Having a fireplace without a chimney used to be impossible but not anymore. The best gas fireplace inserts require only a place to be built-in and you are all set. Even vented units can have their piping going out through other areas and not the chimney if you don’t have one.
These options also include gas log sets which are the simplest but very effective forms of gas fireplaces. Make sure you become familiar with all this by reading our guide below. Our crew has taken the time to review the finest products available to purchase right now. We will help you weigh in all the pros and cons of every unit and will also draw some comparisons.
See our reviews, handpicked items, and don’t ever forget to pay attention to safety. Using gas for heating at home has a number of details but we have laid it all out for you! Enjoy!
Best Gas Fireplace Inserts Comparison Chart
Emberside Sure Heat Mountain Oak Dual Burner
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Napoleon Grandville VF Series Vent Free Natural Gas Fireplace
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Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Vent Free Fireplace
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Emberside Sure Heat Vented Gas Log Set
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Peterson Real Fyre Live Oak Log Set
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Empire Tahoe Deluxe Millivolt Fireplace
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Best Gas Fireplace Inserts (New List)
1. Emberside Sure Heat Mountain Oak Dual Burner
The most convenient gas fireplace insert doesn’t even need an actual fireplace. This one will simulate actual logs while giving you perfectly clean vent free heat. The U-shaped burner will distribute flames equally and it will also make them move realistically. Since there is no firebox or anything like it, you will enjoy an incredible 99% efficiency. The whole length of the set is 24 inches. This makes the product quite universal for any fireplace. You also have complete control over the valve system. The ignition is exceptionally simple and happens with the push of a button. The maximum BTUs that you will get is between 34 000 and 40 000. This is a good number as you will able to heat about 1300 square feet with the unit. It can also be connected to an external propane tank but you have to make sure this is done according to all standards and regulations.
2. Napoleon Grandville VF Series Vent Free Natural Gas Fireplace
There is a very good chance that this is the best value for money natural gas fireplace insert that you will encounter. It is a pricey product but definitely brings you everything you want from a cozy fireplace without extra hassle. The Napoleon Grandville Natural Gas Fireplace comes with a millivolt remote control, has a fireplace screen, a hood, and even adjustable heat control. Among other options, you can select to have a fan but it is purchased separately. It is also a completely vent free installation which requires no exhaust vent. Oxygen depletion is a problem in that case, but the unit is equipped with its own safety detector. The fireplace will automatically shut off in case oxygen levels drop too much. In the actual firebox, you will find a steel frame and Phazer logs. The area you can hope to cover with this unit is about 1200 square feet.
3. Duluth Forge Dual Fuel Vent Free Fireplace
This is a very classical looking fireplace and it will definitely bring you a typical feel of a fireplace. It comes with a beautiful mantel with an autumn spice finish. While the looks of the unit are fantastic, the functionality is also quite impressive. You can run the fireplace on two types of fuels. Choose between propane and natural gas. The decorative fiber logs in the fireplace are hand-painted. There is also temperature control for your own peace of mind. On the downside, no hose and other connectivity mechanisms are included in the set. A blower fan will also need to be purchased separately. However, there is a built-in fireguard and it is in the form of two little doors. You can expect to get 32 000 BTU and to heat up an area of about 1500 square feet. You also have complete control over the level of the flame.
4. Emberside Sure Heat Vented Gas Log Set
This set of logs is of the highest quality as the product is not ceramic, or plastic, or anything like that. The decorative logs are actually made of cement and they are very durable. It is a vented product meaning that you shouldn’t trap the logs inside an area with a small chimney. Make sure the fireplace you are using is well vented. The flue has to be open and fully functional. Don’t expect to have a remote control too. You can custom add it to the set but it has to be done by a third party supplier and will cost too much to bother. The amount of BTU you will be able to get is 50 000. The efficiency ratings here are not out of this world because it is just 12%. You do not need a full-blown house installation in order to fuel the unit. Any type of hose with a regulator and a tank will do just fine.
