Wood-burning fireplaces have reigned supreme in homes for centuries, but since the birth of gas fireplace inserts, things have changed. Gas fireplace inserts are the in-thing now, for many good reasons. Some of these reasons include convenience, better heating, fuel efficiency, aesthetics, and ease of use.
The best part about these fireplace inserts is that they are easy to install. You don’t need to tear down your wood-burning fireplace for the installation as they are retrofitted into your old fireplace.
For those who don’t know what they are, gas fireplace inserts are simply gas burners and simulated logs housed in a metal unit with a glass front. They use propane or natural gas to produce heat.
There is a huge range of gas fireplace inserts, and they vary in design, style, and size. If you are looking to have a gas fireplace insert retrofitted into your masonry fireplace, ideally, you have to think about the type of insert you need. You also have to consider the amount you can afford to part with for the unit and the installation.
The cost of installing an insert will depend on its size and features. Some have more advanced features than others and therefore are more expensive. However, cost aside, installing the unit is a smart move because it comes with long-term benefits.
For one, you’ll save on the cost of heating your home. You’ll also eliminate chimney cleaning, and these nifty units come with switches for convenience. They also produce less carbon monoxide, which makes them environmentally friendly.
On top of that, you have the flexibility of choosing a design and style that will complement your home decor. So when it comes down to it, the cost is less of a priority when you look at the long-term benefits.
To add to that, gas fireplace inserts, when well maintained, can last over 20 years, which makes them a worthwhile investment. So if you decide to install a gas fireplace insert, you need to find one that meets your needs and specifications.
Selecting a gas fireplace insert is not a huge challenge, but it can get tricky if you don’t know what to look for. To assist you, we have done the dirty work for you and compiled a list of some of the best gas fireplace inserts you can buy and a small buyer’s guide to help you make a more informed decision.
Things to know before buying a Gas Fireplace Inserts
BTU is the measure of heat produced by the fireplace. On the cooler end, gas fireplaces produce from about 20,000 to 25,000 BTU. This range is ideal for people with smaller homes and apartments or who only want to heat one room (a bedroom, for example).
On the warmer end, gas fireplace inserts will crank out up to 40,000 BTU. This is enough hot air to comfortably warm of a thousand square feet of space, assuming ceiling height is standard. If you want to heat a whole floor of your house, the higher BTU output you can find the better.
Also, keep in mind that your fireplace will produce more heat when you burn natural gas. Some fireplaces are also equipped to use propane as fuel, but this won’t yield as much warmth.
If your family includes small children or animals, then a safety screen is a necessity. Beyond that, some manufacturers include additional safety feature in their fireplaces. The oxygen sensors, thermostats, and automatic shut-offs can give you peace of mind (and save you money). Because burning gas produces carbon monoxide, it’s important to make sure that your fireplace is installed correctly. Reading the instructions is always recommended, as is reaching out the company if you need help.
Most Recommended and Best Selling Insert Gas Fireplaces in May, 2021?
1. Napoleon GVF36-2N Gas Fireplace Insert – Great Features for Gadget-Lovers Review
The smaller Napoleon HD35 works for compact spaces, but the Napoleon GVF36-2N can produce up to 30,000 BTU, enough to heat several large rooms.
Also, while the Napoleon HD35 goes over the top in terms of customization, the Napoleon GVF36-2N spoils gadget loving customers.Needless to say, it also comes with a remote and Napoleon’s usual lineup of accessory and design options.
Customers praise the reliability of this fireplace insert. They are also reassured by the safety features. Many say it heats large areas with ease, even spaces with high ceilings.
2. Duluth Forge 170034 Gas Fireplace Insert High Heat with a Classic Look – Review
Another Duluth Forge pick, this model differs from the other Duluth fireplace on the list for its high heat output. You can easily heat several rooms with 32,000 BTU, making this vent free fireplace insert a great pick for large spaces.
Happy customers report that this fireplace keeps their homes warm but recommend buying the optional blower. The Duluth Forge 170034 has a classical design with beautiful finish options. The brass frame seems to be particularly popular. The easy assembly is another perk of this gas fireplace insert.Overall, this Duluth Forge 170034 would work great for larger spaces with classic decor. Within those classy interiors, you can burn either natural gas or propane. Just be sure you don’t mind taking a walk across the room to adjust the heat if your remote breaks.
