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Electric Fireplace Insert vs. Wood Burning Fireplace

Updated on March 17, 2012
electric fireplace | image credit: Wikipedia Commons
electric fireplace | image credit: Wikipedia Commons
electric fireplace | image credit: Dimplex and Amazon
electric fireplace | image credit: Dimplex and Amazon

Wood-burning fireplace – that warm feeling

When the weather turns chilly and cold there's nothing quite like sitting in your favorite chair enjoying a fire in your fireplace. Feel its warmth. Watch its flames dance upward from the burning logs and glowing embers. Enjoy the moment!

Electric fireplaces are now available featuring amazingly realistic-looking flames, glowing embers and heat. That is the result of many years of user experience, product development and improvement. Today's electric fireplaces are generally excellent products at affordable prices.

Chances are a relative or friend has an electric fireplace and is very satisfied.

Why should you install an electric fireplace insert?

  1. Convenience. Convert from a wood fire in your fireplace to an electric fireplace insert. Then you'll have no more firewood to cut and split – or buy -- and haul home. No need to maintain stacks of firewood ready for winter. Turn on your electric fireplace with the flip of a switch. Units with remote control can be operated from anywhere in the room. Using affordable home automation controller and wireless router your fireplace can be turned on before you arrive home so that your room is warm and cozy when you arrive.
  2. Health. Burning wood produces gases, smoke and small particulates. A well functioning fireplace and chimney with the proper draft will carry most of these pollutants up the chimney. But some pollutants will inevitably find their way into your room. This can exacerbate asthmatic conditions in some folks, and possibly lead to respiratory ailments in others – especially over the long term.
  3. Cleanliness. Pollutants that escape from your fireplace into your home will settle on carpets, furniture, wallpaper – anything in your home.
  4. Energy. While radiant heat from the fire emanates into the room creating that feeling of warmth, heated air, pollutants and gasses from the burning fire rise up the chimney. Air from the room, already heated, is lost up the chimney in the draft. As the fire burns down and out, heated room air continues to be drawn up the chimney. If you forget to close the flue when you're not using the fireplace, the loss of heated air continues. Most flue dampers do not completely seal off air when closed. Heated air continues to leak out around the closed flues. Convert to an electric fireplace and seal up those leaks around the damper.
  5. Cost. If you have a free source of firewood you are lucky. Otherwise you pay for your fuel. You should also consider the cost of heating the air that escapes up your chimney. You pay once for the electric fireplace insert. Add to that the cost of the electricity needed to run the unit – generally around 10 cents for every hour that both "flames" and heat are turned on.
  6. Safety. A wood fire must be burned safely. Place a spark screen in front the fire to prevent sparks from flying onto floors and carpets. Make sure the flue damper is set so that the fire has the proper draft and draws smoke and pollutants up the chimney and not into the room. Make sure your chimney is free of creosote buildup that could lead to a fire. When you install an electric fireplace insert, follow the manufacturer's directions. Make sure you have adequate capacity in the fireplace breaker circuit. Don't use an extension cord. Don't touch hot surfaces on the fireplace insert.
  7. Environment. Gasses and pollutants from your wood fire leave your chimney and combine with gasses and pollutants from other fireplace fires in your community. Atmospheric conditions along with a high discharge of wood smoke can result in poor outdoor air quality.

Have you considered an electric fireplace insert?

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