About Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Inserts
A fireplace insert is a firebox that slides directly into an existing fireplace, which can dramatically increase the performance of a fireplace for several reasons. Since the heat is distributed throughout a smaller volume, the amount of heat produced compared to the fuel consumed is higher, also allowing fuel to burn more efficiently and cleanly. Since less heat is lost through the chimney, more heat is conserved in the home, further increasing the amount of heat produced. The inserts are generally covered by glass doors, which can reduce the chance of fire due to stray sparks, or injuries due to stray children. For these reasons a fireplace insert can greatly increase the efficiency of a fireplace, and in the long run is a great way to save in heating costs over the long run. Check out other types of Fireplace Inserts here.
Gas fireplace inserts are highly efficient designs, which burn cleaner than wood, producing less emissions and achieving a lower cost compared to the amount of heat produced as well. Modern designs feature extremely realistic logs and flames, mimicking the appearance of a real fire quite well.
Gas fireplaces do, however, produce a certain amount of emissions, which can be dealt with in a number of ways. A direct vent gas fireplace will release its emissions through a vent, generally installed directly through the wall next to the fireplace, allowing the exhaust to be released safely outside the home. Cold air enters the system from the outside, which is used for combustion, then expelled again. The air drawn from the outside does not enter the house, meaning the fireplace insert will block drafts entering from the outside. As it does not require a chimney to operate, direct vent gas fireplaces are generally easy to install, though they often require professional services to build the vent. A properly installed gas fireplace will produce clean, efficient, adjustable heat for many years.
Comparison with Ventless Gas Fireplace Inserts
A common alternative to the direct vent system is the vent-free or ventless gas fireplace insert, which does not require an exterior vent to be installed. The emissions are simply allowed to drift back into the home. Though this may seem unsafe, most ventless gas fireplaces include an automatic shutoff once oxygen levels are detected below a certain threshold. Due to their ease of installation (gas line connections only) they remain popular, though many manufacturers recommend leaving a window open when operating the fireplace to allow circulation of fresh air into the room.
Though this may seem counterintuitive, since one of the main advantages of the ventless gas fireplace is its higher efficiency because it is a closed system, the open window can more or less offset the disadvantage of air quality problems, while offsetting the advantage of higher performance of a ventless system. For this reason homeowners may experience the same level of performance with a ventless system compared to a direct vent system, ventless including the hassle of opening the window periodically, and the direct vent system including the added hassle and cost of more difficult installation. For this reason there is no clear option with superior features; however, due to safety concerns, many states and countries have banned the use of ventless gas fireplace inserts, often making direct venting fireplaces the best option.
Natural vent gas fireplaces can use an existing chimney, which is another popular option if a chimney is available, functioning rather like a direct vent system, by simply using the chimney as the vent.
Other Alternatives to a Direct Vent Gas Fireplace
Electric fireplace inserts have become a popular option for homeowners looking for an alternative to wood as fuel. Electric fireplaces are cheap, clean (depending on the source of electricity) and require only an ordinary outlet for its fuel supply. This makes installation far easier than gas line installation, though it also makes an electric fireplace susceptible to power outages. But since electric fireplaces are easy to remove as well, they can be taken out of the existing fireplace to make room for a wood fire if it becomes necessary.
Wood burning fireplace inserts are cleaner and more efficient than a fire burning in an ordinary fireplace, producing fewer emissions, more heat, and less fuel waste. Though not necessarily as efficient as other sources of fuel, for homeowners who still enjoy the crackle of the fire, a wood burning fireplace insert can be a great option for long-term savings if the home will be enjoyed for many years.