By Talia Amorosano
It’s fall, and you know what that means: Winter is around the corner. And we all know what that means is near — that biting cold that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and enjoy a cup of steaming hot-something in front of a cozy fireplace.
There’s only one problem: You don’t have a fireplace. Or you do, but it doesn’t meet your specific needs. With so many different kinds of fuel, functions and forms, it can be difficult to know which fireplace is the right fit. So if you haven’t already warmed up to the idea of installing a new fireplace in your home, read on to see what each type has to offer.
Wood: If you’re into that cozy rustic vibe, a wood-burning fireplace is best at creating the classic woodsy ambiance associated with log cabins and homemade pies. It gives off that “burning wood” smell (sometimes of hickory or maple) literally, and the sound of crackling logs is the perfect accompaniment to a night of board games with friends around the living room table or a quiet evening alone with a book. On the down side, this kind of fireplace takes lots of work to clean, can clog the chimney and create smoke if not maintained correctly, and while it provides heat in a small space, it sucks the warmth out of other areas of the house.
Gas: According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, the popularity of gas fireplaces is on the rise, probably because of the balance of ease and efficiency that they strike. Gas fireplaces offer more use options than wood fireplaces do, often featuring blowers, timers and fans, which give the user more complete control. On the other hand, while many gas fireplaces feature realistic-looking logs and embers, they don’t replicate the smoky smell or crackling of a real fire, and the option of using fallen trees as free fuel is lost.
Electric: Like wood fireplaces, electric fireplaces function well as space heaters. However, they don’t emit harmful fumes (such as carbon dioxide from wood and carbon monoxide from gas) into the home. They are easy to use, requiring nothing more than a simple plug-in and switch-on to function and aren’t easily corroded; but they will also lose power if your home does, and if used often, can be costly components of an energy bill. If you don’t have time for something high maintenance but like the aesthetic value that a fireplace brings, an electrically powered fireplace might just be for you.
Wall mounted: These kinds of fireplaces must be attached to a chimney and require major construction if a chimney is not already present. While this can be expensive, it can also add value to a home. They are built into a wall and usually lend themselves to the burning of real wood or gas fuel but can also accommodate electric.
Free standing: Depending on the fuel type, these fireplaces can be attached to a ceiling or completely free standing and can require a vent pipe to act as a chimney. They usually don’t require much construction and have the appearance of large cabinets.
Portable: Perfect for a home built without space for a huge fireplace, portable fireplaces are small, decorative and typically much less expensive than built-in or free-standing fireplaces. However, these fireplaces are more aesthetic than functional, typically not able to heat a large area or space.