There are several different types of fireplace inserts, but gas fireplaces are a favorite because they offer the ambience of a real fire while being effortless to light. With no soot or ash to deal with, they are also easy to keep clean.
Gas fireplace inserts are often fitted as a replacement for existing wood-burning fireplaces, offering much more efficient and economical heating. They are also a popular installation for new builds and remodels.
The gas insert buyer will find plenty of choices, but some of the technical aspects can be daunting. After researching the best gas fireplace inserts currently available, this guide was created to clarify the key features to help you choose the right model for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Duluth Forge Dual-Burner Fireplace Insert and Remote
- RUNNER-UP: Duluth Forge Dual-Fuel Ventless Gas Fireplace Insert
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pleasant Hearth Zero-Clearance Gas Fireplace Insert
- BEST FLEXIBILITY: ProCom Universal Ventless Firebox
- BEST DIRECT-VENT: Empire Tahoe Deluxe Direct-Vent Millivolt Fireplace
- MOST VERSATILE: Ashley Hearth Products 34,000 BTU Vent-Free Firebox
- BEST LOG SET: Natural Glo Large Fireplace Logs
- ALSO CONSIDER: Montigo 30FID Illume Contemporary Direct-Vent Insert
How We Chose the Best Gas Fireplace Inserts
Personal taste is a major factor when choosing things like gas fireplace inserts, but we have tried to remain objective and include a broad range of styles. We researched products from as many different brands as we were able to find, from major retailers to less well-known suppliers.
We have been careful to avoid focusing only on the leading brands and to include a varied model lineup. We looked at heating performance, flue type (which impacts ease of installation), and a variety of user-friendly features. The result is a balanced selection for different-size spaces and budgets.
Our Top Picks
The best gas fireplace insert for a shopper’s space needs to have an ideal heat output, size, and efficiency rating. Below are some of the top fireplace inserts available for making the hearth beautiful.
For a top pick that keeps working for years to come, rely on the Duluth Forge dual-burner fireplace insert. This unique and fave 32-inch fireplace insert has a zero-clearance design for preventing air gaps, and it can be paired with a face or recess mantel for an extra-classy look in an office or living space. Plus, it comes with a remote control, oxygen-depletion sensor, an automatic shutoff function, battery-assisted piezo ignition, plus it radiates over 32,000 British thermal units (BTUs) of heat, making it ideal for spaces up to 1,500 square feet.
The dual-fuel technology on this model also allows for ample power and reliability while in use and operates on either natural gas or liquid propane for proper operation. Need more? This top pick also comes with logs for added convenience.
- BTUs: 32,000
- Vent type: Ventless
- Efficiency rating: 99.9 percent
- Zero-clearance design prevents air leaks; can be paired with a face or recess mantel
- Comes with a lot of intuitive safety features for reliable and long-term use
- Remote control included for quick and easy adjustment anywhere in the room
- Comes with fire logs for added convenience and user-friendliness
- May emit too much heat for some users’ liking
Get the Duluth Forge gas fireplace insert and remote at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
Those who love beautiful, classic gas fireplaces will want to check out the Duluth Forge dual-fuel ventless fireplace insert. This effective unit has a heat output of 26,000 BTUs per hour, meaning it can heat spaces of up to 1,350 square feet. Plus, the unit requires no external venting for proper operation.
This dual-fuel model is also very safe with the oxygen-depletion sensor onboard. This sensor monitors the air quality and sounds an alarm when the oxygen level in a space becomes low. The unit slides into an existing masonry fireplace and comes with a remote control for turning on the flames. That’s right, this ceramic fireplace requires no matches or fire, making it perfect for homes with young children and pets.
- BTUs: 26,000
- Vent type: Vent-free
- Efficiency rating: 99.9 percent
- Capable of heating spaces of up to 1,350 square feet; perfect for cold winter months
- Oxygen-depletion sensor integrated; monitors the oxygen levels in the air
- Can fit into an existing wood-burning fireplace for versatility and convenience
- Completely flameless construction is safe for children and pets
- Some users have reported that the instruction manual can be hard to read
Get the Duluth Forge ventless gas fireplace insert at Lowe’s, Tractor Supply Co., or The Home Depot.
