By Mike Eide
Welcome to round 2 of the epic matchup of fuel sources as gas takes on wood. If you haven’t had a chance yet to read round 1 be sure to do so here
At the end of round 1 wood was winning 3-1, but round 2 has 6 categories up for grab. Again this is intended to be a fun article and the judge’s decisions in no way should be a deciding factor in making this decision, rather a information piece in helping making the decision.
So let’s get round 2 going!
Installing a fireplace is a renovation, you will be required regardless of which fuel type you choose to finish framing, dry walling and finishing the area around your fireplace. What can make the install more costly on top of these areas, in a gas fireplace you will be required to have power ran to the unit for it to operate. You will be required (either yourself or the installing company) to pull gas permits (may need permit for wood fireplace or building permits may be required also), and have a gas fitter run the gas line from the nearest source to the fireplace. So while there can be more required of you for your gas fireplace install, it still will be quicker than installing your wood fireplace. A gas fireplace being direct vented out the wall could be completed in a little over an hour, where as a wood fireplace could take ½ a day if not more. With that in mind, the total cost of the installs on these different fuel option fireplaces will be close; the lesser time it will take for the gas fireplace install gives this category to:
Vent Options –
With a gas fireplace you can vent your fireplace in a number of different configurations. Going through the roof, up and out or directly off the back out the side of your house are the main ways you will vent the fireplace. A wood fireplace will be required to vent vertically. You will have very little options beyond (with the exception of elbows to shift here and there returning to a vertical install). With options as far as venting goes the winner goes to:
Manufacturers will suggest you have your heating appliance’s serviced annually by a qualified service technician. This is true regardless of if you choose gas or wood. A gas fireplace cleaning will be done yearly and will be combined with cleaning the glass maybe every second month (depending on usage). That will be the cleaning required on your gas fireplace at minimum. With a wood fireplace you will be required to have your fireplace chimney cleaned once or twice a year (at least before heating season but varies depending on usage), clean your glass at least once a month (maybe more) and clean up wood mess that will inevitably get in your house from bringing the wood in storing it and loading it. With this all in mind the winner of this category is:
BTU’s stands for British Thermal Units. BTU’s are units for measuring heat output. One BTU will raise the heat of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. If you go into any fireplace retailer you will with out a doubt notice that the fireplaces all list a BTU range (as long as the fireplace is adjustable there will be a range). Gas fireplaces can range from low 10,000’s to usually around 50,000 BTU’s on the high end. A wood fireplace will with out a doubt provide more BTU’s than a gas fireplace as some can edge into the 100,000 BTU range. The winner as far as BTU’s go is:
When you are looking at fireplace efficiencies what you are really looking at is how much of that heat will I actually notice. Wood fireplaces are traditionally less efficient than a gas fireplace. In a wood fireplace a lot of the heat will go up the chimney. So while you might have a 100,000 BTU’s wood fireplace if it has 40% efficiency you are only seeing 40,000 of that heat at best. Granted the newer wood fireplaces are becoming more efficient, they still cannot compete with gas fireplace efficiencies. A gas fireplace is specially designed to be an efficient heat source with ratings of upwards to 80%. With this in mind the winner is:
Heating Demands –
Your heating demands will usually be a final deciding factor in your decision so it comes down to this for us too. Both a gas fireplace and wood fireplace can heat an area that you require to be heated. Depending on the size and BTU output either can be too little or too much for an area. Both fuel types have optional Heat Zone kits that will allow you to vent the additional heat into different rooms. A wood fireplace can be used to heat an entire house (under optimal conditions), but unless you live in a remote area you probably will not be looking for something to do that for you. So this one comes up a:
Well the bout is over. Both fuel types fought well, but there can be only one winner. With neither fuel type being able to knock out the other, we are forced to go to the Judges.
With a final score of 5-4, your winner by judge’s decision is: GAS
What is your personal opinion of gas vs. wood? Do you have a favourite and why?