While electricity and gas connections replaced many log fireplaces there are still those who prefer the rusticity and feel of a wood burner in their home. According to HIA member Brett Howard, business development manager at Jetmaster, the ‘traditional and romantic’ open wood fires are fantastic for quick radiant heat but people need to be mindful they’re not a set and forget option.
‘Using wood [in your fireplace] is a more labour intensive fire – you have to procure, light and stoke the fire, plus there’s some clean up involved, and there are certain elements of the market who don’t wish to go to that trouble,’ he says. ‘But if you’re trying to produce a lot of heat over a larger area the slow combustion wood fires enclosed behind a glass door will produce the most amount.’
Introduced to Australia in 1980, Jetmaster revolutionised the open wood fireplace market and since then has been providing an increasing range of efficient fireplaces across the country in all makes and types. Brett says that when deciding on a fireplace for a home, you need to consider what the occupants’ needs are: are they working all day and only require heating for a few hours at night, or do they live in an extremely cold environment and will be relying on their fireplace as the main heat source 24/7?
‘Really drill down to where the fire is going to go, how the client intends to use it and what they’re expecting because a lot of fires will produce both radiant and convection heat but they’re not designed to be whole home heaters – they’re space heaters,’ Brett says. ‘As such you will need to ensure the clients understand just what the limitations are of each unit type.’
Thought should also be given to where you situate a fireplace in a home because the heat it produces will rise. ‘Positioning a fireplace close to stairwells leading to another floor, for example, runs the risk of losing that heat upstairs,’ he adds.
When it comes to safe installation, Simon Croft, HIA Executive Director Building Policy, says there are rules for both open fireplaces and wood heaters which should be considered during the design phase of building or renovating to ensure regulations are met. ‘You need to know whether a permit is needed or if a licensed professional is required for all or part of the fireplace installation,’ he says, adding this may vary state to state.
‘Your local council or building regulator or building surveyor/certifier may advise if this work is exempt or not. [Plus] there are other things to consider, such as materials surrounding the fireplace and clearances between materials and the fireplace. If a structural alteration is required to a home to facilitate the installation, this work may also require a permit.’