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The Neighborhood

Choosing The Right Electric Fireplace Or Stove
By Plow & Hearth
2/21/2013 2:51:00 PM

For tens of thousands of years, the flickering flames and warmth of a fire on the hearth has been an integral part of daily human life. We can all identify with the calm and peaceful feeling of looking into the heart of an open fire. But, the advent of modern heating and cooking appliances has taken the open flame out of most of our homes. Electric stoves and fireplaces are an easy way to introduce the realistic and satisfying effect of burning wood into any room while providing safe, clean and efficient heat.

How They Work:

There are two basic functions to an electric stove or fireplace: the flame effect and the electric heater. Realistic open fire flames are created by the light from small bulbs or LEDs shining onto a random pattern of rotating, polished metal fingers that reflect the light onto a glass screen to create an ever changing three-dimensional flame effect. These “flames” can be so realistic that you hesitate to reach out to the surface, even though it’s cool to the touch. The built in heater works by having electrical current pass through metal coils that heat up. The radiant heat that is produced is moved out of the stove with a built-in, super-quiet fan, creating warm air that circulates through the room.

The Benefits Of Faux Fire:

• All of the units just plug into any electrical outlet.
• All surfaces stay cool and safe, so they can be placed against a wall or cabinet on a wood floor or carpeting.
• Unlike a gas or wood appliances there are no emissions, so no chimney or venting is required.
• They are completely safe around children or pets. (Dogs and cats usually stake out a warm spot right in front of the heater)
• The built in electric heater uses approximately 1500 watts, with a 4-5,000 btu output. Enough to heat around 400 square feet.
• All of the stoves and fireplaces have built in thermostats or variable heat output controls, as well as brightness control for the flames.
• The flame effect and heater can be operated independently, so you can have the flames without the heat being on. Many models also come with a remote control.
• Save energy by zone heating in the room you are using, instead of heating the whole house with a central system.

Form, Function And Fit:

With the knowledge of electric fireplace functionality and benefits under your belt, you can now begin your process of selecting the size and style that’s right for your living quarters—whether it’s a home, apartment, condo or cottage. Electric fireplaces and stoves come in so many shapes and sizes, there’s sure to be a style to suit your space.

Electric Fireplaces—From Mantels To Entertainment Centers:

Electric fireplaces are available in a variety of styles designed to fit into any home décor. You can choose from simple compact designs, traditional fireplace surrounds and mantels, or entertainment centers to hold a wide screen TV.

Surrounds and mantels for the electric fireplaces are all wood construction with real veneers that are fine furniture quality and available in a variety of stained finishes, as well as basic black and stone. The fireplace surrounds are easy to assemble and the electric fireplace units come assembled, ready to plug in. If you’re looking for something that provides more of a traditional fireplace feel or would like to create ambiance in extra rooms, mantels and surrounds offer the perfect solution.

The combination electric fireplace/entertainment center option is great for someone who has limited space and wants more out of their fireplace than just heat and good looks. This choice also makes a nice focal point for a room and has great potential for storage.

Electric Fireplace Inserts:

Fireplace insert units are designed to fit right into any existing fireplace to provide the warmth and ambiance of a real fire without the maintenance and mess. Electric inserts are easily portable and come assembled and ready to plug in. When using an electric fireplace  inserts you can keep the damper closed since they produce no smoke or emissions.

Electric Stoves:

Featuring the same realistic flame patterns and efficient electric heater as the fireplaces, electric stoves can go anywhere, living room, basement, garage, kitchen or bedroom. Patterned after classic European cast iron wood burning stove designs, they add a warm, traditional feeling to any room, even before you turn the flames on. Available in compact or full size models, basic black or colors, they are lightweight, durable, and can be easily moved from room to room.

Wall-Mounted Fireplaces:

Wall Mount Electric Fireplaces take flames and heat to a new place in the home. Wall mount fireplaces have all the same features of the electric stoves, but take up no floor space. They come with wall mounting hardware and can be placed on virtually any wall in the house. Since the flames and heat can be operated independently, imagine adding the look of a cheerful fire to a room anytime of year. Like a piece of wall art, they are framed in real wood with a choice of finishes.

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The Olla: A Brief History

Olla (Spanish, pronounced “oh-ya”) jars have been around since ancient times. Made of unglazed ceramic, ollas traditionally have short, narrow necks with wider bodies, and are made in a variety of shapes. They have been used for thousands of years for cooking, storage, and plant irrigation.

When used to irrigate plants, an olla is buried neck-deep in the ground near a plant’s roots, with the opening of the olla extended above the soil so that it can be filled with water periodically. The porous walls of the unglazed pottery allow the water to seep through gradually, constantly and consistently hydrating the plants without overwatering them – and without wasting precious water to evaporation or runoff.

The use of ollas for irrigation was introduced to the American Southwest by Spanish conquistadors during Colonial times, becoming very common among Native American tribes and Hispanic settlers. Though the technique gave way to more modern methods of irrigation some time ago, its superior efficiency, coupled with its simplicity, has caused it to make a comeback. Though the technique has changed little since its introduction, today’s ollas are usually capped off, making them even more water-efficient.

Perfect for home gardens, Ollas are a super-easy, eco-friendly, less time-consuming way to water annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables and plants of all kinds in dry, sandy soil, very hot or drought-prone areas, raised beds, and even pots, planters and hanging baskets. Fill the olla before you leave on a short vacation to enjoy worry-free watering – and a smaller water bill!

How it Works:

Water is pulled directly through the terra-cotta!

Read more about Ollas on our blog.

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