3. Superior Fireplaces VCI3032ZMN – Best Gas Fireplace Insert for Heating Review
Superior Fireplaces VCI3032ZMN makes a variety of wood, gas, and electric units that come in both traditional and contemporary designs. Their Natural Gas Vent-Free Fireplace Insert spans both in terms of appearance. It would look at home in everything from a log cabin to a penthouse.The 33,000 BTU of heat output are managed by a variable speed blower which comes standard. However, that’s where the freebies stop. Unlike many of the other products on this list, Superior Fireplaces VCI3032ZMN caters to minimalist: you get the fireplace and that’s it.
Even the standard accessories like a remote log surround are not included. This may be perfect for people who like to live with less, but might be disappointing to those hoping to get some extras for the price of their fireplace.
4. Empire CS DV-33IN-33LNG All-Arounёd Gas Fireplace Insert – Review
Empire Comfort Systems has been in business since 1932 making fireplaces, heaters, and grills. The cornerstone of their business design is specializing in a few products that are exceptionally well-made and work for a variety of customers.Hand-painted ceramic logs are arranged around burners of variable heights which churn out 33,000 BTU and mimic the appearance of wood-burning fires.
Though the realistic logs come with the fireplace Empire CS DV-33IN-33LNG, the barrier screen and cover are not included. Some customers also complain that the unpleasant smell of the new fireplace lingers. Others also complained the blower was too noisy for their liking.
5. Pleasant Hearth VFF-PHIMD-2H – Review
Pleasant Hearth is a brand within the GHP Group, makers of all sorts of fireplaces, fire pits, and other heating systems. GHP also produces the propane which can be burned in this fireplace along with natural gas.
The Pleasant Hearth VFF-PHIMD-2H comes with a solid wood surround and all the components necessary to put out 27,500 BTU. This gas insert fireplace is priced lower than many similar products, so it might be a good fit for a family on a budget.However, Pleasant Hearth’s many happy customers like how easy the fireplace is to install. Once it’s up and running, this gas fireplace insert provides reliable, gentle heat all season long.
6. Empire Comfort Systems VFP28IN23LN – Best Gas Fireplace Insert with Blower Review
If you dream of living in a smart home that takes care of all the daily tasks for your, then you should look at the Empire Comfort Systems VFP28IN23LN. With a built-in thermostat, this fireplace allows you to “set it and forget it.” No more worrying about falling asleep with the fireplace on: this one will maintain a steady temperature on its own.
The Empire Comfort Systems VFP28IN23LN insert produces up to 28,000 BTU from natural gas. Because the heat is easily adjustable, this middle-of-the-road output will work for small bedrooms to open living spaces.Perhaps this is intended to give the customer some options to customize. However, not offering a fully functional standard package may be a deterrent for some people.
7. Majestic MDVI35IN-CRDI35BK-SI35-4832-BK – For People Who Like to be Prepared Review
This Majestic MDVI35IN-CRDI35BK-SI35-4832-BK can crank out over 35,000 BTU of heat. The fireplace features a top vent for quickly distributing all that toasty warm air. With this impressive output, some customers use the Majestic MDVI35IN-CRDI35BK-SI35-4832-BK to heat an entire floor of their home, not just one room.If you’re looking to customize, there are some accessories and options available directly from the Monessen website. The Medium Direct Vent Gas Insert comes with a remote that lets you adjust the intensity of the heat from across the room.
The system is also programmable, so you can wake up to a crackling fire on a cold morning without getting out of bed.
8. Duluth Forge FDF300R – Gas Fireplace Insert for the Money Review
Duluth Forge manufactures everything from fireplaces to table-top grills to smokers and fire pits. Their gas fireplace inserts are simple and designed to get the job done. The Duluth Forge FDF300R is a solid choice for people who don’t need a lot of extras.
