Old homes have so much character. They have those decorative skirting boards which tell you everything about its time, and some have stained glass windows which literally give you a story.
A classic creature of an old home is the fireplace. Fireplaces were once a functional heater that held so much beauty, but today you rarely see them.
Once upon a time, when those fireplaces were created, their safety regulations weren’t so tight as they are today. Soot and smoke were a constant hassle, which is why many homeowners have shut theirs away.
If you have an old chimney space or just a gap in your wall, you can insert an electric fireplace into the structure of your home without having to demolish anything! Bringing back the atmosphere of old, but still keeping your home clean.
Inserting fireplaces have become a top feature in most new homes. Many people want the beauty of a fireplace but without the significant gaps that make them inefficient, which is why insert fireplaces are outranking traditional fireplaces.
You can buy these fireplaces on Amazon or at your local electronics and homeware store, but to make your life that much easier, we have put together a master guide for you. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about a fireplace insert and what the top 5 inserts are at the moment.
Do you have questions about fireplace inserts? Check out the section at the bottom of this article. Any questions you might have will probably be answered in our Frequently Asked Questions.
Browse through our article, and feel your confidence grow as your fireplace insert comes that much closer.
What Is A Fireplace Insert?
Classic fireplaces aren’t as efficient as they seem. Having a fire in your home might feel like a warming touch, but in reality, they pull the warmth from your room to create the delicate flame.
This means they end up leaving the rest of the room colder than it was before. The heat that they do produce then goes out the chimney. Either way, you don’t gain that much of a temperature increase.
When the temperature gets super cold, like freezing cold, the fireplace needs way more energy to stay lit. You might gain some warmth in comparison to the snowy outside, but the cost will be tremendously high.
Fireplace Inserts are a fireproof box surrounded by either steel or cast iron and often have an insulated glass window at the front. This design traps the heat while the vents push it out in the room. They get the name “Insert” because they often get inserted into old fireplace spaces.
Tallest Electric Fireplace Insert - Valuxhome
The Valuxhome is bulky, but if you have a prominent place to fill, then you may have found the perfect match. It is 9.05 inches deep, 35.6 inches long, and 27.5 inches high.
The Valuxhome isn’t the longest on our list of inserts, but it will likely fit into most of the classic and old fireplace settings.
The beauty of an electric fireplace insert is that you can place it anyway. If this large and deep centerpiece looks better higher up from the floor, then put it there! You have all the power!
You can find the vents for the Valuxhome on top of their display feature, creating a more natural feeling of heat.
As there is only one vent, you don’t have any choice in how to direct the warmth, however, because it is electric, you can control the amount of heat you get from the settings you choose. So the venting isn’t that much of a problem.
The in-built timer allows you to leave the “flames” burning, as it will turn itself off depending on the setting you have chosen. This is the same for heat on flames or heats off flames. The choice is in your hands.
Like most electric fireplaces, the Valuxhome comes with a remote so that you can control the heating from anywhere in the room.
When it comes to Valuxhome’s realism, the flames from the log use 3 lights to create a realistic effect. The log speaker technology makes the classic crackles and pops you would expect from a burning log so that every sense will enjoy the result.
- Remote Control
- Log Speakers
- One Vent
- Not A Real Fire
Best Wood Burning Fireplace Insert - Drolet
The Drolet is way more expensive than the other inserts on our list, but there are two good reasons for that. The Drolet has a supreme quality of finish, and it is a wood burning fireplace.
All that money goes into creating a safe, beautiful, and stylish fireplace.
The body is made out of stainless steel with a thickness of 3 inches at the front facing body and 16 inches at the back facing the body. This means that the heat will go into the room rather than onto your walls.
It can heat up to 2,100 square foot evenly, so most of your home will be warmed by this magnificent machinery.
The sizes are 32 x 31 x 29, so you will need ample space to put the fireplace in, but you should have already recognized the critical venting locations if you are considering using a wood burner.
Remember that wood fireplaces need to be cleaned out so that they don’t snuff the fire with the leftover ash, so consider an ash shoveling location before you make the final purchase.
- 2,100ft Squared, Heating Size
- Real Fire
- No Timers or Electrical Help
Wide-Length Electric Fireplace Insert - Touchstone
The Touchstone is perfect for large modern homes. This piece of art pulls in the viewer to create warmth in the soul and in the air.
With a length of 59.75 inches, this flickering flare will dominate the space around it, being the center piece for your family to enjoy while still creating a natural effect.
Unlike the other electric inserts on this list, the Touchstone comes in 10 media colors, so you can make your flame look just how you want it to. It also has 3 flame speeds and fire intensity, so you have true control over the atmosphere you want to create.
Because of the array of color options, the Touchstone is the most realistic electric fireplace insert, as it mimics the intensities and natural color changes that you would find in wood or gas fires.
Again the Touchstone has timers and can be used as an image rather than a heating device if you want to keep the aesthetic in the warmer months.
With the Touchstone, the choice is literally in your hands. Just grab the remote and play around with it.
- Remote Control
- Log Speakers
- Not A Real Fire
Small And Affordable Electric Fireplace Insert - ClassicFlame
If these large and dominating fireplaces aren’t what you were after, then check out this small and wholesome ClassicFlame.
