Winter is coming!!! But this is for real and all you want might be to curl round in your couch having a hot soup, or to watch your children play with snow when you ease up in your living room, or to have a drink with your friends and have a little chit chat. Imagine all these with a fireplace around, feels more comfy and happy, right? So, this is the right time to get a fireplace in your house. How about getting the best gas fireplace for your home? Let’s see!
You might have already thought about having a wooden fireplace. Yes that’s an obvious choice. There are lots of alternatives available now, which are definitely more efficient and requires a lot lesser maintenance than a wooden fireplace. It is high time you start thinking of a gas fireplace, which is more reliable, compact and requires no maintenance. More importantly, it is much cheaper compared to your old wooden fireplaces or the latest electric fireplaces.
You might be new to the concept of a gas fireplace. Don’t worry; here we will explain everything you want to know about them. Yes, we will introduce you the best gas fireplaces for heat at the end of this article.
- 1 Advantages of Gas Fireplaces
- 2 Gas Fireplaces and the Environment
- 3 How to Choose the Best Gas Fireplace for Your Home
- 3.1 Which Gas Fireplace Type to Choose
- 3.2 Why Venting is Important?
- 3.3 Choice of Fuel
- 3.4 Gas Log Sets
- 3.5 How to Set Your Budget for a Fireplace
- 3.6 Efficiency Ratings
- 3.7 How much Power You Need
- 3.8 Variable Set of Controls and Thermosets
- 3.9 Additional Features to Consider
- 3.10 Where to Install Your Fireplace
- 4 Top 5 Gas Fireplace Reviews
- 5 Conclusion
Advantages of Gas Fireplaces
Wooden fireplaces are no doubt, add beauty to your room and make it nostalgic. But to have the same effects with lesser maintenance would be a great idea. And that’s what a gas fireplace is all about. It brings you the same ambiance, but with lesser efforts. No more wood chopping, seasoning or ash removals. You get more efficient fireplaces with less efforts and maintenance. Isn’t that a great idea? So, let’s see how gas fireplaces dominate over your wooden fireplace.
Less Space, Easy Installation
When compared to wooden fireplaces, gas fireplaces require less room to install. Also, if you have an existing wooden fireplace, you can easily convert them to a gas fireplace using insert type of gas fireplace. It takes only a few hours to install a gas fireplace with a technician around. You can install it anywhere. It fits in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or basement. The cost of installation is really less compared to that of a wooden fireplace.
Less Fuel, More Heat
Gas fireplaces are highly efficient. They provide you more than 70% heat output, whereas your wooden fireplaces give you only 20-30% heat output.
The problem you come across with wooden fireplaces is that, it requires constant attention and you have to supply wood in between to keep it burning. With gas fireplaces, you can have constant supply of heat with less maintenance. Gas fireplaces with thermosetting controls are also available which enables you to adjust heat to your requirements. Another additional feature is the remote control. You can on/off your gas fireplace using a remote control.
Forget about Chimney
If you are worried about having a chimney to install a new fireplace, always go for a gas fireplace. With the availability of a vent free gas fireplace, you can have a fireplace without chimney. If you have an existing wooden fireplace fitted with a chimney, no worries. You can use this existing chimney for a vented gas fireplace.
Gas fireplaces are known for their clean burning features. With the gas fireplace, you need not have to worry about the ashes to dispose, wood remains to clean or the chimney maintenance.
Less Worry on Budget
When compared to your wooden fireplaces, these are lot cheaper. With the minimum amount paid, you will get fireplaces which are highly energy-efficient compared to your wooden fireplace.
Gas Fireplaces and the Environment
It is true that gas fireplaces do not produce any ashes while burning and are environment friendly. But that doesn’t mean that they are absolutely clean source of energy. Gas fireplaces also produce small amounts of carbon monoxide and other gases. Natural gas and propane produce nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide on burning which are harmful to the atmosphere. Incomplete combustion leads to carbon monoxide emissions. Gas fireplaces also release large amount of moisture into the atmosphere.
Keeping in mind the harmful effects of a gas fireplace, it is recommended to use an energy-efficient fireplace with well maintenance. Still, when compared to your wooden fireplace they are comparatively less harmful to the environment.
