As with any fireplace, you'll need to make sure the model you choose is safe for the space you wish to install. Plan out the installation ahead of time and check that the fireplace is approved for your home. (Rules and restrictions vary depending on where you live, so check your local codes.) The goal is to avoid the 5 Biggest Mistakes Made When Purchasing a Fireplace. And if you're planning on installing the unit yourself, we strongly urge you to read our Ultimate DIY Guide written by expert installers.
Measuring a wall with a tape measure
Vent-free gas models have space and elevation restrictions to protect oxygen supply and air quality. Vent-free gas fireplaces burn so efficiently that the minimal byproduct is vented directly into the room and room air is used to supply the flames.
As long as you have enough space and ventilation, this minimal exhaust is hardly noticeable. However, people with air-sensitivities like asthma or bronchitis may want to steer clear of these models.
In general, the elevation restrictions apply to elevations higher than 4,500 feet above sea level. The space restrictions usually pertain to areas less than 50 cubic feet. As a rule of thumb, take the area of the room (width x length x height) and multiply by 20. The resulting number is the approximate BTU limit for a vent-free fireplace in that space. For example 50 cubic feet x 20 = 1,000. This gives you a guideline of no more than 1,000 BTUs for the 50 cubic foot room.
Before you purchase a vent-free gas appliance, check that they are allowed by your state or local authorities. Some areas restrict or completely ban vent-free gas fireplaces.
If you're interested in installing a new gas fireplace (either vented or vent-free), hire a plumber to inspect the desired location. If a new gas line needs to be run, it's nice to have a quote for what the new line would cost before committing to the project.
Types of See-Through Peninsula Fireplaces
See through fireplaces are categorized by fuel options and vent systems. The fuel can be wood, gas, ethanol, or electricity. The venting system depends on the fuel used and comes in b-vent, direct vent, chimney, and vent-free models. Once you decide where you want to put the fireplace, you can choose fuel and vent options that suit the location.
B-vent units use vertical vent pipe similar to wood stove venting. These models score high from an aesthetic perspective. The vertical outdoor vent allows for excellent flame quality. The smaller vent size also makes for a relatively simple installation.
Superior direct vent see through gas fireplace
The main drawback is the lack of heating efficiency. Although they offer cozy radiant heat (meaning the seat next to the fire is warm), the overall heating capability is less than direct-vent models. They also require vertical venting through the roof (which could be a hassle) and are limited to indoor use only.
Direct vent units are the reigning monarchs when it comes to popularity, heating efficiency, and versatility. The units are completely sealed and all of the air exchange happens through the special vent pipe. The design is efficient enough to provide substantial heat. It also offers pristine air quality since none of the room air is used for combustion.
Superior direct vent see-through peninsula gas fireplace
Unlike b-vent, a direct vent can be routed both horizontally and vertically. This makes it easier to plan around existing structures in the house. They come in a range of styles and many models are suitable for bedrooms, bathrooms, and mobile homes.
The downsides are that direct-vent models are more expensive to install than vent-free units. They are also so good at heating that it's possible to overheat a small room. Pay attention to BTU recommendations and go for low BTU models if you live in a warm climate.
Vent-Free Gas Models
Vent-free models are by far the easiest to install. As the name implies, they don't require you to route any venting. As a result, the installation possibilities are nearly endless. They also come in multiple fuel options. Choose from gas (natural or propane), electric, or ethanol.
Napoleon High-Definition See-Through Gas Fireplace
Gas-fueled vent-free fireplaces offer heat and flames without the hassle of a vent. Instead, they burn fuel so efficiently that they can safely vent directly into the room. This also adds a little moisture to the air to help counteract the effects of dry heat.
The gas models are subject to some regulations and restrictions. Check out the section above on "What You Should Know Before You Buy" for a summary of the common restrictions. You can also go here for more in-depth information about vent-free fireplaces.
Electric models are the most versatile option and the only requirement is an adequate electrical source. Usually, this requires a dedicated 120-volt or 240-volt circuit. As long as they are protected from water, the electric models are suitable for almost any installation imaginable. Some units even have special weather-proofing for outdoor use.
Napoleon Electric See-Through Fireplace
In addition to the versatility, electric fireplaces come with lots of tech options. Many models allow you to adjust the lighting, color, flame height and heat settings with the push of a button (or even from your phone!) The optional heating element functions as a space heater - adding a little extra warmth, but not enough to provide substantial heat to the home.
The main complaint when it comes to electric fireplaces is flame quality. After all, the flames aren't "real" flames. But, visual technology has come a long way since the early days of painfully fake yellow flames. Check out the selection of what's available before you discount the visual quality!
Vent-Free Ethanol Models
Ethanol models may be wall-mounted or free-standing. This makes them exceptionally easy to install (and also portable!) The ethanol fuel comes from renewable resources and burns cleanly without any odor or smoke particles. It's a nice way to enjoy real, vibrant flames and maintain pristine air quality.
The heat output is either a drawback or an advantage depending on your situation. Ethanol models have a low BTU output. This means they can be installed closer to combustible material and will not easily overwhelm a room with heat. On the other hand, if you need a supplemental heat source, ethanol models are not ideal.
Their fuel is also less common than gas or wood. However, there are still plenty of sources and you can also purchase fuel online.
Wood Burning Models
Traditional chimney-vented fireplaces have fewer multi-sided options, but they do provide the most authentic flames. Suitable for both indoors and outdoors, they are a great choice for homes with functional chimneys. The fireplaces burn wood fuel, but you can retrofit them with gas logs if you add a gas line.
