Gas Fireplace Coals

Do Gas Fireplaces Give Off Heat? (And Is It A Real Fire?)

In Gas Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Gas fireplaces are a popular type of fireplace found in many homes in the form of gas fireplace inserts.

Fireplaces have traditionally been used as a way to help heat a room, or even a whole house, but not all types of modern fireplaces are able to generate heat, and so do gas fireplaces give off heat?

All forms of gas fireplace use a real flame to produce heat. Gas fireplaces use a source of natural gas to create flames through the combustion process, which produces heat as a by-product.

We used to have a gas insert in our kitchen fireplace before we renovated and removed it, and our friends also have a gas fireplace insert within their living room fireplace that they use to heat the room.

We’ve therefore put together this article using our own gas fireplaces as examples to discuss and explain in more detail below:

  • Whether gas fireplaces have a real fire.
  • Whether gas fireplaces give off heat.
  • How much heat gas fireplaces put out.

Is The Flame In A Gas Fireplace Real?

Gas fireplaces have real flames that are produced through the combustion process of the gas fuel source. A pilot light and starter on a gas fireplace can help provide the spark that combusts the gas supply to provide a continuous flame.

Unlike other types of fireplaces such as electric fireplace that use a combination of lights and rotating mirrors to imitate the look of flickering flames, the flame in a gas fireplace is real.

The flames in a gas fireplace are real because a spark is used to light a source of natural gas to create a flame. Natural gas is a highly flammable source of fuel and the constant supply of gas to a gas fireplace from the mains house gas line allows a real flame to burn continuously in a gas fireplace until it’s tuned off.

Gas Fireplace Real Flames
The flames on a gas fireplace are real, even if the coals or logs aren’t

For example, the gas fireplace we use creates real flames when the fireplace is started using the controls located at the base of the fireplace, behind the grate.

Gas Fireplace Coals
Controls typically located underneath a gas fireplace behind the grate can be used to turn on the real flames

All forms of gas fireplace will produce real flames, whether the fireplace is vented or ventless.

Gas fireplaces join many other different types of fireplace in producing real flames, such as wood burning fireplaces, appliances and stoves. Electric fireplaces are the only type of fireplace that don’t produce real flames.

Do Gas Fireplaces Give Off Heat?

Gas fireplaces give off heat as a result of a real flame combusting the gas supply to the fireplace. Heat is a by-product of the combustion process of burning the fuel within a gas fireplace.

As gas fireplaces have real flames, the combustion process of the natural gas means that heat is produced as one of the by-products of a gas fireplace.

One of the functions of a gas fireplace is therefore the ability to generate heat for a room in a home.

A gas fireplace only produces heat when it’s on and the flames are burning, meaning that a gas fireplace can’t produce heat for your home when it has been turned off.

Gas fireplaces aren’t always used primarily for heating purposes. The aesthetic value that a fireplace can bring to a home, in particular from gas fireplaces, means that they are still a popular part of many homes.

Other benefits of gas fireplaces can include providing the look of a real fire in your home with fake coals and/or logs without having to deal with the setup requirements and leftover mess created by a wood burning fire.

We use one of our gas fireplaces to heat the living room during the colder months and it saves us from having to use the house central heating when we’re staying in this room for extended periods of time. Gas fireplaces are typically fairly easy to use and we simply need to turn the gas fireplace on at the touch of a button using the controls located underneath.

Gas Fireplace Controls
The controls to our gas fireplace. The flames on a gas fireplace can be started to produce heat heat

This gas fireplace is supplied with natural gas from the mains gas line in the house.

Without a gas supply, a gas fireplace won’t be able to produce real flames and therefore won’t be able to generate any heat.

For example, we had a gas fireplace insert already installed into our kitchen masonry fireplace when we bought our home. For reasons we’re unsure of, this gas fireplace was never connected up the mains gas line in the house and so we weren’t able to use it as a source of heat.

Gas Fireplace Insert
Our old kitchen gas fireplace that couldn’t produce heat because it wasn’t connected up to the gas main

We had a certified gas engineer ensure that the gas fireplace wasn’t connected to the gas mains and we’ve since removed this fireplace when renovating the kitchen, and we’re currently deciding what type of fireplace insert to install back into this kitchen masonry fireplace.

Do Gas Fireplaces Put Out Much Heat?

Gas fireplaces can typically produce anywhere from around 5,000 BTUs to 40,000 BTUs, depending on the model of fireplace, but the average heat output for a gas fireplace can be between 25,000 and 30,000 BTUs.

The amount of heat given off by a gas fireplace will be affected by the model and size of the fireplace and the amount of gas being supplied to the fireplace at any one time.

Larger gas fireplaces with more gas being supplied can typically put out more heat.

When buying any form of gas fireplace, you’ll typically find the maximum heat output stated in the specifications of each particular model of fireplace. This heat output if often given in BTUs but may be given in kW depending on your area of residence.

Many gas fireplaces will have a variable control that allows you to adjust the amount of heat the fireplace is producing. Increasing the amount of gas being supplied to the flames in a gas fireplace will allow the fireplace to burn more fuel and increase the amount of heat being generated, up the maximum amount of heat possible by that particular gas fireplace.

Gas Fireplace Controls
Variable controls on gas fireplaces can be used to increase or decrease heat output

Our gas fireplace was originally sized for the living room it sits within and so has been sized accordingly to ensure that the heat output was adequate for the size of the room. As a result, our gas fireplace is able to heat our living room very well and means we don’t have to resort to using the central heating just for one room.

This gas fireplace will only ever be able to put out as much heat as it was designed for. As it has a variable control, the heat output can be adjusted to our preference with anywhere from low heat output to maximum.

If we wanted to increase the heat output from this fireplace we would need to install a more powerful gas fireplace insert with a higher heat output rating.

Are Gas Fireplaces Good For Heating?

Gas fireplaces are an efficient type of fireplace that are typically good at providing heat for the room in which they are located, and can be much more efficient and produce more heat compared to the existing masonry fireplace they replace.

Our gas fireplace insert has an efficiency rating of around 56% but this can be more depending on the model of fireplace.

This is compared to traditional masonry open fireplaces which are typically very inefficient at providing heat for a home, where efficiencies can be as low as 10% where much of the heat is lost up the chimney rather than being used to heat a room.

From personal experience, our gas fireplace does a very good job at heating the room it’s in, while our open fireplace does very little to heat another room.

Gas Fireplace & Wood Burning Fireplace
Our gas fireplace (left) does a far better job of providing heat than our open wood burning fireplace (right)

As gas fireplaces are typically an efficient form of fireplace that can heat well, for the time being we’re not considering swapping it out for any other type of fireplace.

Further Reading

Are Gas Fireplaces Worth It?

Fireplace Inserts Explained (Including Gas)

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