We originally had a gas fireplace insert in our kitchen fireplace, installed by the previous owners of our house. I have since removed the gas fireplace (because it never worked), but I was intrigued to find out why they had originally decided that a gas fireplace was a better option than the traditional open fireplace.
I therefore did some research and looked into the reasons why the previous owners would have decided to get the gas fireplace installed, and whether it would have been worth it.
So should you get a gas fireplace, and is it worth it?
A gas fireplace offers a range of benefits over burning wood in your home, including the ability to instantly turn on, control and turn of the heat from the fire. The advantages of having gas fireplace can outweigh the disadvantages in many scenarios, making a gas fireplace a worthwhile investment for your home.
Although the cost of installation of a gas fireplace can be quite high, there are a number of added benefits than come with having one in your home.
To help you decide whether a gas fireplace is worth it, I’ve put together and explained both the advantages and disadvantages of buying a gas fireplace.
Should I Get A Gas Fireplace? Advantages Of A Gas Fireplace
Many homes are already connected the local gas network and so a gas fireplace can be a great option for many people.
There’s an immediate and constant supply of fuel.
You don’t have to provide space to store fuel when connected to the local gas network.
Instant maximum heat.
Constant supply of heat with no down time.
Ability to adjust the heat output with immediate effect.
The flames and heat can be turned off in an instant, providing more safety than burning wood in your home.
Unlike electric fireplaces, the flames are real.
Ease of use compared to burning wood.
Can be installed directly into your existing fireplace as an insert.
Ability to install on any external wall in your home.
Ventless forms of gas fireplaces are available that don’t require any form of ventilation.
Instant heat can be provided to one room without the need for central heating.
Minimal cleaning required compared to burning wood.
Much more efficient that open wood burning fireplaces.
Can add value to a home.
Certain models can be used in power cuts.
A range of designs available to suit your home.
I explain the benefits of owning a gas fireplace in more detail below.
Readily Available Gas Supply
A common reason to get a gas fireplace installed is that many homes already have a gas supply for their central heating, and many more homes are being connected to local gas supplies all of the time.
We have a gas supply to our home and we have gas central heating. It’s probably one of the main reasons why the previous house owners decided to install a gas fireplace insert into our kitchen fireplace.
Constant Supply of Fuel
Unlike wood burning fireplaces or stoves, gas fireplaces are provided with a constant supply of fuel while connected to the local gas network.
Thanks to an immediate and constant supply of fuel, you have the luxury of knowing that you can turn a gas fireplace on whenever you like.
No Storage Space Required For Fuel
Thanks to an immediate and constant supply of fuel, there’s no need to store any gas in your home.
In comparison, when burning wood you’ll need to decide how much fuel you’ll need for the foreseeable future, and ensure you have space to store the logs, as well as ensuring that the wood stays dry enough in the long term to be usable.
Constant Heat Output
With a constant supply of fuel, gas fireplaces offer the ability to provide a constant supply of heat to your home.
In comparison, wood needs to be dry enough to burn, otherwise it can lead to fires that are hard to light, hard to keep going and that produce a lot of smoke. Once cut, wood can take up to two years to fully dry out. This process can be sped up through kiln drying but there is always the possibility that the wood you’re using is never quite dry enough to be efficient at burning.
You can never have a bad batch of gas, and so a gas fireplace has the advantage that you won’t be let down when you want to provide warmth to your home, or when you want to provide heat for an extended period of time.
Some gas fireplaces also have a blower that help spread warm air around your room, as well into other rooms around your home.
Adjustable Heat Output
By adjusting the amount of gas that is supplied to fireplace, you can control the size of the flames, and therefore the heat output.
With wood burning fireplaces and stoves, minimal heat is supplied during the early stages of a fire, and only reaches its maximum heat output potential much later into the fire. It also takes time for wood burning stoves or fireplace fires to subside, and so you can’t control the heat output as effectively as a gas fireplace.
The heat output on gas fireplaces can be controlled with immediate effect.
