Top 7 Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts Reviews and Buying Guide

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Wood Burning Fireplace-Insert

A lot of homes have inbuilt fireplaces, but their homeowners rarely use it. Most people simply don’t want the hassle of lighting the fire and then cleaning up the ashes afterward. If you too fall into this category, you can still enjoy a cozy fire thanks to wood burning fireplace inserts.

These inserts are designed to make it extremely easy to have a massive, crackling fire in your fireplace minus the mess. And nothing warms up a house quicker than a wood stove insert.

If your main reason for buying a fireplace insert is to have your whole home heated during the winter, a wood burning fireplace should be your first choice. We won’t lie; an electric fireplace can look just as good as the real thing, but electric inserts are not known for their heating capacity, regardless of how expensive they are.

If your goal is to keep the cold at bay, you’d benefit immensely from a wood burning fireplace insert. To write this post, we did some digging into the best fireplace inserts on Amazon, and today we are going to share what we came up with.

So, grab a cup of coffee – or better yet, hot chocolate! – and read on to learn everything you need to know to buy the best wood burning fireplace insert for you.

Top 7 Wood Stove Inserts

Since16th century, wood burning stoves have served us by keeping us warm and cozy no matter how cold the weather gets. Now, we can’t talk about the stoves they used in the past, but today in 2020, these are the most popular and highly-rated wood burning inserts in the market:

      Image                              Product

Napoleon S Series

Napoleon S-Series

  • Heat Output: 70,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: 2,100 sq.ft.
  • Warranty: Lifetime
Regency Cascades

Regency Cascades

  • Heat Output: 55,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: 2,100 sq.ft.
  • Warranty: Lifetime
Stove Builder International

Stove Builder International

  • Heat Output: 75,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: 2,100 sq.ft.
  • Warranty: 5 years
Vogelzang Deluxe

Vogelzang Deluxe

  • Heat Output: 69,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: 1,800 sq.ft.
  • Warranty: Lifetime
Regency Alterra

Regency Alterra

  • Heat Output: 55,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: 2,100 sq.ft.
  • Warranty: Lifetime
Lopi Medium Flush Wood

Lopi Medium Flush Wood

  • Heat Output: 69,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: 2,000 sq.ft.
  • Warranty: Lifetime
Drolet Escape 1500

Drolet Escape 1500

  • Heat Output: 65,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: 1,800 sq.ft.
  • Warranty: Lifetime

As you may have already noticed, most of the inserts on our list are from the Drolet brand; there’s a reason for that. Unlike electric fireplaces, not many manufacturers go into the business of wood burning stoves due to the higher level of complexity and craftsmanship required.

Drolet is one brand that is globally popular for making finely-crated wood stoves that not only look good but function well as well. Plus, they offer limited lifetime warranty on almost all of their products.

That settled, let’s get into the details of why we chose these specific wood stove inserts.

Napoleon S-Series

Best Burning Time

Napoleon S Series

This gorgeous Napoleon S25i scores high points for its clean and contemporary appearance. If you’ve been looking for a wood fireplace insert that can burn for as long as 16 hours, consider this one.

It comes with a powerful dual blower system that spreads the heat at an even pace without making too much noise.

This is an EPA-certified fireplace insert, which means it is environment-friendly heating unit. The ash collection tray makes the regular task of ash removal a breeze.

You can use wood logs up to 16 inches big for this one. Its 70,000 BTU heat output is enough to warm up a large living space.

Bottom Line: The Napoleon S25i has all the makings of a great wood burning fireplace insert, especially the more than generous heat output.

Pros

  • 16 hours burn time
  • Extra large glass viewing area
  • Dual blower system for impressively even heat distribution

Cons

  • Expensive

Regency Cascades (i1500)

Best flames display

Regency Cascades

If you are looking for the best fireplace insert to heat up a small to medium sized space, this insert from Regency Cascades could be worth considering.

