Image Credit: Andrew Ashton for Eco-Smart
Winter has arrived. And with it, fireplaces to warm the hearth.
Fireplaces have evolved from the days of the hunter-gatherer huddling around the campfire to modern city living, where, at the touch of a smartphone button, an indoor hotspot can come alive.
“Basically we separate fires into three categories these days,” says Jeff Collins, marketing manager of Australian company Real Flame.
“We start with fires that are purely decorative. They are designed not to create heat but more a focal point in the room, an ambience and romance and all of the things that a fire evokes with people.”
Then, there is a “crossover product”, which, while still decorative by nature, can heat small spaces up to about 40 square metres.
The third category has a nice flame pattern and a double-glazed fireplace which can heat up to about 150 square metres, he says.
Image credit: A Real Flame Elegance gas fire. Photo: Real Flame
Real Flame’s fireplaces are designed and built in Scoresby, Melbourne. Collins says they primarily play in the high end of the market. Wood, ethanol and gas are among the various types of fireplaces available today.
“Gas is the most popular because it gives you a very robust flame,” says Collins.
“I think probably wood would be second most popular because a lot of people see it as being a cheaper alternative for running costs. That is really only the case if you have access to free wood.”
Collins says if you look at the typical living pattern of a family, one of the pros of having a heating fireplace these days is lower running costs. They tend to spend 85-90 per cent of their time in one area in the house where most of the family eat and watch television, he says.
“Most people these days don’t want heated bedrooms,” Collins says. They want bedrooms that are comfortable but not heated so ducted systems are becoming less popular to run in that instance, he says.
“Gas fires are looked at as a good alternative because you can heat the main living area at a third of the cost of running a whole of home-ducted system. So economics come into it.’
Image Credit: Balcony romance. Photo: Eco Smart
Collins lists smell and safety among the cons of having a fireplace.
“I think the biggest con with wood would be the smell. It creates a bit of a dust and smell in a space and that’s once again why a lot of people are moving across to gas.
“Cons of ethanol, I guess, would be to some people the safety aspect. Because you have to carry a hot inflammable liquid in a container to the source of the fire and top it up.
“For gas, I guess the only con would be sometimes it is difficult to install from a flue perspective, particularly in high-rise apartments and difficult areas where it might prove hard to get the flue up.”
Eco-friendly fireplaces (such as those from Designer Fireplaces) are increasingly sought-after by consumers.
Stephane Thomas, director of The Fire Company, says a bioethanol fire is an environmentally-friendly fire that’s an alternative to more traditional sources of heat.
Established in 2002, The Fire Company’s range of eco-friendly bioethanol fireplaces, burners, fireplace inserts and accessories can be found in 75 countries.
“These fires operate using bioethanol, an eco-friendly, renewable energy source, which burns clean and produces no harmful emissions. Bioethanol fires don’t have flues or utility connections, which means they’re portable and can be used in a wide variety of outdoor and indoor environments. They’re also efficient and cost-effective.”
There are many EcoSmart options of freestanding, portable fires which can be positioned and moved as required.
Enter the modern era of a smartphone-operated gas fireplace. New Zealand-based Escea’s in-house engineers have developed the Smart Heat Technology.
Smart Heat refers to the ”brains” behind the gas fireplace, the company’s website says. “It continuously monitors the temperature to increase or decrease the heat output to maintain a consistent temperature. These brains also enable the Escea fireplaces to be controlled with a smartphone via the Escea app.”
Property stylist Jo Powell of 3 Pea’s Property Styling says people often have almost a romanticised notion about certain heating options.
“It’s nice to have perhaps an aesthetic aspect for it, but the heating that you choose must provide the heat that you need for the area that you’re attempting to warm,” Powell says.
“In certain situations, I would always bring in a heating specialist to make sure that the specifications of the unit that’s going in will satisfy the requirements,” she says.
“There can also be some safety issues around that in terms of ventilation and flueing. When you are dealing with old fireplaces as well you need to be sure that they are structurally sound.”
Note from us:
If you are interested in Austrian ceramic fireplaces speak to a specialist and contact Designer Fireplaces.