How to Choose the Best Gas Fireplace for Your Home
Plenty of gas fireplace models are available now. To choose the best fireplace among them is a herculean task. You should always prefer the one which suits to your requirements and budget. We will introduce to you, the various types of gas fireplaces based on different criteria.
Which Gas Fireplace Type to Choose
Depending on the type of installation, gas fireplaces are primarily divided as inserts or built-ins.
Type 1 : Inserts
Inserts are the ones that you can install inside your old or unused wooden fireplace. Thus you can save your space and get a more efficient fireplace. Care should be taken to find the right sized fireplace that fits inside your older fireplace. You may have to reline your existing fireplace with a vent to fit the gas fireplace.
Type 2 : Built-ins
Built-ins are suitable when you don’t have an existing fireplace and can be installed during the construction of a house or during renovations. These are similar to inserts in structure except that it has an additional metallic box surrounding it.
Why Venting is Important?
Venting is required to dissipate the pollutants from fireplaces to outdoors. Unlike conventional wooden fireplaces, gas fireplaces don’t produce smoke or odor but their flames produce pollutants which should be discharged safely.
When venting is considered, you have two options. Either you can go for a vented fireplace which will discharge the pollutants safely, or can choose a vent-free gas fireplace which does not have any venting options. Vented fireplaces can be natural draft or direct vented. Vented fireplaces are always recommended because of their effectiveness in discharging the pollutants.
Natural Draft/Vented Fireplace
This one makes use of your existing masonry chimney or steel chimney and directs the pollutants outside through the roof. It doesn’t allow any fumes inside your house. You may have to reline your masonry chimney for preventing condensation of harmful pollutants. You may require some professional assistance to get this installed.
Direct Vented Fireplace
They do not require any chimney. There are 2 pipes in a direct vent. One pipe draws outside air into a sealed firebox for combustion and the other pipe dissipate the combustion exhausts and by-products outdoors. A B-type vent is another option which uses a single pipe. Air for combustion is drawn from inside the room and the pollutants are discharged outdoors through exhaust pipe. This one is not efficient as the vent free fireplace.
A Vent-Free Fireplace
It does not produce any fumes, hence does not require a chimney or a vent. It can be installed anywhere in your house. They draw air from the room for combustion and are highly efficient since no heat is discharged through chimney or vent. This is a more reliable design. All you need is a place to fix your fireplace and a gas connection. They are highly energy efficient and provide you as high as 99% heat efficiency. Since they emit a lot of moisture into the atmosphere, they are not recommended in Canada and other US States. So, it is advised to check your region’s regulations on gas emissions before choosing these types of fireplaces.
Choice of Fuel
To choose fuel for your gas fireplace is the easiest thing to do. You do have only two choices here.
- Natural Gas
Among these two, natural gas is the cheapest fuel. If you have a natural gas connection at home, always go for natural gas fireplace. All you have to do is to connect your fireplace to your existing gas connection. Otherwise you can opt for propane.
Gas Log Sets
If you are interested in aesthetics rather than the function of a fireplace, gas log sets are the obvious choice. Gas log sets may not satisfy your heating requirements, but definitely they add to your room decor. They are more or less like gas stoves. You can install it anywhere in your house if gas supply is available. Gas log sets are the cheapest option among other gas fireplaces. You have plenty of options in a gas log set.
It’s the most attractive choice. A bed of sparkling glass chips will be a real treat to your eyes. But these are comparatively costly.
A heap of black coal burning with dancing flames will be always welcoming. This would fit right for a Victorian era parlors. This one is cheaper.
Use stones in a mountain cabin to give a mystic feel to your room. If you are not concerned about the expenses, this one is a decent choice.
How to Set Your Budget for a Fireplace
Budget for a fireplace may vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on their utility and efficiency. Always know your needs and decide on your budget. Sometimes, the most expensive one may not be the most efficient.
If you want a decorative log, it may cost anything from $200 to $1000. They would give you warmth and ambiance in few hundred dollars. If you are interested in an advanced fireplace, such as a built in fireplace, it will cost you in between $350 to $5000 including the cost of installation. With every added feature such as a remote control, or a fancy glowing coal the cost increases.
