Although most modern homes have thermostats in place so that you can keep warm in the freezing months, nothing beats the grandeur and the cozy feeling of a fireplace. Fireplaces provide warmth, comfort, and bring about an elegant look to any kind of house.
But fireplaces can be tricky to buy and use on your own if you do not have enough experience with one. Don’t worry, if you’re overflowing with questions about fireplaces, you’ve made it to the right place for a handy guide! Read on to know what to know about fireplaces and hearths.
Fireplace Fuel Types
When you hear the word “fireplace,” the first thing that probably pops into your head is the burning of wood. Yes, traditionally, that was the only fuel used to light a fire in fireplaces.
However, modern innovations have opened up a plethora of options now, especially in contemporary houses. So, what are the most common types of fireplace fuel? Let’s have a look.
Electric fireplaces, as the name suggests, run on electricity. The fireplace needs no vent and can be installed anywhere. All you have to do is switch on the power or handle it with a remote. The coils in the fireplace begin to create a warm ambiance in your room.
Most electric fireplaces are designed to look like real fireplaces, with fake flames and fake logs, so you would get the feeling of using a traditional fireplace. Electric fireplaces are best for apartments, townhouses, offices, and other small areas.
When it comes to affordable fuels for fireplaces, gas is right up at the top. Gas fireplaces are quite flexible, too, as they can be built into an existing wood-burning fireplace or can be a standalone new unit.
A vent may or may not be required depending on the fireplace model. Because of this feature, you can install a gas fireplace anywhere. All you need is a pipe that connects the fireplace to your gas source. As for the type of gas, you may choose between natural gas and propane.
Gel & Bioethanol
With a gel fireplace, you can light a real fire from a can of gel without the need to install vents, or pipes, or wiring. Hence, they are portable and handy. The flip side of using gel fireplaces is, however, that they do not provide enough warmth. Might be good as an additional fireplace just for the convenience.
Similar to gel, bioethanol fireplaces are also rising in popularity because of their portability and ease of installation. This kind of fireplace also does not provide enough warmth, though, but can add a lot of charm to your room.
Wood & Pellet
If you are looking for old-world charm and authenticity, a wood-burning fireplace is still your go-to option. They are popular with those who want that rustic feeling, but of late they are growing out of favor with modern homeowners.
The rising costs of wood and maintenance are among the reasons behind it. Installation is also a hassle and most modern homes are not equipped to handle it. Pellets are a cheaper alternative to wood that gives a similar ambiance but with lower emissions.
We live in a time where every appliance can be controlled over the cloud, so why not the fireplace, too? People want the ability to switch on the lights and turn on the TV while in the car on their way home with a simple tap on a cell phone app. Fireplace manufacturers have adapted.
You can now control your fireplace the same way you control other smart appliances. If you have a fireplace that is already controlled by a remote, you can install advanced cloud-based systems that provide that extra bit of flexibility to be able to operate your fireplace from outside the home.
Check out this voice-enabled Alexa fireplace. That is one smart fireplace!
Other options are the WiFire Remote for controlling the fireplace and stove and iFlame, a brand new smart fireplace system with an app.
As opposed to the common notion that a fireplace must be rooted to the ground with the chimney carrying the smoke upward, modern-day fireplaces offer a wide range of mounting options. Here are a few you may want to consider.
Wall-mounted fireplaces are growing in popularity owing to their portability and attractive designs. They can be connected to a vent or be vent-free, depending on the type of fuel you use.
Wall-mounting is a great option if you live in an apartment or a small house where space is a concern. These fireplaces can also be moved to another room if you wish to redecorate, unlike fixed wooden hearths.
Do you have a house that already has a wooden fireplace but is proving to be too high maintenance? No need to worry. You can now use that space to install an electric, gel, or gas fireplace simply by using a fireplace insert.
These inserts utilize the existing space and allow your cost-effective, new fireplace to just slide into it. So, you still get the traditional look of the wooden hearth on the outside, while saving heavily on the total cost of ownership.
Stoves are not exactly fireplaces but can offer the same function. The advantage of setting up a wood-stove instead of a wood fireplace is that it takes up less space.
