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B-Vent Fireplaces Buyer's Guide

B-Vent Fireplaces Buyer's Guide

B vent fireplaces are one of the more misunderstood gas fireplaces in the market. They look similar to traditional wood fireplace in their design though, their venting & burner systems do not allow for wood burning. B vent fireplaces have an open firebox, typically a U-shaped burner and can be fueled by natural or propane gas.

While it might seem strange, a B vent fireplace, similar to a wood burning fireplace, is not designed to primarily be used as a source of heat. Its main function is decor and aesthetics. This is due in part to the open front firebox that has very low efficiency and releases most of the heat through the chimney.

B-Vent Fireplaces

So, the main thing a B vent fireplace has going for it is the similarity to the look of a real wood burning fireplace. Many people want to enjoy sitting beside roaring flames while avoiding the hassle of cutting, stacking, and burning real wood. If that is the case for you, continue reading. A B vent gas fireplace may be right for you.

Types Of B Vent Fireplaces

While the appearance of a real wood fireplace may draw you towards a B vent model, you need to be aware that their style options are much more limited than an electric or direct vent fireplace. B vent fireplaces are typically square in design and do not come in linear or see-through styles like other gas fireplaces. They typically do not offer customizable location options like a peninsula, island or corner installation either.

B-Vent Fireplaces
Peninsula and Linear Fireplaces

While B vents may not have all the varieties of other indoor fireplaces, you can get them anywhere between 32 to 42 inches wide. And... wait for it... there are even a few models with smaller or larger openings. So, by George, there is hope for the B vent after all.

Empire is a long-standing manufacturer of B vent fireplaces. No one sells a more quality version of this product, which is why so many of their B vent fireplaces are best sellers on our site. So, if after all this talk of limited styling options, you decide you still may want a propane or natural gas fireplace, Empire has you covered.

Homes B Vents Are Best And Worst For

Now that we covered the styling and location options, we also need to discuss what types of homes B vent is best and least suited for. So, let's start with the places it is best for first.

If you live in a warmer climate and still want to enjoy the look of a traditional fireplace, B vent may be a great option for you. The inefficiency of a B vent fireplace turns into a strength when you install it in an area with higher temperatures. It allows people who normally wouldn't get to enjoy a fireplace, the opportunity to do so without getting overheated. Many people who live in tropical areas, install B vents for decoration versus actual heating abilities.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are people who live in colder climates or in homes that are heavily insulated for energy efficiency. If you have ever had a traditional wood fireplace, you will know it only heats the immediate area around it through radiant heat. Most of the heat is lost up the vent.

A B vent fireplace operates nearly the same and unfortunately isn't good for heating homes that need a fireplace for supplemental heat. Also, if your home is heavily insulated, that can work against the design of a B vent fireplace.

B-Vent Fireplaces
double pane glass

Gas fireplaces with a B vent system draw air from inside the home for combustion. When a home is heavily insulated, it reduces the spaces between windows and doors for outside air to sneak in and help oxygenate the fireplace.

When that happens, if the fire is burning and doesn't have enough oxygen to continue, it will pull air backward through the vent to try to even itself out. Pulling air back down the vent will also pull flue gases back into your home. So, having a wood burning fireplace or B vent fireplace is not a good option for heavily insulated homes.


When installing a B vent fireplace, they can be built into a wall with conventional framing lumber, similar to how a vent-free or direct vent fireplace will be framed. Because they have a smaller diameter vent pipe, you have flexibility in the installation that will help you maneuver around other lumber in the building framework.

Also, offsets or elbows can help redirect vent pipe to work around obstructions in the path of your venting system. Thankfully, B vent pipe is pretty low cost. Since you can not vent it horizontally, you will end up using more pipe than you would with a direct vent system. So, the lower-cost pipe does help out in the long run.

