Vented Gas Logs

Vented gas logs have been a popular alternative to wood for more than half a century. You can choose between logs that burn natural gas and those that burn propane. Look for logs with a RADCO or CSA stamp to make sure they've been properly tested. Following are some advantages and disadvantages of vented gas logs.

Advantages

Realistic Look

One thing that draws people to vented gas logs is how real they look. The logs are molded to look just like the real thing. And the flame produced is warm, yellow, and slightly smoky, just like what you'd expect from wood. Most people won't even realize they're gas.

Ease of Use

Compared to wood, vented gas logs are a breeze. You don't have to buy and store wood or clean out the ash afterwards. Starting a fire is as easy as flipping a switch or pressing a button on a remote control.

Flexibility

Vented gas logs are more easily rearranged than their vent-free counterparts.

Economics

Although vented gas logs cost more to operate than vent-free, that doesn't make them expensive. A log with a low BTU can give you a beautiful fire without costing too much.

Chimney not Necessary

A vented gas log does need some sort of venting. And one easy way to do that is to place it in an existing fireplace. But if that's not an option, it is possible to install vented gas logs with a top-venting pipe or direct venting system that draws in air from the outside and expels the gases.

Lower Risk

Since a vented gas log vents to the outside, you have a lower risk of toxic fumes being released into your home.

Disadvantages

Some Maintenance Required

Vented gas logs do produce soot and carbon that builds up in the chimney over time. Although you won't have to clean up ash and charcoal, you'll still have to get your chimney swept or vents cleaned at least once a year.

Less Heat

Vented gas logs produce far less heat than their vent-free counterparts. They don't burn the fuel as efficiently, and the same chimney or vent that takes the smoke and gas away can also let cold air in.

Heat Loss

Even when they aren't in operation, vented logs contribute to heat loss in the home. Building codes may require that the damper be blocked open to ensure that the vented logs are safe. Even if codes don't require this, it's a good idea. A gas leak and a closed damper are not a good combination. You can reduce the heat loss, though, by making sure the glass doors are closed when the log is not in use.