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How do I choose a propane gas log set?

How many times have you wanted to use your masonry or brick fireplace on a cold night, but skipped the idea because of the hassles and mess that come with lighting, maintaining, and cleaning up after a wood fire?

If your answer includes a resigned nod or frustrated sigh, you owe it to yourself to check out propane gas log sets. They’re maintenance free, come in a variety of styles and are easy to install – and they’ll give you much of the warm glow magic that you’ll get from a wood fire. They also pose fewer fire risks and put out twice the heat of wood.

Sounds great, no?

gas log setOf course the next logical question once you get on the gas log bandwagon is how do you choose one that’s right for your home? Here are some guidelines.

Consideration #1: Venting
When shopping for gas logs, the first important decision you’ll have to make is whether you want vented or vent-free logs. This choice must take into account several factors, including looks, efficiency, local building codes and fireplace placement.

In general, vented logs offer a large, realistic-looking flame that is meant to simulate a wood fire. They achieve this look at the cost of efficiency: vented logs require an open chimney flue or damper, and much of their generated heat escapes this way.

Vent-free logs, on the other hand, operate with the chimney flue closed. The flame isn’t as realistic or as high as you’ll find with vented logs or a wood fire, but vent-free log sets are extremely efficient (they’re basically attractive space heaters). Most vent-free log sets are controlled by a thermostat to help maintain a consistent room temperature. Vent-free heaters also add moisture to the air, so proper ventilation is needed to avoid mold and mildew problems.

Keep in mind that vent-free heaters do emit a small amount of exhaust into your indoor space, which is why they aren’t permitted in bedrooms or compact, closed spaces like bathrooms or RVs; in fact, local building codes may prohibit installing vent-free space heaters at all, so be sure to check!

You will also need to keep vent-free fireplaces at least three feet away from anything flammable, including curtains, furniture, and clothing.

Consideration #2: Heating power
Heating power – measured in British thermal units, or BTUs – is the second important consideration when choosing a propane gas log set. While a number of factors influence the heating power you’ll need to warm your space to comfortable temperatures (including the amount and type of insulation you have, the height of your ceilings, how many windows you have, and whether your floors are carpeted or hardwood, to name a few), a good starting point for the amount of heat needed for a home in Massachusetts is about 45 to 50 Btu per square foot. 

For a more accurate assessment of how much heat you’ll need to keep you comfort, ask a one of our heating experts.

Consideration #3: Aesthetics
Today’s propane log sets are amazingly detailed – if you haven’t taken a close look at a set recently, their looks may surprise you! They come in a variety of “species” ranging from Golden Oak and White Birch to Driftwood and Cedar – the choice is yours!

Ready to shop for a propane gas log set? We can help. Contact the propane hearth pros at FSi today to discuss options that will make your next evening by the fire a button click away!