Using the best gas fireplace can change your life. The olden days when you spent hour after hour splitting wood is gone. Why waste time outside cutting the pieces of wood to size, when you can enjoy a glass of wine in front of a cozy fire instead?
Gas fireplace inserts are easy to install and use, and they cost a fraction of the price of a wooden model. These inserts will not only look as good as a fireplace that uses wood as fuel, but they are also more efficient. Wooden fireplaces have efficiency ratings of up to 70%, whereas some gas models can reach efficiencies of up to 99%, using less fuel to produce more heat.
In the following article, we present the top-rated gas fireplace insert reviews. After that, we explain why some features make a fireplace insert the perfect addition to your home, and why you should consider installing one.
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What Is a Gas Fireplace Insert?
Gas fireplace inserts are a new, innovative version of the old wood-burning fireplaces we know. While an old wood fireplace is very difficult to maintain, and the costs of central heating are forcing you to break the bank, a gas fireplace insert is a great alternative.
Basically, a gas fireplace insert is an appliance that you add to an open masonry fireplace with the goal of maintaining a proper, warm, and cozy temperature in your house. But apart from making sure you won’t be cold anymore, this type of fireplace is also good at improving the air quality in the house and stopping cold chimney draft.
The cool thing regarding gas fireplace inserts is that they can be added to an old, existing wooden fireplace. They use just the same space as the old appliance, so if you have an older wood-burning fireplace, it will be easier for you to install a gas fireplace insert. The difference is that the new fireplace will be more efficient in creating and distributing heat in your house and will use gas as fuel. Therefore, it is better as you won’t have to cut wood anymore. You can also go for a top-rated pellet stove.
Also, there’s less maintenance to deal with, and lower costs involved with such a unit. Not to mention that gas fireplace inserts don’t have such a high risk of causing a fire compared to their wood counterparts.
There are two types of gas fireplace inserts that you’re going to find, respectively:
This gas insert uses the warm air’s natural buoyancy in order to eliminate combustion gases. Basically, the air around the fireplace is being taken by this gas insert and used as means for combustion. It is very affordable, and it is perfect for condos.
Direct vent gas fireplace inserts are worth considering if you’re looking for a safe, yet efficient way of keeping your house warm. They are performing amazing and can save you lots of money while giving you the air quality you desire. Unlike B Vent fireplace inserts, direct vents use the air outside of your house. Also, they prevent warm air from escaping, so you don’t need to worry about any inefficiency.
Benefits of Installing a Gas Fireplace
Gas fireplace inserts offer many advantages over their wood-fueled counterparts. While it might be true that burning wood has its own beauty, it does have some drawbacks. They’re difficult to maintain, they are a fire risk, and they are expensive to install and use.
On the other hand, gas fireplaces can offer the same ambiance effects with less maintenance and low operating costs. Let’s see how they compare with wooden fireplaces.
Gas fireplaces have easy installation. If you have an existing fireplace, you can install a natural vented model in its place with a minimal effort. This will allow you to use the same location for the fireplace without all the hustle of cutting wood and burning it. Directly vented fireplaces can be installed in a matter of hours. They only need connections to one or two pipes and they’re good to go. As for vent-free models, they’re really easy to install. In fact, the whole installation process consists of connecting the fireplace to a natural gas or propane source.
Wooden fireplaces are fire and smoke hazards, so most people will avoid installing them in their bedrooms. But gas fireplaces are very safe to use, and since they don’t require much in terms of installation, you can place them anywhere you want. Whether you want to install the fireplace in your living room, bedroom, or even on your patio, it’s possible with such a model.
Reliable Fuel Source
Gas is a far more reliable fuel source than wood. When you use a wooden fireplace, you have to make sure that your wood supplies are dry and split so they would fit in the firebox. Gas, on the other hand, is easy to come by. Whether you use a propane tank or a direct line to the municipal natural gas supply, you can bring it easily to your home.
