As you are planning your custom home build, if a fireplace is in your vision, you need to know there are a variety of options available depending on the purpose you have for the fireplace. Is it going to be functional, in the sense that you want it to be able to help heat a space in your home or is it simply for decorative purposes?
There are basically 5 types of fireplaces depending on how the vendor categorizes them. Some varieties have different options within their category so I will try and summarize each one to help you make an appropriate decision for your home build/remodel.
The oldest and most traditional kind of fireplace is a wood-burning fireplace. It brings a sense of nostalgia as you are literally bringing the outdoors inside. You can smell the warm, woodsy scent and many have dreamy visions of this kind of fireplace as it’s what seems to be shown in most Hallmark movies. They are beautiful and can create an instant ambiance as you hear the fire crackling. The downside of a wood-burning fireplace is it is the most maintenance and least efficient of all fireplaces available. Much of the heat from a wood-burning fireplace is actually lost up the chimney. Additionally, you’ll need to maintain the fire by either buying wood or becoming a part-time lumberjack. The aftermath results in ashes needing to be cleaned out and the soot from the smoke will eventually clog a chimney leading to the need for a chimney sweep.
A newer, more modern option is an ethanol burning fireplace. This kind of fireplace does not require venting so it can be placed anywhere without the need for a chimney. This can be handy if a remodel is being done and you don’t want to go to the expense of building a chimney. Other advantages to this kind of fireplace are that there is no smoke, ash or soot and they can even be used outside. A couple of downsides are that this kind of fireplace is the most expensive option and it doesn’t put out very much heat.
A pellet stove is also an option, though they aren’t seen much in this area. It’s a modern version of the old wood burning stoves. They have a glass face, so you can see the flame, but it is enclosed thus reducing the smoke smell in the house. They also do a fairly good job of putting out heat. A potential downside is that pellets must be purchased and typically come in a bag about the size of a mulch sack so storage may or may not be an issue for you depending on the design of your home. Pellet stoves are also run by electricity, so if the power goes out, so does your stove. All the other options we’ve discussed thus far wouldn’t have that issue. You could still have heat in your home even with a power outage with wood burning, gas or ethanol fireplaces.
The final fireplace we will discuss is the electric fireplace. As the name reveals, this one is fully electric, so like the pellet stove, if the power goes out, so does the fire. Most of the time an electric fireplace is good if you’re simply looking for ambiance and not an actual way to heat your home. These are often used in commercial settings like hotels or restaurants as they are safe for customers because they won’t burn themselves since they don't get hot. The good news is, you can put them anywhere, like the ethanol fireplace, without the expense of having to build a chimney.
So, there you have it. Five different types of fireplaces to consider during your home build or remodel. They all have pros and cons and the right answer for the build is completely dependent on your vision, budget and personal preference on what a fire should look like to bring your home together. Discuss these choices with your Southwest Homes representative to identify the best option for your dream home. No matter what you choose, you’ll feel cozy and comfy on the couch with some hot chocolate watching the flames and maybe even a Christmas movie –and yes, Die Hard counts as a Christmas movie!
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