By limiting add-ons, Duluth Forge makes their fireplaces easy to shop for and install. If you want to make your Duluth gas fireplace unique, the company does offer a few different faux wood and colored fireglass options.Though most people seem satisfied with the quality and durability of their fireplace, a few ran into problems. If you do have an issue, Duluth Forge is excellent at providing replacement parts. However, customers hoping to get an exchange or full refund were often disappointed in the customer service response. This gas fireplace insert has an easy-to-repair design, but you have to be willing to get your hand dirty.
The fireplace churns out 26,000 BTU from natural gas or propane which is enough to warm moderately sized spaces. However, if you’re not the DIY type, you may want to pass on this model. Customer reviews suggest replacement parts are easy to get, but returns can be challenging.
9. Napoleon Plazmafire VF31 – Eye-Catching Looks for Design Enthusiasts Review
To say the least, the Napoleon Plazmafire VF31 will turn some heads. The large frame shines like glass, accenting the bright flames within. The unit also includes two LED lights on the bottom, drawing yet more attention to the appealing design.However, this is not to undercut this fireplace’s potential. Since this gas fireplace is designed to hang on the wall, you’re not limited to the space of your old masonry hearth.
The vent-free set up also makes it easy to install as a focal point wherever you would like it. You’ll probably look at your gas fireplace every day. For those who like the Napoleon Plazmafire’s aesthetic, it’s sure to thrill day after day.
Unlike other Napoleon fireplaces, however, the essential surround is not included with the unit and must be purchased separately.
10. Napoleon HD35 – Best Gas Fireplace Insert for Small Room and Basement Review
Napoleon manufactures a variety of gas inserts and fireplaces, but the HD35 stands apart for all the options available in a small package. Weighing only 12 pounds, this 35-inch diameter gas insert is approved for use in smaller spaces including bedrooms, bathrooms, and mobile homes.
The clean, contemporary design of the Napolean HD35 allows maximum viewing space. The standard design includes a realistic Phazer logs burner and sleek black frame.
This fireplace also comes with two remotes with digital screens, two andirons, and a backup ignition system that works even if the power goes out. A limited lifetime warranty also comes standard.Optional functional add-ons include blowers and distributors to circulate warm air throughout your space.
Best insert gas fireplaces – Buyer’s Guide
Vented vs. Vent-Free
Though we haven’t yet discussed vents at length, this is probably the most important factor in picking your gas fireplace insert. Before you start looking, you should check the laws in your area to see what is allowed. For example, vent-free fireplaces are legal in all of Canada but regulated in some areas of the United States.If both vented and vent-free fireplaces are permitted where you live, you should then consider ease of installation and location. Vented inserts almost always have to be installed in an existing masonry fireplace which might cramp your decorating style.
Ultimately, you want your fireplace to warm your home—otherwise, what’s the point? When shopping, you should pay attention to the components that create the heat. First, consider if you want your fireplace to burn natural gas, propane, or both.
Natural gas lines are probably the best source of fuel for homeowners. However, if you’re renting or don’t want to install gas lines, a propane tank can keep your fireplace lit. Next, consider the ignition. Though your fireplace may burn gas, the spark that gets it going is created by electricity. Some fireplaces come with battery or millivolt ignitions that work even if the power is out.
If you intend to use your fireplace as an emergency source of heat, you should be sure to buy a model that includes a non-electrical ignition option. Finally, look into how the fireplace distributes its warm air. Most gas fireplaces come with a built-in blower or offer one as an optional accessory.
The blower can help distribute air more quickly, though some people find the extra noise they create to be annoying. Other gas insert fireplaces distribute heat without a blower through careful design and reflective materials.
The final thing to have in mind when shopping for your new gas insert fireplace are the accessories you want. These extras include fun decor options like colored ceramic glass or colorful backdrops and surrounds. Other accessories are more practical.
For instance, you may want a remote so you can change the flame level on your fireplace from across the room. As mentioned in the heating components section, optional blowers can improve the warm air circulation from your fireplace. Ultimately, there is no one single best fireplace insert. Each of the models that we reviewed here will work for different people in different situations. Before you start weighing the pros and cons for yourself, consider what you want from your gas fireplace insert. Knowing your own expectations will help you find the model that’s the best fit for your home.