Best Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts: 2020 Guide

While many homes have fireplaces built into the living rooms, they are rarely used as intended. Few of us can be bothered to chop or purchase wood or coals, and then there’s the added hassle of lighting the fire and cleaning up afterward. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the fun and cozy ambiance of a fire in your own home!

By introducing fireplace inserts, appliance manufacturers make it super easy to have a roaring, crackling fire in your fireplace, without the mess. Let’s take a look at what these inserts are, what kinds are available in the market, and how to select the right one for your home.

Wood stove inserts are an ideal, easy solution to keep cold at bay. Many people prefer using these heating units due to their efficient nature.

They are not only energy-efficient, but their design allows them to fit in most built-in fireplaces. They are aesthetically attractive and are capable of heating large living space.

If you're looking for a quality product, make sure to check our list of the best wood stove inserts.

Our Top Picks for Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts

  • Very efficient
  • Low emissions
  • Certified wood insert
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  • Best for the Money
  • Large heating area
  • Variable remote control
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  • Biggest Wood Stove Insert
  • Large heating area
  • High heat output
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Comparison of the Best Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Stove is very efficient with high heat output
  • Has a very low emissions rate
  • Certified Matrix wood insert
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  • Best for the Money
  • Can heat up to 1500 square feet
  • Features a variable remote control thermostat
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  • Biggest Wood Stove Insert
  • Can heat up to 2200 square feet
  • Has a very high heat output
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  • Best Regency Wood Stove Insert
  • Ceramic glass fire viewing area
  • Features heavy duty cast hinges
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  • Best Napoleon Wood Stove Insert
  • Has a very high heat output and is efficient
  • Features an extra large viewing area
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  • Best Wood Stove Insert With Blower
  • Features a flush front and cast iron surrounds
  • Features four stainless steel air tubes
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  • Best Small Wood Stove Insert
  • Features a large ceramic glass window
  • Includes a painted black cast iron door
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  • Best Lopi Wood Stove Insert
  • Suitable for small homes
  • Features a very large viewing area
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What is a Fireplace Insert?

Inserts may look like fireplaces but they are not the same thing. They cost much less than a complete renovation to install a gas fireplace or to replace your existing masonry fireplace.

This makes inserts a versatile and fashionable choice since they can change the ambiance of a room from traditional or rustic, to contemporary without breaking the bank. Inserts come in many shapes and designs, so they end up looking very much like the real thing.

Fireplace inserts can burn gas, wood, or pellets, and are inserted into the existing masonry fireplace. Installing an insert requires connecting it to the chimney and flue leading outside.

Types of Fireplace Inserts 

Fireplace inserts use various fuels and sources of heat. Here are the most common ones:

Natural Gas

Natural gas fireplaces are very popular due to their convenience. A gas line can be connected to the gas nozzle in your fireplace and used to light the flames. This means you don’t need to deal with the cleanup or loading of wood fuel.

Gas type fireplace inserts come in vented and ventless options. Vented ones pull in air from outside the home for oxygen, and expel all the harmful gas. Unvented ones provide more heat, but the potentially harmful combustion fumes are vented back into your home.

Electric 

Electric fireplace inserts are also popular and safe. They are designed to look like fake logs that can be plugged into a normal power outlet, and they radiate heat for a r200-400 square foot room.

The advantages of this type of insert include safety, high efficiency, ease of operation, and no required cleanup. The downside is that the flames are not very realistic, nor do you get the attractive sound and appearance of a real flame.

Wood

Wood burning inserts offer the traditional experience of using wood, but you will need to obtain the wood, clean up the ash, and start the fire (although some have ignition assist options).

However, this is still an unrivaled experience for watching the fire in your hearth.

Pellet

The final type of fireplace insert is the pellet stove, in which the flame looks a lot like a wood fire. Pellet stoves are easier to keep clean than wood burners, but they still require you to refill the pellets daily and clean the ash-tray weekly.

Duluth Forge FDF400RT-ZC

Quick Take: Best Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts

These are our recommendations for the best wood burning fireplace insert:

  1. Osburn Matrix Wood Insert
  2. Duluth Forge FDF400RT-ZC
  3. Breckwell SP24I

Review of the Best Wood Stove Inserts

With so many different heating devices available, it becomes quite a challenge to pick any one unit. Here is a list of some of the best wood stove inserts that can keep you warm and cozy throughout the season.

