What Type of Fireplace is “Right For You”?

The benefit of having a fireplace is actually enjoying it during family gatherings, holidays, a romantic evening, during a cold winter's day or whenever there is a desire for a fire. Making a good choice in buying a fireplace takes some gathering of information to determine what is the best type of fireplace for you. This includes options for space, style, and design but also fitting into your budget. Each situation is different and individualized, therefore it is important to evaluate your choices carefully and to purchase the type of fireplace that gives you joy for years and even generations to come. For those that are environmentally conscious, there is a new technology with LED electric fireplaces available. Or another green choice is a gel fireplace which uses non toxic thickeners with alcohol for fuel.

Things to Consider for the Right Type of Fireplace

Let's consider a few things about the type of fireplace you'll want. Will it be the only source of heat; do you want the fireplace for zone heating; is it more of a romantic desire; maybe the aesthetics of a fireplace with or without heat; do you plan on staying where you live now or will you need a movable model; what kind of construction, professional installation and permits are you willing to endure; what quality of work, what material and style are you looking for and finally, consider the fuel resources and the costs associated with operating each?

Following we will present the pros and cons for wood fireplaces and three alternatives that are at this time on the market. The choices we would like to present are: Gel Fireplaces, Electric Fireplaces and Gas Fireplaces. Those are the most used fireplaces in the US.


gel fireplace

Gel fireplaces provide most of the benefits of a real fireplace like crackling, dancing of flickering flames, and an ambiance like a real fireplace. This type of fireplace works without the hassles of gathering wood, yearly chimney sweeps and other maintenance's of having a real fireplace. Another great benefit of gel fuel fireplaces is the ability to have a real fire in condos, apartment buildings, office or any room where one doesn't have the option of a real fireplace.

Gel fuel fireplaces are simulated fireplaces using alcohol gel fuel. This is a non toxic alcohol based fuel with organic thickeners, purchased in certified cans or refill bottles. Alcohol gel fuels burn into water vapors and are environmentally safe. However, to be consumer safe, carbon monoxide emissions need to be below four parts per million.

Gel fireplaces are portable, so you don't need exterior venting. Even if you are without electricity, you can use the gel fireplace because it burns with alcohol gel fuel. There is no need for professional installation because this type of fireplace requires no venting. Gel fireplaces can be a perfect edition to your condo, apartment, cabin or home. It lends itself perfectly for zone heating and to keep a room warm. It's the type of fireplace for the purpose of having warm ambiance, but not the hassles of a wood-burning fireplace.

Gel fireplaces are beneficial if there is a power failure as well. They have all of the enjoyable characteristics of a real fire and you can combine that with a variety of fragrances that create more realistic feel. You can purchase a wide range of scented oils to enhance your experience. These scented oils will leave your home smelling like Wisconsin pine, coffee bean or even a Smokey campfire smell. Many other scents are available.

Pros

  • If you purchase it; cut and delivered, maybe still be cheaper then with the rising costs of fossil fuels; less time needed to gather wood when purchased
  • Real fireplace experience, real charm of fireplace
  • Real wood smell.
  • Can be used to heat water or cook
  • Different styles and designs available for mantels
  • Construction and installation required

Cons

  • Won't Save You Time
  • Constant attention is needed
  • Constant wood getting and carrying to the fireplace
  • Need to add wood to the fire
  • Removable of ash
  • Cost Yearly Chimney Sweeps
  • Creosote build-up can cause chimney fires
  • Soot and smoke problems
  • Needs air flow
  • Code Requirements may be needed

wood burning fireplaces

The modern wood fireplaces burn more efficient and cleaner than earlier models. If you enjoy the sight and sound of a real fire and do not mind the consistent feeding of wood, you might want to consider a wood burning fireplace. Nothing can ever replace a real fire. You need a professional to build a chimney and to install a good venting system. To use your fireplace you need dry and seasoned hardwood and kindling to start a fire and a place to store it. These fireplaces require high maintenance by keeping the flue and chimney clean of creosote. And there is the ash removal which can be messy and dirty.

While the fire is burning there might be smoke and soot and air polluting emissions. Depending on where you live and if you have excess to a forest, you might have wood easily available. If you have to import it from far away you have to consider the cost for the transportation of the wood to figure out if a wood fireplace is economical feasible for you.

