The Great Winter Warm Up

The Benefits of Gel Fuel Fireplaces and Pellet Stoves

When it comes to shopping for supplemental home heating options this winter, you should take a couple of things into consideration prior to buying. Is the heating method you are thinking about energy efficient? Is it cost effective? How environmentally-friendly is it? Gel fuel and pellets are two of the most popular fuel alternatives on the market today. Let's break down the pros and cons associated with each to help you decide which the best option for your home is.

  • Gel Fuel Fireplaces:

Gel fuel fireplaces give you the look and feel of a traditional wood burning fireplace without the inefficiencies of a traditional wood burning fireplace. Ventless gel fireplaces come in a variety of styles from inserts, (which fit over your existing fireplace) to portable and wall mounted fireplaces. Gelled alcohol will burn clear and smoke free, and most cans can burn from 2.5 to 3 hours long, producing an average heat output of 3,000 B.T.U. per hour. You need to be wary of your room's volume before purchasing a gel fireplace. Most gel fireplaces should warm a standard sized room but some are more for decoration than anything else. Here are some pros and cons associated with gel fuel fireplaces.

    • Pros:
      • Easy to install
      • Easy to maintain
      • No wood, electricity, chimney, or gas needed
      • Smoke, fume and odor-free
      • Heat and energy efficient
      • Stylish and authentic
    • Cons:
      • Can't heat an entire home - best for single rooms only
      • One can only provides heat for 2.5 - 3 hours
      • Many gel fuel fireplaces are more decorative than functional


  • Pellet Stoves and Fireplaces:

Pellet stoves are another alternative for you to consider when searching for alternative home heating methods. Generally used as a supplemental source of heat in the home, pellet stoves look more like traditional wood burning stoves but are available as fireplace inserts (fitting right over your existing fireplace). Instead of using gas or gel fuel, pellet stoves burn pellets that are about the same size as a cornel of bran cereal. Most pellets are made from 100% recycled sawdust but can also be made from wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waster, recycled paper or other organic materials. Heating capacities for pellet stoves and fireplaces range from 8,000 to 90,000 B.T.U. per hour, making them suitable for homes, apartments and condos. Here are some pros and cons associated with pellet-burning heaters.

    • Pros:
      • Convenient - start a fire by pushing a button or adjusting a thermostat control
      • Higher combustion rate and heating efficiency
      • Pellet stoves are the cleanest of all solid-fuel burning residential heating appliances
    • Cons:
      • Maintenance - pellet stoves are mechanical, therefore more prone to failure
      • Pellet stoves require electricity to run
      • Pellet stoves do make some noise while running
      • Pellet stoves aren't as aesthetically pleasing as fireplaces
      • Pellets can cost more than wood or gel fuel and may not be as readily available

When it comes to finding the perfect way to heat your home this winter, don't feel like a space heater or wood burning fireplace are your only options. Gel fuel fireplaces and pellet stoves are two viable options for you to consider, assuming that one or the other would work in your home. It's important to assess your space before buying, as each has its own set of pros and cons making it better suited for some locations over others.

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