Ease of Use
Compared to wood burning fireplaces and stoves, gas fireplaces can be considered to be far easier to use in terms of providing heat into your home.
The use of a gas fireplace doesn’t require knowledge of how to set the fire up properly, what the best fuel is to burn, and how to keep the fire going (the knowledge required if you really want to get the most heat out your wood burning stove or fireplace).
There can be minimal controls on a gas fireplace, and it can be far less complicated to provide warmth to your home over other types of fireplace.
Certain models of gas fireplace also come with a remote so that you enjoy the flames and heat without having to leave your seat.
Can be Turned On In A Few Seconds
There’s minimal setup time for a gas fireplace. Simply push a button or two and you can have a fireplace that’s giving out heat in no time.
With a wood burning fireplace or stove, it can be a hassle to:
- Clean out any bits of charred wood from the previous fire.
- Gather the newspaper, kindling and wood.
- Setup, light and ensure that the fire gets going properly.
A big advantage of a gas fireplace is that removes the majority of these setup times compared to burning wood.
Can be Turned Off Instantly
If it’s too warm in your home, you can simply turn the flames on a gas fireplace down with immediate effect.
You’ll need to wait to for the wood to be burnt in a traditional fireplace, or even longer for a wood burning stove, as they radiate heat for extended periods of time even after the fire has subsided.
This also makes gas fireplaces safer and friendlier for any young children and pets, as the flame can be extinguished quickly if required.
Can Fit Into Your Existing Fireplace
If you have an existing open fireplace in your home, you can buy a gas fireplace insert that fits directly into it, utilizing the chimney as ventilation.
The Flame Is Real
A gas fireplace still produces a real flame. If you’re looking to keep a real flame in your home then a gas fireplace may be more suited to you over other types of fireplace, such as an electric fireplace which doesn’t have a real flame.
A Chimney Isn’t Required
Although gas fireplaces can be inserted into existing open fireplaces, they don’t only have to be used in a fireplace. Gas fireplaces can be installed on pretty much any external wall of your home, and vented straight out through the wall or up through the ceiling.
Some models of gas fireplace don’t require venting at all, meaning that a chimney or flue isn’t required for it to operate. These ‘ventless’ gas fireplaces burn the fuel cleanly enough for them to be able to be used in any location within your home.
Minimal Cleaning & Maintenance Required
Gas burns much more cleanly than wood, meaning that the cleaning and maintenance requirements of owning a gas fireplace can be minimal.
There are also no moving parts and very minimal electric parts, meaning that there are fewer things to potentially go wrong compared to electric fireplaces.
Although gas fireplaces need a yearly inspection and cleaning by an authorized professional to ensure their reliability and safety is up to scratch, there is minimal other cleaning and maintenance required to own and operate a gas fireplace.
Reduced Chimney Cleaning
Using gas fireplaces over wood burning fireplaces or stoves can help reduce the need to have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis.
Burning wood releases creosote, a highly flammable substance, whereas burning gas doesn’t. Creosote can build up within a chimney, and the more wood that is burnt in your home, the dirtier and more blocked your chimney can become.
Issues such as burning wet wood can also contribute to creosote building up within your chimney or flue at an increased rate. Chimneys are recommended to be swept every year, but more often if wood is being burnt on a regular basis.
When using a gas fireplace insert that utilizes your chimney, burning gas in a fireplace helps reduce the need to have your chimney or flue swept as often as when burning wood in your home.
A gas fireplace can be more efficient at heating your home over a traditional open fireplace, or even some wood burning stoves.
Up to 80% of heat produced by burning wood in your fireplace can be lost up your chimney. Gas fireplaces can be around 90% efficient for balanced flue fireplaces and up to 99% efficient for ventless flue gas fireplaces.
Gas is burnt much more cleanly than wood, as so there is less smoke and harmful gases released into the atmosphere.