5. Peterson Real Fyre Live Oak Log Set
This is a 100% natural gas unit and it should be used as such. Your fireplace needs to be properly vented. The Peterson Real Fyre Log Set comes with a metal frame and that’s also the tube for the gas. The logs are painted professionally by hand and you will also notice dark shades on them in order to enhance realism. The material of the logs is ceramic meaning they will be able to last a very long time. Additionally, the 6-log set will give you residual heat after you turn the burner off. At maximum power, the unit will produce about 75 000 BTU. Installation is not hard as you can simply insert this 24-inch unit inside your existing fireplace. The gas connection can be tricky so you should get a professional to do it. The best part is that connecting the burner is optional but why would you need just the logs?
6. Empire Tahoe Deluxe Millivolt Fireplace
This next fireplace insert is a top quality model. It is a completely closed system with only one flue vent hole on top. The unit will not give you huge trouble when you connect it as long as the flue and the chimney are on top. You can also have a rear-end venting although it might not be worth the hassle. The fireplace insert works on propane and will give you 20 000 BTU at maximum. The size of the unit is also impressive and you will need a fireplace that has at least 16.5 inches of depth. The opening of the firebox has to stand at 37 x 35.5 inches. No remote control is included but this is rather usual for such propane fireplace inserts. There is also a fan to assist in blowing the heat around but this purchase can easily be made separately.
The Technology behind Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Inserts
Giving up the idea of a wood-burning fireplace isn’t common to some people. But when you look up the numbers concerning efficiency, you will quickly fold and come to terms that a gas fireplace insert is likely the way to go. If you are still unsure, then you need to understand exactly how gas fireplace inserts work.
These appliances are fireplaces, typically made out of some sort of metal, that slide into the existing opening in the wall. They also have their own flue system along with exhaust. The infrastructure of the house is used in that case. The flue will usually go up the chimney and will lead out.
This is the moment where it is important to check out some gas fireplace consumer reports so that you can become familiar with certain detail. The vent might be placed on top of the unit but it can also go through the back. This is pretty important because if you only have a chimney going up, you might not be able to lead the flue there.
On the other hand, if your fireplace opening is deep enough to accommodate both the unit and the flue, the pipe might actually be able to go behind the back of the fireplace and then all the way up the chimney. Some units come with the option to decide whether you want an on-top or a rear-end venting but they might be hard to come by.
In any way, the flue system will be a lot smaller. All the direct vent gas fireplace reviews will show you that these systems are way more efficient than classic fireplaces. You don’t have a huge gulf of smoke going up the chimney. So the flue goes up the existing chimney and is then sealed and capped off at the top of the roof. That’s where the damper is located.
Running gas to the fireplace is a must but electricity should be run as well. This is needed because the most efficient direct vent gas fireplaces might also have fans.
The best part is that the mechanism allows your unit to preserve all the hot air and sort of bringing it to you. The fireplace will “control” the air by bringing in just as much oxygen needed for combustion. The unit is completely sealed and there’s also usually a glass panel on the front. This will prevent cold air from coming in when the fireplace is not in use. There are typically 3 sizes:
Depending on the size of the room, getting a certain type of fireplace is in order. Measuring is also important so that all the gas and electric connections can be figured out. In general, you are looking at about 78% to 85% efficiency when you get one of the nicest gas fireplace inserts brands. Having a remote control is a luxury but it will really make a difference when it comes to the price.
Comparison to a Classic Fireplace
So you already have a fireplace at home. Why would you spend a 4-digit sum on an appliance which gets built-in the hole that you already have? Well, since we all have our particular needs it is better to find out for ourselves what exactly fireplace vs fireplace inserts mean. There’s no point in providing any more context as to why a gas stove insert for a fireplace is the way to go. Here are the main focal points of our comparison:
- No tending is required
Keeping the fire going steadily when using wood is something that requires some experience. With gas stove inserts even a child can control the intensity of the flames. The gas will flow steadily and regularly all the time until the tank is empty. The level of oxygen, cold drafts, and other similar things will not affect your fire. Also, logs will not burn away thus requiring even more attention.
- Hard fuel is not on your list
Speaking of logs, that’s something you don’t have to care about at all. You won’t have to cut, chop, and sort and pieces of wood when you opt for a gas fireplace insert. Hauling, arranging and seasoning the logs is also a very unpleasant activity. Keep in mind that logs need to be very dry and this typically requires them to stay somewhere for at least 6 months. All you will have to do is replace one propane tank with another.
