7 Best Wood-Burning Fireplace Inserts For The Money

Cold winters suck!

Am I right?

Suppose you don’t have the proper heat source to enjoy with the people who mean the most to you. The good news is that winter or colder months do not have to be such a hardship.

Do you want to make the most out of your old and inefficient masonry fireplace? Would you like to revive your old, drafty grate and welcome the best wood-burning fireplace insert? Can you vision yourself enjoying its warmth with elegance and ambiance taken 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 1,200 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 1,200 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

You’ll easily end up spending over $2,000 when looking at this. But fortunately not with this Ashley Hearth model. This unit stood out to us right away as we looked into the different options available. And for obvious reasons.

It not only provides great heating capabilities. You’re also getting a product from a manufacturer that has been around since 1869. And their model practically has no unhappy customers.

The unit seems unrivaled and able to keep your family warm during the cold months.

Sale
Ashley Hearth
85 Reviews
Ashley Hearth
With a heating capacity of 69,000 BTU, this isn't just a powerful unit. It also has an unmatched value for money.

#2 Comfortbilt

Pellet inserts are great if you don’t want wooden logs but prefer the convenience offered by pellets. The one from Comfortbilt is our top pick. With its unique design, you get a unit that is easy to operate with barely any smell.

It’s more expensive than the Ashley Hearth. With its large window, you’re getting great options and value with this choice.

Comfortbilt 
46 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. However, it comes with a higher price tag than the Ashley Hearth.

#3 Breckwell SP241 Blazer

By far, the Breckwell SP241 Blazer is the most oversized option you can get for ample space. Its large hopper capacity means you’ll refill it less often, and this will save logs. With 50,000 BTU output, it can comfortably heat rooms between 400 and 2,200 square feet. You can select between five settings on this model.

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

If you need a heavy-duty option, you can upgrade your masonry fireplace by adding the largest pellet stove insert. The Breckwell SP241 is a great option!

Breckwell 
9 Reviews
Breckwell 
If you want a high-end pellet insert, this is the option you should consider. The finishing is 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 front. The window is one of the biggest markets 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 facilitate the feeding of the logs. The easy-slide air controller regulates oxygen flow, allowing for either high or low burns. The blower control has a variable speed knob to regulate the airflow—another excellent feature.

One of the safety features is a sensor that detects if the door is open or closed. When reloading with the blower on, it is automatically turned off to avoid accidents.

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

This insert will give your living room a luxurious touch and add to your comfort when enjoying time with family and friends. The device provides performance and a stylish appearance and heats your room efficiently. A large window adds to the cozy atmosphere.

Be sure also to read our post on utility sinks.

#5. Napoleon S-Series

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

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

#6. Osburn Matrix

The Osburn Matrix also deserves to be included among the best wood-burning inserts on our list today. This unit can keep you warm even under the coldest circumstances. The installed fans are powerful to warm up the space in a short period as they push out a large amount of heat. Why is it between the overall best units?

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.

The manufacturer did their research on how to make a heating device. The Osburn Matrix is extensively large yet stylish. Its distinctive design will supplement the aesthetics of your home.

The heavy-duty cast-iron model is ideal for rooms with high usage. It has a new and innovative door mechanism feature. At maximal heat production, it uses very little energy.

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

#7. Regency Pro-Series CI2700

The Regency Pro-Series CI2700 hybrid wood insert will turn your open masonry fireplace into a cutting-edge home heating solution and contemporary centerpiece. Its eco-boost triple burn technology can provide up to 14 hours of continuous operation from one single load of wood.

It’s the ideal model for a medium-sized living area, and it uses modern technology to enhance efficiency and performance. It comes with a large glass window with radiating glass.

What else? With its flush design, wood inserts have never looked better. Thanks to the device’s efficiency, it has a low emissions rate of 1.3 g/hr released into the atmosphere. This is an impressive 79%. The digital temperature monitor for the catalytic provides the longest possible burn duration. Handling the wood is very easy 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 fireplace. It’s generally cast iron or steel with an opening covered by a self-cleaning, tempered glass door. You may therefore enjoy the flickering flames while the heat-proof door remains closed.

