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There are a range of options when it comes to choosing which type of heating unit you want to accompany your new fireplace surround. Below is a brief introduction to the most commonly used inserts for household fireplaces.

Open Hearth
An open wood-burning fireplace, or open-hearth fireplace, is the classic image of a fireplace. The appeal of these fireplaces comes from the fact that the fire is visible, so the fire’s light, heat, sound, and aroma enter the room directly. The opening-facing hearth at the base of the structure is typically made from brick or stone, and the smoke travels up the chimney for ventilation.
Wood Fire Insert
A wood-burning insert is an excellent option if you already have an open-hearth fireplace in your home but would like to improve its heat-generating capacity, efficiency, and safety. The closed-combustion fireboxes are inserted into the masonry of an open-hearth fireplace, which is usually made of cast iron or steel and often features a glass door on the front, so the fire inside is partially visible.
Gas Burner
Gas burners or fires are the most popular type of insert as they are the most efficient, require less cleaning & maintenance, eliminate the need for wood, and generate a significant amount of heat which can be adjusted easily with a remote control.
Electric Fires
Electric fireplaces are the most cost-effective and easy-to-install option when adding a fireplace to your home. The inserts plug into the wall, allowing for greater flexibility than most other fireplace options as it can be moved from room to room as required. Rather than containing an actual flame, electric fireplaces use LED lights to project realistic-looking simulated flames onto a screen.
Ethanol Burner
Ethanol burners are all ventless, making them convenient and easy to install. They are often small and portable, allowing movement from room to room as desired and are more or less for purely decorative purposes. While they display a real flame, they do not produce substantial heat. The enclosed burner enables you to turn the temperature up or down, but they are not efficient enough to heat a house.
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The process of finding a fireplace for your home begins with understanding safety and emissions regulations in your local area. Open flame fireplaces are tightly regulated and must strictly adhere to the BCA (Building Codes of Australia) and meet standards as stated by relevant regulatory bodies. Numerous resources are available to owner-builders to ensure all safety, emission and building requirements are met before construction commences. A qualified professional such as a registered architect and/or builder will be best placed to advise you about the standards at a state and national level, as well as any local council and EPA permits required.

Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA)

AHHA ensures that the industry is responsible and sensitive to consumer and community attitudes. It also coordinates policy formulation and the development and implementation of standards to ensure consistency with each state and territory's legal, technical and environmental requirements.

Manufacturing Standards AS/NZS 4013

Wood combustion creates gases and smoke. To ensure that all smoke emissions are within reasonable and safe limits, every wood heater manufactured since 1992 must comply with this standard.

Installation Standards AS/NZS 2918

The installation of wood heaters is regulated by this standard.


AS/NZS 2918:2001 states that:

  • The flue height must be a minimum of 4.6m above the floor on which it is located.

  • The end of the flue cannot be near any windows or doors to prevent expelled air from being pushed back into the home.

  • A flue must be exhausted in a vertical direction.

  • Dampers should not seal the flue shut.


Smoke emission standards

  • A chimney or flue must clear your roofline by a minimum of 600mm.

  • It must be at least one metre taller than any neighbouring homes within three metres of your property, although this may increase to six metres in the future.

  • The flue and chimney must also be the appropriate size for the fireplace to prevent excess smoke from escaping back into your home.