What is it? A low cost alternative to fully refitting your heating system, or just something to save money in the long run could well be a fireplace insert. There are ready made artificial electric fires that simply slide into the chute area and heat you home, or there are the inserts that are built for burning real wood. The choice is yours.
The best fireplace insert can be difficult to find. There are many variables that will effect an individual buyers decision, including the current structure and walls you have in place. We aim to help you with this with a detailed guide showing which fireplace inserts could be a match for your requirements.
|Vogelzang TR004 Colonial EPA||$$$$||8/10|
|Napoleon EPI3C Cast Iron EPA Contemporary||$$$$$||9/10|
|Century Heating High-Efficiency||$$$||7/10|
|Timberwolf Economizer Wood Burning Fireplace Insert||$$$$||8/10|
|Napoleon EPI-1402P Woodburning Insert||$$$$$||9/10|
The basics behind a good fireplace insert
As with any product around the home, you will want something durable that stands the test of time. The best fireplace inserts will tend to have a excellent design that is stable, sturdy, and made from high quality materials. Obviously, with the day to day use of such a product, it will need to be able to handle the various heating levels.
As you may well know, heating of materials can cause them to change shape during and after, expanding and contracting. So you will want to look for something that reiterates my point above about the structure and materials used, with special attention paid towards the welding.
Ventilation will also prove a very important factor. Any good fireplace insert worth its salt will have a excellent ventilation system in place to ensure any unwanted fumes, are properly dealt with. In many cases, there will be an existing chimney chute in place to deal with that, but this is not always the case. So that’s something to bear in mind. There is, of course, options that come without the ventilation requirements, and that could well be something you prefer to use over renovating your home to accommodate air flow.
The firebox and hearth quality along with the structure, lining, and materials all play an important role in distributing heat effectively and efficiently. The air flow systems that come built in with variable speeds, are what give consumers control over how much heat is output. A useful, but important feature, and one that some of the best options on the market will provide, depending on where you shop.
Looking at the best fireplace inserts, what are the potential advantages?
Artificial, electric models aside, they are an effective way of saving costs in your gas and electricity each month. Heating a home with the more traditional methods can set you back quite a bit of cash. With a decent fireplace insert, the worries are removed, bar the fire wood, and cost of the unit itself. So if your working to cut back on costs across the board, one of these inserts could be just what you’re searching for.
Simplicity is yet another advantage that will be beneficial in terms on not needing to change much in the shape of renovation. These inserts are designed to be easy options that slot into an existing structure, without the hassle of getting a more tradition fireplace fitted. The other benefit that goes hand in hand with that is that the costs to get a builder in to do work on your home can skyrocket. This is the low budget alternative, that most families can afford. Aside from needing to fit flue piping to achieve proper ventilation where needed, the amount of work needed to be carried out pales in comparison.
Finding the best fireplace insert : Easy if you know what to look for
There is plenty of problems you will come across, and some often difficult decisions in choosing the best fireplace inserts for your needs. We take a look at a few of the things below that make or break a unit.
Efficiency – The efficiency of a product highlights how effective it is at distributing heat throughout rooms in the household. Something with higher efficiency potentially qualifies for tax credits, as long as it meets the industry standard 75% or more.
Exhaust/ventilation system – You will need some form of quality ventilation system in place to ensure any harmful fumes are dealt with. Ensuring the correct venting is in place. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to do so, just ensure it’s done to a effective and high standard. You can bring someone in to fit it, if you are unsure.
Air flow system – What many new inserts come with is a air flow system that can come in the form of a fan with variable speeds. What this will do is allow you to control the temperature effectively. A must have feature for modern households.
Materials and structure – Design wise, you will want a unit that is strong and can handle the day to day fuel burning. This will mean looking at the kinds of materials used, the base layer, the inside of the firebox, hearth, and lining. All of these should be researched into before you buy.
Aesthetics – perhaps this ties in with materials and structure, but the way a insert looks is important for many people as it is almost the center piece of a living area. I would suggest going for something that allows you to view the embers/flames, as that will also enable it to give off a nice glow to the surrounding rooms on a winter evening.
