Why Choose A Closed-Combustion Fireplace?

Canature Deco Plus.jpgClosed-combustion fireplaces are extremely efficient. A traditional open fire converts around 20% of its fuel into usable heat. The balance turns into ash, smoke and hot air which escapes through the chimney. A closed-system fireplace is designed to minimize the loss of heat, and to burn as much of the fuel as possible. Closed-combustion fireplaces recirculate the hot air before allowing it to escape through the flue, and burn at a high enough temperature to re-ignite the recirculated air.

Closed system fireplaces are more expensive than traditional open fireplaces, because of the relative complexity of construction. However, in the long term, the saving on fuel will more than pay for itself.

Apart from fuel efficiency, there are some other advantages to closed-system fireplaces:

  • Because closed system fireplaces are sealed, you won’t have to deal with smoke filling your house.
  • Closed system fireplaces are much safer than open fires, because there is no risk of sparks igniting nearby fabric or carpet.
  • Closed system fireplaces are designed to be used in smoke free zones, with extremely low smoke emission.

How do I choose the correct size closed-combustion fireplace?

It’s important to choose the right size fireplace for your room. The size of fireplace you choose depends on the size of the area you want to heat.

A fireplace which is too small for the room won’t be able to heat the room properly. On the other hand, if you buy a fireplace that’s too big for the room, you will need to keep the room temperature down by limiting the air intake.

Closed-system stoves are most efficient when they are operating at the temperature for which they are designed. Cutting the flow of air means that the fireplace is not going to work as efficiently as it should, resulting in incomplete combustion of the fuel. This means that the glass will become dirty, the flue will accumulate soot and more sooty particles will be emitted into the environment.

I want to see the flames

Most closed-system fireplaces are fitted with fire-resistant glass doors, which allow you to enjoy the sight of the flames. Modern designs have even larger glass doors than ever. An air-wash cleaning system ensures that the glass stays clean.

I like the idea of a wood-burning fireplace, but I don’t want the smell and soot in my house

Closed system fireplaces are generally manufactured from cast iron, which retains its shape through years of heating and cooling.
This means that the joints and doors always remain tight. Rope gasket seals are used to prevent smoke and soot from escaping into the room.

I’m put off by the thought of cleaning a fireplace

Because closed-system fireplaces are so fuel efficient, very little ash or residue is left over
from the wood. Cleaning is only required after the fireplace has been used several times, i.e. once or twice a week.

What is a multi-fuel fireplace?

Some closed-system fireplaces are designed to burn wood only, and others are able to burn wood and anthracite. Wood is generally preferable, because it burns more cleanly than anthracite. A single load of anthracite can burn for up to 12 hours, but the fireplace must be cleaned after every use. If the
fire is refueled and the ash pan is emptied every 12 hours, it can burn continuously.

Closed-system gas fireplaces are also available. These are also very efficient. There are no fireplaces on the market which burn both gas and solid fuel.

Fireplace Safety

Although the outside of a closed-system fireplace is very hot, the potential for accidents is much smaller than with an open fire. Small children soon learn to stay away from the fireplace and enjoy the heat.

Simple and Safe Installation

Closed-combustion stoves generally provide a flue outlet on the top or on the back of the unit, with some models offering both, and some also providing an outlet on the side. If you have an existing fireplace and chimney, the new stove can be placed in the fireplace, with the flue feeding into the chimney, but special care needs to be taken to ensure a proper draw up the chimney.

It is important that any fireplace be installed professionally.

Choosing the right fireplace for your home

syam_montero_bio_ethanol_fireWith winter approaching, it’s time to make sure that your fireplace is ready for the cold weather. If you are used to living with a fireplace, it’s hard to imagine how you would cope without one.

Fireplaces have a long history, and have evolved over the years. For centuries, the traditional open wood fireplace was all that was available. There is no comparison to the ambience created by a log fire, and the smell, sounds and warmth they produce. But open wood fireplaces present problems in our environmentally-conscious age.

The closed-system wood-burning stove is designed to increase efficiency, by converting as much of the fuel as possible into heat. Properly designed closed-combution stoves have extremely low emissions.

All wood-burning stoves require a degree of manual labour. You may need to chop the wood; you will certainly need to carry it to the fireplace. You’ll need to empty the ash as well. If you are elderly or sick, these tasks may become a liability.

Gas fireplacesoffer a much more convenient solution. Gas has the advantage that it produces heat almost instantly, and a gas fire can even be ignited with a remote control – true push-button convenience. However, the cost and availability of gas could be an issue.Electric fireplaces are, if anything, even more convenient than gas. All they need is an electric outlet. Although you may not be convinced by the flame effects produced by most electric fireplaces, there are some situations where gas or wood fires are unsafe or impracticable. High-rise apartments are a good example.

