Types of Fireplaces: Which Is Right for Your Home

types of fireplaces
No matter its design, a warm, glowing fireplace inside the home exudes coziness. There are many different types of fireplaces, but each will often become the focal point of a space. They provide the family a gathering place for warmth and comfort. Many older homes are equipped with traditional wood-burning fireplaces, but the technology of today's world has modernized the fireplace, providing more options than ever. Modern fireplaces are much easier to maintain and allow you to choose from an endless array of cool features like custom colors, backlit displays and even remote control thermostats. If you're looking to add a fireplace to your home or replace an existing one, let this be your guide to the types of fireplaces that are available. We'll help you figure out what your options are, what types of fireplaces to consider, and where to shop for the best indoor fireplaces.

Why Does Every Home Need a Fireplace?

Fireplaces are popular features of any home, and they're an often-requested upgrade for home renovations. It's not hard to see why. These are the top reasons that every home should have a fireplace:
  • Efficient heating: With some types of fireplaces, you can "zone" your heating and only heat the areas of the home you are using at the time. This can help you save energy with your central heating system.
  • Higher home value: Fireplaces are a hot commodity among homebuyers, and homes with fireplaces are usually more desirable. Even if you're not looking to sell your home just yet, having a fireplace can increase the overall value of your home. Gas fireplaces see the largest return on investment, followed by wood-burning and electric.
  • Heat that works even in a power outage: Many types of central heating systems will not work in the case of a power failure. However, gas fireplaces, as well as wood and pellet stoves can keep running and provide heat to your home even when the power goes out. If you live in an area that experiences power outages often, a fireplace can still keep you warm.
  • Enhances the interior décor: A fireplace is a special feature of any interior home décor. Available in a wide variety of styles, from more traditional to contemporary, fireplaces can match the style of just about any home, adding to the beauty and charm of the room where they are installed.
  • Ambiance and comfort: A lit fireplace is perfect for creating a romantic ambiance or a cozy atmosphere for a family movie night. The soft light and radiating warmth can make any room feel instantly more comfortable and welcoming. It can also enhance the beauty of the room and the mood of everyone in it.

Traditional vs. Modern Fireplaces: How Do They Differ?

Fireplaces come in all sorts of styles and can match the décor of any type of house. If you're thinking of adding a fireplace to your home, you'll want to know about the differences between traditional and modern style fireplaces, to get a better understanding of what style might be best for you.

Traditional Fireplaces

For older homes with more traditional architectural and interior design styles, a traditional fireplace may be more fitting. This type of fireplace can be more difficult to add in if the home doesn't already have one, however. When thinking of a traditional fireplace, picture a large brick or stone fireplace surround and a wooden mantel above. It may also have some additional metalwork, or glass or metal screens in front. Older style fireplaces burn wood, and they may have places beside the fireplace for storing and stacking logs. These fireplaces are usually an integral part of a wall, especially in a living room, and may have other built-in features around them. A chimney, often constructed from brick, vents the smoke outside the home and is an architectural feature of the home's exterior design. Traditional style fireplaces are perfect if you prefer the charm of a real wood fire and have a more classic look inside the home. If you have a traditional style house with an existing fireplace but don't want the hassle of storing and using logs, a gas or electric fireplace insert may be possible as well.

Modern Fireplaces

Today, a wide variety of options are available for more modern looking types of fireplaces. For homes with a more contemporary design, you can find fireplaces to match. These more contemporary options for fireplaces have become incredibly popular and are much easier to add to any style of home, and in any room — some models are even portable, so you can move them from room to room as much as you like. Most modern fireplaces run on gas or electricity and are much safer than traditional wood fireplaces. With these gas or electric fireplaces, you won't have to worry about a flying ember escaping and causing damage, or needing to put out the fire when you're done. Modern fireplaces are fully contained and can be turned on and off with a flick of a switch. Most of these types of fireplaces do not need a traditional chimney. Instead, they either have a simple venting system, or they may be completely ventless. There is usually no concern for smoke or dangerous emissions. These fireplaces may have artificial logs inside for a more traditional look, or you can choose from a variety of elegant stones or fire glass in many different colors. Some models even allow you to change out the fire stones with the seasons or as tastes change. Modern fireplaces are also very cost-effective and often are far more affordable to operate and maintain than traditional wood-burning fireplaces.

What Types of Modern Fireplaces Can Homeowners Install Today?

Homeowners today have many options for adding a fireplace to their home. If your home already has a firebox and chimney in place, but you don't want the hassle of a traditional wood-burning fireplace, it can easily be updated with a gas or electric fireplace insert. Fireplace surrounds and mantels can also be updated to fit in with any style of décor. Many newer homes are constructed without a traditional firebox and chimney setup, though. If this is the case for your home, you still have many options for installing a new fireplace. Most modern fireplaces run on either natural gas or electricity, and within each of these categories, there are lots of different types of fireplaces, as well as customizable options for each. Both electric fireplaces and gas fireplaces have their own unique pros and cons. Choosing the right one for your home will depend on your needs and preferences.

What Types of Electric Fireplaces Are There?

Electric fireplaces have really gained in popularity in recent years. These fireplaces are convenient to install and easy to use, as well as cost-efficient and incredibly safe. There are four basic types of electric fireplaces available today.

