Winter has arrived. And with it, fireplaces to warm the hearth.
Fireplaces have evolved from the days of the hunter-gatherer huddling around the campfire to modern city living, where, at the touch of a smartphone button, an indoor hotspot can come alive.
“Basically we separate fires into three categories these days,” says Jeff Collins, marketing manager of Australian company Real Flame.
“We start with fires that are purely decorative. They are designed not to create heat but more a focal point in the room, an ambience and romance and all of the things that a fire evokes with people.”
Then, there is a “crossover product”, which, while still decorative by nature, can heat small spaces up to about 40 square metres.
The third category has a nice flame pattern and a double-glazed fireplace which can heat up to about 150 square metres, he says.
Real Flame’s fireplaces are designed and built in Scoresby, Melbourne. Collins says they primarily play in the high end of the market. Wood, ethanol and gas are among the various types of fireplaces available today.
“Gas is the most popular because it gives you a very robust flame,” says Collins.
“I think probably wood would be second most popular because a lot of people see it as being a cheaper alternative for running costs. That is really only the case if you have access to free wood.”
Collins says if you look at the typical living pattern of a family, one of the pros of having a heating fireplace these days is lower running costs. They tend to spend 85-90 per cent of their time in one area in the house where most of the family eat and watch television, he says.
“Most people these days don’t want heated bedrooms,” Collins says. They want bedrooms that are comfortable but not heated so ducted systems are becoming less popular to run in that instance, he says.
“Gas fires are looked at as a good alternative because you can heat the main living area at a third of the cost of running a whole of home-ducted system. So economics come into it.’
Collins lists smell and safety among the cons of having a fireplace.
“I think the biggest con with wood would be the smell. It creates a bit of a dust and smell in a space and that’s once again why a lot of people are moving across to gas.
“Cons of ethanol, I guess, would be to some people the safety aspect. Because you have to carry a hot inflammable liquid in a container to the source of the fire and top it up.
“For gas, I guess the only con would be sometimes it is difficult to install from a flue perspective, particularly in high-rise apartments and difficult areas where it might prove hard to get the flue up.”
Eco-friendly fireplaces (such as those from Designer Fireplaces) are increasingly sought-after by consumers.
Stephane Thomas, director of The Fire Company, says a bioethanol fire is an environmentally-friendly fire that’s an alternative to more traditional sources of heat.
Established in 2002, The Fire Company’s range of eco-friendly bioethanol fireplaces, burners, fireplace inserts and accessories can be found in 75 countries.
“These fires operate using bioethanol, an eco-friendly, renewable energy source, which burns clean and produces no harmful emissions. Bioethanol fires don’t have flues or utility connections, which means they’re portable and can be used in a wide variety of outdoor and indoor environments. They’re also efficient and cost-effective.”
There are many EcoSmart options of freestanding, portable fires which can be positioned and moved as required.
Enter the modern era of a smartphone-operated gas fireplace. New Zealand-based Escea’s in-house engineers have developed the Smart Heat Technology.
Smart Heat refers to the ”brains” behind the gas fireplace, the company’s website says. “It continuously monitors the temperature to increase or decrease the heat output to maintain a consistent temperature. These brains also enable the Escea fireplaces to be controlled with a smartphone via the Escea app.”
Property stylist Jo Powell of 3 Pea’s Property Styling says people often have almost a romanticised notion about certain heating options.
“It’s nice to have perhaps an aesthetic aspect for it, but the heating that you choose must provide the heat that you need for the area that you’re attempting to warm,” Powell says.
“In certain situations, I would always bring in a heating specialist to make sure that the specifications of the unit that’s going in will satisfy the requirements,” she says.
“There can also be some safety issues around that in terms of ventilation and flueing. When you are dealing with old fireplaces as well you need to be sure that they are structurally sound.”
Original Source: https://fireplacescapetown.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/the-best-modern-fireplaces-for-your-home/
Note from us:
If you are interested in Austrian ceramic fireplaces speak to a specialist and contact Designer Fireplaces.
Do you love sitting by a fireplace? Does a crackling fire define a home to you? If so, you're not alone. In a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, 77 percent of home buyers said they wanted a fireplace in the family room [source: Fireplaces.com].
