Monday, August 29, 2011

Alternative Fireplaces

When it gets cold, nothing beats a fire. If your dwelling does not have the capacity for housing a fireplace, or say perhaps your landlord isn’t crazy about the prospect of you having one installed, there are alternatives. Ventless fireplaces add an incredible element of warmth to any home, and they cost a mere fraction of the total cost of building one into a house.

            Ventless fireplaces are loaded with amazing benefits that many people are crazy about. Unlike conventional fireplaces, you do not have to worry about several things, for instance:  cleaning the residue that inherently comes with burning wood. They are easy to maintain, and provide a beautiful, well-working fire. For use indoors, they are very safe and have many features that keep their safety in check. Oxygen depletion sensors ensure the air always remains at a breathing-safe level, while gas fumes are kept in check by limiting the btu output of the gas logs. The logs are advisably set up in a certain way that ensures the amount of carbon is limited.
Many people also love the affordability factor of ventless gas fireplaces. Not only is installation a fraction of the price of a vented fireplace, you save money by using gas and electric logs because they do not burn out like wood does. This aspect of reusing is also very attractive to many people who are not thrilled with the continuous cycle of cutting trees for use as fuel.

            If you opt for electric fire, you have many choices that lay before you. Electric fireplaces are also a great alternative for those who want a another option for a fireplace that does not require massive construction, or the commitment of something permanent. These are very realistic, create a very warm heating capability, and are powered by simply plugging it into an outlet. An LED insert allows you to have the fun of different special effects, including crackling sounds! A remote control lets you adjust the flame to your desire. Electric logs are also available, and these work similarly to gas logs, and simply plug in as well.   
            If you are wanting a ventless fireplace, you do have options for the fuel that you use. You can use either gas logs or electric fireplace inserts for fabulous results that will simulate a real fire experience, and still has the capacity to heat a room. Gas logs are a very clever alternative to actual wood because they give you much control over the power of the fire, and allow you to literally turn it on if you have it connected to a control valve. No wasting time starting a fire, when a switch will do it for you.
             Ventless gas logs are made to resemble actual wood logs very closely. They are hand-painted and feature a very realistic grain pattern. Ceramic gas logs are extremely durable, and are built to be nearly unbreakable! Their working mechanisms are hidden securely, and when their flames are blazing, you would have to look awfully close and intently to really see a significant difference between a gas log fireplace and a traditional one.
            As for esthetics, ventless fireplaces are absolutely beautiful. They are pleasing to look at and can add a lot of dimension to your space. Available with accents like colored glass, fire balls, river rocks, and geometric shapes also offer the ability to have a look that does not have to even involve the wood design of gas logs if want. These styles offer a gorgeous, modern alternative fireplace that will emit enough heat to warm even the coldest room on a winter night while never compromising your personal d├ęcor.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gas Logs: Whether You Have A Vented Or Ventless Fireplace

Fire is awesome, and it speaks to our primal nature. It also does wonders for heating homes, cutting fuel costs when heating, and esthetically it makes for excellent ambiance.
            There is nothing at all like the power of fire. When it gets cold outside, especially when it gets as cold as this past winter which shattered records, and brought continuous blizzards to many places throughout the country, there is nothing like a blazing fire to keep your home and spirit warm. If you are fortunate enough to have a fireplace, you know what it does for keeping the house heated. Did you know, however, that there are alternatives available if you are not exactly fond of using and storing actual wood, to keep the fire lit in your fireplace? And did you know, that the power of these alternatives is so awesome, that even if you do not have a fireplace built into your home, you still have options for creating a similar set up?