It is installed directly into an existing open fireplace. You may sometimes need additional fittings or other retrofits depending on the type and installation requirements. The insert helps seal up significant holes in your home in your chimney and exhaust venting. It also helps to eliminate drafts and increase the heating efficiency during cold seasons. Due to its closed combustion chambers, it distributes heat away from the chimney and into your home. Doing so also lowers the threat of fires.

3 Types of heating

You can choose between a natural gas/propane solution, a wood/coal/pellets solution, and an electric model solution.

Gas

Existing fireplaces can have a gas insert fitted to heat the room. Many homeowners find the gas option a good solution instead of buying or working the firewood. It can be both a time- and space-consuming task. After pressing a button, a burnt gas log is immediately vented outside. Therefore, it works well by using only clean air for combustion.

Electric Alternative

An electric solution is the newest option and includes technological and innovative solutions. The LED lights and other technology give a realistic appearance. It simulates an actual fire girdled by artificial logs, giving a bright and vibrant image. Due to the absence of real open flames, it creates relatively little heat compared to actual combustion. Its heating element produces incandescent heat using electricity but is heating-wise more costly than the other heating solutions.

gas fireplace

Wood-burning

Many homeowners believe that burning firewood in an insert is the most efficient and best option. This type generates far more heath than a conventional, drafty brick fireplace. Because it is retrofittable to the existing fireplace, you don’t have to remove the old construction. Other benefits include a lower level of pollutants. At the same time, it has a higher heat output and cost savings on heating. It also has a more aesthetically attractive look.

All three solutions serve the same purpose: they generate heat in your home. Of the three solutions, one stood out by meeting the needs and even exceeding the expectations. According to our research, the wood-burning solution is by far both the most practical and the most cost-effective option.

How Do They Work?

With a wood-burning insert, you can enjoy both the visual and real fire feeling. You can regulate the temperature and brightness. They are a more compact alternative solution compared to a free-standing wood stove.

The front of the insert functions the same way as a wood stove. You open the glass plate in front to see the fire inside. It functions as a typical fireplace and fills the entire space creating a cozy ambiance. The stainless steel liner is placed just above the rear part of the insert. It’s led up inside the chimney and out at the top and will securely exhaust all the fuel vapors out of the chimney. This way, you are ensured to have the most efficient combustion to heat your house effectively and safely.

Using this method, you securely vent out to prevent a chimney fire.

EPA-approved inserts are made to provide effective heating of your house while using less fuel. Besides that, it’s a more eco-friendly solution for heating with wood. It’s because it reduces emissions and seals the open chimney. It also adds ambiance to the room with the wide glass doors.

You can find an insert for any fireplace, whether you want to heat a single room or an entire house. The good news is that they can 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 an insert.

Misconceptions

You should be aware of the difference between a fireplace with inserts.

A fireplace is part of the wall itself and is therefore also part of the construction of the house when it’s built. An insert is fitted precisely into an existing fireplace. It uses a chimney liner to connect to the chimney to vent adequately. Previous open holes are now being closed, preventing heat from escaping.

Maybe you have an older home and wish to heat the space more efficiently. Considering upgrading your house with one of the options will make a huge difference both heat-wise and economically.

An added benefit from your insert is that you will be hiding your old, unsightly fireplace.

How to Figure out Which Application is Best for You?

To narrow down your options, consider considering a few factors. This will also make your decision-making process easier before deciding to buy.

Factors to consider
SizeRoom spacePrice
AestheticsEfficiency 
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. Suppose you have an old metal firebox without clearance and built-in venting. In that case, it’s nearly impossible to adjust the size to match your new wood-burning device. It is going to be a time-consuming and challenging transition.

Therefore, you will need to determine what will truly fit into your space. Of course, larger inserts won’t fit into a small firebox. On the other hand, the largest possible insert for a given fireplace will fill up and make the best use of the space. Take measurements to see what fits best. it includes the height, width, and depth.

The Second Consideration is Room Space

Maybe you want to heat your space efficiently. An oversized wood-burning insert with deep fireboxes can burn more and provide more heat. By using it, you’ll be able to use more wood and burn for a long time. It can heat a larger room.

