3 Expert Tips To Choose A Gas Fireplace

Shopping for a gas fireplace? You are in excellent company. Over 7 million US households use them with utmost satisfaction. This article will help you make an informed decision with useful tips from experts. Let's begin with the proven benefits of a modern gas fireplace that will make your purchase worthwhile.

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What are the proven benefits of a gas fireplace?

Homeowners have reported these practical benefits of a gas fireplace:

  • Save $ - Active users say you can run a gas fireplace for just $60 annually!

  • Easy availability of gas fuel - Today, over 66 million US homes have an uninterrupted natural gas supply

  • Pan-USA gas fuel network - No matter where you live, availing cheap and uninterrupted gas supply is not an issue

  • Consistent heating without fluctuations as in the case of real logwood fire

  • No manual effort needed to stoke or kindle the logwood fire

  • You control the fire with various features such as a thermostat, remote control, and many others

  • Great aesthetics - if you choose a fireplace appropriately matching your décor, it becomes the focal feature of your living room. Advanced models enrich the visual effects with features such as LED lights, dancing fire-flares, and attractive lighting effects.

  • Incredibly real-looking fireplace, full of old-world charm but minus its labor and toil

  • Gas fireplaces hardly require maintenance or have any recurring cost

It's official: you get great value for money, great aesthetics, and consistent heating from these fireplaces. Seven million homeowners can't be wrong!

What are the main types of gas fireplaces?

Direct vent (vented) gas fireplaces

These modern fireplaces use direct-vent logs for burning. Although synthetic, they burn like real wooden logs and produce smoke (carbon monoxide), which has to be managed in two ways:

  • It has to be removed from the fireplace compartment. For this, a coaxial (2-layer) exhaust pipe is fitted at the rear of the fireplace body. Its other end is connected to a vent. The coaxial pipe works this way - its outer layer lets in fresh air to enable combustion, while the inner layer throws out the exhaust air in the atmosphere.

  • Prevent the exhaust air from spreading in the room. For this, manufacturers provide a high-temperature front glass panel that needs to be kept closed or only slightly open while the logs are burning.

The direct-vent logs burn much like the natural logwood. And the contemporary designs manage the exhaust process quite efficiently. Hence, if you want an ambiance of an authentic, almost-real fireplace, choose this type. On the flip side, they produce less heat than the ventless models since the smoke produced during the combustion process "eats up" some heat. 

You would want this model if:

  • You have toddlers and/or pets. The front glass panel will prevent their direct contact with the fire compartment.

  • You are remodeling your home. With the coaxial pipe vent, you can prevent extensive masonry that can damage the house's structure. This is of particular importance for apartments with common walls.

  • You want a higher-level installation. It gives the fireplace a classier look.

  • Endearing designs and fire effects that create an ethereal ambiance that is not only warm but heart-warming too.

  • Plus, of course, fuel-efficiency. Contemporary designs are smart energy-savers. 

Direct Vent Natural Gas Fireplace
Direct Vent Natural Gas Fireplace in Brown
Direct Vent Natural Gas Fireplace with Blower
Direct Vent Gas Fireplace in Large Size
Black Frame Direct Vent Natural Gas Fireplace
Direct Vent Gas or Propane Fireplace

Ventless (vent-free) gas fireplaces

They use fire-logs that don't produce carbon monoxide during combustion. They also produce more heat than the direct-vent models, and hence they are more energy-efficient. Because vent-free models don't have the front-sealing glass panel, they transfer 99.99% of the heat produced into the room.

However, these fire-logs do produce carbon dioxide and moisture (water vapor) as byproducts. Hence, you cannot use a vent-free fireplace for very long, or you will begin to feel humid and stuffy. Also, indoor moisture can breed mold, mildew, and other bacteria. You will have to keep a window open to let out the byproducts. This will also cause some heat-loss.        

Ventless gas fireplaces are popular because:

  • They are affordable. Compared with direct-vent models (upward of $2,000), they are over 50% cheaper ($600-1,000).

  • They provide clean heating, without releasing any micro-particles of dust, soot, or ash in the room air.

  • They are more energy-efficient than the direct-vent models

  • Modern designs are every bit an art-piece! No less alluring than their direct-vent cousins.

These are versatile designs that will adapt to many types of decors. Traditional solid wood or avant-garde light furniture, abundant indoor greenery or more of wall-art, soft, concealed lighting or luminous chandeliers, there is a bespoke ventless gas fireplace design for all decors.

Please note:

  • Ventless gas fireplaces are not legal in California and Massachusetts

  • They cannot be used at altitudes above 4,500 feet because the oxygen-deficient thin air will be unable to burn the logs.

  • Due to the moisture factor, these models are not advisable for persons with asthma, cough and cold, and respiratory disorders. On the other hand, they double up as humidifiers, which is great for indoor plant-life.

