There are two types of gas logs: vented and ventless. As the name suggests, vented gas logs vent to the outside of a home, while ventless gas logs do not require ventilation. Because of this, ventless are easier to install than vented.
Gas logs look and heat great, so what else is there to know? Turns out that choosing the right set is important, not only for maximum heat output benefits but also for cost efficiency, safety, appearance, and ease of use.
These logs provide a lot of advantages. In addition to lending the ambience of wood-burning fireplaces without all of the hassle of sourcing and cutting hardwood, installation and maintenance is simple, and the heat to cost ratio is one of the best, making a gas fireplace perfect for heating your home in the winter without a high energy bill. Whether you’re needing a heat source for your common area or would like a small supplemental heater to add coziness and romance to your bedroom, gas logs are versatile and available for a variety of fireplaces or gas heaters.
We’ll help you determine each factor (Chimney? No chimney? Ventless or vented?) and then you can decide for yourself which are the best gas logs for your space. Buying your first set only has a few factors to determine, and shouldn’t be a hassle. You’ll need to know your fuel source, whether you need vented or ventless, and just a few other important things.
Vented or Ventless
The first item to determine is whether or not your gas logs need to be vented or ventless.
The difference is that vented gas logs require a venting system to push gases outside of the home, while ventless can be installed in any fireplace or firebox regardless of ventilation. The type of logs you choose will depend on your home’s current setup and whether or not you will be venting gases outside of your home.
Ventless gas log sets offer the most versatility and are the easiest to have installed, as they don’t require a pre-existing chimney with a flue and the unit can be installed almost anywhere that you can place a firebox. Vented gas logs rely on the flue, and will need to be installed in a pre-existing wood burning fireplace with a chimney. Vent-free can also be installed in a fireplace with a chimney and you won’t need to open the damper.
What are Gas Logs Made of?
Gas logs are typically made of ceramic fibers, refractory ceramic, or refractory cement. Each of these composites is designed to withstand high heat and resemble real wood as closely as possible. Manufacturers use molds of actual wood to create a realistic look. Each material is rated to withstand high amounts of heat, and you shouldn’t need to replace your gas logs for at least 2-5 years, depending on frequency of use. A good way to know when they need to be replaced is to keep an eye on the appearance; if they seem faded and start to show signs of wear and tear or are beginning to crack or crumble, it’s time to replace them.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind when choosing gas log materials:
- Refractory ceramic gas logs tend to last a little bit longer than cement logs due to their high heat rating, and won’t fade with long-term use as quickly as the cement ones. Consider replacing cement logs after about 2-3 years of frequent use. Ceramic logs can usually go 3-5 years before being replaced.
- Some models are reinforced with steel bars to keep them cracking and bending, and will make them even more durable in the long-run.
Each set can be bundled with a burner system and a grate, and are especially versatile because they can be used in a pre-existing wood fireplace, making installation requirements minimal. Vented gas logs also have the option to burn brightly with little heat, which means you can enjoy the appearance of a fire on a summer evening without heating the house.
Cement vs Ceramic Gas Logs
The three main types of gas log materials are refractory cement, ceramic fiber and refractory ceramic. Each are designed to be as realistic-looking as possible, but there are several differences to consider when choosing a gas log set for your fireplace.
Refractory cement gas logs are formed from a cement mixture. These sets range in quality with both cheap and expensive options available. The high quality cement logs look more realistic, which may be important if you want your fireplace to have that authentic-looking appearance. A downside of refractory cement sets is that they are prone to cracking under extremely high temperatures, so they may not last as long as ceramic.
Ceramic fiber logs are oftentimes the most affordable option. They are typically lightweight compared to other sets, and can sometimes give off an odor when in use that may not be appealing to homeowners.
Refractory ceramic gas logs are made of a mixture of cement and ceramic, which allows them to give off more heat than other types. They tend to last longer and are more durable than other options thanks to their ability to withstand very high temperatures. They can be used in both vented and ventless fireplaces. One downside of these ceramic sets is that they may change color over time with frequent use; however, they will last a long time and will not be as prone to cracking.
Propane or Natural Gas?
