Always ask for the fireplace specification at the design stage. Modern gas fires and wood stoves require careful planning in order to work as part of the general home heating system.
Gas, wood or other fuels?
Decide which fuel type best suits your home. Modern gas fires have realistic flame pictures and are much more energy-efficient than older models.
Wood stoves and fires also have greatly improved energy efficiency due to Ecodesign regulations. The only downside is that there is much more work involved with buying and storing the wood and cleaning the stove after use.
Both gas and wood have room-sealed options. This means that no air from inside the home is used for combustion and all waste emissions are expelled outside, resulting in clean burning and high efficiency.
Finally, sustainable fuels such as bioethanol produce a very attractive flame picture, burn cleanly with no smell or emissions and are available in a large selection of design formats.
Built-in or freestanding?
If you are converting a house with an existing chimney, you may wish to retain the chimney, to incorporate a more modern fire. Conventional flue gas fires are designed to fit seamlessly into standard chimneys and require minimal building work. The chimney will almost certainly need sweeping before installation, and the fire may require a chimney liner for essential safety.
Most wood fires are also designed for chimney installation and make full use of the air circulation properties to provide visually attractive and energy-efficient fires. You can either elect for a basic ‘insert’ fire, which matches the dimensions of a Class 1 chimney or a widescreen model, which will require some structural changes.
Freestanding stoves are very popular, as they offer greater flexibility of location and provide dramatic room features. They are available in gas, wood or bioethanol and generally need a flue connection to an outside wall or through the roof.
No chimney options?
Contemporary balanced flue gas fires are designed to be installed without a chimney, so you can incorporate them almost anywhere in a self-build project. However, they still need to be specified at the earliest possible stage. A typical installation will require the fire to be flued through an outside wall, with the flue concealed behind a false chimneybreast.
Fires can be located in room-dividing walls and other architectural features so they can be seen from both sides. You can also enjoy fires in kitchens, bedrooms, loft conversions and many other places.
These types of installations are made possible by extended, fan-assisted balanced flue systems. They allow for multiple fires to be placed in larger properties, with the flues hidden in crawl spaces and other discreet areas, terminating on the roof.
In conclusion, the secret to having attractive and energy-efficient fires and stoves in any self-build project is design, plan, cost and implement. And always consult a fully qualified Gas Safe or HETAS engineer.