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Fireplace types for your contemporary home

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Most cultures love outdoor living but in many countries this is not possible because the evenings gets too chilly. Fireplaces are not only an attractive element, but also add a lasting source of warmth and enjoyment for your lifestyle. The ambience of an open fireplace in a home with glowing coals creates a lasting impression and is not easily forgotten. Homeowners, today, can choose from a huge selection of fireplace types each with its own pros and cons. 

Wood / Anthracite fireplaces

Traditional open fireplace

Open brick wood / anthracite fires look great but are very inefficient when it comes to the heating of your home. These fireplaces have a chimney and are very safe to use but their drawback is that only one room is heated with vast amount of wood that needs to be burned. Only about 5 per cent of the energy in the wood is converted into heat inside your home at a temperature of about 550 degrees Celsius. Wood fires die out within a few hours and can not heat the home over night.  

Closed combustion stoves

These are sealed steel units and mostly designed for wood burning only, although some will handle anthracite. The fire is screened with a pane of glass to prevent sparks entering the room. Controllable vents are installed to provide the combustion air for the fire. Some of the newer combustion stoves provide the fire with pre-heated combustion air thereby raising the combustion temperatures to about 900 degrees Celsius. At such high temperatures the wood burns very cleanly, giving off little emissions and considerable heat. 

Gas fireplaces 

Vented gas fireplace

With its artificial coals, logs or pebbles and its reddish-yellow flame, gas fires creates a fine balance between the aesthetic appeal of a real fire without compromising on the warmth and safety of a gas fire. They are easy to light, provide heat almost instantly and require no stoking or cleaning. A vented gas fireplace requires a chimney to get rid of the gasses produced during combustion thus no odour is produced as it is a vented system. 

Un-vented gas fireplace

You can also opt for a gas fireplace without a chimney. These fires burn the gas with higher oxygen content, giving a bluer and hotter flame. This creates less carbon monoxide during combustion and is safe to vent into an open plan area. These fires do have a slight odour especially when the bottle reaches the end and is burning more butane. For health reasons, an un-vented gas fire cannot be installed in a bedroom.

Written by JB, architect & founder of dreamhouses. Reproductions of this article are encouraged but must include a link pointing to //www.dreamhouses.co.za

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