A Guide to Gas Log Fireplaces

natural gas log fireplace built with stone and wood

There is a longstanding debate over which is better – wood or gas log fireplaces. While it’s hard to beat the authenticity and aroma of a wood burning fireplace, the reality is that wood fireplaces can be difficult to maintain.

Gas log fireplaces are incredibly efficient and convenient. All you need to do is push a button and you have an immediate new, comforting heat source.

What all do you need to know about gas fireplaces? A guide to gas log fireplaces helps you answer all the pressing questions whether you’re considering installing a new one, or recently bought a home with a gas fireplace pre-installed.

About Gas Log Fireplaces

Fireplaces provides a rare warmth and ambiance that’s impossible to replicate with your home furnace. Fireplaces are traditionally popular during the winter yet have a purpose year-round.

The problem is standard wood fireplaces require so much prep work to get started, and also a fair share of maintenance, that many homeowners neglect using on altogether to avoid the hassle.

Gas log fireplaces are ideal because they require no prep work or periodic tending, and are considered more energy efficient. Gas fireplaces also require minimal cleaning and maintenance. Furthermore, these types of fireplaces are considered safer compared to wood fireplaces because of the damage and wear they inflict on the flue and chimney.

Consequently, gas log fireplaces have improved on technology while offering all the traditional benefits and feelings of a standard wood-burning fireplace. Modern versions look much more authentic compared to original gas fireplaces that were cheaply built with blue flames and superficial logs.

Now it’s possible to find a replica that comes close to the look and feel of traditional wood-burning fireplaces without compromising the value of what a fireplace brings to your home. Modern gas-burning fireplaces now emit glowing red embers and tall orange-yellow flames to match the presentation of the real thing.

Types of Gas Log Fireplaces

brown marble tile gas log fireplace

Gas-burning fireplaces are sold in three different types:

  • Insert gas fireplaces: The fireplace essentially replaces a previous wood-burning firebox. The unit is retrofitted to produce a more convenient and practical fireplace for the 21st century.
  • Built-in gas fireplaces: Built-in fireplaces, like the name implies, create a gas-based furnace in a spot in the home previously not occupied by a fireplace.
  • Gas log fireplaces: Also known as log-set fireplaces, these types of furnaces sit in existing, open fire pits. Gas log fireplaces are comparable to insert fireplaces yet look more authentic.

Insert and built-in fireplaces are considered the best types of gas fireplaces for heat production. The heat source is reliable and can really add a coziness factor to a living room or dining room. Meanwhile, gas log fireplaces are arguably more designed for presentation compared to the heat it produces.

Regardless, every type of gas fireplace has options when it comes to how the gas is vented out of the home. Traditional gas fireplaces vent the fumes of the flame outside through a chimney. There are also vent-free gas fireplaces that discharge all the heat and exhaust into the house.

Features of Gas Fireplaces

So you’re considering installing a brand new gas fireplace or replacing an old wood-burning fireplace with a modernized version?

There are several features to consider in addition to the type of gas-burning fireplace. A few of your most important considerations is the fuel source, level of heat output, and type of ventilation.

Fuel Source

Gas fireplaces can burn on natural gas or propane. Both are viable options, however, most homeowners prefer natural gas for a couple primary reasons.

Natural gas is less expensive to purchase. Furthermore, it produces about five percent more heat according to experts. While the percentage may seem trivial, it does make a slight difference in warming your home.

Propane heating is another viable source for gas fireplaces. It does cost more yet sometimes homeowners don’t have a choice in the matter. However, if you’re starting fresh with a new fireplace we recommend natural gas.

Heat Output

gas log fireplace heat output

The heat output of a gas fireplace is measured in Btus. The Btus of a gas fireplace needs to match the size of your room, climate, and insulation level of the home.

Gas fireplaces offer a wide range of heat output which makes it confusing for first-time buyers. In fact, the Btus levels can range from 7,000 to 60,000.

There are formulas you can use to calculate an appropriate level of Btus based on the square footage of the room and house. The formula assumes that the house is well insulated with with windows and features a home furnace set at approximately 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can also consult an installation expert before settling on a final decision.


Homeowners have two options when it comes to ventilation: vent-free or vent-out.

While a gas fireplace doesn’t produce smoke or odors, you still need to vent out pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides to keep you and your family safe.

Vented gas fireplaces send emissions out of the home. The type of fireplace ventilation is considered the most efficient and safest method. However, it does cost much more money to properly install.

Vented fireplaces usually feature a two-pipe system known as a direct vent. One pipe feed fresh outside air for combustion to a sealed firebox. The second pipe extracts the combustion fumes. Pipes can go up a flue or straight up an exterior wall.

On the other hand, vent-free fireplaces are your other option. It may sound counter-productive but vent-free fireplaces don’t release emissions. Instead, the type of fireplace burns is limited to 40,000 Btus to burn extra clean.

An oxygen-depletion sensor automatically shuts off the unit if the oxygen level in the room dips below 18 percent. The normal oxygen level with a vent-free gas fireplace is close to 21 percent. Vent-free fireplaces are extremely effective because all of the heat stays in the room.

However, due to air quality concerns, vent-free gas fireplaces aren’t allowed in some cities, including the entire state of California.

Maximize Time & Efficiency with Gas Log

Gas log fireplaces are the way to go if you’re looking to maximize time and efficiency. There is no need to split, stack, and haul logs. Also no ashes to bag or chimney to clean. Gas fireplaces start up with a push of a finger and temperatures are controlled through a remote.

Your guide to gas log fireplace gets you started in the right direction if you’re considering upgrading a former wood-burning pit or installing a brand new one from scratch. Consult a qualified gas fireplace technician for more details.

Chimney Services and Gas Log Installation

At Early Times, we provide homeowners with quality chimney inspections and cleaning. To prevent chimney fires, we fix all the problems that come with your chimney such as creosote buildup and broken mortar joints. Additionally, we install gas log fireplaces so you can warm your home at a fraction of the cost. Speak to a specialist and get a free quote online today.

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