A liquid propane or natural gas fireplace offers a variety of benefits over a wood-burning or electric fireplace, such as:
Convenience - one of the biggest benefits over wood-burning fireplaces. Wood fireplaces require you to try to light the wood, clean ashes, and shift the wood around just to keep it burning. Gas fireplaces simply turn on with the push of a button, flick of a switch, or hand held remote control.
Low maintenance - besides a little cleaning and a yearly check by a professional, gas fireplaces require little maintenance. With no need to worry about removing ashes or transporting wood, you can spend more time relaxing in front of the fire.
No embers - unlike a wood fire, gas units don’t emit dangerous embers that could burn your furniture or loved ones.
However, gas units can pose a risk for carbon monoxide (CO). They require proper venting to avoid trapping dangerous gases. Additionally, keep working carbon monoxide detectors in the home and routinely perform tests to ensure they remain functional should a CO leak occur.
Gas fireplaces do not require a chimney, but most options require venting using a pipe or flue. Vented gas options include B-vent and direct vent, though you can also find ventless options. They offer the following differences:
B-vent, sometimes called natural venting, make use of the air inside the room for combustion. They use a single pipe to vent the fumes from combustion outside. These options need to vent vertically, meaning they cannot vent through the wall. They must vent through the roof.
Direct-vent gas fireplaces use outdoor air for combustion. They use a double vent pipe whose inner chamber exhausts the fumes from combustion while the outer chamber draws in fresh air. They can vent vertically or horizontally.
Vent-free, or ventless, gas fireplace options do not require venting. Instead, they cycle the products of combustion back into the room in an amount deemed within safe parameters. However, they still emit fumes and can deplete the oxygen in the room. Consider investing in oxygen-depletion sensors to sense when oxygen levels drop too low and crack open a window to replace the oxygen lost. Ventless options may not work in all regions. Check local codes and laws before purchasing.
Gas units offer some safer benefits over wood-burning units. They require no matches, no smoke, and give off no sparks or ash. However, any gas appliance runs the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. This odorless, colorless gas can be lethal. Always use working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and never leave the fireplace running when sleeping or out of the house.
Additionally, look at the clearance zone of the fireplace. This lets you know how much distance to put between the fireplace and any flammable materials. Keep wood, books, curtains, newspapers, and other flammable items away from a fireplace.
Other tips include:
Routine maintenance - have a professional look at your fireplace and take care of any required cleaning to keep it in top shape. Schedule inspection before the winter months so you can use the unit when you need it.
Check local building codes - your area may place restrictions on what type of fireplace you can use or where you can install it. They may also require a building permit before installation.
Keep children away from the fireplace - many fireplaces feature double-pane glass or a safety mesh screen to prevent the front of the unit from getting too hot. But if not, the front may get very hot, so it’s still wise to keep children away to prevent burns or accidents.
When looking for a new hearth product, like a fireplace, gas logs, or log sets, you may spot an efficiency rating. In the U.S., they offer the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) and Steady State ratings. AFUE ratings measures the percent of heat produced for the amount of fuel consumed. While typically used to indicate energy efficient appliances like furnaces, you may find an AFUE rating used for some fireplaces. Steady State measures how efficiently a fireplace converts fuel to heat once warmed and operating in a constant, or steady, state.
In Canada, they offer the EnerGuide rating which measures annual Fireplace Efficiency (FE). This voluntary rating considers the performance and unit’s use throughout the heating season. According to the Government of Canada, most gas fireplace models on the market offer FEs between 30-70% with higher numbers offering better efficiency.
Unlike a regular fireplace, a gas insert requires installation into an existing fireplace. Inserts consist of a metal box inside a larger metal box that inserts into the fireplace opening. They warm the air in the space between the two boxes and radiate heat from the firebox. Inserts are designed to turn existing wood-burning fireplaces into gas units. They finish with a decorative surround to complete the look and create a seamless appearance.
Looking for an alternative way to warm your home but still want the appearance of flames? You can find fireplace log sets with our fireplace log set category!