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dual purpose fireplace question (heating and cooking)

Posted by parsnip1 (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 25, 11 at 0:04


I am moving into an old home, and will be renovating, with the opportunity to install a fireplace or wood stove. I'd like to be able to derive a percentage of our heat from the fireplace, but at the same time, I'd like to be able to have a nice, big hearth with an open fire.

Here is why: I am completely addicted to cooking in open fireplaces. I've got old hearth cooking implements, etc.

On the big, open fireplace side of things, great for cooking in, great for hanging out by, there is something like the Lennox prefab estate series (or building a from scratch masonry one). But it seems like it is useless when it comes to heating. The closest I've come to finding a big open fireplace that also heats, is the wittus optifire. But it seems that leaving the door open with a fire going is not a good idea, and is not using it as designed. Am I wrong?

Is there a compromise, or do I need to choose between heating and having a big open fire to cook in?

Advice much appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: dual purpose fireplace question (heating and cooking)

I believe that, with an open fireplace, most of the heat goes up the chimney. To feed the combustion, the fire draws air from inside the house, air that you heat by other means. This is obviously not energy efficient.

I guess you need to decide on your priorities. If you want your fireplace to produce serious amounts of heat efficiently, you should consider a direct vent system. They are the most energy efficient and safest and they do not adversely affect indoor air quality, a concern with other designs.

If you really like the idea of cooking in an open fire you might want to consider some kind of oven design of the type that gourmet pizza parlors that specialize in wood fired pizzas use. These are usually built into the wall, about waist height, and probably suitable for a large kitchen of a traditional design. I do not know of any manufacturer that makes these units for homes, but you might be able to get one from a manufacturer of restaurant equipment, or you might find a contractor who will build one from scratch for you, but you would need to assure yourself that you have a really competent contractor.

In older homes in Europe and Britain, a unique elaborate design called an inglenook is sometimes found, although they are rare. This is a small room, say, 7 to 10 feet square, usually lined entirely of marble or slate. Benches provide seating along two of the walls. At the far wall, there is a fireplace, providing an open fire that could be used for cooking or heating a meal. I do not think people are making inglenooks any more. They are expensive and probably not very energy efficient. But if you are lucky enough to have one, you can enjoy it when the weather is cold.

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