Many homeowners are attracted to the warmth and ambiance a cozy fireplace provides. While older homes may feature a traditional wood-burning fireplace, newer homes may typically have a gas or electric fireplace instead since they are less expensive to install, easier to maintain, and more efficient.
But which is better – gas or electric? If you’re considering adding a fireplace to your home or converting a wood-burning one, here are some points to consider.
With a gas fireplace, you can heat a room with the push of a button, but you’ll need a gas line or propane supply to do so. There are three main types of gas fireplaces: insert, vented, and ventless. Inserts come in a variety of styles and sizes and can have extra features such as remote controls and thermostats. Vented gas fireplaces are typically more affordable and more pleasing to the eye. And ventless units, while providing adequate heat, may trigger allergy and asthma symptoms for some.
Electric fireplaces require a standard outlet for operation. They, too, come in a variety of styles and sizes and can be wall mounted, recessed, and even built into furniture. They do not create a real fire but rather a realistic flame and can have features such as a remote control, thermostat controls, and adjustable heat settings.
Gas fireplaces tend to have more aesthetic appeal than electric models as they produce an actual flame that emits heat much like a wood-burning fireplace whereas electric fireplaces project an image of a burning log. Some may have sound effects to mimic a crackling fire. Modern technology has helped electric fireplaces appear much more realistic now; some use water vapor and LED lights to produce a flame effect that looks like real fire.
Generally speaking, gas fireplaces cost more to purchase and install than their electric counterparts. However, they typically cost less to operate and offer more warmth. Therefore, while an electric fireplace may be more affordable up front, a gas fireplace can possibly save money in the long run. Ultimately, operating costs for both gas and electric fireplaces depends on local utility rates, the model and size of the unit, and frequency of use.
Heat and Energy Efficiency
While gas fireplaces produce more heat, electric fireplaces convert energy more efficiently. Gas fireplaces convert energy to heat at around 70 to 90 percent efficiency – not too shabby. However, electric fireplaces generally do not waste energy since they convert nearly all electricity to heat because they do not need to be vented so all the heat stays in the room. Plus, electric fireplaces use efficient LED bulbs and can run without the heater turned on, contributing to cost savings. Gas fireplaces burn natural gas to create a flame, using more energy.
Electric fireplaces are easier to maintain than their gas-powered counterparts. Gas units should be routinely inspected by a certified fireplace technician for gas leaks, as well as cleaned of pet hair, dust, and debris. The flue should also be cleaned once a year. On the other hand, electric fireplaces simply need bulbs replaced and wiring inspected.
Electric fireplaces have fewer safety risks than gas fireplaces. Gas fireplaces produce noxious fumes like carbon monoxide which can lead to health concerns. Also, while rare, gas leaks can occur so it’s important to properly maintain the unit. A tell-tale sign that something is wrong is a rotten egg smell coming from the fireplace. While electric fireplaces do not have the same risk of harmful emissions, an electrical fire can start if wiring is damaged.
Gas, electric, or wood-burning, a fireplace can only do so much to keep your home warm through the winter months. To ensure you have all the heat you need, when you need it, contact the home comfort specialists at Air Professionals today.