Today we’re talking about fireplaces. We’re going to cover the various fuel types… gas/propane, electric, wood burning and offer some pros and cons for each.
So grab a coffee, head into your living room and as you read through this post, imagine yourself in front of your brand new fireplace.
Ready to rock? It’s about to get hot in here!🔥
Fireplaces have been used for thousands of years as a source of heat and light, with their first use dating back to the Stone Age. Nowadays, while they still provide heat, people also use them for aesthetic purposes, to add that bit of pizzazz to their living room.
The three main categories of fireplaces include wood-burning, gas-burning, and electric fireplaces.
Now let’s compare them.
Here are some of the pros and cons for traditional wood-burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces, and electric fireplaces:
Isn’t there something magical about the warmth of wood heat during a cold day? As expected, this type of fireplace uses wood as fuel and requires a chimney for ventilation. Wood stoves can range from mass fireplaces that include a cooking oven to high-efficiency catalytic wood stoves and everything in between.
- You can’t beat the natural, traditional ambiance and warmth of a wood burning fire!
- Wood heat is usually more cost efficient than propane/gas and thus can save on monthly utility costs.
- Wood is a renewable energy source with zero net carbon contribution
- Usually used as a main source to heat a home – size is key!
- Best preparedness appliance. Can be a source of heat, cooking as well as boiling water is all built into a single appliance that does not require power.
- Great to be part of your getting outside routine
- The single best appliance for an off grid application
- Heating is available even during power outages
- Most jurisdictions allow updates to a brand new high-efficiency model in a re-re situation (homes with an existing wood burning appliance)
- Gotta know your wood – Different types of wood offer different heat output levels and burn slower than others.
- Can be labor-intensive and messy, with the need to chop and a large space to store dry wood. Requires tending to and reloading one or more times throughout the day, depending on the fireplace.
- Cleaning and maintenance – clear the ashes after every fire, check the gaskets, and sweep the chimney regularly to avoid any fire hazards.
- To create the perfect high performance, ultra efficient wood burning stove you gotta carefully balance fire management; wood source frequency, airflow, burn rate, for a continuous comfortable heat. It can be a true test of skill to get it right.
- WETT inspections – your insurance company will very likely require you to have a WETT inspection to satisfy their underwriting guidelines. (A WETT inspection, short for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, is a thorough inspection of all types of wood burning appliances, inclduding fireplaces)
Gas fireplaces use natural gas or propane as fuel and can be vented through a chimney or directly through the wall. They come with a wide array of styles, from more traditional looks to modern exotic looking fireplaces. Modern gas fireplaces provide excellent heat output, so you will be able to warm up your home quickly when the temperature drops outside.
- Easy to use–just flip on the remote.
- Provides a consistent and controlled heat output.
- Set and forget – set the temperature and time on the thermostatic remote.
- Most manufacturers allow very customizable finishes, including tile stone and mantels (see owners manual to verify specifics)
- Units can last 15-25 years with proper maintenance.
- More environmentally friendly than wood-burning, but still it burns natural gas which is a fossil fuel and a nonrenewable resource. For eco conscious homeowners, it’s still up there as a great choice, with a relatively low environmental impact.
- In terms of safety, gas fireplaces are typically much safer than traditional open burning fires.
- Require a gas line for fuel, which may not be available in all areas.
- Can be expensive – often requiring the installation of complex venting systems and specialized equipment that may not be allowed in certain areas due to local regulations.
- Some people simply prefer the real wood-burning aroma that traditional fires offer – something that cannot be replicated with a gas fireplace no matter how realistic it looks.
- Regularly installed inferior product is common place in the market, leading to poor burning appliances, as well as short lifespans (you get what you pay for)
- Products not even offered at the home centre.
Electric fireplaces are increasingly becoming popular due to an increase in innovation allowing them to look just like traditional models while still providing the convenience of being able to operate without any special installation like gas models do. These units are also the only kind of fireplaces approved for new condos.. so get used to seeing more of these guys around!
Electric offers contemporary or traditional looks with life-like flames, sure to stun no matter your personal style. From corner to middle of the room designs, suspended/floating fireplaces or see-through electric fireplaces, the options are endless.
- Installation process for electric fireplaces is much simpler, since they do not require a chimney or other complex infrastructure.
- Offer amazing flexibility on design and integration as setbacks are often not applicable with electric fireplaces. Allowing great flexibility for interior design without limitations of finishing products.
- Have the advantage of controlling the temperature through a thermostat and/or remote. However, you’re not choosing electric fireplaces for warming purposes, as most don’t generate a lot of heat.
- Come in a vast array of styles and sizes including suspended or corner designs.
- Out of all the types of fireplace and options available on the market, electric fireplaces are considered the most eco-friendly.
- No crackle, pop or smell of real wood burning fire–if you like that kind of thing.
- Depending on where you live and what the BC Hydro rates are in your area, the costs may run higher than with other fireplaces if left running for long periods of time without supervision or control over temperature settings.
- Usually not designed as the main heat source in the home. Really are more for the aesthetics and lighting, rather than the actual heating function.
- Does not work in a power outage.
See related: What kind of fireplace am I allowed to have these days? Fireplace laws for condos and single family homes.
We won’t lie, we’ve got a soft spot for toasty wood burning stoves. Wood heat holds a special place in our hearts, reminding us of our childhood and being gathered around the fire. One of our top wood fireplace picks is the Blaze King. Cory uses one wheelbarrow of wood per week on average.
Blaze king is the most efficient woodstove on the market. And models operate as low as .7g of measured Emissions per hour, meaning you don’t even see the smoke coming out of the chimney.
Blaze King Wood Stoves offer high efficiency stoves as they use a catalytic converter for cleaner, more high-efficiency burns–aka: usually requires less wood to burn longer. These stoves have a thermostat control, no electricity required, allowing you to consistently and evenly regulate the heat output making every Blaze King usable in a wide variety of homes. Check ‘em out.
When it comes to choosing a fireplace, there are many options on the market.
Wood-burning fireplaces are classic and cozy, but they require more maintenance than other types of fireplaces. On the other hand, electric fireplaces offer a modern look and convenience—all you have to do is plug them in! People might opt for a gas fireplace if they want a realistic flame without the hassle of hauling logs or dealing with ashes.
Ultimately, the type of fireplace you choose depends on your particular needs and preferences. Think about your lifestyle, budget, and desired aesthetic when choosing a fireplace that is best for you.
Like this post, but you really want to see them for yourself in real life? It’s possible!
Pop by the Cameron Home Centre and we’ll give you the grand tour of our fireplace showroom. Located at 1089 Braidwood Rd, Courtenay. We’re open 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Saturday.