Should You Go Ventless with Your Fireplace?
Having a fireplace really is a wonderful thing, from both an aesthetic, as well as a heat source point of view. If you’ve never owned a fireplace before, you might want to learn about the wonder that is the ventless gas fireplace, so here is a comprehensive piece on what this type of product has to offer, what are the risks and benefits of having one, and then we embark on a journey to help you find the best ventless gas fireplace on the market.
Pros & Cons of Ventless Gas Fireplaces
Knowing about the advantages and drawbacks of a ventless gas fireplace will you determine whether or not this investment is a suitable one for you, so let’s take a look into the benefits that having such an installation can provide:
- Compared to vented fireplaces, ventless systems are less expensive, especially if you consider that vented models might require remodeling as part of their setup process.
- A ventless gas fireplace doesn’t produce soot, which is something that wood-burning fireplaces do.
- You are not limited to a certain room when it comes to installing a ventless fireplace, so you can add it to pretty much any room where you feel the need to have a supplemental source of heating.
- Once again, compared to a vented fireplace, a ventless is more energy efficient. It doesn’t have any vents, which means that no heat escapes up the flue.
It’s also important to consider that there are a few drawbacks to ventless gas fireplace units, but these cons depend on what you compared these fireplaces with:
- There are certain areas that will now allow you to install a ventless gas fireplace because it goes against the local codes. Choosing to do so in spite of these regulations can result in a fine and removal of the fireplaces.
- There will be some water vapor due to gas combustion, which can be troublesome in a home that already has alarmingly-high humidity levels.
Ventless VS Vented
There are two types of gas-based fireplaces that work in different manners:
- A vented fireplace uses natural gas or propane as fuel for the fire and has vents that run to your house’s exterior. One of the vents acts as an intake channel that draws air inside the fireplace, while the other is used as an exhaustion vent, to eliminate fumes that result from the burning process. Vented fireplaces require professional installation, especially since it means connecting the fireplaces to your home’s gas pipes
- A ventless gas fireplace has a different kind of system that uses an air and gas mixture to produce clean gas burning. This translates into less fumes being eliminated as the fire burns. However, it’s extremely important to choose a ventless gas fireplace that meets federal regulations. That means it has been tested in approved laboratories to make sure it meets safety standards.
Why Go Ventless?
We could elaborate on the advantages of choosing a ventless gas fireplace, which include lower installation costs, less chances of heat loss, and less soot production. However, we have to discuss a little bit about the controversy that surrounds ventless gas fireplaces so that we may determine if this is the right option for you.
One of the strongest points of ventless gas fireplaces has always been advertised as being the elevated safety, but that subject is up for debate, so if you’re looking to get one of these for yourself, let’s examine this topic in-depth. There are some US regulations that control whether or not ventless fireplaces are legal or not.
About ⅓ of the states allow people to install these units without providing any restrictions in this way. California doesn’t allow ventless fireplaces and Massachusetts has some restrictions in this state. Some other states may regulate the location for your ventless fireplace, not allowing you to install them in the bedroom, for instance.
One problem in this sense could be the low oxygen levels, which is an issue in homes that are well-insulated and therefore don’t exchange indoor and outdoor air at a fast pace. This is why you would always consider purchasing ventless fireplaces that have ODS. ODS is short for oxygen detection system. This is a sensor that can detect low oxygen levels and turn off the burners when this happens.
Also, look for units that have integrated carbon monoxide detectors. When these sensors detect a high level of carbon monoxide, the system automatically turns off the heat, preventing a potential hazard. That’s why it’s important to take a close look into the ventless gas fireplace you’re looking to purchase to make sure that it meets the national requirements and offers safety features that provide peace of mind both your integrity and that of your home.
Let’s assume that you have your heart set on buying and installing a ventless gas fireplace. Even if these units are tested before being sold to the public and they do comply with some health and safety regulations, we’re going to provide you with a list of tips that can further ensure your safety:
- The gas logs that are delivered with your fireplace should be arranged according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Respecting the given configuration can be crucial to your safety. It’s also important that you check the condition of these logs at least once per year and, if need be, clean them according to the instruction given in the user manual.
- Make sure that you test your ODS and CO detectors once per year. You might also be required to install additional CO detectors. Assuming that your single detector malfunctions, it will be very difficult for you to spot the presence of carbon monoxide in the house, since it’s both tasteless and odorless. Additional detectors can detect CO levels in case one of them fails.
