best fireplace insert

Best Fireplace Insert to Add Warmth to Your Home

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Many homes have a fireplace built-in common rooms, such as living rooms. However, homeowners don't use the fireplace mainly because of the hassles involved. Fetching the wood and cutting it up or buying coal or wood, then lighting it up and afterward cleaning the ashes feels like a lot of work, especially when you need to do it frequently.

The good news is that you can still get to enjoy a cozy fire and intimate ambiance in your house without putting in the manual labor. The best fireplace insert ensures that you get a massive, roaring, crackling fire in your home, minus the mess. In addition, you have a warmer house and memories to make with your loved ones.

This article will look at what a fireplace insert is, the best wood-burning fireplace inserts available on the market. In addition, we will guide you on how to choose the best wood stove insert for your home.

What Is A Fireplace Insert?

When you hear a fireplace being mentioned, your brain automatically goes to an opening joined with a chimney that allows things like wood to be burned. While this is true, traditional fireplaces are not enclosed and can pose a danger to your home and family members. Open fire can lead to accidental burns, while carbon monoxide from the fire could be dangerous, causing passing out or even death, especially when in excess.

A fireplace insert is fitted in the already existing traditional or masonry fireplace to enclose the open fire. Inserts have holes at the top or at the back that allow fumes to pass through the chimney. In addition, if you are more concerned with warming your house up, fireplace inserts are more efficient for heat production.

Due to its versatile design, a fireplace insert transforms the vibrance and ambiance of your living room from a rustic feel to a modern, contemporary look at no extra cost. Fireplace inserts come in different shapes and sizes to fit your existing masonry fireplace. In addition, fireplace inserts can burn wood, gas, or pellets to produce heat.

Let us first look at the best fireplace inserts available on the market.

1. R.W.Flame Electric Fireplace

R.W.FLAME 36 inch Recessed and Wall Mounted Electric...
  • 【Attractive and Practical Design】 36"L x 18.11"H x3.89 "W,...
  • 【MULTI OPERATING MODES】: Touch screen and remote control;12...
  • 【ENERGY SAVINGS】: 750W & 1500W modes can be adjusted...
  • 【SAFETY & COMFORT】: ETL Certificate Approved. It also has...
  • 【Warranty & Customer Service】: 1 year warranty, feel free to...

The R.W. Flame electric fireplace has a modern metallic build that looks good when mounted on the wall. This fireplace comes with remote control and has touch screen assistance to help with control. In addition, it has adjustable brightness, flame speed, flame color and other operating modes to enable you to change the mood as desired. However, if you don't want to go through the different modes, there's a special automatic pre-set mode.

The R.W. Flame fireplace heats up to 400 square ft. It is ETL certified and approved, so you are guaranteed safety. If you are concerned about superheating, this electric insert has an auto-heat kill safety feature that helps control heat levels. In addition, the heat safety feature helps to maintain the natural humidity within the air without drying the room.


  • Has a user-friendly design
  • Easy to clean
  • Mounts on the wall
  • You can have the flames on and heat off for aesthetics
  • Easy to install


  • The fan is loud

2. Ashley Hearth Wood Stove Insert

Ashley Hearth AW1820E 1,800 Sq. Ft. Wood Stove Insert,...
  • 69,000 BTUs heats up to 1,800 Sq. Ft
  • Cast iron feed door with large 16.5" x 9" ceramic glass window...
  • Accepts logs up to 18 inches in length
  • Over 75% efficient heating
  • Replaces Vogelzang model TR004 and the US Stove Company 2200IE...

The Ashley Hearth wood stove insert has a large cast-iron door with a 16.5" x 9" faceplate ceramic glass so you can see the wood-burning. There's a wooden handle attached to the door that's helpful when you need to open it. This insert produces 69000 BTUs to ensure that its carbon footprint is minimal. In addition, it accepts logs that are a maximum length of 18 inches to heat up to 1800 sq ft.

If you are looking for a high-efficiency wood stove insert, you will love this insert by Ashley Hearth. This wood insert has a blower that helps with heat circulation. In addition, it is EPA certified so that you can be guaranteed safety and clean air standards.


