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Choosing a Hearth Product
Fireplaces add comfort and warmth to any living space—but who wants the hassle of splitting wood, smoking up the house and trekking to the woodpile every day? Fortunately, fireplaces have come a long way. Today, you can build a fire without wood. You can build a fire without a chimney. You can even build a fire without striking a match. A fireplace or a heating stove will keep you cozy on those long winter nights and take the chill off during those in-between seasons.
Hearth Product Options
have improved technology that produces dancing flames and glowing embers. They are clean-burning and convenient, with plenty of new features, such as remote controls to start the fire, pre-set timers, automatic thermostats, sound systems to broadcast crackling noises and even scented filters and thermostats.
Wood stoves come in an array of styles and colors these days. Some feature a porcelain enamel finish that can be coordinated to your color scheme. Wood stoves must meet strict standards regulated by the EPA. The new stoves are airtight; some feature built-in catalytic converters that change harmful gases into harmless ones for improved efficiency, while others feature improvements in design to do the same.
look like a wood stove but bring the convenience of gas or oil.
can be installed to use gas or wood. Because of inserts' improved efficiency, your fireplace will emit radiant heat and cause little pollution.
use recycled wood waste that has been dried and compressed into pellets, a cheap and easy form of fuel. Pellet stoves are efficient and clean burning, and now come with motor-driven augers to automatically move the fuel from storage bins to fire boxes.
use damp anthracite coal, which eliminates the dust problems of the past. The newer models have hoppers and automatic augers like pellet stoves. ""Automatic coal stokers"" can be vented directly through a wall or roof without a chimney.
, also called Russian stoves, are built on site and designed to radiate heat for 12 to 14 hours.
What is the difference between top-vent, direct-vent and vent-free?
Top-vent, or B-vent, stoves make use of existing chimneys to vent smoke through the roof. With direct-vent stoves, the exhaust is vented through an exterior wall or roof without need for a chimney, so that you can install your gas stove just about anywhere. Vent-free heaters require no venting at all to the outdoors, so they can be installed against an interior wall. (They do add water vapor to the air, however, and should not be used if your house is airtight.)
Tips on Hearth Products
Once you've decided on the type of fuel you intend to use (wood, gas, pellet or coal), the most important consideration is the amount of space you want to heat. To heat an entire house, you may need a stove with a BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating of 55,000, but to heat one room, it may take only 24,000 BTUs. But you needn't worry about terms like BTUs - your hearth products dealer will point you in the right direction.
Other considerations include design, burn time, availability of fuel in your area, price and environmental quality.
Also, consider what kinds of fireplaces and wood stoves your home insurer covers, any restrictions in the local building code, and whether there are state or local ordinances governing the use of wood or gas stoves in your area.
Article originally written by Ann E. Diviney for
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