7 Best Wood-Burning Fireplace Inserts For The Money

Cold winters suck!

Am I right?

That is, of course, if you don’t have the proper heat source to sit around and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa with the people that mean the most to you. The good news is that winter, or colder months for that matter, do not have to suck.

Do you want to make the most out of your old, outdated, inefficient masonry fireplace? Revive your old, drafty grate and say hello to the best wood-burning fireplace insert to enjoy its warmth, elegance, and ambiance to the next level.

We narrowed down the list of inserts and provided detailed information about the frequently asked questions. Here’s our list of absolute top picks.

Manufacturer
Best value option
Ashley Hearth
Best pellet option
Comfortbilt
Best high-end
Breckwell
Ashley Hearth AW1820E 1,800 Sq. Ft. Wood Stove Insert, Black
Comfortbilt HP22i Pellet Stove Insert Carbon Black
Breckwell SP24I, Matte Black
Heating capacity
69,000 BTU
42,000 BTU
50,000 BTU
What we love
Cast iron door at an unbeatable price tag.
A great pellet insert with a bay design.
Beautiful wood pellet design with gold trim.
Best value option
Manufacturer
Ashley Hearth
Ashley Hearth AW1820E 1,800 Sq. Ft. Wood Stove Insert, Black
Heating capacity
69,000 BTU
What we love
Cast iron door at an unbeatable price tag.
Best pellet option
Manufacturer
Comfortbilt
Comfortbilt HP22i Pellet Stove Insert Carbon Black
Heating capacity
42,000 BTU
What we love
A great pellet insert with a bay design.
Best high-end
Manufacturer
Breckwell
Breckwell SP24I, Matte Black
Heating capacity
50,000 BTU
What we love
Beautiful wood pellet design with gold trim.

7 Best Wood-burning Fireplace Inserts (Experts’ Take)

#1. Ashley Hearth

This unit stood out to us right away as we started looking into the different options available, and for obvious reasons. You’ll easily end up spending north of $2,000 when looking at these units, which you fortunately won’t have to with this Ashley Hearth model.

It not only provides great heating capabilities, but you’re getting a product from a manufacturer that has been around since 1869, with their model having practically no unhappy customers.

When we got our hands on this model, it was obvious why so many customers were excited about it, and while we didn’t test it in a 3,300 square foot home like one of the Amazon reviewers did, this unit seems unrivaled and able to keep your family warm during the colder months.

Ashley Hearth
35 Reviews
Ashley Hearth
With a heating capacity of 69,000 BTU, this isn't just a powerful unit, but also one with an unmatched price to value proposition.

#2 Comfortbilt

Pellet inserts are great, and the one from Comfortbilt is our top pick, if you don’t want wooden logs but prefer the convenience offered by pellets. With its zero-clearance design, made to sit flat on the floor, you get a unit that is easy to operate with barely any smell either.

It does, however, cost more than the Ashley Hearth. With its large viewing bay, you’re getting great value with this option.

Comfortbilt
36 Reviews
Comfortbilt
This high-efficiency pellet stove insert will ensure that there's no part of your house that feels uncomfortably cold to be in anymore, that's for sure! It does come with a higher price tag than the Ashley Hearth, however.

#3 Breckwell SP241 Blazer

Breckwell SP241 Blazer is, by far, the most oversized option you can get for ample space. Its large hopper capacity means you’ll refill it less often, which saves logs. With 50,000 BTU extreme output, it can comfortably heat rooms between 400 and 2,200 square feet, and there are five settings to select from with this model.

Its 70-pound hopper fuel capacity allows you to burn up to 70 hours of each load using the auto fuel feed. The unique exterior is of solid steel for long-term reliability and durability. It also has several safety measures, including a one-touch digital technology control board that allows you to check and diagnose problems.

Therefore, upgrade yours by adding the largest pellet stove insert, Breckwell SP241.

Breckwell
7 Reviews
Breckwell
If you want a pellet insert that feels high-end, this is the option you should consider! The finishes on this thing are absolutely beautiful!

