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According to the National Association of Home Builders, fireplaces rank among the top three features desired by new homebuyers. While popular, the open design of traditional wood fireplaces causes heated air to be lost through large gaps, making them inefficient as heating sources. The solution for many homeowners is a fireplace insert, which is a shelled, efficient room heater that draft-proofs an open fireplace by keeping heat flowing toward the room.
To help you find a fireplace insert for your home, the This Old House Reviews team researched the best fireplace inserts on the market. Here are our top nine recommendations.
Top 7 Fireplace Inserts
- Best For Logs: Ashley Hearth Wood Stove Insert
- Best Thin Design: R.W. Flame 36-Inch Electric Fireplace Insert
- Best Candle Insert: Home Decorations Candle Electric Fireplace Insert
- Most Versatile: The Outdoor GreatRoom Electric Fireplace Insert
- Best Frame: PuraFlame 33-Inch Western Electric Fireplace Insert
- Best Flame: Colo Fireplace Insert
- Best Lightweight: Valuxhome 36-Inch Electric Fireplace Insert
Compare Top Fireplace Inserts
|Ashley Hearth Wood Stove Insert||1,200 square feet||275 pounds||Firebox: Lifetime, All other parts: 1 year|
|R.W. Flame 36-Inch Electric Fireplace Insert||400 square feet||36.3 pounds||1 year|
|Home Decorations Candle Electric Fireplace Insert||1,000 square feet||12 pounds||Not listed|
|The Outdoor GreatRoom Electric Fireplace Insert||200 square feet||32 pounds||LED lighting, fan and heater system: 2 years|
|PuraFlame 33-Inch Western Electric Fireplace Insert||400 square feet||43.7 pounds||1 year|
|Colo Fireplace Insert||400 sqaure feet||31 pounds||1 year|
|Valuxhome 36-Inch Electric Fireplace Insert||400 square feet||51.6 pounds||1 year|
Best Wood-Bir: Ashley Hearth Wood Stove Insert
Width: 27.2 inches | Height: 22.4 inches
Pros and Cons
✔ Features a durable, cast-iron door
✔ Heats up to 1,800 square feet
✔ Has spring-loaded automatic adjustment system for easy installation
✘ Has a high price point
✘ Some customers said it didn’t heat as large of a space as advertised
Best Thin Design: R.W. Flame 36-Inch Electric Fireplace Insert
Width: 36 inches | Height: 18.1 inches
Pros and Cons
✔ Has a low price point
✔ Features a unique, colorful flame design
✔ Features a touchscreen and remote for easy control
✘ Fan may not be as powerful as some other models
✘ Heat only 400 square feet
Best Candle Insert: Home Decorations Candle Electric Fireplace Insert
Width: 20.7 inches | Height: 11.6 inches
Pros and Cons
✔ Has original candle design with varying heights
✔ Provides zone heating of up to 1,000 square feet
✔ Is an affordable option
✘ Has a low heat output
✘ Not the best choice for those looking for a traditional insert\
Most Versatile: The Outdoor GreatRoom Electric Fireplace Insert
Width: 28.5 inches | Height: 22.6 inches
Pros and Cons
✔ Has a classic design that fits in any room
✔ Comes with two different fronts to fit on existing masonry
✔ Is tested for safety
✘ Coverage area is only 200 square feet
✘ Does not have automatic safety shutoff
Best Frame: PuraFlame 33-Inch Western Electric Fireplace Insert
Width: 33.1 inches | Height: 25.5 inches
Pros and Cons
✔ Has a stylish, rustic look
✔ Includes three flame settings
✔ Can rest on fireplace floor for easy setup
✘ Flames are not as realistic looking as some other models
✘ Has a small heating area
Best Flame: Colo Fireplace Insert
Width: 25 inches| Height: 21 inches
Pros and Cons
✔ Can work with or without heating function
✔ Has five different adjustable brightness settings
✔ Features a timer that can be set for up to nine hours
✘ Has a lower wattage than some other models
✘ Not the best option for large rooms
Best Lightweight: Valuxhome 36-Inch Electric Fireplace Insert
Width: 36 inches | Height: 27.5 inches
Pros and Cons
✔ Is just over 50 pounds making it easy to transport
✔ Has a life-like resin log design
✔ Features a vent-free insert
✘ Some customers felt the crackle sound was not realistic
✘ Glass front is not removable
If you want to warm your house on a particularly chilly day, then a fireplace insert is a great supplemental heat source. This buying guide covers important things to consider when buying the best fireplace insert for your home.
