Gas Fireplace Inserts (Reviews & Buying Guide 2017)

There’s no denying that the fireplace is the centrepiece of many homes and the traditional open fireplace can look stunning, yet they have a fundamental flaw – they aren’t as efficient as fireplace inserts. These relatively modern heating innovations offer a simple solution to improve your home heating instantly and affordably.

Selecting the right model for you and your home can be a difficult decision to reach with so much jargon and choice on offer. We aim to help guide you with this with a breakdown of the best fireplace inserts on offer, and how to choose the one that meets the requirements of your home.

TOP Rated Gas Fireplace Insert Reviews

  • Napoleon GVF36-2N 30 000 BTU Vent Free Natural Gas Fireplace
  • PRICE : $$$
  • HEATS : up to 1500 square feet
  • MAIN FEATURES : Vent free, natural gas fireplace with safety screen and realistic phazer logs and oxygen depletion sensor
  • Direct-Vent NG Millivolt Fireplace
  • PRICE : $$$$
  • HEATS : 2,000 square feet
  • MAIN FEATURES : Aged brick liner and matte black louvers included millivot control with on/off switch and tempered glass
  • Sure Heat Mountain Vernon Oak for Natural Gas Fueled Fireplace
  • PRICE : $
  • HEATS : up to 1200-1500
  • MAIN FEATURES : Six highly detailed, hand painted ceramic logs traditionally stacked on a tiered grate realistically recreate the look of a mature fire in your fireplace
  • Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Vent Free Fireplace Insert
  • PRICE : $$
  • HEATS : up to 1350 square feet
  • MAIN FEATURES : Remote control, Hand Painted Ceramic Fiber Logs, 26,000 Maximum BTU and Oxygen Depletion Sensor
  • ClassicFlame Infrared Quartz Fireplace Insert
  • PRICE : $$
  • HEATS : up to 1,000 square feet
  • EFFICIENCY RATING : Integrated damper control and heat tube scraper for maximum efficiency.
  • MAIN FEATURES : Flame effect can be operated with or without heat, The infrared heat helps to maintain the natural humidity, Adjustable thermostat for easy control

What Does a Gas Fireplace Insert Do?

The main purpose of a gas insert is to make your fireplace more efficient, by utilizing the heat produced in a more conservative way. They achieve this by containing the heat produced from the gas within the metallic insert casing, which is then gradually transferred into your living space. Frequently, the heat is also recirculated into your home with a stove blower. This gradual dispersal of heat prevents it from being lost up your chimney and the blower prevents heat being isolated to a single “heat spot” in your living area. Since heat rises, the heat spot will generally be just beneath your ceiling.

There are many types of gas fireplace inserts, but the best ones are usually equipped with a selection of innovative features that provide ease of use and optimum heating performance. These include remote controlled models where the thermostat can be easily adjusted with the click of a few buttons, additionally, there are specialized models that can be fitted into an electrical fireplace and natural gas fireplace inserts that remain popular.

Advantages of a Gas Fireplace Insert 

  • Hassle free – Unlike appliances that use wood heat, using gas as your primary fuel means there’s no need to worry about needing to split wood or clean up the mess made from wood pellets and logs. In addition, since gas is usually fed straight into your home via the pipes supplied by energy companies, there’s no need to be concerned about sourcing and supplying your fuel, common among those that use wood to heat their home.
  • High efficiency – Gas fuel is an extremely efficient source, unlike wood heat which typically provides only 10% to 30% of energy as heat, gas provides as much as 75% to 99% of a fuel’s energy back as heat.
  • Install anywhere – Since they don’t demand a chimney, gas fireplace inserts can be installed almost anywhere in your home, whether that be your bedroom, bathroom or main lounge.
  • Ease of use – A gas insert can be controlled easily with the touch of a button and there’s no need to worry about tending to logs or worrying about flames dying out. Even better, a thermostat can control the flame size—and therefore heat output—to determine and maintain the temperature setting in the room.

Will Your Existing Fireplace Be Compatible with a Fireplace Insert?