Those who want an affordable fireplace insert with the added luxury of customization will want to choose a gas firebox without gas logs. We suggest the Pleasant Hearth zero-clearance gas fireplace insert. This pick is just the gas firebox, so shoppers can choose their own gas fireplace logs or a different filter material (like glass) to make the hearth their own.
This ventless gas fireplace has zero-clearance installation options, so putting it into the hearth shouldn’t be a problem. This pick also has a fire screen for safety in homes with children or pets. Finally, this unit comes in multiple sizes to fit most fireplace hearths and can be used with natural gas or propane.
- BTUs: N/A
- Vent type: Vent-free
- Efficiency rating: Unlisted
- Zero-clearance installation; can be installed with a mantel or elsewhere for a unique look
- Built-in fire screen to prevent burns and flying debris; suitable for homes with children and pets
- Insert can be used with either natural gas or propane
- Comes in multiple sizes to fit most hearths: 32 inches, 36 inches, and 42 inches
- Gas logs for fireplace insert are sold separately; may be pricey depending on the brand chosen
- Decorative brick insert depicted in some retailers’ images is not included with purchase
Get the Pleasant Hearth gas fireplace insert at Lowe’s, Amazon (42-inch only), Tractor Supply Co., or The Home Depot.
For those who need a lot of versatility in their insert, the ProCom universal ventless firebox is worth a look. This top pick comes in 32-inch and 36-inch sizes and features unique airflow technology that can accept 18-inch to 24-inch gas log sets. This zero -clearance firebox also comes with versatile installation and can be placed against or recessed into a cabinet mantel or custom hearth. As for its power, this unit can emit a maximum output of 26,000 BTUs, which means it can heat spaces of up to 1,350 square feet.
Plus, this option comes with a draw screen and hood for added convenience and runs on either natural gas or propane. It also comes with a very slim profile for installing in both large and small places and has a decorative brick liner to add a classic look.
- BTUs: 26,000
- Vent type: Ventless
- Efficiency rating: Not listed
- Comes in 2 sizes and has a slim profile for installing in both small and large spaces
- Can be used with 18- to 24-inch gas log sets for a customizable hearth
- Versatile installation; can be placed against or recessed into cabinet mantels or custom hearths
- Comes with a draw screen, hood, dual-fuel capability, and a decorative brick liner
- May not be as durable as some comparable options on the market
Get the ProCom gas fireplace insert at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
The Empire Tahoe gas fireplace insert is another quality model from a company renowned for reliability. The 20,000 BTU output is sufficient for 1,000 square feet of space, and the millivolt ignition gives near-instantaneous heat. Efficiency of 83 percent is comparatively high for a direct vent insert. This model runs on natural gas, and a propane version is also available.
At 16 inches deep, the Empire Tahoe is particularly suited to shallow fireplace openings. It can vent from the top or the back. Remote control is an option, but at an extra cost. To maximize safety it is also necessary to buy a screen or door set. Some may find it frustrating that these are not included.
- BTUs: 20,000
- Vent type: Direct vent
- Efficiency rating: 83 percent
- Renowned reliability for a direct-vent insert; has an 83 percent efficiency rating
- Top or rear vent options for added convenience depending on user preference
- Propane model also available for added versatility if natural gas isn’t ideal
- Screen or door set required at extra cost; may not be safe for children and pets if used without doors
Get the Empire Tahoe gas fireplace insert at Amazon.
Ashley Hearth Products is another highly regarded manufacturer with a range of electric and gas models. This powerful 34,000 BTU model benefits from being vent-free and as such has an efficiency rating of 99 percent. It’s something of a surprise then that the quoted coverage area is 1,200 square feet, which is less than might be expected.
The outstanding feature of this Ashley Hearth model is its flexibility in terms of installation. As standard, it is intended to be used with a surround as a traditional gas fireplace with a mantel. However, with the proper fitting kit, it can be used as an insert. What’s more, there is also a leg set, enabling it to be used as a stand-alone stove. A thermostat can be fitted but is not included.
