Nothing beats a frigid night than sitting by the fire, listening to the soft crackle, watching the warm glow emanating from the beautiful fireplace, and basking in the warmth it brings to the room. However, the time is different these days.
The everyday fireplace has evolved into more than just being the main heat source. Designer fireplaces now serve as the room’s focal point. They’re also about adding a sense of indulgence, ambiance and even romance to the space.
That’s why a fireplace is a fantastic addition to your household.
Since new design elements are increasingly gaining popularity, finding the perfect fireplace should not only seamlessly blend into the existing style and décor to the room but also fit in your budget.
Which is why choosing the right hearth could become a challenge.
To help make the decision-making process simpler and less daunting, we have compiled the most common types of fireplaces below, inclusive of their advantages and disadvantages.
Table Of Contents
The Traditional Wood-Burning
Surely, when you hear “fireplace”, image of the traditional wood-burning hearth pops in your head, like the ones you see in movies. In fact, for centuries, most humans have been using some form of this type not only to stay warm in the cold, bitter weather but also to also cook their food.
- It is also valued for its design and aesthetics. You simply can’t beat the smell, sound and look of a wood fire.
- These are the type offering the authentic sound and scent of burning wood.
- Available in a wide variety of materials and styles to fit any home’s decor.
- As the name implies, this fireplace type burns wood to produce heat.
- The type that requires the most upkeep—from storing logs to chimney cleaning to removal of ash from the hearth.
- Since wood-burning types spit out embers, screens are required for safe use.
- A chimney is needed, which could be very expensive.
- Traditional fireplaces tend to lose more heat through the chimney instead of dispersing it throughout the room. To remedy this, a fireplace insert could be added to help retain the produced heat.
The Modern Gas
Instead of wood, gas fireplaces burn, of course, natural gas. The vented fireplace is built much like the traditional hearth—the firebox is vented through the chimney. It is available in vented and unvented units.
- Direct-vent units are considered the safest. They draw in air from the outside to keep the flame burning. Then, all of the combustion gases and water vapour are exhausted outside.
- Unvented units are more efficient than the direct vent units, with 92% to 99% for unvented versus the 60% to 80% for direct vent. This is because no heat escapes through the chimney.
- There’s no creosote or ash produced with a gas-burning unit.
- It has an efficiency rating of 65% to 99%, so there’s definitely a green factor with this unit since there’s very little smoke or pollution.
- It requires little maintenance other than the annual check-up.
- Ideal for zone heating applications. Simply turn up the gas and lower the thermostat.
- It requires an expensive heating fuel—propane. This means you won’t be able to save money heating the whole house.
To produce the same amount of heat, you’ll need to spend more on heating fuel, compared with spending on wood or pellets.
The Trendy Electric
Considered as the most cost-effective unit among all types of fireplaces, the trendy electric fireplace comes in a wide range of styles that can easily fit into your home’s existing décor. In fact, this unit is easy to install.
Designer fireplaces could help improve your home’s atmosphere without having to break the bank.
- It is easy to use. With a flick of a switch, you can easily turn on and enjoy its warmth. This unit can be installed in any part of the house.
- A chimney is not required, so there’s no hassle of any wood chopping or storing firewood out in the back.
- It is the cheapest option in terms of installation and running costs. You only need an outlet upon installation, unlike the traditional type that required a chimney, which could be an extremely expensive installation and which would warrant you and your family to go through some serious renovation.
- An electric fireplace produces the smallest carbon footprint out of all the fireplace types. If you want to go green, this is your best bet since there no harmful fumes or gases being released into the environment.
- Although not entirely considered as a complete disadvantage, an electric fireplace doesn’t necessarily produce the rich orange flames that reminds you of your childhood, if you grew up next to a wood-burning hearth, that is.
- Not the ideal fireplace unit if your area suffers from frequent power outages. However, if you do really want this unit, then have a backup heat provide in case there’s a blackout, especially during the winter season.
- You could blow a fuse with this type of fireplace. Without realising it, a number of homeowners plug too many appliances in one outlet, causing the fuse to blow. So if you can, have a separate outlet solely for the electric fireplace so that you are assured you’re not overworking it.
The Latest Type: Ethanol
Ethanol fireplaces are relatively new to the market and have since become a trend thanks to their easy installation and their modern-day design, which often complements contemporary style houses. In fact, you can easily find a design that suits not only your budget but also your design.
- It doesn’t require a chimney and are clean and odourless, thus making them safe to burn in enclosed spaces.
- There are no ashes so cleaning reduced to a minimum.
- The fuel—ethanol—is easy to acquire and of course store.
- It is very portable and can be used both outside and inside the house.
- There is no risk of embers accidentally floating into the room and causing accidental fires.
- Easy to ignite and extinguish.
- This unit should not be considered the primary heat source. Yes, it does give off heat, but not sufficient.
- Ethanol fireplaces consume oxygen. So make sure that the room gets enough fresh air.
- The fuel could be very expensive, depending how often you use the unit and its purpose.
- Fuel spills are very dangerous. So make sure it is thoroughly cleaned up prior to igniting the fireplace.
- Installation could be pretty expensive depending on the fireplace type, location and material grade.
- It requires a warm-up period of 15 minutes.
Designer fireplaces instantly make a room cozier, especially during a frosty winter weather. So if you’re planning on upgrading the look of your current fireplace or simply buying a new unit, it’s a good idea to take some time and think about what you really want to achieve.
Since travelling to different places fascinates her, Karen used her escapades to see the world’s best home interior designs and styles. She graduated with a degree in Interior Designing and is practicing for several years now. When she’s energized, you will often see her name on different blogs as she writes some of the best designs along with their photographs.