|In 1799 Philippe Lebon patented his Thermolampe in France, combining gas lighting and heating. Due to the impurity of the gas the lamp gave off an unpleasant smell and it was not widely adopted.|
This was a problem which would dog the development of gas heaters for many years. John Maiden suggested gas space heating in 1813 by playing gas flame over 'fancy figures' of cast metal.
Over the years many materials were used to form radiants for gasfires: pumice balls by Edwards in 1849, glass and firebrick by Smith & Phillips in 1851 and asbestos fibre by Goddard in 1852
The first successful gasfire, developed by Leoni in 1882, had a firebrick back embedded with asbestos tufts. These early fires used a bunsen burner to give a hot flame. Use of 'neat' flame which is as hot but much quieter did not arrive until the 1930's.
Gasfires began to look as we know them today when columnar fireclay radiants were introduced in 1925.
For 73 years this basic principle of radiating heat into the surrounding atmosphere remained unchanged in spite of two major problems; radiated heat takes a long time to heat all but the smallest of rooms and a large amount of heat was lost up the chimney.
The development of convector gasfires overcame these disadvantages by forcing the otherwise lost heat to warm the air by passing it over a heat exchanger before then passing into the chimney. The warmed air then passes out of the top of the fire and circulates around the room.
By the mid 1950's the gas industry was in decline. Coal, the raw material for gas production was becoming more expensive and the demand for gas was falling. By 1965 however the situation had changed dramatically and part of this success can be attrributed to the popularity of the convector fire and it has been said that the convector fire saved the ailing gas industry.
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