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What Kind of Fireplace is Right for Your Home?

Updated on January 26, 2010

A fireplace can provide so much to a home from warmth to a crackling ambient light and social gathering spot.  If you are considering getting a fireplace installed, you may be aware of these benefits; but do you know that you have a variety of choices when it comes to adding warmth and/or ambience to your home? From woodstoves to chimney fireplaces, there is a huge range of selection that you should be aware of as a consumer, as all provide various benefits. Some are more convenient to install, while others offer more heat output for a secondary source of home heat. It is wise to consider what your priorities are while perusing possible fireplaces for your home, and match these with one of the options explained below. Here’s a quick rundown on the most popular types of fireplaces and what each offers.

Wood Burning Fire Pits.

Wood burning fire pit.
Wood burning fire pit.
Wood burning fire pit with table top for entertaining.
Wood burning fire pit with table top for entertaining.

Wood Burning Fireplace.

The most popular of fireplaces are of course, wood-burning fireplaces. People choose wood-burning fireplaces when they want the smell, the crackle and the heat that comes from a real fire; but fire contained in a safe spot. A wood-burning fireplace brings all the natural affects of wild natural living. A roaring fire is a wonderful addition to any décor. Fireboxes, mantles and ventilation can all be designed to change or accentuate the décor of your home. While some people who opt for a wood-burning fireplace love all the benefits of a roaring fireplace many others find the process of getting, maintaining, and cleaning up after a wood burning fire not worth the inconvenience. It does take a lot of work. A person who owns a wood-burning fireplace must have access to lots of wood – lots of wood. Nowadays few homes relay on their fireplace for warmth and packaged logs are sufficient for the effect. As you may have heard already central heating is all the rage. However, if you are using the fireplace for heat you will burn a lot of wood. Wood burns to ash and ask in not fun to clean. Also, starting and maintaining a fire requires patience and savvy. Like any other appliance in your home use a wood-burning fireplace must also be maintained with scheduled yearly cleanings as well as regular maintenance on debris, ashes, and messy creosote in the hearth from the fire.

Ventless Gas Log Fireplace Alternatives.

Gas Log Fireplace.

Though wood-burning fireplaces used to be the more popular choice and many homeowners did not consider other options many homeowners have been choosing fireplaces a little different but more convenient and clean burning. One of these alternatives is the gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces offer a lot of perks for the consumer looking for the ambience of a wood fire without all the mess and maintenance. For one, a gas fireplace can be started and extinguished with a touch of a button similar to that found on gas grills. There is no time consuming positioning of the wood, kindling, and paper. Some gas fireplaces require no chimney and if you have an existing fireplace with a chimney you can easily convert this to a vented or ventless gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces can be installed and enjoyed even if without a chimney by installing a direct-vent fireplace that vents horizontally through a wall. A ventless gas log fireplace does not need ventilation at all. Ventless gas logs come with safety features to ensure minimal fumes escape the flame and oxygen sensors keep the flame burning oxygen if air get de-oxygenated from burning. Gas fireplaces are clean burning and require no cleanup. A gas log fireplace does not crack, pop or smoke but gas log fireplaces do look awesome, expel heat and a crackle-box accessory is available.

Electric Fireplace and Heater Wall Mounted.

Electric Fireplaces.

Electric fireplaces are another common and viable option for a fireplace if you are looking for a fireplace sans maintenance and time. An electric fireplace can start and extinguish much like your television with a button, wall switch or remote control. An electric fireplace works with electric coils and fan blower that distributes the heat into the room. No chimney is needed for an electric fireplace to function.  A flame effect is made from light bulbs or L.E.D.’s.  This is another efficient way to heat your room while enjoying the style and ambiance of the low light fireplace.  Although electric fireplaces can look very much like a fire, no one will ever be fooled by the effect.  Electric fireplaces are usually made to complement the mantle and serve as an additional piece of furniture for a room.  

Fireplace Design Ideas.

Freestanding Stoves.

The last type of fireplace or heating unit that many people use as an alternative to a wood burning fireplace is called “freestanding stoves”. These most often refer to wood stoves, pellet stoves, and hybrid models. These cast iron stoves are often placed in a freestanding hearth and vented through the chimney or wall vent. Unlike wood, gas, or electric fireplaces, wood stoves offer little aesthetic as the fire is contained, and obscured in a stove, often decorated by the castings. What it lacks in aesthetic, it makes up for in the authentic smell and warmth of a real fire. Moreover, both wood and pellet stoves must be supplied with wood or pellets but not nearly as often as a fireplace requires wood and stoves take up a much smaller space.  Stoves are also available using gas and incorporate a burner on top of the box allowing a dual purpose for the flame.

Add A Fireplace.

Adding a fireplace will always augment the decoration of your home.  Warm, comfortable hearths and sharp contemporary glass fires even decorative shapes are some of many options to add to wood, gas and electric fireplaces.  The options are diverse enough to find a fireplace with the design, pragmatic heat and price for everyone.  Here in Florida there is absolutely no need for fireplaces that provide natural heat.  However, many designers and contractors add a fireplace to every home they build simply because it is possible to design so many different types of fire, match so many varying budgets and types of fuel.  Shop around and see what is right for your home. Our family loves our fireplace and we look forward to using it as soon as winter threatens.  We add colored accessories that cause the flames to burn purple; we eat dinner at the hearth and play games there afterwards.  If our home did not have a fireplace – in sunny Florida – we would have had to add one.

Outdoor Fireplace Designs for the Backyard.

Fire pit table with crushed red glass is a great alternative to an outdoor dining table.  Center hole for fire pit can also hold a grill, ice bin and comes with the granite insert to fill the opening and make the table complete.
Fire pit table with crushed red glass is a great alternative to an outdoor dining table. Center hole for fire pit can also hold a grill, ice bin and comes with the granite insert to fill the opening and make the table complete.
Gas fire pit with cannonballs built to match a small grill island.
Gas fire pit with cannonballs built to match a small grill island.
Fireplaces with crushed glass are becoming more popular for the modern home with contemporary décor.  This ventless gas log fireplace has a stainless burner and crushed blue glass.
Fireplaces with crushed glass are becoming more popular for the modern home with contemporary décor. This ventless gas log fireplace has a stainless burner and crushed blue glass.
Ventless gas log fireplaces used to be unattractive and unrealistic.  Not only has the ventless gas log fireplace gotten much better at realistic fire logs with all the safety features but alternatives have evolved that do not try to look like a wood
Ventless gas log fireplaces used to be unattractive and unrealistic. Not only has the ventless gas log fireplace gotten much better at realistic fire logs with all the safety features but alternatives have evolved that do not try to look like a wood
This vented gas log fireplace uses ceramic logs to look like American Oak.  With the difficulty keeping real wood burning this gas log fire looks more real than a real fireplace and lights with  a remote control.
This vented gas log fireplace uses ceramic logs to look like American Oak. With the difficulty keeping real wood burning this gas log fire looks more real than a real fireplace and lights with a remote control.

Do You Own A Fireplace or Want A Fireplace?

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    • relica profile image

      relica 8 years ago from California

      The electric fireplaces are amazing. They install quickly and easily, and you do not need any chimney! Love it, and nice hub!

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