The wood fireplace is at the cornerstone of fireplace history, and many of the inserts out there are handsome and relatively easy to install. Today, though, there are lots of alternative options, many of which are more convenient to maintain and use. Examples include gas and electric fireplace inserts as well as pellet or corn stoves. Is a wood fireplace insert right for you? Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons:
Wood fireplace insert advantages
- They give you the smells, sounds, and ambiance of a real fire (something you won't get with gas or electric)
- They burn a fairly inexpensive and renewable fuel.
- Though traditional wood fireplaces have been inefficient with much of the heat going up the chimney, today's wood inserts are much better at retaining heat and produce up to 90% fewer emissions than old-fashioned fireplaces.
Wood fireplace insert disadvantages
- Wood is still less efficient than other fuel types.
- You'll have to haul wood and clean up ashes (something not required with gas or electric).
- You'll have to spend time or money maintaining your chimney (the EPA advises you have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned every year).
All in all, whether a wood fireplace insert is right for your family just depends on what matters most to you. You may be willing to trade the inconvenience of hauling wood and cleaning and maintaining your fireplace for the feeling of sitting before a real crackling fire.
As far as costs go, you'll pay anywhere from $3,000-$5,000 for a good wood fireplace insert (installation included), and of course high-end models can cost more.