Are you lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home? The ambiance created by a blazing fire on a cold winter night is something that has been enjoyed for untold generations and is still true today. However, in this modern world we have to consider the high cost of heating a home and, although a blazing fire has many wonderful qualities, it isn't the most efficient means of keeping warm during the cold winter months.
To have the best of both worlds many people have installed a wood or pellet stove insert. This is an appliance that functions in a similar manner as a wood stove except it fits in the opening of your fireplace. Some of these units are flush with the face of the fireplace while others extend out a few inches. For most inserts the cleaning process is easier than cleaning the fireplace and many units have glass doors which allow you to view the flames in the same way that you can with an open fireplace. The doors also prevent heat from escaping up the chimney when it’s not in use which is even more important if you have an older historic home where heat loss is more significant.
As there are many models and sizes available you won't have any problem finding one to fit your fireplace. Inserts are easy to install but if you feel you'd rather have it done by a professional there are plenty of wood stove experts that will provide this service. All inserts whether they use firewood or pellets will say how much area in square feet you can effectively heat with the unit. One other factor you should know is the burn rate which is how fast the fuel will be consumed and how often you’ll need to feed the fire.
The heat output from a fireplace is the greatest when you have a blazing fire but as the wood is consumed the heat drops off; however, with a wood or pellet stove the heat output is more consistent as you can regulate the temperature in the room with a thermostat. If the insert uses pellet fuel with an automatic feed the operation is practically hands off.
A nice accessory that you can get with your insert, if it isn’t already included, is an air blower which will help disperse the heat more evenly throughout the room. Some blowers can even be controlled by a thermostat. For the most part the color of inserts is black which is makes them easier to clean and it covers up residual smoke and ash. Some brands such a Jotul offer a variety of colors that will match the interior decoration of your home.
Some of the more popular inserts are as follows:
Harman 300i – A wood burning insert that incorporates high efficiency along with advanced technology and user-friendly precision control. It converts easily to an open fire place with an optional fire screen.
75,000 BTUs — heats 1,600 to 4,300 square feet, based on climate and home efficiency
3 cu. ft. interior capacity / 20" maximum log length
Up to 17 hours of steady, even heat from each load of wood
Standard blower to heat home more effectively
Harman Accentra Pellet Insert – Transforms your drafty fireplace into an efficient heat source. This unit offers consistent performance and easy operation with many options.
42,000 BTUs — heats 800 to 2,200 square feet, based on climate and home efficiency
57 lb. hopper capacity
High efficiency and low maintenance
Keeps your room temperature exactly where you want it. Exhaust sensing technology constantly monitors and adjusts heat levels within 1 degree
Jotul C 550 CD Rockland - This is a large flush face wood burning insert with clean lines and delicate curves. The glass doors offer a magnificent view of the fire and feature one of the largest fire viewing areas of any comparable size wood burning unit. The Jøtul C 550 Rockland incorporates the Jøtul Sim-plex clean burn combustion system that maximizes heating efficiency and firebox capacity.
Standard twin blower fans (180 cfm)
Premium "flush face" design
Removable pull down flue adaptor
Standard cast iron surround panel kit
Air washed glass provides a clear view of flames
Patented Jøtul spring-loaded door latch system
Limited Lifetime warranty
Fireplace inserts are an economical way to enjoy all the benefits of an open fireplace but offer greater heat efficiency and heat control.