Whenever you use a wooden fireplace, you have to kindle and light the fire. Using gasoline or other substances to ignite the fire can produce an unpleasant smell in your entire home, so the ignition process can be lengthy at times. Gas fireplaces can be started with a push of a button. Moreover, you can control everything through a remote, from the fireboxes’ backlight to the flames’ height and heat output.
A fireplace that relies on wood as fuel will only produce heat as long as it has wood to burn. If the wood is mostly burnt, the fireplace’s heat output will drop considerably. This doesn’t happen when you use a gas fireplace. These models come with a thermostat, so they will adjust their heat output to maintain a constant temperature in your home.
You don’t have to worry about cleaning the ashes when you’re using a gas fireplace. You can start the fire with a press of a button, and you can stop by pushing a button as well. Moreover, these units don’t produce pollutants that will stick to the inside of your chimney, so you won’t have to clean it as often.
Since they don’t need a foundation or even a mantel, let alone a chimney, gas fireplaces are considerably cheaper than wooden ones. And installing them is cheaper as well. Most professionals will install a gas fireplace in a matter of hours, so they will not charge you too much. You can even install some models by yourself, lowering the installation costs even further.
Best Gas Fireplace Inserts Comparison Chart
Mercury Top/Rear Direct Vent Gas Fireplace
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Empire Tahoe Deluxe 36″ Direct-Vent NG Millivolt Fireplace
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42″ Artisan Vent Free SCC See-Through Linear Fireplace
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Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Ventless Fireplace
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Pleasant Hearth Vent-Free Gas Stove
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Best Gas Fireplace Insert Reviews (Updated List)
1. Mercury 32″ Top/Rear Direct Vent Gas Fireplace w/Intellifire – NG
The Mercury gas fireplace will make your living room warmer and more comfortable than ever before. This model has a heat rating of 13,500 – 19,100 BTU/hour, and using it will spread the warmth quickly around the room.
We were impressed with this fireplace’s design. The ceramic fiber logs are realistic, and it really looks like they burn when you’re using it. The glowing embers effect has a nice quality, and your guests will not think for a moment that the embers are not real. This model comes with a full firescreen front and hood, and it uses a decorative black mesh screen for added safety
Realistic Logs – The 6 ceramic logs are realistic, and they improve the fireplace’s overall aspect.
Good Heating Capacity – Not only does this fireplace look good, but it’s also efficient. The fireplace can easily warm up your living room.
Bad Fuel Utilization – This fireplace has an AFUE rating of 50.4%, which means that almost half of the fuel it uses is wasted.
2. Empire Tahoe Deluxe 36″ Direct-Vent NG Millivolt Fireplace
This is a product that’s well worth the investment since it is durable and well-made. In addition to that, you’ll definitely appreciate the millivolt control featuring an on/off switch. This means you can easily turn it on or off depending on what you want.
Note that this unit needs a double wall pipe. As stated by the manufacturer, you need a co-linear or coaxial installation via the chimney flue to the very top of the chimney. You might also fit the pipe through your existing fireplace opening in case you already have one.
Also, this is a zero clearance fireplace. Moving on to the BTU output of the fireplace, you should know that it produces roughly 14,000 BTU per hour when it comes to natural gas. Meanwhile, when it comes to liquid propane, it produces approximately 16,500 BTU per hour. Also, another good thing is that it doesn’t emit a lot of exhaust.
It comes with a useful millivolt control with an on/off switch.
The efficacy of the fireplace comes as a guarantee, and you can choose from natural gas and propane models.
It necessitates an additional barrier screen or a door set for safety reasons.
3. 42″ Artisan Vent Free SCC See-Through Linear Fireplace
The Artisan 42” Linear fireplace is a spectacular model that will enhance the room you place it in. This is a vent-free model that has a contemporary design that will fit perfectly in every modern living room. The Artisan comes with a diamond and sapphire glass kit that will allow you to enjoy the fire while spreading the radiant warmth throughout the room.
One of the things we liked about this model is that it’s very easy to use. The fireplace uses an electric ignition system that powers it in a matter of moments, and the touchscreen remote control has an intuitive design. The fireplace comes with a three-step flame adjustment, and you can dim the accent light according to your preferences.
