Closed Combustion Vs Open Fireplaces

When deciding on a fireplace for the cold winter times what should you get? An open fireplace or a closed combustion fireplace? Often people, especially South Africans, wax lyrical about an open fireplace, the atmosphere, the crackle and pop of the logs burning. This crackle and pop is more a case of sparks flying out onto the floor, or worse, onto loyal Fido who is innocently sleeping in the hopes of a warm lazy day.

Let’s talk about the efficiency of a fireplace.

An open fireplace typically burns the wood at a 20-30% efficiency, meaning it’s only converting 20-30% of the burning wood to heat – 30% of the heat is dumped right in front of the fireplace and the rest of the heat rushes out the chimney. Whereas a good quality closed combustion fireplace burns anywhere from a 70-80% efficiency. Heat is convected or radiated into the room. If you think about this, it’s incredible.

  • Think about making two fires, one in an old open setting and one in a closed unit. Two very very different heat experiences.
  • Think then that the wood used in a closed unit will typically last 4 to 8 times longer, less labour for you and big saving for your wallet.
  • Think smell, an open unit is rather smelly in the morning, a closed one has no smell.
  • Think heat, with a closed combustion unit you will appreciate the heat in the room.

Clean, easy and safe

An open Fireplace has a big heap of ash and wood bits to be cleaned out each morning, a closed one burns the wood to a fine powder so all you do is empty the tray in the morning. Very importantly, for Fido that is, you can rest assured that your closed unit is safe if you are not there.


A very important factor to consider – the environment. A good quality closed combustion unit will follow the European standards for emissions. Currently, a unit should burn at a minimum of 50% efficiency, the European brands burn at a 70% plus, also in Europe they will allow a 1% of carbon monoxide concentration in the smoke, a well-designed unit is a lot lower than this. Making a closed combustion fireplace from Metelerkamps the carbon neutral choice.

Variety of Styles to suit you

Closed combustion units come in any shape or size you could possibly imagine. There are free standing and built-in units, there are units that with the help of fans and ducting you can duct heat into other rooms. There are old traditional designs and modern sleek designs. With a closed unit, the sky is the limit.

Charnwood C7

When East meets West – West is Best!

Then in closing, we would urge the reader to think very carefully when choosing a fireplace. We would strongly suggest choosing one made in Europe rather than the East. Rest easy knowing that you are piggybacking on the strict European standards, likewise make sure you have a qualified installer, you can never be too careful where a fire is involved.


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