The indoor fireplace is a technology that dates from the Middle Ages, when people in medieval castles and homes used them for warmth. However, traditional fireplaces today are desired more for their aesthetics than to be used as effective heating appliances.
Even as far back the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin noted that "the strongest heat from the fire, which is upwards, goes directly up the chimney and is lost" [source: Carlsen]. And Franklin was right. The standard fireplace is among the most inefficient heating devices you can operate. In fact, it can be so inefficient that in some cases it actually makes your house colder.
Inefficiency is not their only drawback. In addition to the risk of setting the house on fire, the smoke that ends up inside your home can contain harmful chemicals, which is a problem in tightly sealed modern homes. And although many modern fireplaces use renewable fuel, they're not considered completely "green," because they can add to air pollution.
But it's not all bad news for fireplaces. Improvements have given fireplace fans a range of more attractive alternatives. Better designs provide more heat, less waste and safer operation. If you're willing to give up the smell and glow of burning wood, a direct-vent, gas-powered fireplace can be an efficient heat source that may even save you money on fuel.
In this article, we'll look at how a fireplace works and how to operate it safely. We'll also consider some innovations that allow you to have a fireplace without a chimney, on your patio or on the coffee table in your living room.
The Parts of a Traditional Fireplace
To understand how a traditional fireplace works, you'll need to know about its various components:
The Mechanics of the Traditional Fireplace
Lighting a fire inside your living room presents two obvious challenges. First, you have to avoid setting your house on fire. Second, you need to keep the smoke from spilling into the room. A fireplace solves both difficulties. It is made from materials that don't burn (traditionally, stone and brick, but also metal and tile), and it takes care of smoke by sending it up the chimney.
The most important mechanical function of a fireplace is to generate a draft. If you think of a hot air balloon, you know that a mass of heated air rises. A fireplace creates a column of heated gas inside the chimney. As that air rises, more heated air from the fire is pulled after it. The result is a draft -- a steady flow of smoke and hot gases -- up the chimney.
The draft serves another purpose, too. Any fire needs a steady flow of oxygen to keep burning. As the hot gas rises, it pulls fresh air into the pile of burning fuel.
You might remember from physics class that there are three methods by which heat moves:
But the principle of convection is also at work in a fireplace, and this is one reason why they can be so inefficient. The major portion of the heat that a fire creates is in the form of hot gas. Convection sends this gas up the chimney, where it is wasted. What's more, the draft can draw more warm air from inside the room than the fire needs to burn and pull that air up the chimney as well, leaving the room colder than before. Some experts say that traditional fireplaces can draw four to ten times as much air from the room than is needed to burn the fire [source: Carlsen].
Sometimes, more heat is lost through convection than is added through radiation, resulting in a fireplace's negative energy efficiency. The colder it is outside, the colder the air that the fireplace sucks in and the lower the efficiency.
How to Operate a Traditional Fireplace
Operating a traditional wood-burning fireplace is not difficult if you follow a few simple guidelines. First, you should begin by choosing the right fuel. Be sure to burn hard woods, such as hickory, ash, oak and hard maple. Soft woods such as pine and spruce generally don't burn as well or provide as much heat. Also, be sure your wood is seasoned, or dry. Wood needs at least six months -- many experts suggest at least a year -- of drying to reach the 20 percent moisture level that is recommended for a good fire [source: Taylor]. One way to be sure your wood is seasoned is to knock two logs together and listen for a hollow sound, not a dull thud. Seasoned wood is also darker and has cracks in the end grain. Avoid using wet or rotten wood, and never burn trash or cardboard in your fireplace. Pressure-treated wood and chipboard are also inappropriate.
To start the fire, you need kindling -- smaller pieces of wood that will take flame easily. Stack a few split logs on your grate and place kindling around and below them. Make sure the damper is open before you light the kindling with newspaper. Don't use too much paper, as flaming scraps can be carried up the flue and onto your roof. Never use gasoline, lighter fluid or a butane torch to start a fire.
Once the fire is burning, you may still encounter problems with puffs of smoke entering the room. One cause of a smoking chimney is a house that's too tight. If there aren't enough openings to make up for the air drawn up the chimney, it can cause negative pressure in the room, creating a partial vacuum. Air pressure forces air down the chimney to compensate, resulting in a smoky house. The solution is to crack a window near the fireplace to let air in [source: HGTV].
