Wood-burning fireplaces give way to electric ones


What you need to know:

  • Smoke concerns force homeowners to install those that use gas or electricity.

In most homes, a fireplace evokes an escape from the bustling streets, the comfort of settling into a swinging chair with tea or a book.

Most homeowners have, however, sealed their chimneys or rarely use them because of concerns that the smoke from burning wood can be toxic. Some wood-burning fireplaces are also wrongly constructed and let smoke into the living area.

Several innovations have now come in the nick of time such as electric fireplaces.

Robert Kimani of Bob’s Fireplaces says the electric are more modern as the wood-burning ones have adverse effects on one’s health due to the smoke and soot.

Unlike the electric heaters, these fireplaces serve two purposes.

“Electric fireplaces can be for heating and decorative,’’ says Mr Kimani. One can either turn on the artificial flame, but with not heat or turn on the flame and heater at the same time.

They are easy to install as they only need an electric socket to plug in and can be placed at your preferred centre wall. They are ideal for living rooms, common areas, office spaces and in hotel rooms as they are easy to operate.

Electric fireplaces also require no cleaning of the chimney as with wood ones which have to be swept to remove built-up soot and any other debris. Chimney sweeping or cleaning ranges from Sh6,500 to Sh13,000 depending on the type of house.

Mr Kimani started the company last year as a solution, after someone sold to him wet wood for his fireplace which lead to a smoke-filled house.

He later decided to buy an electric fireplace which he says is much easier to run. He now sources the fireplaces from the USA and UK after he got orders from family and friends, with prices ranging from Sh22,000 to Sh500,000 depending on the design.

“The market is now savvy and environmentally-conscious and these fireplaces are quickly being adopted as an alternative to heaters especially during this cold season,” he says.

They are both child and pet-friendly as they are not hot to the touch.

Controlling the heat is done using a remote control. Mr Kimani says the electricity consumption for the heaters can be equated to using an iron box when the heater is on or a light bulb when you only switch on the artificial flame.

The fireplaces can be placed at any point in a room, but there are others that are designed for specific areas.

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