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5 Different Types of Fireplaces and Their Characteristics

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Are you looking to install a fireplace in your home? Nothing beats the warmth and ambience a fire provides. There are many to choose from, some are easier to put in while building your home, with others you can add at any time. Some fireplaces work perfectly outdoors too.

Is it a little overwhelming? Let’s check out the types of fireplaces you can get. Fireplaces can be broken down into a few categories. These include:

  • Wood-Burning Fireplaces
  • Gas Fireplaces
  • Electric Fireplaces
  • Ethanol Fireplaces

Here are the five different types of fireplaces and their characteristics:

Type #1: Wood Burning Fireplaces

A wood-burning fireplace is a traditional kind that provides warmth and comfort, and you feed it wood to burn. Wood heat has been used since the dawn of mankind, and the hearth was the central part of the home for heating and cooking.

Today, a wood fireplace is a nostalgic and practical part of the home and is typically in the living room so people can enjoy its warmth and crackling wonder. Unfortunately, traditional fireplaces are not all that efficient, with as much as 90% of the heat escaping out of the chimney. Newer designs can bring up the efficiency to 75% or more.

Type #2: Wood Stove Fireplaces

A wood stove differs from a standard fireplace by design and installation. These types of fireplaces are more portable than their counterparts. They can easily be added to a room for a heating source.

Wood stoves are much more efficient than a fireplace at providing heat and are safer to run because an enclosed chamber and glass door help keep harmful sparks and carbon monoxide from getting into the room. There are also wood stoves that burn pellets. This uses a combustion chamber with a hopper that holds and releases the pellets. You will have to buy bags of pellets rather than using split wood.

Type #3: Gas Fireplaces

For a cleaner look, many people choose a gas fireplace. There is no wood to deal with and no mess to clean up with a gas fireplace. They are either installed into the wall during a new build or renovation or inserted into a wood fireplace opening using the existing venting. Gas is also used in stoves, similar looking to a wood stove. They are freestanding and work well at heating a room and adding a modern look and feel to the space.

Venting options:

  • Natural Venting uses air inside the home for combustion and vents the emissions outside. This is considered an open system.
  • Direct Venting is a sealed system that draws air in from the outside for combustion and releases emissions outside.
  • Power Venting works the same as a direct system but has the addition of a fan to draw more air in to produce additional heat in a larger room. They require electricity to run the fan instead of direct venting, which works on a natural draft.
  • Ventless uses air from inside the home but also vents inside as well. This can compromise the air quality and pose health risks.

Type #4: Electric Fireplaces

An electric fireplace may be the easiest and safest because there is no combustion, so they produce no sparks, fumes or smoke. They look similar to a gas or wood-burning fireplace but require no venting or difficult installation.

Electric fireplaces draw in cool air and heat it with an internal coil before releasing warm air into the room. Popular designs include:

  • Wall mounted
  • Inserts
  • Built-in
  • Freestanding
  • Recessed into a 2×4 wall
  • 2-sided
  • 3-sided
  • With a mantel

They give you on-demand heat with remote control operation or a touch screen panel and can produce a multi-coloured flame. They are a great, streamlined look to a modern home.

Type #5: Ethanol Fireplaces

This is a newer type of fireplace on the market but is quickly becoming popular. You don’t require any venting with an ethanol fireplace, so they can be placed anywhere around your home. Ethanol produces a real flame by combusting clean bio-ethanol but doesn’t smoke or give off harmful chemicals. You do have to fill them up with fuel to use, but then just light them, allow them to warm up for 10-15 minutes, and you are good to go.

They don’t generate a lot of heat but look very trendy and are available in many styles like:

  • Wall mounted
  • Freestanding
  • Tabletop
  • Fire pit
  • Insert
  • Firebox

You can also build them into your renovation design, but they are ready to use immediately. Some conversion kits allow you to convert your wood or gas fireplace to an ethanol-burning one. One litre of fuel will last 4-8 hours, depending on your settings.

There you have it, the different fireplaces you can have in your home. While they all have pros and cons, a fireplace gives you a cozy warmth and an alluring visual that helps you relax into your evening.

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