Fireplaces vs. Fireplace Inserts - What's the Difference?

As part of the process when you begin thinking about getting a fireplace for your home is to decide what you need. Do you need a fireplace, or a fireplace insert? To choose, you need to know the difference between a fireplace and an insert in the first place. While there is confusion between the two units, this article should help to clear things up and better prepare you for purchasing a fireplace unit that meets your needs.


What is a Fireplace?

A fireplace can be an existing masonry space where wood is burnt and vented outside via a chimney. These are usually built with brick, stone, or tile and they connect seamlessly to the chimney and flue. A fireplace can also be a factory-built unit that is framed into a home using non-combustible materials. This type is also exhausted outside although, a chimney won’t necessarily be required depending on the fuel. For example, a gas fireplace can be vented using a flexible venting system and a smaller port on the outside of the house. Wood burning fireplaces look and feel just like the traditional wood-burning options, however, we’ve updated them to be more energy efficient with better burning efficiencies. And finally, don’t discount the electric fireplace options, allowing for versatile, vent free, installation just about anywhere you can imagine.


What is a Fireplace Insert?

A fireplace insert is a self-contained unit that is inserted into an existing fireplace that has exterior venting. They are much smaller than a fireplace, this includes their glass fronts and viewing ports, because they are designed to fit into an existing opening. Like fireplaces, an insert is available in many fuel options, including efficient wood burning, glorious gas burning, and enchanting electric.



Should I Install a Fireplace?

Installing a new fireplace in your home is ideal when the house is being built, if you already have a fireplace and are replacing it or are doing a renovation. Installation options depend on the fuel type, where wood-burning would require the most work, gas is a bit in-between, and electric being the easiest as there is no venting required. Any fireplace chosen is framed into a wall and venting added as needed. The upside to a fireplace is that you do not sacrifice viewing area and the styles are endless.


Should I Install a Fireplace Insert?

Installing a fireplace insert is ideal when you have an existing fireplace of some sort. It is a less expensive option when compared to renovation or replacement. Inserts replace the inefficient wood-burning system of an open masonry fireplace and vent through an existing chimney. This is great for reducing outdoor air invasion and drafts inside the home and for reducing carbon footprint with a more energy-efficient heating option. Another huge benefit is the near-instant update to your décor, providing a modern update and a cozy space at once.


Quick Reference Guide


Get a Fireplace

Get an Insert

I don't have any sort of fireplace at all


I have an older wood burning fireplace


I have an existing gas fireplace


I have a chimney but no fireplace

I'm having a house built


**Note: This is a quick reference guide. Please consult a professional to ensure you get the right product for your home and lifestyle.


When shopping for your new fireplace, be as open and upfront with the fireplace specialist as you can. Let them know if you have existing fireplace openings and venting or are doing a complete renovation. Knowing whether or not you need a fireplace versus a fireplace insert will make a huge difference to what options you look at.

Share your fireplace stories and renovation before and after pics on our social pages like Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtags #NapoleonFireplaceInsert and #NapoleonFireplace.