What is a fireplace insert?
A fireplace insert is a gas or wood-burning fire that has been designed to be inserted directly into the cavity of a standard, Class 1 British chimney.
The installation of a fireplace insert immediately transforms a mundane chimney opening into an attractive, modern fireplace that is easy to operate and maintain.
The advantages of fireplace inserts are that they are usually the cheapest forms of gas or wood fires, they require almost no building conversion work and installation can be completed in less than one day.
Fireplace inserts come in many forms, from traditional brass-effect basket fires to contemporary, minimalist gas fires.
Either way, if you are looking for a quick, inexpensive solution to transform a tired-looking fireplace, then a fireplace insert has to be the answer.
Will a fireplace insert fit my existing chimney?
That is precisely what it is designed to do. A fireplace insert has been made to the precise dimensions of the Class 1 UK chimney opening. The appliance is inserted directly into the chimney and connects neatly to the chimney cavity at the back.
It then draws air from the draught in the chimney to create combustion for the gas or wood fire. Once installed, it can be embellished by a classic fire surround and hearth or by a simple outer frame.
If I install a fireplace insert into my chimney, how much building work is involved?
The answer is almost none. There are gas and, possibly, electrical connections to be made, but there is no structural work at all. It may just be necessary to tidy up the plasterwork around the fire opening and redecorate the wall on which the fireplace is located.
How many different sizes of fireplace inserts are there?
Most fireplace inserts come in three standard sizes: small, medium, and large. You’ll need to measure the width at the back of the fire opening, the width of the front opening and the depth from the front to the back in order to establish which size matches the cavity of your fireplace.
The one dimension that is sometimes forgotten is the distance from the firebox to the mantel. Without this measurement, you may end up with a fireplace insert that may not perform as an effective heating appliance.
Does a fireplace insert have to go into a chimney opening or can it be inserted into a wall?
The definition of a fireplace insert is an appliance that is designed for chimney installation. There are gas fires that look similar to fireplace inserts that can be fitted to a wall or a false chimneybreast. However, these are normally balanced flue or flueless gas fires that are designed to work without a chimney.
If I have a fireplace insert, do I need a fire surround, or can it be installed on its own?
Most fireplace inserts follow the traditional fireplace design and look better when accompanied by a fire surround and hearth.
However, there are a growing number of contemporary gas fireplace inserts that can be installed on their own or with a simple outer frame.
The frames available can either follow the outline shape of the fire opening or they can be panoramic in design to give the illusion of a wider fire.
How many different fire bed types can you get with a fireplace insert?
Fireplace inserts come in many different forms. There are coal effect fires, log effect fires, twigs and driftwood, pebbles, stones or a combination of many of the above.
With new developments in ceramic fire bed materials, there is no shortage of fireplace insert types to choose from.
How energy efficient are fireplace inserts?
Fireplace inserts that are glass fronted and have closed combustion systems have energy efficiency ratings of between 70 – 85%.
Open-fronted fireplace inserts are less efficient. This is because the air for combustion mainly originates from the living room and is not circulating in a sealed chamber, so more energy is dispersed into the atmosphere. These appliances typically have energy efficiency ratings between 40 – 50%.
Does a fireplace insert need an electrical supply?
Unless the insert is an electric fire, it will not normally require an electrical connection. The ignition for the fire and the remote control that operates it are both battery driven. This makes the fireplace insert easier and cheaper to install, with less functions that can go wrong in the future.