  • Affordable
  • Produces a lot of heat
  • Distributes heat efficiently
  • Easy to install


  • It is small and fits a maximum of 4 logs
  • The fan circulates air in your fireplace

3. PuraFlame Electric Fireplace Insert

PuraFlame Western Electric Fireplace Insert with Fire...
  • Overall dimensions: Width: 35 1/25" x Height: 26 99/100" x Depth:...
  • 3 flame settings with variable intensity and brightness can be...
  • Life-like resin log which is 11 13/16" high sitting on the grate...
  • Adjustable thermostat; A supplemental heat for up to 400 sq. ft....
  • Easy to install and uninstall. With flat bottom, the insert can...

The PuraFlame electric fireplace insert is made of metal and tempered glass. It has a three-sided faux interior brick wall with a rustic and realistic look, similar to a real fireplace. In addition, the PuraFlame electric fireplace has life-like resin logs that sit on the ember bed to give the impression of a wood-burning fireplace.

This electric fireplace has three heat settings that allow you to adjust the heat to your preference. You can use the intensity and brightness provided by the PuraFlame insert to provide heat and warm your space during winter and for the aesthetics during Summer. In addition, this electric fireplace insert from PuraFlame comes with remote control and an adjustable thermostat to make use easy.


  • Provides heat up to 400 sq ft
  • Easy to install
  • Has custom heat and flame color options


  • It cannot be used as the main source of heat

4. Comfortbilt Pellet Stove Insert

Comfortbilt HP22i Pellet Stove Insert Carbon Black
  • 42,000 btu- Heats 1700-2000 sq ft
  • 47 lbs hopper Capacity/Ash Pan
  • High efficiency/110 Volt/Programmable Heat Settings/Auto Ignition
  • Large View Area-Bay Design-Easy Install
  • 1 Year Warranty - Parts Available

The Comfortbilt Pellet Stove Insert is a high-efficiency fireplace insert that uses pellets as the main heat source. This insert features a 47-pound hopper storage space to burn the pellets. In addition, it heats rooms within a range of 2000 square feet.

If you are worried about the carbon footprint, this pellet stove from Comfortbilt produces 42000 BTUs which falls within the EPA limit. It has programmable heat settings, a powerful blower and an auto-ignition function, making it an easy to control insert. In addition, it has a large viewing bay area that lets you see the flame as it burns.


  • High heat efficiency
  • Has a burn time of 4-6 hours
  • Easy to clean and comes with a metal ash vacuum


  • Does not have an ash pan
  • May not fit existing fireplaces bigger than 25" x 25"
  • Does not work if there is a power outage

5. Drolet Escape 1500 Wood Insert

The Drolet Escape wood-burning fireplace insert features a 29'' x 44'' faceplate and a ceramic glass. It has a medium size that allows it to fit in most masonry fireplaces. If you are looking for an efficient wood insert that will also use less wood, this will be an excellent purchase.

This Drolet Escape insert utilizes a secondary combustion system that minimizes your carbon footprint. This insert provides up to 65,000 BTUs per hour at a rate of 1.26 g/h, which is within the EPA limit. In addition, it comes with a blower that allows easy heat distribution within the house.


  • Heats a large area of up to 1800 sq ft
  • Burns for up to 6 hours
  • EPA certified
  • High efficiency
  • Easy to install
  • Has a medium size
  • Has a secondary combustion system


  • Heavy and not portable
  • Quite expensive
  • Accessories are purchased separately

What are the Different Types of Fireplace Inserts?

1. Wood

A wood-burning fireplace insert works similarly to traditional fireplaces to give the experience of using wood. You will need to collect the wood, start the fire and later on clean up the ashes. Although manual labor is still involved, nothing beats watching the fire in your hearth while keeping warm. This alone makes wood-burning fireplace inserts preferable to gas and electric fireplaces.

A wood-burning fireplace insert allows heat to be distributed throughout the room rather than be lost through the chimney. They are designed to use a minimum amount of logs while producing enough heat to add warmth to your home.

If you are looking for a fireplace insert that will keep you warm during the winter months when the power goes off, with a wood-burning fireplace insert, you are guaranteed heat regardless of the weather. In addition, some wood-burning inserts have ignition assist options, meaning that you won't have to light the fire yourself.

What About Wood Burning Stoves?

It is important to note that wood fireplace inserts and the best wood stove inserts are often used interchangeably. However, wood-burning stoves are more affordable than fireplace inserts. In addition, a wood stove insert is portable and can be carried to different rooms for warmth. This is not the same with a fireplace insert since it is installed within an existing hearth.

That said, the functions and benefits of a wood-burning fireplace insert and that of a wood stove insert are the same. However, wood stoves are more energy efficient because they use less wood to give a higher energy output than wood-burning fireplaces.