Today the vast majority of inserts have been designed so that they can easily fit with most fireplaces, however, the majority doesn’t mean all. Therefore, prior to choosing an insert, you need to measure the dimensions of your fire to ensure it will be a snug fit. The opening of your fireplace is an important measurement is to determine the size of your fireplace opening as this will let you know what size surround you will require in order to install your insert.

Most inserts come in the usual sizes – small, medium, and large. Therefore you need to measure all of the dimensions of your fireplace, not only to make sure the insert will fit but to see which ones available match your taste and dimensional requirements. Therefore the measurements you ought to take note of include the width of the back and the front, and the depth from the front to the back. A common measurement people overlook is the distance from the firebox to the mantel, this is essential to ensure you get an insert that functions effectively.

Once you’ve determined the dimensions of your fireplace you can proceed with searching for your preferred model. Thanks to the popularity of inserts more manufacturers than ever are producing different designs that can meet the style demands of the modern consumer.

Types of Gas Fireplaces Vs. Inserts 

Log Sets

These are the most inexpensive variety of gas fireplaces and as the name suggests are simply composed of artificial logs made from materials such as ceramic. They are the easiest to install, typically requiring a simple connection to the main gas supply. In order to operate one safely, you will need to have an operational flue in your chimney structure to ventilate your home and remove toxic fumes such as carbon monoxide.

Although easy to install and affordable, they don’t tend to be opted for by those who are serious about heating. They are typically used for decorative purposes and by those who reside in warmer climates and thus require less heating throughout the year.

Fireplace Inserts 

As the name suggests, gas inserts are conveniently inserted into a pre-existing fireplace hearth or wall cavity. In order for a fireplace insert to be installed, the fireplace has to conform to local regulations and codes.

In essence, an insert is very similar to a log set, in that it still produces heat in the same way, but it is surrounded by a metal casing. The casing the gas burning unit sits within contains a cavity, similar to the principle of a cavity wall. This cavity contains air that is warmed by the fire and gradually circulated into the living space evenly.

Although more expensive than log sets, they are certainly more efficient and offer a more practical solution for those wanting to produce a good amount of heat. Unlike a log set, the heat isn’t lost to the environment so easily either, instead, it is trapped within the cavity and slowly dispersed.

Zero Clearance Fireplaces 

A  Zero Clearance Gas Fireplace is a firebox unit used when constructing a new fireplace. Also referred to as “factory built fireplaces”, since they are pre-built in a factory and installed later, as opposed to being constructed on location like traditional fireplaces.

These are popular choices due to them often not requiring a functioning chimney – although there are vent options, as well as the vent-free variety. These work in a similar way to inserts and often contain metal casing and a blower to circulate warm air. Although, popular due to their easy installation, they aren’t as clean looking as inserts, since they are often built against a wall as opposed to inserted within a wall cavity.

What Should You Look For In a Fireplace Insert?

When choosing an insert for your gas fire you want to look for the best features that are designed to optimize and improve the function of your insert, the most popular innovations offered by modern manufacturers include:

  • Circulation systems – the majority of models offered come accompanied with some form of circulation systems that serves to circulate the heat uniformly throughout your home. It’s pretty important that you and your family feel the heat, so always look for a good quality insert that features a stove blower or a stove fan.
  • Flame control – certain models allow you to adjust the size of the flames you can see in the viewing window and although this isn’t essential it can certainly be aesthetically pleasing.
  • Thermostat control – the best inserts come with thermostat control, this is incredibly useful as it allows you to easily adjust and control the temperature range and have the reassurance that your insert will turn on when your home gets cold.
  • Electronic ignition – In addition to providing convenience, it also removes the need for a pilot light, saving up to $10 a month in fuel.

What Type Of Venting Can You Install with an Insert?

There are two major types of fireplace inserts – vented and vent-free. The kind of venting you are able to install in your fireplace is usually the deciding factor to what insert you choose. Although a gas fireplace doesn’t emit smoke or odours, it does produce pollutants including carbon monoxide and nitrogen. Vented will feed these emissions to the exterior, while vent-free options will direct them into your living space.

