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TOO MUCH LIKE HARD WORK
We had actually given thought to the installation of a proper solid-fuel burning stove when redecorating our lounge, but were put off by a few major factors.
a) The cost of rebuilding our fireplace from non-combustible materials, relining the flue and installing a stove was prohibitive - How much? £4500? Surely His Excellency is 'avin' a larf!
b) The size of wood-store needed to hold a meaningful amount of fuel didn't really suit suburban living, given wood's relatively low calorific value and high bulk compared to coal.
c) Here we were decorating, and volunteering to get the room all smoky and dirty all the quicker!
Yes, it would have been nice except that I could also predict whose job clearing out the ashes would be..................
BNIBBLES GETS REAL (OR IMITATION, AS IT TURNED OUT)
Hence we set about decorating the lounge for more cosmetic reasons.
The 30-year old curtain linings now looked like Miss Haversham's wedding dress in its later years, and wasn't it about time that the wood-chip wallpaper, so popular with landlords of student digs, was changed for something a little less 'low rent'?
Last time I'd decorated, I'd already cleared out the thirties fire brick, revealing a larger squarer hearth behind, and installed a coal-effect basket, with hidden fan heater. If truth be known, we use it for heating only a few times a year, and only have the coal effect lit for, well.....effect, actually. The flickering flame effect had stopped working as soon as I fitted an economy bulb (sprayed red) some time back, there not being enough waste heat to make the little propeller go round!
This time we wanted something different, and it was whilst on holiday in a barn conversion in Wales that we came across the Dimplex Club stove, which seemed to be just the job. Admittedly, it looked a bit silly and kind of phoney standing there by the wall; after all, a log fire without a flue?
Imagining it in our own fireplace was easy though as it appeared to be exactly what we were looking for and could even be dressed up with a dummy flue once in place. A bit of uPVC soil-pipe sprayed matt-black came to mind having first checked that the ‘stove’ doesn’t get hot at the top.
Dimplex do actually sell a dummy flue for thirty quid, with a 90 degree bend in it so that it appears to pass through the wall behind, but ours would only have to be about 6 to 9 inches tall and straight before disappearing out of sight. Compared to £30 for something that you were only going to have to saw in half, sawing £6.30’s worth of soil pipe in half seems like a better deal!
In the end we opted for the same 'Club' model for the simple reason that unlike the other models in the range, it happened to be exactly the right size:-
There is a smaller model called 'Brayford' with almost identical specification, the common features to both being :-
Fan heater with 1 kilowatt and 2 kilowatt settings.
Remote control of On/Off (or whatever it was set to last)
Optiflame ® simulated log fire.
The main difference, apart from dimensions is that the Club's front door does actually open, giving access to the three rocker switches that control the fire effect, 1 kilowatt and 2 kilowatt settings. In this way, it doesn't immediately squawk "look at me I'm a fake!"
YES, I KNOW IT'S NOT A REAL FIRE
If the truth be known, I'm not really worried about the comparative expense of running an electric heater. Experience gained with its predecessor showed that it got used about three times a year, after returning home in cold weather from a holiday, during which period the heating had been turned down or off. The main concern is to create a central feature in the room that a blank stare from an empty fireplace can't emulate.
The Optiflame ® effect is pretty good compared to the previous effort, it having an electrically-powered 'shutter' made of floppy cloth vanes to create the flickering effect, therefore it isn't dependant on 'hot air convection' to make it move. It is also somewhat more random an effect than just having a rotating 'propeller' like the old heater.
I was a little taken aback when I read that the power drain of just the flame effect was 130 watts which Dimplex regards as 'minimal'. I bet to differ. I'm guessing that's 10 watts for the motor and 60 watts each for the halogen candle bulbs. I'll wait for these to throw in the towel and seek out LED or 'compact fluorescent' replacements, which will probably drop that to about 20 watts in total.
130?! You WATT? 20 should be AMP-le for our 'OHM needs.*
(* I certainly dragged that one up from the VOLTS. It's so corny, it HERTZ.)
The motor that drives the flicker effect is commendably quiet, and you really have to get down and dirty to hear it. It's certainly quieter than a Sky+ box or similar, and with the telly running, you'll never hear it. It's quite surprising to find how shallow the actual display is, as a kind of wavy mirrored curtain makes the fire look twice as deep, and gives the flame effect something upon which it can 'back-project' the flames.
Obviously, noise levels rise somewhat with the fan heater running but that's to be expected. It certainly doesn't prevent listening to TV and radio.
The remote control is a model of simplicity. You can turn the heater on and off with it! The setting with which it returns to when powered up depends entirely on how it was set when you turned it off.
Ours didn't sit dead square on the ground, needing a minor bit of packing under one of its rear feet, but this is more than likely caused by my tiling rather than any inaccuracy of manufacture!
Overall, I'd say that one of these is as nice a way of creating a focal point within a room as you'll find, unless you can afford servants and therefore a real log fire!
However, beware the uneconomic cost of running the fan heater. It is not thermostatic, so it will just go on making the room warmer till you break into a sweat and turn it off! Seriously, Dimplex do warn about leaving it running whilst someone disabled is alone in the room. As I said before, we only intend using it to take the chill off an unheated house every now and then.
Incidentally, I'd puzzled over this feature when I first saw this heater in Wales. It actually seems to give the appearance of dying embers when turned off. Thinking that there was some 'back-up' LED inside, I was even more puzzled when I realised that I couldn't see the effect in a totally darkened room. Closer inspection reveals that the 'logs' have had a subtle amount of red glitter applied to them, which might sound a bit tacky but it isn't.