Plan for heating success

A top-end residential property deserves a visually striking and efficient fire or stove at its heart, but where do you start in the quest to specify the right model? Stovax’s Matt Beckenham talks to Housebuilder & Developer about how best to approach this key interior element

Heating output is a primary element to take into consideration. There are some models that can emit a heat output of up to 19kW; much smaller stoves and fires can generate 2kW. It is wise to ask the installer for advice on how big the stove or fire should be but for starters a guide for measuring the size of the heating appliance is outlined below.

Assuming that the room is reasonably well-insulated, a simple equation to bear in mind when choosing the appropriate heat output of a stove is to calculate the room’s volume (in metres) and then divide by 15. The result will provide the average heating requirements for the room in kilowatts.

With rising energy prices and environmental factors to consider, selecting the right fuel source from either woodburning, solid fuel, gas or electric can be the most challenging task of all. Woodburning is now widely appreciated for its green credentials, with many homes enjoying the comfort of a real-fire ambiance and the warming feeling that comes from this carbon neutral heat source. Wood fuel is not just the preserve of the rural retreat, indeed with many products on the market suitable for use in Smoke Control Areas, even the most urban of homes can burn logs or smokeless solid fuels. The following website will be able to inform you about Smoke Control Areas and if your housebuilding project is affected: smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk/locations.php

Gas is a clean and efficient alternative that can offer many other benefits such as remote control operation alongside timer and thermostatic programming functions. A modern, high-efficiency glass fronted gas appliance can quickly heat a room and with some highly realistic fuel effects available, can offer a flame visual to rival that of a solid fuel appliance.

Developments in the fireplace industry have led to a number of products that offer specific structural benefits. Some heating manufacturers have introduced gas fires that have been specifically designed for installation into a cavity wall by simply removing a section from the internal leaf. This offers a reduction in installation costs, negates the need for a chimney breast and allows for a greater possibility for positioning the fire in the home.

For those looking for the ultimate in ease, an electric appliance may fit the bill. Long gone are the days of simple bar heaters and lifeless fuel effects. Today’s modern electric appliances can offer both contemporary and traditional fuel options, impressive controllable LED flame visuals, variable heat output and total ease of use and installation as well as minimal or zero installation costs.

It is easy to assume that the fire is something to be enjoyed on a winter’s evening, but think beyond the obvious and consider the habits of the homeowners and whether their requirement may be greater in the daylight hours. Is it for a single room only or would they benefit from some of the multi-space heating options on the market? There are a number of double-sided appliances that can provide a visual and functional link between two rooms, but it is also worth considering the other options on the market that can heat up to four additional rooms thanks to a clever warm air ducting kit developed specifically for this product range.

Another way to maximise the return from the fireplace is to have it augmenting the hot water supply for a central heating system. There are a number of solid fuel boiler stoves on the market that include discreet integral boilers within their design.

Once you have identified the purpose of the fire, next is the critical stage of addressing the structural necessities.  It is important to always check the installation instructions and discuss your project with a qualified retailer/installer as every stove or fire will have its own specific requirements that can dramatically affect both the interior and exterior of your design layout.

With so much to consider, it really is no wonder that a fireplace can often be an eleventh hour discussion point, but for those who plan ahead, the fire can be as instrumental in the build’s success as the foundations are to its longevity. With a wealth of styling options, from wall hung fires to traditional, cast iron stoves give the fireplace its due priority and it can really make the difference in turning your dream ideas into your client’s dream home.