Many towns and cities across the world are becoming smoke free zones. Traditional fireplaces can’t be used in these areas due to the potential for lots of smoke to be released from the fires.
Some gas fireplaces burn so cleanly that they can be used without a chimney or flue. These ventless gas fireplaces will only release water vapor and carbon dioxide as byproducts.
Can Add Value To Your Home
Studies have shown that a fireplace can add value to your home, and some buyers may find a gas fireplace an attractive centerpiece and added bonus to your house.
Can Be Used In A Power Outage
Certain newer models of gas fireplace can be used during a power outage, thanks to an in-built battery that can spark the ignition flame without the need for a power supply.
If you’re looking upgrade your traditional open fireplace with a gas fireplace insert, be sure to look out for gas fireplaces with this functionality if you don’t want to lose the ability to use your fireplace in a power outage.
Refresh Your Fireplace Look
A gas fireplace can help improve the look and feel of a room, whether the room is being renovated or not.
From traditional to modern, gas fireplaces can be found in many different shapes and styles, and so you’re bound to find one that suits the look and feel of your home.
Should I Get A Gas Fireplace? (Disadvantages Of A Gas Fireplace)
Although there are many advantages for having a gas fireplace installed in your home, there are also a few disadvantages:
Even if your home has an existing gas supply, it’s likely that you’ll need a professional to extend that gas supply to your gas fireplace.
You shouldn’t install a gas fireplace yourself.
Yearly servicing costs.
Gas fireplace require servicing by an accredited professional with the right qualifications.
You’ll need to get your chimney lined if it hasn’t already.
Fumes from ventless gas fireplaces stay in your home.
New Gas Supply
You’ll need to provide a gas supply to your new gas fireplace from the mains. Costs will increase as the length and difficulty of providing the gas supply increases.
A certified engineer should be installing the gas fireplace, and also providing gas and electrical supplies to the fireplace. This extra work will need to be included in the price of installing a gas fireplace in your home.
Other types of fireplace such as electric don’t require professional installation if you’re handy with DIY.
Yearly Servicing Costs
Gas fireplaces should be serviced once per year to ensure that they are working efficiently and safely, and so yearly maintenance costs should be expected with owning a gas fireplace.
If you’re installing a gas fireplace for the first time in your existing fireplace, then you’ll need to take into account that your chimney will need to be lined at an additional cost in order to use your gas fireplace.
Ventless Gas Fireplace Safety
With ventless gas fireplaces, the gas is being burnt cleanly and efficiently enough to be able to be used safely within your home without the need for a vent. For safety reasons, ventless gas fireplaces will automatically shut off if carbon dioxide levels in the room reach too high.
There also seems to be some controversy around how safe ventless gas fireplaces are for use in your home.
Is a Gas Fireplace Worth It?
Have a think where a gas fireplace would be best located in your home, whether it’s as an insert into your existing fireplace, or as a standalone unit. A standalone gas fireplace will also allow to you keep your traditional fireplace for burning wood in your home if you have one.
This will help you to identify any constraints with having a gas fireplace, such as having a nearby gas or electrical supply. A gas fireplace may not be worth it if you don’t have an existing gas supply to your home, and you may need to install a propane tank in your property to use a gas fireplace.
It’s also important to understand which type of fuel is the cheapest to use for your particular location, and which will stay the cheapest over time. Comparing gas, wood and electricity prices for your area will help you decide whether a gas fireplace is worth it over other types of fireplace in the long run. Burning gas is generally less expensive than burning wood, but it’s always worth checking.
As with every big decision for your home, it’s always worth comparing the advantages and disadvantages of a gas fireplace with every other type of fireplace. In particular, gas fireplaces should be compared with wood burning stoves and electric fireplaces, as all of which improve on the efficiency of traditional wood burning fireplaces, and can be inserted into an existing open fireplace or used as standalone features around your home.
I’ve put together the complete guide to the different types of fireplace, including their pros and cons, which can hopefully help you decide whether a gas fireplace is the right type of fireplace for you and your home.