Many potential Santa Barbara homebuyers rate fireplaces near the top of their ‘nice to have’ list. Not a ‘gotta have,’ but definitely a solid plus. For them, fireplaces are romantic additions to any property. Sometimes a backyard fire pit or open-hearth barbecue can fill the bill. Especially during these summer evenings, the allure of the dancing flames, crackling sound and woodsy aroma are all that are needed to bring back fond family memories and build new ones...
However – whether indoors or out, there are some practical advantages and drawbacks to both wood burners and gas fireplaces.
The main advantage to a wood burning fireplace or an outdoor fire pit is the ambience it creates. Since wood is the original renewable fuel, all the positives that go with a green/conservation perspective come into play for some homebuyers. And with advanced fireplace technology, you can reduce gas emissions, increase the circulation of heat in indoor versions, or help warm family and guests on chilly Fall evenings.
The disadvantages to a wood-burning fireplace are also traditional. A certain degree of vigilance is always needed to keep the embers safely where they belong. Cleaning up ashes and soot is an uninspiring pastime (even less enjoyable when accidental spills spread the mess). Then there is the annual need to keep the chimney clear and clean; plus finding the fuel: chopping wood or paying for it to be delivered. Additional hassles can surface if there are problems starting the fire or keeping it going. There is also some evidence to indicate that particles generated from wood burning can be harmful to health and the environment.
The chief advantage of gas fireplaces for some Santa Barbara homebuyers is how easy they are to turn on and off. Instead of matches, newspaper, kindling, and close attention, starting many of these can be as simple as flipping a switch. Cleanup? Not! Nor a need to tend to the fire. Most gas fireplaces have non-burning displays that resemble wood logs, and burners that conserve fuel by getting the most visual appeal through well-designed flame spreaders.
For many people, the main disadvantage of a gas fireplace is that there is no roaring fire, wood smell or snap! and pop! of a cheery flame. For environmentalists, gas fireplaces deplete a non-renewable resource. While it’s not necessary to carry logs to an outdoor gas fire pit, the gas tank must be refilled (or possibly a gas line run to the unit).
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