Wall-mount Electric Fireplaces

These convenient fireplaces can simply be hung on a wall, in just about any type of room, and they plug into a standard home outlet. Most wall-mounted fireplaces can be placed as high or low on the wall as you'd like. They have variable color and flame intensity displays, as well as heating options. This style of fireplace can also be partially built into the wall for a more seamless look. It will stick out just a couple of inches from the wall to accommodate the heating elements and vents safely.

Built-in Electric Fireplaces

This style is great for new construction homes, or for installation during a renovation. Built-in fireplaces give the look and feel of traditional wood-burning fireplaces, but without the hassle of storing wood, cleanup and maintenance. These fireplaces are easy to install and can be completely flush with the wall. Just as with wall-mount options, built-ins also have a variety of options for the flames, colors and levels of heating.

Electric Fireplace Inserts

If you already have the existing masonry of a built-in, traditional style fireplace, this is the electric fireplace for you. Electric fireplace inserts fit right into an existing firebox for a seamless look and can plug into a standard home outlet. They can fully replace outdated fireplaces or simply replace a wood-burning fireplace for more convenience and safety. As with other electric styles, you can usually adjust the colors and heat levels.

TV Stand or Mantel Style Electric Fireplaces

These all-in-one standalone fireplaces require no installation. They function like a piece of furniture that you can move around to suit your design and furniture layout. TV stand fireplaces mimic the look of a built-in but without the hassle. They come with their own fireplace surround and mantel, and they can be used to hold the TV or serve as a focal point for the room. Custom options mean you can have whatever look or type of fire suits your style.

What Types of Gas Fireplaces Are There?

Much like with electric fireplaces, gas fireplaces have also really increased in popularity. These types of fireplaces use natural gas or liquid propane fuel. Typically, this gas flows in from a pipeline connected directly to the fireplace. These fireplaces can be standalone models. They can also be used as an updated insert in a traditional fireplace if you already have a firebox and chimney. Either way, there are two main types of gas fireplaces to be aware of.

1. Vented Gas Fireplaces

A vented fireplace provides the most realistic looking fire of the two choices. They're perfect if you crave the look of a real wood-burning fireplace. The flames wrap around the logs and reach higher than in a ventless fireplace However, because of these real flames, vented gas fireplaces still emit carbon monoxide, just like a wood fireplace. For this reason, this type of fireplace requires a functioning chimney to safely operate. You may install these types of fireplaces in an existing firebox. If you don't have a firebox, a chimney or venting system will need to be installed for proper functioning. Vented fireplaces release much of their heat through the chimney. Most think of these types of fireplaces as a decorative appliance, more for ambiance instead of heating the room. Vented gas fireplaces are generally slightly less expensive than the ventless types, but they do require some occasional cleaning and maintenance.

2. Ventless Gas Fireplaces

Newer technological advances have allowed for the invention of ventless fireplaces. Unlike vented versions, you do not need to have a functioning chimney to install this type of fireplace. However, you can still install it in an existing firebox. Ventless fireplaces don't look quite as realistic as their vented counterparts. They are still quite beautiful and will add tons of charm to any room. This type of fireplace uses less fuel and burns more efficiently, making them incredibly cost-effective to operate, as well as more environmentally friendly. They do have a better heat output and are a great way to add supplemental heat to a room. They may be more expensive to purchase, but they are less expensive to operate in the long term. One thing to keep in mind about ventless gas fireplaces is that they do still produce carbon monoxide. Since there is no vent to remove it, it's possible for carbon monoxide to build up in your home. However, as long as ventless gas fireplaces are installed and used correctly, they are safe to operate inside. In some areas of the U.S., ventless gas fireplaces are not allowed. Be sure to check your local and state laws before installing a new unit.

What Should You Look for in an Electric, Gas or Propane Fireplace?

Do you know what type of fireplace to get for your home? Think about your priorities and preferences, and let them guide you. Consider whether you'll be using a fireplace insert or if you'll need a freestanding model. You should also think about whether gas or electric would suit your home better, if you want your fireplace to be portable and if you want it more for heat, ambiance or both. No matter what type of fireplace is best for you and your home, there are likely many additional options you can use to completely customize your new fireplace to your preferences. Today's modern fireplaces are far more convenient than older wood-burning styles and require little to no maintenance. Often, you can turn them on and off with a simple switch. Some even come with the option for remote controls and LED options displays. Many of these newer types of fireplaces have fans inside to direct the heat outward. They even sport thermostat controls to ensure you're always comfortable. The look of many of these fireplaces is completely customizable as well. You can choose framing or a surround to match the style of your décor, as well as the style of the logs, fire stones or fire glass, and color themes on the interior of the fireplace.

What Types of Fireplaces Can You Shop for Online?

All of them! So, why not warm up the temperature, coziness and ambiance of your home with a new fireplace? For an amazing selection of indoor fireplaces of all types, shop online with Ingram's Water & Air. We are proud to offer a wide variety of quality options for gas fireplaces and electric fireplaces. You can get free quotes and price matching services. And we always deliver unmatched customer service and lifetime tech support on all products. Financing is available for those who qualify. Plus, our Lift Gate Service means fast and convenient free shipping is available for many of our products.
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