#4. Napoleon EPI3

In addition to the robust cast iron surround, the Napoleon EPI3 also has a cast iron door with a modern flush front. The viewing window is one of the biggest on the market for a wood model. It fills the space nicely and integrates flawlessly with the interior décor with its clean-fitting surround installed.

Napoleon EPI3 has a detachable latch system that slides down the handle to make loading and unload more manageable. The easy-slide air controller regulates oxygen flow, allowing for either high or low burns. The blower control, which has a variable speed knob to switch it on and off, is another excellent feature.

A sensor that detects whether the door is open or closed is one of the safety features available. When reloading with the blower on, it automatically turns off so that it doesn’t blast you in the face.

The box comes with a drop-down design, so you won’t have to worry about ashes spilling out from your hearth. It has a heating performance of 1,500 square feet; it can accommodate 20-inch wood while still having plenty of room left over, making it a very efficient unit.

What makes this unique is that it makes your living space more luxurious. Imagine sipping a coffee with a fantastic viewing area. The device provides performance, heat, a stylish appearance, and a wide viewing window to keep you warm on cold days.

Be sure to also read our post on utility sinks.

#5. Napoleon S-Series

The S-series is the best option if you want technology that is EPA-approved and up to the latest standards. This model has all the features of a top-of-the-line model, making it preferable to other options. Furthermore, it features a sleek and streamlined appearance.

This remarkable unit delivers plenty of heat during winters, and certification assures that it is a safe and environmentally friendly model. Its 65,000 BTU output increases burning time. And has a full-width ash cover to keep ash off the floor. The uniform distribution of heat is made possible by a dual-power system.

#6. Osburn Matrix

For us, Osburn Matrix also deserves inclusion as one of the best overall wood-burning insert on our list today. This unit can keep you warm even in the coldest climates. The installed fans are powerful to warm up the living space in a short period. That is because of the large amount of heat they push out. What makes it the best overall unit?

Firstly, this eco-friendly unit emits only 1.54 g/hr of average emission particles. It is up to date concerning industry standard requirements for the year 2020.

Now, the manufacturer really did their research on how to make an anti-cold device. The Osburn Matrix is extensively large but stylish. Its distinctive design brings aesthetics to your home.

The new door mechanism feature makes the unit innovative as well. This heavy-duty cast-iron model is ideal for rooms with high usage. At maximal heat production, it uses very little energy.

In conclusion, this product is EPA-certified (the United States Environmental Protection Agency). That means it is a high-efficiency unit with minimal emissions and high output.

#7. Regency Pro-Series CI2700

Your open masonry fireplace will turn into a cutting-edge home heating solution and contemporary centerpiece with the Regency Pro-Series CI2700 hybrid wood insert. Thanks to its eco-boost triple burn technology, it can provide up to 14 hours of continuous operation from a single load of wood.

It’s the ideal model for a medium-sized living area that uses modern technology to enhance efficiency and performance. It promises a large viewing area with radiating glass.

Well, what else? Wood inserts have never looked better, courtesy of the sleek flush design. Low emissions rate of 1.3 g/hr released into the atmosphere thanks to the device’s efficiency, which stands at an impressive 79%. The digital temperature monitor for the catalytic provides the longest possible burn duration. Loading is a snap because of the 110-degree opening.

What Is an Insert?

Coal miner Joab Donaldson in Pennsylvania created the first insert in 1896.

An insert is a sealed box installed in an existing masonry hearth. It’s generally out of cast iron or steel and mainly has a self-cleaning tempered glass cabinet-type opening so homeowners may enjoy the flickering flames while the heat-proof door remains closed.

Since it is installed directly into an existing open space, sometimes you may require additional apertures and other retrofits depending on the type and installation requirements. It helps seal up the significant holes in your homes, such as chimneys and exhaust venting, to eliminate drafts and increase efficiency during cold seasons. And, because it has closed combustion chambers, it distributes heat away from the chimney and into your home, lowering the threat of fires.

Natural gas/propane, wood/coal/pellets, and electric models are currently the most prevalent types on the market.

3 Types

  • Gas

Existing fireplaces can have a gas insert fitted to warm the room. Homeowners who would instead install a gas supply than chop, store, and haul wood find this option acceptable. After pressing a button, a burnt gas log is immediately vented outside and works well without utilizing dirty air for combustion.

