As mentioned earlier, there is a difference between an electric fireplace and an electric fireplace insert. It's helpful to think of them this way: electric fireplaces can either come as an entire unit, complete with mantle, or they can simply be the electrically powered insert that fits into an existing fireplace cavern. Inserts contain the same parts as normal electric fireplaces, so their inner workings and mechanics are the same. For instance, there is no difference between how many BTUs are produced from the electric fireplace and the electric fireplace insert.
The convenient thing about an electric fireplace insert, however, is that it takes the place of your old wooden logs but you don't have to worry about proper ventilation or cleaning the flue. Furthermore, if there's ever a moment when you'd prefer a real fire, you can easily take the insert out and create a traditional fire using wooden logs. And most inserts are portable enough that, if you wanted to do so, you could easily bring your insert along to use at someone else's house that has a regular fireplace [source: Fireplace Inserts FAQ].
Inserts can have all different types of appearances. You can choose a design that matches your home's overall style. If you want a sleek look, you can opt for an all black insert. Or maybe metallic-looking appliances dominate your house, so an all chrome insert might match best. If you have more of an antique decorating style, maybe you'd want a brass insert [source: Fireplace Inserts FAQ].
For more information on fireplace inserts in general, see "What are fireplace inserts?"
Read on to learn about the many accessories that can complement your electric fireplace.