Gone are the days when one has to look for the logs, collect and set them up to ignite a warm and comforting fire. The marvel of today's modern innovative technology is at your doorstep.
Previously, they were built with the help of mortar-and-brick masonry involving foundations and chimneys. Nowadays, they are based on the technology of zero-clearance. These are prefabricated units made up of metal.
Because of their efficient burning, they are vented directly out a wall. That means these new direct vent gas fireplaces are much easier and inexpensive to install than the masonry units. Moreover, because of their prefabricated structure they enjoy greater flexibility in their placement.
Direct vent fireplaces burn propane or natural gas instead of wood. Initially, conventional fireplaces were required a Class B ventilation pipe through-the-roof to vent away the byproducts of the combustion process.
However now, the present generation burn gases efficiently by using maximum heat from the combustion process thus exercising a much more efficient way of getting warmth. These units come with a securely sealed glass door which prevents leakage into the room.
The required air to support the flame is entered from outside, while the comparatively cooler gases from combustion process are thrown out through the vent.
As these units are gas-fired, they counter the grave setback of wood-smoke pollution that grew to disaster many times about a decade ago. Unlike the traditional fireplaces that used wooden logs, these gas fired units give off almost no particulates. So, no question of hazardous flames or ashes outside the fireplace.
As it happens with all gas fireplaces, these are much easier to operate than wood-burning units. You are not required to acquire, heave, hack, start, and continually feed wood to the fire anymore. Forget the sweeping of the chimney or scooping out ashes.
Normally, you can achieve about 75% of the heat efficiency. The emission of heat by these gas fired units is measured by British thermal unit (Btu). The amount of heat needed to increase 1 pound of water through 1 degree Fahrenheit is known as 1 Btu.
While choosing the right kind of fireplace, you have to look for its output capacity which can tell you how much heat is generated. By getting the data of the input capacity and output capacity, you can derive its efficiency- the ratio of input to output capacity. In general, most of these units emit 25000 to 40000 Btu per hour.
Although, all gas fired units use artificial logs to burn, don't worry about the appearance of the flames. Yes, there were the days when these flames didn't appear as real. However, nowadays, all the models produce very authentic fire.
While, their width ranges from 30 to 48 inches and height from 24 to 30 inches, they are typically quite shallow - depth ranging from 13 to 18 inches. They come up with both top and rear venting designs.
Controls vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some models have an electric spark ignition, to save energy, or a piezoelectric ignition. They also come with the option of a generator so that you can get the warmth even when there is no power supply. Remote controls have adjustable thermostats, blower speed controls, and facility of adjusting flame-heights.
Direct vent gas fireplaces offer the aesthetic beauty of a wood fire with the convenience of gas. However, look for the certification of the American Gas Association (AGA) before you purchase a unit.