become impossible to keep the fire going and your insert may stop working.

Electric fireplace inserts eliminate venting issues, as electric inserts don’t require any venting under any circumstance.

The Perks of Fireplace Inserts

There are many benefits to installing a fireplace insert, including better heating. By replacing your fireplace with a fireplace insert, you will be able to save up to 70% on energy costs, as open fire is 5 to 10% energy efficient whereas a fireplace insert boasts 80 to 100% energy efficiency. Less energy spent translates into less fossil fuel spent, and hence a smaller carbon footprint.

This also means you will save money on various things. Energy bills are one, as energy efficiency cuts down cost by conserving the amount of energy spent. By installing an insert instead of renovating or reinstalling your fireplace, you are also saving tons of time, energy, and money in the process.

Fireplace inserts are also very aesthetically pleasing to look at, and make a great decorative furniture for the house.

Conclusion

Whether you are thinking of getting a new fireplace or renovating an existing one, you are not going to regret getting a fireplace insert. Fireplace inserts are not only a great pleasure to the eyes, but with correct measurements taken in advance, they are capable of providing sufficient heat for any kind of room

Inserts are eco-friendly and affordable fireplace alternatives, as they provide all the perks of a traditional fireplace and more. We highly recommend getting an insert if you are contemplating renovating or installing a fireplace.

People Also Ask

Many people find fireplace inserts to be better than fireplaces. However, if you’re still not sure if you should go for one, then check out these questions and answers to have better clarity.

What is the Difference Between a Fireplace and a Fireplace Insert?

Basically, a fireplace is the structure that you burn wood inside of. It could either be a factory-built metal style or even a brick-and-mortar structure. Meanwhile, an insert, as the name might suggest, is either a gas or wood stove that is to be inserted in an already-present fireplace.

How Do You Measure for a Fireplace Insert?

To measure for a fireplace insert, you must take into account your existing fireplace and the opening it has. For the best fit, you’ll have to measure the opening height, width, and depth. The depth should be measured from both the bottom and top. In addition, also measure the rear width as well as the depth of the area present in front of your fireplace.

Are Fireplace Inserts Safe?

Some elements of the insert can become excessively hot to touch. However, today, many of these are created with ‘Safe Touch’ technologies to keep the insert’s surfaces at low temperatures. In addition, inserts produce less smoke and promise cleaner burning of fuel.

Can You Put a Fireplace Insert in a Manufactured Fireplace?

A fireplace insert goes directly into a masonry fireplace that already exists in your house. Therefore, by connecting to the chimney as well as the flue that leads outside, the insert will take the place of the fireplace.

Can You Burn Wood in a Fireplace Insert?

The purpose of inserts is to replace inefficient wood fireplaces and introduce new appliances inside of them that promise cleaner burning. So, it is totally possible to burn wood in an insert.