Efficiency

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

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

Reburn tubes with flame retardant baffles are being used in some versions to lead 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

To blend in and match the style of your home, you have different options to choose from. You may wish for an aged cast-iron design for a classical, attractive appearance in a rustic style. An elegant steel option with simple, clean lines can be ideal for a modern home. With the different options and models on the market, you have several possibilities to match your house and your style.

Can I Install It Myself?

In homes already equipped with a fireplace, an insert can easily enhance areas we have previously covered. The installation itself may not be as simple as you think, especially if you don’t have any prior knowledge.

Many things should be taken into consideration before the installation. Start by measuring the size of your existing space and then purchase a matching insert to fill the space. Consider taking a photo of the fireplace. Measure its inner dimensions to know exactly what you should be looking for when you go shopping. If you are not entirely convinced that you have the experience and the skills yourself, call a specialist to come. Have him check your home to make sure that you get a suitable unit.

To avoid accidents or bad installations, you should call a professional to handle the installation and ensure the correct fitting. Otherwise, it may cost a lot more than you save if things go wrong. Also, take into consideration that there are professional safety procedures to follow.

How Much Does it Cost to Install One?

You can expect to pay from $600 to $6,500 to install a fireplace insert. The total price varies depending on how to fit the unit into the existing masonry space. Also, there may be a one-time installation fee.

We advise you to ask for an assessment from a local professional before making any decision. They will help you and guide you, and they know the safety procedures and regulations. And they can tell you if your new insert will fit inside. They know the local laws and other restrictions.

The professionals also offer other services such as inspections and chimney cleaning. They repair damaged chimney caps and other problems.

Is It Worth It?

Inserts may serve as a practical and attractive addition to a home interior. Over time, an old drafty fireplace may become an inefficient and polluting feature. An insert will upgrade the house’s value and maximize the heating efficiency in the house.

It serves as a secondary firebox to an existing fireplace. It warms up 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, so homeowners prefer inserts. They are more effective at heating a room. As a result, you spend less on heating and get even more out of your money. And it’s quick and easy to install.

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

fireplace insert

Why you Should Upgrade

Suppose you already have a masonry fireplace and decide to install one of these inserts. In that case, 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. They provide a safer operation with reduced emissions and seal up the open flue. On top of that, you will get an improved ambiance.

Saves Cost

  • They will help to seal up your property by reducing heat loss.
  • When not in use, the unit will maintain a constant temperature.
  • Radiant heat is highly efficient.

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 from escaping through the chimney. On the other hand, it prevents drafts from entering.
  • It minimizes the volume of wood you use and, at the same time, increases the amount of heat.

Enhance the Room’s Appearance

  • It transforms the appearance of the space drastically without undertaking significant renovations.
  • It enhances the aesthetic appeal of your home by including a long-lasting element.
  • The space brings a refreshing vibe to the room, and the unit hides ugly views and ashes.

Final Thoughts

The inserts not only improve the look and functionality of your existing space. It will also let you enjoy the warmth of a clean, safe fireplace 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.

FAQ


What is the most efficient wood-burning fireplace?

Napoleon’s High Country 8000 is an excellent choice of a fireplace. It can hold a large amount of firewood, up to 50 lbs. It features a zero-gravity door feature that means a smooth opening and closing each time.

Are wood-burning fireplace inserts worth it?

According to the US EPA, fireplace inserts are more efficient and even produce less smoke and pollution than traditional fireplaces. It also gives individuals the comfort of a good fireplace with a lesser amount of budget and hassle.

What type of fireplace insert is best?

The electric fireplace inserts are the best type of inserts on the market. They mean business when it comes to instant warmth and coziness. It’s even portable so that you can move it from room to room! And no worries of a fire after that.

How long do wood fireplace inserts last?

If properly maintained and serviced, a fireplace insert will last many years, sometimes as long as 20-30 years.

Can you put a fireplace insert in an existing fireplace?

Certainly! Individuals who want to update their fireplace usually prefer using fireplace inserts. It is cost-effective and saves you the trouble of ashes and cleaning up. You can get professionals to install the insert in your fireplace by installing a masonry chimney.

What is the difference between a fireplace and a fireplace insert?

Traditional fireplaces aren’t as efficient. Fireplace inserts are essentially more efficient burning appliances installed within the fireplace. They are smaller than the usual fireplace since they need to fit into various openings. They range from a cabin to a portable fireplace.

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