Osburn Matrix Wood Insert

PROS

  • Cast iron ensures durability
  • Perfect for large living spaces
  • Can be installed in large openings
  • Delivers effective heating throughout the year
  • Consumes minimal energy with a maximum heat output

CONS

  • Not easy to install
  • Can get a bit messy

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyer remarks suggest that this model provides consistent heat even in extremely cold temperatures. Its powerful fan pushes a large amount of heat that quickly warmed the buyer's living space. The cast-iron build was loved by all buyers as it enhanced the appearance of the unit as well as its durability.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The modern design and build quality of this model greatly appeals to us. It has cast iron construction to meet modern heating needs while ensuring good longevity. It is not only durable, but its attractive design makes it a great purchase. The unit offers sufficient heating while being energy efficient.

Thanks to the optional sheet metal backing plate, this unit easily installs into larger openings. This allows it to snugly fit in the wall. If you have a large living space, a powerful unit like this one should be your go-to option.

Bottom Line

To conclude, we think that this is an ideal heating solution that offers great build quality and excellent installation design. It is particularly designed to meet the heating needs of large living spaces.

Best for the Money:
Duluth Forge FDF400RT-ZC

Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Ventless Fireplace Insert-32,000 BTU, Remote Control, FDF400RT-ZC, Black

PROS

  • Can efficiently heat an area of 1500 sq ft
  • Safe to use with built-in Oxygen Depletion Sensor
  • Easily controllable with a variable remote-control thermostat
  • Economical and environment-friendly with 99.9% energy efficiency
  • Uses Dual Fuel Technology to provide 32,000 BTUs of heat output

CONS

  • Only intended for indoor use

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of reviews for this model are positive. As most reports suggest, it is a reliable heating appliance that ensures flexible operations and adjustability for users. Many people with kids and pets at home used it and reported it to be safe and secure. They also used it throughout the night without any worry.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With a multitude of features, this model is really impressive. It features Dual Fuel Technology that is capable of using either gas or liquid propane as fuel. Consequently, you can switch between fuel types to suit your preference and also save your costs. The model is quite effective at providing sufficient heat to a large living space of 1500 sq ft. Thanks to the variable remote-control thermostat, this device is very easy to use.

In addition, the product promises an economical operation and an environment-friendly design. It offers a 99.9% energy-efficient operation while emitting minimal harmful particles. Besides, it is quite safe to use with its built-in Oxygen Depletion Sensor that automatically detects a lack of oxygen.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a user-friendly unit that is perfect for households, buy this one. It offers great versatility and convenience with ease of use. The remote-controlled thermostat is the highlight of this unit.

Biggest Wood Stove Insert:
Breckwell SP24I

Breckwell SP24I, Matte Black

PROS

  • Includes custom exterior options
  • Has a heat output of 50,000 BTUs
  • Easily warms an area of 2200 sq ft
  • Comes with an auto-ignition feature
  • Offers a 60-pound hopper for large refills

CONS

  • Not as powerful as expected
  • Might consume more energy than other models

What Recent Buyers Report

Many buyer reports tell us that the unit delivers even heat in a large-sized bedroom. The hopper capacity was appreciated by all buyers, as it required fewer refills and ensured convenience. Besides, they liked the auto-ignition feature and the customization options added to the vibrancy of their room's interior.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Several features in this Breckwell unit make it stand out to us. It is a top-notch product with a huge heating capacity of 50,000BTUs. For large-sized family homes, it is the perfect pick. It is capable of covering an area as large as 2200 sq ft.

The unit comprises a 60-pound large hopper for convenient refilling; you won't have to refill it frequently and can expect long hours of consistent heat supply. This model also comes with an auto-ignition feature. In case of any energy disruption, it can start automatically once the power is restored. Besides, it includes custom exterior options, so you can match it with the rest of your interior and have it blend in well with your home.

Bottom Line

The Breckwell model offers a wide range of features that add on to its safety and security. The auto-ignition is the highlight of this unit, along with its ability to cover a large area.

