What To Look for in a Gas Fireplace(Feb. 2014):
There is a profusion of gas fireplace units on the market today. Here are some points to consider when you look for one for your home.
Fireplace Efficiency Rating (FE)-can be found in the fireplace brochures
The fireplace efficiency rating is a CSA means of rating the efficiency of the fireplace. The higher the percentage of the efficiency rating the better the unit (such as 70% better than 30%...look for this in the “specification” brochure). The higher the efficiency, the less consumption of energy, the less the environmental polluting and the less the spending of money on fuel.
*Input(the fuel consumed per hour) vs output(the heat radiated from the fireplace).
You want to have a unit where the output is proportional to the size of the space.
Direct Vent Design
This is the ideal means of venting-direct and power (rather than that of the natural draft), because it increases the level of protection from spillage of carbon products which also increases efficiency.
This is also an advantage when undergoing renovation and there is no existing flue.
Electrical Ignition vs Pilot Light
Pilot light pro.:
Will still function in a power outage as you will not require electricity for igniting the fireplace.
Pilot light cons.:
The pilot flame remains on, and on its own consumes around 600-1500 BTU/hr. This consumes more energy leading to more spending of your hard earned dollars.
Electrical Ignition pros. :
Does not consume extra energy when the fireplace is not being used. Fast electrical ignition.
Ceramic Glass vs Tempered Glass
Tempered glass pros.:Strong structural integrity-good for weaker metals such as aluminum doors.
Tempered glass cons.:Production takes 4-5 weeks and has to be sourced out.
There is a chance of the glass cracking if the unit generates a lot of heat.
Ceramic glass pros.:
1380 shock rating (vs tempered glass that is 400-600). Because they can resist stronger heat ratings, the insurance rules are different and doors of the space can remain closed while using the fireplace(versus the tempered glass where the insurance is void on some policies if doors are closed during the use of the fireplace) If the doors remain closed there is more possibility of the glass cracking because the pressure rating of tempered glass is significantly less than that of the ceramic glass)
Production takes 1 week and can be done in house
Ceramic glass cons.:Has a weaker structural integrity than tempered glass, not good with weaker metals like aluminum for the doors
Look for a unit that has almost silent ventilation fans. You do not want to be disturbed by the sound of loud fans while trying to enjoy a quiet flame.
· Also look into using ceiling fans that can help circulate the rising hot air into the rest of the space
Secondary Heat Exchanger
Look for a unit that has more channels for convection heat.
There is more cool air exchange which means that it consumes less energy and increases the efficiency of the unit.
The type of the fireplace will also determine the heat radiated into the space-built in, free standing or hearth mantled. The latter two generate more heat radiation-from 3 or 4 facets of the unit versus 1.
Wide Range Turndown
Wide range of ‘turndown’ allows you to control the flame and the heat generated from the fireplace. This gives you greater temperature control to avoid overheating the room & using unnecessary energy.
· Also look for a thermostat options to set the temperature you want in the room.
Gas logs are not recommended as they are not sufficient bodies to radiate heat which means they waste a lot of energy to heat up which in turn leads to more money spending and more release of gases which leads to increase in pollutants into the space.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
Is the fireplace primarily decorative or for heating the space?
Is the output of the fireplace proportional to the size of the room? A unit with a big output & no way to adjust it can overheat a small space very quickly.
What is the FE rating? A large unit does not mean a more efficient unit. The higher the FE the more efficient the unit.
Are you using the heat of the fireplace in only this space(zone heating) or are you connecting with ducts to other spaces in the house to allow for heat distribution.
What is the overall heat in the house like? Beware of getting a high BTU unit if the overall heating in the house is already adequate.
Does the unit have a thermostat or at least a turndown?