When the weather outside is frightful, a fire can be so delightful. That’s what the song says, anyway. But loads of homeowners tend to agree with the sentiment, so surely they can’t all be wrong. Adding a fireplace to your home can seem like a big undertaking, but there are several options for homeowners looking to add a little snap, crackle, and pop to their living spaces.
Fireplaces: Beyond the Chimney
Long, long ago, there was only one way to have a fire indoors: you had to have a brick chimney to contain the flames and keep everybody safe. However, that was back then; today there are lots of options for adding fireplaces to your home without having to also add a new chimney or repair an old one that’s no longer in use. This is great news, especially if you really want a fireplace for ambiance, rather than to be used as a primary heating or cooking source.
While wood-burning masonry fireplaces have a sort of rustic, nostalgic appeal, today’s modern ventless options are far easier to install, require a lot less maintenance, and are often extremely fuel-efficient should you choose to use them to help fight back winter’s chill.
Chimney-Free Fireplace Options
If you have an existing chimney that’s in great shape, there are lots of options for units that can be installed into that space. For many homeowners, however, it’s not that simple, because either their home never had an open chimney, or the one they do have is in poor shape. This is where chimney-free fireplace options really shine. They can be placed pretty much anywhere you want to put them since there’s no flue required.
When you go shopping, consider options like:
- Ventless gas. Ventless gas fireplaces have been in use for a while now. Unlike some gas units, the ventless gas units don’t require any kind of vent, so they can be installed on an inside wall, between rooms, or in other tricky spots. Although they don’t need a vent, it is recommended that you put them in larger rooms. You can often use a ventless gas fireplace when the power is out, making them a great emergency backup in a house that’s otherwise heated with electricity.
- Electric. If you really like the look of a fireplace, but don’t want to deal with cleaning or maintaining anything, an electric fireplace is a great option. These aren’t your grandmother’s electric fireplaces! Most units have beautiful LED-based simulated fire and blowers that can put out a lot of heat. When in heating mode, they work a lot like large space heaters. But like an electric space heater, they need almost no care to keep running year after year. Many units can also have the LED turned on independently of the heating element for cool-to-the-touch flames all year round.
- Ethanol. Looking for real fire without having to hook up gas lines? Ethanol may be the solution you’re seeking. Instead of piping in gas or tying into the electrical, an ethanol fireplace will produce a real flame with bottled alcohol-based fuel that you simply pour into the burner and light. They come in a huge range of sizes and designs, suitable for many indoor applications. You’ll get some heat from these, but not anything substantial. They’re similar to gel fireplaces, which have been losing popularity to ethanol fireplaces for years, but unlike gel fireplaces, they use a liquid fuel instead of a gel-based one.
- Water Vapor. If you only want the look of fire, but no actual fire to deal with, a water vapor fireplace can give you one of the most realistic experiences without limitations. These fireplaces can be incredibly large and long, limited largely by your imagination. They don’t produce any heat, since water vapor is used to reflect special lights that create the illusion of a flame. All you need is electricity and tap water to set the mood.