It has a pretty deep firebox that will allow you to fit logs up to 18 inches long. The Regency Cascades i1500 is smaller than other models and comes with the Eco-Boost triple burn technology that is designed to completely seal a drafty hearth.

In other words, if your home has a fireplace but it’s not big enough for a standard-sized fireplace insert, this one could be what you’re looking for.

Another factor that makes this a great choice is the option to customize the unit’s door according to your décor.

The 55,000 BTU heat output may seem little compared to other larger units on this list, but it can efficiently heat up a medium-sized family room or bedroom.

Bottom Line: Listen, if you can afford it, you should go for it; it’s as simple as that. The Drolet Myriad III is solidly built and with right upkeep, it will last you years if not decades.

Pros

  • 10 hours burn time
  • Matt Black color looks very stylish
  • Triple Burn technology completely burns the fuel (logs) so the fire lasts longer

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can be loud

Stove Builder International CW2900

Best heater for small to medium-sized spaces

Stove Builder International

For homeowners who are looking to buy a wood fireplace insert that can be installed inside their existing masonry fireplace, theStove Builder CW2900 is a prudent option. This fireplace insert can warm up your house from the inside so there are no uncomfortable cold spots anywhere.

As one customer puts it, “it’s no bells or whistles, just heat”. If you’re looking for a well constructed wood burning insert that can pump out heat like nobody’s business, this unit from the house of Century Heating is worth taking a look.

It can burn for up to 8 hours, and its capacity to heat up to 2,100 sq. ft. quickly is quite commendable. The maximum log length you can use when the stove is empty is 20 inches, but it’s recommended to use 16-inches logs.

One thing we need to say about this is, its ability to distribute heat evenly leaves something to be desired. This wouldn’t be a problem if you love somewhere with extreme cold, like North Dakota or Wyoming.

Bottom Line: A respectable option for homeowners who live in areas with extremely cold winters, since its heating prowess is very impressive.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Can burn all night

Cons

  • The blower can be loud
  • Not approved for use in mobile homes
  • The display glass is etched with brand name (Century Heating)

Vogelzang Deluxe Wood Burning Insert

Best aesthetic appeal

Vogelzang Deluxe

Unlike most wood burning fireplace inserts, this one comes with a stainless steel vent kit that’s included in the price. This is a beautiful unit with a classic cast iron door and a handle that stays cool.

It features a ceramic glass that’s been air-washed to give the most magnificent view of the burning fire inside. As most customers have said, this truly is a clean looking unit.

It can accept logs up to 18 inches big, and it comes with a blower and a faceplate. The decorative 31" x 44" faceplate covers the space between the fireplace opening and the insert body very efficiently.

Unlike its more expensive counterparts, theVogelzang Delux doesn’t have different heat settings, but its heating capacity can compete with the best of them. If you have a space up to 1800 sq.ft in size, it can heat it up quite nicely. This EPA-certified can be installed inside your existing hearth.

Bottom Line: If you are in this for aesthetics and heat, the Vogelzang Delux wood burning insert is a remarkable option.

Pros

  • Spring loaded automatic adjustment to make installation easy
  • Handle stays cool no matter how long you run the unit
  • Faceplate is included in the price

Cons

  • Can’t be used in mobile homes or alcoves

Regency Alterra

Best overall quality

Regency Alterra

EPA 2020 certified? Check. High efficiency at 75%? Check. Beautiful to look at while you enjoy a glass of eggnog over Christmas eve? Check, check, and check!

In keeping with the Regency name, this wood burning insert is a combination of beauty and functionality. It can accept logs up to 18 inches long, and its flush mount two-speed blower works perfectly in distributing the heat throughout the space.

The Regency Alterra CI1150 also features heavy gauge log retainers made from stainless steel, which prevent the logs from rolling.

One of our favorite things about this insert is its automatic airwash system that keeps the glass clean for your maximum viewing pleasure.

If you are looking for a wood burning fireplace insert with great overall appearance and solid quality (from door hinges to the latch), the Regency Alterra CI1150 is a terrific option.

