Not many homes rely on gas fireplaces as their main heating source, but several homeowners still enjoy the warm atmosphere of a fireplace. Ventless gas fireplaces are popular because they are clean and simple to use.
Also called vent-free or unvented fireplaces, a ventless gas fireplace works with liquid propane (LP) or natural gas that passes into a gas burner attached to the fireplace. When started or turned on, the flames run through gaps in artificial ceramic fiber logs, providing the illusion of a real wood-burning fireplace.
The Importance of Venting
With any fireplace installation, a significant issue is venting the exhaust gases. Whether it’s easy to smoke by the exhaust fumes generated when you burn gas or a wood-burning fireplace. Venting a fireplace is incredibly complex in retrofit installations, where it could be problematic to find a path for the chimney flue—another problem with fireplaces concerns energy reduction. Wood-burning fireplaces are inherently inefficient because a lot of the house’s warmth inevitably escapes up the flue instead of radiating into interior areas.
Vented gas fireplaces are slightly better at retaining heat. However, new homes are currently being built so airtight that a vented gas fireplace can create negative air pressure, hindering good exhaust. Air flowing out a chimney vent flue can prevent combustion gases from different appliances from exhausting correctly.
For these reasons, both vented gas fireplaces and wood-burning fireplaces with conventional masonry chimneys are less common than they once were. To fix these problems, a ventless gas fireplace may be the solution. Easier to set up than vented wood or wood fireplaces and effective at heating small rooms, gas fireplaces that don’t have any vents passing to the outside are becoming more popular for remodeling jobs and in new-construction houses. Because there’s absolutely no airflow to the outside, they don’t create the negative pressure issues that can happen using a vented fireplace. There are limits, though.
Ventless vs Vented Gas Fireplaces
In a conventional vented gas fireplace, two vents run to the exterior of the house. One is a fresh-air intake that offers combustion air to help the gas burn better. The other vent safely eliminates any exhaust gases from burning the natural gas or LP into the outdoors.
On the surface, a ventless gas fireplace appears quite like a vented fireplace. It’s a control panel to operate the pilot flames and light, and holes in ceramic artificial logs to the fire jets. There’s a small difference to the fire jets between both styles, and because of this, ventless fireplaces tend to burn off slightly less realistically than vented systems. Like a vented fireplace, ventless units typically have blowers circulating air around the firebox to heat the space.
Though, ventless fireplaces have neither of those two outside vents located in vented units. Alternatively, combustion air for the burner is drawn to the fireplace from the air inside the home, and the exhaust fume also stays inside the house.
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This may sound risky, but ventless fireplaces are engineered in a way that reduces exhaust fumes. A particular regulator creates a subtle combination of air and gas that burns exceptionally cleanly, and the components are carefully analyzed in approved labs before they may be sold. Ventless gas fireplaces are deemed to function within the security assortment for biking these combusted gases back to the house’s interior. By comparison, vented gas fireplaces produce a dangerously large quantity of combustion exhaust and, for that reason, has to be vented to the outside.
Are Ventless Gas Fireplaces Safe?
The safety of ventless gas fireplaces is a subject of disagreement. As per the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), a patchwork of regulations across the US controls the legality of ventless fireplaces. Roughly a third of states allow those units with no limitations.
California is the only state that completely bans all ventless fireplaces, and there are notable limitations in Massachusetts. In the other states, a welter of regulations regulates ventless fireplaces based on variables such as the city’s population, altitude, and surrounding terrain. In most states, there are limitations on where the house you can put in a ventless fireplace–they might not be allowed in sleeping areas.1
Low oxygen levels could be an issue with well-insulated houses that have a slow exchange of outdoor and indoor air. Ventless gas fireplaces have a feature known as an oxygen detection system (ODS), which automatically turns off the device if oxygen levels in the space fall below a certain level. The fireplaces might also have built-in CO (carbon monoxide) detectors that automatically shut off the fireplace if elevated levels are detected. However, hazards are found. Some manufacturers suggest leaving a window cracked open when running the fireplace to ensure there’s a fresh air supply.
NACHI also observes that although fumes are significantly reduced, ventless fireplaces still discharge small amounts into the house, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide exposure. And non-vented burning of propane or natural gas also creates water vapor as a byproduct, which may raise humidity levels and the possibility of mold.
It’s therefore smart to do your homework about the components you’re considering. Ensure its specifications meet safety standards and that the device is approved for installation by your building code authorities. Ventless fireplaces might well be a fantastic selection for a decorative feature in a room where its use can be supervised but should not be utilized as a primary source of warmth, especially at a sleeping place. And it isn’t the right choice if anyone in your home suffers from breathing issues, such as asthma or COPD.
