Fireplace Fuel Overview
There are several different types of fuels available to power a fireplace. The fuel option selected will have an impact on the imstallation cost, the maintenance cost, the way that a fire burns, as well as many other factors. This article will serve as an introductory guide to some of the various fireplace fuel options available. For additional information on each fuel type, see the sectionsbelow.
Wood is one of the most obvious and common fireplace fuel types. Everyone has seen a fireplace where logs burn to produce dancing flames. Wood does not cost a lot, however, it can require considerable effort to find and store enough wood to power a fireplace. In addition, wood requires proper venting for the byproducts of burning wood. These byproducts include ash, smoke, and carbon monoxide. Many of these byproducts need to be vented and disposed of properly. The gases can go out the top of the fireplace and out the chimney. However, ashes need to be cleaned out periodically. Moreover, the smoke can leave a lot of residue that needs to be cleaned periodically.
Natural gas can be a good option for a fireplace. The gas is piped in through a natural gas line. This obviously needs to be installed. Many municipalities require a permit in order to put a natural gas line through. Some natural gas fires do not look as realistic as wood fires, but now many gas logs are made to look like burning logs. The pluses for a gas log or natural gas fire is that it is easy to clean. There is no ash left from burning natural gas. Natural gas fireplaces do require venting so that the byproducts of burning natural gas are vented out of the room or home.
Electric fireplaces are becoming much more popular. The advantages are that they use the same electricicty that powers a home. There is no venting required for an electric fireplace. Consequently, they are much easier to install. The only drawback for an electric fireplace is that the fire may not appear quite as realistic.
Propane powered fireplaces are similiar to natural gas in how they are built. The have similiar advantages and drawbacks. However, with propane, the fuel is pumped in through a line that connects to a tank. When the tank runs out, it must be replenished. This can be a good option if you live in a rural area where they are no gas lines available.
Pellets or sawdust can be an economical source of fuel. The advantages and disadvantages would be similiar to wood since they are basically made out of wood and would need to be burned in a wood fireplace. Sometimes these fuels can be more difficult to procure.
Coal is not a fuel that is commonly used in fireplaces. However, some special fireplaces can be designed to use it. Coal fireplaces need more advanced venting options since burning coal produces a lot of by products. It can generally only be used in special fireplaces.