It comes with a really large ash collection box, so you wouldn’t need to clean out the ash box every day even if you use the unit round the clock.

And like all superior quality wood fireplace inserts, this Regency model also has a dual-burn system to ensure the logs burn to the greatest degree. This means you will need to use less fuel for longer burning fires.

The 55,000 BTU heat output is enough to heat up a small room or a well-insulated larger room. With 8 hours burn time, you can enjoy a goodnight’s sleep by keeping the fire going during those long winter nights.

Bottom Line: If your house is well-insulated, you can use this fireplace insert as your main source of heat during the freezing winters.

Pros

  • 8 hours burn time
  • Self-cleaning air wash system for the glass door
  • Dual burn system ensures long-lasting fires with lesser fuel

Cons

  • Only available in Metallic Black color
  • Incredibly expensive

Lopi Medium Flushwood

Best heater for large spaces

Lopi Medium Flush Wood

The Lopi Medium Flushwood has been designed to fit into most masonry fireplaces. If you already have a hearth, and you want to make the best of it with a cost-effective heating solution, this one can be a great contender.

With an impressive heat output of up to 69,000 BTUs per hour, it packs a lot of punch in terms of heating capacity. This brand is known for their revolutionary NexGen-Fyre technology which delivers the maximum heat output from the wood you burn.

That, coupled with the 3-sided convection chamber will ensure that the heat distributes evenly throughout your home – no cold spots anywhere.

For homeowners who love the idea of a wood burning fireplace insert but hate laboring over the starting the fire, this Lopi insert features an automatic ignition system.

All you’d need to do is load up the logs and push the button! Unlike most other fireplace inserts, you won’t need to keep the unit’s door cracked open for several minutes while you use a newspaper to get the fire going.

The acceptable log length – up to 24 inches – is also much larger than most fireplace inserts on this list. Whether you live in Montana (US) or Winnipeg (Canada), you and your family can stay super cozy and toasty with Lopi Medium Flushwood in your home.

And did we say it has a burn time of 10 hours?! Thanks to the large window, you can enjoy a great view of the fire all day.

Bottom Line: This unit can be a terrific addition to large living spaces, like a open-plan apartment or a large log cabin.

Pros

  • 10 hour burn time
  • Uses less wood compared to other units
  • NexGen-Fyre™ technology for long-lasting fires
  • 76% efficiency
  • One-button ignition system
  • Heats up large spaces quickly

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can be noisy

Drolet Escape 1500

Best performance

Drolet Escape 1500

Looking for a wood burning fireplace insert for your old masonry hearth? The Drolet Escape 1500 might be a decent purchase for you.

If you’re wondering what’s the difference between the Drolet Escape 1800 (#5 on this list) and this Drolet Escape 1500, it’s mainly the fuel efficiency. This unit is more efficient than the former, which means you will need less wood to run the unit.

This one is also equipped with a secondary combustion system the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the market. If you worry about your carbon footprint, you will be glad to know that the Drolet Escape 1500 delivers up to 65,000 BTUs per hour at a measly 1.26 g/h! You can’t get a greener wood burning stove than this one!

A premium quality blower and a 29” x 44” beautiful faceplate are included in the price.

As for the ease of installation, the majority of customers say this insert was really easy to handle. If you are in the mood for installing it yourself, or you don’t want to hire a contractor to do the installing, Drolet Escape 1500 won’t disappoint you.

Bottom Line: For its price, this is a very impressive unit in terms of performance.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • 6 hours burn time
  • 78% efficiency that’s unheard of
  • Tax rebate is available

Cons

  • More on the expensive side

Buying Guide For Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts

The thing with wood inserts is, you can use them to heat your home without having to replace the existing chimney and fireplace. So, let’s assume, you have just moved into an old house that has already has a hearth, but you don’t want the hassle of:

  • Calling in chimney sweepers every 6 months to clean the chimney
  • Cleaning up the hearth every other day since ashes can pile up

In this scenario, a fireplace insert is a suitable solution.

