How Does A Fireplace Insert Work?
A fireplace insert is a firebox surrounded by a steel shell with inner and outer layers, fueled by wood, pellets, or gas. The air from within the room is warmed by passing between the firebox and the shell. The outer layer of the shell is responsible for directing heat from the firebox to the surrounding room, ensuring that less warm air is lost up the chimney.
Inserts are typically used to upgrade or convert masonry fireplaces into more effective heating applications. In fact, they work in much the same was as a fireplace does. The only difference is that fireplace inserts require the connection of a ventilation system to filter gases and smoke up and out of the flue. The United States has approved two different installation techniques:
- Direct Connect.
A short length of stainless steel liner attached to the top of the insert body is directed up into the chimney of the existing fireplace. While this configuration may be less costly to set up, the requirements for cleaning, maintenance, and repair can be time consuming and expensive, as the insert has to be removed in order to perform these tasks.
- Flexible Flue Liner.
Today's chimney liners are made from a variety of materials, with the most popular being solid double-walled pipe or flexible stainless steel liner. A contractor or other professional will feed the new liner through the chimney from the top. Flexible liners will curve and bend around the smoke shelf and damper (“throat” area) to meet the insert for an easy connect. Solid liners may require a slight make over, with removal of part of the chimney throat to accommodate this configuration. Some liners may even need to be sealed to the masonry, which will prevent cold air and fumes from entering the room. Fireplace inserts that are installed in this manner should be considered permanent.
Additionally, there are a variety of fuel sources for zero-clearance fireplaces. The most common are gas burning applications; however, some units are designed to burn wood, pellets, and there are even electric fireplaces available.
Whether you choose natural gas or propane, a gas fireplace insert effectively elminates heat loss and allows the fire to have a lower combustion fuel rate and increased efficiency. Gas fireplace inserts have a valve that controls the pressure and amount of gas supplied to the unit. Modern units have valves that can detect whether or not gas is being heated. Ignited gas has an increase in temperature, and once it reaches a certain point, the gas valve cuts off the suppy. This safety feature helps prevent harmful fumes from escaping into the home. There are vented and ventless gas fireplace inserts.
- Vented: an exhaust pipe is vented directly through the wall of a home, similar to a dryer vent. Vented gas fireplace inserts draw air in from the outside for combustion purposes, and then vent it back outside.
- Ventless: these clean burning units do not require a chimney or ventilation pipe. Heat is forced into the room, and these highly efficient fireplaces use less fuel to produce warmth.
Cool air enters the firebox and feeds the fire through combustion. Smoke and gases that are produced from this process escape via the chimney. Heat that is generated will radiate into the room in which the fireplace is situated. This fire will need constant tending with wood and kindling.
Instead of fueling the fire with logs, you add pellets made of compressed sawdust or another biomass fuel source. The pellets are loaded into a hopper, and then automatically dispensed into the burner pot located in the firebox. Simple to use controls allow you to adjust the heat output, and some models can be connected to your home's thermostat.
These particular fireplaces have metal coils that heat up when the application is plugged into an electrical socket. A blower motor or fan pushes the 10% of the heat that is generated outward into the home. These fireplaces are cool to the touch, posing no threat to curious little hands. The "flames" are produced by a standard light bulb and refracted light in a three-dimensional pattern, simulating a very realistic look!
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need more information about this product. For general information, or inquiries not related to this product, please contact us directly instead. Thank you!
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