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With technology constantly evolving and generally improving people’s lives, you cannot help but wonder if the latest update is worth the investment. Sometimes they need more fine tuning, and other times they can truly transform the way you live. When it comes to fireplaces, many people wonder which route to take with fireplace advances going in so many directions now. A common decision homeowners face when adding or remodeling a fireplace is whether to install a vented gas log unit or a direct vent gas insert.


A vented gas log insert functions like a traditional gas powered fireplace. The fire draws oxygen from inside the house to fuel the combustion process, and then the fumes created by the fire flow up and out the chimney. This flow of air, known as the draft, is what characterizes the vented system. Typically, these units cost much less to install than a direct vent, especially if a chimney already exists. The insert can be easily retrofitted into the old firebox and can utilize the same chimney. However, the majority of the heat created by the fire escapes through the chimney, leaving as little as 15 percent of the heat to enter the house. Thus, in order to substantially heat up a room, the vented gas log inserts require significantly more fuel, making these fireplaces relatively inefficient.

On the other hand, direct vent inserts offer very high efficiency, with some models reaching nearly 80 percent fuel efficiency. The direct vent inserts function using a very different draft, or air flow, from the vented inserts. They utilize a double vent chimney, in which one pipe surrounds the other pipe. The smoke and other fumes flow out through the inner pipe and the fresh air and oxygen flow in through the space between the inner pipe and the outer pipe. While the direct vent cannot utilize an existing chimney and the construction of the direct vent chimney can be costly, the direct vent insert easily beats out the vented insert in efficiency and air cleanliness. The direct vent inserts feature a glass panel between the fire and the home, so the room receives radiant heat instead of the smoky fumes that come directly from the fire. Smoke never enters the home and the fireplace does not draw any conditioned air out of the home. Without a doubt, the direct vent unit is the best option for high efficiency zone heating.

Making the decision about which fireplace to install can seem challenging, but the choice between a vented gas log insert and a direct vent gas insert is an easy one. The low upfront cost of a vented insert may sound enticing, but the long term loss in efficiency will quickly eat up any of those savings. Plus, if you want any noticeable zone heating effects, the direct vent gas insert is for you.

For more information on choosing, purchasing and installing a direct vent gas insert, contact the experts at Home Safe Hearth and Chimney, Inc.

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