Fireplaces vs fireplace inserts: two very different ways to heat your home. But what’s the difference? And which one is right for you? Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about these two popular methods of heating your house.
So, read on, and find out which fireplace is best for you!
What exactly are fireplace inserts, and how is it any different than a fireplace?
You already know what a fireplace is (we hope so, at least). A fireplace is a structure built into your home, usually with a masonry space around the firepit and sometimes a chimney.
Fireplace inserts are self-contained, closed-combustion fireboxes meant to be inserted into an existing fireplace. That’s right. You need an existing fireplace to use fireplace inserts.
You should get a fireplace if you:
On the other hand, fireplace inserts are ideal if you:
Fireplace inserts are convenient if you need a simple upgrade. Plus, inserts have a variety of benefits including:
Like fireplaces, fireplace inserts are categorized by the fuel they burn. Today, we’ll focus on the two most common types of fireplace inserts: wood-burning and gas. The type of fuel you’ll need will also determine your venting options, which we’ll discuss later.
Before deciding on a fireplace insert, whatever type you need, always make sure to measure the opening in your fireplace to ensure your fireplace insert will fit. Check the measurements of the insert you’re interested in. Some fireplaces are more expansive at the front than the back or taller at the front than the back – you get the idea. So measure all dimensions of your firebox before purchasing your fireplace insert!
Now, back to the categories.
What’s cozier than cuddling up on a couch before a crackling fire, with the scent of the burning wood and ash, on a snowy winter night? Probably not – which is why so many homeowners opt for a wood-burning fireplace. People love the authenticity and coziness of a real wood fire.
Besides the authenticity, there are several benefits to a wood-burning fireplace insert. For one, wood-burning inserts don’t require any electricity, so they’re ideal if you find yourself without power. Likewise, burning wood won’t hike up your utility bill.
On the flip side, wood-burning inserts must be cleaned regularly, which some homeowners might find inconvenient. They’re also not the most heat-efficient.
Wood-burning fireplace inserts use a vent liner that extends into your existing chimney. So you need to have a chimney already to get a wood-burning fireplace insert.
You can get flexible or rigid liners. Flexible liners tend to be more affordable and are easier to install. However, they also require field-installed insulation, and overall less durable than rigid liners. If you’re unsure, contact your local fireplace experts [link].
If you think a wood-burning fireplace insert is right for you, The Fireplace Center and Patio Shop offer a variety. Check out our best-selling Napoleon Oakdale Wood Fireplace Insert or the Regency Classic Wood Insert.
Homeowners who want a low-maintenance but efficient fireplace will love gas fireplace inserts. They don’t need to be cleaned regularly, and they often come with a remote for easy control over your heating system.
The downsides to a gas fireplace insert? Many of them run on electricity, meaning you’re out of luck if you lose power. Gas fireplace inserts can also get costly, depending on propane costs, which fluctuate.
And, of course, you won’t get the authentic feel of an actual wood-burning fireplace. But you can get gas fireplace inserts that come with fake logs to mimic that rustic look, like this Valor direct-vent insert.
Before you decide on a gas fireplace insert, it’s important to note that for it to work, you’ll need a gas line hooked up in your fireplace to accept natural gas or propane. If you don’t already have one, you can hire a professional plumber to run a gas line for you. Depending on the model you choose, you may also need an electrical power source – especially if you opt for a direct vent gas insert.
With gas fireplace inserts, you can choose the kind of venting system you want. You have the option of vent-free, direct vent, or natural vents.
Direct vent gas inserts are sealed to the room and only exchange air through an outdoor venting system, ensuring no smoke enters your home. This gives you the best air quality. However, these types of gas inserts will require electricity. The Valor Direct Vent Natural Gas Insert is a best-seller.
Vent-free gas inserts don’t need any outside venting. They rely on room air for oxygen and vent the small amount of smoke they produce back into the room. While they are more convenient, they are restricted in some areas and may affect the air quality in your home. For a rustic but modern look, check out the Jotul New Harbor Gas Insert.
Finally, natural vent (orb-vent) gas fireplace inserts are not sealed to the room and require a chimney liner, similar to a traditional wood-burning fireplace. These kinds of vents are typically used to recreate the look of a traditional wood-burning fireplace, as the flames are larger than your typical gas fireplace.
What fireplace insert is right for you and your home? If you’re still unsure, consult our fireplace experts at The Fireplace Center and Patio Shop. We’ll help you find the perfect fireplace or fireplace insert for your home.
The Fireplace Center and Patio Shop is your one-stop-shop for all your indoor and outdoor essentials. With one of Canada’s largest showrooms, we have over 200 fireplaces on display. With extensive knowledge in BBQs, heating and cooling, and patio furniture, you can trust our team to provide expert advice, quality assembly and installation. Get in touch with us today!