Trade Resources Industry Knowledge What Is a Fireplace Insert?

What Is a Fireplace Insert?

Talk about fireplaces and I'm reminded of that evocative number from the movie 'My Fair Lady' -

"All I want is a room somewhere,

Far away from the cold night air,

With one enormous chair.

Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Lots of chocolate for me to eat.

Lots of coal makin' lots of 'eat.

Warm face, warm hands, warm feet.

Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?"

Yes, isn't it simply lovely curling up cozily in front of a warm fireplace? These days, however, you have far more choices in fireplaces apart from the coal fireplaces that Eliza Doolittle hankered for, which you can choose to install according to your preferences in design, your heating requirements, and the style of your home. If you like your conventional fireplace made of masonry and yet do not want the high cost of energy they involve, you could consider buying a fireplace insert.

What is a Fireplace Insert?

A fireplace insert is essentially a stove, which can be fitted into a regular open fireplace. As with other wood stoves, a new fireplace insert has to be EPA certified, which makes them highly efficient and clean burning.

Fireplace inserts are generally made out of cast iron or plate steel with glass doors so that the flames can be seen. These inserts either jut out onto the hearth or fit snugly into the fireplace. The former position is considered to be more energy efficient since the bottom, top and sides radiate additional heat. They usually come with blowers, which can improve efficiency considerably. These blowers are generally either mounted on the sides or in front of the fireplace insert. While some blowers are manually controlled, others come with a thermostat to regulate the heat.

Gas Fireplace Inserts

A Gas Fireplace Insert can be used to turn a regular wood burning fireplace, both masonry as well as pre-fab, into a gas appliance that is sealed with glass on the front. Most of these gas inserts are equipped with fans to spread the heat, and also have wall-mounted thermostats or wall switches, and remote controls.

Gas inserts are far more efficient compared to Vented Gas Logs, and the glass sealant in the front makes them much safer. A high quality gas insert unit can produce BTU outputs which can range from 10,000-40,000 BTU, and has the ability to burn at up to 80 percent efficiency.

Most of them available these days are direct vent, meaning that they have a two-pipe venting system - one, which is designed to bring in the combustion air within the insert, and the second through which the exhaust is vented. It is a mandatory requirement to line the chimney right up to the top completely with two flexible stainless steel or aluminum pipes. This ensures that there is a correct balance between the intake and the exhaust, thus assuring safety while operating the unit.

Some of the models come with a B-Vent, meaning that they have a single pipe. These are a little less efficient compared to the direct vent type since they use the air inside the house for combustion. The B vented gas fireplaces also must be lined right up to the top of the chimney, except that only a single pipe is used in this.

Also, there are three types of logs that can be used in this model: Vented Logs: Although these provide less heat, they have a more realistic look of burning wood. Ventless Logs: They create a yellow colored flame and are highly efficient. Partially Vented Logs: As far as efficiency, looks and warmth are concerned these are somewhere in the middle of the above two. If converting your conventional fireplace with a Gas Fireplace Insert sounds like a good idea you could check out on the Internet for the various designs and prices they are available in.

Electric Fireplace Inserts

Many people find electric fireplaces a better alternative to vent-less gas, propane or wood-burning fireplaces. Not requiring any sort of structure for permanent ventilation like a flue or a chimney, electric fireplace inserts can be set up into any conventional fireplace mantels or even be moved to any room to be used whenever required.

The new models that are available these days come in various attractive designs with chrome, brass, or black accents, some featuring even more contemporary materials and looks. Most of them have the flickering flame effect which look quite realistic, and many of them also come with a heater. Hence, in the chill weather, the heater can be turned on to warm the room, and when there is no necessity for warming, only the 'flames' setting can be turned on to provide a soothing and cozy glow. Many models of electric fireplace inserts produce heat in the range of 4200-5000 BTU. Plus, there is no need for any particular preparation required for installing fireplace inserts, since they can just be plugged onto an ordinary electrical outlet.

Many people find that electric fireplace inserts score well as far as convenience, portability, low initial expenses, as well as aesthetics are concerned. However, when compared to the gas model, electric ones yield much lower heating energy dollar for dollar. Hence, if you are looking for a system to provide primary heating or as a source of backup heating system, then an Electric Fireplace Insert may not be the best choice.

Contribute Copyright Policy
Gas and Electric Fireplace Inserts
Topics: Construction