- BTUs: 34,000
- Vent type: Vent-free
- Efficiency rating: 99 percent
- Impressive output and efficiency; 99 percent efficiency rating and 34,000-BTU output
- Versatile installation options; can be a stand-alone stove or an insert
- Natural gas or propane can be used for added convenience and versatility
- Insert kit or leg set may carry an extra charge
Get the Ashley Hearth Products gas fireplace insert at Lowe’s, Tractor Supply Co., The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
Praised for their authentic look as well as their safety, the Natural Glo large fireplace logs emit no harmful fumes in even the hottest of heat outputs. This option is incredibly versatile and can be placed in most fireplaces. All 10 of the ceramic fiber logs in this set can be separated and rearranged to get the exact look desired. Each ranges from 10 to 15 inches long. This top pick also won awards for its look and value in 2021 and 2022.
- BTUs: N/A
- Vent type: N/A
- Efficiency rating: N/A
- Authentic look provides a warm glow; each log can be arranged as desired
- Each log ranges from 10 to 15 inches long to fit in most fireplaces
- Award-winning product; made with durable and long-lasting ceramic fibers
- No grate included; may need to be purchased separately
Get the Natural Glo fireplace logs at Amazon.
The Montigo 30FID Illume is a stylish gas insert that would perhaps best suit contemporary decor, but thanks to vertical or horizontal venting, it can be used to replace an existing open fireplace if required. Output is 24,000 BTU. Efficiency varies slightly: 77.6 percent if natural gas is chosen and 79 percent for propane. That’s lower than vent-free models but competitive for a vented gas fireplace.
The included log set with its hot ember effect is particularly realistic. Adjustable flames can be set by remote control, and LED accent lighting enhances the real fire effect. An integrated door screen is fitted for safety. A blower is available, but it costs extra.
- BTUs: 24,000
- Vent type: Direct vent
- Efficiency rating: Natural gas 77.6 percent; propane 79 percent
- Impressively realistic log appearance provides cozy ambience while in use
- Vertical or horizontal venting options available for a traditional or unique look
- Protective door screen is suitable for homes with children and pets
- Blower option is expensive compared to other models that come with a built-in blower
Get the Montigo gas fireplace insert at Woodland Direct.
What to Consider When Choosing a Gas Fireplace Insert
Selecting a gas fireplace insert can be challenging. Here are a few important considerations that can help potential buyers gain an understanding of the different features to consider when making the right choice for your home.
Types of Gas Fireplace Inserts
Gas fireplace inserts can be divided into several types according to how they are vented. They can also be separated by their gas use: either natural gas or propane.
The majority of gas fireplace inserts are designed for natural gas, but not every location has availability. The solution is a propane fireplace insert (also called a Liquid Petroleum Gas or LPG fireplace insert). Propane actually burns hotter than natural gas, but it’s more expensive and needs to come in bottles or a bulk tank. Natural gas is piped directly to your home, so it is a cheaper and more convenient option.
In fact, the majority of gas fireplace inserts that can use propane are called dual-fuel. They are primarily manufactured to use natural gas but are also compatible with propane or come with a conversion kit if needed at the time of installation.
Fireplace Inserts vs. Traditional Fireplaces
While traditional fireplaces have undeniable charm, there are many reasons to upgrade to gas fireplaces. Although they look attractive, gas fireplaces with open fires are remarkably inefficient and a huge amount of energy is wasted as the heat goes up the chimney instead of into the room. Soot and smoke can cause staining and ash has to be cleaned up regularly. Removing hot ash is a fire hazard.
Fireplace inserts provide an enclosed combustion chamber with a heat efficiency rating of between 70 percent and 99 percent. That compares with 5 percent to 10 percent for a traditional fire. This means more of the heat generated warms the room, and bills are reduced. A gas fireplace insert is also very easy to keep clean.
