Best Pellet Stove Insert

Best Pellet Stove Inserts 2011


There are many different options when it comes to purchasing a pellet stove system for your house. One way to utilize the efficiency of a pellet stove without installing a new pellet stove itself is by installing what is called a pellet stove insert. This insert works with an existing fireplace in your home in order to provide heat for a room or even an entire floor. Pellet stove inserts are a smart choice because they burn cleaner, can have their temperature regulated and they use a blower system to heat a room.  They are also fairly easy to install, making them an affordable option for many people.

  • When a person is shopping for a pellet stove insert, it is hard to determine what system is best. There are many options to consider when choosing one for your home, such as the size of the room it will be in, the climate where you live and how easy it is to find and purchase pellets for your system.  Depending on the size of your fireplace, you might have a few more options than someone who only has a small fireplace to work with. No matter what size your fireplace is, though, there are a lot of benefits in going to the pellet stove insert you should realize when you are researching the products.
  • The benefits are plentiful, no matter what type of pellet stove insert you chose. The stoves burn cleaner and do not release any residue in to the air like a traditional fireplace will. When you have a fireplace, smoke, ash and any chemicals on the wood will be released in to the house, when the doors are open or just as the pollutants work through the screen and glass covering the fireplace system. A pellet stove insert has no releases in to the house because it uses an auger system to get the wood in to the burning part of the stove. Any emissions it has are sealed within the unit and travel up through the exhaust system (flue) and outside.
  • The heat being emitted from the unit is more controlled. With most fireplaces, you throw wood on it and it just burns. A hard wood log will burn hotter and last longer than a soft wood log will. However, once that log is burning, you have no control on how much heat it will release in to the room. When the fireplace has no blower system associated with it, the heat is only radiated out through the doors or open screen as it burns. The temperature could fluctuate up and down, with most of the heat going straight up the flue and being wasted. A pellet stove insert will capture the heat and send it all out through the blower at the constant temperature that the thermostat is set at. There won’t be cool periods or warm periods as a different log burns. The room will stay the same, regulated temperature because the pellets are being fed at a consistent rate through an auger and the blower controls the air going out.
  • Another great benefit of using a pellet stove insert over a traditional pellet stove is that it takes up much less space. A free-standing unit will take up several precious feet, no matter what room it is installed in. An insert simply attaches and works with a fireplace that is already in your home, requiring no new space. The stove part might stick out a foot or two, but it will usually rest on the existing mantle or tile in front of a fireplace. There won’t be a section of the room just for the stove, since it is built in to the fireplace and flue system in your room.

Fuel Options

  • With a pellet stove insert, there are also different options in some models on the type of pellets you can burn. There are wood, corn and even mixed style pellets which will work in many systems produced in the United States. In the Midwest, corn based pellets are popular because of the proximity of the corn fields planted in the region. Corn is made in to pellets that burn as hot and as consistent as wood pellets do. Wood pellets are easier to get and less expensive in the northwest and northeast region of the United States, where the forests are denser and logging is a main industry to support the area. Mixed fuel pellets are an option anywhere, since they combine types of fuel in an affordable pellet.
  • Pellets are considered to be a renewable fuel source for several reasons. Corn is quickly and easily grown every year. Making corn in to pellets also uses the waste products that are produced when corn is processed in to food or animal feed. Wood waste can also be used in the manufacture of pellets, so trees that are cut down are used for other items, but then the sawdust and waste and saved and used alone or in combination with corn to make a pellet for the stove. In certain cases, paper is even being tested as a pellet. The paper is taken from recycled materials or paper scraps that would normally not be used for anything else.

Size Options

  • There are many different sizes of inserts available, so you can choose one that will work with the opening currently in your home. And even if you only have a small fireplace opening, you can still get a pellet stove insert that is efficient and can heat the entire room or floor of your house where it is located. Smaller doesn’t mean less power when you are dealing with a pellet stove insert.  The small, medium and large sized units can all burn the pellets at the same set temperature. The only variable will be how large the hopper is and how often you will need to refill it with bags of pellets. Some small units have as big of a hopper as the large units do, so you might not even realize a difference.

Clean Burning

  • There is a little bit of ash residue when pellets are burned. That ash is collected in an ash bin located somewhere with the pellet stove insert, either on the side or the front bottom. Every few days or weeks, the ash bin should be checked to make sure it isn’t overflowing. To empty the ash bin, simply pull out the bin or drawer and dispose of properly outside. Once it is empty, you simply insert it back in to the unit and you can begin burning the pellets again.
  • Some units will burn less ash than others because of their clean design. The EPA has rated the units which burn cleanly, which then allows you to know how clean the air is that your family is breathing. Some models can burn as little as .4 grams per hour, while other models can burn 3 to 4.5 grams per hour. Fireplaces will also release ash and smoke in to the air, so any type of pellet stove insert will be cleaner than having a traditional fireplace open and burning in your house during the day.


