When thinking of heating your home most people have a kind of furnace, but some prefer the fireplace method of warming their home. When you think of fireplaces, you usually think of the traditional ones made from brick and stone that burn wood. Now they also have gas burning fireplaces (older models are built more like traditional ones) and electric fireplaces which look almost like a flat screen TV but deeper. The wood burning and gas burning fireplaces still require ventilation like a chimney or outside vent, while the electric gives off no emissions that need ventilation. While similar they all have their strengths and weaknesses and depending on what you are looking for should determine which you choose.
Wood Burning Fireplaces
The traditional wood-burning fireplaces are enjoyable for a multitude of reasons such as it uses wood (a renewable resource) as its power source, as well as having no carbon footprint since it doesn’t emit CO2 during burning. Then there are those who enjoy an actual fire, and you get the smell, sound, and heat from a real burning fire. The ambiance is a significant factor for those who choose a wood burning fireplace; especially since they can be as high as $10,000 to install and need renovation and possibly a chimney or ventilation installed. Not to mention there are a lot more maintenance, and cleaning is necessary for both the fireplace and chimney. The heat efficiency is dreadful, anywhere between 70 – 90% of heat escapes through the ventilation and can even suck out 10% of the homes heat aside from the fire. While a traditional fireplace can be charming it has it’s downsides as well.
A gas fireplace uses either propane or natural gas as its power source. It is cheaper and easier to install in that there are no renovations necessary, but you also should have a professional hook up your gas line because of the hazards of a gas leak. It is a smaller unit, and like the traditional fireplace, it does not require electricity to produce heat. There is easy access to the power source at any fuel center and is easier to start and less work to control the temperature. While there is an actual flame, it is safer because the fire is contained, this is especially important if you have pets or children as many fireplace accidents are related to both or either. It is also dangerous in that you have to worry about a gas leak which could harm you and your family, proper ventilation set up is necessary (it is also highly suggested to have a CO2 detector if you have any gas in your home). It also has carbon emissions from burning off the gas, so it’s not very eco-friendly, and it only has a 30% energy efficiency rating. The gas itself (propane or natural) is more expensive than electricity and possibly wood (depending on your region).
The electric linear fireplace ( v. ) is a more modern type of heater being created only a little over a century ago. It is cheap, easy to install, and as mentioned electricity is less expensive than a gas source. With it running off of electric power it is 100% energy efficient, and since there is no real output and therefore no need for ventilation. For the size and () it works well in smaller dwellings and apartments. Like the gas fireplace, it is easy to start, energy source easily located, and you have more control over the actual temperature. It is also one of the safer fireplaces as it doesn’t have a real flame. Depending on the region in which you live you could be paying a lot for a linear electric heater as it does depend 100% on electricity. So if you're using electricity and the power is knocked out, you have no heat source. And when it comes to maintenance, it might cost more than the wood burning fireplace.
Why Choose a Fireplace?
There are many reasons for people to choose to heat their home using a fireplace. A lot of people who select wood burning fireplaces like the ambiance and actual fire or the fact it is a ‘green’ power source. People living in apartments or homes with pets or small children probably choose the electric fireplace based on cost, efficiency, and safety. Those who prefer the gas fireplace like the actual flame from a fire but want a more natural way to heat their home and not a lot of maintenance. Whatever the main reason for choosing the type of fireplace you do, make sure it is a right fit for you.