2. Electricity

An electric fireplace insert is designed to resemble fake wood logs plugged into a power outlet. These inserts transmit heat for an r200-400 square ft room while still heating the house. Electric fireplaces are efficient, easy to use and have no labor involved. However, they do not look like real fire and lack the intimate cracking sound of a real fire.

Most electric inserts can be moved from room to room to give warmth and a cozy vibe. This is a big advantage, especially for renters and people in apartments, since they can enjoy a fireplace feeling without distorting construction features in the home. However, an electric fireplace insert is quite expensive to maintain, especially in places where utility bills are high.

3. Gas

Natural as inserts utilize a gas line connected to a gas nozzle in the fireplace to light the flames. They do not use wood or electricity to burn. If you wish to have real flames that warm your home without the mess that comes with burning wood and logs, using gas fireplace inserts will be an excellent choice.

Natural gas fireplace inserts are available in vented and ventless options. Vented gas inserts pull oxygen from the home to burn the fire and expel harmful combustion gases. On the other hand, ventless options give more heat but risk releasing harmful fumes back to your house. In addition, some gas inserts come with remote control and wall adjusters, but this depends on the brand and model that you choose.

4. Pellet

Pellet inserts have a flame that looks a lot like wood. However, these types of fireplace inserts are easier to maintain than wood alternatives. You will be required to refill the pellets daily and clean out the ashes every week.

How Does the Best Fireplace Insert Work?

A fireplace insert is installed in a pre-existing fireplace hearth to cover the open fire. For wood inserts, wood is added to the storage hopper, which is ignited to produce heat. Wood fireplace inserts can be controlled manually or using a remote control thermostat. However, this depends on the model of fireplace that you purchase.

Inserts have a blower inside that is in charge of distributing the heat generated inside the unit. In addition, they emit insignificant smoke and emissions, making them better alternatives to traditional fireplaces. Since it is an insert, you can use a wood stove to create a new fireplace that was not existing in the first place.

Fireplace inserts need to have their own flue and exhaust connector. However, when installed in an existing hearth, they can use the existing masonry fireplace and flue liner as a passageway. It is not recommended to use the existing chimney flue to vent your new instant whiles is because it is bigger than the insert and will result in suit buildup. It would be best to contact a professional to help with the installation process to remove the guesswork.

How to Choose the Best Fireplace Insert

1. Compatibility With Existing Fireplace

Before buying a fireplace insert, ensure that it can fit within an existing fireplace opening. This is helpful because these inserts are more durable and convenient if you plan to move houses in the near future.

2. EPA Approval

EPA issues rules that regulate emissions produced by fireplace inserts. The current regulations are that emissions must be below 2.0 grams/hour (g/h). Ensure that your wood-burning insert falls within this category. However, if you are unsure, you can reach out to the manufacturer for more details.

Another benefit of investing in an EPA Approved wood burning insert is that you are guaranteed that the manufacturers are working under strict clean air and emissions regulations. In addition, EPA-certified inserts burn less wood to produce more heat than ones that are not approved.

3. Catalytic vs. Non-catalytic

Wood stove inserts are manufactured in two variants. First, catalytic stoves are specially designed to be more energy-efficient. This is because they use catalytic combustion equipment to light and burn off the smoke originating from the fire. In turn, this results in maximum utilization of firewood, little to no smoke and even heat distribution.

On the other hand, non-catalytic wood stove inserts offer a better fire view than the catalytic alternatives. However, they are less energy-efficient and more suitable for people who occasionally use fireplaces or secondary options.

4. Wood Burning Insert vs. Wood Stove

While both are efficient in heat production and distribution, wood stoves have a higher run time than wood-burning inserts. In addition, if you are more concerned with the ability to warm the different rooms that you're in, a wood stove insert would be more applicable since it is portable. Therefore, seeing as there are no major differences between the two, the choice of either is up to you.

5. Location

Your location will determine the fireplace insert you buy. For example, a portable wood-burning stove insert is more suitable if you are in a rental residence. However, if you are a homeowner in a region where wood availability is not limited, a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove insert is durable and cheap to run.


Fireplace inserts only act to replace your old fireplace while keeping you safe from the dangers of an open fire. Different sources of heat offer varying heat levels and warmth. To beat the cold Autumn nights and Winter months, you need to have a fireplace running. While nothing truly beats the feeling of crackling wood-burning sounds and real fire, the choice of heat source will depend on you and your preferences.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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