woman drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace

Types Of Fireplaces For Inside Your House

Miranda Crace7-Minute Read
UPDATED: April 27, 2023

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details.

As the days get shorter and the nights cooler in the fall, it’s such a treat to be able to curl up in front of the fire. Having a fireplace inside your home does more than just produce heat; it elevates your room’s design and makes it feel cozy.

But before you can dream of chestnuts roasting on your open fire, you must decide which type of fireplace is right for your space. A wood-burning fireplace might be perfect for a traditional home, while a modern electric fireplace wall can make a perfect focal point in your newly renovated home and make your old space feel new again.

Ultimately, choosing the right type of fireplace for your home depends on your heating needs and design choices, the costs of installation, maintenance, fuel and ease of use. To help you decide how you want to ignite the flames in your home, we’ve gathered a list of the pros and cons of the most popular options.

Wood-Burning Fireplace

This classic option creates a cozy experience that enhances the ambiance of any room. The crackling sounds and smoky aromas will spark thoughts of simpler times and add a feeling of hygge to your home.

Types Of Wood-Burning Fireplaces

If you’re in the market for a wood-burning fireplace, there are a number of options you can choose from.

Open Hearth Fireplaces

When conjuring up images of sitting in front of a fire, we typically think of the traditional open-hearth fireplace.

The open-hearth fireplace is the most romantic in feel, and the type found in most historical homes. Unfortunately, they’re much less efficient than other fireplace types, and can be very expensive to install in a house that doesn’t already have one.

Enclosed Fireplaces

Generally found in new construction because of the prohibitive cost of retrofitting an existing home, enclosed wood-burning fireplaces are essentially wood stoves, or fireboxes, that are built into the wall of the home. The key advantage of enclosed fireplaces is that they can be sized to appear more like an open-hearth fire behind a glass surface than a traditional insert or wood stove.

Wood-Burning Inserts Or Stoves

You can buy an insert for your open-hearth fireplace that will greatly improve the amount of warmth you generate per log of firewood. You’ll give up some of the charm and romance of an open fire, but you’ll gain a warmer home and save on firewood. 

Wood-Burning Stove

Another option, though technically not a fireplace, is a wood-burning stove with a vent through an existing chimney. Not only can they give your room a retro, log-cabin vibe they are also more efficient at converting wood into heat then a traditional wood-burning fireplace.

Pros And Cons Of Wood-Burning Fireplaces



Firewood is a renewable resource

Can cause drafts if improperly sealed

Source of heat during power outages

Annual inspections are recommended

Choose firewood for aesthetic characteristics, like length of burn or aroma

Steady source of firewood required

Let a pro do it for you.

Keep your chimney clean with a local pro's help.

Turning A Wood-Burning Fireplace Into A Gas Fireplace

Since a wood-burning fireplace requires a little more maintenance than most homeowners are willing to do, many consider turning their wood-burning fireplace into gas versions. However, this isn’t a project you should do yourself. It’s important that you hire professionals who are licensed and insured, and have expertise in chimneys, fireplaces or gas lines.

You’ll need to start with a chimney inspection to ensure it’s clean, functional and able to accommodate a gas unit. After you choose the type of gas fireplace that works for your home, you’re looking at a bill of around $500 – $2,500, assuming no issues arise when installing the gas line. On top of this cost, expect to pay about $100 a year on inspections and maintenance.

Gas Fireplace

If the thought of stacking firewood and sweeping ashes doesn’t appeal to you, switching to a gas fireplace might be right for you.

Types Of Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces may not create the same nostalgic feeling as wood-burning fireplaces, but they do tend to burn cleaner and more efficiently. If you want to spend less money installing your fireplace and heating your room, gas is a great option.

​​Vented Gas Fireplaces

There are different types of gas fireplaces from which you can choose. A direct-vented built-in fireplace creates a yellow flame, making the aesthetic closer to wood-burning options. These must be vented through a chimney or a pipe.

Ventless Gas Fireplaces

For an easier installation, you can choose a ventless built-in fireplace, which does not require a vent of any kind. But don’t expect the classic fireside look with this option – the flame for these fireplaces is blue. Some experts also question their safety, so be sure to ask about that if you’re considering this type of fireplace for your home.

Pros And Cons Of Gas Fireplaces



Visually similar to wood-burning fire

They don’t produce the sounds and smells of the real thing

Control your flame with the touch of a button, a switch or remote control

Need to hook up to a gas line or propane tank

Ceramic logs emit real flames, without much maintenance or cleanup

May emit contaminants into the air

Turning A Gas Fireplace Into A Wood-Burning Fireplace

If your home came with a gas fireplace previously installed yet you yearn for the smoky aroma and crackle that a wood-burning fireplace offers, you can convert your gas fireplace into a wood-burning one.

Unfortunately, the process isn’t as cost-effective as going from wood to gas. According to Angie’s List, your contractor would need to completely replace the fireplace rather than do a simple conversion. Therefore, the cost of conversion is likely to be around $2,000 – $5,500.

You’ll need to get your flue and chimney inspected by a chimney sweep beforehand. You’ll also need a damper (a vent that opens and closes) and a properly working venting system installed.

