What is a Closed Combustion Fireplace?

What is a closed combustion fireplace vs a traditional open fireplace?

A closed combustion fireplace has undoubtedly become very popular amongst many homeowners. This type of fireplace has a closing door with a visual flame through the glass, making it aesthetically pleasing; it burns at a slow pace; uses a lot less wood; and produces a lot more warmth as less heat escapes through the chimney. Due to the high combustion temperature, wood burns cleanly and thoroughly and hardly any smoke goes up through the chimney. The efficiency rate of a closed combustion fireplace is anywhere between 70- 85%. Click here to see Recommended Closed Fireplaces.
Sentinel 942 S Freestanding Fireplace
Sentinel 942 S Freestanding Slow Combustion Fireplace

A traditional open fireplace is a more cost-effective option for homeowners. Hence the name, this type of fireplace is designed as an open recess in the wall, and is also aesthetically pleasing. They come in a wide variety of styles and sizes to suit your home. With an open fireplace, wood is placed in a grate and the smoke is released through the chimney, leaving a distinct fire smell. Up to half to a third of the heat is lost up the chimney, as the air pushes straight through.

Open fireplaces require a lot more maintenance due to left over ash, coal and unburnt wood. They are not considered the best heating solution because of their low efficiency, 30 - 40% at best, and high particulate emissions, causing major air pollution.

What is a Free-standing Fireplace vs an Insert Fireplace?

A free-standing fireplace is a unit with a flue pipe at the top that goes through the roof or ceiling, or out the back of the fireplace through the wall and up the outside of your house. Free-standing fireplaces are easy to install (by a recognised installer) and move around the house. As the fireplace is not built into the wall, heat spreads from all sides of the fireplace as well as from the top.

Wanders Smart 60 Freestanding Fireplace
Wanders Smart 60 Freestanding Fireplace

An insert fireplace is a simple conversion of breaking open the existing recess in the wall (made out of brick or steel jet master) and building it back in with a frame, to accommodate an insert that will suit your home. You will need to consider the installation and renovation costs of an insert, however they are an investment and can add great value to your home.

Wanders Marvic Insert Fireplace

Wanders Marvic Insert Fireplace

Cast Iron vs Steel Plate Fireplace?

A cast iron fireplace, manufactured from iron mixed with carbon, takes a bit longer to get to its heat capacity, but once the fire has died down, it will last about half an hour longer.

A steel plate fireplace gets to its heat capacity much quicker than a cast iron fireplace, but when the fire dies down, it loses its heat fairly quickly.

With modern technology, steel plate designs and costs of manufacturing are often better than with cast iron fireplaces.

What is the power rating of a Closed Combustion Fireplace?

It is essential that the area, volume and size of the room needing heat is calculated, to determine which size and power fireplace is required. The nominal heat output of a fireplace, which is between the high and the low (average heat output), will be the best indicator for the warmth it can deliver to heat a certain area.

Cost, fuel types and environmental efficiency?

Cost: Costs can range from R5000 - R50000 for a slow combustion, closed fireplace.

Fuel types: Mainly wood is used- dry, seasoned hard wood. Blue Gum is a very popular choice in South Africa. Wet wood will reduce the efficiency of the fireplace, damage the interior, and you will not get the performance you want out of it.

Environmental efficiency: Slow combustion fireplaces are far more efficient and environment-friendly than open fireplaces. Their CO2 emissions are much lower, to the point where you will not see smoke coming out of the chimney. Because all of the products of combustion are burnt, no smoke or particles are emitted into the atmosphere. The efficiency rate is up to 85%.

How safe is a Closed Combustion Fireplace?

As long as they are installed correctly by a recognised installer and used as per the user guide, slow combustion fireplaces are very safe. A closed fireplace can be left burning unattended for many hours. Open fireplaces are not considered very safe as logs can fall out, causing sparks to fly out. A glass or screen enclosure is recommended to prevent a second fire from occurring.

Recommended Closed Fireplaces

The Wanders range supplies top-end Dutch manufactured fireplaces:

Wanders Smart 60 Insert with Frame Fireplace

Wanders Smart 60 Insert with Frame Fireplace

The Sentinel range supplies more affordable and standard, cast-iron fireplaces:

Sentinel 033 Square Fireplace
Sentinel 033 Square Fireplace

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