VOLUME 6RFinding the Best Fireplace for Rentals
Pros and Cons of 4 Types of FireplacesBy Nikki DavidsonPhoto credit: PixabayThroughout history, fireplaces have been the heart of the home as countless generations relied on them for cooking, cleaning and staying warm.

However, as society has shifted to central heating and cooking appliances, the presence of a fireplace in new homes is declining. According to recent results from the National Association of Home Builders, only 41% of new construction included fireplaces, the lowest amount since the association began keeping records in 2001. Builders are leaving them out of floor plans to keep new homes affordable.

In warmer states like Texas and Florida, they aren’t a necessity for the weather. But renters who crave the comfort and nostalgia of a fireplace can still find one. Technological advancements have made it possible to bring a modern fireplace into any home. This article will explain the pros and cons of four different types of fireplaces for renters.

Photo credit: Max Vakhtbovych/PexelsWood FireplacesAccording to the United Census Bureau, less than 1.9% of American homes rely on wood for heat. Some areas of the country, like California's Bay Area, have even banned the creation of new wood fireplaces in homes due to environmental concerns. Regardless, there are some pros and cons of this rental amenity.

Pros of Wood FireplacesThey provide an authentic fireplace experience with a pleasant and nostalgic aroma, sound, and visual display. They also can be a source of heat (if needed) and light during power outages.

Cons to Wood Fireplaces
They require time, effort and experience to start a fire. They also require regular cleaning and chimney maintenance. Wood smoke releases carbon monoxide and harmful fine particles, air pollutants that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports pose health risks to humans and the environment.

Gas FireplacesLighting a fire in a gas fireplace is as easy as flipping a switch. There are two kinds of gas fireplaces: vented (which takes air from the outdoors, heats it and redistributes it in the room) and vent-free (which uses air from the inside of the room, heats it and distributes it).

Pros of Gas FireplacesGas fireplaces don't require storage or collection of wood, nor constant cleaning. They produce heat efficiently and emit less air pollution than wood-burning fireplaces.

Cons to Gas Fireplaces
Propane or gas is more expensive than wood. According to the EPA, gas fireplaces can release nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and particles in the air, and unvented heaters increase the risk of adverse health impacts. Gas fireplaces also don't produce the traditional smell, sound or look of wood fireplaces, as the flame usually appears blue, and the logs are ceramic or cement.

Photo credit: Andrea Davis/UnsplashElectric FireplacesAn electric fireplace could be the ideal solution for renters searching for the portable comfort of a fireplace in their new unit. They can be placed anywhere within reach of an electrical outlet, and can be moved in and out of homes (and rooms) easily.

Pros of Electric FireplacesElectric fireplaces can help lower energy bills during the colder months in mild climates like Texas or Florida if used to heat small spaces. They are energy efficient, produce zero emissions and cost as little as a few hundred dollars.

Cons to Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces do not produce the snap, crackle and pop or look of a traditional wood fire. They won't work during power outages and can only produce enough heat for a room about the size of 400 to 1,000 square feet.

Photo credit: adesifire/PixabayEthanol Fireplaces
An ethanol fireplace is the latest in fireplace innovation. It's a chimney and vent-free fireplace fueled by alcohol derived from the fermentation of sugars made from industrialized crops. Like electric fireplaces, ethanol fireplaces are portable.

Pros of Ethanol FireplacesEthanol is a widely available renewable fuel source that cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 44% to 52% compared to gasoline. They don't require an external power source, and don't create ashes or mess. An ethanol fireplace can produce heat and light during a power outage.

Cons to Ethanol Fireplaces
Ethanol is highly flammable and needs to be stored in a secure location away from children. It won't produce enough heat for an entire house, and the fire will burn oxygen, so it needs to be in a ventilated area or large room. Manual ethanol fireplaces may also be harder to contain than automatic ethanol fireplaces, which often have remote access to lower the flame.

The Winning Fireplace Is ...While all four fireplaces mentioned above have as many pros as they do cons, it's up to the renters to decide which amenity makes the most sense for their homes. More importantly, it's critical to scrutinize the lease terms. If electric or portable heaters are prohibited, that clause will likely apply to portable electric, gas or ethanol fireplaces. Checking with the landlord beforehand is best for legal and insurance reasons.