While the traditional masonry fireplace is great for aesthetics and adds to the "down home" atmosphere of any home, the fact is that they're not much for actual heating. If you need heat for your home and want to utilize your existing fireplace, you may be interested in a fireplace insert.
A fireplace insert is a closed-combustion firebox that is installed into an existing fireplace to increase efficiency. You literally "insert" the unit into the old fireplace and instantly upgrade its efficiency and heating capabilities. Gas inserts can be direct vent, natural vent or vent-free. All of these types of inserts come standard with a blower, which is a fan that greatly aids in circulating the heat produced into
The use of the term "insert" can be confusing, as many use it interchangeably when referring to inserts and zero clearance manufactured fireplaces. These are not the same thing, as the zero clearance units can be installed into a wall or framed into a mantel cabinet, while inserts can only be installed into a pre-existing fireplace.
While many homeowners with masonry fireplaces install a gas log set, a gas insert is actually a better option if the goals are heat and efficiency. A gas insert will also come with a blower included to aid in circulating the heat, something a gas log set cannot provide. Also, while a ventless gas log set provides a good amount of heat, a direct vent gas insert is a better option for those who are a bit hesitant to go with a vent-free appliance, especially in areas where vent-free units are not permitted. However, if vent-free is an option, a vent-free insert may be more appealing than a mere ventless gas log set, if you desire the heating and an added aesthetic value that an insert can provide. Of course, these vent-free inserts will come with a blower as well, so the heat will be circulated much more efficiently than a ventless gas log set.
If you are certain you want to go with a gas insert, the decision then comes down to whether direct vent or vent-free is right for you. The basic difference between the two is obvious; the direct vent units will require venting up the chimney, while the vent-free inserts are entirely self-contained and do not require any additional components for operation. The other main distinction is that direct vent units will have a fixed glass panel sealing the unit off from the room, while the vent-free insert will be open to the room, using room air for combustion.
One difference between the two that's unique to inserts is the ability to install some vent-free inserts as zero clearance fireplaces. In other words, some vent-free models, like the Empire Innsbrook or the Monessen DIS33, can be recessed into a wall as opposed to inserted
into an existing fireplace. All of our direct vent models, however, must be installed into an existing fireplace and cannot be built into a wall or mantel cabinet.
One big advantage gas inserts hold over the wood burning models is the ability to control the fire with a remote control. While all of our gas inserts come remote-ready, the remote control itself must be purchased separately. In most cases, you'll have a few different remotes from which to choose. These will offer a few different functions, ranging from basic on or off control
to the ability to set and operate via a thermostat. Most models also offer a wall-mount thermostat control. For some customers, this convenience is the deciding factor when choosing gas
as opposed to wood.
A Wise Investment
Choosing the perfect fireplace insert can be challenging, but the result is rewarding. You'll turn your old, drafty fireplace into an aesthetically-pleasing, efficient heat source. Your living room will be transformed and you may find yourself saving plenty of money in the long run.
We'll be happy to assist you in determining which insert is perfect for you, as well as the appropriate accessories and vent kit for your application.