Fireplace Buyers Guide
Choosing a fireplace
Finding the right fit for you and your home.
Having a new fireplace installed in your home or condo not only adds character, increases comfort and ambiance, but a good fireplace will also add value to your property in resale and as a vacation rental.
Wood, Gas or Pellets?
When it comes to deciding what kind of material you’ll be burning, consider: who will be using your fireplace, how and how often it will be used, and the availability of wood, gas and or pellets. If you’re planning on renting your property to visitors of the county, they will likely prefer to burn wood, but in reality should only be operating a gas fireplace for the simplicity and safety features. Use the table below to help you determine what will be the best choice of what to burn.
Fireplace Media Comparison
The classic wood fire offers a warmth and personality not found in gas or pellets. High efficiency wood burning fireplaces are much cleaner and more efficient than they ever have been, with increased burn times and heat output all while reducing emissions. Heat output per cubic foot for a high efficiency wood burning fireplace will often be more than twice as many BTU’s per hour when compared to a similar sized gas burning fireplace. Wood burning fireplaces are very low maintenance, other than cleaning, which does not take a certified technician. Because there are hardly any moving parts and the overall operation of the fireplace is generally unaffected by accessories, wood burning fireplaces are the most reliable source of heat when wood is available.
Finding cords of seasoned hardwood in the high rockies can be difficult and expensive. Wood burning fireplace require regular cleaning to optimise efficiency. The overall functionality of a wood burning fireplace can be easily affected by environmental factors such as prevailing winds and the location on the structure where the chimney terminates. Sealed fireboxes use ceramic glass for monitoring the combustion chamber, which is very expensive and difficult to replace.
Simplicity, cheap to operate and low maintenance; these are the primary reasons gas burning fireplaces have found their way into most of our customers homes. If you have natural gas available at your property, this is ultimately the most fail-safe way to go in deciding what you’re going to burn with your new fireplace. Because gas fireplaces are engineered to be highly controlled and safe, many manufacturers offer creative customizations from visual aesthetic options like refractory liners, andirons, accent lighting, and trim, to practical features like thermostatic operation, wireless remote control, and home automation integration. The gas fireplaces we offer are direct vent, which means the use outside air for combustion rather than indoor air, making them incredibly efficient. The direct vent design also allows us greater flexibility in choosing a termination point as it can be terminated horizontally or vertically in many applications that a wood or pellet termination could not.
Not unlike wood, direct vent chimneys are susceptible to environmental conditions as well. During the coldest winter months, when direct vent chimney pipe is exposed to especially cold air, it does not draft properly until it reaches an ideal operating temperature; this will reduce the efficiency of the appliance and often cause the fireplace to shut off randomly or not run at all. Gas fireplaces also have many components that will fail after a number of years; there is no way to know when and this can be a real bummer around the holidays and during the coldest winter months as parts and service are not always available at the drop of a hat; though the likelihood of unexpected operation failures can be greatly reduced by having the appliance serviced annually and with preventative maintenance.
Pellet appliances are a great compromise when the user prefers the convenience of gas fireplace operations like automatic thermostatic control, but does not want to purchase or split wood for a wood burning fireplace. Pellet fireplaces are very efficient and rank closer to wood for appliance size to heat output. Many pellet appliances can burn wood pellets, corn, and cherry pits, allowing the user to pick the most efficient means. Stocking the burn material for a pellet appliance can also be more convenient and cleaner than wood as pellets come in sealed plastic bags with a handle cut out on one end. Feeding a pellet stove is as simple as filling the hopper; with no smoke leak or threat of embers popping out. Because pellet appliances have such low emissions and are power vented, they can be terminated horizontally or vertically without being as susceptible to environmental conditions like gas and wood.
Wood pellets, cherry pits and kernel corn can cost more to heat your home than wood or gas and are subject to local availability. Pellet appliances require more regular maintenance than both gas and wood, including daily cleaning to weekly deep cleaning in order to maximize efficiency. There are several moving parts in a pellet appliance (auger, convection fan, blowers) and intricate wiring, control and sensing modules; meaning replacement parts can be expensive and more time consuming to install, this also means a failure in the mechanics of a pellet stove means the appliance is completely inoperable until repairs have been made.