What Is a Fireplace Insert? Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Christopher T. on 30th Sep 2023

What Is a Fireplace Insert? Everything You Need to Know

After receiving thousands of calls from customers across the United States, we discovered that there is a lot of confusion about what a fireplace insert actually is and what type of installation is required. You can call and search for gas fireplaces when you really need one. And vice versa.

What is a Fireplace Insert?

An insert fireplace can be essentially described as a stove, whether powered by wood or gas, that lacks the typical supporting legs. Its purpose is to seamlessly integrate into an existing chimney structure. The insert is comprised of a metal box carefully inserted into the chimney's opening and then adorned with a decorative surround, achieving a cohesive and polished appearance.

To ensure safe operation, a distinct stainless steel chimney liner is meticulously installed within the chimney. This liner is firmly secured to provide the necessary clearance from flammable materials and to effectively expel combustion by-products out of the home, maintaining a secure and hazard-free environment.

The wood-burning stove employs a closed combustion system similar to other wood stoves. It is distinguished by its separation from the living area, achieved through either an insulated glass front (for gas stoves) or an airtight door (for wood-fired stoves).

This makes the fire burn slower, effectively producing more heat, reducing emissions, and increasing heating efficiency and heat output.

If you're installing a fireplace in your home for the first time, it's important to note that you'll require the complete fireplace unit, not just a liner. The final result may give the impression that the fireplace is seamlessly integrated into the wall, but this effect is achieved by constructing a frame around the fireplace.

What sets a fireplace insert apart from traditional fireplaces is its closed combustion system. In the case of gas inserts, this system is characterized by an insulated glass front, while wood-burning inserts feature an airtight door. This strategic design choice results in several notable benefits

  • Slower Burning
  • Increased Heat Production
  • Reduced Emissions
  • Enhanced Heating Efficiency
  • Aesthetic Integration

If you want to refurbish an existing fireplace and keep the original structure, you need an insert.

Fuel Types

Fireplace inserts offer a wide range of fuel options to suit various preferences and needs:

  • Wood-Burning Inserts: Ideal for those who love the traditional wood fire experience. They significantly improve efficiency and reduce emissions, often meeting EPA standards for fuel efficiency.
  • Gas Inserts: Perfect for enhancing heat output and reducing your carbon footprint. They are compatible with natural gas and liquid propane, with options for direct venting and convenient remote controls.
  • Electric Inserts: Eco-friendly and easy to install, these inserts require no fuel, produce no emissions, and come with modern features like adjustable flames and LED lighting.
  • Pellet Inserts: Using compressed wood pellets as fuel, these inserts offer high efficiency and low emissions, making them an environmentally friendly choice.

Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts

If you're looking to upgrade your current wood-burning fireplace without investing extensive time or money in a full-scale renovation, the wood-burning fireplace insert provides an ideal solution. These inserts offer a significant enhancement in heat output while simultaneously reducing harmful by-products and emissions. They achieve this while retaining the captivating appearance, atmosphere, and charm of a traditional wood fire. It's worth noting that the majority of these models are EPA-certified, ensuring they meet the stringent Environmental Protection Agency standards for fuel efficiency, typically ranging from 60% to 80%.

Airtight doors keep smoke out of your home and extend fire life up to 5 hours Because more heat is retained in the firebox, wood-burning inserts require an insulated chimney liner to keep the chimney warm enough to maintain a strong and efficient draft. 


Fireplace inserts provide an efficient method for modernizing your fireplace while simultaneously boosting heat output and decreasing your environmental footprint. They are adaptable, supporting both natural gas and liquid propane fuels and are accessible in various configurations, including options for direct venting or non-vented setups.

The gas line must be connected to the existing firebox. A power supply is also required if the insert is fitted with a blower, fan, or electronic igniter. gas inserts can be controlled with a handheld remote or wall switch, some with thermostat controls and timers. 


Electric fireplaces are the most eco-friendly and cost-effective option because they burn no fuel, produce no emissions or harmful by-products, and require no aeration.

The installation process is straightforward, given that most plugs are compatible with standard 120-volt outlets. Electric inserts come equipped with advanced features such as state-of-the-art multi-color LED lighting indicators, customizable flame settings, the option to adjust the heat output, and the choice between realistic log displays or cutting-edge fire glass media. This makes them an excellent choice in situations where regulations restrict the installation of traditional wood or gas inserts or when the expenses associated with renovating an old fireplace become prohibitive.

When considering a fireplace insert, it's essential to match your choice to your heating requirements, interior design preferences, and environmental concerns. The versatility and customization options of fireplace inserts make them a valuable addition to any home, providing both warmth and ambiance.

In conclusion, fireplace inserts offer a modern, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing way to enjoy the warmth of a fire in your home. Whether you prioritize traditional wood fires, the convenience of gas, or the eco-friendliness of electric options, there's a fireplace insert ready to meet your specific needs. Consult with a professional to make the right choice for your home and embark on a journey of comfort and beauty with a fireplace insert.