- Make sure that you keep flammable furniture and items away from the fireplace. This includes anything from upholstery to curtains. Everything that’s flammable should be placed at least three feet away from the fireplace.
What to Burn in a Ventless Gas Fireplace
If you’ve ever spotted a ventless gas fireplace, you might have seen that it has logs inside, which is pretty confusing since these are supposed to run on gas, right? Well, there is such a thing as a ventless gas log, which is a type of gas appliance. These gas logs release moisture and heat into the room where they’re installed, recirculating the same air back into the room and providing heat.
A ventless gas fireplace should never really burn anything else except natural gas or propane. You should never try to burn wood or anything else that creates smoke inside a ventless fireplace, as there is no way for the system to release these fumes safely in the exterior of your home, since there are no exhaust vents created for that.
Best Ventless Gas Fireplaces
1. ProCom Ventless Dual Fuel Stove
The very first suggestion we have in store for you is this ProCom ventless gas fireplace available at a decent price, and which also happens to be one of the best-sellers in its category. It has a dual-fuel technology system, meaning it works with both natural gas as well as propane, both offering a heat output of 25,000 BTUs. It comes with a built-in thermostat that allows you to control the temperature inside the room by toggling the stove heater on and off. It has a Piezo ignition with a built-in ODS that can turn the fireplace off automatically in case it detects any carbon monoxide leaks or in case oxygen is lacking. Measuring 13 x 33.5 x 25 inches and weighing in at a little less than 50 pounds, this ventless gas fireplace works with rooms that have at least 900 square feet.
2. Duluth Forge DFS-300T-3AS Dual Fuel Ventless Gas Fireplace
With a more stylish appearance and the possibility to choose between multiple frames (which include beautiful finishes, such as chestnut oak, heritage cherry, or walnut) that will be compatible with your existing room decor. Much like the model we’ve looked at earlier, this one also has dual-fuel technology, so it can use both propane and natural gas as fuel. In fact, it shares a lot of the characteristics of the ProCom fireplace: it comes with a built-in thermostat so that you can cycle the burner and control the heat output (which is 26,000 BTU, by the way), it comes with a Piezo ignition with the same ODS sensor for shutting down the fireplace, and the ignition is battery-assisted.
3. Duluth Forge Vent Free Dual Fuel Ventless Gas Fireplace Insert-26,000 BTU
From the same manufacturer as above, we have this ventless gas fireplace insert which is a viable alternative for those who don’t want to purchase the entire frame as they already have the additional setup and just need the insert. As expected, it shares a lot of similarities with the Duluth Forge DFS-300T-3AS ventless gas fireplace. It has a heat output of 26,000 BTUs and can cover an area of up to 1,350 square feet. It can be powered by natural gas and propane, much like the other system we’ve looked at today. It features five hand-painted logs with a very realistic design that’s made from superior ceramic fibers. It comes with a remote control that allows you to adjust the thermostat and offer control over turning the fireplace on and off from a distance.
4. Pleasant Hearth 20,000 BTU 23.5 in. Compact Gas vent free stove
If you’re looking for something with a little less power, then you can opt for the Pleasant Hearth VFS2-PH20DT ventless fireplace, which has a heat output of 20,000 BTU and can cover areas of up to 700 square feet. Just like the models we’ve looked at earlier, this one also has dual-fuel technology so that you can choose between natural gas and propane fuel, depending on what suits you best. It has a thermostat control knob that will help you maintain your ideal room temperature. The burner operates with two rows of flames for a better visual appearance. You can separately purchase the variable speed blower if you want more powerful and more even heat distribution.
5. Duluth Forge Ventless Linear Wall Gas Fireplace – 26,000 BTU
We have one more Duluth ventless gas fireplace that we wanted to show you. It operates with a heat output of 26,000 BTU and comes with a patented dual-fuel technology. It can heat up areas of up to 1,400 square feet, which makes it great for larger rooms. The thermostat control grants you power over the burner, allowing you to turn it on and off to better control the temperature inside the room. It also has the Piezo ignition that’s found on other Duluth models, completed by the oxygen depletion sensor, turning off the heat in case of lack of oxygen or in case carbon monoxide is detected.
When you compare ventless gas fireplaces with vented ones, costs are lower, which is why a lot of people choose these units over the alternative. Purchasing and installing a ventless fireplace usually costs between $1,000 and $5,000, while vented units cost between $3,500 and $8,000 to purchase and have them installed.