There are many different designs, styles, and types of fireplace, each has its own characteristics and suitability for your home
Electric fireplaces are lightweight, portable and can be installed with no experience, An Electric fireplace can be installed virtually anywhere, simply plug in and go. Most fireplaces include both a light and special effects to create the look of a fire, plus an electric heater. Electric fireplaces can be a supplemental heat for chilly rooms or as a primary heater for small rooms. Most fireplaces can also be used without the heater to provide an aesthetic appeal to any room, even if it's July and all you want is the cozy look of a fireplace simply switch on the light effect nut switch off the heat element, mos fireplaces allow for independant effects and heat. Electric fireplaces are an easy to install, clean, odourless and familily friendly alternative to comustable fuel fireplaces. Electric fireplaces can be made incorporating most popular brands of electric fire such as Dimplex and Valor (Valor producing more Gas than Electric types) - Fireplaces such as the Dimplex Cavendish are at the forefront of Electric fire design and features.
Gas fireplaces can burn either natural gas delivered by pipeline or liquid propane gas that is stored in a tank in your garden / yard (Conversion kits may be required with some models of gas fire). Heat output depends upon the type of Gas fire purchased and how it is installed. Gas fireplaces are popular due to the real flame that is produced, with more modern gas fires also producing realistic pops and crackles hat would come with real wooden fireplaces. Gas fireplaces usually come with the convenience of control, with on/off buttons, remote controls, thermostats and/or wall switches with certain models. No mess, no fuss - instant fire at the touch of a button. Gas fireplaces require little maintenance, though annual cleaning of the gas burner is required for optimal performance, Installation, maintenance and cleaning must be undertaken by a Gas Safe engineer.
Wood Burning Fireplaces
Wood burning fireplaces have an authentic smell and crackle of firewood and the overall experience of hauling firewood, carefully arranging it, and tending to the fire is a winter time ritual for many families. The vast majority of wood burning fireplaces are designed mainly for decorative use, although they can produce good heat, most heat is lost as the damper must be open to evacuate the smoke, so often the amount of heated air escaping through the chimney results in heat being lost from the home at an equivalent rate - or even more - than the amount of heat gained from the fire.
Be aware that wood burning fireplaces will require the most interaction with the appliance on your part: proper storage of your wood to keep it dry; hauling fuel to the fireplace and frequent replenishment to keep the fire burning; cleaning out ashes and disposing of them properly, plus annual inspection and cleaning of the chimney. Burning wood creates a flammable chimney residue called creosote that can clog the chimney or even cause a chimney fire, so responsible wood burners include annual inspections as part of their home safety and maintenance routines. Burning well seasoned wood with low moisture content will produce less smoke (better for the environment) and will offer more heat per pound. Responsible wood burners select their fuel sources carefully and take special pride in proper storage techniques.
Wood burning fireplaces may be site-built masonry structures, with brick or stone the most popular material; factory-built metal wood burning fireplaces are also popular and can save thousands of dollars versus the cost of building a masonry fireplace. If you intend to heat with a wood burning fireplace, high-end prefabricated fireplace models are available that include an insulated firebox and chimney design plus tightly fitting doors that both control the burn rate of the wood and the amount of usable heat extracted from the fireplace to be transferred to the living space. When shopping for a factory built metal fireplace, pay careful attention to the type of appliance you need based on your expectations for heat. Be sure and include glass doors that can be closed when the fireplace is not in operation to help assure minimum loss of heated air up the chimney.
Be aware that in certain localities, decorative wood burning fireplaces are not allowed in new installations due to their low heating efficiency and greater contribution to air pollutants, so check local codes while in the planning stages. Non-burn days may also affect the times you can burn the fireplace due to local air quality concerns. Wood burning fireplaces should only be installed or constructed by a certified, trained technician or experienced masonry tradesman.
Coal Burning Fireplaces
Coal is generally used only in site-built masonry fireplaces, or specially designed coal burning stoves. Coal burns much hotter and longer, pound for pound, than firewood and cannot be used in prefabricated wood burning fireplaces because this concentrated heat may damage the fireplace and render it unsafe.
Coal was a popular choice of fuel in the late 1800's to early 1900's and influenced the design of small fireplaces found in homes built during that era due to the facts mentioned above: with fireplaces being the main source of heat in many homes during this era, a small load of coal could heat a room for several hours. Homes of this era commonly have 4 to 12 fireplaces, so keeping the home fires burning throughout the winter was a full time job often delegated to a servant. With the advent of furnaces, coal fireplaces were infrequently built after 1930 or so.
Coal is not readily available in all areas, and storage may present a problem for most home owners. Coal also produces fumes with a sulfuric odor and a particularly corrosive type of soot so regular inspection and cleaning of the fireplace and chimney are a must.
When planning the installation of a fireplace, consider your family's lifestyle, price and availability of your fuel choice in your area, the aesthetic design you desire and the amount of heat you expect from the fireplace. Above all, make sure you are ready for the commitment to safety required in your new fireplace's installation and regular maintenance based on the type of fuel used.