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How to choose the right fireplace for your home

When winter gets its icy grip on you, a fireplace can be the perfect way to keep warm. Here's how to make sure you choose a fireplace suited to your home.

When winter gets its icy grip on you, a fireplace can be the perfect way to keep warm. Here’s how to make sure you choose a fireplace suited to your home.

Winter is upon us and when considering ways to heat up your home, many people consider adding or restoring an indoor fireplace. They do so much more than heat up a room, fireplaces change the feel of a room as well, making it more romantic and cosy. There are several different types of indoor fireplaces you can purchase, but they basically fall into the broad categories of wood burning, gas, Ethanol or electric.

“As with any home improvement, it is a good idea to take a moment to think about exactly what you are trying to achieve with your indoor fireplace. Consider the structure that you already have, the amount of heating that you want to achieve and, of course, the design of your home.” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind the reality of what using this new indoor fireplace will mean. For example, using a wood burning fireplace will require keeping wood on hand which then necessitates having a place to store it, as well as cleaning. With all these things to consider, you can use these short descriptions of all the many options available to help you make your decision.”

Wood Burning Fireplaces


A traditional wood burning hearth is what most people think of when they picture a fireplace in their minds. There’s nothing quite as romantic as the snapping and crackling of a fire. These days, however, there are a number of options for you in this category, and they can differ in terms of how easy they are to install, how much heat they put out and how cost-efficient they will be for you to operate. The Traditional Open Hearth have existed for centuries and typically made of stone or brick. When you are close to them, you can really feel the heat and they look the most authentic, however, they often are not as effective at heating the room as some of the more modern varieties. If you do not already have a fireplace in your home, it will require a fair amount of construction work to put in both the opening itself and the chimney for proper ventilation.

Fireplace Inserts

These are inserts made to fit into your existing fireplace simply by sliding it into the opening. They are enclosed, enabling you to easily turn an inefficient open hearth heating system into one that is more fuel efficient and effective.

Enclosed Fireplaces

Usually, these indoor fireplaces feature a large glass panel enabling you to view the fire as it burns. The design is such that you have less heat escaping up the flute and more entering the room, so you stay warmer while still having the cosy feel of a wood burning fire. The enclosed fireplace is also excep-tionally economical on wood usage compared to the open hearth fire place.

A good quality unit well placed in the home can provide a very effective heating area. Gas Burning Fireplaces Although they may not offer the same feel as wood burning versions, fireplaces that use gas burn more cleanly and typically create more heat at a lower cost. They also require less construction or reconstruction to in-stall, making them an attractive alternative to traditional wood-bur-ning indoor fireplaces.

Direct-Vented Built-in Fireplaces

The direct-vented variety can be vented through an existing or newly constructed chimney, however, you can alternatively use a pipe so that less changes in the house’s structure are necessary and it can be installed in any room. The flame is yellow so it has more of the feel of a wood burning fireplace.

Ventless Built-in Fireplaces

Ventless built-in indoor fireplaces are the simplest to install as there is no need for a chimney or vent. With this type, the flame colour is the blue, typically associated with burning gas. Although every effort is made to keep them clean burning, it is possible that some contaminants will enter your home.

Ethanol Burning Fireplaces

Fireplaces that burn ethanol have become the current trend for their ease in installation as well as their contemporary design. You can find a design to fit in well with any decor or budget. They are clean and odourless and, perhaps best of all, they require minimal installation, if any. Note that they will probably not create as much heat as a gas or enclosed wood burning fireplace, but they are more environmentally friendly.

Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are the are the most cost effective option to install. Another added benefit of electric fireplaces is that most of them enable you to turn the heating function on or off while maintaining a fireplace-like ambiance. Most electric fireplaces include a remote-controlled heater and some even have different varieties of fire effects, which allows total user customization. However these might not be as attractive as some of the other options and not give that authentic fire feel. You also need to remember that these will be used during the cold, when energy consumption is high and load shedding is inevitable – thus possibly leaving you in the dark and cold.

Tabletop Fireplaces

This is definitely a trend alert. These come in different sizes, enabling you to make use of them in a variety of settings. They are easily portable, especially the smaller models, so you can take them from one room to another, or move them if you need to use the table or other piece of furniture for a different purpose. They are used more as a décor item for creating an ambience, and not for heating up a room, however you could expect a slight rise in temperature if you for example sit around the table where it is located.

Electric Fireplace TV Stands & Entertainment Center

Some media furniture comes equipped with an electric fireplace. This allows you to combine two important pieces of furniture. Electric fireplace entertainment centers are beneficial for people who live in smaller homes or apartments.

With all these options to consider, measure the area you would like to heat, do your research and visit a few manufacturers to get their opinion. Make the best of loadshedding with a glass of wine or cup of hot chocolate and snuggle up infront of your fireplace for some quality family time.

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