Fireplaces are categorized according to their designs, which include the type of fuel they use, the material used to make them, their position, and style. When looking for one to buy, you have to consider all these factors and the intended purpose of the fireplaces. You can buy one that only heats your house, one that cooks, or one that has both functionalities.
Where and what to use the fireplace for
A fireplace can be your main heating unit, or it can add to an already existing one. You have to identify the main areas you need it to heat since 1kW of power usually heats up to 10m2. Important factors you should consider with usability are your region, the insulation in your home, altitude, flooring, and glazing.
You could also buy it as a decorative feature. In that case, choose a hearth that enhances the view of the fire. Glass hearths tend to have an unobstructed view of the fire, making them perfect for the visual effect.
If you’ll use the fireplace to back up another heating method, choose wooden ones. Out of all the fuel options, wood is the least expensive but still effective in providing secondary heat. You can also go for other fuel sources like gas if you can afford them.
For fireplaces that will serve as the only heating source, value for money should be your only concern. Wood is still the best fuel option because it is more economical. Wood fireplaces will also continue to provide heat even if there is a blackout. However, you have to remember that a fireplace cannot work as a central heating unit because of its inability to supply heat to all the rooms in your house.
A wooden fireplace also requires a lot of attention. You will have to prepare and store the wood properly and feed the logs to the fireplace. On the other hand, wood usually smells better than gas. Most people also find having a chimney better than having a boiler.
You should discuss your preferred fireplace options with your contractor or architect to get a professional perspective. They will help you understand the latest heating regulations and help you get the perfect thermal balance in your home. Understanding the regulations before investing in a fireplace is essential because they tend to change frequently.
Available fireplace types to choose from
Wood burning fireplaces
These are better if you have a chimney flue or another fresh air inlet. Wood is usually more efficient, especially when the fireplace has a dual combustion system. Such a system will burn up the emitted gases completely. This system allows you to use less wood and get more heat. You can also choose between open fireplaces that have an efficiency not exceeding 15% and closed ones that have more than 75%.
These fireplaces are connected to a duct that feeds gas to the heater. These appliances don’t have to be attached to the wall to function, and most of them are conventional. Gas fireplaces have a performance efficiency of over 90%.
Bioethanol fireplaces are usually portable and require little to no maintenance. They also burn faster, making them perfect for cold seasons. Bioethanol is cleaner than all the other types and more efficient. It doesn’t produce smoke or odour, and it doesn’t lose heat. You won’t need a professional to install it either.
These fireplaces mimic the flames produced by real fire but still warm up the room. With electricity as fuel, the fireplace doesn’t produce smoke or smell. It has an efficiency of over 90%, and it doesn’t need special maintenance.
What are the types of hearths to choose from?
The hearth you choose to be installed with your fireplace should be determined by the main purpose of the fireplace.
Closed hearths: These are for fireplaces that are purely for heating. The enclosure helps save fuel while producing more heat. The fire will last thrice as long as that of an open hearth, and the dust won’t escape into your living space. These fireplaces require more maintenance and tend to be more expensive than their counterparts.
Open hearths: These hearths are built into walls and act as decorative features. The openness doesn’t help with heat conservation, making these the least economical fireplaces. You only get sufficient heat from them, but the visual effects from the fire are pleasant. They have ducts that eliminate the smoke, but they waste up to 80% of the heat.
Chimney insert: These are placed inside the chimney and are mostly rectangular. They are smaller and without smoke chambers. The hot air will be dispersed with a turbine that is inbuilt at the front panel. The fireplace sucks the air from the room in the lower section, heats the air in a second compartment, and channels that air through the grill at the top. The primary purpose of these fireplaces is to heat, which is why they have less visual appeal.
Valuable information you should have before buying a fireplace
- Consider the main purpose of the fireplace. To narrow down your options, decide whether you’re more interested in the heat efficiency, the aesthetic appeal, or both.
- Never buy a fireplace with the hope that it will heat multiple rooms. Use it to heat a single room.
- Fireplaces that have thermostats and are self-modulates tend to be more efficient. They will automatically regulate the heat depending on the room temperature.
- Don’t ignore the fireplace trim designs because they will affect the décor. Make sure they blend well with your existing decorations.
- Check out the fireplace without the flames because you won’t be using it 24/7. It should be as appealing as it is with the flames on.
- Heating inserts that rely on fans to disperse the hot air may be inconvenient and less efficient. Fans should only enhance the output, not control it.
- Choose decorative log sets that leave room in the fireplace to keep the valve from overheating and improve the visual effect.
- Choose the preferable control feature, whether a thermostat, remote control, or wall switch.
- If you can’t find a gas fireplace, electric fireplaces are the better option.
- Buy from a retailer that gives you a licensed and insured HVAC professional to install the fireplace for you.