Best Regency Wood Stove Insert:
Regency Pro-Series Ci2700

PROS

  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Durable quality with strong cast iron hinges
  • Features a digital catalytic temperature monitor
  • Uses Eco-boost triple burn technology for effective heating
  • Promises a large fire viewing area with heat radiating glass

CONS

  • Offers no customization to the user

What Recent Buyers Report

A high percentage of positive reviews tell us how remarkable this unit's performance is. Buyers were quite convinced that this is the perfect wood stove insert for medium-sized living spaces. It uses modern technology to facilitate the operations, making it efficient and effective at the same time. Also, people used it for a long time and reported no performance issues.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Eco-boost triple burn technology is a very noteworthy feature of this stove insert by Regency. This technology is responsible for providing you higher levels of heat. The unit can generate a heat output of 78,000 BTUs, which is quite incredible. It has a large fire viewing area with a heat radiating ceramic glass, ensuring no room for cold air to remain in the area.

Talking about durability, this model is quite sturdy with its cast hinges. As a result, it is expected to last longer than other alternatives. It also has a digital catalytic temperature monitor that ensures maximum heating and efficiency.

Bottom Line

With a handful of features and solid performance, the Regency stove insert is no less than a premium product. Its build quality is quite durable and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty too.

Best Napoleon Wood Stove Insert:
Napoleon S-Series

PROS

  • Offers increased burning time
  • Delivers 65,000 BTUs heat output
  • Has a clean and contemporary design
  • Protects your floor with full-width ash lip
  • Features a dual blower system for even heat distribution

CONS

  • Available in black color only

What Recent Buyers Report

Nearly all buyers praise the blower mechanism of the stove insert. They say that it does an incredible job at even heat distribution. Users love its high heat output that kept large rooms warm and cozy. Also, they really liked how mess-free the unit was and allowed no amount of ash to slip out.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Undoubtedly, this unit is second to none. It has all the qualities of a high-end model that makes it superior to most conventional units. Its 65,000 BTUs of heat output is enough to warm a large living space. It features a modern design, along with a mess-free and low maintenance ash collection system, that prevents dirt or residue from reaching the floor.

The EPA 2020 certified unit is remarkable at providing ample heat during winters. This certification guarantees that it is a safe and eco-friendly model. Another notable feature is its dual blower mechanism that distributes heat evenly without any disturbances.

Bottom Line

If you are tired of cleaning after your house's heating systems, then this model by Napoleon is the best pick for you. It has an incredible full-width ash lip that doesn't let the unit make any mess. It also is really good for large spaces and is an EPA-certified unit.

Best Wood Stove Insert With Blower:
Napoleon Oakdale EPI3C

PROS

  • Has a rating of 55,000 BTUs
  • Backed by a limited lifetime warranty
  • Features a flush front paired with cast iron surround
  • Displays beautiful yellow dancing flames during operation
  • Uses four stainless-steel secondary air tubes for the supercharged burning process

CONS

  • No remote control available
  • Fragile unit and needs to be handled with care

What Recent Buyers Report

The overall build quality of this model is what appeals to most buyers. Its flush front and cast iron surround added vibrancy to buyer's living space. The unit uses air tubes for supercharged burning that allows users to have a rapidly heated environment.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What we like about this model is its overall design and build quality. It features a flush front paired with a cast iron surround that looks quite pleasing. It offers a large viewing area, unlike any other model. It also uses four stainless-steel secondary air tubes that promise a supercharged burning process. As a result, it rapidly heats your living space in no time.

Moreover, it features beautiful yellow flames when in use. They provide great aesthetics and add to the beauty of your living space. The unit is designed to provide a heat output of 55,000 BTUs. All of these superb features are supported by a generous lifetime warranty.

Bottom Line

Summing it up, this is an amazing wood stove insert that provides a stunning view with its burning flames effect and build quality. Also, it comes with a lifetime warranty to ensure convenient use for a long period.

