One of the most common asked questions by homeowners is “What is the difference between a fireplace and a fireplace insert?” Both options do essentially the same thing but the difference is in how the two are constructed and the level of efficiency that they provide when doing their jobs.
When you often think of a standard fireplace, you imagine an open space on a wall with an ability to vent smoke created by the unit which is done through the flue. A standard gas fireplace is built one of two ways, masonry or factory built.
A masonry build fireplace means more or less that the unit will build into the wall, which differs from having one factory built. A masonry fireplace, 99.9% of the time, is built using bricks. It’s very rare, but there are some special cases for other additional materials to be used if the fireplace design has more extensive customization.
When the fireplace is factory built, it is a pre-made metal box from a manufacturer that is meant to fit a predetermined wall dimension. These are safe fireplaces when precisely installed by following the instructions from the manufacturer.
A fireplace insert is meant to take the place of an existing space or area that was intended for or initially had another fireplace installed at some point in time. Inserts require very little construction because you are using the existing fireplace opening that exists for the insert. If price is a concern when shopping around, fireplace inserts are typically a cheaper cost option rather than completely installing a new gas fireplace.
In the most simplest terms, an insert goes into a fireplace that already exists. If you don’t want a construction project that involves multiple parties or steps and you just want heat, you are in the market for a fireplace insert. If you currently don’t have a fireplace or want to remove and replace the existing fireplace that you have, then you need a new fireplace.