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There’s nothing quite as cozy and romantic as sitting by a warm fire on a cold day, especially if you’re not the biggest fan of winter. However, fireplaces are more than a beacon of goodness and warmth for those who truly despise cold weather, they can also increase your home’s value.
There are several different types of fireplaces available, so before you rush to the store or start calling contractors, check out the pros and cons of each type to make sure you’re getting the one that will best suit your home.
Let’s meet the contenders.
Wood-burning fireplaces can make beautiful and practical additions to your home. A large, built-in fireplace with stylish masonry can add a significant amount of aesthetic value while providing a reliable heat source, helping to trim utility costs.
Another popular choice, gas-burning fireplaces are easy to use and maintain and combine the classic beauty of a wood fireplace with the ease of gas.
Gas fireplaces can be housed in a traditional built-in hearth or they can be bought prebuilt and installed almost anywhere in your home (provided you have the proper ventilation and access to a gas line). Traditional vented gas fireplaces will need to have a chimney that vents outside. However, ventless fireplaces don’t need a chimney, so they can be a good option for people who don’t want to go through the expensive process of building one.
Electric fireplaces are great if you want a lot of options when shopping for your fireplace. From chic wall-mounted models to traditional stone styles, you’re guaranteed to find a unit that will blend in seamlessly with your current décor scheme.
These are a little trendier than what you might typically picture when you think of a fireplace. They come in a variety of different styles, from wall-mounted sconces to small tabletop fireplaces you can use as a modern-looking centerpiece. They’re good for those who are looking more for aesthetic value than practicality, as they don’t generally put off a lot of heat.
And the Winner Is …
Which type of fireplace is the best? It depends on what you’re looking for.
Best Ambiance Factor: Wood Burning
If you’re looking for the cozy, crackling and popping experience that quintessentially comes with curling up by the fireplace, you can’t beat a wood-burning one. It’s a classic, so much so that many homeowners and buyers prefer it to other types, according to Angie’s List.
Wood burning fireplaces fall short, however, in a few other key areas, including price, upkeep and energy efficiency.
If you don’t already have a chimney built into your home, it can be difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible to have one added in. If you’re able to successfully have one installed, then you’ll have to deal with regular cleanings and finding a place to store your logs. Wood-burning fireplaces also tend to be less energy efficient than some other types of fireplaces, including gas and electric.
Best for a Budget: Electric
Electric fireplaces are a great option for a variety of reasons, chief among them being price flexibility. Electric fireplaces run the gamut from more modest, cheaper units that cost no more than $100 to big, beautiful pricey models that run upwards of $1,000. Whatever your budget, there’s an electric fireplace that will fit it.
They’re also great options for people who want a fireplace that’s easy to install and low maintenance. While some wall-mounted units might require a little more effort to get set up, most other models require little more than plugging them in. You also won’t have to worry about the cost of annual chimney cleanings, which typically run at a couple hundred dollars. Plus, they’re safer and more eco-friendly than other fireplace types.
If you’re looking for some real heat, this may not be your best option, as an electric fireplace won’t match the heat output of a wood or gas fireplace. However, if your main goal is to save money while adding a warming ambiance to your home, electric is the clear winner in terms of initial, installation and maintenance costs.
Best for Ease of Use: Gas Burning
Gas burning fireplaces are often just as beautiful as their traditional wood counterparts while offering an option that is easy to use and maintain for those who are looking for a more hands-off fireplace.
With a gas-fueled fireplace, you’ll still want to have annual inspections done by a professional, which cost money. However, you won’t have to worry about the constant cleaning and refueling that comes with a wood fireplace, just occasional checkups to make sure there’s no dust buildup and all the hardware is in good, working order.
They’re also super easy to light and keep going; they can often be turned on with a simple flip of a switch and will burn for as long as you desire, no tending or adding wood necessary.
If your home isn’t already connected to a gas line, that can be somewhat pricey to set up. This also means adding a new item to your monthly utility costs (though natural gas is fairly cheap). You may have to deal with high installation costs. However, you have more options with venting when it comes to a gas fireplace, so if a traditional roof-venting chimney isn’t feasible for your home, you can opt for a direct-vent or vent-free unit.
Best for Portability: Ethanol Burning
Ethanol burning fireplaces are tied with electric for ease of installation and take the cake when it comes to their portability, as most models can be easily moved from place to place (provided you have the muscle power to do it, if you have a heavier one).
These fireplaces come in an endless array of different styles, shapes and sizes. If you’re looking to crank up the heat on your home’s decorating scheme, ethanol fireplaces are a great and versatile way to do it.
If you plan on keeping your fireplace lit a lot of the time, the ethanol-based fuel you’ll need to buy for it can get kind of expensive (three quarts of it go for around $30). And you should probably go with another option if you’re dreaming of cozying up to a hot fire on a cold night. While larger units may produce more heat, keeping them fueled can get expensive in the long run. However, these fireplaces can add a nice warmth to the room.
Best Overall: Gas Burning
While each type of fireplace has its own advantages that may work better for your needs, if you just want something that’s simple to use, not too expensive or tricky to maintain and provides a good amount of heat output, a gas-burning fireplace is your winner. While some of the initial costs may give you pause, they’re relatively inexpensive to operate in the long run while providing aesthetic value and warmth to your home.
Get the Look
- Wood Burning: Wood-Burning Stove from Home Depot – $902
- Gas Burning: Ventless Natural Gas Fireplace from Home Depot – $525
- Electric: Wall Hanging Electric Fireplace from Amazon – $280
- Ethanol Burning: Bio-Ethanol Fireplace from Wayfair – $357
Which type do you like best? Let us know in the comments below!
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