Shopping for a New Fireplace?
By Lisa Bruckner
For an existing, wood burning fireplace that is outdated, messy to
use, and doesn’t heat well, installing an insert can transform the look
of your fireplace and deliver efficient warmth and ambiance with the touch of a
If you’re remodeling or building a new home, this is the perfect time to install a gas fireplace. With a variety of sizes, styles, and features, they are often the focal point of a room.
For a more traditional look and feel, gas, wood, and pellet stoves are a great option. They can even be installed in homes without access to natural gas or electricity.
Lastly, electric fireplaces provide easy to install, plug-and-play ambiance for homeowners who aren’t concerned about heating or realistic flame requirements.
Let’s break it down….
Wood burning stoves provide the romantic crackling fireplace look and feel, but do require more maintenance efforts than a gas burning stove, fireplace or insert.
- Wood burning stoves provide unrivaled authenticity of a wood-burning smell and look that elicits the warm, nostalgic feel of days past.
- A chimney is necessary, and requires regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent soot build up which can be flammable.
- Each gorgeous fire requires
post-fire ash clean-up.
- Wood-burning fireplaces don’t efficiently heat homes. Most of the heat travels back up the mandatory chimney.
Pellet Stoves & Inserts
Pellet stoves and inserts look like a traditional fireplace or stove, with flickering flames, however, they burn higher efficiency (low moisture) pellets instead of wood.
- Wood pellets burn cleanly and efficiently (highest efficiency option).
- Offer relatively good warmth.
- Ash pans at the bottom of the stove make cleanup easier.
- Can be installed on most exposed walls, giving homeowners tremendous flexibility.
- Pellets are sold in large, heavy bags that require ample, dry storage space.
- Ash clean-up after each burning session is required.
- Requires weekly maintenance to ensure the firepot is cleaned and maintained.
Gas Stoves, Inserts and Fireplaces
Gas inserts and fireplaces offer beauty, warmth, and ambiance with the push of a button. The ease of no-mess, no-chimney required, efficient, direct heating capabilities makes this an attractive option. A gas insert can be installed into an existing fireplace and chimney, whereas a gas fireplace or freestanding stove is a great option to install in any room with access to an outside wall (for ventilation). They come in a wide variety of styles, varying from ultra-modern to very traditional.
- Offers direct heating with remote control flame height, ceramic log lighting and fan blower control options; no kindling or lighting required.
- Higher efficiency heating than wood burning options.
- All components are enclosed in a burn chamber behind a sealed piece of glass - no post burn ash clean up.
- If you don’t have an existing fireplace to install an insert into, or don’t want to remodel an existing wall, a free-standing gas stove is a good option.
- If you want the visual ambiance of a crackling fire without the heat, some models come with venting options to exhaust heat out.
- Electric ignition models either come standard or can be retrofit with a backup battery system to operate if power is lost.
- For some homeowners, natural gas is not available in their area, so they need to install an outdoor propane tank if they want a gas heating option.
- Some people are concerned it’s not a “real fire” but modern ceramic log-sets are very realistic looking now.
If you are just interested in ambiance without the need for heat, an electric fireplace is a great option.
- Minimal installation requirements.
- No wood, pellets, or gas required.
- When power outages occur, the fireplace will not work.
- Minimal heating can be a disappointment when weather is cold and people expect the fireplace to generate warmth.
- Electricity costs can be expensive if running the appliance frequently.
- Least realistic-looking option.