How Does a Ventless Propane Gas Fireplace Work?
No Flue or Chimney Is Required
Many homeowners in North Carolina today choose to add a propane gas fireplace for both comfort and ambiance. Propane fireplaces are easier to install than wood-burning models. Plus, attractive realistic flames bring warmth and coziness to a living space, increasing a home’s value. And many models can operate during electrical power outages, providing a critical source of heating to the home.
Among the different models you can choose from are what’s known as a ventless fireplace–also referred to as an unvented or vent-free fireplace. Here’s how it works.
Propane gas flows into a gas burner mounted in the fireplace. This is a specially designed burner that burns the gas cleanly, leaving behind almost no exhaust. This is also how a propane gas stove in your kitchen works.
When ignited, the flames run through gaps in artificial ceramic fiber logs, providing you with the illusion of a real wood-burning fireplace.
One popular application is the vent-free gas fireplace log set, a self-contained system that can be installed in walls or even open areas, with no outlet to the outdoor air. These gas log units can also be installed in place of old and unused wood-burning hearths that connect to a chimney but where the flue has been sealed shut.
A ventless gas fireplace is a great choice if you are looking for the highest heating efficiency possible. As its name implies, this type of fireplace is not vented to the outside. Because of this, all the heat produced is contained in the living space. Ventless fireplaces are more energy efficient than vented fireplaces because no heat escapes up the flue, so you’ll save money on fuel.
Pros and Cons of Ventless Gas Fireplaces
If you decide on a propane gas fireplace insert in your existing masonry fireplace, you need to decide whether to get a vented or vent-free model. Efficiency, fireplace location, local building codes, and appearance of the fireplace are all considered before the gas fireplace installation.
If you choose vented gas logs, you’ll see a lifelike flame that is comparable to a genuine wood fire. However, to get this look, an open chimney flue or damper is required, and a lot of the generated heat will escape through these venting outlets.
With vented gas logs, you’ll have excellent energy efficiency, but the flame may not be as lifelike or powerful. The result: it doesn’t provide quite the same level of warmth. A thermostat regulates the temperature in vent-free log sets to maintain a constant environment. Because vent-free gas logs introduce moisture to the air, adequate ventilation is necessary to prevent mold and mildew growth.
And because vent-free gas logs do produce a small quantity of exhaust into your indoor environment, they are not appropriate for bedrooms or other small, closed spaces like bathrooms or RVs. Vent-free gas logs are also prohibited in some local building regulations. Before going ahead with your ventless gas fireplace installation, you need to confirm that vent-free gas logs are permissible in your community.
Propane Gas Fireplaces vs. Wood Fireplaces
If you’re on the fence about the purchase of a propane or wood burning fireplace, keep the following in mind.
Convenience. With a propane fireplace unit, all you need to do is touch a button or flip a switch for heat on the spot. Whenever you do that, consider all the time you have saved by not having to haul wood to your fireplace—not to mention cleaning out the ashes later. Also with a propane fireplace, when you’re ready to leave the room, it’s just as easy as starting the fire. Just turn off the fireplace. That’s it. No smoke, no dangerous embers, no ashes, no soot, no problem.
The environment. Propane carries a smaller environmental footprint and produces fewer particulate emissions and less carbon monoxide than wood-burning units.
Efficiency and availability. Propane fireplaces are more efficient than wood-burning units, and they run on a home heating fuel that’s readily available even in the many rural areas of our state.
Read more about propane vs. wood as a heating source.