Now, you can argue that for a truly hassle-free experience, why not just buy an electric fireplace insert? Well, the biggest reason why so many homeowners prefer wood burning stove inserts is due to their heating capacity.

If you live somewhere with really cold winters, or you’re paying hundreds of dollars on heating bill, wouldn’t it make sense to buy a wood burning unit that will heat up your house at a fraction of the cost?

If staying comfortably warm and toasty is your goal, only a wood burning insert can suffice.

And since there are so many different types of these units are available in the market, we decided to create this be-all-and-end-all buying guide to help you choose the best one!

How Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts Work

For starters, these inserts need their own exhaust connector and flue. You can use your existing masonry fireplace and flue liner as a passageway, but do NOT try to use the original chimney flue to vent your brand-new insert.

This is because the original chimney liner would be too big to vent a wood burning insert, which is smaller in size. If you use the original fireplace liner – if it’s still working – the smoke won’t move as effectively and lead to major soot buildup.

And if you didn’t know already, this soot or creosote buildup can cause chimney fires if not cleaned out regularly.

This is why we recommend contacting a professional to install your wood fireplace insert. It needs a specifically designed chimney and connector system to work as well as it should.

4 Things to Keep In Mind When Buying A Wood Burning Fireplace Insert

Here are a couple of essentials you need to be mindful of when shopping for these inserts:

1. EPA-approved:

EPA has issued new rules for all wood burning stoves and inserts, according to which, the unit’s particulate emissions must be below 2.0 grams/hour (g/h). So, make sure you buy a unit that meets this standard. If you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to reach out to the manufacturer to confirm this detail.

For the uninitiated, EPA-certified wood inserts burn less wood and produce more heat, compared to units that are not EPA-approved. Manufacturers who adhere to the EPA guidelines work under the strictest clean air and emissions standards, so their users’ carbon footprint is minimal.

2. Compatible with existing fireplace:

Consider buying a fireplace insert that can fit inside a masonry fireplace – even if you don’t have one right now. Since these wood burning inserts can last decades, you may want this option if you ever plan to move to a different house.

3. Catalytic vs. non-catalytic:

The modern wood burning stoves come in two variants: catalytic or non-catalytic.

A catalytic stove is specifically designed to be more energy efficient. It uses a catalytic combustion device to ignite and burn off the smoke that originates from the fire. This leads to the maximum use of the firewood, minimal smoke, and an even distribution of heat.

A non-catalytic stove is better for people who only want to use it as a secondary source of heat occasionally. Plus, it has a better-looking view of the fire than the catalytic stoves. If you know you won’t use the stove every day, you can get away with a non-catalytic one since it’s less efficient.

4. Wood stove vs. wood burning fireplace insert:

You may think there is no difference between the two, and you’re mostly right. Both types of units are effective in heating living spaces with their high heat output. Both are equally energy-efficient as well.

However, the main difference between wood stoves and wood burning inserts is the former has a higher capacity for fuel storage. This means wood stoves can run longer than fireplace inserts.

If you are happy with a 6-10 hours’ of run time, you can go ahead and buy a wood burning fireplace insert. However, if you want a longer run time, you may want to look into wood stoves. But keep in mind that not all wood stoves have longer burning times; most of them operate as long as a standard wood insert.

Wood Burning Inserts vs. Gas Inserts

We know, we know, this guide is all about wood burning fireplace inserts. But we will be amiss in our duty if we didn’t help you understand why exactly a wood insert is better (or worse) then other kinds of fireplace inserts.

If you’re ever wondering which one is better – a gas fireplace insert or a wood burning one, read on to find out.

First things first, nothing creates a cozy, romantic, and nostalgic ambiance as a crackling fire – and this can only come from wood. The popping sounds of the logs burning, combined with the smell of the firewood is a treat to all senses.

Gas fireplaces are no-doubt easier to light and maintain, but they don’t look half as good. If you are trying to add an aesthetic factor to your home, we are sorry to say that a gas fireplace won’t cut it.

