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The warmth emanating from a fireplace

If I were to roughly estimate the number of activities I would have to partake of in order to rekindle a traditional fireplace that uses wood as fuel, the result would be a series of back breaking chores that I would simply not have the time to execute and simultaneously oversee events in my daily life. But unless as some may have the time and inclination to undertake them the list at bare minimum would read: firewood, which you are not going to set out looking for in the middle of winter but are expected to have an enduring stock for the entire season; next I hope you have cleared the chimney of the earlier debris and soot; a chimney sweep must inspect the chimney for cracks or any mortar work; re-examine the chimney liner and ensure its capping; and have a screen or fireplace doors made of glass for the errant ember. Wouldn’t this amount of preparation automatically generate some perspiration? Well of course it can be tiring at the beginning but once you have endured the initial tedium and have set the system at its optimum functioning capacity, the rewards you stand to reap are enviable.


But the sheer joy of tending to the fireplace could be outweighed by the worries of keeping the fire in control as too large and hot a fire can cause the chimney to crack! And there is always the concern of stocking good dry wood or face the most likely possibility: inhale smoke! Not to forget that a sustainable source of wood supply is a must, which in the growing consumption climate propelled by increase in the number of households and the adoption of eco-friendly measures to curb wood intake as a general practice could result in scarcity and leave you cold in the middle of a chilling night!

The sheer number of things on the check list that constitutes as preparation is exasperating and the mandatory patience required to enjoy the heat and aroma absorbed at a leisurely pace , clearing the ashes, and don’t forget the wasted heat ascending out of the chimney do not fit with current lifestyle which is dependent on efficiency and pace.

Now that we have eliminated the outdated inefficient option, our sights must be set on the best technology to drive our fireplace and to help us reach the best decision we should consider the following parameters: the existing conditions and the area we are to heat; the amount of heating we would require; and lastly do we have the budget?

The warmth emanating from a fireplace

The last question was rather rhetorical, we do of course have a budget but we may not possess enough for the medium we choose and if that is the case, then we must decide the factors befitting the next best option.

A gas-fireplace

Judging by the seamless transition a wood-fueled fireplace makes into its gas-dependant incarnation, the designers must have envisaged the distancing from wood as a fuel when they saw the potential in gas; this switch along with the onset of new technology eliminated the need for the cumbersome maintenance of the chimney. Today, conventional gas fireplaces are produced bearing in mind the preferences and circumstances of the customer, heating is made available to settings that would prefer a chimney arrangement as well as to those houses that do not have a flue.


So you don’t have the flue

As mentioned earlier, not having a chimney does not limit your chances of having a fireplace and neither is there any compromise on its heating ability, on the contrary, fuel consumption is reduced, the tedium associated with traditional installation process is absent with the elimination of chimney-related building work. The flue-less variety of gas fireplaces once plugged into your gas mains is even more reliable than electric fires as its functioning remains uninterrupted in case of power failure i.e. without electric power. In addition to the real flame it produces, the heating is better than a traditional fireplace because the emission consisting of gases and heat which was vented out of the chimney in the traditional set up is smartly converted into water vapour and carbon dioxide thus minimizing the loss and retaining valuable heat.

fireplace flue

The electric fireplace is an equally attractive option as the gas fireplace for the flue-less. No need for ventilation, preparation of any kind does not figure in its equation—all you need is electricity running into your switchboard. Those with smaller living areas can now enjoy a fireplace that was usually reserved for large rooms due to its traditional set-up. Although the fire is not real, the heating certainly is and cost-effective; its reach supersedes all alternatives as it can serve any remote location by virtue of its free-standing or wall mountable positioning.

Flue without chimney

The modern version of flue-oriented gas fires whereby the gas emissions are vented out by alternate means chosen over a chimney has two categories namely—Balanced and Fanned (also known as Power flue). The balanced flues are glass-fronted, they have an inner pipe that vents out the residual waste gas and an outer pipe to bring air from the outside for combustion thus a balance is maintained through the even mix of flow. Balanced flue gas fires are meant for heavy heating requirements while the Fanned arrangements are open fronted, reliant on natural ventilation in a room for combustion and the waste gas is expelled trough a fan which works as an exhaust. Although both versions are found to be effective, it’s the balanced fuel gas fire that steals the top position with its better heating results.

On the question of efficiency

There is a general consensus among industry experts on the Flue-less gas fire model to have emerged as the example of efficiency which has made it a favourite amongst most buyers who are cost conscious and expect an energy efficient performance. The flue-less model costs the least and its running and maintenance costs are equally low and lowest when compared to Balanced and Fanned Flue models. The Flue-less variety scores the highest on the installation parameter as well with simple procedure and least expenditure. As stated earlier it scores cent percent on fuel efficiency which is equaled only by the electric fire model.

Flue-less gas fires

Aesthetics and innovation

From saving space with wall mounted and inset designs to glass fronted safety, the advances in technology to produce better fireplaces have found themselves woven into the aesthetic aspect of the service. Electric fires may have started with an average rating on their flame imitation but with forward leaps in innovation the flames today appear not only real but they are able to project smoke too, the illusion keeps getting richer with beautifully made cabinets that are supplied with hearth base. Some of the electric fires have an air purifying feature embedded to filter allergens and other sooty particles in the air. Balanced flue systems are not far behind, the latest flaunt bigger flames that look real with reduced gas consumption. Remote controlling is common to all fireplaces today for effecting temperature changes and adjustments. There are traditional fires available for those who prefer the old charm and supplied in a variety of finishes with great attention given to the grating area and its surroundings. Contemporary fires compete ferociously in the aesthetics arena with fuel beds that replicate the visual effect of logs on fire atop the pebbles.

glass fronted fireplace

Chosen for all

As technology improves the question of whether to have a fire place or not will be unanimously answered in a yes as this aesthetic backed choice is and will continue to be made available to all, as the innovations have addressed and continue to address all possible factors that help us reach the decision. This decision will not shy away due to construction and heavy costs associated with the set-up of a fireplace but rather a welcoming of this visual treat into every home as an entitlement.

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