Vent Free Gas Fireplace in Brown Wood
Small Vent Free Natural Gas Fireplace
Vent-Free Freestanding Corner Fireplace
Vent Free Freestanding Large Natural Gas Fireplace
Vent Free Freestanding Gas Fireplace in White
Vent Free Natural Gas Stove

Freestanding fireplaces

These are not part of a wall, but independent fireplaces placed along a wall, much like a cabinet. Not having a venting system, they offer all the benefits of a vent-free fireplace in a smaller version. The decorative elements include:

  • Real wood or wood-replica finishes with attractive textures
  • White or dark-colored finishes that match or contrast well with almost all wall colors
  • Carving, inlay, batten, and other surface artistry
  • Classy front metal grill or mesh
  • Sturdy stepped foundation for enhanced looks
  • Sleek top for display of décor items or small statuettes and planters

Freestanding fireplaces will be your natural choice if:

  • You don't have an existing firebox or fireplace provision
  • If you don't want the hassles of extensive masonry and installation to create a new fireplace
  • If yours is a compact urban home yet you want the luxury of a fireplace
Wood and Metal Freestanding Fireplace
Freestanding Natural Gas Fireplace with Remote
High Freestanding Natural Gas Fireplace
Freestanding Vent Free Natural Gas Stove
Freestanding Elegant Natural Gas Stove
Freestanding Gas Stove with Remote

Freestanding gas stoves

They are the design variation of the freestanding fireplaces with these features:

  • Available in many retro and modern designs, hence they can match and enhance diverse interior spaces

  • With care, you can also transfer them from one room to another

  • Depending upon the room size, they can function as a primary or secondary heating source

  • Some models have dual power input options - electric and battery, hence you can temporarily transport them even to your patio or porch

  • Weighing around 70-90 lbs, they can be lifted and moved by two persons

  • Heating capacity equivalent to that of a fireplace - around 1,100 - 1,200 square feet at about 30,000 British Thermal Unit (BTU). It is a universal unit of heat defined as the amount of heat that can increase the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Freestanding gas stoves are good for you if:

  • You need a modular fireplace to heat different areas at different times

  • You live in cold climates where you need a secondary heating source in extreme weather

  • You want an outdoor heating source for those chilly evenings in your patio or garden

What are the styles of gas fireplaces to check out?

Styling is a vital selection criterion for gas fireplaces. Over 60% homeowners choose a fireplace for its emotional and aesthetic warmth as much as for its ambient warmth. Search for these particular trending styles:

Rustic

The very term evokes a faded, royal, but roughened and weather-bitten imagery. Asymmetry and intentional chaos are its design principles. Look for these characteristics in rustic gas fireplace designs:

  • A mangled limestone surround with chipped and jarred surfaces
  • A rough mantel with wildflower vase and horse or dragon statuettes
  • A 2-door front grill with rusted looks
  • Oxidized or faded metal finish of the front and side profiles

Ancestral photo-frames, sports trophies, solid wood sitting, bare wooden stools, weather-bitten carpet, and full-length curtains of heavily embroidered fabric - such a setting will be ideal for the rustic fireplace. The idea is to go backward in time and blend the past with the present.

Classic/traditional

They invoke nostalgia and glory of the wood-log fireplaces and transport their timeless charm into modern homes. They are characterized by these  visual elements:

  • Wood or wood-finish surfaces
  • Hearth interior often replicates the original brickwork or stonework
  • The hearth bed has pebbles, small rocks or sand to accentuate the original outlook
  • Elaborate carved or inlaid designs on the side panels
  • Arched front design
  • Open front, which means that most classic designs belong to the vent-free category

Classic/traditional gas fireplaces capture the retro mood and its rugged, sturdy outlook. Do you have a living area with wood-textured vinyl flooring or a ceiling with wooden beams? A wood-dominated décor will happily accommodate this style.

Traditional White Natural Gas Fireplace
Traditional Brown Wood Natural Gas Fireplace
Traditional Vent Free Freestanding Natural Gas Fireplace
Traditional Vent Free Fireplace in Deep Dark Brown
Modern Wall Mounted Natural Gas Fireplace

Modern

On the other hand, this fireplace will be characterized by:

  • Sharp angles
  • Plain side and front profiles
  • Muted finishes such as metal buff or brush finish, or electro-coated colors
  • In the case of ventless models, a metal grill or mesh in matching finish or color

Overall, the modern fireplace is of a single tone with subtle variations, if any. You will do well to complement it with contemporary low-height furniture and minimalistic décor. Add a deep-cushion but mellow-tone carpet to accentuate the floor. That's it.

Modern teakwood cabinets

They are not standalone fireplaces but a multi-purpose cabinet that offers storage, TV-top, and display of artifacts along with a center fireplace. Complete with shelves and drawers, you will instantly like this style for its smart space-management, especially if you own a compact home.

This style will fulfill multiple needs of singles, live-in couples, and nuclear families. The sharp angles, wood-batten profiles, and the French polish teakwood finish will match many types of decors.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.