Both inside and out, fireplaces help create a cozy atmosphere, especially on chilly nights. If your home lacks a built-in fireplace or you're looking to add another one without lots of construction, opt for a pre-made version that's ready to install. In this guide, we break down the most common mounting options and fuel types for fireplaces. You can also dig deeper to learn even more about each type of fuel source.
Fireplace Fuel Types
Benefits: no actual flame, no vent necessary (therefore very little installation)
Good to Know: Electric fireplaces produce warmth by heating coils, and many feature internal fans to help distribute heat. There are many options in electric fireplaces to make the flame look more lifelike.
Benefits: low cost, heat is easily turned on and off
Good to Know: Two types of gas can be burned: natural gas and liquid propane. Natural gas will require the installation of a gas line, while propane gas uses tanks to hold the fuel. There are also two ways gas can operate: with or without a vent. Vented fireplaces require a chimney to remove fumes, while ventless versions burn at a higher temperature to burn up harmful fumes.
Benefits: clean burning, minimal installation, no effect on gas or electric bills
Good to Know: This fuel source is most often used in indoor fireplaces. Gel fueled fireplaces don't require much installation and aren't attached to a gas or electric bill. Gel fuel tends to be sold separately in cans, so it isn't the most cost-efficient option
Benefits: the overall experience—the crackling logs, the smoky scent, and more
Good to Know: This traditional fuel source isn't cheap and requires lots of maintenance (fireplace cleaning and ash disposal).
Important Units of Measurement to Consider
A BTU (British thermal unit) rating can assist you when comparing the energy output of heaters.
The higher a heater's BTU rating, the better its heating performance. Other factors that impact heating performance include the room's current temperature, the room's size, and the room's dimensions.
The majority of standard power outlets in the United States are 120 volts and have spots for two plugs and are rated for 15 amps.
Watts is a metric unit of power equal to one joule of energy per second.
The standard ratio of watts to square foot heated used in residential measurements is 10 watts to 1 square foot.
Fireplace Mounting Options
Designed to provide the look of a built-in mantel without much (or any, in some cases) construction, free-standing fireplaces come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Depending upon the material being burned, a free-standing model can be attached to the ceiling, fully attached to the wall, or completely free standing. Free-standing fireplaces also include those fireplaces built into entertainment centers that allow a TV to sit on the top "shelf" or mantel of the fireplace.
Tabletop fireplaces are most often found outdoors. This type sits atop a table warming those who sit around it.
Wall-mounted fireplaces are popular choices for both indoor and outdoor spaces that need extra warmth. This type of fireplace can be connected to a chimney, depending upon what type of fuel it is burning. Wall-mounted fireplaces can also come with attached mantels, or be left bare so the homeowner can make their own design choices.
Built-in Fireplace Insert
Electric in-wall installations can be used in cabinets or existing fireplaces. Inserts can be found in either a hardwired or plug-in style, and are front serviceable.