            If you have a vented fireplace, and are sick of the hassle of gathering firewood, lugging it home if you’ve purchased it, and storing large amounts of it to last you through the winter season? Are you done with the trouble it takes to clean up soot and ash, as well as the residue the burnt wood leaves in your fireplace and chimney? The perfect antidote to traditional wood logs are modern gas logs. Designed to give you control of the fire, and alleviate some of the issues associated with regular wood, gas logs have many fantastic benefits. It is true, that you do lose the rustic charm of conventional wood, but when you can kindle a gas flame, and set it to the desired temperature, and have it roaring in no time flat, are you truly missing out on anything? Certainly not, for sure. If you hook up a control valve to your gas log, it enables you to have even more control of the fire, as it can be adjusted with the simplicity of a switch.
            Gas logs used in a vented fireplace are a brilliant alternative to traditional wood because they are safer, as they do not spit and crackle, spewing sparks and embers. The actual logs are made of ceramic material, that is reinforced with steel. They look and burn beautifully, and are extremely durable.
            For use in a vented fireplace, all the same parts for your fireplace and chimney are still needed, however. A firebox, chimney, flue, and termination cap are absolutely essential for proper running. Finally, if you need even more added to the visuals, you can even purchase accessory kits that will add character, and add more realistic charm to your fire. Twig kits, wooden logs, pine cones, and wood chips can all be used as accent pieces.

            If you don’t own a fireplace, and do not have the ability to have one in your residence, a ventless fireplace can make your dream of having one, come true. Ventless fireplaces are just that: ventless. They are perfectly capable of functioning like a vented fireplace, and add the same warmth and glow to your home, without the high cost of installing a vented fireplace. What powers their fire are propane and natural gas. What is even more incredible about these unvented fireplaces is that they contain sensors for detection of oxygen depletion. Thermocouple determines the heat output, and BTUs are limited to reduce fumes from unburned gas. Specific patterns are created in burning the logs to control the level of carbon within the gas.
             Much effort has been made to create a very realistic look. Logs are hand-painted, and logs burn with a very natural pattern. Ventless fireplaces also add incredible decorative elements to any home. River rocks, ventless glass, and geometric designs can add even more of an accent to a ventless fireplace, in addition.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Infrared Searing For The Beginner


             If you’re accustomed to grilling, it may come as a surprise that grilling with the power of infrared heat is a totally different scenario. Just like any other cooking technique, it takes some time to master. For some this may happen quickly, and without much effort, while for others it may be more gradual. The most beloved method of cooking on an infrared grill is searing, which locks in moisture and creates savory flavor.

            Infrared technology in terms of grills is solely owed to the company TEC, or Thermal Engineering Corp. In the 1980’s they pioneered this technology and applied it to grills, and the end result was an ultra powerful grill, with the highest heat output on a grill ever seen. The technology was then patented, and these grills were only available to those in commercial environments such as restaurants. Once the year 2000 rolled around, this patent expired, and infrared gas grills were able to be sold to the public. At first, people did not catch on as quickly because of the enormous price tags that were attached. But because they were no longer protected, the technology was then accessible to everyone, and soon other manufacturers were releasing their own takes on the almighty infrared.
            Many people, once they’ve purchased an infrared grill, are anxious to begin cooking on it, and to know the proper ways to use it. Strangely, no one as of yet, has released a book that details the instructions that work best for grilling infrared. Above all, you must always keep in mind the difference in heat that this type of grill will bring. It’s really not your ordinary heat source, and it is way more powerful. The standard output is 1500 degrees, and will cook a steak in minutes. The grill’s hood must always be kept open during grilling because of the intense pressure that is generated by the gas. The powerful heat then rises off of the burner, and unlike a traditional grill, infrared gas grills do not conduct heat in the air. This is known as directional heat, and it travels directly upwards.
            It is important to note that the grill presents an interesting surface to work with. In between the grates is where the heat will rise from, and will cook the food that is placed on it, differently from the areas where the food hits the grates. The meat will have to be turned at very short intervals, somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds apart. This change in position changes the heat from direct to indirect. As you turn, the time lessens because even though the food may not be receiving direct contact with the infrared heat, it is still receiving residual heat that is present in the air due to conduction. 15 seconds in, there will be obvious stripes, signifying areas that have been cooked and others that have not. As you turn, the cooking is more even. Once this process of precision is complete, you will flip your item over to do the same process on the other side. Generally, you can allow about one minute and 30 seconds for each side as a safe estimate for total cooking. And, this my readers, is searing. Quick cooking, over extreme heat, with utmost attention paid to your subject.
            Among the different foods you can sear, ground beef hamburgers can be one of the trickiest as they are not exactly flat and can rarely get a searing that compares to that of fillets. Steak and fish fillets are the prime examples of foods that sear perfectly, ensuring perfection in tenderness and flavor.
            So, if infrared grilling is going to be on your personal to do list, or if you are just curious, I hope you’ve learned a thing or two from this little instructional! Happy searing!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Harsh Weather Calls for Tough Seating: Eucalyptus Hardwood Furniture

