Fireplace inserts are the solution for many existing fireplace problems. These units make inefficient fireplaces heat like woodstoves. Fireplace inserts have different designs and functionality for use as gas fireplaces or as retrofits in wood-burning fireplaces. Generally, the purpose of installing an insert is to place some form of heating unit within an existing fireplace enclosure that may or may not even be operational. If you think that an insert makes sense for your home, it’s important to take the time to research which type is best suited to your needs.
Electric inserts can be extremely portable and provide heat without any dangerous creosote buildup found in a wood-burning fireplace, or a loss of heat through an old chimney. Unfortunately, the flames never look real, and rarely look even convincing. If aesthetics are a major concern or if you like the sight of a flame within your hearth, you should examine one of the other options. Fireplace inserts (sometimes called back panels) are frequently manufactured from cast iron, and are usually suitable for most fuels. The styles and designs are endless ranging from traditional through to contemporary, with the more popular including arched or tiled. Although the majority of inserts are used in conjunction with a surround in either wood, stone or marble, there are some that form a complete assembly of both insert and surround.
Avoid choosing a fireplace with the intention of heating more than one room. Trying to save on heating costs in this way will result in an overheated main room, forcing you to keep the gas fireplace off much of the time. If you are looking for heating efficiency, consider a thermostatically-controlled self-modulated fireplace. This way, the fireplace will automatically turn up and down while regulating the room to the temperature you desire.
Avoid choosing a heating insert that relies on a fan to push the hot air out into the room. The best fireplaces are efficient without a fan. Using one does help with circulation but will only marginally improve the heat output, and there will always be some noise. If you do have a fan, make sure you have a separate control for it so you can turn it up and down or off as needed. When choosing a decorative log set, choose one that easily fits into the fireplace area and leaves some breathing room. Having ample space around the log set looks better and ensures that the valve will not overheat.
There are several important considerations when you are selecting a fireplace insert. While there are a variety of fuel types available – wood, gas, propane, pellet and coal the availability and cost of the fuel source is of prime concern. Availability and cost of fuel types can vary widely across the country. Today state-of-the-art technology is used in their manufacture and many have additional features including blowers, fans and thermostats. They provide a good way to help lower utility bills as well as adding charm and ambiance to any room.