Gas fireplaces are popular among homeowners for many reasons, most notably their convenience and low maintenance requirements. Gas fireplaces are easily ignited, don't require the collection or purchase of firewood, and can be readily installed in homes with or without existing fireplaces.

When looking for a gas fireplace, homeowners need to recognize there are a lot of options and features that differentiate the various models. There are no one-size-fits-all options available with gas fireplaces, so it is important to understand all of the considerations involved when it comes to purchasing a gas fireplace.

Below is more information about some of these variables and options and how they may impact your buying decision.

Ignition Method

One important consideration you should account for when making a decision about a gas fireplace is the ignition method. Broadly speaking, gas fireplaces may be ignited via a conventional pilot light, or they may utilize an electronic ignition system.

A conventional pilot light is a continuously burning flame that ignites the gas burners when signaled by users. Pilot lights are simple and reliable technology, but they must be kept burning continuously, and this involves the constant use of natural gas.

As an alternative, electronic ignition systems ignite the gas burners on command using a piezo spark. This system eliminates the need to maintain a constant pilot light, but there is a possibility of the piezo unit needing replacement from time to time.

Visual Design

Another consideration when selecting a gas fireplace is the visual design. This is usually a cosmetic consideration, as the specific design is a matter of taste more than anything else.

Gas fireplaces are designed to mimic brick in many cases, but they are also available in faux stone or other materials, depending on the homeowner's preference. In addition, a variety of internal components, such as grates and ceramic logs, are also available and may be chosen in a package or individually.

Fireplace Controls

A critical consideration for many homeowners is how their gas fireplaces will be controlled. Some simple units have fireplace-mounted controls that must be operated at the fireplace itself.

However, many other gas fireplaces are controlled using wall-mounted switches or remote controls. Within these categories, there are several sub-options available.

For example, some wall-mounted controls may have more than simple on/off functionality; instead, they are fitted with a thermostat that ignites and extinguishes the fireplace automatically. Other controls may allow for timer operation that lights the fireplace at convenient times.

Remote controls provide the ultimate in flexibility by allowing you to operate the controls while seated in front of the fireplace. Remote controls may also offer the same degree of functionality as wall-mounted controls, such as thermostats and timers.

Ventilation Features

A consideration when buying a gas fireplace is how to distribute the heated air. Some gas fireplaces exclusively utilize radiation, which is the transmission of heat directly from the fireplace to adjacent air.

This method of heat distribution may be adequate for some spaces, but the introduction of fans will greatly increase efficiency. Fans can be integrated into the controls of a fireplace so that functionality is centralized.

Venting Options

Even though a gas fireplace doesn't require a full chimney, it still requires proper venting for the purposes of safe and efficient operation. Venting method is another important consideration you should take into account when selecting a gas fireplace.

Direct-vent gas fireplaces utilize an external vent that pulls fresh combustion air and expels combustion products to the exterior. Direct-vent units are the most efficient in operation and eliminate combustion byproducts better than other types.

Due to their method of operation, direct-vent units do require exterior venting structures be added during installation. Homeowners with existing fireplaces and chimneys may be able to retrofit their gas units and utilize a variant of direct venting known as natural venting.

Vent-free gas fireplaces don't require any additional vents, as they are designed to pull clean combustion air into the fireplace from the interior space; they also dispose of combustion products in the same area. However, vent-free gas fireplaces can negatively affect indoor air quality if poorly designed, and some locales prohibit their use depending on building and environmental codes.

If you are considering the purchase and installation of a gas fireplace, then you need to contact Hartman Heating, Air and Fireplaces for help. They can provide expert advice plus install your fireplace the right way.