The aesthetics and coziness of a fire help to alleviate some of the wintertime doldrums, but it’s the heat being emitted from the fireplace itself that can really help you and your family through those extra frigid days. No two fireplaces, however, give off the same of heat, and the type of fireplace you have can vary widely in the amount of heat it emits. Here’s what you can typically expect from each type of fireplace.
The amount of heat that a wood fireplace gives off depends largely on the size of the fireplace and the size of the room it’s in. A larger fireplace will allow for a larger fire, which will generate more heat. The larger the room the fireplace is in, the less likely it is to remain very warm, as the heat from the fire dissipates over the extended area.
Additionally, the design of the fireplace will impact how much heat it emits. The walls and the back of a fireplace reflect heat into the room, and a fireplace with optimal angles will put out more heat.
In general, a masonry fireplace will likely lose much of its heat as it gets sucked up through the flue. Wood fires can reach over 500 degrees Celsius, but as much as 90 percent of the warmth shoots up the chimney. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel the heat of a fireplace in the room, but it’s not an efficient means of heating anything more than the immediate area around the fireplace.
Ventless gas fireplaces
Fireplaces that do not require venting will be fueled by gas or propane, and rely on indoor air for combustion. Ventless gas fireplaces that have automatic ignitions or use gel fuel can supply a low level of heat to a room for short periods of time, but they come in particularly handy in the event of an electrical outage.
Ventless electric fireplaces, unlike their gas-powered counterparts, will not emit any combustion gases back into the room in which they’re located, but they also emit a low level of heat.
Both gas and electric ventless units are installed primarily for aesthetics and to be a supplemental source of heat for a room – they’re not typically designed to be the primary heat source for a room. A definite advantage these units have over wood fireplaces is that they are nearly 100 percent efficient, as very little of the heat they emit escapes from the room.
Vented gas fireplaces
Gas fireplaces vent their emissions outside the home through a flue, and often incorporate air-movement channels to maximize the warmth they supply to the home. These units give off both radiant and convectional heat, and most utilize sealed combustion, meaning their doors block all air. The fire draws outside air through a pipe to support combustion so no warm air will escape from the house.
While a vented gas fireplace can give your furnace a break, it’s no replacement. Like ventless gas fireplaces, vented gas fireplaces provide a decent amount of heat to the room in which they’re located, but often need a boost from the heat of a furnace to make a room comfortable for an extended period of time. As a result, these units are installed as a supplementary heat source, rather than to function as a room’s primary heater. They are perfect for snuggling up by the TV on a cold winter day, or for reading by, on a lazy Saturday afternoon.