10 FAQs: What do I need to consider before choosing a wood fireplace?


To help you find the right fireplace that will do what you need it to, we’ve answered your top 10 frequently asked questions:

1. How much heat do I need?

Ensuring you choose a wood fireplace that will sufficiently heat your home is something we’re committed to helping Kiwis get right. You might think it’s better to install the largest one possible, but this can result in overheating an area, or not being able to run your fireplace to its full potential.

As a general guide, approximately 1kw of heat output will adequately heat 10m2 in a fully insulated home with double-glazed windows and a standard ceiling height of 2.4m.

For example, a fireplace with 15kw heat output would likely suit a 150m2 three-bedroom home.

Your local fireplace specialist can help find the right one for you.

2. What’s the difference between Radiant Heat and Convection Heat?

Radiant heat directly warms objects and people near a fireplace. It provides instant warmth and is suited to older homes or villas, and typically open-plan spaces with high ceilings and poor insulation.

Convection heat warms the air by circulation, creating a more even and gradual heat distribution throughout the room. It’s best suited to homes that are typically new builds with standard ceiling heights, good insulation, and double glazing.

3. Do I need consent to install a wood fireplace in my home?

In New Zealand, National Environmental Standards (NES) are in place to help control emissions from domestic wood and open fireplaces. Any restrictions about the type of wood fireplace you can install will depend on your location and property size, so it’s always best to check your options with your local council early on in the process.

Your local fireplace specialist may also be able to help with the consent process.

4. Who can install a wood fireplace?

For peace of mind and to ensure your fireplace is installed correctly, Maxen recommends using a NZHHA Certified Installer for the installation of your indoor wood fireplace.

5. Which type of flue do I need for a wood fireplace?

Every indoor wood fireplace requires a flue – it’s an important part of the fireplace’s exhaustion mechanism for a safe environment.

The type of flue will depend on several factors including the type of fireplace, the location of the fireplace within the home, and the efficiency desired.

Maxen provides two options: the Traditional Flue Kit and the Therma-Flue Kit.

Your local fireplace specialist can advise which flue kit is right for you.

6. Can I retrofit a wood fireplace into an existing cavity?

Yes – you can retrofit an insert wood fireplace into an existing inbuilt or open fireplace cavity. Just make sure the opening is big enough to fit the new fire and the chimney is of sound structure and clear of any existing flue components.

If you are renovating your home, it’s best to get a specialist to visit your home to measure the space and discuss your options.

7. Can I cook on my freestanding wood fireplace?

Yes, you can – Maxen Cooktops are made from robust 6-8mm steel that puts more radiant heat into your room, and more conductive heat into your pot or kettle.

With a larger cooking space than most other cooktops, Maxen freestanding fireplaces are a reliable source of heating and a great way to feed your family during a power outage when other appliances are not up to the task.

8. Which type of firewood should I use?

Maxen recommends burning dry softwood varieties such as pine and macrocarpa in your wood fireplace.

9. What is a water booster?

Often referred to as a ‘wetback’, a water booster is an additional option that enables the fireplace to heat water for your home. The system works by circulating cool water around your firebox while burning, which feeds heated water into your hot water cylinder.

Water boosters are suitable for low-pressure hot water cylinders and are only available on some Maxen models. Talk to your local fireplace specialist about whether a water booster is suitable for your home.

10. Do I need a hearth for a wood fireplace?

Yes, a hearth is made of non-combustible material that protects your home from the heat and ash of a fireplace for your safety. They also act as a practical platform for fireplace accessories and storing firewood.

Maxen offers a range of hearths with a clean, modern finish suited to all our wood fireplace models.

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