Vented vs. Vent-Free
While gas insert fireplaces are usually divided into vented or vent-free, there are actually two types of vented models: natural vent (also called B-vent) or direct vent. Natural vent fireplaces use an existing chimney and thus are a convenient replacement for traditional fireplaces. However, the majority of these are open, rather than closed inserts, and are less efficient. A direct vent is more common and can vent horizontally as well as vertically. As a result, they are ideal where there is no existing fireplace.
Vented systems must vent to the outside, which can be impractical. A vent-free insert, also known as a ventless gas fireplace insert, solves the problem. Ventless gas fireplace inserts are easier to install and more efficient (because no heat is lost through the vent). However, ventless gas fireplace inserts do release potentially harmful carbon monoxide into the room. To ensure they are safe, a device called an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) is fitted. This shuts the fire down if levels become dangerous. Nevertheless, it’s important to check local building codes because some states restrict or ban their use.
Heat Efficiency and Coverage
Heat efficiency ratings of gas insert fireplaces depend on vent type. Vented models are usually between 70 percent and 85 percent efficient, while vent-free models can be up to 99 percent efficient. In terms of heating performance, the BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating should be checked. This tells you the actual heat output of the fire.
Given that the usual recommendation is for 20 BTU per square foot of living space, it is a simple task to work out the coverage of a particular model. However, while this is a good general guide, some models quote lower or higher figures than the average.
An air circulation system is also a factor. Some inserts include a blower that helps push heat into the room, spreading warmth more rapidly. On other models, it may not be standard, but provision is made for one to be fitted.
A variety of additional features make individual models more user-friendly.
- Electronic ignition is standard, but the type varies. Some require a household supply, but both millivolt and piezoelectric are self-contained, push-button systems.
- On some gas inserts, a thermostat can be set. The fireplace will then turn itself on and off to maintain a balanced room temperature.
- Remote controls are available on some models. Functionality varies. Some can be used to set a thermostat, others offer variable flame control which can be set for both heat output and visual preference. Advanced models beginning to appear offer control via smartphone app or integration with home automation systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Ambient lighting is another possible extra, designed to enhance the mood of the room.
Note: It’s important to check what is and isn’t included in the price. Items like louvers, screen doors, blowers, remote controls, etc., may be an additional cost, so the final price can be quite different from what was initially advertised.
The Advantages of Owning a Gas Fireplace Insert
Real wood fires will always have a certain appeal. Electric models are the ultimate in ease of use, but the lack of real flame means they are not to everyone’s taste. For many people, a gas fireplace insert is the perfect compromise.
- Efficiency ratings upward of 70 percent make for far superior heat generation and lower fuel consumption when compared with open fires.
- Vented gas inserts are normally reasonably easy to install. Vent-free models can go almost anywhere.
- Gas fireplace inserts are easy to live with. They provide warmth almost instantly, can benefit from thermostatic control, and are a breeze to keep clean.
The information provided up to this point provides a good understanding of the technical aspects involved in choosing a gas fireplace insert. It also showcases some of the best models currently available. However, a number of questions crop up regularly. Read on for answers to these and other common inquiries about gas fireplace inserts.
Q. Does my gas fireplace need to be powered by electricity?
Some need a standard household electricity supply for the pilot light, though they may also have a battery backup in case of a power outage. Gas fires fitted with a millivolt system or piezo only need a battery. If a blower is fitted, it will need electricity, though the fireplace can usually be used without it.
Q. Can I install a blower or fan kit on my gas fireplace?
Many gas fireplaces make provision for a blower to distribute heat more effectively, but it’s important to check specifications.
Q. Do fumes from gas fireplace inserts hold any toxicity levels?
Yes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially lethal gas that is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels. These are usually vented harmlessly outdoors. Vent-free gas inserts should have sensors fitted that automatically turn off the gas if fumes reach harmful levels. All gas fireplace inserts should be inspected annually by a qualified professional. They are very safe, and accidents are very rare, but an electric fireplace is an alternative for those who find this a concern.
Q. How deep are gas fireplace inserts?
They vary considerably. While researching products for this guide, the smallest we found was 9 inches, whereas the deepest was almost 27 inches.
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