Consumer reports – Then there is a more simple way to understand the quality of both the design, and features included. And that is by looking at reports and opinions from consumers who have reviewed it. Plenty of retail websites, blogs, and forums can offer this if you browse the net. Sometimes you can find information there, that you can’t find in ordinary sites, so it’s well worth looking into.
Fireplace insert prices – The general consensus
To get your hands on the best fireplace inserts, you don’t necessarily need to break the bank. If you understand the features listed and explained above, you can find some models for a very affordable price tag.
What is clear however, is there are what I see as three tiers of products on the current marketplace. Some are higher end, some medium, and some low budget choices. The prices are also arranged in that manner too.
The higher end can cost upwards of $3000 and are often fitted with all the bells and whistles every modern home needs. While expensive, you will often find a good amount of quality in this price range, although that is not always guaranteed.
Then you have the mid tier, which usually encompasses the $1200 – $2500 range. Plenty of popular units can be found in this range, and lots of feedback from consumers that back up the claimed quality.
Then you have the lower budget tier, which can be found at $1000 and below. Don’t knock these before you do your research though. There are many gems and savings to be found when you look hard enough.
Our buying guide wouldn’t be complete without having reviewed several of the more popular options currently available to buy. There is certainly plenty of choice for consumers.
Napoleon EPI3C Cast Iron EPA Contemporary Black wood burning insert – Made from a solid cast iron material, offering the strength and durability required for day to day use.
55,000 BTU’S and a 1,500 square feet heating area highlight just how effective it can be in heating your home on the cheap.
Whats more, this unit is EPA certified, meaning it’s one of the cleaner insert burners on the market. However, to get your hands on this product, you will need to have to dig deep into your pockets.
Vogelzang TR004 Colonial EPA Wood Stove insert – A popular mid tier option from a respectable brand name. Consumers have rated it highly, which could be an early sign of quality.
Looking further into it’s spec and feature list, we see that it has a heating area of up to 1,800 square feet, and can fit fuel that will burn for as long as eight hours.
This is an air tight fireplace insert, that has low emissions, and a BTU rating of 69,600. There is certainly plenty of value for money to be found here.
Napoleon EPI-1402P Woodburning Insert – Instead of giving an exact figure, we note that this model heats anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet. As previously stated, there is variables on how effective the heat distribution is.
It works by circulating air already in the room bringing blowing it into the firebox area, warming it, then re-distributing the hot air throughout the home.
Comes equipped with a variable speed blower that operates quietly and is effective in helping the user control overall temperature.
Perhaps the most impressive feature is the cast iron door window. The hole to view the flames and embers is larger than average, which will definitely have a positive effect on the room in which it resides.
Timberwolf Economizer Wood Burning Fireplace Insert – This unit can fit logs of up to eighteen inches inside the firebox. To give you an idea of the max fuel burning time, the supplier says eight hours, which is long enough for the majority of buyers.
With this fact comes a large heating area of up to 2,000 square feet, and 65,000 BTU’s. For you average household, this will be plenty.
A very natural looking exterior, with quality materials used to improve upon durability and lifespan.
In addition to this, we found throughout our research that consumers have provided mostly positive ratings and feedback, which is always a good sign.
Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert – A solid construction and design that promotes durability with heavy use. The steel plate materials make for a strong exterior.
With a BTU rate of 65,000 and a 1,600 square feet heating area, along with a seventy six percent efficiency rating, it is equipped with all the bells and whistles needed to heat your household effectively.
What’s perhaps more impressive, is that is is able to load logs of up to twenty inches in length, which can really increase the burn time, whilst reducing the need to refuel as often.
The variable blower will ensure the heat is easily controlled by the user. Unfortunately, this unit is not available in Washington.
Finding the best fireplace insert can certainly be made easier when referring to our guide. It can depend on many user requirements, along with the structure of the house. But one things for sure, there is a unit that suits almost every household.