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What to Know When Buying Gas Logs

What to Know When Buying Gas Logs

When we asked some eFireplaceStore.com customers what their most pressing concerns were when selecting gas logs online, the results surprised us. We expected mostly technical questions, but what we heard were statements like "I don't know how to get started", "All of the gas logs look the same", and "I'm afraid that I'll choose the wrong gas logs and I won't be able to use them or they won't work right". After considering our customers' concerns, we decided the best approach was to provide a simple, straightforward walkthrough to take the guesswork out of the process of choosing the perfect gas logs. The good news is that if you're reading this, then that walkthrough is what you've found! Without further delay, let's get started.

Natural Gas or Liquid Propane?

Choosing gas logs for your home is fairly simple, and many customers already have a fuel source in mind when they begin shopping. For those who don't, however, let's take a look at the good and bad points of each fuel used with most gas logs: natural gas or liquid propane.

Natural Gas

Advantages:

  • Usually has a lower purchase price than propane gas logs
  • Lighter than air, dissipates into atmosphere after combustion
  • If your home already has appliances like a natural gas water heater or oven, natural gas logs will probably be an easy choice as your home is already set up for natural gas use
What to Know When Buying Gas Logs
natural gas line

Disadvantages:

  • Must be hard-piped to any appliance from buried gas service lines
  • Natural gas service is not available in some areas


Liquid Propane

Advantages:

  • Contains more carbon dioxide than natural gas and burns nearly three times hotter
  • Can be operated independently of natural gas lines or appliances
  • Can be used in areas where natural gas service is unavailable
What to Know When Buying Gas Logs
propane tank

Disadvantages:

  • Generally more expensive than natural gas logs
  • Usually requires installation of a dedicated tank outside of your home
  • Often requires contracting with a propane dealer to refill your tank

When deciding on which gas log fuel source is right for your home, remember this ? natural gas service is not available everywhere and neither natural gas nor liquid propane are practical in every situation. Gas logs are almost always installed by a plumber or contracted gas log professional, so contact your local natural gas service provider or a local propane dealer before you purchase any gas logs.

Vented Gas Logs vs. Ventless Gas Logs

Now that you've solved your fuel dilemma we can tackle the other major question: which gas logs make more sense in your home ? vented gas logs or ventless? Once again, this doesn't need to be as intimidating a question as it can sometimes seem, but you do need to have your facts straight before you make a decision.

The basic principle separating the two types of gas logs is that (not surprisingly) vented gas logs vent the exhaust resulting from the burning of any kind of fuel. Ventless or vent-free gas logs do not. In practical terms this means that lots of things (including some heat) go up the chimney or out the vent pipe when using vented gas logs, and almost everything (especially heat) is contained in the home when dealing with vent-free logs. Let's take another look to compare the two types:

Vented Gas Logs

Advantages:

  • Generally less expensive purchase cost compared to ventless logs
  • Ideal for homeowners seeking ambiance from their gas logs as opposed to heating capacity
  • Venting allows for a much higher yellow flame than vent-free logs, creating a more realistic-looking flame
  • Does not require a carbon monoxide (CO) detector
  • Since these logs must be operated with an open damper, whatever smell is produced goes up the chimney
What to Know When Buying Gas Logs
duluth forge vented gas logs

Disadvantages:

  • Provides significantly less heat than ventless gas logs (probably won't fully heat most rooms)
  • Usually uses slightly more fuel than vent-free logs
  • Requires a chimney or other venting system


Ventless (Vent-free) Gas Logs

Advantages:

  • Much better heat output than vented gas logs, vent-free gas logs are much more suitable for heating a room or home than vented logs
  • Because the fuel must burn almost completely in ventless gas logs, they produce less pollution
  • Slightly less fuel consumption than vented logs
  • No requirements for venting and can be used in a fireplace or in a self-contained cabinet
What to Know When Buying Gas Logs
empire ventless birch gas logs

Disadvantages:

  • Burning fuel cleanly produces moisture, so ventless gas logs introduce some moisture into the home's atmosphere
  • Burning vent-free gas logs gradually depletes the oxygen in the area, so burning them for long periods of time requires cracking a window, allowing in oxygen and some cold air that can offset some heating benefits
  • Illegal in California and some municipalities, so check your local regulations.
  • Require an ODS (Oxygen depletion system) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector in the home
  • Smaller, less realistic blue flame compared to vented gas logs
  • Can produce a slight odor most people compare to burning kerosene (although many customers report enjoying the light odor)

As you can see, there are positive and negative aspects to both vented and ventless (vent-free) gas logs. Every home and every homeowner has different requirements. Bear in mind that there are legal requirements involved with either type of gas logs in many municipalities, so check with your local gas and housing authorities before purchasing. After that, though, the above information should give you a good indication as to where to begin when choosing the right gas logs for you.

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.

Customer Q&A with Product Specialists

Jeanne R. from Kans city asked:
Can I throw a real log on top?
Can I throw a real log on top?
No, wood logs should never be added to a gas log set.
Answered by: Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional

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Bobbie P. from Muskegon MI asked:
I have a gas log fireplace now with a chimney. What do I need to do to change this to a vent-free set?
I have a gas log fireplace now with a chimney. What do I need to do to change this to a vent-free set?
A professional inspection of the current fireplace should be performed, and an evaluation done to determine if a vent-free log set can be installed into your current appliance.
Answered by: Aaron D.

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P.l. D. from Florida & Alabama (Have same in both houses) asked:
Are there any vent free gas logs that do not produce any heat?
Are there any vent free gas logs that do not produce any heat?
No, vent free gas logs of any nature will always produce some form of heat. The only such item that could potentially not create heat are electric log sets. Electric log sets are designed to not produce real fire but rather a simulation of fire.
Answered by: Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional

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Rick F. from San Jose, CA asked:
Are vented gas log sets rated for heat output? Where can I find the heat output rating on different manufacturers? Are there better heat output-rated manufacturers?
Are vented gas log sets rated for heat output? Where can I find the heat output rating on different manufacturers? Are there better heat output-rated manufacturers?
Vented gas log sets are primarily decorative and are not designed to provide supplemental heat. Whatever the BTU rating, the vast majority of the heat generated will escape straight up the flue in the fireplace. 
Answered by: Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional

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