Buying the right heater can be challenge. It feels like there are millions of options in the market today, which can be surprising because fire is still fire. Once you’ve settled on a wood-burner and decided you’d like it built into your home, you would assume your choices narrow considerably. You’d be wrong. Even within the inbuilt wood fired heater niche, options are endless. Here are a few pointers to get you started.
A fireplace can be small enough to sit under your bed (though this never a good idea) or large enough to command the room. The size of the heater influences the amount of heat emitted, the mood of the room, and the price of the furnace. If you have a smaller home, you can buy the type of in-built that is designed for smaller spaces. Rather than carving out a hearth, you can buy an ensconced furnace that fits flush inside the wall.
On the other hand, if you have a large room, you can indulge in a bigger inbuilt. You might even go all out and install multiple inbuilts on opposing walls. You can decide whether you want an open flame or something hidden behind a glass door for better safety, less ash dispersion, and easier temperature control.
How is your home laid out? If you have an open-plan kitchen or an unhindered flow from your living room to your dining room, it may be a good idea to get a double-sided heater. It allows you to warm both rooms at the same time, which saves your heating costs. Double-sided heaters often have viewing panels on either side, and modern designs can even allow the view to be different so that the flames look distinct in each room.
On the other hand, if your home has a fireplace and a chimney, you have to get the kind of furnace that fits inside the hearth. It could be a pot-belly or a subtler design that just has a burner and no outer body, allowing it to slip into the hearth. If you still want a traditional fireplace appearance but you don’t have a chimney, you can install a protruding mantel.
While all wood heaters use wood for fuel, there are still variations. Some fireplaces use wood briquettes while others are designed to fit 33 cm logs or even 2 foot logs. Larger furnaces can use any size or shape of log, so you can lop your own blocks of wood while the former ones have to be purchased in pre-set sizes. You may even prefer a charcoal heater.
You can pick your heater based on emissions and ease of lighting. Some in-built heaters have heat bank features and additional chambers that make the combustion process more thorough. This multiple combustion reduces the smoke and carbon monoxide released by your furnace. As for ignition, Greensmart technology means you can light your wood-burning fireplace by touching a single button, just like gas or electric fires.
Selecting an inbuilt fireplace means you have full control of how your house is designed or renovated. You can literally pull apart a wall to put in a chimney, or erect a pillar in the middle of the house. This gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of the size, shape, and design of your fireplace. You could pick a corner, a side wall, or a central location.
The three main inbuilt options are mantels, holes-in-the-wall, and suspended fireplaces. Bordelet furnaces seem to grow out of the ceiling and their suspended chimneys have a curious horn-shaped design. They can be quite visually stunning, and their central location means a wider area can be heated, offering 360 degree warmth and pleasure.
The most important factor in your heating purchase is price. It doesn’t matter how much you like that fireplace, it’s pointless if you can’t afford it. As you estimate your budget, think about your fuelling costs as well. Think about how much wood you will need in a week and how it will be sourced. You could have a regular firebag service that brings logs to your door.
If you live in a wooded area, you might chop your own wood, but you need a sheltered space to dry out the wood, and it can be hard finding fuel during the rainy season, and that’s when you’ll need it the most. Perhaps you prefer a fuel-efficient fireplace that uses less wood overall, or it might be about finding a consistent briquette supplier. Choose wisely!