Here are some other points to keep in mind:
Improving the Efficiency of a Traditional Fireplace
There are two main strategies for improving fireplace efficiency. The first is to use convection as well as radiation to capture some of the heat from the fire. Some fireplaces include a built-in heat exchanger -- channels where room air can circulate around the hot parts of the structure -- either through natural air flow or forced by a fan. The air absorbs the heat and returns it to the room.
The second approach is to block part of the front of the firebox in order to limit the amount of air that flows unnecessarily up the chimney. Usually, this is done with doors made of tempered, heat-resistant glass. Adjustable inlets allow enough air to reach the fire to keep it burning.
Here are some specific ways these two strategies are used:
problem is that much of the heated air is drawn back into the fire. Used with glass doors that block this air return, a tubular grate can help squeeze more warmth from a fireplace [source: Ace Hardware].
Glass doors reduce the loss of room air up the chimney and still allow you to view the fire. The drawback is that the glass can also reduce the heat that reaches the room by half (even a mesh screen reduces radiant heat by 30 percent) [source: Bortz]. The result is a small gain in efficiency.
Fireplace inserts are metal boxes -- usually equipped with glass doors -- that fit inside the firebox. They use a heat exchange chamber with channels to allow room air to pass through and absorb heat. Fireplace inserts usually require a full stainless steel flue liner, rather than simply connecting to an existing flue. An insert can put out up to five times as much heat as an open fireplace [source: Carlsen].
Some homeowners prefer to take advantage of the efficiency of a wood stove by placing the stove on the fireplace hearth and running the stovepipe into the fireplace chimney. By doing so, they lose the pleasures of an open fire but gain energy efficiency.
Now that you understand the workings of fireplaces, you might be interested in reading more about modern, eco-friendly, heat retaining fireplaces such as Austrian Ceramic fireplaces that are designed and built into beautiful modern designs but companies such as Designer Fireplaces in Cape Town. For advise on what design will work best for your home contact them by visiting their website on www.designerfireplaces.co.za.
Orginal Source of Information: https://fireplacescapetown.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/how-fireplaces-work/
By Severine Galus
There’s nothing like a fireplaces or wood stoves to make a room cosy. And clean combustion technology offers a variety of options for people intent on fanning their own eco-flames.
New generation of wood-burning appliances
Wood is a renewable resource as long as forestry harvesting does not exceed forestry growth. As a fuel, wood is eco-friendly only if used in conjunction with a high-efficiency appliance or stove certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or CSA International. Certified units are designed to reduce emissions of particle pollutants to a minimum both inside and outside the home.
According to Environment Canada, clean combustion technology reduces pollution to a level varying between two grams and five grams per hour (or 0.8 grams for the most effective units), compared to 25 grams to 50 grams for non-certified units. In other words, in a span of just nine hours on average the traditional wood stove will send the same amount of particles into the atmosphere as an eco-certified model does in 60 hours. Wood, however, does not contribute to global warming in the same way that a fossil fuel like gasoline does. According to Environment Canada, burning wood only emits the same amount of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – as wood left to decompose in the forest does.
As well, EPA-certified units offer an average wood-burning efficiency of 68 percent (up to 90 percent for the top models). compared to 54 percent for non-certified traditional models. Higher energy efficiency helps to reduce wood consumption by 25 percent to 33 percent, as well as heating costs, forestry harvest, greenhouse gases and pollution in general.
Advanced combustion versus catalytic combustion
There are two categories of high-efficiency wood stoves: those that use advanced combustion and those that use catalytic combustion. Advanced combustion appliances feature a second combustion chamber where pollutants are burned. With catalytic stoves, combustion gases are sent to a catalytic filter, where the pollutants are destroyed. While catalytic stoves are more effective and eco-friendly than advanced combustion models, they’re also more expensive, since the catalyzer needs to be replaced every two years at a cost of roughly $400 each time.
