About Fireplace Inserts
Fireplace inserts are essentially just wood stoves designed to fit inside your fireplace. They are far more efficient than regular fireplaces, which actually make every room besides the one with the fireplace colder.
Fireplace inserts fit partially inside and partially outside of the fireplace. Wood is burned inside a thick, metal shell. The inserts are typically made from plate steel or cast iron, and most have glass doors so you can see the flame. The back of the insert is connected either to the chimney or an outdoor vent.
How Much Does a Fireplace Insert Cost?
Most fireplace inserts cost between $1,000 and $2,000, but high-end models can sell for $4,000 or more. When you factor in the cost of installation, budget anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 or more.
Fireplace Insert Pros
- Saves space – Fireplace inserts are smaller than wood stoves and take up virtually no space in the home. Many people consider them to be more visually appealing than standalone wood stoves.
- Easier to install – With a fireplace insert, you can take advantage of the chimney that already exists for venting. There’s no need to construct a new venting system.
Fireplace Insert Cons
- Less efficient – Inserts are not as efficient as traditional wood stoves. They don’t create as much heat. You’ll be able to heat part of the home, but probably not the whole home, unless it’s very small.
- Shoveling ashes – Fireplace inserts do not have ash pans, which means you have to shovel out the ashes by hand. In order to do this, you have to let the fire cool a little. The process can be time consuming.
About Wood Stoves
Traditional wood stoves use a basic, metal firebox to burn wood. Logs are placed inside the box and burned. The stoves are connected in the back to a chimney flue, which vents the smoke to the outside of the home.
There are two main types of wood stoves: catalytic stoves, which are more efficient, and non-catalytic stoves, which are less expensive. There are also lots of options when it comes to size, energy output and design.
How Much Does a Wood Stove Cost?
Most wood stoves cost $1,000 to $2,000, not including installation, which can be just a few hundred dollars or several thousand, depending on complexity. On the low end of that price range, you’ll find small, non-catalytic wood stoves. On the high end, you’ll find large, catalytic models.
Occasionally, you’ll find wood stoves priced as low as $500 or as high as $3,000.
Wood Stove Pros
- More efficient – Wood stoves burn more efficiently than fireplace inserts, creating more heat.
- Larger capacities – Wood stoves tend to have larger capacities than fireplace inserts, so it’s possible to heat your entire home with a large model. This is difficult or impossible with a fireplace insert.
- Ash pans – Many wood stoves are sold with pans that automatically collect ashes, which make it much easier to dump them.
Wood Stove Cons
- Big and bulky – Wood stoves take up a good amount of space in any room. Some people think they’re not very attractive, while others appreciate the rustic look.
- Harder to install – Installing a wood stove means constructing some kind of chimney or exhaust system, which significantly increases the price of the project.
Choosing a Wood Stove or Fireplace Insert
Once you decide between a stove and an insert, there are several more decisions to make. The most important? Size and efficiency.
Size is important because a small stove or insert might heat just one room, while a large stove or insert is capable of heating the entire home. Your best bet when it comes to selecting a size is to talk to a local professional. However, keep in mind that the size of a fireplace insert is limited by the size of your fireplace. With a wood stove, you’re not limited to a certain size.
As for efficiency, the less smoke that is produced, the more efficient your stove or insert will be. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits wood stove and fireplace insert emissions to 7.5 grams of smoke per hour for non-catalytic models and 4.1 grams per hour for catalytic models. If you’re interested in a model that is even more eco-friendly, some of the newest stoves and inserts produce only 1 to 4 grams of smoke per hour.