Things To Consider Before Purchasing Fireplace Inserts

Fireplaces are popular for two main reasons. First, they provide a certain ambiance. Second, they provide heat for a home. Many people with fireplaces are now getting fireplace inserts, but there are a few things that should be taken into consideration before doing so.

Inserts Versus Fireplaces

With a fireplace, up to 90 percent of the heat that's produced ends up going up the chimney. A fireplace insert helps to prevent this and make the fireplace more efficient overall, with potential energy savings of anywhere between 10 and 40 percent depending on the insert chosen. Wood and pellet inserts tend to have efficiency ratings between 50 and 80 percent, with wood-burning inserts potentially being slightly more efficient. Vented gas inserts are about 80 percent efficient, while ventless options can be up to 99 percent efficient (but this latter option isn't as safe and tends to cause fumes). Keep in mind that with an insert, the aesthetics will be a bit different because the fire or simulated fire will be behind glass, not out in the open. You won't be able to use the fire for roasting marshmallows or things like that, but less heat will be going out the chimney. With a gas insert, there also won't be the familiar popping and crackling sounds of wood burning.

Cost Considerations

Inserts typically cost between $2,000 and $4,000, including installation costs. The more work that's needed on the original fireplace and chimney to get it draft-proofed and get the highest efficiency levels, the more the installation will cost. In general, gas inserts tend to be more expensive than those that burn pellets or wood. 


Not all inserts will work with all types of fireplaces, and some fireplaces are not suitable for use with inserts. Measure the depth as well as the back and front widths of the fireplace to see whether small, medium or large inserts will work. Also check the distance between the mantel and the firebox, as this can affect the suitability of inserts and make them more or less effective.

Another issue, besides size, is the type of venting required. An electric insert doesn't require any outside venting. Those with a large central chimney or one on an outside wall may be better off with a wood insert, while those with smaller chimneys may be better off with a pellet insert or a gas insert. 

Maintenance Needs

With wood or pellet inserts, you need to haul the fuel, the ashes will still need to be cleaned out and the chimney will need regular cleaning. Gas inserts just need yearly checks to make sure they're functioning properly, and electric inserts need little or no maintenance.

For more information, contact local professionals like Nordic Stove and Fireplace Center.