Fire in the hole!
February 2, 2008 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about gas fireplace inserts: What do they cost (approx.), what are the good-to-better brands, and what features are nice to have.

We're in the SF Bay Area, so this is primarily for aesthetics and some cozy-ness, not the primary heat source for the house. Our house has a 1960-era masonry fireplace that we use very rarely. The plan is to re-face the fireplace/hearth (which is ugly, stained brick), and while we are doing that, we thought it would be nice to also install a more efficient gas fireplace insert, since our area has restrictions on particulates. Overall goal is something that's clean, efficient, generates heat when needed without pulling heat from the house, and won't fall to pieces after a few years of use (I don't mind spending a bit more for quality.)

My initial visit to a dealer in my area got me a quote for $3500/installed (not including running gas and power to the fireplace). As a ballpark figure, is this good, bad, or otherwise?

Anyway, that's the gist of the request. Tell me what I should know/be aware of/expect when looking at these beasties, and which brands are good or better-than-average.
posted by mosk to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Well, we spent about that for installation and chimney work for a gas fireplace (not an insert, but the same exact model is available as an insert), so I would say you aren't totally being scammed. The exact model that we got was a Lopi Bedford - we picked it because the fire is fairly realistic looking, it puts out a good amount of heat on high but can also be set to low, and because of the heavy metal grill doors. One thing to keep in mind is that high efficiency gas inserts have a glass face, and having the iron face on the doors made that less obvious for us.
posted by true at 5:35 PM on February 2, 2008

Best answer: We researched a lot of the models at (I'm not affiliated with that site. Just think it is a good resource for peer-to-peer recommendations.)

We ended up going with a Regency insert. There were even more high end (and more expensive) models, but we were limited on size of the firebox and could only vent horizontally. We are in Chicago and paid a tiny bit less than that for the unit and installation. I am by no means an expert on fireplace inserts. But I went through the hand-wringing myself, wrote about some lessons learned, and lived to tell about it for what it is worth.
posted by jeanmari at 7:06 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Both good answers - thank you.
posted by mosk at 6:32 PM on February 4, 2008

Why would you run gas and electric to the fireplace? I spent around $900 getting a gas line (with emergency shutoff valve installed) and bought a low-end insert for about $200 that I had the installers connect to the line and I unpacked / installed the rest of the insert myself.
posted by mattbucher at 7:27 AM on February 5, 2008

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