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    What to Know When Buying Gas Logs

    When we asked some eFireplaceStore.com customers recently what their most pressing concerns were when presented with the process of 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 exactly what you've found! Without further delay, then, let's get started.

    Natural Gas or Liquid Propane?

    This part of 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 commonly used with almost all gas logs: natural gas and 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

    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

    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 require some means of venting the combustion by-products and exhaust resulting from the burning of any kind of fuel, and 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

    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

    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

    Approaching his 10-year work anniversary, Collin is one of our National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified technicians and content manager for the eFireplacestore, eCanopy, and EliteDeals brands. He is a Master Hearth Professional, which means he is certified in all three hearth appliance fields — wood, gas and pellet.

    When not at work, he spends time with his wife, Lindsey, and his sons, Samuel and Eli, on their ranch enjoying their many animals. Completing projects around the ranch and spending quality time with his family are among his greatest joys. 

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    Questions About This Article

    All customer questions are answered by our NFI Certified Specialists free of charge!
    4 Questions & 4 Answers
    Jo
    from Springfield, MO asked:
    July 9, 2019
    Can I use Peterson vented gas logs with different previously installed burner system?


    1 Answer
    Because our log sets are only approved for specific burners, you would need to install a Peterson log set only on a Peterson burner. 
    Submitted by: Brennan W. on July 9, 2019

    Joel C
    from Alabaster. Al asked:
    June 21, 2019
    I have wood burning fireplace with a working flue which can be opened or closed, I want to install vent free gas logs. Are there any special steps that need to be taken to keep the heat from going up the chimney?
    1 Answer
    You should thoroughly clean the interior of the fireplace opening prior to installing a ventless system, but closing the damper should prevent excessive heat loss. 
    Submitted by: Will M. on June 24, 2019

    Dennis G
    from Northville MI asked:
    May 24, 2019
    Does the ventless gas logs come with a grate?
    1 Answer
    If you buy a Vent free log SET, and not the logs only, it would come with the grate and burner as well, Yes
    Submitted by: Owen O. on May 24, 2019

    Gerald S
    from Hogansburg, NY asked:
    May 23, 2019
    I can not seem to find a gas log to fit my fireplace.  Front Width is 24", Back Width is 16" and depth is 14".  When I do a calculator it states that there are no logs available.  Would a 16" ventless log be appropriate?
    1 Answer
    We actually have a 20" ventless gas log set that will fit in your fireplace.  This is the <a href="https://www.realfyre.com/gas-fireplace-products/vent-free-collection/valley-oak-series-g-8/">Real Fyre Valley Oak Ventless Gas Logs</a>.
    Submitted by: Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional on May 23, 2019

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