Modern Fireplace Alternatives

January 27, 2015

Modern Fireplace Alternatives

Wood Fireplace

While a traditional wood fireplace is nostalgic, there are also many challenges that come along with them. More people are seeking out Modern Fireplace Alternatives that are easier to live with. These can range from a Gas fireplace to Ethanol Fireplaces to Electric fireplaces.

In California (and other states are following suit) the concerns are even legal in nature as more and more communities now have bans or moratoriums on including a traditional wood fireplace in any new construction due to air quality. While concerns over air quality remain a societal and environmental concern, other concerns deal with more practical matters when it comes to burning wood in your home. Here’s a short list:

  • Smoke
  • Soot
  • Ash (that needs to be disposed of)
  • Cost of Wood
  • Wood Storage
  • Insects being introduced into the home via logs
  • Wood Debris tracked through the home
  • Difficulties starting and maintaining a good fire
  • Requires a large Chimney so expensive to build
  • Regular maintenance required for safety
  • While can add charm, a fireplace is imposing on a room.
  • Most heat lost up the chimney (can actually loose more heat than you gain)

There has to be a better way to enjoy a fire inside the home. Luckily there is… Here are a few to consider:

Gas Fireplace

A Gas Fireplace is easy to use. Higher priced models can produce a somewhat realistic flame that mimics a wood fire – many come with ceramic logs that approximate a traditional wood fire. For those wanting a more modern approach, fire glass or stone can be used.

Here’s our take on Gas Fireplace Advantages:

  • Easy to light
  • Consistent Flame and heat
  • Easy to regulate ( maybe even a remote controlled unit)
  • Vent rather than chimney
  • More efficient than a wood fireplace
  • No wood to haul or store
  • No buildup of creosote in the vent

But there are still major Gas Fireplace Disadvantages:

  • Expensive to install
  • Requires a vent to the outside (so there is still heat loss)
  • Requires a gas line to be run (a bigger problem in all electric homes)
  • Limited Burn Times (most manufacturers recommend no more than 2 hours at a time)
  • Smell – sometimes a “gassy” odor can accompany the burn

There are “Ventless Gas Fireplaces” – but these use a catalytic converter similar to the one in your car’s exhaust. If  it were to malfunction, it could fill your house with dangerous carbon monoxide.

Ethanol Fireplace

An Ethanol fireplace is a great Modern Fireplace Alternative to either a wood fireplace or gas fireplace. First and foremost they are simple and less costly to install as they require no venting, or gas lines. Many are even portable and can be moved from room to room within the home. Others can easily be mounted on the wall (similar to hanging a picture). They are modern in appearance so very stylish. Ethanol Fireplace Fuel requires very little space for storage and burns totally clean.

Here’s our list of Ethanol Fireplace advantages:

  • Clean Burn (No smoke, No Soot, No Ash, No Odor)
  • Easy to Install
  • Lower cost
  • No vent required. Truly a ventless fireplace
  • Portable – so easy to take with you when you move
  • Can be installed in a rented apartment or home
  • Natural and lively flame
  • No maintenance
  • 100% efficient as all heat generated stays in the room
  • Fuel is green and sustainable

There is really very little downside to an Ethanol fireplace.


Wood fireplaces are becoming more and more out of favor due to environmental concerns. Not to mention higher maintenance, and cleanliness issues when you consider wood storage, smoke, soot and ash disposal and creosote build-up in the chimney. Of course on the positive side they are nostalgic, romantic, have a nice crackle, and give off a pleasant odor (for most).

Gas Fireplaces are a solid alternative but have their own challenges for installation and cost as they must be professionally installed, requiring a vent to the outdoors and a gas line to “fuel” the unit.

Ethanol fireplaces make the choice to have a fireplace in the home simple and affordable. Most can be installed by the homeowner with little if any alteration to the structure or technical know-how, as no vent or piping is required. They are relatively low in cost compared to other alternatives. And as far as the environment is concerned – they burn absolutely clean and Ethanol Fireplace Fuel is easy and clean to store. In most cases, should you move, you can take your fireplace with you.

Ultimately this is personal choice with some trade-offs. Any of these solutions for easy to live with modern fireplace alternatives will make for romantic evenings and keep you toasty warm on a cold winter’s night – so pop open your favorite bottle of wine, or a glass of port, and enjoy!

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