I'd go for the real fire as long as you can cope with the extra mess. Burning coal does cause more dust in your room and dirt from ash etc but overall I much prefer the real thing. Our central heating is solid fuel and whilst it is a pita at times you can't beat a real fire to warm your bones!
Hi, we have a solid fuel fire and a real looking gas fire in our house (one of the ones that has fake coal and real looking flames and a remote control). There are pros and cons to both.
Personally I really like the real fire and it would take alot for me to give it up. It's a PITA to clean every time though. I've always found smokeless coal doesn't work as well as the proper stuff and don't have much experience as to how much of that you'd need. When we light fires we use some old newpaper, a firelighter (I'm guessing £1 - £2 for a pack of say 10), some coal and wood. Get it going and then add extra coal and as when required. I must admit we are quite as to how much wood and coal we seem to use on it but don't actively keep tabs (we use wood from the garden and have a stash of coal in the shed so don't actually buy it at the minute to know costs. You also can't leave the room alone with a fire on without a cover on it incase of bits spitting out of the fire start a fire. I love the smell of a proper fire and nothing beats toast made on a fire
Our gas fire is relatively new (a couple of years old). It's very practical in our sitting room as we heave cream carpets so couldn't cope with the mess of the proper fire in there. It's quick and easy to turn on and off and does heat effectively. One thing to say is please don't choose one which has batteries (ours if powered by battery rather than by mains) as the batteries are binking expensive and don't last long (I didn't know until it was too late...). It's practical but to me it doesn't look the same as a proper fire even though it looks pretty close. We also are aware of the cost of the gas and try not to have it on for too long. DH thinks it's more expensive to run but that's probably as we get our wood for the other fire from the garden.
Not sure if that helps, let me know if I missed anything.
My hubby and I are in a bit of a dilemma. We are having our living room done and one of the things we are thinking of doing is replacing our cast iron fireplace insert. After visiting a few fireplace shops, we found that we could either opt for a gas fire or solid fuel within our cast iron fireplace. They both seem to have their pros and cons and most shops recommend gas fires mostly because it's not messy and yields the same output. You can even get gadgety ones with a remote control! In one of the shops they had a lovely gas fire on which really looked real even though it had some fake coal and the thought of having not to worry about the mess is very tempting. Anyway, not including the cost of installing a gas fire and running a pipe to the fire place, what would be the running cost of having either a gas fire or solid fuel? I am aware that gas prices aren't really going to come down and that they continue to rise. I have even been told that I need to use smokeless solid fuel but not knowing how much I would use, I cannot calculate how much it would cost. Anyone had any experience with either recently over the last winter and the recent cold weather? Would you know how much you spent on running the fireplace? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.