Fuels - Now That's A FIRE!

Some poeple think wood burning is the only way to go. Some think gas is ok, but electric is wierd. Which ever you believe, the next few pages will give you the highs and lows of fuels.

Wood burning, gas (and alcohol gel), electric and pellet (also can include corn and other biofuels) are the 4 main fuels used in fireplaces and stoves today. Each offers a full range of uses, from visual enjoyment and aesthetics only to high efficiency heat output. There are usually 4 determining factors that people choose the fuel they use to light their fire. Visual appearance of the fire, the amount of heat produced, the cost of fuel (by time burned or by heat produced), and the convenience (availability) of the fuel. If you want a neat, organized (opinionated) fuel comparison, click the image below for a PDF file.
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A very detailed calculator put out by the Feds - I moved to to a Google Doc for easy access.
A simpler calculator by the good folks at Hearth.com for comparing hearth products.
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Below are two links to different fuel calculators to help you determine the cost of each type of fuel in varying situations.
Wood burning fireplaces and stoves were the most popular hearth product until just a few years ago. It seemed most people had wood available and considered wood to be a 'real fireplace'. Wood fireplaces and stoves are normally associated with backup heat, however many wood fireplaces do the opposite. There are wood fireplaces designed for looks alone and they draft most of their heat up the chimney. There are also wood fireplaces that will heat over 3500 square feet of living space on less than 6 cords of wood all year!

The most popular fuel in our local region is propane, so we will cover gas next. We will cover the differences between natural gas and propane on the fuels page. For now, you should know that gas fireplaces and gas stoves offer great looks, efficiency, flexibility and style, while limiting the maintenance and performance issues associated with wood stoves and fireplaces and pellet stoves and fireplaces. Gas hearth products look much better than even just 5 years ago. Before turning your nose up at a gas insert, you should see the new stuff in person.

Pellet stoves and inserts use a bags pelletized fuel made from sawdust. Some stoves can burn corn or other biomass products. All pellet appliances require power to run fans, blowers, and augers, all of which are controlled by a computer board. Like most computers, it is finicky about its power source, and really doesn't like the power made by cheap generators, so battery backup is the best option for use without