Buyers Guide

Gas & Electric Fireplace Buyers Guide

In the past, the only type of fireplace you could buy was a wood burning unit. Now you have more ease and convenience with that of a gas or electric burning fireplace. Not only that but it is also a good show piece and way to add value to your estate.

As technology has advanced the realism of the appearance of gas logs and flames has added popularity in the choice of gas over wood fireplaces. Hearth systems use either liquid propane or natural gas as there fuel source with natural gas as a primary and propane when natural gas isn’t available.

Having a gas fireplace offers many advantages to your typical wood burning fireplace. To start, you don’t have to worry about chopping wood, starting and putting out your fire, as well as cleaning the fireplace after every use. Not only that gas is more efficient, burns clean and is as easy as flicking a switch to turn the unit on. Gas fireplaces are a great primary or secondary source of heat which can help you save a significant amount on your heating bills. For a general application a fireplace with BTU’s or (British thermal Unit), a unit of heat energy measurement of 35,000 BTUs will provide sufficient heat for about 1,000 square feet. By no means is this a significant amount, however it maybe depending on your needs. Other factors such as windows, doors, installation, ceiling height etc have to be factored in.

The fact that these fireplaces are easy to install whether it be recessed into a wall, installed in the middle of a room, a corner, or built with a multi sided unit makes the addition a breeze. Not to mention you have a lot of options when it comes to décor on the fireplaces such as inlay kits, door options, or shelf kits etc.

Hearth systems offers the best in quality and craftsmanship with there fireplace systems convenient programing where it be a remote, thermostat or switch/timer that can control duration the unit is on to how high the flame is. There are a lot of cool features that many gas units have like that of the “remote ready” label that states it can be used almost anywhere.

So, if you have made the decision to with a gas hearth system, or if you are interested in learning a bit more about one, here is a brief overview of the three different types of gas appliances.

Direct Vent 

Image result for napoleon direct vent diagram

  1. Combustion air is drawn from outside the building
  2. Cool room air is pulled into the lower chamber; it will circulate around the firebox and is released into the room as warm air via the fan. The heat from the central burner also emits more radiant heat from the face of the unit, into your living space.
  3. The Terminal is mounted outside, connecting to the fireplace indoors.
  4. Venting exits from the top or rear of the fireplace to allow more versatility for installation
  5. Rear exhaust is optional
  6. Direct vent power venting can be installed to go up, down, and around stairways, and most objects in any given surrounding spaces.

Direct vent fireplaces are the most common type of fireplaces and are the most efficient. Each unit is closed combustion to seal it off from a room. The air is run from outside in for combustion while also being exhausted back out of the exhaust.

One of the drawbacks seen from customers in the past was the need of glass in place as the reflections would take away from the full effect of the fireplace. Although the glass is still required to operate the unit, there are now more options available such as the ceramic and tempered glass which significantly reduces this reflection. You can never operate a direct vent unit without the glass panel installed and securely in place. A lot of the direct vent units are using ceramic glass which provides a clear look of the flames as well as keeps the high heat temps down that are more common with the tempered glass units. It’s a good idea to make sure the unit you are looking at has the appropriate glass you are looking at getting.

Although direct vent fireplaces typically have a more realistic flame pattern than that of its counterpart vent free units, they do not have the ability to customize the fire itself. Meaning the height of the flame is adjustable on certain units, but the layout of logs and flame is permanent. Make sure you are happy with the layout before making the investment.


Image result for vent free diagram

Vent-Free fireplaces are a newer type of installation which have been around for about 15 years. Vent free fire places are popular for those who don’t want to have to worry about piping installation and or building a chimney. Great options for those that have smaller homes. Also they are very efficient in the fact that there is no lost heat making them very efficient units.

Although Vent-Free units are great, just like any option it has its pros and cons. The exhaust from the unit is almost all carbon dioxide and water vapor. One thing you need to be careful of is although these units are engineered to a t, with a almost 100% complete combustion, they must maintain close to that number or there is potential harmful by-products and sooting problems that could occur.

One thing to keep in mind is that if the unit is in too cramped a space, the unit is going to extinguish itself. This is because it requires a certain amount of space and oxygen in the room for the combustion process. As this can present a concern to many, these Vent-Free units have been outlawed in parts of the US. With that being said, these units have a failsafe in place that if the oxygen in the room depletes a certain level it will shut itself down. Installation of a carbon monoxide detector is always a good idea.

Another thing to keep in mind is that even though safety precautions have been integrated to these units, they are not for every user. People who are prone to asthma, respiratory issues, or sinus issues should stay clear from these units as they can be bothersome. As well remember if you are using liquid propane, your vent free unit will be exposes more water vapor in the air than if you use natural gas. Therefore make sure you have a large open room when using liquid propane to prevent a humid atmosphere with possible mildew formation as well as fogged up windows.

With some concerns in mind BTU output will be restricted to 40,000 BTU/hour for larger size rooms and smaller rooms restricted to 10,000 BTU’s. The National Fuel Gas Code has determined these fireplaces not to be installed in “confided space”. This is defined as volume less than 50 cubic feet per 1,000 BTU/hour of the input rating of all applications in that space. To help you decide what king of space you are working with, a formula is provided below.

L (length) x W (width) x H (height) x 20 = Maximum BTUs allowed

If you have any concerns about installing your vent-free fireplace, please use the BTU formula and check the BTU rating of the unit you are looking at installing as well as see the manufacturers requirements in the manual tab.

If you end up with a vent-free unit you will want to pay more attention to general and more frequent maintenance. You want to make sure the intake and ODS are kept clean and free of any possible debris. This can effect performance as well as promote outages. A can of compressed air is a great way to clean these areas.

Last, as each fireplace unit is manufactured and designed to work in a specific way installation is very important and is recommended that a professional install which ever unit you decide to go with. That way the unit looks and runs right as well as operates in a clean safe manner.

Please see all the information for the products under the tabs as well as the product brochure and user manuals. If you still have any questions or concerns, please fill out a form here and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for shopping at

Electric Fireplaces 

Want a fireplace alternative to gas.  Look at our alternative electric fireplaces.  Some benefits include:


Want to save money on your heating bills.  Turn the central heating down and use the electric fireplace to heat the most used rooms.  They only cost 7 to 13 cents an hour to operate. Great alternative to gas that costs up to 20 cents an hour depending on utility rates.  Installation is very cost efficient as the use of chimney or gas lines are almost never needed. 

Safety Features

No actual flame is produced, which makes electric fireplaces safer for all. Most electric fireplaces propel heat into a room using a fan, which blows across a heated electric coil within the unit.  They can be turned on and off and usually offer a timer feature unlike that of your conventional wood burning fireplace. 

Year-Round Use

On most electric fireplaces, the flame feature can operate independently of the heat feature, so a flickering fire can be enjoyed in comfort all year long.


With many different models and sizes there is surly a unit that will fit your space allowed.