Battery Backup – This model has A/C control, but it also comes with a battery back-up, so you can still use it in the case of a power shortage
Good Remote Control – The fireplace’s remote control has an intuitive design and it’s very easy to use
Pricey – Even though this fireplace would look great in a modern setting, it comes at a steep price
4. Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Ventless Fireplace
When looking to up your game, you may well consider this dual-fuel, ventless, and elegant looking fireplace. Using Natural Gas or Liquid Propane, which Heats up to 1, 350 sq. ft. area. You have the advantage of diversifying, reduce costs, and save the planet.
So far, so good, but not enough. Therefore, some more advantages are available, like remote control, thermostat, and Built-in pilot Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), which immediately shuts down the heater if carbon monoxide or lack of oxygen is detected.
Being a zero-clearance unit, you can install it in an existing fireplace and even built it in a corner. It comes with logs, remote control, batteries, and the brick liner wall panels. If you are an aesthete, you will appreciate the finishing look this fireplace gives.
Despite all the “good to go” features, paying attention to safety is a must. Depending on the type of space, you will need to take additional measures. Like for example, if your home is well insulated, try to get more information on venting. Make sure you use a 100lb tank as required and not less.
- Oxygen Depletion Sensor
- Diverse energy sources
- Environment friendly
- No blower included
- Faulty pilot
5. Pleasant Hearth VFS2-PH30DT 30000 BTU Vent-Free Gas Stove
The Pleasant Hearth vent-free fireplace is a great option for those who are looking for a model that comes at a decent price. This unit might seem small, but it has a heat capacity of 30,000 BTU, which should be enough to warm up a space of up to 1,000 square feet.
We were impressed by this model’s well-thought design. This stove comes with a minimal clearance design that makes it very easy to install. The unit is also easy to assemble and install. Last but not least, this model uses a flame that looks soothing and realistic.
Cost-Effective – This model comes at a good price, especially if you take into consideration its heating capacity.
Small – This unit is small, so it’s easier to handle and install than other models.
Noisy – The unit’s blower is noisy, so it can be bothersome at times.
6. Duluth Forge Fireplace Insert
Thanks to its 26,000 dual-fuel technology, this fireplace insert can heat an area of 1,350 square feet. Keep in mind that it works with either liquid propane or natural gas. You can rest assured that this product is 99, 9% efficient. It is equipped with a vent-free gas burner, which means that it doesn’t need a chimney or an outside duct. These several facts make the heater environmentally friendly.
Due to its thermostat, this fireplace inserter can keep the room temperature at the level which you desire. In terms of safety, this heater features an ignition system that works with batteries. Apart from this, there is a special sensor which is designed to detect oxygen. So whenever there is a lack of oxygen, the heater shuts off automatically. The same thing occurs if the sensor detects carbon monoxide. In case anything happens to your fireplace insert and it stops functioning properly, you can use the 1-year warranty that comes with it.
When it comes to installation, you should know that this insert needs to be recessed into a wall. You can install its mantel either against the wall or in a corner. If you decide to do the latter, you should be informed that a corner adapter comes with the product.
- Thanks to its thermostat, you can have the desired temperature maintained in your room.
- Undoubtedly, this heater’s most significant advantage is that it can cover a large area – up to 1,350 square feet.
- This device can function with natural gas or liquid propane.
- Yet another useful feature of this product is that it is eco-friendly.
- A disadvantage is that you have to provide your gas line.
7. Endless Summer GAD1401M LP Gas Outdoor Fireplace
The Endless Summer outdoor fireplace is a great model for those who are looking for a way to stay warm in the chilly evenings of the late summer and early autumn. This model will produce enough heat to keep you comfortable as you spend some time outdoors.
One of the things we liked about this model is that it comes with an easy-to-follow instructions manual. Most people will have the fireplace up and running in a matter of minutes. The initial ignition might take longer than you’d expect, but that’s just a safety feature. Another good thing about this model is that it really produces a good amount of heat.
Easy To Install – This model comes with a good instructions manual that will serve as a step-by-step guide throughout the installation.
