Saturday, January 13, 2024

Fireplace inserts?

A reader posted the following: "Does anyone have a recommendation for a wood burning stove that would insert into an existing fireplace? We have been wanting one but never owned or used one before. Thank you!"

I have no knowledge of fireplace inserts. Please pitch in with your expertise and help this reader.


  1. We have a freestanding stove (Vermont Casting Intrepid) sitting on the hearth with a stainless steel pipe running the full length inside the masonry flue.

  2. We have used a vermont casting insert for 20 plus years. The existing fireplace opening is your first issue. The new insert will need to fit in. Second will be lining the chimney with a steel liner.. it is the safest way to vent it. Plus cleaning is much easier. Look for quality brands like vermont castings. Hopefully your fireplave draws well at this point. If not the chimney may need to be raised. That was an issue we had prior to putting the insert in. They are heavy units if you get cast iron. We have a catalytic option once the fire is nice and hot. It slows the burn rate down and reburns the smoke. No visible smoke when that is on. But with ours the fire has to be very hot before using that.

  3. Hi there. I have a mild obsession with wood stoves and ran an insert for close to a decade in our last home. There are pros/cons of inserts. They are easy to install if you have an existing masonry fireplace with a sufficiently large opening. They do put out a good amount of heat, but not like a free-standing stove. I'd recommend you consider an insert that is not flush but rather protrudes out a bit from the fireplace opening in order to maximize convective heating. Keep in mind most inserts come with a blower and to get the most heat out of one you'll need that running. Blower noise does get old ... Make sure that you don't vent the insert directly into the existing chimney system, but instead use a liner - a flexible SS pipe that connects from the insert exhaust exit and terminates at the top of the existing chimney with a cap. Also, make sure to follow all installation instructions including non-combustible/hearth clearance requirements in front of the insert. We had a Pacific Energy brand and it was a workhorse. Ran every day, all day during the winter.

    Also, for reviews and more info. I highly recommend the forums on

    Feel free to message in this comment section any other questions!

    Best Regards,

  4. hi, I have a Searra 5100i insert. I LOVE IT!

  5. TimfromOhio has excellent advice. Another good forum is Research research research and make sure you have dry wood so your insert does it's job well. In your case an expert installation might be best but yeah, have a SS liner put in after your chimney is inspected. (My brother got a shock when his fireplace damper was at the top of the chimney which complicated things.) My stove has afterburners, not a cat. Much easier to replace and does the job. Take pictures of your fireplace and measurements when you go shopping, it'll help with your decision. Good luck!

  6. If you can setup a free standing stove that exhausts out the chimney, check out Woodstock Stove. The soapstone has a soft but warm heat and will stay warm hours after the fire has died down. Found a Used one for a great deal. You can even send it back to the factory after years of use and they will rebuild them using the same stones.

  7. I have a 1952 Cape (with no insulation) near the coast of northern Massachusetts, It has a center chimney and we have the Regency Hampton cast iron insert (size: Medium). We heat the house with it. Granted, I like a colder house.

    When the temps are in the 40s down to mid 30s, it does a good job. Below that it starts to get uncomfortable. The truth is I'm asking the stove to carry too much of the weight for heating the house and have plans to install a propane heating stove in another section of the house and then we'll be fine. (Our old propane heating stove died and we haven't replaced it yet.)

    As mentioned in another comment, depending on the age of your house you might have trouble finding an insert that meets the combustible clearances for your house. We did. I searched a lot of manufacturers to find one that worked.

    Also, some models have doors that only open one way. Think about how you'll be loading the wood. You don't want to have to move around the door. Our built-in wood box is to the left of the fireplace. Luckily, the Regency door opened from the left so it's an easy shot. Many models only opened on the right. And that would have quickly gotten tired. Wood is heavy and if you're heating the house with it then you're moving a lot of wood daily. Over time, moving it around the door into the fireplace is a lot of wear and tear on your body.

    Ours came with a blower but I hated the noise so I don't use it. I use a little blower that sits on top of the insert (the insert projects enough for the blower to rest on) and is powered by the heat coming up from the fireplace. I got it on Amazon.

    One of the advantages of an insert is that your can leave it burning and unattended--as long as the door is secure. Whether you're using the insert for heating the house or just ambience, the ability to walk away from the fire is a huge plus.

    Wood really dries out the house so it feels warmer. A propane or wood pellet fueled insert is not as drying so not as warming. (I do think both provide a lovely, mellow heat, though.)

    Good luck!

  8. I am a professional fireplace installer. I would recommend the Blaze King Princess 29. Best possible performance and extremely efficient.

  9. OP here, thank you Patrice for posting my question, and thank you to those who replied. Lots of good tips and suggestions! We will take it all into consideration. Probably won't buy one til summer so feel free to keep the replies coming!