Best Small Wood Stove Insert:
Timberwolf EPI22

PROS

  • Very easy to install
  • Offers long runtime of up to eight hours
  • Features a large ceramic glass viewing area
  • EPA-certified with 65,000 BTUs of heat output
  • Uses a dual blower system for effective operations

CONS

  • Not very energy efficient as other models
  • Requires maintenance after some time of use

What Recent Buyers Report

The positive response from most buyers suggests that the unit is very easy to install. Many people who bought it were using a stove insert for the first time but had no issues installing and getting used to this model. Most buyers regard it as one of the best wood stoves inserts available for small and compact fireplaces.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The user-friendly design of this model is its major selling point. It features a large ceramic glass viewing area which enhances its attractive outlook. It uses a dual blower system that ensures enough heat to keep the cold at bay. This is an EPA-certified unit that is capable of generating 65,000 BTUs of heat.

The heat generated is enough for large living spaces such as rooms and lounges. The best part is that it's very easy to install. It is guaranteed to provide a longer run time of up to eight hours.

Bottom Line

This wood stove insert is a no-brainer for anyone looking for a quality heating appliance. It features remarkable aesthetics backed by a powerful heating operation. It is very easy to install and blends in with most interiors.

Best Lopi Wood Stove Insert:
Lopi The Answer NexGen-Fyre

PROS

  • Long eight hours of burn time
  • Effectively heats 1200 sq ft of living space
  • Ceramic glass viewing area looks very attractive
  • Generates approximately 60,000 BTUs of heat energy
  • Five-sided convection chamber ensures even heat distribution

CONS

  • No safety features included
  • Color scheme is not very attractive

What Recent Buyers Report

Users are quite convinced that this model is ideal for households. Its ability to heat large living spaces, paired with a ceramic glass viewing area, provided a sleek and attractive look for most buyer's rooms. People were also happy with its eight-hour-long operation, as they did not have to monitor or control it frequently.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Out of the many features this Lopi stove insert has to offer, its heating capabilities are worth mentioning. The product has a rating of 60,000 BTUs, which can be used to generate consistent heat for up to eight hours long. It can heat any area that is a maximum of 1200 sq ft.

The ceramic glass viewing area not only gives you a good look at the fire but also gives a nice touch to the appearance of this insert. A five-sided convection chamber is also present for even heat distribution.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this wood stove insert is an ideal heating solution for anyone who wants good brand reliability along with an incredible heating mechanism. Its large heating capacity and wonderful appearance add good value to your money.

Drolet Escape 1500-I Wood Insert with faceplate - Medium 2020 EPA Certified Wood Insert - 65,000 BTU – 1,800 sq.ft, Model# DB03137

PROS

  • Delivers a heat output of 65,000 BTUs
  • Medium size unit consumes less energy
  • Capable of heating a large area of 1800 sq ft
  • EPA certified with a minimal carbon footprint
  • Comes with a premium blower and back faceplate

CONS

  • Very heavy unit and not portable
  • Accessories are not included with the unit

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent reviews suggest that this unit is ideal for heating large living spaces. Its powerful blower provided buyers with ample heat while utilizing minimal resources. Users like its medium size as it does not require too much space. For cold climates, recent buyers consider this to be a great option to enjoy rapid heating.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There's more to this unit than what meets the eye. It uses a second combustion system that is capable of heating your living space quite effectively. It can provide a heat output of 65,000 BTUs and can easily warm an area of about 1800 sq ft. The best part about this medium-sized unit is that it consumes minimum energy while promising an effective heating solution.

This is an EPA-certified and environment-friendly model that has minimal carbon footprint. It comes with a premium blower and back faceplate to further enhance your experience.

Bottom Line

Overall, this is an amazing wood stove insert that offers a remarkable heating solution during cold winters. Its power-saving operations and reliable heating make it the best of the lot.

How Does a Wood Stove Insert Work?

Wood stove inserts are considered as one of the best heating appliances. Their aesthetics and incredible heating capabilities make them a perfect choice for everyone. They are also known to be energy-efficient and environment-friendly. They emit minimal waste and smoke as compared to traditional fireplaces.

A wood stove insert usually fits inside a wall with a large hopper. Wood is added to the storage hopper and ignited to provide sufficient heat. The unit can be controlled conveniently via a remote-control thermostat or manually, depending on your model. The blower inside is responsible for distributing the heat generated inside the unit.