Efficiency is the foremost feature you should sought for in a gas fireplace. The most expensive one or the most decorative one may not be the most efficient. There are several methods available to measure the efficiency of a gas fireplace.
- Steady-state measurements
- EnerGuide Fireplace Efficiency Ratings
As per steady-state measurements the maximum efficiency is measured under controlled laboratory conditions and after running at equilibrium for a long period. These measurements are taken by neglecting the various ways in which the losses occur in gas fireplaces. So, this one is not a reliable source for checking the efficiency of a gas fireplace. The efficiency available at your houses will be always less than the steady-state ratings.
The EnerGuide Fireplace Efficiency Ratings (FE) is the only accepted ratings in Canada. This is based on products tested to CSA P.4.1-02 test standards for gas fireplaces and is expressed as a percentage. This is an accurate measurement considering the performance of the fireplace throughout the heating season. Fireplace efficiency signifies its efficiency to produce maximum heat with minimum amount of gas. Fireplaces with 30 to 75% efficiency ratings are available. Higher the Efficiency ratings, higher will be its efficiency. Higher efficiency fireplaces save more energy. This standard evaluates all fireplaces including gas log sets.
How much Power You Need
The amount of energy a gas fireplace consumes in one hour is known as its input rating. The amount of heat supplied to the room is known as output ratings. Both are expressed in Btu (British thermal units). Gas fireplace output is the one you need to take into account.
You will get fireplaces with output ratings varying from 7000 to 60,000 Btus. Depending upon the size of your house, climate in your region and the insulation level of your room you can choose the right amount of output you require. Use the following formula to calculate the output of your gas fireplace.
Ideal Fireplace Heat Output=Floor Area of Room (in square feet) X Ceiling Height (in feet) X Your Btu Zone
When your house is small, do not go for a high output rating fireplace. It will overheat your house and may cause discomfort. So, always select your gas fireplace unit which suits your needs.
Variable Set of Controls and Thermosets
Variable Set of Control
A variable setting control enables you to adjust the heat output. This property is also known as turndown. This has got the advantage that you can prevent overheating and maintain comfort level. So, when you purchase a gas fireplace always look for the one with a variable setting control, thus you can save a lot of energy. A gas fireplace with wide range of turndown is always preferred. Gas fireplaces which can turndown to 70% of full load to 20% of full load are available now.
Gas fireplaces fitted with automatic thermosets are also available. This will automatically adjust the firing rate and keeps the room at constant temperature levels. These are extremely energy efficient.
Additional Features to Consider
There are some additional features you would like to have in your gas fireplace. These features improves the functionality as well as the appearance of a your fireplace, making it the best for your purposes.
Normally, a pilot light is used to ignite the gas fireplace and it runs continuously. This consumes a lot of energy. Instead you can go for an electronic ignition which does not require continuous ignition which would save around $10 monthly.
LED Accent Lighting
Love to have a fancy gas fireplace? You can go for an LED accent lighting to decorate inside your gas fireplace.
Cozying your room in a single touch of a remote control will be an added advantage. Fireplaces that operate with remote controls are gaining popularity because of their easiness in handling.
In case of a power shortage a battery backup would be helpful to maintain warmth in your house. So, hereafter power break downs won’t affect your comfort.
Draws air from inside the room into the fireplace and delivers hot air. It accelerates the process of heating up your room.
Where to Install Your Fireplace
You should give due attention to the installation of gas fireplaces. The installation should be done such that it provides maximum heat inside your house. It’s not just the heat output, appearance and the look the gas fireplace gives is also of paramount importance. Placing your gas fireplace at the proper place reduces your energy consumption. In most cases, installing the gas fireplace in the major living area is recommended. This would ensure maximum heat transfer to all portions of the house. If your house has an open design, heat transfer will be quick and will reach the whole house.
If the design of your house is such that, the installation can only be done to an exterior wall, make sure to insulate the gas fireplace to minimize the heat loss. Moreover, to ensure minimum heat loss, a gas fireplace can be installed to an interior wall.
