Ultimate Fireplace Comparison Guide – Gas vs. Electric vs. Wood

Family sitting by the roaring fire in the fireplace

It is steadily getting colder, and winter was made for fireplaces. A roaring fire just ties that cozy morning together. Thinking about warming your home with a fireplace, but not sure which kind best suits your needs? Are you wondering about the differences between gas, wood, and electric fireplaces, stoves, and inserts? If a gas, wood, or electric is less expensive? How they work? This guide will help you understand the differences and help you pick the right kind of fireplace for your home and better suits your needs. 

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces use a gas line of natural gas or propane to fuel the fire in a closed system behind a glass screen. While venting out any gaseous byproducts, the fire’s heat radiates out into your home. The logs inside are ceramic, so they never burn away. 

Overall, gas fireplaces provide the look, comfort, and warmth of a more traditional wood fireplace, but with more convenience. Since there is no wood burning in the fireplace, they do not create any smoke or smell (if you don’t like the smell of a fire), and there is little to no clean-up. However, like any fireplace, it still needs regular, annual maintenance and service

Gas fireplaces are also incredibly easy to start and operate. A wood fire needs to be built; a gas fire starts and stops with the press of a button. Other controls also allow you to adjust the fire’s size and temperature easily and instantly. Most also include remotes so that you can do this from the convenience of your couch or another room.

Installation of a gas fireplace is typically easier and less expensive than wood fireplaces since it does not require the full structure and chimney necessary for a wood fireplace or wood stove. If you have an old fireplace in your home that’s been decommissioned, an insert gas fireplace is an easy and less expensive way to bring that hearth back to life.

Another factor is aesthetics. Gas fireplaces can imitate the appearance of classic wood fireplaces and also come in sleeker, modern styles. For example, they can have a linear design, like the Valor 1800, being made longer or wider to better adjust and match the contour of your living area. Others, like the Napolean Vector, are see-through. These are perfect for a central wall with seating on both sides. Longer and see-through fires like these are not easily possible with a wood fireplace.

Electric Fireplaces

Many of the conveniences and benefits we mentioned for gas fireplaces also apply to electric fireplaces. They are easy to control, maintain, and install. They can imitate the look of traditional wood fireplaces, or can have more modern linear designs, like the Dimplex IgniteXL, and see-through designs, like the Napoleon CLEARion

The primary difference between electric and gas fireplaces is their “fuel”. Electric fireplaces are not actually creating a fire; they are simulating one. While a gas and wood fireplace both burn fuel to create a fire, electric fireplaces generate heat while using LEDS to create an affect nearly indistinguishable from a real fire. The use of electricity also means they do not rely on a gas supply that might have to be installed for a gas counterpart. As a result, they can be less expensive than gas and wood fireplaces because you only pay for electricity. They also do not produce any emissions, so they do need a vent or chimney like gas or wood fireplaces. This makes them incredibly easy to install.

Wood Fireplaces

Wood fireplaces are the traditional hearth that humans have been burning for thousands of years, although the ones you’ll find in our stock are substantially more advanced, and some, like the Stuv 16-Z, are elegantly modern. Only wood fireplaces come with that classic crackle and soothing smell that gas and electric fireplaces lack. They are also perfect for roasting marshmallows or chestnuts. Those hallmarks, however, come with some less convenience.

First, wood fireplaces need to be manually started by building a fire. If you know how, this can be done quickly, and once started a fire just needs to be supplied intermittently with some wood to keep your home warm and cozy. That raises the other issue of fuel. Gas fireplaces receive a constant supply from a gas line while electric fires run so long as it has power. Wood fireplaces require that you maintain a regular supply of dry, firewood. 

The size and temperature of the fire can also be easily controlled by the vent lever. All our wood fireplaces and stoves have doors to enclose the fire. The level of oxygen is then controlled by a lever on the front. Adjusting this lever controls how fast and hot the woodfire burns. It is not as convenient or instant as the controls of other kinds of fireplaces, but the lever still allows simple and direct control of your fire.

Wood fireplaces are a part of the home’s structure and so typically blend into the room. However, that also increases the complexity, and cost, of installation. Wood fireplaces and stoves have construction requirements and need a chimney. Many modern homes are not built with chimneys, which would mean an extensive renovation to install a wood fireplace. Fully restoring a decommissioned wood fireplace similarly will be more expensive than installing a gas or electric insert. However, the Stuv 6 wood burning insert can be an effective compromise.

Burning wood also produces ash, which needs to be regularly cleaned and removed from the fireplace. Modern wood fireplaces and stoves have catches that will make this easy. The interior will still need regular attention and yes, the Marry Poppins fans are right; the chimney will also need cleaning.  

Gas vs Wood vs Electric, They All Win

Overall, any fireplace will bring comfort and warmth to your home. Gas and electric fireplaces provide better convenience, while wood fireplaces bring a traditional blaze and atmosphere. Still having trouble determining which is the right for your home? We provide all types of fireplaces, inserts, and stoves at Classic Fireplace, and would love to help you find the right one for your home. Contact us at any of our locations in the GTA or through our website


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We hope you have a merry christmas & a happy new year!