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Wood stove or fireplace: which one and how to choose?

Small wood stove for installation in an old fireplace
Allegra Leda wood stove

Wood as fuel. This renewable energy source makes your heart lean towards acquiring a means of heating powered by this noble material.

But then, what to choose, a wood stove or a living room fireplace?

In this article you will discover all the technical and aesthetic considerations to take into account before purchasing.

Wood stove or fireplace: which one and how to choose?

We start from the assumption that each case is unique, that is, there are many variables to evaluate.

The size of the room, the architecture of the building, the climate, the furniture are important elements to take into account for the ideal choice.

An external and professional opinion is almost always necessary, but let's say that if you opt for modern devices you will be able to benefit from excellent quality tools.

Currently, you find creations on the market which increasingly combine the advantages of the classic wood stove with the aesthetics of the fireplace in order to combine the design and technology of heat storage systems.

Wood stoves and fireplaces as furnishing elements

Wood stoves and fireplaces today are furnishing and functional tools that determine or emphasize the style of the interior.

Fireplaces are appreciated above all for the atmosphere they manage to recreate, for their romantic and timeless look, but they can also have extremely modern and minimal finishes. Or on the contrary, create vintage, eclectic or futuristic corners... there is something for everyone in terms of design and aesthetic impact. Today, thanks to the shapes available on the market, some open flame fireplaces can also be placed suspended in the room, or installed at an angle, or used to divide spaces. Demarcate the kitchen and the living room for example. In addition, there are fireplaces that can be enjoyed from both sides, with funny ovoid or round shapes: you are truly spoiled for choice!

The same goes for stoves, often imagined as more classic or retro. Today, however, we find them with lively, even original and eclectic coverings, worthy of an artistic object.

This allows these stand-alone devices to be used anywhere in modern and more traditional spaces and even in cramped environments.

The top of the range are the stoves with an earthenware finish printed with almost hypnotic geometric textures, with decorations in pure cast iron or steel and soapstone.

Beyond the aesthetic question, know that one of the main advantages of the wood stove compared to the classic wood fireplace is the accumulation system which allows you, with a single load of wood, to guarantee you the warmth throughout the day: nice comfort, don’t you think!?

Advantages and disadvantages of wood stoves and fireplaces

As mentioned from the outset, there are many variables to consider before purchasing one of these devices, although you will find some very technologically advanced and aesthetically versatile proposals on the market.

  • Aesthetics

One of the factors evaluated first is certainly the aesthetic impact of any element that will make up our interiors.

The wood stove or the fireplace are in fact technological tools, heating more precisely, but which remain visible and given the visual importance of modern architecture, they certainly cannot be chosen at random.

Of course, design is important and as mentioned, by opting for new generation devices you won't have the risk of choosing something dysfunctional. But don't stop at lines, colors and materials, evaluate your needs and desires with a technician.

  • The economic factor

Indeed, if the eye wants its share, the economic side must also be taken into consideration. Let's face it, this is one of the determining factors for the purchase.

The wood stoves and fireplaces currently on the market meet the points set out. Keep in mind that a latest generation device costs between CHF 4,000.- and CHF 8,000.-

The final price must include warranty, fitting and installation. An annual maintenance can be organized and be the subject of a separate contract.

  • Structural limits

The structural aspect is very important when choosing the fireplace or wood stove and should always be evaluated with your trusted technician.

Remember that to function properly and guarantee perfect draft, the chimney needs a large flue, while most stoves have a diameter of 130mm or 150mm.

However, there are cases that have proven and decisive structural limitations in the choice and sometimes it is impossible to install a fireplace, even if it is small.

The stove, on the other hand, especially the pellet one, is much more versatile and can also be installed in attics or in condominiums.

  • Maintenance

Finally, before purchasing a fireplace or wood stove, make sure you understand what ordinary and extraordinary maintenance entails.

For example, if you have little time to devote to it, opt for a cutting-edge stove with automated functions. In all cases a technician will have to intervene annually as for more traditional boilers.

The chimney, on the other hand, is more demanding in terms of cleaning and maintenance, even during ordinary operation.

The pellet fireplace is an alternative for those who like the crackling of wood and the scenery given by the burning flame. In this case, maintenance is reduced, like that of modern stoves.

Does the wood stove heat better than the fireplace?

To assess who heats the most, you need to look at something called energy efficiency.

It is the capacity of the heating device to use the heat that the wood is capable of producing. It is expressed by the percentage ratio between the energy supplied (by the device) and the energy burned in the combustion chamber.

Hastily we could say that the latest generation stove models are becoming the most efficient, but let's focus on each proposal individually.

The open fireplace has a low energy efficiency, around 15%, but remains very scenic even if not completely safe, especially in the presence of children and pets.

The closed hearth is just as spectacular and offers energy efficiency of around 75%. At 84% for the most advanced models. They also significantly reduce polluting emissions.

The wood stove has excellent energy efficiency which, however, varies from one model to another; in general, from a minimum of 75% to a maximum of 86% for the most advanced versions.

Is it possible to save money with wood stoves and fireplaces?

Today there is a lot of talk about saving energy and money and yes, with stoves and fireplaces you can do it. It is possible to recover and recommission an existing flue as well as save on heating costs.

Is it appropriate to replace the fireplace with a wood stove?

You should know that recent European anti-emissions regulations stipulate that open flame fireplaces are too polluting and not very efficient.

So to regain the functionality of a fireplace you can, for example, adopt a closed fireplace solution.

For example :

  • a mini-stove inserted in the mouth of the chimney;

  • a modern and designer closed hearth insert.

During renovation, you may find an old fireplace visible but no longer functional. In this case, there are specific measures to be taken relating to the safe and effective adaptation and operation of this element.

I) Checking the chimney

You must first contact a qualified technician who will verify that the chimney is functional and that the fumes from the new system can be eliminated. Note that old flues should be checked up to the chimney.

II) Installation of the stove inside the chimney

After the technical checks carried out by a professional, you will need to rely on another technician to understand how to proceed and how to effectively reuse the old conduit, now ready for use.

As mentioned, you can install a new, modern and automated stove, especially with an upward discharge (instead of at the rear as with the vast majority of stoves) which manages to simply connect to the chimney system previous without much effort. In this case, the ideal is a low stove. The most compact ones are only 50-65 cm wide and fit directly into the pre-existing compartment.

However, be aware that the pellet stove is more practical in terms of use and installation. Keep in mind that the duct on pellet models is smaller and the connection is easier.

III) Installation of a fireplace insert

If you want the scenography and effect of a real fireplace in your home while recovering the old flue, consider fireplace inserts. These compact monoblocks fit directly into the chimney and are connected to the existing flue. The side spaces are closed with simple fireproof plasterboards or custom metal sheets.

These are elements available on the market with both wood and pellets. This alternative is often favored by the majority.

Contact us to continue to inform yourself about the items available and take advantage of our experts to ask all your questions.

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