B-Vent Fireplaces
framing a fireplace

For some homes, you may have to route the vent pipe along the exterior of the home and cover it in a decorative chimney chase. Routing vent pipe can be one of the most complicated parts of installing a fireplace. Sometimes it can become a jig saw of elbows and tees, though an experienced technician will know how to handle each individual case.

The two things that are the same across the board are gas lines and electrical installation. These stay consistent for B vent, vent free and direct vent fireplaces. Installing gas lines is a bit technical and can be complicated if you don't understand what pipes and fixtures to attach to make the line connect how you need it to.

This is not a part of the installation we recommend you try to do yourself. Even if you are an experienced DIY'er, messing up the gas line can have dangerous consequences, so you should always leave that to a professional.


Talking about accessories is one of the more fun topics when discussing B vent fireplaces. While their shape and location may be limited, there is a variety of ways to customize the appliance and make it your own.

B-Vent Fireplaces
standing pilot ignition system

Most B vents come with a traditional U-shaped burner to fit within the square firebox. You can choose from an IPI (or intermittent) pilot system and standing pilot ( or millivolt) pilot system. The choice depends largely on whether you want/need your pilot light to continuously stay on.

Its suggested that people in colder areas have a standing pilot so the burner system stays warm and doesn't experience a cold start issue when temps are low. If you don't use the fireplace often and have chosen it more for aesthetics, you could choose an IPI system that turns the pilot light off after every use.

B-Vent Fireplaces
Pro Flame Remote

Another fun option to consider is a remote start. Many gas fireplaces come with "remote ready" capabilities that allow you to turn the fireplace off and on with the click of a button. In addition to the customizable ignition system, you can pick from several types of decorative liners that go along the walls of the firebox.

Some are made to look like aged brick and complete the traditional wood fireplace aesthetic. Others are made in white, tan or grey herringbone patterns and can lean a bit more modern in appearance. Either way, you have plenty of accessories that can elevate the look of your fireplace and ensure you enjoy it for years to come.

Care & Maintenance

Some gas fireplaces are easier to care for than others. Since B vent fireplaces have an open front, dust and gunk from the room can enter into the pilot assembly and burner system. Yearly maintenance of the appliance is recommended. You will need to remove the gas log set, grates and any faux embers that were added for effect. Once everything has been removed, blow out the burner pan and pilot tube with compressed air.

B-Vent Fireplaces
cleaning a gas fireplace

B vent systems are equipped with high-temperature limit switches that shut down the unit if there is a blockage in the vent pipe. So, you won't need to do regular checkups to prevent that. Just look over the termination or chimney cap to make sure it is in good condition and that will be enough.


B vent fireplaces are large enough that they will be shipped via freight carrier and arrive on a pallet. When shipped by freight the carrier will arrange a delivery date and time with you when they receive your contact information. Be aware that these appliances are very heavy and will need two people to move them from the drop-off point to your house.

The driver is not responsible for and will not be a part of relocating the item to where it will stay in your home. When your fireplace arrives, no matter what the driver says, take time to unwrap and inspect the condition of the item before you sign the delivery receipt and allow him to leave.

B-Vent Fireplaces
freight delivery

If there is noticeable damage, you can take pictures for your records, make notes on the delivery receipt, then refuse the shipment and sign.

If you do not take the time to look for damages before the driver leaves and you sign the delivery receipt without noting its poor condition, you will have a very hard time winning a warranty claim against the carrier. It is your job to make sure the freight is received in the proper condition or refused immediately.

If you have any questions about the delivery, installation or buying process, please don't hesitate to call us at 800.203.1642. We have NFI certified technicians waiting to talk to you and guide you every step of the way.

About the Author

Collin Champagne

With over 13 years in the industry, Collin is a National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified technician and managed content for the eFireplacestore and eCanopy brands. He has achieved the highest NFI certification possible as a Master Hearth Professional and is certified in all three hearth appliance fields: wood, gas, and pellet. With experience with sales and in-field installations, his expertise shines through his technical knowledge and way with words.

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