Cheap – This product comes at a great price. Even though it’s cheap, the fireplace looks great.
Bad Cover – This model comes with a cover that should protect it from the elements. Unfortunately, the cover is lightweight and it doesn’t do a great job of protecting the fireplace.
Buying Guide: How to Buy a Gas Fireplace
Finding the right gas fireplace might seem like a daunting task at times. There are many variables you have to take into account such as the fireplace’s style, installation, heat output, and more. That’s why we decided to create a buying guide explaining how each of the fireplace’s features can influence its performance and your experience.
Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the features you should look for in a gas fireplace.
8 Key Gas Fireplace Features to Help You Decide
As you could see in our short reviews, there are more types of fireplaces you can choose from.
Inserts are ingenious models that you can install in an old wooden fireplace. A great thing about inserts is that they don’t take up any space. In fact, the insert will use the same amount of space as your old fireplace, but it will be more efficient and it will produce more heat. However, you should spend some time measuring your old fireplace to make sure the insert will fit inside it. Otherwise, you might have to redesign your wall to fit the gas insert.
Built-in models are the type of fireplaces people usually look for when they’re renovating or constructing their homes. These models are bulky and difficult to handle and install, but they offer great efficiency and good heating outputs. Built-in models look like inserts, but they come in a metallic box.
The good thing about self-standing fireplaces is that they don’t need a hole in a wall for the installation. To use a self-standing fireplace, you need to assemble it and connect it to a natural gas or propane tank. The whole installation process is usually easy and doesn’t take too long, so most people will have a self-standing model up and running in about an hour or so.
Heat Capacity and Efficiency
A fireplace should be both pleasing to the eye and efficient. There’s no point in investing in a fireplace only for the ambiance it provides, the unit should also provide a lot of heat. Like all the other appliances that use gas as fuel, the fireplace’s output capacity is measured in BTUs/hour.
Now, each fireplace can produce maximum output and has a variable efficiency. The efficiency of a fireplace is measured by how much of the fuel it uses is actually transformed into heat, and how much of it is lost. So a unit producing 25,000 BTUs with an efficiency of 75% will be better than one that produces the same amount of heat with an efficiency of 50%.
Gas fireplaces produce a lot of heat, so they can be used with good results to warm up large spaces like entire floors, cabins, or even whole houses. Most good fireplaces can produce more than 15,000 BTUs/hour, even when they’re running on their lowest level. However, you should also take into account the house’s insulation when you’re calculating the surface a fireplace can cover, as well as the house’s climate region. Here are some examples of how much surface a fireplace can cover in a well-insulated house located in a cold region
- 15,000 BTU – 300 sq feet
- 25,000 BTU – 500 sq feet
- 40,000 BTU – 800 sq feet
The same heat outputs will cover other surfaces in a warm climate
- 15,000 BTU – 500 sq feet
- 25,000 BTU – 830 sq feet
- 40,000 BTU – 1,300 sq feet
Variable Flame Control
This feature allows you to adjust the flames’ power and heat output. The larger the flame, the higher the heat output and vice versa. This feature will also allow you to enjoy the flames’ dance during the warm season when you don’t really need the heat and only use the fireplace for the ambiance.
Using a thermostat is the best way to make sure that your fireplace will maintain a constant temperature throughout the day. The thermostat will automatically adjust the power of the fireplace’s flames to control its heat output, so it will maintain the same temperature.
This feature will make starting the fireplace easier, and it will also eliminate the need for a pilot light, making the fireplace more efficient. You can save up to $12 a month in fuel by using this feature.
If you choose a fireplace with electronic ignition, it’s recommended to look for a model that comes with a battery backup. This will eliminate the possibility to find yourself without a heat source in the case of a power outage.
Some fireplaces use LED lights to add realistic flickering effects to the flames. This feature will enhance the fireplace’s aspect and make the flames look more realistic.
How Does a Gas Insert Fireplace Work?
First of all, gas insert fireplaces require a gas line inside the house in order to work. Since they use gas, they need a source of gas, right?