  • Electric Alternative

An electric option is the newest model include technological shifts and innovative properties. The LED lights and similar electronic features replicate a realistic appearance that simulates an actual fire girdled by artificial logs, giving it a bright and vibrant image. It appears to create relatively little heat than actual combustion due to the absence of a real open flame, yet its heating element produces incandescent heat using electricity. But, it appears to be more costly than others.

gas fireplace

  • Wood-burning

Many homeowners believe using burning woods in an insert is the most efficient and best option. In comparison to a conventional drafty brick one, this type generates far more heat and warmth. Even better, since it is retrofittable to the existing fireplace, you don’t have to remove the old construction. Its additional benefits include decreased pollutants, improved heat output, cost savings on heating, and a more aesthetically attractive look.

All three types serve the same purpose: they generate heat in your environment. Nonetheless, one stood out by meeting someone’s needs and even exceeded your expectations. Wood-burning is by far the most practical and cost-effective option, according to consumer feedback and our research.

How Do They Work?

With a wood-burning fireplace insert, you can enjoy the visual and feel of a real wood fire while still having the ability to regulate the temperature and brightness. They are a more compact alternative solution compared to a free-standing stove.

The stove front functions the same way as any other. To open it, you’ll see a glass plate with a view of the fire and the burning woods inside. It resembles a typical fireplace and totally fills the entire space making it appear fantastic. The stainless steel liner that travels up the chimney and out the top is just above the rear portion. And it will securely exhaust all the fuel vapors out of the chimney to ensure that you have the most efficient combustion to heat your house effectively and safely.

In this method, you are securely venting everything that has to be gotten out to prevent a chimney fire or other type of accident.

Today’s inserts, which have received EPA approval, are made to provide effective house heating while using less fuel. Aside from that, it’s a better solution for heating with wood because it reduces emissions, seals the open chimney, and adds ambiance with wide glass doors.

There is an insert for every fireplace, whether you want to heat a single room or an entire house. The good news – they may now reach up to 80% efficiency thanks to modern technology. It implies that it would be better to push the heat into your house through a insert.

Misconceptions

A quick misconception exists between a wood-burning fireplace and inserts. Everyone should be aware of this, in my opinion.

A wood-burning fireplace is something that you built into a zero clearance location, usually in new builds or remodeling projects that go into the wall.

On the other hand, if you have an old one and wish to heat the space with it more effectively, replacing it with one of the options on this page will make a difference. It is inserted into an existing space and uses a chimney liner to connect to the chimney to vent adequately.

The idea behind this insert is to hide up your old, unsightly fireplace while providing excellent performance and heating.

How to Figure out Which Application is Best for You?

To whittle down a few choices, examine the few factors that make the decision process very easy and give you some idea before thinking about purchasing.

Factors to consider
Size Room space Price
Aesthetics Efficiency

wood fireplace insert

  • The First Factor is SIZE

Determine what size you’re working with initially. Also, keep in mind that the insert will only fit into a true-masonry fireplace. If you have an old metal firebox with zero clearance and built-in venting, it is nearly impossible to adjust the size to match your new wood-burning device. It is going to be a time-consuming and challenging transition.

The simplest way to begin considering options is to determine what will truly fit in your space. Larger inserts won’t fit in a small firebox. On the other hand, a large one means you’ll likely need to get something more significant to fill up the space physically. So, take measurements; the height, width, and depth to see what would fit.

  • The Second Consideration is Room Space

If you want to heat your space efficiently, these are your best and most primary options. For example, a more oversized wood-burning insert with deeper fireboxes can burn more, hence, provides more heat within the hearth. By using it, you’ll be able to use more wood for a longer burn time and heat a larger room.

  • Efficiency

New efficiency requirements went into effect in May 2020, requiring all inserts to meet a high-efficiency standard. The most recent models are likely to have a high-efficiency level and are EPA efficient, qualified models. You may check it out before purchasing.

Efficient certified models usually offer you nighttime burns that are far deeper than you’ll ever require.