Pellet stoves burn wood in the form of small round pellets measuring roughly 6 millimetres in diameter and 25 millimetres in length. The pellets are made of compressed wood residue. The principal selling point of a pellet wood stove is its convenience: Once the hopper is loaded with pellets, the fire can burn for up to 24 hours, requiring no care since the feed is automatic. Most appliances come with a thermostat as well, which makes it possible to reach the exact desired temperature. (Try stopping a traditional wood stove at 20°C!) Some models can even be programmed to start automatically, which is great for those cold mornings when you don’t want to crawl out from under the covers.
Other than its convenience, the pellet stove offers vastly superior combustion efficiency, transforming 80 percent of the fuel into heat and consequently emitting a minimal amount of particle pollutants (less than one gram per hour). However, the motors that circulate the air and evacuate combustion gases run on electricity, although some models can run on a battery in the event of a power outage. But this doesn’t do much for the pellet stove’s image as an eco-friendly appliance. As well, it’s important to consider how much energy is used in manufacturing the pellets themselves.
While pellet stoves are quite expensive, they don’t require a high-temperature chimney, as do wood stoves. With some models, the installation of an outdoor vent is all that’s needed.
Is gas really that clean?
Energy-efficient (up to 90 percent), clean (they don’t pollute like wood stoves and don’t produce ash) and practical (they include programmable thermostats), gas appliances have the added advantage that they don’t call for a chimney: A simple outdoor vent or vent pipe (much like that of a dryer) will do. Gas fireplaces have everything the consumer can ask for. Better still, manufacturers have worked hard to produce an appliance with a flame almost as attractive as that of a real wood fire. However, these so-called “commercial” advantages belie the fact that gas heating systems present certain inconveniences when it comes to energy efficiency.
While natural gas and propane produce less carbon monoxide and particle emissions than wood, each is still a non-renewable source of fossil energy. Extraction, refining, transportation and fossil energy combustion of this resource all definitely leave an environmental footprint. When burned, natural gas and propane produce mainly nitrogen oxides (which contribute to smog) and carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas). They also release a great deal of moisture into the air.
As already mentioned, some gas appliances are up to 90-percent efficient. However, Natural Resources Canada cautions that this rate corresponds to the maximum efficiency reached in controlled laboratory settings, where the usual sources of heat loss are non-existent. The best way to determine the real efficiency of a gas appliance is to consult the EnerGuide for its efficiency rating. Testing in connection with this Canadian standard has shown that, among these appliances, the top models only operate at an efficiency rate somewhere between 30 percent and 70 percent, results far lower than those obtained in laboratory settings.
Ethanol is derived from the fermentation of sugars contained in certain vegetables, including beets and sugarcane, some grains, such as wheat and corn, and potatoes. Ethanol fuel, therefore, is a clean and renewable energy source. Instead of emitting smoke or particle pollutants, its combustion releases only water vapour. Consequently, ethanol is used for gas fireplaces, which don’t need a chimney flue. An ethanol fireplace can be placed anywhere in the household and used as a piece of furniture, in keeping with its primary use as a mood appliance. However, with a heating capacity of 9,000 BTUs to 13,000 BTUs (depending on the model), it will only heat a space of roughly 46 square metres, at a cost of three 890-millilitre containers of ethanol (at roughly $10 each), enough to last an average of three hours. Which raises the question: How can an appliance be deemed eco-friendly when its sole purpose is to give pleasure (the pleasure of gazing at a flame) and the fuel it uses is so expensive to produce?
Whether they’re made up of wood residue or spent coffee grounds, the so-called “eco-friendly” synthetic fireplace logs are said to produce fewer atmospheric pollutants than natural wood. Dry and dense, they burn more efficiently, producing less smoke and therefore generate few toxic by-products. They also boast other eco-friendly virtues: They recover industrial sawdust as well as spent coffee grounds from restaurants, waste products that would otherwise end up in municipal dumps and produce greenhouse gases as they decompose. The use of synthetic logs also reduces the number of trees that are cut down. On the other hand, synthetic fireplace logs manufacture greenhouse gases, just as natural logs do.
