Although adding a traditional fireplace to an existing home sounds daunting, gas log systems have been developed to quickly add fireplaces to any home. Read on to learn more about the benefits of vented gas log fireplaces and vent-free gas log fireplaces.
Built-In vs. Freestanding Gas Log Set
Unless you plan to build a new addition to your existing home, adding a traditional brick fireplace and chimney designed for burning wood can be a costly upgrade. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options for adding gas fireplace logs to your living space. One option is a prefabricated fireplace, which is more energy-efficient and easy to install than a traditional fireplace.
There are two types of prefabricated gas log fireplaces: freestanding and built-in.
- Built-in. Fireplaces that are built-in look similar to traditional
- Freestanding. Freestanding units have a lightweight construction and
are incredibly simple to install. They also come in plenty of sizes, shapes, and finishes.
Both built-in and freestanding fireplaces vent through metal chimneypieces that run the exhaust
through ceilings, walls, and roofs. Always check with your local building municipality to build a fireplace
under the correct codes and regulations before purchasing.
Gas vs. Wood Fireplaces
Those who prefer traditional fireplace methods may believe wood-burning fireplaces are the best way to heat their home in the winter. However, wood-burning fireplaces come with plenty of drawbacks. They can be messy to clean and come with plenty of fire hazards. Wood-burning fireplaces are not convenient for most people, as you need to have dry firewood handy if you want to heat your home. Unless you live remotely in the woods, acquiring readily available dry lumber may be challenging. ;
This is where gas log fireplaces offer advantages. Gas log fireplaces are nearly maintenance free and come in plenty of different styles and shapes. Additionally, gas log fireplaces are simple to install and pose much fewer risks than wood-burning fireplaces. They also put out twice as much heat as wood-burning fireplaces. Gas log fireplaces are one of the best options to heat your home during the winter months.
Vented vs. Vent-free Gas Log Set
When deciding which gas fireplace logs you want to purchase, you’ll need to consider whether you want a vented gas log fireplace or a vent-free gas log fireplace. There are many decisions to be made when it comes to choosing vented or vent-free units, including:
- Looks vs. efficiency
- Local building codes
- Fireplace location
Vented (A Little Heat)
When it comes to a vented gas log set, you can enjoy a large and realistic-looking flame made from an open chimney flue or damper from the burner. Vented gas log sets are created to simulate a wood-burning fireplace and are much more decorative than they are at heating your living space. Most of the heat expelled by a vented set exits your home through the chimney or flue. ;
Vent-Free (More Heat)
Ventless or vent-free gas logs operate with a closed chimney flue. A vent-free set won’t give you the classic crackling fire effect that you get with gas fireplace logs with a venting system. The flame produced by a ventless unit might not look as realistic or tall compared to vented options. However, vent-free logs are incredibly efficient, as nearly all of the heat that is generated from a ventless fireplace remains in your home. You may also see ventless gas log sets with thermostat controls that help regulate a consistent temperature in your living room. Ventless fireplaces add moisture to the air, so make sure you install proper ventilation into your room to avoid mildew.
Ventless gas logs primarily come in two different styles, ceramic logs and concrete refractory logs. Both log types have their own advantages. Ceramic fiber log sets are known for producing a more realistic fire, the concrete refractory logs tend to hold up better over time.
Fireplace systems with ventless gas logs are typically not permitted in bathrooms, bedrooms, and other home locations because of health and safety. They need to be installed in areas where curtains, clothing, furniture, or flammable objects are at least 3 feet away from the perimeter of the heater. Ventless gas log fireplaces are typically not installed in windy, high-traffic areas. Heavy drafts can be dangerous for homes that use ventless gas log fireplaces.
Gas Log Fireplace BTUs
British thermal units (BTUs) are used to measure the healing power of your gas fireplace logs. BTUs will vary for different model homes, so be sure to do extensive research before purchasing. To measure how many BTUs is appropriate for your home, you’ll need to multiply the area of your room (in square feet) by your ceiling height (in feet) and your BTU zone.
Natural Gas vs. Liquid Propane Gas Heat
There are two primary models of gas fireplace log sets:
- Log sets that use natural gas
- Log sets that use liquid propane
Determining the right gas logs for you comes down to a variety of factors. If you have a natural gas water heater, clothes dryer, or other similar appliances, it is easy to set up a gas log fireplace. If you do not have a natural gas line already installed, check your local natural gas company to see if installation is the best option for you. If natural gas services are not available in your location, choosing a liquid propane gas log fireplace is the best option for your needs.
Natural Gas Logs
Natural gas is a lighter gas than air and dissipates when it is released into the air. Natural gas does not burn as hot as liquid propane or other gases. However, the benefit of natural gas is that it costs much less. Natural gas logs have to be installed into a pipe system from buried gas service lines.
Liquid Propane Gas Logs
Liquid propane has more carbon than natural gas, and it also burns much hotter than natural gas. To get liquid propane logs heating your home, you need a tank to be positioned outside the home. If you decide to purchase a liquid propane gas log fireplace, a tank may be installed outside your home.
Additional Safety Considerations
- Always keep a fire extinguisher in near reach of your fireplace
- Ensure all local codes for safety are met.
- If you have a wood-burning fire, properly dispose of ashes in a disposable container
- Do not use gasoline or lighter fluid to start your fire; only use a match light as needed.
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home
- Never leave flammable or combustible objects near the fire
For additional information on the best gas logs and fireplaces for your home, contact a Watson’s expert. Our customer service representatives are more than happy to help you find the best option for your home and your budget.