Consider whether you live in an area plagued by smog. If burning times are constrained by local ordinances. Do you need high temperature heating constantly or is it only occasionally that your area gets real cold.

If wood is readily available and it is a cheap source of heat with mostly personal time involved in getting wood, sawing it, packing it, cutting and splitting it, storing it and let it season.

Pros

  • No Electricity or Gas Needed
  • Real Burning Flame Experience
  • Portable-take with you to a new place or any room or porch and garage
  • No Venting required
  • Burns Alcohol Gel Fuel
  • Environmentally Friendly
  • 3,000 BTU's per hour; up to 9000 Btu's per hour combining more than one can.
  • Existing fireplaces can be converted to burn gel fuel
  • Non-Toxic; Environmentally Safe
  • Easily create a fire when ever you would like to enjoy one

Cons

  • Won't heat an entire home
  • Buying gel fuel
  • Not a real wood fire
  • Replacing the gel fuel regularly
  • Burning time may vary from each container of gel fuel approx. 2-3 hours depending on humidity level

Electric Fireplaces


electric fireplace

Another alternative to a wood fireplace is an electric fireplace. An electric fireplace can be a convenient heating solution for zone heating in apartments, condos, town-houses, cabins or anywhere in your home, inside or outside. Other features that might make an electric fireplace more desirable may be the more enhanced features of today's electric fireplaces. More energy efficient with forced air heaters and thermostat heat control. With the introduction to LED technology, which is "Light Emitting Diode", the savings and more sensational features have made today's electric fire more real. Your guests may not even notice that it is electric.

Every fireplace has an electric fireplace insert that provides different options. There are sounds and visual effects that you can adjust and regulate by a remote control for many models or by a panel hidden on the front face of these fireplaces. There is also a heat on/off button available which makes it possible to have a fire year-round. All you need is a 120-volt 3-prong outlet available for the electric fireplaces and you can start your fire. The electric fireplace offers many design flexibilities and has mantels in all different styles. You should consider the quality of the materials they're using and the craftsmanship as well when purchasing a fireplace.

Pros

  • Real fire experience
  • Experience fire with/without heat
  • Heat or flames with a push of a button
  • 1350 watts / 4600 BTU's up to 400 square foot room
  • 3-prong; 120 volt electrical outlet required
  • Approx. $0.3 per hour without heat with incandescent bulbs
  • Approx. $0.10 per hour with heat with incandescent bulbs
  • With LED system you will save approximately $65.00 a year in comparison to incandescent bulb.
  • Portable from to room, to any place with 120-volt outlet
  • No pollutants, no clean-up; less foot print on environment
  • Thermostat to regulate the heat
  • Forced air heat
  • Clean, safe and environmental friendly

Cons

  • Uses Electricity
  • No heat during Power Outages
  • Requires a near by electrical outlet
  • Not A Real Wood Fire

Gas Fireplaces


Type of Fireplace

Gas fireplaces are convenient and advanced technology has made them very popular. Most gas burning units burn cleaner than any of the wood burning fireplaces. This fire appears very real with its ember bed and glowing logs. Options include a thermostat that will start the heat where you set it.

Most require professional installations for the laying of pipes to deliver gas to the fireplace or you can get units fueled with propane. Also, a venting system needs to be constructed. You have a pilot light that is constantly burning along with yearly maintenance. Gas fireplaces will work without electricity ideal for power outages. Gas fireplaces can be located at an outdoor or interior wall. There are very useful to heat one room versus a whole house. Use Screens or glass doors with these fireplaces if you'd like and also have a choice of different mantel styles to fit your decor.

Pros

  • Real Fire from natural gas
  • Needs no electricity
  • No mess
  • $0.17 per hour to operate

Cons

  • Requires venting
  • Pilot light is always burning
  • Expensive installations required
  • Materials for installation, less costs for self installation option
  • Required permits
  • Code requirements to follow

Final Thoughts

I try and figure out the various types of fireplace and the Pros and Cons of them. Hope this is a great help for you while choosing a fireplace for your room. Any suggestions are highly welcomed via comments.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Ventless Fireplace Review