A fireplace insert is a device that is placed into an existing fireplace and used to generate heat in place of the ordinary brick-and-mortar fireplace.
A traditional fireplace is a cavity in the wall that burns fuel, typically either wood or gas. The heat from the burning fuel radiates out and warms up the rest of the room.
Traditional fireplaces can be planned for during construction of the home or added later as part of a home renovation.
A fireplace can be constructed out of brick and mortar or purchased as a pre-built unit from a factory and then incorporated into the wall.
On the other hand, a fireplace insert is a device that is inserted into an existing fireplace. The range of fuel it burns varies from traditional wood to gas or pellets.
Installing a fireplace insert is far cheaper than doing a complete home renovation to add a brick-and-mortar fireplace.
Additionally, inserts give the homeowner the option of choosing a design that fits with their home décor as fireplace inserts come in various shapes, sizes, and designs.
Fireplace inserts are broadly categorized based on the type of fuel they consume to generate the heat to warm up your home.
Types of fireplace inserts include:
Wood burning inserts
Gas Fireplace Inserts
Gas fireplace inserts operate by burning either propane or natural gas. They will typically tap gas from the home's gas lines or a propane tank that is set up outside the home.
Vented Gas Inserts: A vented gas insert releases the exhaust fumes through a preexisting chimney. Therefore, there is no chance of carbon monoxide accumulating within the home and causing poisoning.
Ventless Gas Fireplace Inserts: These gas inserts rely on the ventilation of the home to discard the exhaust fumes. They monitor the carbon monoxide levels and use a metric to regulate how much gas they burn.
When carbon monoxide levels are high, they automatically shut-down or reduce the amount of gas they're burning.
The safety standards for gas inserts are quite high to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
Gas Leaks: Please note that the mechanism of a carbon monoxide sensor is different from a sensor that would sense a gas leak. This is because carbon monoxide, natural gas, and propane are completely different chemical compounds. Please ensure that your system is equipped to detect carbon monoxide and propane or natural gas leaks.
Efficiency of Gas Inserts: Gas inserts have an efficiency of between 76 and 83% heat efficiency.
Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts
These inserts generate heat by burning wood or wood products. The exhaust fumes from the burning fuel are guided to the chimney of the house via a chimney flue.
Efficiency of Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts: The efficiency of these units is around 50%. This lower efficiency stems from the fact that heat is lost in a number of ways. For example, the hot exhaust gases that are carried to the chimney carry with them heat that would have been used to warm up the home.
These units have an old feel to them and don’t depend on a connection to a utility grid which might be appealing to some more homeowners.
Maintaining a Wood Burning Fireplace Insert: These units require regular maintenance to remove soot from the chimney. Inevitably, some smoke will get into the house and might prove a major irritation to some homeowners.
These units are suitable in homes with pre-existing furnaces and where wood is abundant.
Electric Fireplace Inserts
These units operate by passing an electric current through an element. The element heats up and transfers the heat by convection currents to the air in the room.
The advantage of these inserts is that they're available in different ratings. The homeowner has the option of picking the size he or she wants. The selected rating consumes a predictable amount of electric energy making your bill predictable as well.
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