Fireplace inserts are essentially self-contained fireplaces that are inserted into an existing fireplace, which can dramatically increase the efficiency and cleanliness of the fire. They reduce the burn rate of the fire, which means they require less logs and less wood chopping to operate, but also increase the heat output of the fire, and reduce the amount of smoke released into the room. As fireplace inserts can increase the efficiency of a fireplace, they reduce the cost of fuel consumption, which may add up to savings in the long run, especially in houses that often have a fire burning to heat the home. Since they are covered by glass doors, they can be safer, especially if flying sparks or stray children are a problem.
Many different styles exist to compliment a wide variety of architectural styles, fireplace sizes, room sizes, and other concerns, and different types of inserts use different methods of heat circulation to be effective. Some models have multiple sides, for corner or wall installation visible from both sides. Some models are airtight, which will increase the safety standards as well as performance of the unit. Often these units can come with a fireplace blower, which is a device that circulates heated air throughout the room, increasing the heat output of the unit, so you don’t have to sit right next to it to be warm.
However, fireplace inserts are sometimes not compatible with prefabricated or steel fireplaces, so check with the manufacturer to be sure. Generally the fireplace insert will be designed for a specific room size and fireplace size, so make sure to check all specifications and dimensions, and take your time with a sales representative to answer all questions on specific models.
Radiant heat vs. heat circulating wood fireplace inserts
Though any high-temperature area will produce both radiant heat (radiation) and circulate air through the room, radiant fireplace inserts will produce more radiant heat, and circulating fireplace inserts will produce more air circulation.
The main differences are that heat circulating fireplace inserts will have vents along the top and bottom of the unit, to draw in cooler air and vent the heated air, which need to be exposed for the unit to work, whereas radiant heat fireplace inserts can be installed so as to expose less of the frame and leave the glass doors as the only visible part of the unit.
Also, heat circulating fireplace inserts will have lower surface temperature, which can be quite helpful in homes with small children, as the hotter temperatures of the radiant heat fireplace insert may cause more burns. Also, the lower surface temperatures of heat circulating inserts make it suitable for lower clearances to wooden walls and other combustible materials.
Both styles will work well to heat up a home, leaving the only concerns for the homeowner being the surface temperature and clearance concerns, or stylistic concerns if the appearance of the vents is not suitable for the decor of the room, so these issues are a matter of personal preference or individual requirements.
High Efficiency Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts
High efficiency models are rated by the EPA as having an efficiency of 72% or higher, and are far more efficient than other wood burning fireplaces or fireplace inserts. Due to their greater performance, which reduces environmental impact of fuel consumption and smoke output, these units are often eligible for a federal tax credit, which will help offset the increased cost of purchasing the unit. However, due to its increased performance over other fireplace inserts, which are higher than traditional fireplaces to begin with, it can make for an excellent long-term investment in a home that will be enjoyed for many years, or for the purpose of resale value.
Prices of wood burning fireplace inserts
Fireplace inserts can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Such variation is determined by size of the insert itself, the size of the room it will be used to heat, and other concerns such as style and brand name recognition. Purchases such as these should be carefully considered, as the performance of the fireplace can end up reducing the cost of heating the home in the long run, and a beautiful, well-designed and well-performing unit can dramatically increase the beauty and appeal of a room. Take your time when shopping around, and find the unit that’s right for your needs.