Noteworthy Gas Fireplace Advantages And Disadvantages
Are your searching for a gas fireplace? Read on to know all you need to know so you can choose the right model for your home. Among the top amenities for homeowners are fireplaces. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), they rank second after outdoor patios, decks, and porches. Although the cost of adding a fireplace used to be high due to the requirement of creating an exterior stone chimney, flue, firebox, and usually floor supports to accommodate the weight of the hearth, nowadays the options became more affordable and even considered an easy home improvement.
The technology and installation flexibility of the gas-fueled models made these improvements both affordable and easy. According to Monessen Hearth Systems, “these fireplaces can be installed in direct contact with combustible walls and floors. Maximum heat insulation is allowed through their inner and outer shell construction,” because no actual combustion is happening, thus zero-clearance installation is possible. To install a fireplace anywhere in your home, all you need is a natural gas connection or propane availability. Since the gas fireplaces are shielded by tempered glass or ceramic glass, they can be exposed on three sides or even four sides.
This flexibility combined with the wide variety of styles that includes traditional to ultra-contemporary, gas fireplaces are one of the hottest hearth products on the market today. Their fire provides the look of real wood as well as its performance, in addition to their improved energy efficiency. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association which represent the makers of heating and outdoor cooking equipment, these fireplaces are outselling wood and pellet varieties by more than half.
The Benefits Of Gas Over Wood
If we want to look at the price lists provided from various manufacturers, factory-made gas and wood units have no significant difference (between a little under $1,000 to nearly $3,000). Even the installation costs are nearly the same, no matter where you live. However, the main difference between the two is the venting and long term performance.
A veteran fireplace retailer and now president of Empire Distributing in upstate New York, Mike Ruppa explains: “The nice thing about gas is that you have immediate ignition and complete control over the heat output of the appliance. With wood, a certain amount of time is required to light the fire, turn that energy into heat and then get that heat into a room.”
According to Ruppa, gas fireplaces are thermostatically controlled while wood-burning units have only an air control, the damper. He points out that a gas fireplace “allows you to control the amount of air going in, which consequently controls the combustion process and the heat output.”
In addition, high-end gas fireplaces come with comfort control systems. As explained by Ruppa, the anticipators monitor the room temperature and would ramp the burner down when the room approaches the desired temperature.
When touching upon the subject of the environment, Ruppa says that although wood is a renewable resource while gas isn’t, the gas appliance provide few by-products of combustion that enter the atmosphere. This would lead us to conclude that gas appliances are the healthier choice for the environment since the wood-burning appliances type are more polluting.
The venting options you should know about.
Gas fireplaces installations offer three venting options:
- The Natural vent, which is also called the B vent. It uses an existing masonry chimney or a factory-built metal chimney. A flexible liner or a single pipe that is installed within the chimney would help room air to exhaust combustion by-products to the outside.
- The Direct-vent fireplaces draw in outdoor air for combustion. Then, they expel the spent air to the outside using a dual (co-linear) venting system. This would eliminate any heat loss associated with conventional chimneys. They can be vented up through the roof or out to the back or side of the house. This would be a perfect solution for homes that don’t have an existing chimney. However, direct-vent units should have a sealed glass door to maintain proper combustion and make sure that the efficiency as well as the indoor air quality remain high.
- The Vent-free technology is widely accepted. According to the director of product development at Lennox Hearth Products, Robert Dischner, “the fireplaces use catalytic-converter technology [that resembles the exhaust systems installed on new cars that are sold in the U.S.], which cleans hot air as it leaves the combustion chamber. Because of this technology, no chimney or venting is required.” He also adds that their sleek look is much like a plasma television.
The Insert Alternative
An open fireplace can be the least efficient, most energy-wasteful way to heat a room. This is due to the warmth doing up the chimney. However, you can still improve the energy efficiency of that fireplace through installing an insert. An insert is available is various sizes and shapes. It usually costs somewhere around $500 to about $2,500.
Ruppa comments, “If you never even light this unit, you’re going to save money just by eliminating that cold-air expulsion through the fireplace chimney. By sealing off the fireplace at the damper area and installing a gas or even a wood insert with a chimney liner, you’ll be plugging up that hole and becoming more energy-efficient.”
What About The Heat?
Heating depends on the insulation of your house. However, according to Ruppa, a 40,000 BTU fireplace would be great to heat a large living room or a family room. He also says that “a lot of high-efficiency gas fireplaces have a large turn-down ratio—meaning, they can go from 40,000 BTU down to 12,000 BTU, which is quite enough to heat the average bedroom or dining room.” In addition, having a 40,000 BTU fireplace while needing to use only 50% of its capacity would save you $1 an hour to operate.
The Log Look
The warmth or the cozy glow of crackling logs in hearth is no longer restricted to burning wood. Ceramic or refractory cement log sets that are molded from real wood logs and available if various sizes are sold all around. The prices vary depending on size and quality. You can expect to pay somewhere between $400 and $1,000. An authentic looking flame, a coal bed of sand, and bits of lava rock and rock wool all boost the realism. In addition, the aroma of burning wood is also available to add to the realism.
Keep It Clean
Fireplace safety and the ability to burn clean and green all depend on routine maintenance as well as proper installation and use. For a top performance, you will need to service your gas fireplace once every year. This should be done by a professional who would inspect the burner, the fan, the venting, the pilot light, and the thermostat. A professional would even clean the glass.
Hope this article was helpful. Let MTM Masonsry and Chimney know if you have any other questions. Thanks for reading.