It’s an age-old debate; which is better, gas- or wood-burning fireplaces?
Much like the war being waged by proponents on either side of the charcoal vs. propane grilling argument, there are folks staunchly in the corner for gas and wood fireplaces.
However, there isn’t one right answer. There are myriad factors that contribute to a homeowner’s choice for one or the other.
We’ll go over the different factors for consideration so you can choose the perfect style of fireplace for your home.
Wood-burning fireplaces are more traditional, harkening back to a simpler time. You’ll need to supply the firewood to keep a roaring glow in your hearth. Folks who love wood-burning fireplaces usually do so because they enjoy the crackling logs, licked by flames. Also, the smell of burning wood fills their homes with the rustic smell of nature. Another thing to consider with wood-burning fireplaces is they are easier to install. No gas-line, etc.
Along with the appealingly traditional aesthetic of a wood-burning fireplace, you will need easy access to firewood. Whether this means splitting it yourself from dead trees on your property, or buying a cord of pre-split logs, you’ll need a large supply of firewood to get through a Northern winter. Starting a fire in a controlled environment, with matches and dried out wood and newspapers is generally easy, but if you’re uneasy about starting a fire, opt for gas. While a wood-burning fireplace is easier to install, it can be harder to maintain. With all the smoke billowing up your chimney, large accumulations of creosote can form. You will need to hire a chimney sweep to clean up these deposits, as they can become a very dangerous fire hazard if left untouched. In fact, 25% of all residential home fire in the United States can be attributed to creosote deposits.
Gas-burning fireplaces have become more popular over the last several years. The convenience is what attracts most homeowners to this style. Instead of lugging huge logs from the woods, you simply turn on the gas, and with a match or lighter, ignite the flame in your hearth. No firewood, no creosote deposits, no need to worry about the chimney flu. Just turn it on and enjoy.
It’s not all roses and sunshine for gas-burning fireplaces, though. You will need to have a gas line installed to your fireplace. The cost of installation varies depending on several conditions, such as distance and location. Typically, these run off natural gas, which is one of the cheaper forms of energy. However, natural gas is not as efficient as, for example, propane, so it doesn’t create as much energy. The upfront cost of a gas-burning fireplace is more expensive than a wood-burning one, but over time, the lack of maintenance tips the scales in gas-burning favor.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer for what is better, a wood- or gas-burning fireplace. Instead, you need to think about what makes most sense for your situation. For example, if you live in the Northern woods of Minnesota, surrounded by an abundant source of fuel in dead trees, by all means, go with a wood-burning fireplace. You’ll love warming your feet in front of the crackling flames. However, if you live in a suburban area without cheap and easy access to firewood, a gas-burning fireplace will turn your suburban home into mountaintop ski chalet once you turn on the flames.