         What compliments the perfect outdoor kitchen better than the perfect outdoor living room? I think nothing! Spending time outside, in the sun and under the stars is something that never gets old. It is definitely one of the best aspects to living in Florida, where we have such a fantastic climate. If you want to make the most of your backyard, an awesome barbeque grill, and great patio furniture can turn your home into a luxury resort.

         Here in South Florida, we have intense weather conditions. Our renowned sunshine, blazing heat, monsoon-like rains, ever present humidity, salty air, and occasional tropical storm or hurricane make it a pretty interesting place to reside in, to say the least! If you spend time outdoors, rather if you do not live beneath a limestone rock down here, you are probably well aware that its always in a state of change. If you have furniture outdoors, you know how easily it can be worn down by the elements, and very quickly it can go from being beautiful and comfortable, to awaiting bulk trash pick up. Suffice it to say, it is also never enjoyable to waste money on furniture that is pricey and does not last long. And finding quality outdoor furniture that can actually withstand our regular conditions here in the sunshine state can be quite a  mission!

         The perfect solution? Hardwood eucalyptus. You’ve most likely heard of eucalyptus, as it has been used for millennia for its medicinal aromatherapy attributes, but the wood from this tree is a phenomenal material for outdoor patio furniture. Until recently, the most common wood used for patio furniture was teak. Gorgeous in color, and naturally able to avoid deterioration with elemental exposure, teak was the go-to wood of choice for people who wanted beautiful, sturdy, long-lasting, comfortable patio furnishings. Unfortunately, the world’s supply of teak has been detrimentally cut back, and it is not the wisest material to be using for furniture. Anyone with any intelligence at all will balk at its use, when there are ecologically sound alternatives, such as eucalyptus. On this note, harvesting teak is also illegal in many places, so that even if you wanted it, it would probably be difficult to obtain.

          Eucalyptus hardwood, on the other hand, is a brilliant alternative. This hardwood bears a beautiful resemblance to teak in that as aging occurs, a gray ash coloring overtakes its exterior, adding a distinctive elegance. There are so many reasons to be in love with this wood. Unlike other woods, it does not weaken under the pressure of the sun, salt, and water. It does not require chemical treating, and cleans rather easily. Other types of patio furniture, such as cheaper woods, aluminum, and plastic often need the power of pressure cleaning to remove the mildew and other unsanitary undesirables that can accumulate. Hardwood eucalyptus is resilient, and cleans with simple wiping with water, when it has been protected with proper oiling. Oiling also boasts the benefit of giving you the option of preserving the beautiful golden amber color, in contrast to the gray you can achieve with just outdoor exposure.
         Nearly any type of patio furniture is available in hardwood eucalyptus. Whether you want the perfect pair of adjustable chaise loungers, an extensive dining set, or a serving bar, guaranteed you can find the most suitable pieces to your taste and your patio space. Rocking chairs, bistro dining sets, benches, storage bins, and bar carts are also available to complete your outdoor living room.
         Many people can be hesitant to purchase eucalyptus furniture, as it can be pricey. However, if you want hardwood patio furniture that will last you many years of comfort and beauty, eucalyptus can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. As an investment, it will last decades, and physically its beauty will age gracefully.