Fireplace inserts can vary in size from about two to five feet long. The most popular sizes are between 40 and 60 inches, inspired by the size and shape of traditional home fireplaces.
Because fireplace inserts use LEDs rather than actual flames, you can often change the color of the flame at will in your firebox. Popular flame colors—in addition to the traditional orange—include red, green, blue, purple, and white.
An electric fireplace insert can be controlled via either a touch screen or remote control. Some include both options, so you can adjust your fireplace’s settings both up close and from a distance.
The higher the wattage on an electric fireplace insert, the more high-efficiency the heating element will be. Inserts with high heating efficiency will help heat up your house quickly and can better simulate a real fire. Many inserts come with a thermostat so you can better keep track of the temperature.
Most electric fireplace inserts come in either wall-mounted or recessed variations. Recessed inserts are set slightly into the wall and are designed to fill existing fireplaces. Wall-mounted inserts attach directly to the wall and can be placed anywhere in your home where there is space and a nearby outlet. These inserts are typically made from stainless steel or other heavy-duty materials.
You can often choose between a variety of noises inspired by crackling fires to make your electric fireplace insert more realistic. You can also choose to turn off the noise if you prefer to enjoy the fire quietly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of a fireplace insert?
Installing a fireplace insert into an existing fireplace opening draft-proofs an open fireplace while keeping the heat in the room and away from the masonry.
How much does a fireplace insert cost?
Most fireplace inserts and a professional installation cost about $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the state of your existing chimney and the model you select. Some electric models cost significantly less, but they offer less heat output (measured typically in btus) than wood and gas fireplace inserts.
Do electric fireplace inserts produce heat?
Yes, electric fireplaces can produce heat. While electric fireplace inserts don’t produce as much heat as gas- and wood-burning fireplace inserts, most models can heat spaces up to 400 square feet.
What are the differences between the types of fireplace inserts?
Electric fireplace inserts and wood-burning fireplace inserts are most common, but there are also direct vent fireplace inserts and pellet fireplace inserts available.
Electric inserts are an efficient heat source that simulates a real fire with electric flames and adjustable temperature levels. Wood-burning inserts typically offer ceramic glass doors that heat wooden logs for a high BTU output that can heat the whole house.
Direct vent inserts are designed with steel glass fronts and use a co-linear vent system that runs inside an existing chimney. Pellet fireplace inserts, meanwhile, replace logs with small wood pellets that burn quickly and are easy to maintain.
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This Old House has empowered homeowners for more than four decades with top-notch home improvement content in the form of television programs, print media, and digital content on its website and social media platforms. The This Old House Reviews Team focuses on creating in-depth product and service review content to help inform your purchasing decision for just about any item or resource that you might need for your home. The This Old House Reviews Team has written over 1,000 reviews on products in the home space, from cordless drills to kitchen trash cans, lawn mowers, and dining room decorations.
We recommend products in each review using an intensive research process, spending hours combing through the best available models on Amazon. For a product to make our list of top picks, it must hold a solid sales record on Amazon, have consistently positive customer reviews, and offer unique features, among other factors. After narrowing down our list of recommendations, we conduct additional research and sometimes in-person testing to ensure that the products meet our standards. Once we conclude the research phase, we craft a well-rounded, user-friendly article that includes our recommended products and additional information to help homeowners like you make the right purchase.
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