Posted by Paul Husselbee on November 26, 2016
Congratulations! You’ve decided to install a gas fireplace as a consumer-conscious, energy-saving alternative to your central heating system or traditional wood-burning fireplace. At Croft Fireplace Center, we applaud this wise choice, and we’re here to help. But which fireplace will best suit your needs?
Let’s begin by eliminating what we consider the worst option — to install a gas log in your existing brick-and-mortar fireplace. That may be the least expensive choice, but that’s because a gas log is largely decorative; it is not a cost-effective heat source. A traditional brick-and-mortar fireplace actually removes more heat from your home than it supplies. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that as much as 1,000 cubic feet of heated air is sucked up the chimney every minute the gas log is burning. A gas log may be cheaper and look nice, but it won’t do much to heat your home. Most of the warm air you pay for will go up the chimney within seconds. What you’re looking for is a gas fireplace designed with performance in mind. Sure, you want it to look nice, but you also want it to be effective in heating the primary living spaces of your home.
If you’re looking to transform a traditional wood-burning fireplace, you might consider a gas insert. It is engineered to be vented through your chimney, so it uses the outside air for combustion, but it expels relatively little of the heat it produces. Because of that, an insert is both energy-efficient and cost-effective. Similar to a gas log, the gas insert produces a steady flame over decorative logs or stones, but the flame is sealed behind a glass surface. Although it won’t give you the aroma of a “real fire,” it won’t give you the smoke, ashes, or safety hazards, either.
A gas insert is easy to use: Just flip a switch and you have a fire! It also requires minimal maintenance. Best of all, when installed in your primary living space, it allows for “zoned heating.” When you turn on the gas fireplace, you can turn down the thermostat in the rest of the house.
Like gas inserts, free-standing gas fireplaces are cost-effective and convenient. The primary difference is that an insert makes use of the existing exhaust (the chimney), while a free-standing gas fireplace is vented through a pipe connected to an outside wall. A free-standing gas fireplace often uses one of two types of direct venting: coaxial (a pipe within a pipe) or collinear (side-by-side pipes). Combustion is achieved using outside air, in a fashion similar to a chimney, and the flame is sealed behind a glass surface. Since none of the air from inside your home is sent outside, only 20 to 30 percent of the heat generated by the gas fireplace is lost through exhaust. That will give you a nice, warm living space that allows for zoned heating.