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Fireplaces vs Fireplace Inserts: What’s The Difference

gas fireplace inserts installed in fort collins coThe hearth industry today offers a very wide and diverse menu of products designed to help heat the home and enhance a home’s aesthetics.  Because there are so many products, it’s natural to wonder about the actual difference between a fireplace and a fireplace insert.

The two units do essentially the same thing – house a fire that’s intended to generate some level of warmth into a room.  The difference is in how the two are constructed and the efficiency with which they do their jobs.

Inserts are available that operate on all the most popular fuel types like wood, gas, propane, natural gas, pellets and coal.  What makes an insert unique is the fact that it’s specifically designed to get more heat from its fuel source into the room where the unit is located.

Wood fireplace inserts are very popular, primarily because traditional masonry fireplaces that burn wood are notoriously inefficient in getting heat out of the firebox and into the room.  These units often operate at 10% or 15% efficiency, which isn’t enough to make them useful heating sources.

A wood fireplace insert, on the other hand, cranks that efficiency rating upwards past 70%, with many models boasting ratings in the mid-80s.

Why fireplace inserts work so well

As the name implies, a fireplace insert is a self-contained unit placed into an existing firebox.  The construction of these appliances makes all the difference: a very sturdy box surrounded by heavy steel or cast iron with insulated glass doors on the front.  The result is a closed combustion system that provides a large amount of radiant heat.  Some units include blowers, which send warm air out into the room.

Gas fireplace inserts perform similarly.  The whole idea is to preserve as much heat as possible from the fire and deliver it to a room rather than up the chimney, which is where the majority of the heat created in standard fireplaces goes.

Is appearance sacrificed?

No question about it – a roaring fire with crackling logs in a traditional masonry fireplace provides a visual that’s hard to beat.  But a wood insert will give you essentially the same thing.  Wood inserts use real wood logs and burn real fire – they just do it more efficiently.

The range of designs and finishes found in all types of fireplace inserts today makes them excellent aesthetic touches to any home’s décor.  Appearance definitely isn’t sacrificed with designs that run from rustic to contemporary.

What’s the best fuel for an insert?

fort collins co wood burning insert installedThere’s really no “best” fuel.  The advantages and disadvantages are about the same with an insert as with a standard fireplace.  Gas is easier to operate and very efficient; wood creates a much more lively fire but requires a lot more cleaning of the firebox as well as the chimney.

At the end of the day, each homeowner must choose the fuel type and design specifics he or she wants in a fireplace insert.  FyrePro of Fort Collins, Colo., can help you make the very best choice when shopping for a fireplace insert.  Visit our showroom at 4631 S Mason St,, or give us a call at (970) 266-8556.