But, in fact, the principal eco-friendly thing about synthetic logs is that they’re made of residue. What’s more, some logs are ignited while still inside their glossy packaging. Burning any packaging of this kind is highly ill-advised, as the glossy paper contains paraffin and various kinds of residue. Even worse, these reconstituted logs tend to break apart easily, increasing the flame’s surface area and overheating the heating appliances. Some manufacturers, therefore, prohibit the use of synthetic logs in their appliances out of a concern with overheating and the potential damages resulting from it. Paraffin-based firelogs in particular give off so much heat that they can only be used in traditional open fireplaces.
If you are planning to get your own eco-friendly fireplace see the Designer Fireplaces site for information on fireplaces in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Article source: http://www.styleathome.com/decorating-and-design/green-living/get-cosy-with-eco-friendly-fireplaces/a/20386/3
We share this easy to understand explanation of how a heat-retaining ceramic fireplace works:
1. 1.000° Celsius burning temperature; leads to complete combustion, low emission and very little ash (empty once per year).
2. Hot flue gases travel through the hand built ceramic passages.
3. Only 10-15% of the energy is lost into the chimney.
4. The knobs on the patented ceramic refractory brick increase the surface area by 25% leading to a better heat retention in these types of fireplaces.
5. The patented ceramic refractory brick is made of 7 different clay types and is burned at 1.450° Celsius. Quality that lasts a lifetime!
6. The refractory bricks are joined by a tongue and groove system and special heat resistant cement.
7. Even before the fireplace is built a virtual combustion is simulated on the computer. Through this the perfect efficiencies and emission levels are achieved.
8. Healthy and comfortable radiant heat is provided from the surface are of the fireplace.
9. With a single heating a will provide warmth all day long.
10. The large fire-door provides a stunning view on the flames. Its intelligent design ensures a clear & soot-free view.
Our thanks to Designer Fireplaces, a leader in the fireplace market, providing fireplaces in Cape Town for providing the above information. Visit their website on www.designerfireplaces.co.za.
This company is one of the leaders in, not only eco-friendly, efficient, heat-retaining fireplaces, but also leads the pack in terms of unique and beautiful fireplace designs. Enjoy the read!
As humans, we have several basic needs that we require to be met in order to survive. One of the most basic of these needs is warmth, hence man’s s discovery of fire. We have our cavemen ancestors to thank for the most basic of heating arrangements, but as man has evolved, so too have technology and our aesthetic sensibilities.
We have evolved to a point where form and function are now one and the same when it comes to design. We do not want things that do a job but look ugly in our living or working spaces. We, as humans, are affected by the way things look. The more in harmony we are with our living environments, the better we feel about being in those environments. This does not only apply to how things look, but also to how they work and what effect they have on our environment, hence the importance of eco-friendly fireplaces. There needs to be seamless integration between the two.
Designer Fireplaces are leading the pack both in terms of heating technology and fireplaces design. Run by husband, wife and son team of Harry, Evelin and Alex Wörz , the company has Austrian heritage and uses European technology, exacting standards of workmanship and design.
Each and every fireplace that Designer Fireplaces installs is individually considered to always ensure a stylish fireplace. That is to say that each and every one of our clients has specific wishes when it comes to the fireplace they want. Because no two people have the same style, and no two areas where the fireplaces are installed are the same, each and every Designer Fireplace is specifically designed for individual clients.
When designing fireplaces for our clients there are two main things that need to be considered:
When it comes to the aesthetic design of the pieces, there is very little that can’t be achieved by our design team. Because each fireplace is a specifically designed for each space into which it goes, our talented and experienced design team can do almost anything.
Using only the best quality materials our design team works tirelessly to create modern masterpieces. You can be assured that your Designer Fireplace will be one of a kind – suited to your space and your design preferences. We assess each and every home, and consider what would be the best solution for the space. These ultra sleek contemporary pieces are designed as functional features, warming your home and at the same time adding aesthetic value to your interior.
Using glass, ceramics, steel and concrete, a space can be transformed by one of our Designer Fireplaces. Whether you are looking for something modern and contemporary, or for something a little more traditional, at Designer Fireplaces you will get exactly what you are looking for.
A selection of our favourite Designer Fireplace designs
This double sided fireplace was installed to heat both the living area and open plan kitchen. It has been designed as a column feature for the room. There is door on each side, so that the beauty of the roaring fire can be appreciated from either side of the structure.
