Fireplace Buying Guide
A fireplace is the focal point of the living room, making the fire itself the most important purchase of the room. A fire should be stylish, efficient and economical. There are several options available to you for choosing a new fire, each with their own uses and applications.
A commonly asked question about fires is ‘Which type of fire is the safest?’ – the short answer is both Gas Fires and Electric Fires are totally safe providing that the fire has been installed and maintained correctly. With a Gas Fire it is important to (a) have it installed by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer (b) have it serviced once a year and (c) install a carbon monoxide alarm to detect any possible leaks. With an Electric Fire a Gas Safe Registered Engineer is not required to install the fire but you should ensure that you have followed the installation instructions correctly. For further information we recommend that you contact the manufacturer.
Gas Fires are fuelled by natural gas so they are on average more economical than Electric Fires. Gas Fires are easy to maintain when compared to wood or coal fires, as there are no ashes or soot to clean up, nor is there a need to load and stockpile wood. Modern Gas Fires are safer for the home as they do not produce smoke or soot, this makes Gas Fires a more suitable option for people with breathing problems.
There is a wider range of Fires available should you choose a Gas Fire. Below you will find a list of each type of Gas Fire available from the PlumbNation Gas Fire collection and a short description of its ideal environment.
Some manufacturers offer their fires with an LPG Conversion Kit. This will enable the Fire to be fueled by stored bottled gas. These are usually found in rural properties where there is no mains gas supply.
The fundamental benefit of an Electric Fire is that a specialist installation is not required. In most cases with an Electric Fire you simply plug it in and it’s ready to go. Electric fires are a great alternative to gas fires because, unlike Gas Fires, Electric Fires can be installed almost anywhere and produce no mess. Therefore an Electric Fire is more convenient for the home and is considered to be highly efficient for the end user as there are no CO2 emissions or heat wasted on flames.
An Electric Fire can add style and sophistication to your living room. The PlumbNation Electric Fire collection is filled with cutting-edge designs and contemporary style. Some Electric Fires are more traditional in design as not every home is seeking a contemporary décor. In such cases we have many Traditional Electric Fires available to offer efficient warmth without looking out of place.
Electric Fires are available as Wall Mounted Electric Fires, Inset Electric Fires or Floor Mounted Electric Fires. There are also some Electric Fire models that can be switched on whilst not generating heat. This is suitable for when there is a need to effectively simulate the look of a real fire without the need for the heat that would normally be generated (ideal for the warmer months).
Inset Fires are installed directly into the fire opening. This is usually in a hearth setting, but in some cases there can be a purpose built opening in a chimney breast higher up the wall. Inset Gas Fires are predominantly for use with Traditional Chimneys (Class 1 Flue), Pre-Fabricated Flues (Class 2 Flue) or Pre-Cast Flues. Inset Fires are the most popular type of Fire and are found in both modern and traditional properties.
Outset Fires are used with a fireplace opening that is covered over and sealed with the supplied back plate. The Outset Fire therefore sits outside the hearth setting, with the majority of the fire protruding out into the room. Outset Gas Fires are predominantly for use with Traditional Chimneys (Class 1 Flue), Pre-Fabricated Flues (Class 2 Flue) or Pre-Cast Flues. Outset Gas Fires are commonly found in older properties, or modern properties trying to achieve a traditional look.
Wall Hung Fires are available as Electric Fires only. A Wall Hung Gas Fire is referred to as a Hole-in-the-Wall Fire (explained below). Wall Hung Fires can be mounted flush on the wall, whereas a Hole-in-the-Wall Fire needs to be mounted in a recess. Also a Wall Hung Electric Fire will require no Flue, so can be mounted anywhere in the room just like a new picture.
Hole in the wall Fires are available as Gas Fires only. They are designed for installation into an elevated recess. Hole-in-the-wall fires are available in both landscape and portrait designs and range from compact models for smaller rooms through to extra large fires that create an imposing feature for the room. Wall fires are especially popular for contemporary interiors, and the frames come in a choice of materials to suit different colour schemes.
No Chimney Gas Fires
All 'No Chimney' fires are 100% energy efficient, converting all gas consumed to heat, and thanks to a in-built unique catalytic converter system, no chimney or flue is required.
