Fireplace Buyers Guide
Your first choice is to decide if you want a gas or electric fire.
If you decide on an electric fire you need to access if it is suitable for your property, some are wall mounted and some are inset, the wall mounted ones will suit most situations as they mount on to the wall no building work is required, all you require is a normal plug socket close to the fire as most electric fires come with a 1.5 metre cable.
The inset electric fire will require building work to make an opening for the fire to inset into, this can be done into a standard cavity wall in most cases as you normally have a 4 inch brick then a 3 inch cavity or if you have a chimney breast can be inset into this or in some cases they can be accommodated in a suitably rebated mantle or some fires have spacers available.
An electric fire is 100% efficient but will have much higher running costs than gas fires, electric fires are ideal if you want an effect and an occasional boost of heat as they usually have a 2 kilowatt output, they are not suitable for a main source of heat for a room in most cases they are used as a backup to central heating.
First of all you will need to asses which type of chimney you have as different fires require different chimney types please find below a guide to find out which chimney you have. (please ensure you get a qualified gas installer to check your chimney type before purchasing)
Understand Your Chimney
There's nothing more frustrating than setting your heart on a new fire only to discover that its not actually suitable for your home. To help you understand which fires are suitable for your home we have prepared a key to classify your chimney - outlined below. When looking through the product pages on this site you will see the same descriptions used to indicate which types of chimney are suitable for that fire.
Brick Built Chimney
The classic brick built chimney is suitable for all gas and electric fires and stoves. As these chimneys are deep you can choose a full depth gas fire through to the shallower slimline or electric products.
Pre-fabricated chimneys are suitable for most gas and electric fires and gas stoves. Pre-fabricated chimneys offer a good depth so you can choose from the majority of full depth gas fires and all slimline gas and electric fires.
This flue is manufactured into rectangular hollow concrete or clay blocks that travel vertically, up through the cavity wall of your property, to a ridge vent or metal flue terminal on the roof. These flues tend to be very shallow in depth, although suitable deeper appliances may be able to be installed with the use of either a spacer kit or deeper rebate on the fireplace.
A power flue is an open fronted gas appliance with an electronically driven fan system either semi recessed or surface mounted on the outside of the wall to expel the flue gases and as such a sound is to be experienced when the fan is turned on. When the fire is not in use, some natural air circulation may occur through the flue terminal, which is quite normal.
There are two types of power flue options available, a rear flue or side flue for left and right applications in instances where it is not possible to rear flue through the chosen wall (conditions apply). It may also be possible to install a deep power flue gas fire for added realism, subject to the depth of rebate on a surround if applicable or if installed with a spacer kit where available.
A balanced flue is a glass fronted gas appliance, which is completely sealed from the room into which they are installed and vents directly to an outside wall. Air is drawn in from the outside for combustion purposes through the outer pipe. the inner pipe vents the combustion gases safely away to the outside of the property.
There is no electric supply required; hence no sound or natural draught is experienced as with a power flue appliance. There is also a choice of either outset or inset versions available.
No chimney. No outside wall no problem.
Flueless fires are ideal for these situations, they have a catalytic converter in them similar to your car that turns the carbon monoxide produced into carbon dioxide.
They often require a minimum room size and also an airbrick (additional ventilation) due to the way that they operate.
Please check before purchasing that you have the correct circumstances to install this type of product.
This is only a guide for your information only.
Any fire you choose please get you gas installer to check you have the correct flue type before you purchase the product.
Once you know which type of chimney you have you can choose your fire.
There are two main types of fire glass fronted and open fronted, the glass fronted fires are generally more efficient but the glass front does detract from the effect of the fire and will need cleaning on a fairly regular basis to keep the viewing area clear. The open fronted fires are less efficient but generally the effect looks more realistic
There are also 2 main ways the fire can get the heat into your room, one is a convector which draws cool air in underneath and puts hot air out through the top of the fire, using the basic principal that heat rises.
A radiant fire relies on the ceramics in the fire bed and the hot box lined with ceramic fibre to radiate the heat into the room, in our opinion the only thing that matters in the choice of your fire is the output of the fire rather that the way it gets the heat into your room.
Although gas fires are now a lot more efficient, and have much higher outputs than before, in most cases they will not be suitable as a main source of heat for a room, in really cold conditions other forms of heat may be required i.e. central heating.
There are also 4 main styles of fire,
Nothing beats crackling logs or glowing coals on a cold winter night, but if you live in a smoke-controlled area, you will need to use smokeless fuel or purchase a DEFRA approved stove which can be expensive and be prepared to clean the grate between fires. Also think about the practicalities, ie: where are you going to buy seasoned wood or smokeless fuel, and how will you store it? If wood or coal is your fuel of choice, you could also chose a stove. A Class 1 flue is required for solid fuel fires. These fire are often thought of a cheaper to run than gas but unless you have a free supply of wood they are generally more expensive to run than gas and can be hard to control.
There are thousands of fireplaces available, in various styles and finishes it is really down to personal preference on whether you go for traditional, modern or contemporary.
Also the period of the property can sometimes help you to decide on which type of fireplace you require.
The main thing to consider would be the size as you may be restricted to certain widths by your chimney breast, also consider your carpet cutout if you are not changing your carpet.
We hope you find this guide helpful but before you purcase please get a qualified installer to check the goods you want to purchase before committing to buy.
Fireplacestoreonline.com The fireplace megastore.