It still requires wood to burn, so you may not be saving on the fuel cost. But for those who are determined to use a wood fireplace and yet want something portable, a wood-stove is a better option. On a side note, a wood-stove can also be used in a traditional hearth using a fireplace insert.
A common question that many new fireplace buyers have in their minds is whether it would be safe to place a TV on top of a fireplace and use it as a TV stand. Now, this, of course, is a modern dilemma because old homes with wooden hearths didn’t have a TV. But with contemporary fireplaces, you absolutely can!
Certain entertainment centers have built-in fireplaces (mostly electric) on the bottom with space for a TV and your other gadgets such as speakers or home theater systems up top. What a great way to blend the old and the new!
What’s the Most Popular Type of Fireplace?
Despite all of the new designs of a fireplace, such as hanging, portable, ribbon, etc., it is still the standard setup that most people prefer. The traditional fireplace, grounded, with a vent and/or a chimney, makes people cozy and enhances the atmosphere of the room.
When it comes to fireplace materials, stone-based is preferred due to its durability and traditional appearance. But as more designs and materials flood the market, diversity in people’s choices, especially apartment dwellers, is likely to be seen in the future.
So, how do you install a fireplace? Do you need professional help? Well, a lot of it depends on the type of fireplace you choose to buy. Traditional wood-burning fireplaces can take a long time and may even require remodeling of the house. These must be installed under professional guidance.
Some other types of fireplaces, such as a free-standing or an electric fireplace that just requires an insert, may be done by yourself. A gas fireplace may need professional assistance if you don’t have the connection, otherwise, you can try installing it on your own.
Setting up a fireplace may be a one-time thing but maintenance is forever. So, you must always consider the challenges of maintaining a fireplace before choosing what kind to purchase.
For example, wood-burning fireplaces are hard work. You have to take into account all the maintenance chores such as cleaning the chimney, removing ashes, chopping wood, and so on. The average cost to install a new chimney liner is $2,500! Be sure to consider these costs in your budget.
With gas fireplaces, you may need a regular inspection of the gas pipeline. But with electric fireplaces, both maintenance tasks and costs are low.
The Warmth of the Hearth
Building a fireplace inside the house, in many ways, makes it a home. A fireplace is not just a way to heat a room but is also a focal point where friends and family converge, share anecdotes, dreams, food, and fun. It provides warmth to not just the body but also the mind and the soul.
Decorating a fireplace mantel in the living room provides a great opportunity for showing of family photos and personal effects.
While everyone may want to have such a fireplace inside their home, the high cost of ownership and laborious maintenance of a traditional wood-burning fireplace often deters them from buying one.
Thankfully, low-cost alternatives such as electric and gas are available in different attractive designs that are easier to install and maintain. So, now you can set up your fireplace of dreams without breaking the bank – or your back!
Fore more fireplace decor inspiration check out:
I appreciate what you said about decorating the mantel. Now that we’re heading into fall, I want to remodel the fireplace. I’ll have to hire a contractor for the installation.
Thanks so much for talking about the different types of fireplaces. I’ve always wanted a fireplace in my home to sit by on cold days. I’ll have to look into finding some professionals who can help me install one in my home now.
Thank you for explaining that a gas fireplace will probably need to be installed by a professional. My husband and I are getting a fireplace put in our living room as one of the final touches of our renovation. I’ll be sure to find someone who can help us with getting it installed soon.
I loved how you said that gas is affordable! My coworker was talking to me yesterday afternoon at lunch about how she wants to get a fireplace installed in her living room, and she wants to make sure she chooses the right type. I’ll pass this information along to her so she can know how to choose the right type of fireplace!
I appreciate you mentioning that gas fireplaces may be installed as a standalone new device or they can be integrated into an existing wood-burning fireplace. My father always whines about how chilly the house is. I’ll advise him to install a gas fireplace insert in the house.
A gas fireplace is a great way to create warmth and spread holiday cheer. But regular inspections and maintenance are important. Gas fireplaces, sometimes called gas furnaces, are fairly easy to use when they are in good working condition, but a broken down fireplace can become difficult to operate or even dangerous.