- Starting and putting off a fire is easy
No need to pile up pieces of paper, think about timber or any other necessities which come into play when you start an old-fashioned fire. In our case, everything happens at the push of a button. Gas fireplace inserts usually have a Piezo ignition which means you are starting the fire without any hassle.
- It’s clean
This might be one of the biggest blessings of gas fireplace inserts. With the exception of the annual inspection of the system, you have no other cleaning duties. Not only fireplaces but even the finest wood burning stoves will give you plenty to clean. You will have obligations related to taking the tray out after every use. Additionally, you will need to think about soot in the chimney. Fireplaces require an impeccable flue and piping system so you need to clean messy areas often.
- Specific temperature isn’t an issue
When looking to maintain a certain value on the thermometer you simply need to adjust the thermostat. When you use real gas logs, you need to manually control the burning. It is also known that raging hot fires are not very efficient. Unfortunately, people often have little control over the strength of the fire when using logs.
- Efficiency is off the charts
Because the chimney is pretty wide and completely open, cold air will constantly make its way in when the fireplace isn’t working. On the other hand, this very chimney will also allow much of the “good” heat to escape through it. Gas fire inserts for existing fireplaces will trap the hot air in the room and will not be able to escape through the narrow flue system. Ventless inserts are even more productive giving you more than 70% efficiency. The good old fireplace which makes you feel cozy and makes reading a book in front of it a delight will provide you with only 15%-18% of efficiency.
- Place it in other rooms if you wish
Yes, an opening is required but you can still have a gas fireplace insert with a blower in any room you wish. This includes the bathroom as well. Since there is no smoke, no fumes, and no pollution, you can have this appliance in the most delicate premises. Even a basement is an option.
- Presence of a fireguard or glass doors
You will need to buy a fireplace cast iron screen separately when using a classic fireplace. In the instance where you get a gas insert, there will for sure be some sort of a built-in screen. It typically comes in the form of sealed glass doors. They aren’t only stylish but are exceptionally useful and functional. The doors will never get too hot to touch. This way children and pets will not be in danger of being burned. The doors will also prevent hot air from escaping the room and will stop any cool draft from entering through the venting system. We already cleared that up above.
Comparison to Electric Fireplaces
In all fairness, the most distinguished electric fireplaces on the market today have a ton of advantages. What do they have?
- Space-saving – they aren’t bulky and you have 3 main ways of installing them. An electric fireplace can be freestanding, wall-mounted, and recessed.
- They are safer – you got no hoses and no combustible fuel here. Electric fireplaces are basically space heaters.
- There are plenty of perks – an electric fireplace typically comes with a LED display, remote control, timer function, and many other cool features.
- The presence of decorative animation – you can have your flames in a number of available colors. Many units also allow you to control the visual intensity of the flames
But we can’t dismiss all the great qualities of a gas fireplace insert, can we? With them, we get outstanding efficiency as the warmth is really abundant. No electric heating appliance can beat one that uses propane or liquid gas when it comes to BTU. Furthermore, electricity will end up costing more in the long term.
The room will also get heated quickly when using something on fuel. Most of the available electric heating and cooling devices will require some more time in order for their effect to be felt. Convection heaters, as well as forced-air heaters, cannot give you robust and instant heat. This is definitely a great trait of all gas stoves.
Drawing the Line Between Vented and Vent-free Gas Logs
We simply need to address the most important difference between gas logs because they are an essential part of our guide. You already know that these products are a popular solution which substitutes a full-sized gas fireplace insert. In this case, you insert only a set of logs.
So how do we tell the vented from the vent-free log set? Let’s begin by talking about the 1st group and then we will draw out conclusions.
There is one almost a 100% sure sign that you are looking at a vented gas log set even without knowing the actual connections and constructions. Look at the flames. If they look exceptionally realistic meaning that they wiggle around the logs and dance between them and burn through them, then this is a vented set.
This means that the unit requires a constantly opened damper and a very good flue system. There is barely any difference between this product and a usual vented gas fireplace insert. You will still require an exhaust pipe as well as an intake one.