Reburn tubes with flame retardant baffles are being used in some versions to enable oxygen into the top of the firebox. The initial burn will re-burn and continue for long-term heat and efficiency. In addition, these catalytic/non-catalytic combustors are used in hybrid versions to provide a very extended burn period.

  • The Last Factor is Aesthetics

You’ll need an aged cast-iron design if you want to use a rustic-style unit in your home. It has a very classic appearance, yet it is attractive at the same time. Elegant steel options are also ideal for a basic installation because they produce simple, clean lines. Whatever cosmetic, the important thing is that it adds a nice aesthetic touch to the place.

Can I Install It Myself?

In homes already equipped with a fireplace, the addition of an insert may significantly enhance the ambiance. The installation may not be as simple as you think, especially if you don’t have prior knowledge.

Before the installation, you’ll want to think about a lot of things. A good start is by measuring the size of your existing space and then purchasing a matching insert to fill the space. Consider snapping a photo of it and measuring its inner dimensions to know what exactly you’re looking at when you go shopping. If not entirely convinced, call a specialist to come and check your home to make sure that you get a suitable unit.

It’s not entirely advisable to install it yourself, but you can have a professional handle the installation to ensure correct fitting. Otherwise, it may cost a lot more when things go wrong. And there are professional safety procedures to follow.

How Much Does it Cost to Install One?

You may expect to pay from $600 to $6,500 to install a fireplace insert. The total price varies typically on how to fit the unit into an existing masonry space. And there’s a one-time installation fee. The professional installation cost is $2,180, depending on the condition of the existing chimney and the model you choose.

Our expert advice is that it would be good to get a assessment performed by local professionals before making any upgrades. They’ll let you know if your existing space is unsafe to use since it’s too dirty. They’re also knowledgeable about the local construction layout, so they can tell you if your new house addition will fit inside. And besides, local laws, building codes, and other restrictions are the domains of pros.

Aside from inspections, they offer services such as chimney and flue cleaning, repair of damaged chimney caps, and so on, which may or may not add to the initial cost, depending on the nature of the pricing package.

Are They Worth It?

They may serve as both a practical and attractive addition to a home interior. Unfortunately, over time, an old drafty one may turn into an inefficient and polluting fixture. However, the best upgrades can allow you to maximize its efficiency.

It serves as a secondary firebox to an existing fireplace, warming the air that passes between the firebox and the steel shell. The outer covering guarantees that most heat is delivered to the room rather than up the chimney.

Traditional fireplaces lose a lot of heat, which is why homeowners prefer inserts. They are more effective at heating a room. As a result, you spend less money on heating and get more of it. It’s also quick, easy, and takes fewer steps during installation. As much as it delivers heat more effectively, it also helps you cut down your bill.

The wood-burning version earns an overall A+ for being both functional and cost-effective.

fireplace insert

Why you Should Upgrade

If you already have a masonry fireplace and decide to install one of these, you’ll be amazed at all the benefits it has to offer.

Your existing fireplace is only 20% efficient. With large glass doors, EPA-approved versions provide efficient heat over wood usage, safer operation, reduced emissions, seal-up the open flue, and improved ambiance.

Saves Cost

  • They will help to seal up your property, reducing heat loss.
  • As not in use, the unit will maintain a constant temperature and only produce heat when needed.
  • Radiant heat can warm anything in its path.

Prevent Heat Loss

  • The heat is retained in a sealed box, allowing a 70-75 percent efficient burn for an extended period.
  • It prevents heat escaping to the chimney and drafts from entering.
  • Minimize the volume of wood you use and increase the amount of usable heat.

Enhance the Room’s Appearance

  • Transform the appearance of the space drastically without undertaking significant renovations.
  • Enhances the aesthetic appeal of your home by including a long-lasting element.
  • The space brings a refreshing vibe to the room; the unit hides ugly views and ashes. It cleans the mantle as well.

Final Thoughts

They not only improve the look and functionality of your existing one but also lets you enjoy the warmth of a clean, safe grate in your house. It’s time to upgrade your existing hearth with the best wood-burning fireplace insert to take advantage of the higher efficiency.

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