Fireplaces

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A gas fireplace is a fireplace alternative that is fueled using propane or natural gas and one of a few different venting options. A gas fireplace is a very popular choice because of the availability of gas lines, the relatively low cost, and the ability to control heating with the push of a button. Natural gas and propane options are available. Both are more efficient and convenient than a wood fireplace, and both cut down energy costs and produce more heat.

There are direct vent and ventless versions, as well as many that make use of an existing chimney if you are converting the fireplace you have to gas. Make use of inserts for easy conversion, you can read more in the fireplace inserts area of this guide.

Overall, a gas fireplace is a great option because of the low cost and the safety involved. You also don’t have to sacrifice the traditional look and style of a classic fireplace because you can simply convert the one you have or, if you are installing a new one, you can find designs that look exactly like a standard wood fireplace.

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Wood burning systems vary considerably in both design and operating efficiency. There are two major types of wood-burning fireplaces, traditional masonry fireplaces that are typically built of brick or stone and are constructed on site by a mason; and “low mass” fireplaces that are engineered and pre-fabricated in a manufacturing facility prior to installation. Most fireplaces, whether masonry or low mass, are not used as a primary source of heat; their function is primarily for ambiance and secondary heating.

Traditional masonry fireplaces – The traditional masonry fireplace is used in nearly 50% of all homes burning wood. Interestingly enough, this type of wood burning unit is the least desirable system when considering capturing the maximum heat for the longest period of time. An open fireplace has an operating efficiency rating of about 10% meaning that only 10% of its energy makes it into the home as usable heat.

Convectional fireplaces – The convectional fireplace is a metal fabricated fireplace with a double wall around the firebox. It improves heat retention and availability over the conventional type by about four times. Hot air between the walls is returned as usable heat. This type of wood burning unit has an operating efficiency rating of about 40%.

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Electric fireplaces work by drawing in cool air, heating it internally using a heating coil, and gently forcing the warmed air back out into the room by way of a fan. This provides supplemental heating for the desired area without the muss or fuss of smoke or chemicals.

All electric fireplaces list a particular amount of space they can adequately heat, depending on type and manufacturer.

Most electric fireplace models allow you to control the look of the flame, making this type of fireplace more appealing to many.

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Wood pellet fireplaces are capable of burning a variety of materials — often the byproducts of sawmills — that are formed into small, dense pellets, which burn very efficiently.

To cut costs, more people are considering alternative heat sources, and wood pellet fireplaces are one possible solution to this high-price problem.

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A fireplace insert is like a wood stove that has been modified by its manufacturer to fit within the firebox of a masonry fireplace. Inserts are used to convert masonry fireplaces, which are inefficient and polluting, into effective heating systems. An insert consists of a firebox surrounded by a steel shell. Air from the room flows between the firebox and shell to be warmed.

The outer shell ensures that most of the heat from the firebox is delivered to the room instead of being released into the masonry structure. A decorative faceplate covers the space between the insert body and the fireplace opening.

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