Ventless Gas Fireplaces Cost vs. Other Alternatives
The firebox unit’s cost or insert and the log assemblies are about the same for the two ventless and vented gas fireplaces. Both require the same kind of natural gas or propane connection, so there’s absolutely no cost difference concerning plumbing. The least expensive way to have a ventless fireplace in your home is with gel-based units. No plumbing is needed because these units utilize alcohol-based gel gas canisters that burn up to three hours.
The significant cost distinction between the two kinds of fireplaces is the price of venting. Direct-vent gas fireplace units need two vents at the back: one that ejects gases and brings fresh air from the outside. (Some direct-vent fireplaces are vented using one two-chamber vent pipe).
Because venting is such a vast portion of the installation cost, ventless fireplaces usually are more affordable than vented units. A vented gas fireplace price is between $3,500-$8,000 to buy and have installed, based on the amount of carpentry needed to run the ductwork. By comparison, a ventless fireplace costs between $500 and $5,000.
1. Empire Tahoe Deluxe Direct Vent Fireplace
A direct vent gas fireplace provides more opportunities regarding where to install it in your fireplace. While many gas fireplace inserts will need to release fumes by the vent, a direct vent fireplace utilizes a sealed room to draw in the fresh air and expel exhaust via a technical pipe that exits the house wall or roof opening.
The Empire Tahoe Deluxe is a 36-inch direct vent fireplace that works using natural gas. It includes millivolt ignition for simple operation. Users generally discover the setup to be straight-forward, but make sure you follow the installation procedure well and have the required elements (like a gas hose, venting pipe, etc.) and tools for your job–or hire an expert to ensure proper setup.
2. Empire Keystone Series B-Vent Fireplace
A vented fireplace can be a direct vent or a B-vent model. Even though a direct port necessitates installing a ventilation pipe that ends beyond the wall of the house or the roof, an Empire Keystone Series B-Vent Fireplace makes it easier by utilizing the existing chimney to vent exhaust.
This fireplace is a choice if you’re searching for a B-vent gas fireplace insert to use inside your wood-burning fireplace. This model offers 21,000 BTU and uses your fireplace’s existing vent–providing you the ease of a gas fireplace insert where your wood-burning fireplace is now mounted. This natural gas fireplace insert provides the integrity of millivolt ignition and has a remote control to regulate your fireplace settings–even from across the room.
3. Ashley Hearth 34,000 BTU Ventless Firebox Natural Gas Stove
A gas fireplace insert is a low-maintenance, easy-to-use solution for adding warmth and ambiance to your residence. This vent-free firebox slides to the present area of your wood-burning fireplace (with an optional insert kit) or could be set up in a specially-made market for a gas fireplace. According to the manufacturer, the benefit of a vent-free model similar to this one is a high-rate of heat efficiency–99 percent. Moreover, you will enjoy the most flexible positioning options, as it doesn’t require venting to the exterior through an existing chimney or new ductwork.
This natural gas version from Ashley Hearth is 38 inches wide and 23.75 inches high, but the true firebox measures slightly smaller in 25 inches wide by 15.5 inches tall. Included with this gas fireplace insert is a set of realistic-looking logs to finish your setup. The steel structure of this unit’s exterior is strong and sturdy as well as the 36,000 BTU fireplace does an outstanding job of heating up a room.
4. Ashley Hearth Ventless Natural Gas Fireplace Insert
A ventless gas fireplace does not require external venting, which provides a significant benefit: no heat escapes from the chimney or flue. Because of this, ventless gas fireplace inserts are usually considered the best kind of inserts for heating your room. This version from Ashley Hearth provides 99 percent efficiency because of its ventless design.
The included ceramic logs and mesh display complete the appearance of this fireplace insert. Models utilizing either natural gas or propane are available. According to a user, the heat distribution from the 34,000 BTU heater is powerful enough to warm up big rooms–even the entire first floor of a home.
5. Peterson Real Fyre Vented Gas 24-inch Log Set
This vented log set provides a realistic look and vibrant flames, which will add warmth and beauty to an existing wood-burning fireplace. This is a fantastic option if you would like to convert your fireplace into something with less maintenance and clean-up but are not prepared to commit to the expense of a gas fireplace insert.
The Peterson Real Fyre 24-inch log set needs to be used with an open chimney or flue, but it creates taller flames that burn yellow, adding to the realistic appearance of the gas log set. Furthermore, these faux logs will continue to provide radiant heat after the burner was turned off, so your room will continue to stay warm.