The ClassicFlame is by far the cheapest fireplace on our list, and it’s because there is no screen or fake flames for a digital fireplace to create. Instead, the logs glow in a semi-realistic fashion to show they are “burning”.
They pulse, and crackle and when the timer goes to a low point, they will also turn white. The only reason why we say they are semi-realistic is because a close up look will show the wood to be plastic.
The small size shouldn’t make you think that the heater can’t handle your home, though, as they can heat up to 1,000 square feet! And like the other electric choices, you can have the fiery effect without the heat if you wanted to keep the style but low the temperature.
- Remote Control
- Log Speakers
- Not A Real Fire
- No “Flame”
Best Gas Burning Fireplace Insert - Duluth Forge
The last fireplace on our list is also the only gas burning fireplace. The Duluth Forge can heat a 1,350 square foot area by either using natural gas or liquid propane.
You would need to get this fireplace professionally installed so that the gas in your home is connected correctly, which is why this seemingly cheap insert might be more expensive than the original price tag.
The logs on the fireplace are not natural wood. They are hand painted ceramic fiber logs, which have been painted to look realistic as the flame burns around them. This means that the fire won't damage them, and you don't need to clean up the ashes like you would in a wooden fireplace.
If you are worried about a leak, the Duluth Forge has a safe button, which detects any reading that falls out of line, and automatically shuts down the fireplace if too much carbon monoxide or too little oxygen is detected.
The beauty of this fireplace is in its gorgeous fire. Because there is no ash and no smoke, the Duluth Forges fire seems pure. Create a stunning image with no clean up and no pixelation.
- Real Fire
- No Clean Up
- Most Efficient Fireplace
- Remote Control
- Additional Installation Prices
Buyer's Guide - What To Look For In A Fireplace Insert?
There are a couple of different features and designs that you need to be aware of before you purchase your fireplace insert. We have made a quick and simple list for you to follow, so when you find the fireplace of your dreams, you can whip back to this section of our article and feel confident in your purchase.
Should I Get An Electric, Wood, or Gas Fireplace Insert?
They are all great for different reasons. We can help you figure out which one suits your needs by using our quick guide below.
Electric Fireplace Insert
Electric fireplace inserts don’t need to be placed in an old fireplace setting to work (unlike wood or gas inserts). This is because they have no excess materials to vent away from you.
This means they have no smoke, harmful gasses, or soot that need to be expelled. All you need to do is plug them in and watch the flames.
They come with a heater that can often be switched off if you only want the image of fire, and they have lights that create the illusions of flames.
Electric inserts are cheaper, easier to install, but less realistic than the other fireplaces.
Wood Fireplace Insert
Wood Fireplaces are often the most beautiful, and of course, they are the most authentic as you watch the wood burn and the real flames dance.
The combustion fireproof box we talked about earlier is what makes wood fireplace inserts more efficient than a traditional fireplace. With the venting system, you will receive all the heat that the flames create and none of the soot.
But with fire comes smoke. Wood smoke will come out of your chimney and will increase the air pollution in your area, but it shouldn’t leak into your home. If you smell smoke in your home, then your insert has malfunctioned.
Gas Fireplace Inserts
To some, gas fireplace inserts are the best of both worlds. They create a natural looking fireplace, give you the most efficient heat, and have a very low maintenance plan.
The difficulty comes with the placement of the insert. Unlike the electric, you cannot place it anywhere. It needs to be connected to your gas line.
What Should I Know About Adjustable Air Flow?
If you have a gas or wood fireplace insert, then you’ll need to have a way to adjust the air flow. The more control you have over the air flow, then the more you can regulate the heating around your room or home.
These controls allow you to create the perfect preferred temperature that you want.
What Should I Know About Cast Iron Doors?
We said before that the body of your fireplace insert would be made out of steel or cast iron. If you have the choice between either material, go with cast iron.
This is because cast iron is better at resisting heat. This is especially important when it comes to the insert doors. You would be less likely to risk a burn if your door was made out of cast iron.
What Should I Know About Direct Venting?
There are different choices in venting, and they can control the shape and vibrancy of your flame as well as the heat quality.
Usually, these differences matter to varying points in the fire’s life, so you want to get an insert with most options for direct venting. This will ensure maximum efficiency even when your embers are burning low.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Fireplace Inserts Worth The Money?
Absolutely. Fireplace inserts are a beautiful alternative to a boiler or central heating. If you use the gas or electric options, then they are cleaner than a normal fireplace.
They give you a massive amount of emotional warmth from looking at the flame. And most importantly, they can save you money.
A fireplace insert shouldn’t be used as your only source of heating, but swapping between central heating and a welcoming fire will cut your heating costs down. Heating costs are more expensive than electricity, so your overall bills will be lowered.
How Long Do Fireplace Inserts Last?
Generally between 20-30 years or longer if you look after them properly. Remember that a fireplace insert is an investment to your home, so study the maintenance manuals and clean or test your insert regularly.
Should I Close The Glass Doors On My Fireplace?
You should ensure that your doors are either fully open or fully closed, depending on the manual.
If you have glass doors, keep them fully open when burning gas or wood and fully closed when the fire is going out. This is to make sure that the glass doesn’t break from the heat and the smoke doesn’t escape into your room.
To be completely sure, look at your manual for their safety requirements.