A downside here is that these log sets rarely come with any type of glass doors. You will need a pair of these, however, if you want to prevent any cool air from invading your premises. You also want to stop the hot one from escaping through the flue.
These beautiful logs will give you exceptional flames – big blue ones, orange ones, you name it. The main reason to purchase one of these sets is aesthetics. Even though they are gas-fueled, they will not give you very much efficiency. They produce radiant heat meaning that you will feel warmth only if you sit tightly in front of them, reading a book or sipping on something delicious.
These products people get in order to heat a room entirely. They do not depend on power outages and will give you efficiency ratings through the roof. So let’s start by looking at the flames again. Here the gas-fueled fire cannot interact with the artificial logs. This leads to the fire looking a little bit unnatural and not especially realistic.
Vent-free sets usually launch the flames through posts also known as cutouts. They are right between the logs. You will encounter 2-post sets and 3-post sets. The former might give you just a bit more realism. These products will usually include a variable remote which will let you adjust the height of the flames. This will also play a role in how much heat you get in the room – larger flames, hotter room. Isn’t that nice little trick about how to get more heat from a gas fireplace?
Now let’s talk about the effectiveness and functionality of vent-free logs. They are significantly easier to install as there is no vent system. All the heat will remain in the room meaning that the unit will give you something close to 90% efficiency. There are two important points here, though.
First of all, this type of heating runs the risk of oxygen depletion. If the unit doesn’t come with a detector, you should definitely get one. What’s good is that those ventless gas logs usually have a pilot light. In case it goes out, the whole unit will automatically shut down. This type of safety system has been used for more than 50 years and with great success.
Next, since we aren’t talking about the radiant heat here, all the warm air will automatically ascend towards the ceiling. The way the heating process here works is very similar to convection units. It is best if you combine your vent-free log set with a top quality stove fan. It will distribute the heat evenly around the room and will prevent the warm air from evaporating through the ceiling. In fact, an overhead ceiling fan is also an option here.
In short, here’s what we get from each model:
- Beautiful, realistic flames
- Require a vent system
- Should have doors
- Radiant heat – can be felt in front
- Hard to warm a whole room
- Logs do not “burn” – unrealistic flames
- No need for a chimney or any vent system
- Will heat up a whole room easily
- More dangerous – may deplete oxygen in the room
- Work better with a fan
Installing Your Vented Gas Fireplace
We aren’t going to waste any more time talking about direct vent gas fireplace ratings or how they work. So we will cut to the chase. You need to have two lines inside your fireplace prior to putting the insert in there – a gas one and an electric one.
Running the vent lines is the next step and this means that you will have to venture to the rooftop. Once you are in the chimney, see how many flues you have. If there’s an uncovered one, then this is for the heating boiler. The one with the damper is for your fireplace. Well, now you will need to get rid of the damper for safety reasons.
Take the exhaust liner along with the intake liner down through the chimney and inside the fireplace. While still on the roof, use some high-temperature silicone and seal the pipes onto the chimney with a metal top plate. Now use a termination fitting in order to merge the ends of the pipes on the roof.
Running the gas line should be done by a certified professional. This job needs to be done impeccably and according to all standards. It requires the use of t-fittings, shut-off valves, and other specialized supplies in order to make the whole project not only functional but also safe.
In the actual fireplace, pros usually use flexible connections. You don’t want to impair the gas insert as you drive it in. Don’t forget to plug the unit into the electric socket before actually inserting it into the fireplace. The final connection is the gas connection. Before you turn on the gas, make sure the intake and the exhaust connections are also properly made. It is best if this is done again by using the high-temperature silicone.
Finally, attach the glass doors and you should be ready to go!
Heating a home doesn’t need to be challenging and it also doesn’t need to be very expensive. Incredible amounts of heat for pennies can be a reality when you get the best gas fireplace insert on the market. Our hope is that we have provided you with sufficient information in order to decide which model is best for you.
The variety of products is a useful occurrence and every taste can be satisfied when we talk about heating with gas. Our main goal is to cover all your bases so let us know if you are happy with our selection as well as the tips that we shared. Speaking of sharing, show our guide to other people, and don’t forget to check some more heating options available on our site.
Leave us a comment and give us some feedback. Thanks for reading and as always – stay put!