Before choosing the style of your fire, you will need to deduce what fuel type you can use. Once this is established, there is a wide range of modern and traditional fires for you to choose from.
Your choices will be limited by what you do or don’t have in your home. For example, some fires require a chimney and others need mains gas, so this may whittle down your options from the off.
Magma Bioethanol Fire from Living It Up, £399
Homes Without Chimneys
If you don’t have a chimney then an open fire is out of the question. However, there are plenty of other options, and so long as you have (or can install) a flue you can still have a fire with actual flames.
Gas fires are convenient (assuming you have mains gas) and are a lot more aesthetically pleasing nowadays than the early models we may remember. Traditional or modern, you are sure to find one which appeals to you as there is a lot of variety on the market.
Electric fires are more expensive to run per kW than a highly efficient gas fire, but can be fitted virtually anywhere with a power source. Most have built-in heaters, but some simply offer the effect of a fire which is perfect if you have a well insulated home with an alternative heat source — but still want the focal point that a fire creates.
Most lean towards the contemporary side in terms of style, but can be made to work in any home.
The Cocoon Terra Bioethanol Fire from Go Modern Furniture, £2,580
Bioethanol fires use fuel derived from the fermentation and distillation of crops. They don’t need a flue (but still need adequate ventilation) and many are freestanding so they have similar applications to electric fires.
The heat output is around 1.8–2.5kW/h but this all goes in to the room as there is no chimney for heat to escape up.
Gel fires use bioethanol with additives so they are fairly similar in their functions. However, the additives leave a residue which can give off a smell when burnt.
The Huntingdon 40 from Stovax, £1895
Woodburning stoves can be installed in homes with no chimneys. You need to have a flue installed for it to function and this can be run up through the roof with fireboarding and a protective cage. If the flue runs through a room above, the cage can look a bit unsightly which is why most people prefer to use one in conjunction with a chimney.
Stoves are highly efficient with many running at up to 87% efficiency, giving them an edge on open fires which run at about 25%.
However, like open fires, they need a constant stock of seasoned wood for burning. Try popping a damp log which you picked up on a walk on and you will fill the room with smoke. You can get multi-fuel stoves and stoves which burn coal, corn, wood wax fire logs, peat and oil though, so wood supply needn’t be a concern.
With a recent rise in popularity, manufacturers have really upped their game when it comes to design so finding one to suit your home is not difficult.
Homes With Chimneys
The good news is that if you have a chimney you can choose pretty much any type of fire. However, if you are going for a fire which makes use of the chimney, it needs to be in good working order with a functioning flue.
You will also need to get your chimney swept a couple of times each year and take airtightness into account.
Haddonstone‘s Vanbrugh Chimney Piece, from £1,465
Wood and solid fuel fires need a fire basket to hold the fuel. All-in-one fireplaces include a fire basket, fireback and mantel, as do register grates.
A hearth is essential if you have an open fire. This must extend forewards from the fireplace by 300mm and 150mm to either side. Hearths must be at least 50mm deep and of a non-combustible material.
You also need a hearth with a stove. For a recessed stove, it must extend 500mm in front. For a freestanding stove the hearth needs to be no less than 840mm² and the stove must not be closer than 150mm to any of its edges. A stove with opening doors needs at least 300mm of hearth in front.