Choosing The Proper Gas Fireplace

There are many choices when choosing a gas fireplace. We have put together a list of questions and choices you need to answer in order to help determine what the best gas fireplace option is for your specific needs.

1. Do you have an existing chimney or fireplace?

  • If yes:
    • Consider converting to a vented gas fireplace system.
    • The conversion is fairly easy- instead of using wood for your fire, you will instead use a gas log insert. There is still some installation of the gas line that is required, but it should not be terribly difficult or expensive. We highly recommend using a certified heating, plumbing, or gas expert.
  • If no:
    • Consider using an unvented gas fireplace system.
    • The system is extremely efficient, radiates the most heat, and you can place the fireplace nearly anywhere in your home (except for places regulated by local codes- be sure to check your local regulations.)

2. Don’t have an existing fireplace, or want to modify it?

The next step is to pick what kind of fireplace you want in your home, and where. There are two major styles of gas fireplace boxes that can be used for either vented or unvented systems.

  1. Standard fireplaces have only one opening on one side. They are the most traditional and popular.
  2. See-Thru fireplaces are fireplaces that have openings on both sides. They are usually used either in the middle of large rooms, or in the separation between rooms. You will need to make sure that you have the right gas log set to fit this style- they will have a finish on both sides and are made specifically for this purpose.

There are countless styles of fireplaces in each of these categories. From the rustic to the contemporary, from sleek European to the warm Americana, you won’t have a problem finding the fireplace exterior that fits your home. Note that when purchasing a fireplace unit, some companies include the gas logs that form the basis of your system. That is, they come as packaged deal.

3. Determine whether you want a Unvented or Vented system.

This is the biggest step- you will need to figure out whether you want a vented gas system or an unvented gas system.

  • Check out the Unvented and Vented, as well as the How do Gas Fireplaces Work, Sections of this website to help inform your decision.
  • In short, Vented gas systems require either a chimney or a small pipe like a dryer vent to function. Air is circulated in and out of the fire chamber without any effect on the room- you won’t have to worry about pollutants getting in.
  • Unvented gas systems are entirely internal and do not require any modifications to the home, other than the possible installation of the fireplace. Unvented gas logs burn all of the gas that is emitted, much like a standard gas range. They radiate great warmth and are 99% efficient: the fuel to heat rate is incredible.

4. What kind of gas would you like to use?

This is actually one of the easiest steps. There are only two choices:

  1. Natural gas
  2. Propane

Often, the choice is already made simply by what kind of gas you already use: if your furnace runs off natural gas, use it. If instead you are on a propane system, use propane.

5. Pick your gas log set.

Now that you have determined all of the basic categories of gas fireplace that you want, you can pick the gas log set that’s right for you.

Before you do, you will need to measure your fireplace to insure that you have the right size. It is recommended that you have about 3 to 6 inches clearance on either side of the widest log in the middle of the fireplace. This is so your log set is not too big and can fit comfortably within the firebox, without fear of brushing up against the sides.

We’ve included a list of all of the major manufacturers of gas logs and fireplaces in our Resource page.

When shopping, make sure that you are getting the right kind of gas log- there are gas logs specifically built for vented, unvented, standard, and see-thru use.

6. Install your gas fireplace.

Installing your gas fireplace unit by yourself is not recommended. We highly suggest that you find a licensed installer that has experience. Installation is not that expensive, and in the end it will save you a lot of headaches and money if your fireplace is installed improperly.

7. Stay warm!

Enjoy your new fireplace. You now have the warmth and ambiance of a fire at the touch of a button.

Be sure to keep your unit running smoothly by following some of our maintenance tips. You can find them here.

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