Having a fireplace in the home is very valuable.  It provides warmth and heat to a room, and serves as a point where the family can come together to socialize and spend time with each other, and a good looking fireplace can improve the look and feel of a room immesurably. Homes with fireplaces also increase in value – as long as the fireplace is well maintained and looks good.
Traditionally most fireplace were for burning wood or coal. Historically wood was burnt, but as the availability of wood ran out especially in the cities, coal was brought in and became an important source of heat and cooking.  Fireplaces were built into walls of the rooms and were set beneath an outlet which allowed smoke to dissipate.
The common fireplace is made up of different parts – the basis, the grate, the fire container, the outlet or vent. Screens are sometimes used to prevent sparks from flying out of the fireplace and scorching or setting household items alight.  The mantelpieces were typically quite large and ornate, and were made of a heavy wood, stone or marble, and formed a centre piece of a room.  Modern day mantlepieces can be fairly simple objects with just a thin metal frame, or in some cases, no mantelpiece is required.  A suitable mantle can be a great addition to the look of a room.  With conventional fireplaces, energy use is rather intensive, and in some places the wood or coal burning fireplaces have been banned as they pollute air and create hazards for health.
These days, modern fireplaces give the home owner a lot more choice as there is a wide range with different types and functions available.  These will include fireplaces which are operated with propane, wood, electricity and gel.
Electric fireplaces were generally avoided as the earlier versions contained badly sculpted fires which were made with synthetic materials and looked obviously like bad imitations of the real thing.  This has changed as the most recent fireplaces that work with electricity now have much more convincing fire depictions and quite often one only realizes that it is not the real thing only when very close to the fireplace.  These may not be as beautiful as the traditional wood burning fireplace, but they have other advantages. They are, for instance, smoke free and need no chimney for venting.  They are not as hot as wood fires but can still generate enough heat to warm a fairly large room.  They also come in a wide range of styles to fit in with the lines of the room.

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