If you want to sell your home, a fireplace can make it more appealing and help it sell faster. It can also add about $2,500 to the sale price. But installing a fireplace is also a good idea if you’re planning to stay in your home, and want to improve your quality of life.
Although most people think first of traditional wood-burning fireplaces, gas and electric alternatives provide the same benefits with far less hassle.
Gas fireplaces essentially work like gas heaters. Hooked up to a propane or natural gas source, they burn gas when you hit a switch, or in response to turning up the settings of an attached thermostat. They provide a real flame, without requiring buying or splitting wood, and then having to clean up the ashes afterwards.
They’re easy to use, and offer precise control.
The real flame gives the feel of a fire.
There are a wide choice of models.
They’re likely to increase the value of your home.
There is a small risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which means you need to install a CO detector.
They can’t be used in a house that’s not plumbed for gas.
They’re more expensive than electric models, and are often more expensive than the amount by which they increase the value of your home.
Depending on the building codes in your area, they may require professional installation.
Although once considered down-market, electric fireplaces have evolved significantly in the past decade. They give off as much as 10,000 BTUs of direct heat, as well as the red-orange glow of a traditional, wood-burning fire. There are a wide variety of styles available.
They’re less expensive than gas models.
They’re easy to install, often simply needing to be plugged in.
They’re suitable for homes without chimneys, or for rental apartments.
They’re safe–there is no smoke or carbon monoxide risk.
They won’t increase home value significantly.
There is no real flame, which in some ways defeats the purpose of having a fireplace.
The electric costs will probably be more expensive than the gas charges for a gas fireplace.
Traditional wood-burning fireplaces, or free-standing Franklin wood stoves, are the other two common fireplace options. While they give you a beautiful blaze, they require far more work. Unless you actually like chopping wood and cleaning out ashes, you will probably use these fireplaces less often than you would electric or gas alternatives.
By Jason Brick