Direct-Vent Inserts  

As you may be aware, most fireplaces are installed within a central chimney or on the exterior walls of your home. Direct-vent gas insert models feature vent inserts which are placed up the chimney, you will require one vent tube for clean air coming inwards and one for exhaust fumes. This is the safest, most efficient venting method also known as a two-pipe system.

You will typically need a collar plate and cap on the chimney as well as a chimney liner. If you have an electrical fireplace then you won’t need any venting at all, this is because there is no fire and therefore no exhaust fumes. An electrical insert is the easiest option if you don’t have a functioning chimney or venting.

Vent-Free Inserts 

Ventless gas fireplace inserts enable you to use the insert without the need of a chimney or ventilation. This is ideal if you have a home without a functioning chimney, additionally, heat won’t be lost via a vent with a vent-free option so it’s definitely worth considering for those without the funds to install venting.

However, it is worth noting, that many observers in the industry feel that vent free inserts aren’t safe. As although modern models do feature helpful technology such as oxygen depletion sensors and catalytic converters. Many have expressed that the potential risks outweigh the advantages. Besides, it’s not difficult to install a chase and cut a hole in an exterior wall for a direct-vent model. Ultimately, this is a decision for you to make.

If you still want to use gas but you have a limited budget, then you may want to consider a propane heater, these economical and often portable heating systems are also ideal for heating outdoor patio spaces and poorly insulated out -buildings such as sheds and garages.

Sure Heat Mountain Vernon Oak Vent Free Dual Burner Natural Gas Fuel Log Set

616cokhtadl-_sl1019_This insert offers a great solution for natural gas fireplaces as it realistically creates the look of a mature wood burning fire.

Most importantly it also improves the efficiency of your fire as it is vent free, meaning the heat from the fire is directed into the living space, rather than being lost up a chimney. This provides an incredible 99.9% heating efficiency.

Other Features:

  • CSA approved heating appliance.
  • Manually controlled valve system and push button ignition.

Direct Vent Fireplace Insert

51-u5ebircl-300x300This large direct vent gas fireplace insert is ideal if you want to increase the efficiency of your fireplace like nothing else can. With this insert, you will be achieving a 77% AFUE, which is more than triple the efficiency rating of most wood-burning fireplaces. Additionally, this insert is stunning and comes with a traditional and sleekly design case and produces dynamic and natural-looking flames for a beautiful display.

You won’t want to do anything else but enjoy the view of the flames dance around the realistic log set which you can control with the click of a button on the remote control.

Other Features:

  • Realistic ceramic fibre logs.
  • Large heat-resistant ceramic glass viewing window.
  • Built-in automatic blower that circulates heat.
  • 3-year limited warranty.

Sure Heat Seasoned Hickory Dual Burner Vented Gas Log Set

81q77vwo8pl-_sl1500_-300x199This is another stunning offering by Sure Heat, except this time it’s vented, so if you have a functioning chimney or venting system this is your best choice on a budget. Although it doesn’t come with casing or a surround, this log set definitely does the job of adding both style and efficiency to any gas fireplace.


Other Features:

  • High-Performance embers glow twice as bright as standard embers.
  • U-shaped dual burner and a manual valve system that works with Natural Gas fuel.

 Final Words 

Ultimately, the gas fireplace insert you choose to keep you and your home warm is both a personal and practical decision that will be based on numerous factors, ranging from aesthetic appeal to the precise heating demands of your property.

Whichever type of gas insert you choose, it’s important to consider whether a vent-free or direct-vent option is best for you and your family. While vent-free models offer convenience and a hassle-free installation, many still feel they aren’t as safe as they ought to be, whatever option you go for, bear in mind that brand reputation and user reviews should not be overlooked.

Finally, ensure you are choosing a model that offers the latest innovative features, including electric ignition and a fan system to circulate the heat evenly throughout your home. You are sure to find gas inserts with a low price tag, but this may be false economy in the long term.