Wood-burning see-through fireplace
The downsides to a charming wood fire are the lower heat efficiency and extra maintenance. Unlike gas or electric fireplaces, you'll need to build, light, and maintain each fire and clean up the ash afterward.
Bio Flame — Bio Flame pioneered the development of clean-burning ethanol fireplaces. They are the only ethanol fireplace manufacturer that is both UL and ULC certified (a rigorous third-party testing certification).
Napoleon — Napoleon traces its roots to a 1976 Ontario steel company. Through innovation and design, they have become a leader in the fireplace industry. Their products include a quality selection of gas and electric see-through fireplaces.
Superior — In addition to a wide range of fireplace products, Superior offers lovely multi-sided gas fireplaces. You can even select different fireplace liner options to complement your decor.
Kingsman — Back in 1983, the founder of Kingsman couldn't display his products at the Hearth Products Association show because gas models weren't yet allowed. Now that the innovation of gas fireplaces has taken the market by storm, Kingsman continues to manufacture high-quality gas appliances for your home.
Majestic — Started as a cast-iron furnace company in 1894, Majestic went on to pioneer innovative fireplace design (including the first zero-clearance fireplace in 1954). Today, they're well known for their durable, quality products. They have a selection of see-through fireplaces in both wood and gas fuel options.
Care and Maintenance
Care and maintenance routines vary depending on the type of fuel you use. Maintenance requirements range from the super low-key electric models to the more labor-intensive wood burning fireplaces. No matter what type you have, be sure to read all of the manual and manufacturer information so you know exactly how to care for your model.
Periodically dust the surface and fan components to keep dust from building up. On electric models, check the cable and outlet to make sure everything is intact. Ethanol models will need the fuel tray taken out and cleaned every 3 to 4 burns. Schedule a yearly inspection for gas models to make sure all the components are safe and functioning.
In addition to basic dusting, you'll also need to inspect the fuel and vent system. Hire a professional to do a yearly inspection of your gas fireplace. You can also check the termination of the vent pipe to make sure it has not been clogged or bent.
Damaged chimney cap
Wood burning fireplaces take the most effort when it comes to maintenance. Start by making sure your chimney is drafting properly. You'll also need a chimney cap or similar protection to prevent water and debris from falling down and damaging your fireplace. Burn only the recommended fuel to prevent releasing harmful fumes or causing buildup.
Follow the instructions for scooping out the ash after each use and periodically look up the chimney to check for buildup. We recommend hiring an inspection of the fireplace and chimney at the start of each burn season.
Most of the fireplaces mentioned in this article are large enough that they will ship via LTL freight. Only a handful of the smaller, lighter units (such as small electric fireplaces) will ship by normal parcel post. When your scheduled LTL shipment arrives, inspect for any damaged or missing pieces.
Do not sign off on the delivery if anything is amiss. Instead, contact the manufacturer immediately to report any issues.
Why enjoy a fireplace from just one side? Open up the viewing area and get the most out of those beautiful flames by investing in a see-through fireplace. With two (or even three) glass sides, these fireplace models make a striking design feature. And often for more than one room!
Ethanol peninsula fireplace
Once you know your desired location, you can narrow down the fuel and venting options that check all the boxes for your needs. If you happen to have any questions, please reach out! Our NFI Certified Technicians are happy to help!
Can an indoor-outdoor see-through fireplace be enjoyed without a glass front?
While we carry a few indoor/outdoor gas fireplaces, all would require a sealed glass front on the exterior. This front cannot be removed (service and operational access would be through the interior side).
Submitted by:Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional on February 1, 2023
I am replacing a single-sided old fireplace insert. The fireplace island crowds several rooms and I want to reduce the fireplace footprint. If we install the smaller two-sided fireplace, what would be the required minimum dimensions of the cabinet enclosing it?
We have a variety of see-thru/two-sided models with varying dimensions and clearance requirements. The information you are requesting can be found in the installation manual of any particular model's item page on our site.
Submitted by:Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional on January 4, 2022
What is the shallowest dual-sided fireplace offered? Looking for one to go between 2 interior walls that are not that thick from one room to another.
We do not have any two-sided fireplaces with a framing depth requirement less than about 23 inches. Obviously, as such, typically the enclosure needs to be built out into one or both rooms on either side of the fireplace.
Submitted by:Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional on January 14, 2021
Do you carry an electric see-thru fireplace that is less than 40 inches wide?
The Dimplex Opti-mist Pro 1000 and Pro 500 are the only electric fireplaces smaller than 40". These products are very unique and require a water line to be plumbed to the appliance to operate. The flame feature is created by steam and a light strip. This fireplace has an optional heater. However, the Napoleon Clearion is a good option but unfortunately is 50" wide.
We presently have a wood burning peninsula style fireplace. We would like to convert it to a propane with glass. Does it have to be vented or can it be vent free? Someone said there would be a safety issue.
For the unit you have you can use either vented or vent free. However, there can be certain local restriction (codes) that may not allow vent free logs in you town/city.
I'm designing a new home and would like a "see thru" fireplace between the great room and the master bedroom. Is it possible to have one way glass on both sides so you can't see through it in both rooms and enjoy the same fireplace?
That's a great idea. Unfortunately, though, such a thing does not currently exist on the market. Theoretically, you could install the fireplace and then source the one-way glass locally. But, you'd have to be sure and acquire glass that is tempered or ceramic in construction and able to withstand the heat of the fireplace.
We are making plans to build a new home. I am looking for a 2-sided fireplace that can be used in my family room on one side and allow access to it for use on my covered deck on the other side. Do you make such a fireplace?