An open fire is no longer a necessity for domestic heating, but makes an attractive feature that can be purely decorative or supplement a central heating system. In fact, you can even have the best of both worlds! There is a range of open fires, from open gas fires to electric fires or traditional wood fires. Whichever open fireplace you choose, whether custom or not, you will be creating an atmosphere that is on par with the glass fronted fireplace, if not even more ambient.
Keep on reading to find out all there is to know about open fires.
What is an open fireplace?
If you want to enjoy the beauty and warmth of an open fire, the first consideration is whether your home has an existing fireplace and flue. If you have a modern home without those features, you can opt for a freestanding bio ethanol fireplace which can be situated in any part of your living space and does not require any special ventilation. Bio ethanol is a clear liquid fuel made from plant and vegetable matter.
For homes where there is a fireplace or a chimney breast where a fireplace can be reinstated, but bringing the flue and chimney up to the necessary standards is not practicable, your choices for powering an open fireplace are bio ethanol, electricity and gas fires. Of course, with an electric fire or bioethanol fire, the 'flames' are only an effect so there is no need for a flue or a glass front.
Some designs of an open fireplace are more traditional, for example, they use cast iron baskets in an antique style, to complement the room of a period house.
You can learn more about Victorian fireplaces here.
Whereas, other open fires have a sleek, contemporary look that will suit a modern living room.
Find out more about bioethanol fireplaces.
Gas Fires: the pros & cons of open gas fireplaces
There are a range of benefits to an open gas fire. Modern open gas fireplaces are easily operated as they are fitted with many features such as automatic controls enabling you to switch on and off open gas fireplaces. You can also have a module installed into an open gas fireplace hearth (located on the floor area of gas fires) which contains coals and logs inside.
Read more in our blog article on Gas Fire Matrix.
All gas fires need a fireplace hearth and adequate ventilation but some are safe to use without a flue installed to the roof. These models are fitted with an electric fan, which directs fumes to the outside through a wall to the side of the fire, even as far away as 7 metres. Alternatively, an open gas fireplace fitted with a catalytic converter neutralises harmful carbon monoxide by converting it into carbon dioxide and water vapour. Therefore, an open gas fireplace is clean burning, so you can rest in the assurance of its safety and simultaneously create the beautiful gas fire you so desire.
However, open gas fireplaces which are connected to a flue system do not fare very well on the energy efficiency front. This is because much of the heat output escapes up the chimney. A more efficient option is a convector gas fire. In addition to the radiant heat it produces, an integral heat exchanger pulls in cold air and releases warm air back into the room's airflow.
Therefore, in the case of an open gas fireplace without a flue system, the heat output into the room is much higher because less heat is lost. This is especially the case when you compare the open fronted gas fireplace to a fireplace sealed with a glass front. This means that when opting for an open fronted gas fireplace in lieu of a sealed one, you are saving on heating costs.
Other types of open fires
For a real fire burning wood or coal, a fully functioning flue and chimney system is a must to comply with Building Regulations and for the safety of your family and property. When installing a solid fuel fire or a large gas fire, it is vitally important that you have your chimney swept, checked for damage and any repairs carried out. Once in use, your chimney should be swept at least once a year if you are using smokeless fuel and twice a year for wood and coal.
Safety considerations for open fireplaces
Safety is a top priority when it comes to open fires.
Most cities and large towns have been designated as smoke control areas under the provisions of the Clean Air Act 1993. If you are unsure whether that applies to your home, contact your Local Authority. Within a smoke control area, you can only burn authorised fuels, which have been tested to establish that they can burn without producing smoke. Lists of such fuels, one for each of the countries of the UK, can be found on the DEFRA website.
HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme) is the official body which approves installers for fireplaces burning solid fuel.
Safety precautions for a Gas Fireplace
Open gas fires are generally safe, especially when compared to wood burning fireplaces, but you must take steps to ensure their safety.
There are some obvious precautions you should take such as keeping flammable items at a safe distance away from open gas fires and carrying out annual maintenance.
If you would like to have an open gas fire, it is wise to take professional advice on the most appropriate solutions for your home. For installing an open gas fire, you must use an engineer from the Gas Safe Register (Gas Safe Register replaced CORGI as the registration body for gas engineers in 2009). They are specialised in installing and fitting open gas fires to the mains gas supply in a way which ensures its safety and efficiency.
Whether you decide to opt for the traditional or contemporary look, the open gas fireplace or the bioethanol fireplace, you can be sure that you will create a cosy atmosphere in your living room or home. There are a wide range of custom fireplaces you can go for that will suit your style of interior and enhance the overall look of your living space. Combine that with toasty warmth and you are winning at life!