As you plan to build your new home or renovate your current one, you have grand ideas of what you want it to look like. Your house may have vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, or it may have large bow windows. You also want it to have a cozy fireplace.
As you’ve shopped for fireplaces in your area, you’ve probably realized that you have quite a few options to choose from. But before you look at appearance and style, you need to decide what kind of fuel you want your fireplace to burn. The fuel determines how the fireplace functions and how much upkeep the apparatus requires.
To decide which fireplace you’d like in your home, read the pros and cons of each type below.
The Traditional Option: Wood
Not long ago, every fireplace in the country burned real wood. Many homeowners still prefer this kind of fireplace because of the rich smell and crackling sound that wood produces. However, have a look at wood fireplaces’ advantages and disadvantages before you choose this option.
- Appearance: Wood fireplaces tend to look more authentic than the other options on this list. They add a rustic or elegant air to your home, and they can enhance any country- or Old World-based style.
- Efficiency: Depending on the kind of wood fireplace you purchase, it could have 85% efficiency or better. An efficient wood fireplace will keep your house warm without wasting too much energy. If you add an insert to your wood fireplace, it’ll operate even more efficiently.
- Enjoyment: As mentioned above, wood fireplaces have a distinct sound and smell. Other fireplaces may have the regular flame noise, but they won’t have the crackling and popping from the wood. You can’t necessarily roast marshmallows in other fireplaces either. The food may contaminate or ruin their components. You don’t have to worry about that with a wood fireplace.
- Inefficiency: While these fireplaces have 85% efficiency, they still don’t operate as economically as other types of fireplaces on this list. Natural gas and electric fireplaces tend to use energy better.
- Upkeep: Wood fireplaces require more upkeep than most other solutions. They product a lot of soot and pollution, so you will have to clean the fireplace and the chimney frequently. Your fireplace could also clog with debris, and a clog could direct smoke into the rest of your home. Additionally, creosote (or flammable buildup) could line the inside of your chimney and create a safety hazard.
A Secondary Traditional Option: Pellets
Pellet-burning fireplaces function similarly to wood fireplaces, only they burn sawdust, corn, or other materials as pellets. They share many of the same benefits and setbacks as wood fireplaces.
- Upkeep: Pellet fireplaces require far less upkeep than their wood counterparts.
- Enjoyment: Like wood fireplaces, pellet fireplaces allow you to enjoy the fuel’s smell. You can also roast marshmallows and other foods if desired.
- Appearance: These fireplaces look as authentic as wood ones do. They can also help you create an outdoorsy or sophisticated feel.
- Upkeep: Even though pellets don’t make as much of a mess as wood logs, they still create smoke and debris, and you will have to clean your fireplace regularly.
- Inefficiency: As you may imagine, pellets don’t burn as efficiently as wood logs. You will have to pay for more fuel if you opt for this kind of fireplace.
The Eco-Friendly Option: Electric
Perhaps you want something more eco-friendly and low maintenance rather than traditional. You’ll get exactly that with an electric fireplace. See if the electric option represents the right solution for you.
Cleanliness: Electric fireplaces don’t produce any fumes or pollution. They only produce heat. So you don’t have to worry about this option increasing your carbon footprint.
Upkeep: Because these fireplaces don’t produce soot, fumes, or other contaminants, you won’t have anything to clean except dust. Also, your fireplace won’t need service any more frequently than the rest of your electrical appliances.
Efficiency: Depending on the model you purchase, your new fireplace could become the most energy-efficient appliance in your home.
Installation: Electrical fireplaces don’t require vents, so you don’t have to knock holes in your wall to install them. They also feature a quick installation.
Appearance: Electrical fireplaces don’t really look like fireplaces. They don’t produce an actual flame. Instead, they use heating coils and fans to spread heat everywhere. Some may have false flames to create the illusion of a wood fireplace.
Enjoyment: You can’t roast marshmallows. Nor can you smell the wood or hear the flames.
The Most Convenient Option: Natural Gas
Many modern homeowners choose natural gas when they want a fireplace. After all, natural gas gives them the best of both worlds.
Appearance: Natural gas fireplaces produce a real flame, and they often feature faux wood that looks more or less real. As a result, a natural gas fireplace creates the same kind of aesthetic that a wood or pellet one does.
Cleanliness: Gas doesn’t create soot and debris the way wood or pellets do, so you won’t have to clean your fireplace as often.
Upkeep: Think about how often you maintain your water heater, washing machine, dryer, and other natural gas appliances. They need little attention. Your gas fireplace will require similar upkeep.
Efficiency: Gas fireplaces represent one of the most energy-efficient options on this list.
Cleanliness: Natural gas fireplaces do produce some fumes, but they don’t pollute the atmosphere the way wood or pellet smoke does.
Enjoyment: Unless you want to damage your fireplace, you shouldn’t try to cook any treats inside it. Additionally, even though gas fireplaces have faux wood, the wood won’t pop, crackle, or create that wonderful smell.
Use the information above to find the right fireplace for your needs. Once you’ve made your selection, contact an installation expert in your area to learn more about your style options.