Tips to Help You Find the Perfect Gas-Burning Fireplace for Your Home
Gas fireplaces are growing in popularity.
These attractive heat sources are found in homes more and more often, offering the warmth and appearance of a traditional wood-burning fireplace without the need to haul firewood.
As a bonus, many of these fireplaces don’t need a full chimney. Proper venting can help save space while letting you place a gas fireplace anywhere in the home!
Before you go out and buy the first gas fireplace you see, though, you need to know what to look for. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you buy:
1. Big Advantages Over Wood Fireplaces
Compared to their wood-burning counterparts, gas fireplaces offer many distinct advantages that make them particularly appealing options.
You don’t need a chimney to use a gas fireplace, just a gas line and proper venting.
In fact, most gas fireplaces are designed for safety in wood-frame construction, which means they can be placed up against materials that would normally raise a red flag with a wood-burning option.
There is one thing to keep in mind, though: your gas fireplace shouldn’t be near the main thermostat in the home. This’ll throw off your HVAC system and heat cycling.
Real, Clean Flames
Nothing beats the look of real flame and the smell of a wood-burning fireplace, but wood smoke contains a surprisingly large amount of particulate.
In fact, wood smoke pollutes far more than most cars!
Gas fireplaces, meanwhile, burn much, much cleaner. There’s almost no particulate to worry about as gas burns clean. The fact that the flames are contained in a sealed combustion unit mean you don’t have to worry about combustion gases affecting your air quality.
As just mentioned, gas fireplaces burn much cleaner than wood fireplaces, with far less particulate matter in the air.
This also means that gas fireplaces put out much less carbon monoxide. Finally, gas fireplaces help prevent destructive logging and forestry. You’re not cutting down trees for firewood, after all!
There’s no need to build a fire, store firewood, or tend the fire.
Simply push a button and enjoy instant warmth!
Even better, many gas fireplaces offer remote operation. You don’t even need to get off the couch!
Not only will you save time and energy by not having to source fuel for your fires, but you will also save yourself the hassle of cleaning ash, soot, wood chips, and bark from your fireplace.
You also won’t have to worry about chimney cleaning—there’s no need for a chimney!
Efficient Heat Source
With a gas fireplace, you won’t lose heat through the chimney.
What’s more, you can get 75 to 99 percent of the fuel’s energy back as heat.
Wide Variety of Styles
Gas fireplaces come in a variety of styles to suit any home décor. You can even find those without the traditional logs.
Instead of logs, some gas fireplaces feature fire glass, ceramic coal, or ceramic stones.
2. Flexible Fireplace Options
Gas Fireplace Inserts
Gas inserts are installed in existing masonry or metal wood-burning fireplaces. Existing chimneys must be relined with a vent.
A gas insert is a large metal box containing a ceramic log set and burner in a smaller metal box. Inserts have decorative metal trim and glass fronts to see the flames.
Built-In Gas Fireplaces
If you don’t have an existing wood-burning fireplace, then you can opt for a full built-in gas fireplace. Also known as zero-clearance gas fireplaces, these don’t require chimneys for installation. Instead, they are built into a wall or a new hearth.
A built-in gas fireplace also has a firebox with ceramic logs and a burner, all with an inner and outer shell.
Both inserts and zero-clearance gas fireplaces have glass fronts either made of ceramic glass or tempered glass. Ceramic glass is better at transferring infrared heat into the room and is able to withstand higher temperatures.
3. Great Features to Get
A gas fireplace’s heat output is measured in BTUs. This output should match the size of the room you’re heating, your home’s level of insulation, and the climate you live in.
To find the right heat output, take the size of the room you wish to heat and the height of the ceiling. Based on your climate and these measurements, a gas fireplace expert can help you find the ideal heat output.
As a general rule of thumb, if you want to heat a small room, opt for a gas fireplace with lower heat output. Otherwise, you risk wasting fuel and overheating.
Ideally, you should look for a fireplace that allows you to adjust the heat and that moves heat throughout the home if you’re relying on it as a main heating source.
Also keep in mind that there are decorative fireplaces and appliance fireplaces. For a better heating source, you will want an appliance category gas fireplace.
If you want an energy-efficient gas fireplace, look at the EnerGuide rating for fireplaces. The higher the Fireplace Efficiency (FE) percentage, the more efficient the fireplace.
Look for gas fireplaces that allow you to remotely control the temperature and set timers and thermostats.
Variable-flame height adjustment allows you to control the heat output so you won’t overheat and waste fuel. You can control the flame height (and heat) with a remote control or a wall thermostat.
A wall-thermostat control allows you to set the temperature of the room so it automatically adjusts the fireplace’s heat output, maintaining an ideal room temperature.
Gas fireplaces with built-in fans will heat a room quickly by drawing in cold indoor air and pumping out hot air.
If you want heat to move throughout your home, consider using a ceiling fan to circulate the hot air.
Compared to a pilot light that is always on (unless you turn it off) and using gas, an electronic ignition starts combustion each time you turn your fireplace on, saving you gas over time.
The only downfall to an electronic ignition is that it can’t be used in the event of a power outage, unless your fireplace comes with battery backup.
4. Easy Installation (and The Importance of Venting)
Venting is necessary to remove combustion gases from the fireplace. While gas fireplaces don’t need a chimney, they do need a way to clear out combustion gases to prevent them from entering your home.
Natural Draft Venting
Natural draft venting uses a vertical gas vent/chimney to make use of the natural draft caused by the hot temperature of the flame. A natural draft vent also uses a draft hood, so the burner isn’t affected by fluctuations in outdoor pressure.
Power venting uses an electric fan to help with the venting process. Gas fireplaces with power venting are ideal for locations in homes where conventional flues cannot be installed.
Power-vented units can be vented with horizontal or vertical flues.
Direct venting can be vented directly out a wall horizontally, or vertically through a roof, making this venting easy to install.
This venting draws outdoor combustion air into the firebox through a pipe. And another pipe exhausts the combustion products from the firebox to the outside of a home.
Since gas fireplaces are well-sealed, you don’t have to worry about cold outdoor air coming into your home, or hot indoor air leaking out.
5. Efficiency Ratings
To determine the energy efficiency of a gas fireplace, ask the gas fireplace experts in Ottawa for Fireplace Efficiency (FE) ratings based on the CSA-P.4 test method.
This is the Canadian standard for measuring annual fireplace efficiency. Tests show that some gas fireplaces operate at 30 percent efficiency, while others range from 50 percent to 70 percent.
EnerGuide rating labels on gas fireplaces provide these FE ratings that are expressed as a percentage. And the higher the number, the more efficient the fireplace.
For more information about the best types of gas fireplaces for your region and climate, visit local gas fireplace experts.
To ensure a safe and efficient fireplace installation, opt for professional installation services when buying your new gas fireplace.
Before you know it, you can enjoy a cozy fire on a fall night without having to worry about kindling, soot, or ash! Just sit back and relax—you deserve it!