Also, gas fireplace inserts require a – duh – gas line to operate. Unless you are prepared to install a gas line inside your living space and you don’t care how it would look, you really don’t want a gas insert.

Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts vs. Electric Inserts

We have already talked about the romance that a wood burning fireplace brings into any room. Now, let’s talk about how truly efficient and cost-effective they are.

Wood burning inserts don’t require any electricity to run, so they can significantly reduce your utility bills. And if you live somewhere close to the woods, you may not even need to buy any firewood! Just walk outside and collect some!

On the other hand, if you have ever considered buying an electric fireplace insert, let us tell you that they will NOT work as a heating source at all. Yes, they are portable and cheaper, but they won’t keep you or your house warm.

If you want to feel the natural smell and ambiance of a fireplace, electrical inserts are just not for you. For homeowners who have a rustic home, and want that crackle and smell of wood burning, an electric fireplace is simply out of question for you.

And electric inserts may seem cheaper at the outset but they are very expensive to maintain, which will become more noticeable once you get your electric bill! Utility bills are already rising exponentially, and these inserts won’t help.

FAQs

Is it safe to use a wood burning insert?

The only risk factor with these inserts is buildup of creosote, which can be completely eliminated if you:

  • Install the wood insert and chimney liner system properly (call a professional!)
  • Keep the chimney clean with routine sweeping
  • Burn good firewood
  • Schedule annual inspections of your chimney

As long as you practice these instructions, you have nothing to worry about. Remember, the majority of homeowners in America still use wood stoves as their secondary source of heating.

Can a wood fireplace insert heat my entire house?

This will depend on how large your house is. But to give you an idea, a wood burning insert with more than 100,000 BTUs per hour can easily heat up to 3,000 sq. ft. of space, given that it is well-insulated.

Just remember, the higher the BTUs, the higher the heat output will be and the larger the space it will be able to heat. You can use this free calculator to learn how many BTUs you need to warm up your house.

How long does a wood burning fireplace last?

This depends on your unit and how well you maintain it. For example, a solidly-built Drolet fireplace insert can easily last more than 10 years if you get it cleaned and inspected regularly. Here are some tips you can use to ensure your wood burning inserts lasts as long as possible:

Keep the interior clean: Burning wood can result in a buildup of ash, dust, soot, and creosote. If you have installed your insert inside an existing hearth with a chimney, make sure you clean that chimney regularly, because creosote and soot and flammable.

It is recommended to get your chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year, but more if you are planning to use the insert throughout the year. And clean your venting system at least once every month.

Use a cap:You may want to use a wire mesh cap to cover the top of your chimney so no dust, debris, and critters enter it. A cap will keep out the rain, as well as small animals out of the chimney.

But this is only useful if you install your wood insert into an existing hearth; with free-standing inserts, a cap is not necessary.

Keep an eye on the damper: That movable plated over the fireplace insert (before the flue) is called the damper. Make sure it is working properly, and no debris is stuck in it.

In fact, make sure you check the other components of your wood insert as well, such as the door latches and handles. If you notice something is not working as it should or it needs to be replaced, call a fireplace professional to handle it right away.

Choose the right firewood: Birch, ash, oak, and maple are the best options to burn in a fireplace insert. These woods burn hotter and longer, and don’t create a lot of soot or creosote. Just make sure whatever wood you are using is properly seasoned and untreated.

How to tell if the wood is well-seasoned? It should sound hollow when you knock on it; it should have faded in color; and its bark should have come loose.

Do I need professional help to install the wood burning fireplace inserts?

Yes, you do. There are some exceptions; for example, if the unit is not as heavy and includes a very detailed instructional manual. Also, if it’s a free-standing unit, you can probably set it up yourself.

But if you want to buy a fireplace insert for your existing hearth, you will need additional infrastructure to install it properly. Your chimney will need to be properly sized to the fireplace insert to vent in a correct way. And a fireplace insert might need extra foundation support.

We recommend getting in touch with a professional who has installed wood burning fireplaces in the past.

