Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Fireplaces are a hot (no pun intended) commodity in today’s housing market. The trend is pulling away from traditional wood-burning fireplaces and towards gas fireplaces. This shift has led many to ask the question: can you use a gas fireplace without logs?
You can’t use a gas fireplace without logs in most cases. Gas fireplaces were designed to function with gas logs. A gas fireplace without a log will not burn as it should. Gas logs serve both safety and functionality purposes.
If you’ve just been introduced to gas fireplaces and want to learn more, this article is for you. Keep reading to find out the type of logs they require, what their benefits are, and the type of maintenance required to keep your gas fireplace in top-notch condition.
Types Gas Logs for Fireplaces
One of two fossil fuels can be used to fuel your gas fireplace. These two fuels are natural gas and propane gas. When choosing a fuel for your fireplace, you should consider your preferences, needs, and budget along with gas availability.
Keep in mind that one benefit of propane gas is that it burns cleaner. Natural gas, on the other hand, is more cost-efficient. Propane gas is stored as a liquid and contained in portable tanks. Natural gas is always in a gaseous state and is delivered by pipes.
There are two types of gas logs. Gas logs will be either vented or ventless. When selecting gas logs, you’ll want to take into account all your needs and preferences before making a choice. Purchasing and using the right set will not only maximize your system’s efficiency but can also be crucial to ensure your safety.
Vented Gas Logs
Vented gas logs are aesthetically reminiscent of a wood-burning fire. They produce full, natural-looking flames. The ember bed resembles the ember bed of a dying wood fire. People who care about appearance may lean towards vented gas logs.
However, vented gas logs are not as efficient as their ventless counterparts. Vented logs require an open damper to allow hot air, gas, and combustion products to escape. Thus, a significant amount of heat is released outside.
For these reasons, vented gas logs are typically considered more decorative than a functional heat source.
Ventless Gas Logs
Ventless gas logs are ideal for those living in colder climates. They heat a room extremely well and efficiently. Unlike vented gas logs, there is no damper needed. The heat is circulated out into the room.
Ventless gas logs are considered efficient because they burn almost all of the combusted fuel. A chimney is not needed because the substance burns cleanly smokelessly. However, this doesn’t mean there is no emittance from the fire: in some circumstances, an odor is produced.
In contrast to vented gas logs, the fire does not appear authentic or realistic. Flames are smaller and may appear blue. Ventless gas logs require a specific arrangement, which also impacts how the fire looks: flames shoot upward.
Ventless gas logs must be arranged in such a manner that the flames do not come in contact with the logs. Carbon monoxide may be created if the flames and logs come in contact with each other. For optimal safety, ventless gas logs have an oxygen sensor, called an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), built-in. ODS can detect dips in oxygen levels. Once it reaches a certain level, ODS cuts the gas supply.
Most Common Gas Log Materials
Gas logs may be made out of one of three materials. These materials are deemed safe for gas fireplaces because they don’t get damaged when exposed to high heat levels.
As an added precaution, sometimes, the gas logs are reinforced. In these cases, manufacturers add steel reinforcement bars to ensure the logs don’t bend or break.
These materials are:
- Ceramic: Ceramic gas logs have an exceptionally long life span, anywhere from three to five years.
- Fiberglass: These are the lightest weight of the three and usually the most affordable.
- Refractory cement: As the name implies, these gas logs are created from a cement mixture. These are prone to cracking and have a shorter lifespan. The price range is vast, as you’ll find both affordable and high-end alternatives.
Determining the Right Gas Log Size
Gas log size is another critical factor you’ll want to consider before making a decision. Your gas log set should properly fit in your fireplace. Choosing the wrong sized option can overheat your firebox and gas valves. This can potentially damage your home.
To ensure you purchase the ideal size for your equipment, refer to the manufacturer’s measuring requirements. There should be a recommended clearance. You should also measure your firebox. You need to capture the length, width, height, and depth. If you’re not sure or comfortable taking the measurements yourself, you can always enlist the help of a professional.
Benefits of Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces offer many benefits over wood fireplaces. Compared to wood logs, gas logs are incredibly simple to use and require less effort. Due to these advantages, gas fireplaces are quickly replacing their wood-burning counterparts.
Benefits of a gas fireplace:
- Doesn’t require starting and maintaining a fire.
- Produces heat instantly.
- Doesn’t require log storage.
- Eliminates the possibility of termites and other pests.
- Requires almost no maintenance.
- No ash removal.
Maintaining a Gas Fireplace
Gas fireplaces require less maintenance than wood fireplaces. In fact, gas fireplaces do not need daily maintenance. Still, integral parts of a gas fireplace need to be inspected periodically. A licensed hearth professional can help you keep your gas fireplace in the best condition.
What a Hearth Professional Does
A hearth professional will inspect the valves, pipes, and gas connections. If you have a ventless log set, the ember bed and logs will need to be cleaned at least once a year. For vented log sets, the hearth professional will inspect and sweep your chimney and clean the legs as needed. This professional will replace and repair parts on your gas fireplace.
Gas Fireplace Decor
While logs are essential to gas fireplaces, they can also be aesthetically pleasing. However, gas fireplace decor extends beyond these functional gas logs.
While the elements list below cannot substitute gas logs, they can be added for an increased visual effect:
- Lava Rock
- Fire Glass
- Mineral Wool
Gas logs are a necessary component of a gas fireplace system. However, they can widely vary in size and the way they function. For this reason, it would be imperative to ensure that the logs you purchase meet the fireplace requirements.
If set up correctly, a gas fireplace can offer you a broad range of benefits that are making it more and more preferable to its wood counterpart each passing day.
- Fireplace Doors Online: Natural Gas vs. Propane: What’s the Difference
- Woodland Direct: Gas Log Buying Guide
- Woodland Direct: Advantages of Gas Logs
- Woodland Direct: Gas Log FAQ
- Woodland Direct: Vented vs. Ventless Gas Logs
- Total Home Supply: Types of Gas Logs for Fireplaces
- Mountain View Hearth Products: Fireplace Media- Is It Important
- This Old House: An EAsy Guide to Gas Fireplaces
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