The most advantageous part of modern gas fireplaces is that you can install it in almost every part of your house whether it is your bathroom, bedroom, patio, living room or basement.
Top 5 Gas Fireplace Reviews
If you are really fond of a wooden fireplace and couldn’t afford to pay for one, SURE Heat gas log set is an ideal choice for you. It is provided with 8 hand-painted refractory cement logs stacked on tiered grate which resembles a wooden fireplace. They will give you a realistic flame as that of a wooden fireplace with lesser maintenance. It comes with an innovative U-shaped dual burner, pan, grate, shale and connecting hardware.
The fireplace is equipped with high performance embers which are twice as glowing as normal embers. It will fit in a fireplace with minimum dimensions of 28X21X15’’. and has got a manually controlled valve. You are required to have a natural gas supply and a working flue or chimney. It will provide you an output efficiency of 50,000 Btus with 12% efficiency. With little or no maintenance required, this is the best gas fireplace you will get for $150 or less. Check if it will comply with your region’s regulations for installation.
Duluth Forge Vent Free Fireplace is a simple design that would perfectly fit to your living room. This is a modern design equipped with a remote control, oxygen depletion sensor with an automatic shut-off, battery assisted piezo ignition etc. So, you can have hassle free winters from now onward. It is provided with five hand painted ceramic fiber logs that gives a realistic appearance to your home. This insert type fireplace uses natural gas or propane as fuel.
It provides an output rating of 26,000 BTUs and heats up to 1350 sq.ft. This is a vent-free zero clearance unit which does not require a chimney for functioning that makes you fix it to any wall or you can pair it with any face mantel. Blowers are also available for this product which you may have to buy separately. This is one of the highly priced gas fireplace in the market, but it is really worth your money.
With the compact design and decorative base Endless Summer Outdoor fire bowl is all you wanted during winters, without emptying your pockets much. Its slate tile mantle and the durable steel bowl are other attractions. It has an electronic ignition technology and a hidden gas tank. This one provides an output rating of 30,000 Btus. This one comes with a protective cover and a one year warranty. To add to the elegance and ambience fire bowls with coloured glass chips are also available. With a size of 31.5X31.5X24.2 inches, you can fit it anywhere in your house. It is real easy to assemble and requires no maintenance at all. With its decorative design, Endless Summer Outdoor Fire Bowl will be a classic statement to your living space.
Winters can’t be any better with the new Pleasant Hearth Dual Fuel Fireplaces. Pleasant Hearth Convertible fireplace has got dual fuel technology which allows us to use both LPG and propane. You can almost install it anywhere, walls or corner spaces. This comes in a size of 53.8X24X44 inches. This is a vent free design which does not require a chimney to function and hence requires little maintenance. Pleasant Hearth Fireplaces offers an output efficiency of 27,500 Btus which would be sufficient to heat up a relatively larger living space. It is equipped with an electronic ignition, dual burner and an overheat safety switch.
Thermostats are also provided for adjusting heat output. It has got a 2 years warranty. Since it is a vent free design, check if it conforms to your region’s regulations on installations.
ProCom Vent –Free Dual stove is a blend of traditional styles with modern technology. You can use either natural gas or propane. Propane connection requires a 100 lb tank or larger with a two stage adjustable regulator. For safety concerns it is equipped with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor, automatic shut-off, internal, non-adjustable regulator to prevent over firing. This is available in a size of 13X33X26 inches with an output rating of 25,000 Btus which heats up to 1000 sq.ft. You can buy a blower separately to increase the efficiency. It is a pre-assembled unit, hence real easy to assemble and requires little or no maintenance. Check for your region’s rules and regulations on a vent free gas fireplace before buying this product. Not for sale in California and Canada.
We have given a detailed explanation on everything you should know before purchasing a gas fireplace for your home. Now it’s your choice to select an energy-efficient fireplace to keep yourself at ease. Keeping in mind your requirements and budget you can choose from a variety of gas fireplaces. So, don’t hesitate. Now the ball is in your court : grab your favorite gas fireplace and be prepared to enjoy your winter.