It’s estimated that one-third of American homes have and use a fireplace. But what about the silent majority who make due with no fireplace at all, or at least, one that is still in operating condition?
The answer is the new generation of vent-less fireplaces that have come onto the market, which as their name implies, don’t need a flue or chimney to operate. There are several different types of these fireplaces. Some are fueled by natural gas or propane while others are electric.
One of the most popular versions, however, is gel fireplaces. Gel fireplaces are safe, easy to install and easy to use. Best of all, they come close to the appearance of a real fire, as the gel fuel actually does burn, creating real flames.
Gel fuel has several advantages over traditional wood fireplaces. First, there’s no fumes or smoke released in the room. A gel can burns for roughly two to three hours, which is perfect for an evening in front of the fire. They don’t get roaring hot, either. Three cans of gel will burn at roughly 170 degrees, so you can enjoy a nice fire without worrying about the outside of the fireplace getting hot or even warm. You don’t need any other shielding or special flooring to protect the room.
This makes gel fireplaces perfect for renters. No need to hunt around for a rental with a fireplace; you can bring one right along with you. There’s no need to worry about a fireplace that is in your rental either. Often times, fireplaces fall into disrepair and may have a lot of creosote in the flue or may not draw enough air. As such, smoke ends up in the home, which can carry with it carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.
Even gas log fireplaces can have maintenance issues, largely because deposits can accumulate, clogging the jets. Fittings can also come loose. Gel fireplaces have no lines to be plumbed or jets to clog. Each new can of gel is flaw- and maintenance-free. The only thing you need to worry about is not handling them when they have been burning as they can get quite hot. When you’re ready for bed and want to douse the fire, all you have to do is place the lid over the gel cans with a set of tongs or a mitt.
Gel fireplaces have one drawback, at least when compared to a gas or wood fire. The amount of heat they put out is pretty low. The main purpose of the fireplace is ambience, not heat. In an average room with three cans of gel blazing, the temperature will rise about three or four degrees.
This is a small issue for many homeowners, who really want a fireplace for the mood it sets in a room, not the heat.
It’s also a small issue if you like portability. Because gel fireplaces are ventless, you can add them to any room in the home. You can add a fireplace to your master bedroom, a den, home office or even put it outside on the patio or balcony. And when you feel like rearranging all the furniture in your home, you can rearrange the fireplace too. It’s as easy to move as a loveseat and moving it can give your room an instant makeover. It doesn’t even need a plug.
If you own your home, you can consider installing a gel fireplace permanently. Many models come as wall mount units, allowing you to put it right in the wall, surrounding it with a mantel. Again, no wiring is necessary as in an electric fireplace and installation is pretty straightforward, largely because these fireplaces are self-contained and vent free.