Modern gas fireplaces have the benefit of not making any smoke, unlike wood fireplaces, while the waste is being eliminated through a tube in the wall. As such, a chimney is not required to operate a gas fireplace insert. These fireplaces will have some incombustible logs that cover the gas vents, usually made of either ceramic or ceramic fiber. They are amazing not only because they add to the fire, but they also give the fireplace a more traditional look and make you feel cozier. Not to mention that the fire will take place behind a closed glass door, so you can see it and feel just like you would with a usual, traditional fireplace. Check out our list of the most efficient ceramic heaters, too.
With a gas fireplace insert, you can control the gas output level, which means you will be the one deciding how big the flame is going to be and thus how much heat you’ll have. And the best thing is that they don’t only warm up one room, while the others will maintain their low temperature. In fact, they are able to evenly distribute heat throughout your home, ensuring you always feel warm, comfortable, and spending time at home will be a pleasure.
They also don’t have to be cleaned as regularly as wood fireplaces because they don’t produce ashes like their counterparts. They only use gas as fuel, which makes them time-saving in regards to maintenance. However, they still need to be checked at least once a month to see whether any debris and dust has formed. Clean everything, including the base of the appliance and the glass door, to ensure it will keep working properly for a long time to come.
How to Install a Gas Fireplace Insert?
Once you’ve decided where you’ll put your new gas fireplace (in case you don’t have an old wood-burning fireplace to replace), it’s time to buy and install the appliance. If you’re not someone who knows how to install it, you’d better call a technician to deal with it, as it’s the only good and safe alternative.
First of all, make sure the propane or natural gas source is available and ready to attach to the gas fireplace insert. Afterward, let the technician take a look at the fireplace to see whether it has any problems, and its safe enough to proceed.
Make sure to place the fireplace on a platform in its final spot and make it so that it’s not too close to combustible materials. Make the installation of the exhaust piping that should be either at the back or the top of the appliance. Attach a good portion of it so you can see where you should make the hole through the wall.
Make the hole in the wall for the venting system and make it the size of the pass-through that came with your fireplace. It is what works to keep heat away from any combustible materials in the wall, which is why it’s so important, as there is no fire danger. Ensure there aren’t electrical lines in your way while making the hole. In the end, add lumber for framing the edges on the inside.
From inside the home, try to install the pass-through in the wall. Push it into the hole after you add caulk of high temperature on the hole’s surface. Screw it to stay in place at the end. The pipes that remain should be installed both inside and outside of the house, and then you should have a professional connect electricity to the gas line, so the fireplace becomes functional.
If you want, you can also build a nice frame around the fireplace as a lovely piece of décor. Don’t forget to take all safety measures, such as installing a good quality carbon monoxide detector before setting up the fireplace.
Types of Gas Fireplace Venting Options
You should know that installing a fireplace will most likely require you to install a vent option as well. The venting is required to get rid of the pollutants produced by the fire. Unlike the fireplaces that burn wood, gas-fuelled models do not produce any smoke or smell. However, their flames still produce some pollutants that should be discharged outdoors.
You can choose between installing a vented or a vent-free gas fireplace. The vented fireplace will discharge the pollutants outside your home. The vent-free fireplace does not have a vent option. Let’s take a look at the differences between these types of gas fireplace venting options;
Direct Vented Fireplaces
Directly vented fireplaces are relatively easy to install because they don’t need chimneys. Instead of a chimney, the fireplace uses one or two pipes to eliminate the pollutants. If a fireplace comes with two pipes, it will use one to draw air from outside and use it for the fireplace’s combustion. The second pipe is used to lead the pollutants outside your home. Vented fireplaces that use only one pipe draw the air it needs for the combustion from inside the room and eliminates the pollutants outside the house through the pipe. However, this system can work but it’s not very efficient.
