“ Manufacturer: Focal Point - Gas - Brushed Stainless Steel Finish - Heat Output: min 1.5kW, max 2.6kW - 90% Energy Efficient - Requires a minimum ventilation area of 100cm squared and a minimum room size of 30m cubed „
With the increasing price of gas I decided my open coal effect gas fire was far too inefficient to use. Although it looked warm and cosy when burning, half the heat was disappearing up the flue and it got to where I just didn't dare use it. Another problem was that even when it wasn't lit, we were losing heat from the room up the flue. I do have central heating, but it's a big lounge and on really cold days it helped to have a gas fire on, as well as giving a cosy focal point to the room.
It was time to start looking for a more efficient solution and I liked the look of the flueless wall hung gas fires I had seen in B&Q. I picked up a brochure and read up as much as I could, comparing style, size and fuel efficiency of various fires. Some couldn't be fitted in my room as they need a deep inset such as an old fashioned chimney.
On the plus side, flueless fires are almost 100% efficient. Fumes are dealt with by a catalytic converter so you don't need a flue, and you don't need to have the fire on an outer wall. On the downside, you need to have 100 square cm of ventilation on an outside wall somewhere in the room. This provides the oxygen for the fire to burn. That means installing a special vent. This does let in a small draft, but it's not nearly as bad for losing heat as the flue was. Also for this size fire you need to have a room that is 30m cubed.
After waiting for a special offer at B&Q I bought the Plasma Flueless fire made by Focal Point. It was priced at £421 reduced from £499. However on the box it said £399 as it was one left over from their previous offer, so that's what they charged us! It has a heat input of 2.6 kw and heat output of minimum 1.5 kw, maximum 2.6 kw and it's classed as 90% energy efficient. The front is brushed stainless steel with a glass panel and it's got a concealed ignition knob under the bottom panel which pulls down.
I wanted a reputable gas man to fit this, so got a business card from a gas showroom that uses outside contractors. The guy quoted me £200 to fit this, which I thought was fair enough considering the work involved.
He took out my existing gas fire and surround, filled in and plastered the wall, and connected a new length of gas pipe as this was going to be further up the wall than the old inset fire. Meanwhile his mate drilled a hole in the wall next to the patio door and fitted the vent. We chose this spot as it meant we could hide the vent behind the edge of the curtain without blocking the flow of air. However a lot of people have them fitted behind a radiator, which would mean extra work taking the radiator out.
It was worth getting a good gas fitter as he did a decent job and left my wall neatly plastered. All I had to do was wait a few days for it to dry before repainting. When lighting the fire, I found it gave off a strong but not unpleasant smell for a few weeks, which we were told is normal. Also there was a smell of drying plaster. This all faded eventually, although the fire still gives off a faint smell six months later. It tends to form condensation with evaporates off after being lit for a few minutes.
The fire has two choices of flame, low or high. The low one gives off a good heat, and I generally don't use the high flame for long. Don't be deceived by images of this fire that might show huge flames shooting up. Actually the small flame flickers at about ½inch to 1 inch and the higher flame at about 1 inch to 1½ inches.
It's quite a leap in style from a traditional look gas fire and surround and really works best in a contemporary looking room. Also as this is quite a big one, it would seriously dominate a small room, so I would suggest looking for a smaller wall mounted fire if you don't have a spacious room. It's not advisable to have anything inflammable above the fire, so I'm not sure wallpaper would be a good idea as it might peel. I just have painted walls so it's not a problem. Some brochures show a wall fire with a flat screen tv above it, but you can't do this! There is far too much heat rising up and there are strict warnings in the paperwork about it.
Overall it's a good buy and I don't worry so much about running up a huge gas bill. It gives a good focal point for the room and is nice to just light for a bit extra warmth on a coolish evening when I don't really need the whole central heating running.
Designed to simply hang on any wall, without having flue or chimney limitations, the Plasma is the perfect complement to your kitchen, dining room, study and living room.