  • A pellet stove insert is safer than a traditional fireplace for a couple of reasons. One listed above, is the lack of toxins being released in to the air with the screens and open door of a fireplace. Another safety concern is when there are children or pets in the home. A child can easily open the doors of a fireplace and get in to the open fire and get burned. With an insert, there isn’t any open flame where the child – or even a pet – can get to. The doors on the stove inserts latch and aren’t easy to get open by little hands.
  • A pellet stove insert is also safer for your house in general. How many times have you seen a fire in the fireplace, but there wasn’t a blower to send the heat out, so the doors were left open? With the doors open on a burning fire, you run the risk of having sparks fly out or logs roll off the rack as the burn and shift. A rolling log can cause burns to the rug or the carpet. Sparks can melt the carpet or the rug outside of the fireplace area as well. And both have the potential to start the house on fire if no one is close by and watching. Burns from sparks or rolling logs can also happen to people who are sitting close by and not necessarily paying attention to the fire.



Summers Heat 2000 SF Pellet Fireplace InsertSummers Heat 2000

This unit is very popular because it heats a large amount of space, up to 2,000 square feet, which is larger than the average sized home in the United States. This unit can be built to work with a pre-fabricated or a masonry (brick) fireplace, which are the most common two kinds of fireplaces.

The Summers Heat system has a hopper capacity of more than one bag of pellets, meaning on cool days you won’t have to keep loading up the system. It will burn for hours on end and provide a steady level of heat in to the room with minimal effort. There won’t be carrying in of logs all day and then opening the doors and risking a burn in order to add more fuel to the fire. When the pellets do need to be added, it is in the side of the system, away from the flame source.

  • Another reason why this unit is very popular is because it is one of the cleanest burning systems available. It is rated in the Top 20 Cleanest EPA certified pellet stove list. There are virtually no emissions being released in to the air of the house from the pellet burning unit. When there are small children in the house, you can rest assured that their lungs will be safe and protected from any toxins in the air.
  • The heat from the system can be controlled with a thermostat. There is also a blower with multi-speed fans to bring heat in to the room or floor you are working with. The air can be directed to any location of a room, but it will always remain steady with where the thermostat is set at.
  • The Summers Heat model is a great option for people who love to be environmentally friendly. The model is efficient and can heat a normal sized house efficiently with little effort other than pouring a bag of pellets in the hopper and walking away.

Lopi Pioneer Bay lopi-pioneer

The Lopi Pioneer Bay system works for up to 1,600 square feet for heating. The unit is very efficient and one bag of pellets loaded in can power the pellet burner for up to 35 hours without having to refill it. (Depending on the temperature and the region where you live, the hours may be considerably less). The unit has the ability to have a thermostat attached to it, so the temperature in the room can be regulated easily.

The Pioneer Bay model is very efficient and burns cleanly. There are very little emissions released in to the air surrounding the unit, meaning your family will be safe to breathe the air and not have any toxins invading their space.

  • The Lopi brand proudly claims their units are very green, since one bag of pellets can burn up to 35 hours, depending on how high the thermostat is set at. The pellets are a renewable fuel source, which doesn’t deplete supplies of gas or other fuels in the region.
  • Pellet stove inserts to produce an ash residue when it burns, but there is very little with each bag poured in the system. A large capacity ash pan is on the bottom of the unit that can be pulled out and emptied easily. When the ash pan is empty, it simply gets pushed back in to place to collect more ash when you burn pellets again.
  • This stove is a great option because the trim can be black, gold or even pewter in color to match the décor in any room. It takes up very little space as it attached to the front of any fireplace existing in your home and requires little other space.  This option is a great choice for modest sized houses because it is efficient and can produce heat for hours on end without having to refill the hopper all the time.

Quadra Fire Mount Vernon AE Insertmount_vernon

This pellet insert is popular because of its large size and intricate design. It looks like a fancy fireplace, but has the efficiency and smart design of a pellet stove insert. The Mount Vernon unit is 32” wide, making it only a practical solution for houses with large fireplaces built in to the kitchen or the living room of a house. The large sized unit can heat up to 3,075 square feet of a home or cabin.

A wall thermostat that works with the pellet stove insert can control the temperature by one setting. The temperature is raised or lowered by a digital thermostat, just like one associated with a traditional forced air furnace.  The Mount Vernon unit is popular because it has the option for the vent or blower to blow air upward, instead of just out the front, like what most other units have. If the stove insert is in a room with a ceiling fan, the air can be blown up and circulated easily through the house because of the fan.  For homes with multiple stories, it will also heat them evenly and easily with the vents facing upwards.

