With electricity bills growing, you may be looking for ways to cut energy costs. But what is the better alternative heat source — propane or wood? The answer depends on your individual preferences, lifestyle and current living situation.
Propane fireplaces naturally generate heat. If it has a blower system, it requires electricity to divert the heat out of the firebox. While many of these units have a degree of electrical reliance, you’ll still obtain some heat in the event of a power outage. Fireplaces with radiant heat components will provide a bit extra.
One manufacturer, Valor Fireplaces, has a system that can both create and move heat using no electricity. Valor Fireplaces can naturally move heat up to 2,000 sq. ft., whereas blower-style systems cannot extend heat beyond a five-foot radius, decreasing significantly in efficiency when not using the blower.
Wood-burning units also naturally generate heat. Many blower systems require electricity to move heat but there are other options — some fireplaces can hook up heat ducts to divert heat to other rooms. On a stove-top surface, you can lay heat-activated fans on top. Some wood burners have options for cooking as well.
Most modern propane fireplaces turn on and off with the click of a button. Propane fireplaces often have more sophisticated heat control technology; allowing you to set the exact desired room temperature, create timers and more.
Wood-burning is more labour-intensive but many people find it to be relaxing, even turning it into a hobby. It is important that the homeowner has a good understanding of how dampers, catalysts and other unit-specific components work to get the most of the unit.
In particular, Blaze King stoves are the only wood-burning units to eliminate the need for a damper system. Their non-electric thermostat allows you to choose your desired wood heat output — no more continuous damper toggling; just long, consistent burn times.
Ongoing fuel costs
Propane is known to be a consistent fuel source in terms of market price fluctuation. Some people fill 100-pound tanks on their own, but when you consider your time value, depending on how often you use your fireplace, the cost savings may not be worth it.
Many propane providers have auto-fill services or can work around your schedule to provide you a 400-pound tank and fuel.
You will need to buy or chop wood. Fuel is essentially free if you’re willing to chop it down yourself! For the best heat, wood should be dried and split at least one-to-two years before use — a 10 to 15 per cent moisture level is ideal. The more efficient your wood burner is, the more heat you will create. While most burn 8 to 10 hours on low with a load of wood, it’s worth noting that Blaze King units can burn 20 to 40 hours on the same load.
Propane fireplaces should be professionally inspected and cleaned bi-annually. For homeowners, basic surface cleaning and annual battery replacement is required.
Annual cleaning and maintenance by a WETT Certified technician is best practice. The more efficient your wood unit is, the less cleaning and maintenance it will require. For example, Blaze King’s sophisticated burn systems incinerate wood 30 to 40 per cent more than other woodstoves, leaving nothing but a fine ash and a clear chimney.
If you have any additional questions about propane, wood or electric heating, drop by Atlantic Fireplaces at 1053 Topsail Rd, call them at 709-364-1378 or check out at http://atlanticfireplaces.ca