Are All Wood Stove Inserts The Same?

No, not all units are the same. You can find a wide range of models that differ from one another based on size, features, and functionality. Although most inserts operate similarly, their energy efficiency and heating performance might vary. Some models offer better heating while consuming less energy and vice versa.

Some models are also labelled as EPA-certified. Such units are environment-friendly and emit little to no harmful emissions, unlike traditional units. A difference also exists in their appearance and design, as some models might have a large glass area while others might give limited viewing space.

Napoleon Oakdale EPI3C

Pros and Cons of a Wood Stove Insert

Wood stove inserts are a great way to keep yourself warm during winters. However, all this goodness comes with some compromises as well. In this section, we will discuss some of the pros and cons of using one of these units.

Pros

Here are a few advantages of using a wood stove insert.

Aesthetics

These heating appliances provide great aesthetics that blend with most room interiors. They promise not only an attractive outlook but a decent heating performance as well.

Heating Capability

These units are a great source of heating. They have a high heat output that makes them superior to conventional fireplaces. A decent wood stove insert can easily warm a medium to large living space quite effectively. They also feature blowers that further enhance performance.

Environment-friendly

Wood stove inserts are environment-friendly. They emit little to no smoke or other emissions that can be harmful if inhaled.

Cons

The following are the disadvantages of using a wood stove insert.

Expensive

High-quality inserts might be much more expensive than conventional heating methods. They charge a hefty price tag for the wide range of features they deliver.

Breckwell SP24I

Comparison Overview

There are other appliances that provide satisfactory heating performance and capabilities. Here, we will compare wood stove inserts with other heating units to help you decide if they are the right fit for you.

Wood Stove vs. Fireplace Insert

Wood stoves and fireplace inserts are the two most commonly used heating appliances. Their effective heating capabilities and energy-efficient operations make them a great investment. The following is a comparison between these two products to help you find the right one for yourself.

Similarities

Both the units are ideal for heating any living space quite effectively. They have a high heat output that ensures you feel warm and cosy. These units are rated in BTUs. The two are also highly energy-efficient. They consume minimum energy while promising maximum heat output.

Differences

Wood stoves have a higher capacity as compared to fireplace inserts. They can accommodate more fuel with their large storage hoppers.

With a large storage hopper, wood stoves tend to operate longer than fireplace inserts. This is why they are considered ideal for large living spaces.

Wood Stove Insert vs. Pellet Stove Insert

Wood and pellet stove inserts are modern means of heating your living space. But which one is the right one for you? Let's find out.

Similaritie​s

These products feature an attractive and modern design. Both are sleek and often come with large viewing windows. They usually feature remote control access. As a result, adjusting heat and temperatures is quite easier than other units.

Differences

Pellet stove inserts are much cheaper than their wood ones. They charge a fairly low price while delivering a high heat output.

Wood Burning vs. Gas Fireplace Inserts 

Buyers often want to know which one is better, a wood-burning fireplace, or a gas one? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type to determine the answer.

A wood burning fireplace insert creates a cozy atmosphere, is traditional, blends into the room and doesn’t require a gas line. In addition, the crackling, popping sounds of the fire and the comforting smell make this kind of fire a treat to the senses.

On the other hand, wood burning fireplaces are more time-consuming to get started and produce smoke, which must be properly vented. They are harder and more costly to install and run. You also need to clean up the ash and must continuously purchase wood.

Now let’s look at gas fireplaces. They are easy to light, convenient to operate, and often require little to no weekly maintenance. They don’t look as good as a wood fire, but give off plenty of heat. Depending on the design, the smoke and gases are vented outside so there’s no indoor pollution.  

However, gas fireplace inserts require a gas line, and sometimes their design doesn’t blend into the room very well. The glass doors can get hot though they are still very safe.

Conclusion 

Purchasing a new fireplace insert can be expensive, but the contemporary look and cozy feel it brings to your home is well worth it. Fireplace inserts are available in gas, wood, pellet, and electric options, and each one has their pros and cons.