Of course, electric fireplaces are dependent on there being a stable supply of electricity, and are subject to unattractive price rises.A recent introduction is the bio-ethanol fireplace. These are very decorative, but are not generally intended to be used as a primary source of heat for your home.

Gas and closed-combustion wood-burning fireplaces are available in free-standing and insert variants, while electric fireplaces are also available in wall-mounting versions.

Fireplaces are available in a wide range of styles, from traditional 19th-century decorative cast iron stoves to trendy, sleek, modern stainless steel inserts. You’ll need to take into account the style of your room and furniture, as well as the volume of the space to be heated.

Read This Before Buying A Fireplace

Godin Madras Closed System Wood Burning Fireplace

Are you no longer able to resist the allure of a warm, glowing fire? Is a fireplace something you can no longer do without? Choosing the right fireplace for your home and your budget is not too difficult.Here are a few aspects you should be thinking about.

Are you adding a fireplace to an existing home, or is it going into a new house? It’s generally easier to put a fireplace into a new home or an extension to an existing home. If you are planning to add a
fireplace to an existing home, here are some further considerations.

Firstly, is there an existing chimney, and what condition is it in? If there is no chimney, is there a place where the new fireplace can go which will allow it to vent directly outside? Or are you considering a vent-free fireplace?

If you live in a townhouse complex, you may need permission from the body corporate before installing a direct venting system.

If your house has no chimney, or if it is going to be expensive to get the chimney working properly, a direct venting system may be your best bet. A direct venting fireplace can be installed in practically any room with an exterior wall.

Modern closed-combustion wood-burning fireplaces or stoves are extremely safe and efficient. They convert as much as possible of their fuel source into heat, while generating only a minimum amount of
ash. Unlike gas, wood is a renewable resource, so wood-burning fireplaces have strong green credentials.

Would you prefer a gas fireplace rather than a wood-burning stove? Gas fireplaces allow you to avoid the mess and bother of burning logs, and can be direct vented or vented through a chimney. Vent-free gas
fireplaces are also available.

It is attractive to consider a vent-free fireplace, especially when you are adding it to an existing home. There is no need to have a chimney, or even an exterior wall for a direct vent. There is also no
heat loss to the outside, because there is no vent.

Vent-free fireplaces should not be installed in small, confined spaces. They should only be used for less than 4 hours at a time, and should generally not be the only source of heat.You should not
consider installing a vent-free fireplace if anyone in your home is a diabetic, has heart or respiratory problems, is anaemic or pregnant.

Vent-free fireplaces can cause excessive moisture. In addition, there may be a noticeable smell from the fireplace.

An electric fireplace is another possibility to explore. Modern electric fireplaces are efficient, but the cost of electricity is obviously an important factor to bear in mind. Electric fireplaces are
simple to install, because they need no venting system. With some units, you can simply take it home, plug it in and it’s ready to go.

An electric fireplace may be the only option for use in apartment buildings or in a townhouse complex.

You should generally not attempt to install a gas or wood burning fireplace yourself – rather make use of the services of an expert. Incorrect installation could result in the emission of dangerous
fumes, or in a fire hazard. It’s best to consult a professional.

A fireplace, whether gas, electric or wood, can add warmth and coziness to your home.

Wood Burning Fireplaces Johannesburg

The Fireplace Shoppe sells and installs closed-system wood burning fireplaces from a number of manufacturers, including Canature, ACR, Rocal, Wanders, Sentinel, Franco Belge and Godin.

Closed-system fireplaces are highly efficient – in other words, the fuel is converted to heat with minimal losses or smoke emissions.

There are basically two kinds of wood burning fireplace – open, or open hearth, fireplaces, and closed (or closed combustion) fireplaces.

Open fireplaces have many disadvantages. If the draught up the chimney is insufficient, smoke can be sucked into the room. From a safety standpoint, a fire screen is essential to prevent sparks from flying into the room.

Closed combustion fireplaces solve these problems. Since the fire is completely enclosed, there is nowhere for the smoke to go except up the chimney. There is no risk of sparks flying into the room once the fireplace door is closed.

Closed combustion wood burning fireplaces burn their fuel much more efficiently than open fireplaces, with minimal emissions up the chimney. This makes them much more environmentally friendly as well.

The Advantages of Cast Iron Fireplaces

Cast iron is one of the best suited materials for fireplaces for the following reasons:-

No distortion

Cast iron does not distort. This means that regardless of how many times you fire it up the integrity of your fireplace is maintained and the cast iron door of your closed system fireplace closes tightly every time. The point about tight closing of the door cannot be over-emphasized: the door must close tightly for efficient operation of your fireplace.

Heat retention

Cast iron is especially suitable for fireplaces because it retains heat for a much longer time and emanates an even and pleasant warmth for a long time after the fire has died.


