Fireplace Alternatives

Men have always loved fire. There is something primal about it. We still gather around the hearth of a warm grill every 4th of July and it is an integral part of camping. Introducing a fireplace in your home has a dramatic effect. It not only provides warmth but there is an intangible feeling of calm. However, there are many homes out there that do not have a fireplace. So, I simply wanted to do a quick post about easy fireplace alternatives that you can look into.



Gel Fireplaces: As any firefighter will tell you the fire is usually the secondary issue. It is the smoke that is the problem. The carbon based smoke is was does the most damage to the house (Apart from water damage from the fire hose). So with that said, and fireplace alternative has to have the right fuel so that the smoke is not poisonous. Gel fuel is an alcohol based gel that doesn’t produce a toxic smoke. These are the cans you see under the tins at buffets all the time. With gel fuel,  you do not have to worry as much about proper ventilation like a chimney. This may even be an option in your own apartment (Check your lease).

In addition, gel fireplaces almost universally have a modern feel. Many of them are made from glass or metal (Often stainless steel) and fit well with modern, minimalist decor styles. In addition, having a few cans of gel fuel will save a lot of space compared to the cord of wood that you have to keep around with traditional fireplaces. It also provides real heat (around 3000 BTU per hour) which works great in the winter.

On the down side, the fuel is not cheap. The cost to keep it burning is around $1-$1.50 an hour to use. In addition, since it is a real fire, you need to make sure you take all the proper safety precautions. Cheaper gel fireplaces may not be constructed well enough and you will want to make sure that you place it in an area away from all flammable substances.


Gas Fireplaces: These work the same way a gas stove does, however these tend to be a slightly more costly option. You want a licensed plumber to run the gas line, but the results are more desirable. Natural gas or propane is usually less expensive than its gel alternative, and more closely mimic that of a natural wood fire (Usually using faux wood logs). Also, similar to gel, you do not need electricity to operate, making it an option during power outages. These also have a thermostat, unlike gel fuel, so the gas can be turned up or down relatively easily.

Apart from the fact you really want a licensed plumber to put it in, there is very little downside to gas fireplaces. You still need to make all the right precautions, just like you would with gel, but having the thermostat and the cheaper source of natural gas are definitely bonuses. It is only the initial cost that will be a major hindrance.


Electric Fireplaces: This is probably my least favorite, but the easiest to install. There are basically space heaters in nicer wood cabinets and a orange light. However, these will almost universally be allowed in your building as a renter. And if you do not plan on being in the home long, you can bring an electric fireplace with you to your next place. An electric fireplace will save you a lengthy installation process that might require a plumber, and they are usually as simple as plugging it in and turning it on. However, in  many areas, electricity is more expensive than natural gas or propane, making this a more costly option over the long haul. There are many great looking electric fireplaces out there, but since it is not a real fire, it will never quite have the same appeal to me.


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