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Community and Q&A

Gas or propane or fake fireplace?

fourforhome | Posted in General Questions on

The house for Dear Old Mom will be all-electric and will have provision for future PV.
Aesthetically, a fireplace is nice to have (and very nice in a power outage) but the cost to hook up to NG is ~$2,000 plus the piping and labor. A propane tank costs much less but the fuel cost is more per therm/BTUs.
We do have to think about resale and would the next owner want the hassle of refilling a propane tank. Conversely, is $2,000 a reasonable price for the convenience of always-available NG?
This is a judgement call, but I need some help thinking through it.

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  1. walta100 | | #1

    When you think about the NG hook up do not forget the monthly fees, generally about $25.00 a month.
    When you consider fireplaces often get very few hours of operation per year.

    Will this fireplace be a $10,000 decoration.
    Appliance = 3700
    Install vent pipe =1300
    Framing and air sealing = 800
    Stone surround = 2000
    Install gas service = 2000
    Unity monthly service fee = 300 per year.

    If you are building this house with a plan to sell it within a year or 2 then put in the NG furnace and water heater the market will be expecting.

    If you are building a high efficiency home to save on unity bills over the next 20 years, do so with the understanding that the resale value will not be higher than uninsulated homes with the same number of bed rooms in your neighborhood.

    The electric fireplaces just look hokey to my eye.


  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Your question has nothing to do with building science. It is an aesthetic and personal decision.

    From a green perspective, the ideal home will not require any fossil fuel -- neither natural gas nor propane. Burning natural gas or propane creates greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.

  3. charlie_sullivan | | #3

    While you are considering this, you might find that this recent blog from Martin gives a useful perspective.

  4. mikeferro | | #4

    Electric fireplaces have come a long way and there are some great options available now.

    When building my home my Energy Consultant told me a gas or wood fireplace wasn't an option both from an indoor air quality and over heating perspective. I initially wrote-off having a fireplace until I found the Classic Flame new construction "builders box" electric fireplaces. They are fairly reasonably priced, about the same size as a regular fireplace, and give you the option to have something that looks almost as good as a gas fireplace. Not to mention you can turn the heat feature off so you can truly use it year-round!

    If you're interested, there are some pictures on my blog at:

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    First, houses had fireplaces.

    Sometime in the 1970s, fake fireplaces (with gas flames designed to look like burning logs) started showing up.

    Now, someone has invented fake fake fireplaces -- electric fireplaces that look "almost as good as a gas fireplace."

    That must be something like a view of the mountains that is "pretty as a postcard."

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