Keep in mind the convenience of gas and electric fireplaces when making your purchase, as you will need to refill and clean up wood and pellet burning fireplace inserts. At the same time though, you get the best, most authentic flames and cozy fire experience from using real wood for fires. Whatever type you end up choosing, our list of top picks will help you make the right choice.

People Also Ask

There are several questions people ask about wood stove inserts. To ensure you have a reliable experience using these products, we have compiled a list of commonly asked questions.

How Much Do Wood Stove Inserts Cost?

The greater the size and features, the higher would be the price of the unit. Typically, an average wood stove insert costs about $3000-$4000, including installation.

Do Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts Need Electricity?

Wood burning fireplace inserts use wood pellets as fuel to perform heating operations. However, they require connectivity to an electricity outlet to control the room temperature using a thermostat.

How Long Do Fireplace Inserts Last?

There is no particular lifespan of a fireplace insert. However, with proper care and maintenance, these units can last for around ten years.

How to Build a Fire In a Wood Stove Insert

Wood stove inserts typically consume wood as fuel. To make sure your unit is up and running, you will need wood and an ignition device. The wood is stored in the storage hopper and is ignited using propane or fire gel. Once ignited, the unit will then operate effectively to provide heat evenly across the living space.

How to Measure For a Wood Stove Insert

To measure the size that would fit, you need to determine the size of the fireplace opening. Measure the height, width, and depth of the fireplace opening along with the rear width and depth.

How to Convert a Gas Fireplace to a Wood Stove Insert

To convert a gas fireplace to a wood stove insert, the gas logs must be removed. Moreover, the gas line should be capped off or converted into a gas log lighter. You might also have to change the flue pipe if it has deteriorated.

How Much Does a Wood Burning Stove Insert Weigh?

Most modern inserts can be as heavy as 400 pounds or even more.

How to Use Wood Fireplace Stove Insert With Blower

Adding a blower system to your wood stove insert can improve the overall efficiency. When added, the blower fan draws cold air from the surroundings into the fire. Meanwhile, it pushes hot air from the fire to your living space. This helps in circulating air and results in increased efficiency.

Do You Need a Chimney Liner For a Wood Stove Insert?

A typical fireplace uses a large chimney liner for venting purposes. A wood stove insert doesn't require such a large chimney liner for effective operations. Therefore, it is recommended that you use a smaller chimney liner for wood stove inserts.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Wood Burning Fireplace Insert?

The cost of fireplace insert installation typically depends on the size of your insert and the complexity. Generally, the average price of the installation is about $2000. If other things need to be installed, such as ventilation and walls, the costs can exceed. 

Are Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts Efficient?

Wood-burning fireplace inserts are more efficient since they give off more warmth and last longer than traditional fireplaces. They’re also environmentally friendly since you’re using wood, which is a natural renewable resource. Furthermore, you also save some coin in your bills as they require lesser maintenance compared to conventional fireplaces.

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

A fireplace is made up of masonry brick. It is a clearing or space that you burn wood in. You need a fireplace even if you want to install an insert. A fireplace insert is a stove of gas or wood that is fixed into a fireplace and is much smaller than fireplaces

What's the difference? (Source)

How to Install a Wood Fireplace Insert

  1. Measure the opening of the fireplace so you know the exact dimensions of the insert that can fit in the space.

  2. Put a cardboard chunk on top of the hearth to protect the insert, and then place it in the clearing

  3. Next, you need to fit in a flue liner in the chimney

  4. Put a mark on the opening at the top of the fireplace insert

  5. Add the panels in front of the insert

  6. Finish up by installing insulation strips on the back of the panels

How to Remove a Fireplace Insert

  1. Open the doors of the insert

  2. Pull out the metal grate which is used for the wood

  3. Clean out the soot from the bottom of the insert

  4. Sweep off the remains of the soot with a dustpan

  5. Remove the screws and bolts where they’re visible

  6. Take off any decorative rims around the insert 

  7. Pull the insert from the bottom to slide it out safely

How to Clean a Fireplace Insert

Mix up a concoction of dishwater, half-cup of baking soda, and a gallon of water in order to create a cleaning solution for the fireplace insert. Dip a clean rag into the mixture and scrub the insert from places where it’s filthy.