Fireplaces are a staple of any beautiful home. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing but they also provide warmth and comfort. Nothing brings a room together like a good old-fashioned fireplace.
While they excel in the atmosphere category, they really drop the ball when it comes to efficiency. A typical masonry fireplace is horribly inefficient.
In fact, fireplaces actually sap away energy. Around 90% of the heat created by them goes right up the chimney. They actually end up pulling a large amount of air out of the rooms as well. This can, however, be remedied.
Wood burning fireplace inserts are an excellent way to resolve almost all of the issues regarding the old masonry fireplaces.
What is a fireplace insert?
A fireplace insert is similar to a wood stove. Inside of the insert is a firebox. The shell of the insert is typically made from steel.
The inserts are made to fit in masonry fireplaces. While the fireplaces themselves are inefficient, the inserts convert them into much more efficient heating systems.
The shell is designed to guide the flow of air into the room rather than into the masonry and out the chimney.
On top of that, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to aesthetic. The inserts come in many shapes and sizes. There’s no doubt that one of them will be the one for you.
There’s a lot to consider before you purchase a fireplace insert. Dimensions, aesthetic, and features are just a few of the things to think about. How efficient is it? How long does it take to heat? Is a remote control included? These are some of the questions you should be asking.
Luckily for you, there’s a handy guide that covers all of this and does all the research for you!
The Five Best Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts
|Product||Heating Area||BTU output|
|#1. Drolet Escape |
Our Best Pick
|#2. Timberwolf Economizer|
|#3. Stove Builder CW2900 |
|#4. Ashley Hearth Products |
|#5. Vogelzang TR004 |
There are plenty of inserts on the market, but these five are some of the best. The list is in no particular order, but one of the inserts seems to rise above the rest.
#1. Drolet EPA-Certified Escape Fireplace Wood Insert
Drolet is a well-known, Canadian, wood stove and insert manufacturer. They provide quality products that won’t break your budget.
The Drolet Escape can handle logs up to 20 inches and can heat up to 2,000 square feet. It’s maximum output is actually 75,000 BTU according to their website.
At optimum levels, the efficiency can be upwards of 77%. It is, of course, EPA certified and has low emissions.
The door is a cast-iron frame and has a large ceramic glass window.
It’s shipping weight is just under 400 pounds, so it is one of the heavier items on this list. However, it’s also one of the more reasonably priced ones.
One additional feature this one has is a glass air-wash system. What is an air-wash system?
An air-wash system uses airflow in your firebox to create a “wall” of air between the fire and the glass. This keeps both the flames and the gasses away which prevents the glass from blackening.
In addition to its features, it’s also good looking. This one definitely will not ruin the aesthetic of the room. Its simple and sleek style will fit right in with your fireplace.
It heats well and does as advertised. It’s efficient and burns clean. Finding a better value will be difficult.
Drolet is a trusted brand. So if you want something that will heat what you need it for sure and look decent, this could be the insert you’re looking for.
#2. The Timberwolf Economizer EPA Wood Burning Fireplace Insert
Timberwolf has been around for over 40 years. They’re the largest privately owned manufacturer of wood inserts and stoves in North America. Their service is reliable and they are committed to quality.
To start off, the Economizer has an efficiency rating of 86%. That’s a lot more than just the regular fireplace which is less than 10%. In addition, it was also EPA certified in 2015.
The minimum size your fireplace can be to accomodate this insert is a width of 25 ⅞ inches, a height of 22 inches, and a 14 inch depth. Also included is an adjustable (up to 3 ½ inches) black flashing.
It has a dual blower system and is designed to house 18 inch logs. This gives it an average burn time of around eight hours.
The entire system is black and it has a ceramic glass window so you can still see the fire crackling away.
You can have it shipped to you, but keep in mind the crate will be around 300 pounds. So unless you’re an olympic weightlifter, you should arrange to have help to move it.
It pumps out 65,000 BTUs, so it will heat your house even in the winter. This, of course, depends on the layout of your house. Not every house will be heated the same way.
If you have a lot of doors and rooms, you will most likely have to make use of fans to spread the heat through the entire house. That being said, it still works very well.
The design of the stove, admittedly, isn’t the best. It’s simple and not very elegant, but if the looks aren’t all that important to you, keep this on your list of possibilities.
There’s no way to manually turn the blowers on as it’s fully temperature controlled. On top of that, the blowers sometimes have issues. Worse case scenario is replacing one of them, and that can cost you a fair amount.
Despite the flaws, it’s still a decent insert. It’s EPA certified, easy to install, and will do its job.
