How To Guides

How to Use an Insert to Make a Stove Work Better

You may think a stove adds heat to a room. Chances are, however, that you need to add a fireplace insert to make it work more efficiently.

From the earliest times, nothing has evoked a feeling of home and family like a warm, inviting fire. While fire was initially outside and essential for survival, it eventually moved indoors. Hearths were still essential elements of homes until central heating took over in the 20th century.

For many years, fireplaces have served primarily a decorative function. Yet now, as homeowners are trying to become greener, fireplaces and stoves are once more in vogue as a way of zone heating a house. Even if your fireplace is only 25 or 30 years old, however, in other words one that is not a direct vent design, it can rob your home of heat instead of adding warmth.

What are Fireplace and Stove and Inserts?

Fireplace and stove inserts are composed of three main pieces–the insert itself which is placed inside the fireplace, generally made of cast iron or steel, a faceplate, and glass doors that allow the fire to be viewed while the doors remain closed, making the fire more efficient.

The type of inserts selected depend on what type of fuel–natural gas, propane, wood, pellet, or coal–is used. Some insert systems also offer state-of-the-art features such as fans, which distribute heat into a room, and thermostatic controls to further improve efficiency.

Size also varies, ranging from small to extremely large. The key factor in selecting size is based on the opening of the existing fireplace. To determine the right size, the following must be measured:

  • Opening height and width
  • Opening depth (top and bottom)
  • Rear width
  • Depth of the hearth (area in front of the fireplace)

How Inserts Work

Older fireplaces are not efficient because of their open combustion design which allows heated room air to be drawn into the fire, causing it to burn too fast, and thus wasting energy. An insert slows the fire down and increases its temperature to facilitate more complete combustion. As the temperature goes up in a room with a fireplace fitted with an insert, the burners decrease their output, but still emit a continuous flame.

Enhanced Efficiency

Generally, older fireplaces have efficiency ratings of just five to ten percent. This low efficiency is due to the open combustion design that allows an abundance of heated room air to be drawn into the fire, causing it to burn too fast and wasting energy. The closed combustion system of fireplace inserts can generate fireplace efficiencies of more than 65 percent, which translates into greater heat output.

Remember that having a fire in your home is like having a silent friend. An insert in your fireplace will make that flame become an even better pal by helping it to be more efficient.