A fireplace can add warmth and charm to any space and can make a living room, great room, bedroom, or study feel welcoming and homey. It used to be that installing a fireplace in a home that didn't already have one was a drawn-out and expensive process. However, there are now many different options that can make adding a fireplace to your home quick and easy. The variety of flexible and low maintenance alternatives to traditional wood-burning fireplaces can offer more safety and flexibility in placement while still creating the look and feel of a traditional fireplace. In addition, there are choices that are freestanding, wall mountable, or built for corner placement as well as units suitable for outdoor usage. There are even tabletop fireplace options in smaller sizes that can bring the warmth and visual interest of a fireplace to a centerpiece or coffee table.
Many fireplace and fireplace insert options on the market require different fuels, locations and venting. Some of the most common options are:
Wood-burning fireplaces are the traditional option and offer flickering flames, lots of warmth, and the nostalgic smell of wood smoke. This option is usually built into a home with a full chimney and ventilation system; however, if you're looking to add a wood-burning fireplace to an already finished structure, a wood stove can be a good option. A wood stove still requires a chimney and ventilation, which probably would need to be professionally installed, but for a stove, this setup can be achieved with one or two smaller holes in an exterior wall.
Gas options are convenient because of their easy push-button start that provides a home with real flames that don't require the mess or effort of wood (or the resulting ash). Gas fireplaces typically need to be connected to a home's gas line for fuel and, depending on the model, may need a vent installed.
Ethanol-fueled fireplaces are clean burning and ecofriendly options that feature real flames and much of the convenience of gas options, but with added flexibility. This type of fireplace holds its liquid fuel internally, and doesn't need to be hooked up to any gas lines or other permanent fixtures. In addition, an ethanol fireplace doesn't require a flue so it's an incredibly versatile option that can be easily mounted just about anywhere.
An electric fireplace imitates the look of fire, embers, and hot coals without including any real flames. However, an electric fireplace can still provide heat, as this variation frequently features an integrated heater to deliver the same warmth and ambiance that people expect from real flames. Electric fireplaces have the advantage of being very simple to install, requiring only an electrical outlet to plug into, and are a popular choice for their safety and versatility.
This type of fireplace, also sometimes called a pellet stove, or pellet heater, consumes fuel pellets made of compacted wood or corn and is a great option for its high heat production. Many pellet stoves tend more toward the utilitarian in that they provide warmth, but may not be oriented in such a way that you can enjoy the look of the flames.
Gel fireplaces are a relatively new option on the market. These models use a special gel fuel that burns cleanly without any ash or smoke, making them easy to install in any home with no need for a chimney or gas hookups. Some gel fireplaces can also use multiple cans of fuel simultaneously to allow you to customize the size of the flames and amount of warmth produced.
Any fireplace you choose is sure to add cozy ambiance and help warm up your home, so you can't really go wrong with any option as long as it's properly installed. With so many flexible options, you're sure to find a fireplace that will work perfectly for your space.