Choosing the right heating appliance for your home has a lot to do with your space, your lifestyle, and your priorities in terms of design and operation. One of the first factors to consider is the fuel source or your appliance.
Is gas or wood – or a pellet or electric model, for that matter – the right fit for you? The decision doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and knowing a little about them can help you make the best decision for your home.
Gas-Burning Models: Pros & Cons
- Convenience. Gas-fueled appliances have an ease of use that’s basically unparalleled. If you want to enjoy the flicker and warmth of a fireplace or stove with low levels of prep, time, or clean up, gas appliances provide it with the flip of a switch.
- Cleanliness. With gas units, there’s minimal soot, and smoke – and eliminating the need for handling and storing firewood results in less mess and maintenance.
- Efficiency. Generally speaking, gas-fueled fireplaces and stoves are more energy efficient than their wood-burning counterparts. They can provide consistent heat output with precise temperature control, helping to reduce wasted energy.
- Safety. Safety features such as automatic shut-off valves and flame supervision devices are smart ways gas units provide some extra assurance, and they also eliminate the risk of errant sparks and embers.
- Options. There are a range of options available in terms of design and features that make gas models attractive to many.
- Gas supply dependence. Unlike wood-fueled appliances, these appliances rely on a steady supply of natural or propane gas. If there’s a disruption to your gas service, you’ll lose your heating source temporarily.
- Limited ambiance. While increasingly engineered to replicate the wood-burning effect, gas units often lack the authentic feel of a traditional fireplace – the crackle and aroma of burning wood.
- Environmental impact. Gas is considered a cleaner-burning fuel than wood and these appliances are being built for efficiency, but it’s still a fossil fuel. This may not align with the wishes of those seeking the most environmentally-friendly heating options.
Wood burning models: Pros & Cons
- Ambiance. The power of a cozy rustic or traditional atmosphere is a decisive factor for some who feel the crackling sound and fragrance of burning wood enhance – or make – the overall experience and charm of a traditional fire.
- Independence. Wood-fueled units offer independence from utility companies, which can be particularly beneficial in the cause of a power outage or in remote areas without gas connections.
- Cost. On a related note, if you have access to low or no cost firewood, operating costs of a wood-fueled appliance are significantly low.
- Sustainability. While gas units may generally burn more cleanly, wood is a renewable resource that can be harvested responsibly. Using sustainably sourced firewood can make this a more environmentally friendly option than other offerings.
- Maintenance and effort. All heating appliances require some maintenance, but more effort will be expended keeping a wood-burning unit running optimally than a gas powered one. Ashes need to be removed, chimneys may require more frequent sweepings, and firewood will need to be procured and stored.
- Air quality. Burning wood releases particulate matter into the air, which may be a concern for those with respiratory issues.
- Heat distribution. Wood-fueled units typically provide radiant heat, which may not distribute evenly through a large space or with the degree of precision other units could allow.
Is a Pellet-Fueled Stove or Insert Right for Me?
As you weigh your options, keep in mind that there are choices in addition to gas and wood. Pellet-fueled heating appliances offer an alternative option that combines some of the best benefits of the two. These units burn compressed wood pellets, which are created from waste wood materials.
- Efficiency. Pellet stoves and inserts burn fuel at a controlled rate and are designed for efficiency. They’re also often programmable and feature an automatic ignition, so temperature can be controlled with efficiency in mind.
- Convenience. Compared with wood-burning appliances, pellet units offer the convenience of easy ignition and continuous heat output. Set the thermostat, fill, and tending shouldn’t be required until it’s time for refilling.
- Environmental friendliness. Pellets are a renewable energy source made from recycled wood waste and produce lower emissions than traditional wood burning.
- Maintenance. While not as low-maintenance as gas units, pellet stoves and inserts produce less ash compared to wood burning stoves.
- Power dependence. While pellet stoves have some advantages over wood appliances, they don’t allow as great a degree as independence. Pellet stoves require electricity to operate, so you’d still require a backup heating plan in case of a power outage.
- Fuel availability. Similarly, you won’t be able to generate your own fuel supply in the same way you can chop wood for a traditional fireplace. Wood pellets are widely available, but there may be regional variations in price and availability, and supply will be intentionally maintained.
Is an Electric Fireplace or Insert Right for Me?
Electric fireplaces and inserts extend some of the fireplace aesthetic and warmth in a convenient way. They do this by simulating the appearance of a fire, but can be easily installed without the need for venting or chimney systems.
- Ease and versatility of installation. Electric fireplaces and inserts are plug-and-play units that can be installed in any room with a standard electrical outlet.
- Safety. Since no real flames or embers are present, risk of uncontained fire is minimal. These units also often have built-in safety features such as automatic shut-off timers and cool-touch surfaces.
- Energy Efficiency. Electric fireplaces provide efficient heat and don’t experience heat loss through flues.
- Heat Output. Electric fireplaces may not provide as great a heat output as other types of units.
- Ambiance. While they mimic the “real thing” and do provide atmosphere, electric models don’t have the authentic ambiance of real flame.
Let Us Help You Make the Right Choice
Ultimately, the type of fireplace, stove, or insert you use should be based on your particular needs and desires. Would you like some guidance on what would be most suitable for your space? We have expert knowledge, access to top quality products, and top-notch customer service. Let us know what you’re looking for. We’ll listen and walk you through what’s possible in a thorough, customized way.
Call 585-638-0300 or reach out online today.