Essential Guide to Fireplaces – By Stovax /Gazco
For many, stoking up the woodburner or switching on the gas fire was an optional extra – a way of adding an ambient focal point when the family came to visit or making the home cosy on those wintry and grey days. Not so now. Today, the function of a fire or stove in a typical British home is one vital to creating warmth and atmosphere; an essential component of a heating system from which we demand not only high performance and efficiency but cost effectiveness and quality design. Today’s home maker wants top results for their money.
Step forward modern wood burning, gas and electric fireplaces, equipped with the latest technology and stunning aesthetics to satisfy a range of tastes from the traditional to the contemporary; country inspired or urban chic.
If you are considering a fireplace or would like to upgrade your current appliance, this article will act as an introduction to the many options available to you.
First Steps… Wood, Gas or Electric?
One of the first things to deduce before you consider design is: ‘what type of fuel can I burn?’
If your property has a chimney breast, you will most likely be able to install a wood burning fire, a stove or a conventional flue gas fire but before you embark on either, ensure that the chimney is checked thoroughly by a qualified professional for safety and suitability. For those modern homes without a chimney – about one third of the UK’s housing stock does not have a built-in chimney, there are other options to suit your needs. Installing a balanced flue system in your property ensures you can burn gas fires efficiently. Otherwise, if you have a plentiful supply of wood, fitting a twin-wall pipe system can enable you to enjoy the flames of a real log fire in your home. Whatever flue outlet you have available, there are numerous models of fires and stoves to choose from.
The Benefits of Wood Burning
An increasing number of people want to make a difference to their carbon footprint and burning wood in a modern stove is a carbon lean way to create heat for the home especially if you have purchased your fuel from a local and well managed supply. With wood fuel competitively priced, or even cost-free to those who have their own coppice, this option is an extremely effective way to save money! But a very big draw to wood burning is the stunning focal point it naturally creates and the, possibly unparalleled homely ambience it produces in abundance. That distinctive, comforting smell is for many the scent that captures the imagination and conjures the very concept of cosiness and being at home.
For optimum results, we recommend logs should be seasoned for two years or more to achieve a moisture content below 20%. This will not only give twice the output of freshly felled timber but help avoid a build-up of tar in your flue. Furthermore, if you can obtain hardwood logs this is better still, as they will have a greatly increased value compared to softwoods for the same volume.
Many stoves, fires and fireplaces are designed to burn smokeless fuels, peat/turf briquettes and logs as multi-fuel appliances. Multi-fuel stoves have a riddling grate which allows ash to be riddled into a built-in ashpan to create the optimum conditions for efficient combustion as smokeless fuels burn better on a raised grate that allows air to be drawn in from underneath. Woodburners have a fixed grate and no ashpan, since wood burns best on a bed of ashes. Choosing a multi-fuel stove, fire or fireplace over a woodburning only one provides you with the option to select the cheapest and most local fuel source available as well as continue to take advantage of some very high efficiency rates.
Quick and Convenient Gas
The popularity of gas continues to rise and with the breadth of styles of both stoves and fires available in today’s market, it is easy to see why. While it is still possible to achieve that classic inset gas fire look with a coal fuel effect, a decorative front and a frame, there is now the option to insert a cassette into the wall to create a ‘hole in the wall’ look around which you can add a frame or leave to create a ‘frameless’ aesthetic – particularly effective when accompanied with fireplace surround tiles. Fuel effects have also become more varied and life-like – choose from chunky logs and highly realistic coals to contemporary white stones or even, coloured glass beads for an injection of colour. Gas is also a plentiful resource and reasonably priced with many British homes hooked up to natural gas that is piped directly into the house. Should you find however that you do not have access to natural gas, many appliances are able to work with LPG or bottled gas. Furthermore a very attractive feature of many gas fires and stoves is their ability to be remote controlled, providing the ultimate in convenience and relaxation. From standard controls to operate the basics such as turning the fire on and off and altering the flame height, to thermostatic remote handsets that allow you to set your preferred room temperature, you can even set the time that you wish your fire or stove to come on at, thus bringing your gas appliance into the sort of timetable that would normally be exclusive to your central heating.
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are considering a stove, fire or fireplace but modern electric appliances have come on leaps and bounds recently. Enticing flame effects are becoming more and more lifelike and manufacturers have started to incorporate low energy or LED bulbs to decrease running costs. From stoves to ‘hang on the wall’ fires or fireplaces, electric appliances really are suitable for all so in the absence of a chimney or flue, they are ideal – simply plug in and away you go. Other benefits of electric fires and stoves include the option to use the flame effect independently of the heat output which means no matter the temperature outside, you can enjoy the charming and alluring visuals inside!