  • The unit can be black, gold or nickel plated to match the color scheme in any room of the house.  A log like ceramic structure can also be added to keep the look of a traditional fireplace within the front of the pellet stove burner.  For people who have large homes to heat, this is a very practical and smart option for home heating.


Harman P351Harman-P351

The Harman P351 claims to be the cleanest burning pellet stove on the market today. It has not yet been rated by the EPA, but the company claims the stove only releases .4 emissions when it burns, meaning it is very clean and efficient. Other models can release between 2 and 4 or higher grams per hour, so you can see where the comparison lies. There are virtually no toxins released in to the air around this pellet burner, because it is sealed tight as the pellets burn and produce heat for the home.

The P351 unit is compact and can fit in to small openings for pre-existing fireplaces. The P351 can heat up to 1,520 square feet, depending on the region where the home is located. Colder regions will heat the same amount of space, however, more pellets will be required to maintain the thermostat setting as compared to a moderate climate location. The Harman P351 will burn corn, wood and mixed pellets with the same consistency.  The capacity on this hopper is very large, as it will hold 62 pounds of pellets in the reserve system before it is measured in through an auger in to the burner.

  • A smaller model of the P351 is also available to heat a room or a home. The hopper size is smaller, with it only holding 41.5 pounds of pellets. Both the large and the small units require the same sized opening of 19.5 inches by 24 inches tall. The large model is great for homes located in the northern regions where snow and cold weather happen longer throughout the year. The smaller model is perfect for smaller homes or ones in areas that have mild winters where extended periods of high heat aren’t required.
  • The Harman also has a very quiet fan, making it perfect to place in a room where the TV is watched, simply because it won’t disturb anyone watching a sports game or a TV program. The unit can be placed in any room, the thermostat programmed and the hopper full and there will be hours of controlled heat for that room.  The Harman P351 is popular because it is reliable and easy to use.



Harman Accentraaccentra_insert


The Harman Accentra model is a large unit that produces consistent heat through a beautiful looking design that rivals a fireplace. The Accentra model has a window opening in the center that shows ceramic logs that actually look like they burn, simulating what a real fireplace looks like. The logs aren’t actually burning, but the pellets slide in behind the logs and burn.

  • The Accentra model is also popular because it can be installed in homes with zero clearance. That means, a chimney system isn’t needed when you have the special kit to convert the exhaust out of the house. You can take advantage of the heat produced within a unit without having a large fireplace already in your home.  The pellet insert stove can heat an area up to 1,400 square feet in size.
  • A large capacity hopped holds up to 57 pounds of pellets. The pellets can be corn, wood or a combination of fuel materials. The burn length will be between 20 and 57 hours, depending on the climate in your area and the temperature set on the thermostat.  Colder winter regions will require more pellets in order to keep the temperature up in a room.
  • A thermostat can control the temperature in the room easily. When the temperature from the room exceeds what the thermostat is set for, the unit will stop burning all on its own. The self-regulated system will not waste pellets and burn when it does not need to in your house.
  • An ash tray is located at the bottom front of the unit for easy clean up.

 A few more things before installing a pellet stove insert

  • Before you purchase and have a pellet stove insert installed in your house, carefully check the clearances you have within your chimney and what is required for the model you want to install. The clearances aren’t a place where you can improvise because the safety of your family could be at stake. The clearances are made so there is proper ventilation for the burning unit.
  • Another thing to do before a pellet stove insert is installed in to the home is to check with your insurance agent. Some homeowner policies will need to be adjusted when you go from a traditional fireplace to an enclosed pellet stove insert. You might get a break on your rates since the unit is enclosed and safer from fire danger because of pellets and not logs. The unit is also safer when there are children in the house, because there isn’t the risk of burns since there isn’t an open flame where they can get to. Therefore, damages against you from a burn to a friend or family member are less because the open fire is eliminated.
  • When you aren’t sure of what type of system will work best for your home, check with the authorized dealer who sells the product. They can give you the exact specifications for each model you are considering. They might even be able to suggest something else that you might not have even been aware of. There are lots of different options when it comes to pellet stove inserts, so there will be amodel to fit your needs. All you need to do is be able to find it and get it installed so you can have the regulated heat you are seeking from that fireplace opening.

If you have comments or questions please leave them below and we will get to them as soon as we can!

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    • Scott Smith
    • October 11, 2011

    Can you install pellet insert stoves in existing zero clearance gas fireplaces?


    • Robert Ferguson
    • January 27, 2014

    I live in North Mississippi,& have been using a wood burning stove for 20 years. I am getting up in age & it’s difficult to cut wood,split it ,haul it in the house etc.Our temps are usually not as cold,as they are now. I am wondering if a pellet stove would be economical for my area. Once I fire up my stove,it burns 24/7 until spring. Is it my understanding that a pellet stove has a thermostat and does not burn all the time.It seems that the cost of pellets would be cost prohibitive.Thanks

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