Fireplace Fuel Options
Today gas-burning hearth products are the most popular hearth category. Thanks to significant product innovations almost 70% of all hearth products now burn gas.
Easy, Safe and Efficient
Gas appliances, including fireplaces, log inserts and stoves have convenient optional features that allow you to have a beautiful fire at the touch of a switch, thermostat or even a remote control. All gas stoves, fireplaces, inserts and logs can burn either natural gas or propane (LP). As with their wood counterparts, they are designed to either provide aesthetics or to produce heat.
Gas hearth products are characterized by how they are vented. Natural draft stoves, fireplaces and inserts vent products of combustion outside the home using an inexpensive (“Class B”) pipe similar to that used on furnaces or gas-fired water heaters. As with a conventional wood stove or fireplace, the pipe goes vertically through the roof. Natural draft units are tested and listed as either decorative or heater-rated units.
Direct-vent stoves, fireplaces and fireplace inserts vent in a revolutionary new way. They do not need a full chimney terminating through the roof, so installation costs are lower. Because they can vent directly through the wall, this new technology is great for apartments and condominiums or unusual applications such as under a window.
Direct-vent units are also especially attractive in tightly insulated homes. By pulling air for the fire from outside the home and exhausting the burned gasses through the same vent system, the combustion process is completely sealed from the living area. This eliminates concerns about indoor air quality and results in a balanced burn that is not affected by fans or other drafts. Most direct-vent units are very efficient and are rated as “heaters” by testing agencies and regulatory authorities.
When people think of a fire on the hearth, they think of burning wood, which is natural. Wood is the traditional fuel. It grows locally, is abundant in most areas and is one of our few renewable sources of energy. For many, nothing beats the warmth and beauty of a true wood fire.
Burning wood also makes great sense from an environmental standpoint. As concern about global warming and greenhouse gases increases, so does the attraction of using renewable biomass for energy. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, replenishing the atmosphere. Most firewood comes from harvesting dead trees. Unlike fossil fuels, there is no net carbon contribution when burning wood, as those same gases are given off when the tree decomposes in nature.
Clean-burning, Efficient and Economical
Burning wood has become less polluting and more efficient over the past decade. Sophisticated new designs have doubled the energy efficiency of stoves, helping to reduce overall heating costs. Even better, the amount of smoke emitted by wood stoves has been reduced by an average of 90 percent. All wood-burning stoves and inserts sold today are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as clean-burning. And less smoke means less potentially flammable creosote within their chimney systems; the safety record of wood-burning appliances is the best ever.
Finally, burning wood makes economic sense. Many people have access to their own firewood. Even when purchased, cordwood can be an inexpensive form of residential space heating. Modern wood stoves can heat the entire house providing the home is well constructed and adequately insulated. Best of all, there is the immense satisfaction of relaxing in front of your fire.
Wood Wax Firelogs
Wood wax firelogs are made of recycled sawdust mixed with wax. These neatly wrapped logs are available many places including supermarkets and convenience stores. They ignite easily and quickly, burn cleanly, leave little ash and offer a longer more consistent burn than cordwood.
Pellets are a fuel option that answers the need for clean-burning, renewable energy. Pellets are made of compressed sawdust that might otherwise end up in landfills. The fuel is consistent in size, and comes in forty-pound bags. Simply pour the pellets into a hopper which feeds automatically into the stove. A single load can burn 24 hours. Pellets are available at hearth specialty stores, mass merchants, home improvement stores, and feed stores.
Clean, dry shelled corn is a renewable fuel option that is burned in freestanding corn stoves or inserts or in some pellet/biomass stoves. The corn must be clean and dried (15.5% moisture or less is recommended) and stored in an area free from rodents, birds, squirrels or other vermin. The corn is sold by feed and seed stores or directly from farmers (least expensive).
Coal is clean burning, producing no visible smoke or creosote. Coal stoves can burn longer per fuel load than wood stoves and provides an even and controllable heat. Some stoves are “dual-fuel” and capable of burning both wood and coal.
Homeowners without natural gas have an economical, convenient reliable room heating option. An oil stove runs quietly unattended without electricity as long as there is fuel in the tank.
An electric stove or fireplace is a simulated gentle wood fire, but without a chimney or venting system. Electric fireplaces and stoves have a built-in heater to provide the right amount of warmth controllable by the flick of a switch. These appliances can be installed into an existing fireplace opening or into a mantel. They are ideal for apartments, town homes, offices or even hotel lobbies and rooms.