A Guide to Gas Fireplaces: Everything You Need to Know in Order to Pick the Best One

If you are looking to improve your heating efficiency or add ambiance to a room by installing a gas fireplace, there are some things that you should take into consideration when making your choice; local codes and permits required, vent type, fuel type, style, efficiency, maintenance, and installation.

Gas fireplaces offer the look and appeal of a wood burning fireplace, without all the work involved in maintaining a wood burning fireplace. There is no need to cut, haul, split, and stack firewood and there is no ash to clean out after the fire is out. Gas fireplaces also take up a fraction of the space that a wood burning unit requires, providing more options for installation in tight spaces and smaller homes.

There are three types of gas fireplaces, Direct Vent, B-Vent and Vent Free. Each having unique requirements and specifications. Before deciding which type of fireplace you want to install, you will need to check with your local building codes for approved applications in your area. Not all gas fireplaces can be installed in all locations. It is highly recommended that you have a plumber or heating and cooling specialist install the gas lines. To prevent voiding your warranty manufacturers usually require professional installation of appliances and gas lines. 

Direct Vent Fireplaces
Direct Vent Fireplaces use direct vent chimney pipe made of two parts, a small pipe inside of a larger pipe. Combustion air is drawn in through the outer pipe while the inner pipe vents the exhaust. The appliance is completely sealed with a glass face to prevent leaks, and does not allow air from the house to be used for combustion. A direct vent fireplace can be safely vented through a sidewall or through the roof.

B-Vent Fireplaces
B Vent Fireplaces, also known as Natural Vent, use B vent chimney pipe and must be installed through the house and terminated above the roof. A minimal amount of room air is used for combustion and exhaust fumes are vented outside. B-vent gas fireplace are generally installed for decorative purposes, with many styles and options available to suit your decor. A more realistic looking yellow flame, makes this a great option if you want the ambiance of a fireplace, but you don’t need it to generate that much heat.

Vent-Free Fireplaces
Vent-Free Fireplaces, also known as Ventless fireplaces, provide supplemental heat, but do not require any venting. They burn inside air and put off a very minimal amount of fumes. And because there is no venting needed the installation cost is much less expensive and the unit can be installed virtually anywhere. 

Fuel Type
When selecting your gas fireplace you will need to make sure you choose a unit with proper gas outlets for your fuel type. Your home may already have existing natural gas lines to provide fuel to a furnace, dryer, stove, or water heater, therefore, you would choose a natural gas appliance. Natural gas is usually a preferred fuel because it burns cleaner and provides a more natural looking fire. However, if your household appliances run solely off electricity, you may have to choose a liquid propane fireplace.

BTU Information and Calculation
BTU ratings measure the amount of heat produced per hour. The less fuel used to generate usable heat to attain the perfect BTU rating, the more efficient the fireplace will be. To calculate the approximate number of BTU’s you’re space will require use the BTU calculator provided, and enter the requested information. 

A standard style fireplace is a traditional one-sided application, that offers endless installation possibilities. Most gas fueled fireplaces have a smaller footprint, so they take up a lot less room. A standard gas fireplace could be placed in any room in your house to supplement an existing heat source or add a romantic setting for an intimate gathering.

A peninsula style fireplace offers a multi-sided view, which allows for a variety of installations. They are rectangle in shape, relatively compact in size and visually appealing. A peninsula style fireplace could be a unique way to separate two rooms, such as a dining room and family room, still allowing for an open feel.

An island style fireplace is four-sided, which allows for a beautiful view from just about every angle. Heat radiates from all four sides of the unit, providing warmth and comfort to multiple areas at once. The island fireplace would be a wonderful center piece to a great room, where several types of living areas are incorporated into one space.



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