Natural Vented Fireplaces
Naturally vented fireplaces are more difficult and expensive to install because they need a chimney. These models are difficult to install without the help of a professional, and they’re mostly preferred by those who already have a chimney built in their homes and wish to change the fireplace only. However, even if your house has a chimney, you might still have to reline its masonry to make sure that the pollutants will exit your house
Vent-free fireplaces do not produce dangerous pollutants, so they don’t need a ventilation system. One of the benefits of using such a model is that you can install it anywhere you want as long as you can access the gas source. Since you don’t have to connect it to a vent, you don’t even need to place the fireplace next to a wall. These models draw the air they need for combustion from the room. They are usually more efficient than the other models, so all the heat they produce is spread throughout the room, instead of some being lost in the ventilation. Some models have an efficiency rating of 99%.
What Is A Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Insert?
Direct vent gas fireplace inserts are some of the most popular models nowadays. Unlike traditional fireplaces, these models don’t need a chimney to work. Instead of a chimney, these models come with one or two pipes that lead outside. These pipes take all the gasses produced by the flames and eliminate them outside the house.
Direct vent gas fireplaces are easy to install. They do not need chimneys, but they also don’t need any masonry or a foundation for the installation. You just have to choose an empty wall, connect the pipes to the exterior, connect the insert to the pipes, and you’re all set.
How Does A Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Work?
The direct vent gas fireplaces have an easy operation mode. These units are connected to the exterior through one or two pipes. The models that use a single pipe draw air from the room to the combustion chamber where it needs it to fuel the flames and then it eliminates it through the pipe.
The models that come with two pipes use one to draw air from the outside to the firebox and fuel the fire and then eliminate it through the other pipe. These models are more efficient than the ones that use a single pipe, and less of the heat they produce is wasted.
How Efficient are Gas Fireplaces?
Gas fireplaces are more energy-efficient heaters than wooden ones. A fireplace that uses wood as a fuel usually has a heat output of up to 30%, which means that up to 70% of the fuel is wasted. On the other hand, gas fireplaces have a heat output of 70% or more. Some models can even reach 99%.
You may also like our reviews on the best electric fireplaces.
1. Are fumes from gas fireplace harmful?
Normally, gas fireplaces are less polluting compared to wood-burning stoves. They are much cleaner, but they can still pollute the indoor air if it’s not properly installed, or if there’s not enough ventilation.
The problem would be if carbon monoxide is released into the air – the same can be said about nitrogen dioxide. The latter is a gas with a distinct odor, which may cause irritation of the throat and nose, as well as the eyes. It can be harmful as it can lead to a series of lung problems, such as bronchitis. The former can also be poisonous as it may cause you to feel dizzy, vomit, feel fatigued, and, in the worst-case scenario, one could even die from prolonged exposure.
If you are happy with your wood-burning stove, check out our fireplace grate reviews or our list of the best wood stove fans.
2. Can I add a blower to my gas fireplace?
Yes, you can add a blower to your gas fireplace. A lot of these appliances come with louvers on the front side, where you can easily add a blower. Not only are they easy to install, but they can also make the gas fireplace insert more efficient. Hot air will be blown into your room in a better way. So, blowers are more than welcome when you own such an appliance.
3. Does a gas fireplace insert need electricity?
It doesn’t really need electricity, because it will make electricity itself. The gas fireplace usually has a thermopile added into the pilot light that creates electricity in order to operate the gas valve. So, there’s no need for outside electricity as the fireplace performs without using it and works by using the gas source.
Electricity will be needed only if the fireplace has an operating fan. The good thing is that even if you’re experiencing a power outage in your house, you can still maintain the warmth as it won’t turn off.
If you’re looking for the best gas fireplace in your home, you should start by measuring the ideal location for it to make sure it will fit. As you could see in our gas fireplace insert reviews, every model has its own design and dimensions. Some models have to be placed next to a wall, while others can be placed in the middle of the room, or even outside. If you want to use a fireplace to warm up your entire home, the best approach would be to determine where to place the unit so it will spread the warmth evenly throughout the house.
Once you install a gas fireplace, you’ll have no problems using it. These models are easy to use, and most come with intuitive remote controls that give you the opportunity to change all of their settings without getting off the couch.
If you liked our reviews, you may want to read our reviews on the best oil-filled heaters, too.