Having a real fire in your home adds a special warmth and cosiness that central heating radiators simply can’t provide. A traditional fireplace is the obvious option to achieve that warm glow but wood burning stoves and multifuel stoves have been growing in popularity for many years now. All can be fabulous features in any property – so which should you choose? In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the main considerations influencing your decision.
The first thing to establish is the presence (or not) of a chimney in the property. This could have a large bearing on whether you opt for a fireplace or stove.
Yes, there is a chimney in the room:
If there is an existing chimney, you have the choice of installing either a stove, a gas fire place or an open fire. Inset fires will also work well as they can be fitted snugly into the chamber. If you opt for a stove, remember that you will also need to fit a flue liner and stove pipe, adding to the installation cost.
No, the room has no chimney:
If there is no chimney, the easiest solution is an electric fire, which only requires plugging into the power socket without the need for a flue of any kind. If there is a gas connection, you could install a gas fire. Your options here are a balance flue gas fire that is vented out through an exterior wall, or a flue less gas fire which, as the term suggests, doesn’t need a flue since it converts the gas into a safe vapour. Flueless gas stoves are also available.
Flueless gas fires are not always suitable for small rooms, as certain requirements with regard to room size and venting must be met. Whatever gas fire you opt for, please ensure that any gas fire is fitted by a registered Gas Safe engineer.
Finally, it is also possible to install a wood burning stove with a twin wall flue, either venting out through the roof or an external wall. A freestanding stove with exposed flue can be a very stylish focal point in a contemporary room scheme. For a more traditional look, you could cover it over with a false chimney breast, though the latter will incur extra building costs.
Cost is a major factor when it comes to making home improvements, and your available budget will be a key decision-making point. Generally speaking, fireplaces are cheaper to buy than stoves (depending on the type you purchase), though stoves can be surprisingly affordable too. Why not pop into one of our showrooms to take a look for yourself? Our knowledgeable team will be happy to show you around the many working displays on show and talk you through all the options available.
In addition to the purchase price of your fireplace or stove, you also need to consider installation costs. If you choose a wood burner, a flue system will have to be fitted and, if going into a chimney, a flue liner too. By contrast, much less building work is needed for a fireplace, while electric fires require minimal installation.
Running costs will largely depend on the fuel source required by your appliance, how often you use it, and the cost of the fuel. A flueless gas fire is typically the most cost-effective appliance, while electric fires are more expensive to run since their heat output is less. The cost of heating an average size room by way of a multifuel or wood burning stove is somewhere between that of a gas fire and electric fire.
Energy efficiency is a huge topic globally, but it also directly affects the money in your pocket. The more efficient your heating appliance is, the more of the heat output goes into heating your home rather than disappearing up the chimney.
The absence of a flue makes electric fireplaces 100%efficient, with flueless gas fires not far behind. A wood burning stove can return up to a respectable 85% efficiency, depending on the exact type and model. Some stoves have a higher efficiency depending on the room size and ambient temperature, and some brands have extra efficient eco-friendly models.
By contrast, the energy efficiency of an open fire is much lower, coming in at around 25% since the majority of the heat generated goes straight up the chimney rather than into heating the room.
As we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this also applies to the visual appeal of stoves and fireplaces. Many home owners simply love the look of a wood burning stove and this preference is what drives their decision-making. If you like the aesthetic of a stove but cannot have areal fire, you could consider an electric stove instead. There are now some amazing flame effects being produced – you might just be pleasantly surprised.
But don’t write off a fireplace just yet. There are some simply stunning styles and designs available, both traditional and contemporary, that can give the wow factor to any property. A Victorian-style fireplace in a period property can look fantastic, as can a wall-mounted modern fire in a contemporary setting. It’s worth keeping an open mind.
The best thing you can do is to check out the full range of fireplaces and stoves at Sussex Fireplace Gallery, both online and in person. Our showrooms in Polegate near Eastbourne and Portslade near Brighton are open Mondays to Saturdays by appointment. Please get in touch to book your visit.