Are you considering installing a fireplace in your home? An indoor fireplace will serve many purposes in any living space and can be a great addition to your property for a whole host of reasons. From a genuine heating source that can provide you with warmth through the winter months to an aesthetic addition, creating cosiness and a comforting feel to the room it is installed in, a fireplace could tick many of your practical and interior design boxes. Of course, if you do decide to get a fireplace, there are various different options that will be available to you. Two of the most popular are gas fireplaces and electric fireplaces. Here’s more information on each, as well as their pros and cons, to help you make the best decision to meet your needs and preferences!
What is a Gas Fireplace?
Your first option when it comes to choosing a fireplace for your home is a gas fireplace. As the name suggests, the gas fireplace uses gas as a supply of fuel. This fireplace has been a popular success since it was first commercially sold in the mid 1850s. Gas fires skyrocketed in popularity compared to the even more traditional alternative, wood burning fire place. While wood burning fires created smoke and ash that could spread around a home and cause unpleasant smells, the gas fire places removed these by products and offered a more clean and efficient alternative. The gas fire also lit immediately, unlike the traditional wood fire, which would take time to turn into a blaze and start lighting and heating a home. It’s not hard to see why people were so fond of this new development.
How Does a Gas Fireplace Work?
Of course, you may be wondering how a gas fireplace actually works. This type of fireplace burns a dedicated gas supply as fuel. Traditionally, the gas fire would need a standing pilot light to function, but nowadays, more modern alternatives tend to use an electrical supply for the ignition system. The ignition system will start a pilot flame using a pilot, spark ignitor and thermocouple or thermopile. This pilot flame will then be used to light the main burner flames, which provide flame effects and the heat output. The size of the flames and heat output can then be managed and adjusted using controls. This type of fireplace uses either an internal air supply (natural b-vent and ventless gas fireplaces) or an external air supply (direct vent fireplaces) to feed oxygen to these flames, keeping the fire going. It will then either vent waste air externally (natural and direct vent fireplaces) or burn the fuel efficiently, meaning it doesn’t need any form of external ventilation (ventless gas fireplaces). Of course, you don’t need logs or coal for a gas fireplace to work, but many people still enjoy this aesthetic, so most gas fireplaces will have a bed of faux fireplace media, such as fake logs or coals, which maximise the fireplace’s aesthetic.
What Elements Does a Gas Fireplace Have?
A fireplace is a traditional form of fireplace. A fireplace will contain a number of different components that allow you to heat your home in a safe and effective manner.
- A hearth – every fireplace will be placed behind and on top of a hearth. The hearth is defined as the floor of a fireplace, usually made from stone, brick, or other protective materials. The hearth will often extend a short distance in front of a fire and out into a room, as well as to the sides of the fire.
- The Surround – the surround of a fireplace is similar to the hearth, but it extends vertically and protects the walls around your fireplace. It will most often be topped by a decorative mantel.
- The Firebox – the firebox is the interior of a gas fireplace. It is the space that contains the fire and collects the smoke.
- The Flue – the flue of your fireplace is the passageway at the top of the firebox, which allows smoke and gases to exit your home. It leads from the firebox to the chimney. The flue is most often crafted from baked clay, but you may find modern, stainless steel flues too.
- The Chimney – the chimney surrounds the flue and provides smoke and heat with a route to exit your home. It also stops heat from coming into contact with any flammable building materials in your home.
- The Smoke Chamber – this is a small and often forgotten part of gas fireplaces, connecting the fireplace and the flue. You will find a smoke shelf at the bottom of the smoke chamber, which deflects downdrafts and prevents rain or debris like soot from dropping directly into the fireplace.
- The Damper – the damper sits below the smoke shelf. It is a movable covering that separates the firebox from the space above it. This prevents cold air from moving down the chimney and into your home when you don’t have a fire burning.
- The Spark Arrester – this is a piece of metal mesh that fits over the top of the flue. Its purpose is to prevent any exiting gases from carrying burning materials onto your roof.
- The Chimney Cap – of course, you don’t want moisture entering your flue, or any animals from outside climbing down your chimney and into your flue either. This is where the chimney cap comes into play, preventing these issues.
- The Ash Dump – an ash dump is an opening with a trap door that allows you can to put any collected ashes into a pit that you can clean out later.
The Benefits of a Gas Fireplace
Whether you’re considering a free standing gas fireplace or wall mounted gas fires, you’re probably wondering what the perks of a gas fireplace are and whether it will meet your individual needs. Here are some of the benefits of a gas fireplace.
- A Main Source of Heating – gas fires can produce a lot of heat, which means that they can often be used as the main source of heating in the room that they are in, or even your whole property.
- Easy Operation – gas fires can simply be switched on or off, rather than you having to set up kindling or other methods that will allow a traditional wood fire to burn.
- Low Maintenance – once your gas fireplace is installed, it is generally a low maintenance addition to your home. It doesn’t produce debris or ash, meaning that it is much easier to clean than a traditional fire. Gas fireplace prices tend to be lower when it comes to maintenance.
What Is an Electric Fireplace?
An electric fireplace is a popular alternative to the gas fireplace. While the electric fireplace looks similar to a traditional wood burning or gas fireplace, it doesn’t require any professional installation or venting.
How Does an Electric Fireplace Work?
Electric fireplaces have fewer elements than a gas fireplace, as they operate in a much more simple and more straightforward manner. An electric fireplace will generally work by drawing in cool air, heating it internally using a heating coil and gently forcing the warmed air back out into the room through a fan. You may find that some electric fireplaces you consider also make use of infrared technology, which directly heats objects within a room. Because all of this technology is smaller and requires less space and venting than a gas fireplace, the electric fireplace doesn’t contain anywhere near as many or as large elements as would be required by a gas fireplace.
The Benefits of an Electric Fireplace
Of course, you’re going to want to know the benefits of an electric fireplace compared to a gas fireplace too. This will help you to make the best informed decision for yourself and your home.
- Cleanliness – an electric fireplace is much cleaner and easier to clean than alternative fireplace options. They also don’t require a stove or oven, which means easier maintenance all round.
- Easier Installation – all you need to do to install an electric fireplace is plug it in. This type of fireplace doesn’t require the installation of a chimney, vent, gas line, flue, or other elements of a traditional fireplace.
- More Location Choice – as you don’t need the elements of a traditional chimney, you can place your electric fireplace anywhere in your home. This gives you more choice and control over where it sits in your home.
- Safety – electric fireplaces are generally safer than their gas and traditional counterparts. They don’t require burning wood or gas and operate at a lower temperature than other fires.
Choosing a gas fireplace or an electric fireplace can feel difficult, but once you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of each, you should be able to determine which is the right option for you. If you’re still stuck and can’t make your mind up, make sure to consult a professional fireplace retailer who will be able to help you survey your needs and make the right decision for your home.
Hopefully, some of the information outlined above should help you along this journey and see you install the right fireplace for your home as soon as possible! Consult Fireplaces and Furnishings Direct Ltd for an impressive online selection.