Turn up the Heat with this Guide to Choosing an Indoor Fireplace

Cold winter days aren’t so bad when you’re curled up next to a beautiful fire. A fireplace undoubtedly adds a warm, cozy and welcoming atmosphere to any room. If you’re looking to settle in next to some firelight this winter, use this easy guide to consider which type of indoor fireplace is the best fit for you and your home.

When considering adding a fireplace to your home, there are generally three categories people will consider: wood burning, gas or electric.

Wood Burning

If you want to enjoy the full effect of a rustic fire – crackling wood, dancing flames and smoky scent – the most authentic way to get it is by using a wood-burning fireplace. But these fireplaces come with some drawbacks as well. If you want to have a fire in your wood-burning fireplace, this requires some work, before during and after each use.

  • You will need to keep dry, cut wood on hand and store it in a dry place off the ground where it won’t pick up bugs to track into your home.
  • Of course, as the fire burns, the logs dwindle and will need to be replaced to keep the fire going. This might seem like a minor inconvenience, but if you’re also using a fireplace for a heat source, this can mean waking up to some pretty chilly mornings when your fire has burned out overnight.
  • After each fire, you also need to clean up the ash in your fireplace.

Choosing a wood-burning fireplace can also be costly to install if you don’t already have one in your home as it will require a chimney to be installed. Your chimney should also be regularly inspected to ensure it’s operating safely.

Wood-burning fireplaces come in many styles: from a closed stove to double-sided and open. Additionally, design options are vast when you consider not only the fireplace but the surround and mantle that can be created in many materials and styles

Keep in mind, a wood-burning fireplace will require additional safety measures to insure embers are not leaving the fireplace.

Gas Burning

Gas fireplaces are popular for their ease of use and quick installation. They won’t require a chimney, though they will require a gas line to be run to the fireplace. Available in stand-alone styles that resemble a wood-burning stove or built-in options that fit directly into your wall, there is a gas fireplace to match any home design.

While a gas fireplace will provide heat, it won’t have the same authenticity of crackling embers and the scent of burning wood that a wood fireplace offers. However, it does require a lot less maintenance.

  • No need to stock wood.
  • Gas fireplaces will burn consistently until you turn it off, so they don’t need to be stoked and you won’t wake up to freezing temperatures as it runs through the night.
  • Most homes are equipped with natural gas lines, and while you will need to have a line installed for your fireplace, after it’s hooked up you will have a constant supply of gas to run your fireplace.
  • Gas fireplaces don’t require much prep work to start and there is no clean-up afterward. Just insure your pilot light is running and then it’s as easy as turning it on and off.

There are still important safety matters to consider with a gas fireplace. It’s important to make sure your fireplace is properly vented and that both your gas lines and fireplace remain in good working order.

Electric

Electric fireplaces are similar to gas fireplaces coming in nearly identical looks and styles, with the primary difference being where they get their energy to work. Just like your fridge or stove, an electric fireplace is plugged into an electrical outlet and operates like any other appliance. Electric fireplaces could be considered the safest option for an indoor fireplace as they do not produce much heat so they significantly reduce the risk of burns. They also do not create toxic fumes so do not require additional ventilation. However there are a few reasons why one might not opt for the easy to use choice.

  • While being the easiest option to install, maintain and operate, it can also be said that it is the furthest from the authentic fire burning experience. An electric fireplace doesn’t actually create a live flame, though they are options available to appear that way, designed to mimic burned embers in a log or lights designed to mimic flame.
  • It might be a safety benefit that electric fireplaces do not produce much heat, but if you’re looking to heat a room this makes them a poor option.
  • An electric fireplace is entirely dependent on your electricity, so not only will it contribute to your utility bill, if the power goes out you'll be without this heat source.

Are you looking to add a decorative feature to your living room? Do you need to heat up a chilly basement? What function do you want your fireplace to provide? How much maintenance do you want to commit to for operating and maintaining your fireplace? Are you willing to forgo the cracking sounds of a wood burning fireplace for the ease of use of an electric one? These are all questions you should ask yourself when determining which fireplace is the best fit for you and your home.