Thinking of buying a balanced flue gas fireplace? Here are five things you should know:
1. Balanced flue fires are energy-efficient, however there can be a big difference between real-life running costs and the measure of efficiency (%) or maximum heat output (kW/hr) used to compare such fires. Most UK homes have central or underfloor heating, so for many people a high heat output is not as important as low running costs or a realistic flame. Look for gas inputs of less than 5kW/hr if you want lower running costs.
2. Not all balanced flue fires are created equal. The idea is to have a great flame picture. Many larger models have a high heat input (running costs) or, when they are operating on a low setting to conserve fuel, the flame picture can become quite poor. Try to find a model with a low maximum heat input, in this way you will always be able to enjoy the flame.
3. In many cases, it is not recommended to install a flatscreen or plasma TV above a high-heat output gas fireplace. Establish from your supplier if there are any technical restrictions or if the gas fire has been approved with TV installation in mind. However, ‘Zero Clearance’ fireplaces are usually safe to use with a TV. Ask for a copy of the manufacturer’s installation instructions to establish this point before purchase.
4. Balanced flue fires should be simple and relatively inexpensive to install compared to installing a new flue or lining an existing chimney. However, many balanced flue fires need expensive heat-resistant materials to be used in the construction of a false chimney breast, they often need unsightly grilles to be fitted top and bottom of the chimney breast and may also require the gas controls to be mounted separately in a metal box in the side of the chimney breast. Try to establish from your supplier if the brand you have chosen needs these unsightly and expensive items. Ask for a product that is ‘Zero Clearance’ which won’t need expensive installation techniques.
5. Your new fire will probably have a remote-control handset. Establish what will happen when the batteries run flat or you misplace the handset. A good balanced flue fire will have a readily-accessible manual control option as back-up, preferably concealed behind the facia.
Good luck in your search for a stunning widescreen gas fireplace!