Temps are dropping here in the Lowcountry, and we’re thinking warm and cozy thoughts. There’s nothing quite like curling up by the fireplace to read a good book or watch a movie on a chilly night. The only problem is that fireplaces aren’t really the norm in the Charleston area these days. Since central heating and cooling is less of a modern convenience and more of a must-have in modern times, a fireplace isn’t a necessity anymore. In fact, most builders consider them an upgrade and charge extra to add one on. But just because we don’t need a fireplace doesn’t mean we don’t want one. If your house is lacking this cozy convenience, or if you have an older fireplace that is in dire need of updating, the options nowadays are many and varied. Let’s look at the pros and cons of a few different types of fireplaces so you can choose the best option for your home.

Wood Burning

If you own an older home, chances are you have a fireplace that is or was once a traditional wood-burning one. There’s nothing like a plain ol’ wood-burning fireplace with its crackling sound, genuine warmth, and cozy ambience. The problem is that they can be an awful lot of work. With chores like chimney and flue maintenance, chopping or buying and storing firewood, and cleaning out the ashes, owning a wood-burning fireplace might be more trouble than it’s worth for some folks.

Gas Burning

Homeowners who want the look of a traditional fireplace without all the work tend to turn to the next best thing: gas fireplaces. Gas-burning fireplaces are much easier to maintain. There’s no logs or kindling to chop, no mess to clean up, and no chimney to clean. You can convert your regular wood-burning fireplace into a gas one easily, or you can buy a prebuilt gas fireplace and install it anywhere, as long as there’s a gas line and proper ventilation.


Electric fireplaces are easy to install, low-maintenance, quite flexible, and can be surprisingly budget-friendly. Whether your budget is around $100 or upwards of $1,000, you’re sure to find several options that appeal to you. Electric fireplaces are safer and cleaner than other options, and most units require little more work to install than plugging them in. If you’re looking for more than ambience from your fireplace, however, an electric fireplace may not be the best option for you. It may be more eco-friendly, but it certainly won’t put out the amount of heat a wood or gas fireplace can.

Ethanol Burning

There’s no short supply of style, shape, and size when it comes to ethanol-burning fireplaces. If you’re looking to add a touch of warmth and ambience to a room every now and then, you might want to look into getting an ethanol-burning fireplace. While they aren’t the best or cheapest option as far as function, they’re perfect for a wide range of design options and portability. Since ethanol fireplaces work on fuel that is poured directly into them and don’t require ventilation, they can be placed anywhere—even in the center of a room. Just don’t expect to heat a whole room with one unless you drop a lot of cash on a larger fireplace and its required fuel. While prices of ethanol vary, you can expect to pay around $10 for a liter.


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