Energy save fireplaces have entered our lives in recent years. With a brief search of newspapers, magazines and published articles on the construction or decoration of the house, just 10-15 years ago, the main question about the type of fireplace to be installed was a handmade fireplace or a mass production fireplace made from bricks or a cast iron by a factory.
Companies that imported energy save fireplaces were few, due to cheapness of oil and our different needs back then.
Most of the apartments that have been rebuilt over the last 20 years have a traditional fireplace because their builders believed that a traditional fireplace added value to the apartment, emotional and aesthetic. Who can question the warmth of a lit fireplace and mystical atmosphere that unites the family in front of it? As the flames burn, they eat the wood and the worries.
All this of course, with the necessary and ideal condition that the fireplace is properly constructed and that all the necessary conditions for its proper operation have been met. And when we say good operation, we mean a fireplace that doesn’t return smoke in to the house. With an open traditional fireplace , we do not have the requirement to warm us up, but we want it to work well. From physics we know that smoke particles are heavier than air. What drives them upward from the chimney is the warm airflow. The warm air of the house escapes from the chimney. So, an open fireplace, in full operation, burning 5 kilos of wood at a time deprives the house of about 300 cubic meters of air. This air is replaced with cold fresh air. From the outside vents of ventilation of the fireplace, from the kitchen vent, from the carvings, etc. If our traditional fireplace does get these 300 m³ will return smoke in to the house.
Nowadays, economic crisis, made us all try to heat our home economically, the use of our traditional, open fireplace may be unprofitable economically.
Our suggestion is to replace or convert the existing fireplace into an energy save fireplace. What is an energy save fireplace? Is a matter of definition. The main features of an energy save fireplace are the presence of a door (closed hearth) and the heated air around the hearth. The energy save fireplace, because it has a door, increases the temperature in the combustion chamber, the higher temperature leads to better combustion of the released gases and monoxide resulting in better, more perfect combustion, so, higher efficiency. The consequence is that, because the energy save fireplace usually have a heat chamber fitted around the combustion chamber, the air contained in the heat chamber is very hot and we all have to do is to leaded in to our space.
In the previous paragraph we mentioned that an open traditional fireplace, in full operation, needs 300 m³ of air per hour, to operate properly. The corresponding amount is approximately 40 m³, for energy save fireplace, because the opening of the fireplace is not half a square meter (0.85 cm width x 0.60 cm height) as the average traditional fireplace. The air entering the combustion chamber and escapes to the external environment from the chimney, is introduced from the air intake ports that are some square centimeters only. Therefore, the energy save fireplace does not “empty” our house from the hot air as it does the traditional fireplace.
Types of energy save fireplaces
A first categorization of energy save fireplaces is natural flow fireplaces and hot-air fan fireplaces.
The natural flow fireplace, is either entirely made of cast iron or with a metal frame that usually lined with cast iron in the combustion chamber. They do not have a built-in metal heat chamber. Instead, the heat chamber is created during the installation process. When the fireplace is placed, it is insulated (with aluminum-coated stone wool or with calcium silicate) and surrounded by fireproof plaster boards. An air intake opening is required below and one, about twice the size, above. The cold air enters the heat chamber from the lower louver to warm up and exits the room from the upper louver. This creates a significant circuit of hot air flow of 50 m³ per hour.
Hot-air fan heating
In hot-air fan energy save fireplaces the air flow is forced. We use a blower to move the air into the integrated metal heat chamber. Manufacturers produce and recommend a fairly high-power motor. Some of them promise that they can yield even 1000 m³ of air in the room. This, of course, occurs at their largest operating level, with the possibility that the air is not warm enough and also a buzzing sound. A yield of 400 m³ / hour, hot air at 80˚C, we feel is very satisfactory. We also have the ability to drive warm air to nearby rooms by building an airway network. There are some limitations, though, such as distance, beams etc. (I would not like to extend here).
A large category of hot-air fan energy save fireplaces are also the inserts, that convert the traditional into an energy save fireplace.. They are usually put in place in one day, without too much hassle and with a very satisfactory result. That is why we seek to work under and inside the fireplace and not to break the outer wall. A stainless-steel chimney is placed on the inserts collar and if feasible, it runs all the way up to the top of the chimney. The voids likely to be created between the insert and the existing fireplace are sealed as tightly as possible. This not for technical-functional reasons only, but also for aesthetic reasons.
Let me mention at this point that the air that we heat up is always the indoor air of the room, regardless of whether our energy save fireplace is natural flow or it has a motor. And to the extent we can, make the air for the combustion of wood in the fireplace, external, in order to compensate for the air needed by the fireplace to make the combustion. There are manufacturers of energy save fireplaces that deliver the air for burning directly to the fireplace, others that fireplaces take the air from below, from the ash rack and others that the combustion air is fed from the front, from an adjustable intake port. All are right.
The above are related to energy save fireplaces with motor and are based on the principle that we take advantage of the warm air created around the fireplace. Nowadays, as technology develops around energy save fireplaces, a very good choice if we want to heat large flats, with many rooms or two-story apartments, are the water fireplaces. Instead of warming air and driving it into the space, we heat water and take advantage of the radiator network. These systems are completely safe, functional and reliable. They cost more than the air heaters in their initial installation, but their operating costs and efficiency ensure a short and secure depreciation costs.
The other pieces of the puzzle: chimney and decoration
For the good functioning of the fireplace the hidden hero is his chimney. In case you are planning your home now and you can place the fireplace at an inside point of the house, do it.
That way the chimney will remain warm and this can relieve you of future problems. If the chimney is outside the house, make sure it has the correct length, correct cross section and we recommend it to be rounded stainless steel, insulated all the way to the top.
If it passes inside the house, uninsulated stainless steel or even cement chimney can be placed. Pay great attention to its correct cross section, its height and its end (chimney hat). Make sure it stays clean. This is achieved by burning dry, low-moisture woods. Also avoid cooking or grilling in it.
Finally, in order to be integrated as a construction in to your home, the energy save fireplace requires decoration. The materials we use to decorate it, as in all fireplaces are: marble, granite stone, wood, metal or their combination.
Browse through the pages of our site, discover our suggestions and hopefully find what will meet your aesthetic and functional requirements in terms of energy save fireplaces.