#3. The Stove Builder International CW2900 Century High Efficiency Wood Insert
Century Heating is a Canadian company that produces wood stoves and inserts. Nearly everything they make is manufactured in North America/Canada.
They make two inserts, the CW2900 being their higher-tier insert.
It’s optimum heating efficiency is around 77%. The average CO is outputs is well within the guidelines. To add to that, it was tested by an independent agency to avoid bias. It is also EPA certified.
To house this insert, your fireplace must be at-least 29 inches wide, 23 ½ inches high, and have a depth of 16 inches.
On this model, the blower is not temperature controlled. It has a button that allows you to set the fan speed in addition to an On/Off switch.
When it comes to shipping weight, this one sure is heavy. Coming in at over 400 pounds, this one will definitely require help to move.
Learning which setting is best for your situation is a bit of a learning curve, but once you figure it out it can be worth it.
At the lowest setting, the fan is quiet but as you increase the speed it does end up being pretty loud.
It also has a glass window like most models, but it does have the company logo etched into one of the corners. This can be a turnoff for some people as it does ruin some of the aesthetic.
Despite the logo, overall it has a nice design. It has a slightly minimalistic feel to it and the blower vents are clearly visible.
One of the bigger issues with this unit is the handle. There’s nothing wrong with the construction of the handle, but to open the door you have to turn the handle over the glass. Meaning that if you’re not careful, you could brush the glass with your hand and get burned.
It’s one of the cheaper inserts you can get, but it will still get the job done.
#4. Ashley Hearth Products Wood-Burning Insert
Ashley Hearth Products is an older company that’s made up of many others. At over 140 years old, this company is one of the oldest in the fireplace insert industry.
The insert can handle up to 20 inch logs and outputs 79,000 BTUs.
Like the others on this list, it is EPA certified. They state that they can fit in any UL listed prefabricated fireplaces.
To be more specific, the minimal opening is 25 ¾ inches wide, 17 ⅞ inches high, and 11 inches deep.
The blower is automatic and doesn’t seem to have any controls. However, it can handle itself pretty well and will heat what you need it to heat. In addition, it is installed in the back to maximize aesthetic.
When it comes to style, this one definitely takes the cake. The firebox itself sticks out a bit and has three windows. The main front window is large and allows a nice amount of light to flow outwards.
It’s not just flat, it has depth and angles. This can be a major plus if aesthetic is a high priority for you.
It should be noted that the windows have been known to blacken quickly. So expect constant cleaning.
Additionally, sometimes this product is delivered on a large truck, so if you have a long curvy driveway or are at the end of a cul-de-sac, you might have some delivery issues.
Overall, it will heat your house and it looks great. Other inserts will heat better, but they are all mostly lacking in the style department.
#5. Vogelzang TR004 Colonial EPA Wood Stove
Vogelzang is an American company that has been around since 1974. They make decent stoves and inserts and reasonable prices. In more recent years, manufacturing has been moved to the US.
The TR004 comes in two versions: The Deluxe and the Standard. The only difference being that the Deluxe version includes chimney liner kit, a chimney liner, a top plate, an appliance adapter, and a chimney plate.
It has a large glass window and can hold up to 18 inch logs. It’s over 75% efficient and you can expect an 8 hour burn time.
The blower is adjustable so you can have low and high speeds depending on the temperature. It can output up to 69,000 BTUs and heat up to 1,800 square feet.
The dimensions of the insert is 26 ½ inches wide, 21 ½ inches high, and 24 ¾ inches deep. So keep in mind that your fireplace opening will have to be larger than this in order to house the unit.
When it comes to the firebox, it’s a bit smaller compared to others, but it’s still enough. It’s similar to an oven in shape with rectangular shapes and no curves. This isn’t a bad thing as it does have nice depth and angles.
While not as stylish as the Ashley, it comes in a close second place. The wide window and slim vents look great and will provide you with the heat and light you need.
The downsides are you have to cut your wood smaller to fit it in the firebox. This will make the wood burn faster. This insert needs to be tended to more often than a larger variant.
Overall this is a stylish and great stove, but if you want it for the main heat source for your entire house, you might want to look elsewhere.
As said before, Drolet is a trusted brand. It looks good and it heats well. The blower is adjustable and the glass window will stay clean. Its firebox is large enough to accommodate a decent amount of wood and it burns for a long time.
In addition, it’s EPA certified and will heat as advertised (up to 2000 square feet.) You’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal than this one. It’s in the middle of the list when it comes to price, but you’ll get more out of this one than the rest.