Next, you will need to determine the source of your fuel, as you’ll be purchasing your logs to match your source. If you’re not sure which you have, propane is usually delivered to your home and stored in a tank outside. Natural gas is delivered by an underground pipe directly to your home. When purchasing, you’ll be able to choose from either fuel source.
When it comes to differences between propane and natural gas logs, there aren’t many. Natural gas sets are more popular thanks to the widespread use of natural gas as a fuel source in urban and suburban areas. On the other hand, liquid propane is used in areas where natural gas isn’t available, such as in very rural areas. Both types burn well and will provide ample heat to your home.
No matter which you choose, one thing is for certain: you will be saving money, improving air quality, and helping the environment by making the switch from a wood-burning to a gas fireplace!
Gas Logs Size
Sizing is important when it comes to gas logs. Obviously, the size of your fireplace or firebox will determine what size to get. It’s important to measure your firebox to make sure that whatever set you purchase will fit in your space. Be sure to look up the dimensions of the set you’re interested in buying before making your purchase.
Once you’ve determined the above factors, the next step is to decide the appearance and overall ambiance you’d like your new fireplace to provide for your home. And while selecting “more charred” logs vs. “less charred” might seem silly or unnecessary, it’s an essential part of the process. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a realistic gas log set for your home, from the type of “wood” to the way the logs are placed. You can have a lot of fun with this process and choose from “wood” types such as oak and driftwood, along with a variety of log layouts.
More on Appearance
You want your gas log fireplace to appear as natural as possible. Fortunately, there’s a lot of realistic models to choose from, and in the end, it’s going to come down to your personal preference and the ambiance you want to create in your home. Some sets come with “extras”, like wood-style grates, glowing embers, or sand granules for placement beneath the logs themselves. Keep in mind that some sets are aesthetically designed to be viewed from all sides, and work particularly well in island, peninsula, or see-through type fire boxes, so placement of your gas logs is important as well. Most sets are designed to prevent controls from being visible, and this is especially true of any designed for fireboxes that are see-through.
To help make it easier to choose, here’s our top 3 favorite gas log sets that will provide a realistic feel and quality performance:
White Mountain Hearth Whiskey River Vented/Vent Free Gas Log Set
If you’re after the realistically charred look for your gas logs, this set is perfect. You can choose from 18”, 24”, or 30” sizing to ensure the right fit for your fireplace, and the set can be used in either a vented or vent-free unit. Each log is hand-painted, which provides nuanced details that are extremely realistic and every set is made up of 7 logs total. Flames shoot up between the logs and also glow like embers from beneath, providing the perfect resemblance to a real fire and offering plenty of warmth.
Everwarm Low Country Timber Log Set
With sizing options the same as the Whiskey River set, the Everwarm Low Country Timber Gas Logs is a versatile model made of refractory cement. Designed specifically for vent-free units, this gas log set also has the option to add a remote, giving you easy control over your heating source from anywhere in the room. Lightly charred effects on the 7 highly durable logs bring a realistic and cozy feel.
White Mountain Hearth Rock Creek Log Set
If you’ve been trying to find the perfect set for your peninsula or see-through firebox, the White Mountain Hearth Rock Creek set is it. Hand-painted refractory logs provide a realistic look from any angle. Size options are available, and the number of logs included in the set varies with sizing (18” – 9 logs, 24” and 30” – 11 logs). Designed for use with a vent-free firebox, the flames flicker around and through the logs much as a real fire would, and you can choose the propane or natural gas option, which gives you even more freedom.
How to Choose the Right Gas Logs
- Determine if you need vented or ventless logs based on your fireplace setup.
- Choose your gas log material, either ceramic fiber, refractory ceramic, or refractory concrete.
- Narrow down your options based on fuel source (natural gas or liquid propane).
- Measure your fireplace and choose the appropriate size.
- Select the style and layout of your gas log set.
- Add any “extras” if you desire.
Choosing a gas log set for your home will include a few simple factors such as fuel type and vent type, but once those important questions have been answered, it really comes down to finding the perfect set to bring the right mood into your space. They are a great cost-effective way to provide supplemental heat in your home and make your living room or bedroom feel cozy and rustic. Shop our gas logs now to enhance the warmth and comfort of your home.