Few experiences are quite as cozy as sipping coffee by a roaring fire. With a gas fireplace, you can enjoy the calming, crackling ambiance of a fireplace without the dust, dirt and hassle of firewood. Enter the efficient and relatively simple installation of a ventless gas fireplace. We’ll walk you through the various types of ventless fireplaces and show you how they stack up compared to your home’s forced air heating system in terms of efficiency.
What is a Ventless Gas Fireplace Insert?
Ventless gas fireplaces burn natural gas or propane, usually underneath ceramic faux logs, to mimic the ambiance of a wood-burning fireplace. The key component is the highly efficient burner, which emits almost no exhaust. As a result, there’s no need for the vents required with other gas fireplace inserts.
Vented vs. Ventless Gas Fireplaces: What’s the Difference?
The difference may appear obvious, but understanding the difference between each option is important. When you’re choosing a gas fireplace, remember what sets these options apart.
Vented fireplaces – Sometimes referred to as a traditional gas fireplace, this option gets its name from two external vents. One vent pulls in fresh outdoor air into the fireplace, while the other removes exhaust fumes created by gas combustion.
Those external exhaust vents can have a significant impact on the cost of installation. Depending on how much remodeling is needed, installing a vented gas fireplace can run between $3,500 and $8,000.
Ventless fireplaces – Because they don’t require external vents, ventless gas fireplaces are less expensive to install, usually costing $1,500 to $5,000 based on the brand and size.
The Disadvantages of Ventless Fireplaces
It’s not all flickering flames and cozy vibes. There are a few drawbacks to ventless systems worth weighing before you invest.
Odors – While the burning chamber is well-sealed, you may notice slight odors, especially when the system is first turned on.
Ambiance – No gas fireplace perfectly replicates a wood-burning fireplace's crackle and dancing lights. Some critics say gas fireplaces look like a big kitchen stove, which may not excite the same sense of romance as a wood fireplace.
Heating capacity – Ventless gas fireplaces can keep a small area of your home warm, but they aren’t as energy efficient as using your forced air heating system. Consider them a secondary source of home heat.
Are Ventless Fireplaces Safe?
The lack of external ventilation elevates the risk of carbon monoxide when using a ventless system. While all types of ventless gas fireplaces meet industry requirements, they do emit very low levels of carbon monoxide and other fumes. We recommend installing an extra carbon monoxide detector in the room where the fireplace is installed. You might also run the fireplace for just a few hours; some models even have a timer to ensure they won’t run for more than 60 minutes.
Things to Consider Before You Buy
Remember that a gas furnace is up to 94% efficient, while even the most efficient gas inserts are only 70-80% efficient. If you want to save money on your energy bill, you’re better off looking at heating system upgrades like a heat pump.
- Size – The larger the gas insert, the more heat it will give off. Determine how large a unit you’ll need to adequately heat the room it will be installed in.
- Safety – Research models with automatic carbon monoxide sensors which can shut the system down if it detects elevated levels. You should still install a carbon monoxide detector nearby!
- Material – While the appearance of the fireplace comes down to taste, make sure it matches the rest of your home décor. The interior of all fireplaces is typically made from stainless steel, cast iron or fireproof synthetic material.
Comfort Comes First at One Hour
Ventless gas fireplaces certainly add charm, but there may be more cost-effective ways to keep your family comfortable during the long heating season. Contact your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning technicians today to explore energy-efficient upgrades and rebates to make them more affordable. Book an appointment or call (800) 893-3523 today to get started.