1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Homeowners Tips
  4. Which Type of Fireplace Is the Best?
Stay Warm in Your Home Without Turning on the Heat - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details.

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


Image: HomeDepot.com


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.

Gas Burning


Image: HomeDepot.com

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.



Image: Amazon.com

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.

Ethanol Burning


Image: Wayfair.com

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

Which type do you like best? Let us know in the comments below!

This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing thing blog with us. Through your blog now I came to know which fireplaces is best for me. Now I buy a suspended fireplace through a genuine buyer at zenfireplaces.

  2. The way you describe the different types of fireplaces is very good. Thanks for sharing such an awesome blog…with us.. keep sharing..

  3. Molly Grace, you have written a very useful article about the fireplace. This information will be really helpful while buying a fireplace.

  4. Well living in the Pine Barrens and on Oak Ave. my yard has many Oak trees also.
    As you may know Oak is the best wood for burning and lasting for hours.
    After using a wood burning stove for over 25 years, it was time for a new one.
    So after taking down a couple Oak trees and saving the wood we’ve got at least a two year supply.
    It’s also nice when we lose power , some times for hours and days.
    The best time is a nice log burning on Christmas eve when the family comes over and everyone wants that seat by the fireplace .Well good luck on your Fireplace place choice and i hope you enjoy it as much as we all do here in New Jersey. Best wishes Mike Lang.

  5. NONE. When we built our first house, the builder suggested a fireplace in the living room. What a mistake. The few times we used it, it caused the rest of the house to change temperature. So when we built our second houses, we told the builder – no fireplace for us.

    1. We have a pellet stove that has a thermostat you can set for comfort.., Fuel comes in 40# bags.. I find this source of heat is efficient.. In past we’ve had mostly wood burning stoves. While it’s another good source, I don’t miss the mess tracked through the house, stacking the wood or the clean up.. Gas is certainly an easy way by flipping a switch for a source of heat and a cozy effect… If you’ve got the gas already on your property..

  6. My son and I both had log burner a fitted last year ,both had gas fires ,they are brilliant ,the heat is fantastic ,we leave the doors open and the heat drifts through and heats all downstairs and partly upstairs ,we turn of the central heating hence it’s saving on my glass bill ,we don’t find it dusty or dirty ,I’m seventy two and enjoy getting logs with my son ,it keeps you fit and active ,it’s the best thing since sliced bread .

    1. Pellet stoves work great at any level, they can be inserted into old fireplaces, free standing options are great, and the chimneys are easy to install as a dryer vent.

  7. It got me when you said that gas fireplaces will be able to be turned on with just a switch. I guess I will be choosing this instead since I can be impatient with lighting up wood. Honestly, I might also cause an accident because I do not trust my skills with that.

  8. Well for a couple in their late 60s gas fireplace is the right thing. We don’t have the energy to get wood from outside daily especially in very cold weather

  9. We have a propane fireplace now and absolutely hate everything about it. I have to sit right in front of it to feel any warmth. The smell is horrible. And I won’t get started on the cost and issues of having to schedule the filling up of the tank. We use our fireplace almost every day during winter time. And I truly miss the authentic wood burning fireplace.
    I’m looking at converting it to wood burning.

  10. I can’t believe you didn’t include the most important factor to weigh: air quality. “The dirty truth is that wood burning fireplaces emit 28 lbs of particulate emmissions per MMBtus of heat output (soot and ash) as opposed to natural gas which produces up to 99% less (about .28 lbs/MMBtu). This means that natural gas fireplaces pose less of a risk of in-home air pollution or smoking out one’s neighbors as well. “

  11. Well after reading these comments so far it seems to be about 50/50 which is better. We have a very old wood burning insert that we have used for 10 seasons and it needs to be retired. It blows out horrible dust and dirt, I hate the thing. I was convinced we should go gas but then I considered the cost hmmmm. The other thing however I ask myself how long as we grow older do we want to split wood (with a splitter of course) and tote it in the house? Decisions are tuff sometimes … But the fact is we do have oil heat, and a gas fire place in another room… I think for the sake of cost…the new wood insert will win. It’s also a great thing to have around in the winter when you loose power… which has happened a few times. The initial cost up front will be the price of the new insert, but you can’t put a price tag on your health what you are breathing in….dust… yuck… and hopefully in time the new one will pay for itself. And besides, cutting and tote’n wood keeps you young!!

    1. I’m glad we were able to help you come to that decision. Splitting wood would definitely keep you in shape. That’s for sure!

  12. We love our natural gas fireplace! My kids and I can use it daily with or without my husband around. Keeps us nice and warm in the common area/living room without the smoke and fumes. Great to look at, too!

  13. I have a gas fireplace that can be used with wood as well. My mom suggests using the gas to start my logs and admits that clean up is a pain. They prefer the clean up over gas though. My only concern is that my fireplace is a white stone cast and I’m a little hesitant about getting soot and ash on it…although maybe it will add to its charm.

    We live in Texas. We will only be able to use the fireplace for two, maybe three months.

    Either way, it will sure beat using the fireplace DVD that had been running nonstop last year!

  14. I always get pretty cold during the winter, so I love sitting in front of fireplaces and warming up. When I get my own place, I hope to have a fireplace. I will have to consider what you’ve said about the advantages of both gas and wood. Right now, I’d probably lean towards the gas one just because it is easy to maintain and get started.

  15. Although I want a new wood stove, and I enjoy the work to gather the wood and chop it up, my husband wants gas because it’s easier. But we live down a private driveway that doesn’t have a gas line. We’d need to install a propane tank outside our home. I don’t relish the idea of a tank of something potentially hazardous sitting in our yard.

    I also like the ambience of a wood stove way better than gas.

  16. I live in Wisconsin, I Love my wood fireplace, I use it to help heat & for romantic evenings, my friend has a gas fireplace,not nearly as appealing to me.

  17. Well..I have 2 wood burning fireplaces in my home here in Canada.I never pay for wood although I live in the city. I cut it outside city limits. Yes there is a cost with fuel to get it,maintaining the chainsaw..fuel oil etc.I bought a wood splitter cheap 200 bucks. And the work involved as well can be a trouble for some.in the colder weeks my fireplaces never stop they burn 24/7..it keeps my gas bill way down..keeps my toes warm..I cook occasionally on them, steaks and pretty much the whole meal. I myself would not trade them for gas fireplace if you paid me. It would be like watching the stove burn..and there’s no fun in that. I enjoy chopping wood and the whole thing. If I happen to miss a gas payment at least I can stay warm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *