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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Alternative vented/unvented gas log design

vent free gas log fireplaces alterna-tives

If you own or have ever considered adding a fireplace to a home, you probably have considered a gas log solution. The natural wood option includes scouring the yard for twigs, buying wood, stacking wood correctly to burn well and throw heat appropriately, ransacking the recycling bin for kindling and learning the adjustment of the flue to keep the ashes flowing in the correct direction.  The gas option includes pushing a button.  Push a button and the flames are perfect every time.  Control with a wall switch, a remote, thermostat or a simple push button in the fireplace but any way you do it -- gas logs are awesome!
The conflict for designers and builders has always been ventless or vented.  Vented gas logs have always looked much more realistic but require all the same components of a wood burning fireplace -- cutting a hole in the wall or the roof is never fun. What about the bed above the flue? Like a wood burning fireplace, the price of vented gas logs does not cover the expense of a major installation. Until recently, the fireplace safety features have hindered the design and realism of ventless gas logs.  Until now.
If you have shopped gas log fireplaces, you already know the idea is great. Hand painted gas logs that look more like wood logs than real wood logs yet ignite on command are the stuff of dreams. If the home is built with a vented hearth and gas lines, vented gas logs are an easy sell: a beautiful accent with the convenience of a button. Vented gas logs require a chimney and flue and all the same construction as a wood burning fireplace -- plus a gas line.
For a homeowner without a gas line or a wood-burning fireplace already in place, the decision to add a fireplace is much more serious and ventless fireplaces become a very attractive and inexpensive alternative. Installing a ventless gas log fireplace is simple --a log set purchased today can be enjoyed this evening in a home without a fireplace.
Ventless gas logs are also very safe. A ventless gas log fireplace is safer to is and easier to operate than the gas grill most clients use weekly. Safety features for ventless gas log fireplaces are effective while simple enough for the homeowner to operate.  Ventless gas fireplace burners come with oxygen depletion sensors, flame sensors and thermocouples that detect heat from the pilot and stop the gas flow if the pilot is no longer burning strongly.  BTU's are also limited to ensure all the gas is burnt and no residue lingers.
These safety features have contributed to the packaged and often unrealistic look of ventless gas logs.  Logs must be stacked in a static position to limit contact with the gas flame. Gas flames that contact solid objects create carbon that must be vented out of the home unless the gas logs are designed for minimal contact and safe minimal levels carbon dioxide.  Carbon is not good so the logs are designed to stack realistically while avoiding the flames. The lower BTU rating and static ceramic logs often combine to create a mere hint or a packaged look rather than a variable flame focal point in the home.
New technologies and better quality logs have recently combined to create a beautiful accent and a great looking fireplace but no one is ever fooled by the effect of gas logs. We still love the affect of the flame, the decorative hearth combined with the function of a gas heater and we love the convenience and simplicity of an on/off switch.
While there are customers who desire the convenience of gas while seeking the realistic look of a wood burning fireplace, more and more designers are recognizing the value of enjoying a fire-effect while pointing out the obvious unreality of traditional expectations.  The effect of alternative fireplaces that are real fires without the traditional wood log aesthetic adds a contemporary look, even a post-modern smirk but has hitherto been outside the realm of ventless gas logs.  Only recently have alternative gas log contemorary fireplace design options become available for ventless fireplaces.
Ventless gas log alternatives have leapt to the fore. Crushed glass fires, geometric shapes, brightly colored logs, fire balls and fire rocks in a variety of colors are now available for ventless fireplaces! Gas log burners with just a ribbon-like flame running along the firebox are becoming available more frequently with the addition of ethanol. The safety features and limited BTU technology that seemed to be impediments have become strengths as new progressive designs usurp the feigned realism of the traditional fireplace.
New ventless burners – with all the safety features – throw flames through the crushed glass or shapes to create the illusion of burning coupled with vibrant colors hitherto unknown in the world of fireplaces. Creatively combining fire glass with ceramic shapes or logs adds a variety of design as multitudinous as the individual homeowners. Vent free gas log controls are easy to use and convenient. Accessories have developed alongside providing stainless steel works of art and clean ceramic lines and flat surfaces for the contemporary home.
The next time you are designing the social space and you are brilliant enough to recognize the value of a fireplace, look at alternative ventless gas logs for their distinctive colors and bold statement. Without building a chimney, creating a thousand pages of local code regulations and – most importantly – without sacrificing quality for convenience the fireplace can be more than an encrustation of the larger design and is capable of stopping the eye to become the focal point of the home.