Can you put a fireplace insert in an existing fireplace? Open-air, wood-burning fireplaces have been the traditional choice but they are far from perfect. While some enjoy having an actual log burning in the fireplace, gas and electric fireplace inserts can be more efficient on both energy and space.

In addition to being more efficient, they are also safer as the flame is either contained or nonexistent depending on the model. Due to this, many find themselves wishing to replace their traditional fireplace with an insert.

The good news is that you absolutely can put a fireplace insert into an existing fireplace. The installation of which is often efficient and painless!

What is a Fireplace Insert?

Fireplace inserts are pre-made heating units that can be inserted into existing fireplaces. Many also have the ability to be used as standalone furnaces without a fireplace needed. They are traditionally gas or electric and come in a variety of shapes and sizes designed to fit into an existing structure or stand on their own.

Gas inserts run on natural gas or propane which is hooked up to the unit. Conversely, electric inserts utilize electricity to heat your home while displaying customizable images of flames.

Installing an Insert in an Existing Fireplace 

Installing a fireplace insert in an existing fireplace is a quick process but one that carries some considerations. Depending on the type of fireplace it may require:

  • A power source installed or nearby
  • Different placement conditions (a certain amount of space required behind the fireplace, etc.)
  • Different heat-proofing/sealing needs

Due to the different nature of various fireplace inserts, we’d recommend considering a professional for the task. Depending on the insert, it may still get very hot and be dangerous if placed incorrectly.

Benefits of a Fireplace Insert 

There are a lot of benefits to a fireplace insert over a traditional fireplace. Both gas and electric fireplace inserts take up less space and are more efficient than wood-burning fireplaces. 

Contemporary wood-burning fireplaces have big openings with a chimney flue for the smoke to escape. Through this inefficient system, 80-90% of the heat escapes out of the chimney along with the smoke and exhaust gases. 

Gas and electric fireplace inserts are able to retain and utilize most of their heat. This increased efficiency comes from the fact that it holds most of its heat through a closed door as opposed to losing it in an open chimney.


A gas fireplace has the advantage of being able to be placed anywhere. Not needing an electrical outlet means that these will not have to have an electricity source nearby or installed. 

Often these are direct-vent fireplaces, meaning air feeds the fire from outside of it and combustion gases are vented through a wall-mounted vent.Through this system, they can retain about 70% of their heat, making them extremely efficient. 

The only downside of the gas fireplace insert is that they are able to get quite hot and could be a hazard for small children or animals Many also feature a safety measure which turns off the fireplace if certain levels of carbon monoxide are detected. While this is obviously helpful, it could be concerning if this happens during cold weather while relying on it for warmth.


Electric fireplace inserts are arguably the best option when it comes to placing an insert into an existing fireplace. This is for a few different reasons but, for starters, no vent is needed with an electric fireplace since there aren’t any actual flames involved. Electric fireplaces work by pulling in cool air nearby, warming it, and pushing the heated air back out. 

The ability to heat without an actual flame carries with it the benefit of being a much safer heating source, particularly around children and animals. The flame effect and heat are both able to be managed by the homeowner either on the system or via remote control.

Unlike their gas counterparts, the glass on the electric fireplace will never be hot to the touch. The heat source by the vents can be a different story but anyone who ventures to touch the simulated flames will not be harmed!

An electric fireplace will need to be installed either next to a power source or along with a power source so they are a little less versatile. The downside of this is that if a power source is installed the fireplace will no longer be able to be used for wood again without removing that source.

Professional Fireplace Insert Installation with B+E

The fireplace is where the family gathers to visit and is often one of the most beloved features of a home. Whether deciding on an electric or a gas fireplace insert, the team at Brick + Ember Outfitters is here to ensure that it’s installed safely and correctly!

Request an appointment or give us a call at (317) 500-1250 to begin the conversation today! One of our outfitters can come out and assess your fireplace before recommending some options!