There is no danger of cast iron being burnt through. Cast iron has proved to be more durable under high temperatures than other materials.

Aesthetically pleasing designs

Unlike steel, cast iron can be moulded into a large range of textures and designs. Hence the range of aesthetically pleasing cast iron fireplace designs from Canature and Franco Belge.

Additionally, many models of cast iron fireplace have flat tops, and will allow you to place cooking pots on top, directly above the fire.  They don’t produce very high heat for cooking, but they will slow cook your food.

Sources: catalogues of Canature and Franco Belge

Wood Burning Stoves – Air Inlets and Controls

Morso and Franco Belge closed system wood burning stoves have been engineered through exhaustive testing in their R&D sections. To obtain the best performance from your quality unit, it is important to know the purpose of each of the air inlets to the unit and which are controllable.

Closed system wood burning stoves have primary and secondary air inlets and some also have a tertiary inlet.

On some units, the primary inlet control is located at the bottom of the unit with the secondary air inlet control located at the top. On others, the controls for the primary and secondary inlets are combined at the top of the unit.

The primary air inlet is controllable by the user. Its purpose is supply maximum air inflow to the unit when starting the fire. Once the fire is burning well, the primary air inlet should be closed down to maximize the efficiency of the burning of fuel.

The secondary air inlet is also controllable by the user. Once the fire is burning well, the secondary inlet can be used to control the heat output of the unit.

The tertiary air inlet, when a unit is fitted with such an inlet, is not controllable by the user. Air from this source is injected at the back of the fire box. Its purpose is to maximize the efficiency of burning of fuel (and thus to maximize heat output of the unit). This air inlet will marginally increase the consumption of fuel.

Remember to open the primary air inlet when starting the fire, and to close it once the fire is burning. This increases the efficiency of closed system wood burning stoves and ensures that the fire box temperature is high enough for secondary combustion of the smoke and gases.

Don’t overlook the costs of operating your new fireplace

Very often only the initial capital cost of purchasing and installing a new fireplace is considered in selecting a unit. BUT, the costs of operating the unit may be significant depending on your intended usage of the fireplace and should not be overlooked! Also of significance is the convenience to you of using a particular fuel type.

For example, a fireplace using LPG bottled gas is most often cheaper to install than a slow combustion fireplace, but its operating cost will be higher. If one intends using the fireplace on only the coldest nights of the year, the operating cost will be less of a factor in selecting a fireplace. However, if one intends to burn the fireplace continuously over the winter months, the operating cost becomes a significant factor which may sway your decision.

Obviously fuel costs are subject to escalation and unfortunately all at different rates. Eskom’s recently announced proposals for tariff increases are a case in point.

Please ask us for guidance in respect of operating costs taking account of your intended usage of the fireplace and the convenience of alternative fuel types you are considering.

Morsø – one of our major suppliers

Since the original cast iron fireplace was made at the Morsø Jernstøberi more than 150 years ago, Morsø has become one of the leading providers of cast iron stoves around the world. From Europe to Africa, North America to Australia and Japan, today Morsø cast iron stoves are sold in over 25 countries.

In South Africa, Morsø’s popularity has made it the generic name for cast iron “closed system” fireplaces.

Morsø’s slogan is: “More warmth, more luxury, more control”.

Certainly Morsø’s stylish cast iron “closed system” fireplaces deliver impressive heat outputs and their aesthetically pleasing designs fabricated to exacting quality specifications can add a stunning feature to any home.

In addition, the “closed system” fireplaces are highly efficient relative to traditional open fireplaces, allowing good control and using only a third of the fuel. Owing to the efficiency of the fireplaces, longer cleaner burn times are achieved, with more heat radiated into the room and significantly less heat loss to the chimney.

The range of Morsø product available in South Africa is featured in the Fireplace page on this website.

Why does The Fireplace Shoppe choose to be an agent for Morsø product?

  • Quality and style
  • Efficiency and control.
  • More economical
  • Product support – Morsø has proved its commitment to supporting their products.

Fireplaces – Local Product Support

There are a range of issues to be considered when buying a fireplace, including:-

  • Heat output of the unit for the room volume to be heated
  • Fuel type
  • Positioning of the fireplace
  • Flue or flue-less
  • Built-in or stand-alone?
  • Aesthetics

but most often neglected is the issue of local product support.

There are many fireplace brands available locally.

Some serious questions to be asked:

  • Does the supplier have the capacity and infrastructure to provide product support if needed?
  • What happens if I need a spare for the unit?
  • Is the supplier locally represented?
  • Do I need to wait for a distributor to import parts from abroad?

The Fireplace Shoppe believes in providing excellent support to its customers.  The only way we can do this is by working exclusively with suppliers who are able to provide us with excellent product support.

It is no coincidence that our major supplier is Morso.

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