This fireplace creates a perfect atmosphere for those warm winter nights, curled up in front of the television. Designer Fireplaces are ideally designed to be installed below the television – there is a synergy between the two that creates a balance in the layout of the room.
This modern marvel is one of our favourites. There is no limit to what we can do in terms of design and construction of our fireplaces. We use only the best materials and artisans when it comes to creating our fireplaces. The shine of the steel and the curved design juxtapose against the wood and linear design of the modern home.
This is a very classic design. It is timeless and elegant, while being cozy and homely at the same time. Our Designer Fireplaces are so versatile that they can be used in any setting.
Here we have a traditional Victorian mantel piece that has been inset with a Designer Fireplace. The use of an old mantel piece with this new cutting edge technology highlights the joy of having a Designer Fireplace in your home. There are no more messy fireplaces to clean up – the higher temperatures and efficient use of wood means that there is very little mess left after the fire burns out. The Designer Fireplace will also heat the area for some time after the flames have died.
Simple and understated, this an example of a Designer Fireplace in it’s purest form. It is the feature in this space by making and understated statement – Designer Fireplaces are the show stopper in any space.
Contact us today for fireplaces in Cape Town and surrounds or fireplaces in Johannesburg and surrounding areas. We are ready to help you make that dream fireplace become reality!
As originally posted on: www.designerfireplaces.co.za
Fire was one of human’s most important discoveries and with its discovery came the age old tradition of enjoying first fire pits and eventually fireplaces. It is not only a very sociable way to pass a cold winter’s night, but also still plays a large part in the family bonding process for many cultures in South Africa. It should therefore come as no surprise then that if South Africa is seen as the cradle of mankind, it is also seen as the home of some of the best fireplaces in the world.
The journey from fire pit to modern marvel of the home
Prehistoric man discovered the use of fire millions of years ago, and with it came the building of fire pits in the ground. These fire pits became the focal points of villages, communities and entire tribes. They were a place of meeting, a place of worship and a place of jubilation. This was because not only did they give entire societies the chance to meet and eat in a safe communal area, but for the first time in man’s early history it gave them the first sign that they had control over what is still seen as one of the most destructive elements on earth – FIRE!
These fire pits were often built in the centre of villages and at later times even in large communal huts directly beneath a smoke hole in the roof. Smaller versions of this communal fire pit were often used in single or family dwellings as well, but this design was not adequate and did not prevent the smoke from blowing back into the hut or home. This was both dangerous and unpleasant to any persons using the building and ultimately led to the invention of the chimney. This helped to vent the vast majority of the smoke from the fire inside the building into the air outside of the building.
It was not until 1678 however that the true modern fireplace was first seen in Europe when the then nephew of Charles the First of England had the idea to raise the grates of the fireplaces on his estate to create a venting system. This not only improved the efficiency of the fireplace, but also the efficiency of the chimney systems employed at the time. To this day Prince Rupert is still regarded as the father of modern day fireplaces thanks to his ingenuity and love of a little bit of winter warmth.
The next “big name in fireplace history” is none other than one of the founding fathers of United States of America and one of the greatest thinkers, mathematicians and engineers of the 1700’s – Benjamin Franklin! He developed a new style convection chamber for fireplaces, named the Franklin Stove, that improved the heating efficiency of fireplaces and wood stoves. He also further improved fireplace the airflow design first created by Prince Rupert in 1678 by designing a system that pulled air from a building’s basement and vented it out through a larger chimney at the top of a building.
The next major development in the history of fireplaces came a few years after those made by Benjamin Franklin. These were the final improvements that finalised a fireplace design that essentially stayed the same until the introduction of the original BioFire fireplace in 1967. These final fireplace design improvements were made by a Count Rumford and he designed a fireplace with a tall shallow firebox that further improved the drawing of the smoke up and out of the building. This design improvement also helped to increase the amount of radiant heat projected into the room by an individual fireplace and is now considered the foundation of all modern fireplace designs.
Nowadays fireplaces evolved to suit our needs and can now be customized according to our specifications. This write-up was originally posted on www.designerfireplaces.co.za. Since we have been following this leader in the modern fireplace industry we can really recommend that you contact them for fireplaces in Cape Town or fireplaces in Johannesburg and surrounds.
Source: Designer Fireplaces