One of the most decadent luxurious features we can wish for in our living room, dining room or entertaining area is –a mesmerising fireplace.
Fireplaces conjure up heart-melting images of great conversations with loved ones, a glass of quality red wine or hot cocoa in hand as you soak up the homely warm atmosphere and watch dancing flames flicker. Ahhhh bliss. This is one daydream-turn-reality that will always have you looking forward to Winter!
If your cozy fireplace dream is about to come true – congratulations!! Like any important purchase, deciding on the right fireplace for you and your home comes with it’s own set of questions and boxes to tick. One of the biggest decisions you’ll face is whether to invest in a wood, or gas fireplace, here’s our handy gas vs. wood fireplace buyers guide to get you started.
1. What does your dream fireplace look like?
Appearance isn’t everything; but when it comes to a fireplace that suits your home and lifestyle, good looks are a big part of the wow-factor. Would you prefer a freestanding or in-built fireplace? Do you have a more traditional, comforting cottage/style fireplace in mind, or a sleek, ultra-modern executive style heat source? While both gas and wood-burning fireplaces will add aesthetic and dollar value to your home, the wood fireplace is widely considered to have a certain appeal and historic charm. If the push-button convenience of a gas heater is more your style, a gas fireplace may be the way to go.
While gas-burning fireplaces are still beautiful with their dancing flames and quiet glow, wood fireplaces provide a more natural, authentic texture and experience.
2. Freestanding or built-in?
Freestanding fireplaces can prove more convenient and less costly to install. They also make for a dramatic focal point in a room. However, an in-built fireplace can appear more like it belongs in the home (and has been there forever) rather than an afterthought.
In addition to the obvious heating benefits, inbuilt wood fireplaces become a statement piece, a magnetic gathering point for family and friends. They can increase the nostalgic appeal and overall value of your home.
The built-in option typically means you’ll use much less space in a room, and the fireplace itself should pose less of a danger when not located in a high traffic area.
Freestanding fireplaces can be much more versatile, especially in tricky spaces. There are many factors that could impact your decision from the materials your walls and floors are constructed of, to the layout and configuration of your room; not to mention, your personal preference.
Technology has come a long way, it’s worth noting that you don’t even need an existing chimney to treat yourself to a lovely wood heater or fireplace. Now that’s something to celebrate… break open the marshmallows!
3. Are you environmentally conscious?
For a long time gas fireplaces were considered to be much more environmentally friendly than their wooden counterparts. Fortunately today, sustainably sought firewood and energy-efficient wood fireplace designs are achieving efficiency ratings of 75% or more! In terms of efficiency they’re more comparable; but still come in behind the cleaner gas fireplaces that put out less omissions up the chimney – in fact, many gas models don’t need a chimney at all.
Today there are sophisticated clean burning Hybrid-Fyre™ wood combustion systems that result in virtually no smoke exiting the appliance. This aids a very large reduction in emissions and a super-clean burn; but with all the beauty of a traditional wood fire. Yes you CAN actually have it all.
What both gas and wood fireplaces can agree on is that they’re both more efficient, effective and aesthetically appealing than an electric fireplace.
4. Which is more cost effective? Wood or gas fireplaces?
At Home Fires, the cost of purchasing a wood fireplace is actually cheaper than a gas fireplace. Installation costs will vary depending on the environment and your choice of a built-in or freestanding fireplace.
A gas fireplace will often require a gas line installation, and the cost of running a gas fireplace can be higher than that of a wood fireplace (provided you have good wood supply sources).
Wood fires typically emit more heat, more effectively and evenly into the room, requiring less wood to keep it at the desired temperature. Remember, we’re talking about a relaxed crackling living room or dining area fireplace here, not a raging bonfire! You should find your firewood expenses are kept to a minimum.
It’s important to keep in mind real estate agents and homebuyers list fireplaces as one of their most wanted features in a home. Not only do they increase the value of a home – they can contribute to a faster sale and higher competition between buyers!! (not a firesale, but a hot sale to boot). It is said that each fireplace can add as much as 12% to the value of a home!
So when it comes to an extra few dollars towards a fireplace that oozes more fire-appeal than any neighbour’s fireplace… it’s well worth the investment!
5. Maintenance considerations
One would think wood burning fireplaces would be undoubtedly harder to maintain with all the soot and ash that comes with. The truth? Whether you have a gas fireplace with a chimney or flue, or an iconic wood fireplace with a santa-worthy chimney, you should have the chimney or flue cleaned professionally every 12 months regardless.
While gas fireplaces don’t look like they need much care and attention, to keep it operating safely and looking good as new, you should regularly clean the glass and internal firebox. When you’re dealing with something as volatile as gas, you should also check the burner ignition is in good condition, lighting smoothly and without delay.
Wood fireplaces are somewhat easier to maintain, although they seem messier. Yes, it’s advised to remove build-up of charcoal and ash as you go; but for most of us who love the authenticity of an open fire – this is hardly a chore, it’s fun preparing for your new fire.
Some people prefer to avoid the distinctive smokey aroma of a ‘real’ fire throughout their home and belongings; while others crave that earthy Aussie bush-camping vibe. It all comes down to personal preference really. Getting sooty is half the fun when you love the company of a rustic open fire.
6. Wood fireplace or gas – which is safer?
As always, safety should be a top priority on your checklist. Because gas fireplaces are controlled at the flick of a switch, rather than the slow natural cooling of hot woodfired embers, they’re largely considered safer. Neither system should be kept going without monitoring and supervision. Gas fireplaces have caught many people off guard due to the exterior glass reaching up to 400 degrees and becoming scorchingly, red hot to touch! Ouch. There’s no mistaking the heating power of the wood-burning systems. If there are children around, child-proof screens and constant supervision should be in play at all times. Both wood and gas fireplaces can be as safe as those who properly maintain and operate them.
Happy Home fire-hunting!
Before you head to the showroom to seek advice regarding the hottest new addition to your home, it’s a good idea to take photos and some measurements of the room with you. Take note of the materials the walls are made of and other environmental factors such as the placement of windows, typical flow of any draughts or human traffic.
You’re probably going to be amazed at the array of different choices and designs available to you now, with the application of modern technology in home heating. You’re bound to find the perfect magazine-cover worthy Home Fire heating appliance to suit your decor, your style, and your wildest dreams. Fireplaces clearly have a deeper meaning than a simple heat source. We’ll leave you with an old quote…
“We no longer build fireplaces for physical warmth. We build them for the warmth of the soul; we build them to dream by, to hope by, to home by.” – Edna Ferber
Choosing a fireplace for your home or commercial property depends as much on personal taste and preference as it does on practicality and suitability. At Home Fires: The Fan Man we have a broad range of breathtaking fireplace models and designs to choose from, in order to meet the needs of your home and family. Speak to our friendly team about the fireplace of your dreams today.