How to build a fire in a wood burning insert?

Great question! However easy it looks in the movies, starting a fire in a wood burning insert is not as easy as just throwing the logs in with a match. There are a few simple steps you need to follow to start a great fire that will keep burning at a steady pace:

Use seasoned dry wood only: The best kind of wood to use in a wood burning insert is dry wood, as it produces minimum smoke and maximum heat. Make sure the log is not too dense, or it will not light easily and worse, it will cause a lot of smoke. You should watch this video to understand the difference between seasoned and unseasoned wood.

Use split wood: Before you lay the fire, scrunch a newspaper up and make a layer on the bottom of your insert. Always use split wood when laying the fire – don’t use round logs. Split wood makes it easy to light the fires; you can use the rounded logs after the fire starts going.

Stack the logs: Then lay the first layer of logs in a vertical pattern, and leave some space in between each log. Then stack the next layer of logs in a horizontal pattern. This way of stacking ensures that your fire will rise at a steady rate.

Light it: Finally, perform a quick check to ensure that your insert is set to allow the maximum amount of fresh air inside. This is because the more the oxygen inside the insert, the better the flames will be. Also check that the flue is left slightly open, enabling the fire to rise. If there is a door or a screen on your insert, leave it open for a bit before you close it completely.

Once the fire has been going for a 15-20 minutes, close the door.

How do I clean the ashes?

You should always clean the ashes out of your insert before starting a new fire. Since ashes take a long time to cool off, wait at least 24 hours before you sweep them up. Use a sweep brush and wear gloves to do this.

Place these ashes in a metal bucket and place the bucket as far away from the fireplace insert as possible. This bucket should not place anywhere near your walls, carpeting, or hardwood flooring. If you have little children or pets, place this ash bucket somewhere they can’t reach it. We recommend bringing it outside in your backyard or the garden.

Should I remodel my old fireplace or buy a fireplace insert?

If you want to update the look of your old, worn-out fireplace, or you simply want a more efficient heating solution, a wood insert has several benefits. It’s definitely cheaper than renovating an old masonry fireplace that will cost you thousands of dollars.

Fireplace inserts, on the other hand, are available for as little as $1,000, and they can be installed in your existing hearth within a couple of hours. Since these inserts often come with a lifetime warranty and are extremely durable, you won’t regret your decision.

Also, a fireplace insert produces more efficient heating than a masonry fireplace, since less smoke goes out of the chimney. An insert allows you to enjoy a slower-burning fire than can go for up to 10 hours without any interruptions.

A fireplace insert is essentially an enclosed combustion system, so you won’t feel any draft blowing in from the chimney when you’re not using the insert.

These wood burning inserts are way easier to maintain and clean as well. All you need to do is take a wire brush to remove any soot buildup or debris from the interior and the glass door. Almost every insert comes with an ash box, which you can just take out and empty, and voila! Your fireplace insert is ready to use again!

Is a wood burning insert worth it?

If you are looking for an eco-friendly approach to generate a lot of heat for your home or RV, a wood insert is definitely worth it. It slides into your existing masonry fireplace easily so you can have a roaring fire burning brightly in your living space. Can you imagine a more comfortable, cozier way to spend a winter evening?

And inserts have gained a lot of popularity among the homeowners because they generate hotter and longer-lasting flames. Wood is a renewable source, unlike electricity or gas. You will save a lot of money on your monthly energy bills since wood inserts won’t be tied to the utilities.

And don’t forget that most wood burning inserts come with a lifetime warranty!

Wrapping It Up

Buying a new fireplace insert can certainly be expensive but in the long run, it can give major returns. A wood burning fireplace insert will keep your home warm for years (decades, even) to come, which can’t be said about any other kind of insert in the market.

The aesthetic value alone is much bigger with these inserts. Whether you have a contemporary or rustic house, a wood insert can lend it all the charm and romance you can ever imagine. The real logs and flames, those crackling sounds, and the smell of firewood is bound to give you some truly memorable moments.

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