By Mike Eide
Burn with wood, or gas? It’s a battle as old as time itself. Over the next two weeks I hope to help you in some of the main differences between these two fuel sources. In the end next week, we will total up the judges scores to declare a winner.
Let me just start by saying this is a particularly hard topic to judge. The judge has spent all week losing sleep over this important decision and in no way reflects the thoughts and opinions of Mr. Fireplace. This is written in fun and our hope is that you will use this article as an information piece in case you are struggling with this same question yourself. With all that said every person is different and could judge these categories differently in different situations.
Now that is out of the way, lets get down to business. This exciting match-up will be graded on the following topics.
Open Front Looks
Ease of Use
At the very end we will tally up the results from these categories and determine our winner. So lets get ready to rumble with Gas vs. Wood Round 1!
A wood-burning fireplace is a heating appliance capable of burning wood fuel. The appliance will usually be made of solid metal (steel or cast iron), can have a closed or open fire chamber (firebox), usually has a type of fire brick inside the firebox and usually can contain an air adjustment setting to help in adding air to the combustion inside the firebox. The fireplace will exhaust through wood chimney pipe that is properly vented through the roof.
A gas-burning fireplace is a heating appliance capable of burning natural gas fuel. The appliance will usually be made out of solid metal (steel), usually will be closed and may contain a decorative front on it. It can have bricks or just be painted black in the firebox and will exhaust through gas chimney pipe either vented through the roof or direct vented out the side of your house.
The sizes of fireplaces can vary quite dramatically. A gas fireplace can be as small as 28” wide and as big as 50”. Modern linear gas fireplaces can even be bigger than 50”.
A wood fireplace can be as small as 36” or as big as 50” wide. You can however have a brick mason come in and build your own fireplace, which could be any size.
For this category we are going to disregard the sizes of the modern linear fireplaces. Traditional gas fireplaces are being designed to emulate a real wood fireplace. The same can be said for the sizes. Therefore we will the winner of this category go to:
Look Options –
As we mentioned above traditional gas fireplaces are being designed to emulate wood fireplaces in looks. If you are after a modern look in your home, a wood fireplace probably won’t work for you. While there are a few modern looking wood fireplaces, the options are few and far between, and the sizes will not come anywhere close to that of a modern gas fireplace. If you are looking for a traditional look, then wood is the better option. For modern gas takes it. Therefore the winner of this category is:
Open Front –
You will need to check with your local laws, as this might not even be an option for you as it may be illegal to have an open front heating appliance. Simply said though, they are very few gas fireplace options with an open front look. Now in wood fireplaces, even a sealed airtight combustion fireplace will often have an option of a fire screen that you can use with the fireplace doors open to give that old open fireplace look. Gas fireplaces are being designed to have such a clear view of the fireplace that it appears as though there is no glass there. It still can’t beat the real thing. Winner:
Your Senses –
By senses we mean obviously look, sound, smell (tasting your fireplace is not recommended). The look or sight sense will be drawn to the clean look of the fireplaces themselves. The flames dancing will excite your senses. While a gas fireplace will try to emulate a wood fireplace flame appearance, nothing comes close to an actual wood fire flickering and dancing in a firebox. The sound or hearing sense is not close as a gas fireplace will make no noise at all, while a wood fireplace gives you the crackling and general low roar of wood burning. With a gas fireplace you will get no smells (upon burning your gas fireplace for the first time you will get a smell of the paint curing inside the firebox for the first little while). A wood fireplace will give you a smell of the wood, as well as maybe a little smoke you might get in your room from opening and reloading the wood. The winner of this category is:
Ease of Use –
When it comes to ease of use its not really a close category. With a wood fireplace there is cutting, chopping, storing, filling, refilling of your fuel. With a gas fireplace you simply flip a switch. The switch will turn on the fireplace. When you are done with your fireplace for the night, with a wood fireplace you must burn it down. It will take a while to fully be out. With a gas fireplace, again you just flip a switch. With this it’s a no-brainer that the winner of this category is:
So that concludes round 1 and this round was a beating by wood over gas. As we take a look at the judge’s cards it appears that wood is beating gas 3-1. Be sure to check back next week as we get to round 2 and see if Gas can make a comeback in this epic battle of fuel sources.