An Electric Stove is typically available as a cast iron style electric stove, with a fan heater to provide heat for the intended room. Many Electric Stoves feature flame effects that can be used independently of the heating source, silent operation, thermostats and remote controls. Electric Stoves are cost effective option for a traditional looking setting.
Multi Fuel Stoves
Most Multi Fuel Stoves are capable of burning wood, coal, paper, peat and wood pellets. They contain a removable ash pan for removing coal and wood pellet ash. A Wood Burning Stove does not have an ash pan and is only suitable for burning wood. As many more people are now looking for alternative energy sources, Multi Fuel Stoves are becoming very popular. They have many uses including heating & cooking, and can also be used to supply hot water to your home. Use in conjunction with a hot water cylinder, they can provide the heat source for your hot water supply instead of using a conventional gas boiler or oil boiler.
Fan Convector Heaters
Flame-effect fan convectors run off the central heating system, but with all the visual appeal of a real fire. Efficient, cost effective and totally safe, with no harmful discharges. Ideal for children and the elderly because there are no flames or hot surfaces. Hot water from the central heating system passes through a heat exchanger and transfers its heat to the aluminium fin’s. Cooler air is drawn in at floor level and used to create the flame-effect. The air is heated as it passes over the heat exchanger and then expelled gently back into the room. Flame-effect fan convectors are energy efficient and will add less than £10.00 to your annual heating bill. Independent tests show that fan convectors are at least 24% more energy efficient than a panel radiator in heating up a room.
Choosing a new fire is usually dependant on the type of chimney you have. PlumbNation Heating Supplies have outlined below four chimney types, one of these fire types will describe your most suitable fire requirements and should also help you gain a better understanding of the nature of the fire most suitable for your home.
- Fires for a Brick Built Chimney - Class 1 Flue
Gas Fires / Electric Fires
The traditional brick built chimney is suitable for all Gas Fires and Electric Fires. As these chimneys are deep, you can choose from the full depth Gas Fires (Inset Gas Fires) through to the shallower Slimline Fires or Electric Fires.
- Fires for a Pre-Fabricated Flue - Class 2 Flue
Gas Fires / Electric Fires
Pre-Fabricated chimneys are suitable for most Gas Fires, Electric Fires and Gas Stoves. Pre-fabricated chimneys are usually made of a metal interlocking flue connected to a flue box, with a metal terminal on the roof. The minimum flue size is 5" in diameter. Pre-Fabricated chimneys offer a good depth, not as much as a brick built chimney, however you can still choose from the majority of full depth Gas Fires and all Slimline Gas Fires and Electric Fires.
- Fires for a Pre-Cast Flue
Slimline Fires / Electric Fires
Many new properties that do not have a chimney and are instead fitted with a Pre-Cast Flue. A property with a Pre-Cast Flue will have rectangular, hollow concrete / clay blocks that travel vertically up through the cavity wall that finishes with a ridge vent on the roof. Pre-Cast Flues have a much shallower depth in comparison to a chimney, which of course limits the type of fire that can be installed. In this type of home there will commonly be a flat wall instead of the alcoves that are traditional of a home with a chimney. A Pre-Cast Flue is most suitable for Slimline Fires and Electric Fires. Full depth Gas Fires (Inset Gas Fires) can also be used with Pre-Cast Flues with the aid of a spacer kit.
- Fires for when there is No Chimney / No Flue
Powerflue Fires / Balanced Flue Fires
In some cases properties may not have a chimney or flue at all. Instead, the fire may have a flue that goes straight through an external wall. These are commonly referred to as Powerflue or Balanced Flue.
With a Balanced Flue, the emissions from the fire are extracted through the wall via a fan assembly. Air is drawn into an outer pipe from outside the property for combustion purposes, whilst the inner pipe vents the combustion gases safely away to the outside of the property, thus increasing its efficiency.
Powerflue (or Fan Flue) appliances work similar to Balanced Flues except that whereas the flue gases are normally vented out directly via an external wall, the flue gases of a Powerflue are instead extracted via an electric fan assembly. An electric fan will commonly create some noise whilst it is switched on.