While the price is high, the conversion process is relatively simple, with a professional removing the gas logs and capping off the gas line. Like the gas fireplace, all that’s left after installation is a yearly inspection and maintenance fee that usually runs $100 – $150.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Electric Fireplace

If you don’t want the chimney, pipes, gas line or tank, an electric fireplace might be the right alternative for you. An electric fireplace merely requires an outlet to power its heating coils, and requires very little maintenance. However, the flames it produces are only simulated. Think of it as a high-tech yule log.

Types Of Electric Fireplaces

If you want the no-hassle experience of an electric fireplace, you have a couple of options. You can install a mantel electric fireplace, which has the appearance of a formal, built-in fireplace. However, if your home is smaller, you may want to go for an electric fireplace TV stand or entertainment center.

Electric Fireplace Wall

Electric fireplaces are a dynamic art form you can add to a wall that can become your living room’s new heat source and a focal point.

Portable Fireplaces

Think of these mobile fireplaces as the evolution of the portable space heater. Now, manufacturers use technology to create the look, sounds and comforting feel of a real fireplace virtually with the ability to move it from room to room.

Pros And Cons Of Electric Fireplaces



Replicate both the heat and light of a real fire

Cannot simulate the smoky smell of a genuine wood-burning fireplace

Can plug into any outlet and start with a push of a button

 More costly than gas


Environmentally friendly and they don’t emit fumes

Unavailable during power outages

Ethanol Fireplace

Ethanol fireplaces produce a real flame without the need for a vent. Because it runs on an ethanol fuel, which is alcohol-based, it doesn’t emit chemicals nor smoke into the room. Ethanol fireplaces come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and they tend to have a sleek, modern design.

Types Of Ethanol Fireplaces

Since ethanol fireplaces require minimal installation, the options you have revolve around where you want to put them and how you want them to look. Ethanol fireplaces can be wall-mounted to provide a gorgeous focal point to any room. However, you can also choose from a variety of tabletop fireplace options, which are portable and can be moved on a whim.

If you already have a fireplace and want to convert it into an ethanol one, you can do that, too. You can buy one and insert it directly into your existing fireplace.

Pros And Cons Of Ethanol Fireplaces



Eco-friendlier than wood-burning and gas fireplaces

They’re not that efficient and don’t produce as much heat

Can be installed anywhere in your home (don’t require chimneys, pipes, gas or electric lines)

More expensive to use

Temperature of the fire can be adjusted

Don’t provide the same sensory experience

Alcohol Gel Fireplace

Similar to ethanol options, alcohol gel fireplaces are installed without vents, pipes, outlets and gas lines. To ignite real flames, all they need is a can filled with gel fuel, which contains an isopropyl alcohol mixture.

Alcohol gel fireplaces are a great option if you want to add the flair of a modern fireplace to your living space even though you don’t need to rely on one for heating your home. 

Types Of Alcohol Gel Fireplaces

As another ventless, portable option, alcohol gel fireplaces come in the same options as ethanol ones. You can purchase a wall-mounted fireplace or a freestanding model that can be moved around the room.

Pros And Cons Of Alcohol Gel Fireplaces



Self-contained and fueled by alcohol gel, these fireplaces are highly portable

Gel cans must be purchased separately and replaced frequently, typically after 2 – 3 hours

Produce a true flame without the need for venting or installation

While purchasing an alcohol gel fireplace can be more affordable, the cost of using it is far more expensive

Similar sensory experience to wood-burning fires, but they don’t produce smoke

Produce much less heat than other types of fireplaces

The Costs Of Adding A Fireplace To Your Home

If you’re currently thinking about building your next home, it’s easier to include a fireplace in your design plans when compared to retrofitting an existing home to accommodate one.  

If adding a fireplace to an addition to an existing home is on your home improvement wish list, expect to pay about $2,391, or between $878 and $3,910, according to Home Advisor. If you’re thinking about adding a fireplace to an existing wall, your costs will depend on factors specific to your home.

Estimates will vary widely based on factors like the cost of running a connection to a gas line or providing ventilation in both labor and materials as well as the expenses associated with your design choices. Building a fireplace may increase home value and help keep your family cozy all winter long.

If your fireplace addition is part of a larger remodel, you might want to apply for a cash-out refinance. This type of mortgage allows you to cash in on your home’s equity for capital improvement projects, leaving 20% equity in as the down payment on your new mortgage loan.

The Bottom Line: Heat Your Home For Less

Installing a fireplace can transform any room and make it feel homey, or dramatically new. If your dream fireplace takes advantage of pricey modern options or is just a starred item on your home improvement wish list, you might want to consider financing options.

Cash-out refinances are often a great option when you need significant cash for a remodel, as they are a way to leverage the equity you’ve built up in your home into a reinvestment in your living space. If this sounds appealing, why not start the process to get a cash-out-refinance today?

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Miranda Crace

Miranda Crace is a Senior Section Editor for the Rocket Companies, bringing a wealth of knowledge about mortgages, personal finance, real estate, and personal loans for over 10 years.