Gas fireplaces are safer and better for the environment. But is it the type that would suit your home? Consider its pros and cons to find out.
The earliest gas fireplaces existed in the 19th century with the first commercial model marketed and sold in the mid-1850s. These early versions were simple, standalone, movable gas burners. At the turn of the 20th century, hundreds of companies were selling gas fires. By the 1920s, over a million gas fires were being sold each year.
Gas fireplaces finally took off as alternatives to traditional wood-burning fireplaces with the invention of the convector fire in the 1950s and by the passing of the Clean Air Act of 1956. Safer and better for the environment, gas fires have become immensely popular and widely-used.
Related: 19 Types of Fireplaces for Your Home
- Convenient. Compared to wood, a gas fireplace is much more convenient to use. Imagine all the hassle it takes just to chop and stack the wood and cleaning all the ashes after. In a gas fireplace, a warm and calm fire is achievable in just a single press of a button. In fact, some units have their own remote control and timer that can turn off your fireplace automatically. A gas fireplace is really convenient especially to busy people who have no time to manually do everything just to feel that relaxing warmth a fireplace can offer.
- Low Maintenance. Gas fireplaces need less care, maintenance and cleaning than the traditional wood fire. Unlike the latter type, gas fireplaces save you from removing ashes and cleaning up debris from time to time. You just need to clean it out (including its glass), once or twice a month and you’re done. Enjoy the warmth of a fireplace without the hassle.
- Realistic Flame. A gas fireplace is not just efficient or convenient, it also offers a “real flame” aesthetic. With the help of the latest technology, gas fireplaces that are sold in the market today have the realistic flame similar to what wood fireplaces can create. Yes, gas fireplaces create real fire, but its flame before has this bluish cast (like the flames in your stove) that is not actually appealing. Part of its development is its more natural-looking yellow fire made possible by the improved technology that properly mixes gas with air.
- Different Venting Options. If you are to install a gas fireplace, you have four venting options to choose from. First one is the natural vent, also known as the B vent. There’s also this venting option known as the direct vent which is the most popular way of venting gas fireplaces. Moreover, there’s also a vent-free installation and the power vent which includes the use of a fan-powered accessory. These options allow homeowners to manage and customize their fireplaces according to their needs and lifestyle.
- Versatile. Gas fireplaces are known for its versatility. Unlike any other type of fireplaces, you can install this one almost anywhere as long as you have a natural gas connection. Since its structure is flexible enough, you can incorporate this fireplace into any area of your home without the need for a chimney.
- No Wood Aroma. Some people prefer the coziness and ambience that wood burning offers. Unfortunately, gas fireplaces can’t give you that nice and warm aroma of the woods and logs. Yes, it executes heat very well, but if you are trying to achieve that pleasing burnt wood smell or your home, then this type of fireplace may not be the one for you. In line with this, the crackling and popping sound of wood burning is also absent.
- Fuel costs more. Gas is not TOO expensive but it costs much more than woods, logs or even pellets. In a traditional wood fireplace, you can be a little economical by using fallen and dried timber as a substitute but in a gas fireplace, you have no other choice but to buy fuel. On the brighter side, it is much easier to find and store gas during the winter.
History of Fireplaces
Ancient people used the idea of a fireplace not just for heat production during the winter but also for cooking, heating water and other domestic purposes. During those times, their fire pits are built in the ground, in the center of a hut or even inside caves. Smoke canopies are then invented during the middle ages to prevent the smoke from occupying the closed area. This idea led to the invention of chimneys in the 11th or 12th century. This development improved the functionality of fireplaces since the problem of fumes is effectively solved.
In terms of the design and appearance, fireplaces have changed a lot. Faulty architectures of the past have been improved by using advanced technology while the design has been developed in terms of the preferred style and finish. From the visuals to the actual structure, fireplaces have truly evolved over time.
Types of Gas Fireplaces
- Gas Fireplace Insert. This is used to convert an existing, built-in metal or traditional wood fireplace into a gas type. Using an insert is much cheaper than totally renovating the fireplace. It can change the atmosphere of your home from a rustic and traditional style to a modern one.
- Zero-Clearance Gas Fireplace. This is a pre-manufactured type of fireplace that can be is installed during home construction or total renovation, basically when the house has no existing fireplace. It can be placed inside the house envelope or against an outside wall, depending on the house’s overall architecture.
- Free-standing Gas Fireplace. This is a free-standing unit with a tempered or ceramic glass front. This type of fireplace tend to be more effective in terms of providing heat around the house since all its surfaces are exposed.