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Typically, when you define a fireplace in its purest form, it is an opening in the wall, connected to a chimney, in which you burn fuel. A fireplace can be created in one of two ways: either masonry built-in or factory produced and inserted. Furthermore, there are many classifications of fireplaces. Fireplace or fireplace insert, which is best for your home? There are several options you must consider. Here is the 411 on all types and categories to help you make the most informed choice.


The first item for consideration is whether you want a custom built-in fireplace or a factory produced insert. A masonry fireplace is constructed by builders made of brick, stone, or tile. The fireplace connects to the flue and chimney seamlessly. Factory built models are a metal box, which are framed into a house without masonry. They are usually installed in framed walls and encased in non-combustible materials and can burn either wood or gas. Additionally, they are available for new construction or retrofitting in an existing home.

Wood Pellet Stoves & Inserts

These units burn wood pellets at a high temperature, which increases energy efficiency while eliminating soot and creosote. You can choose between a standalone stove (made of heavy-duty steel or cast iron) or a fireplace insert, which fits in your existing fireplace. Pellet stoves and inserts both require electricity to run; the power turns an auger that feeds the pellets into a burn pot. The units all have a microprocessor similar to your computer. It monitors the pellets to maintain safe and efficient operation and thermostatic control to keep a most accurate room temperature. Pellet stoves burn up to 89 percent energy efficient and are relatively inexpensive to run. Furthermore, a singleton of pellets can last from one to three months, depending on your heating requirements. We recommend stocking up on pellets in the summertime for the best deal!

Vent-Free Gas Logs

Vent-Free Gas Log gas log sets have a closed flue and exhausts into the room. These types of log sets offer many benefits. They are up to 99 percent efficient! Meaning, they return almost all of the heat into your room for ultimate comfort. Furthermore, they burn cleanly and produce minimal amounts of Carbon Monoxide, but can generate a lot of water. Vent-Free units are well suited for basement installation. They are ideal for areas where running ventilation would be difficult and costly. All that is required is the combination of a pre-fabricated firebox and a vent free log set. Plus, you can adjust the flame with remote control. Vent Free gas logs do emit an odor when burned so anyone with Asthma, emphysema or who gets sick from strong perfumes or fragrances should avoid having one.

Vented Gas Logs

Vented log sets are renowned for their fantastic realism, all without the hassle of lugging wood around. Until recently, vented log sets did not produce much heat and used a tremendous amount of gas. These units require the damper be left open all year round. So, selecting tight-sealing fireplace doors is a must. As previously stated, vented log sets are not as efficient as vent free log sets, averaging only 20–30 percent efficiency. However, it is still significantly more efficient than a wood burning fireplace, which is, at best, 7 percent efficient. And, further, often negatively productive. Meaning, the fireplace is sucking the room’s heat up the chimney! Also, they may emit a higher level of Carbon Monoxide and soot, so your fireplace must be well vented. Many people are attracted to their beautiful lazy yellow flickering flames that appear very realistic. And, some units even have glowing embers! DAY or NIGHT offers a high-efficiency gas log set that uses the same amount of gas as standard logs. It is about 35% efficient.

Direct-Vent Fireplaces

Direct-vent fireplaces do not go into existing fireplaces. They are a premiere factory built pre-fabricated fireplace that is perfect for remodeling or new home construction. These units require venting to the outside, but, the piping is very flexible. Therefore they may be vented from just about anywhere! Direct Vent fireplaces are the safest for your home. They pull air from the outside for the combustion, then it expels the fumes and Carbon Monoxide directly back outside. The fireplace is manufactured with glass and an airtight heat resistant seal. Additionally, they are available in many styles. Furthermore, these fireplaces are 71–86 percent efficient, making them an economical and beautiful choice to heat your home!

Gas Direct-Vent Fireplace Inserts

This is a highly efficient fireplace that is retrofitted into your masonry fireplace where you would typically burn wood. A surround is placed around the box to form a tight fit between the insert and the edges of your existing fireplace. Therefore, eliminating most drafts. Most installations will have a new metal chimney threaded through your existing vent for ventilation purposes. These inserts have many advantages over a log set. The most significant benefit is HEAT! High-quality models offer a variable speed fan that pulls cold air into the box from the room, circulates it without coming into contact with the fire and expels clean, hot air into your room. Most units now come with remotes to control the flame. Additionally, they are equipped with fan lighting and a programmable thermostat. Inserts are more decorative than a log set, and since they feature a glass front, they provide clean burning. So, there is no soot or Carbon Monoxide expelled into the room.

Log Set, Pellet Unit or Fireplace or fireplace Inserts, which is best for your home? If you are considering buying a new fireplace or building a house that includes a fireplace feature, educate yourself and make an informed decision. Trust your fireplace replacement or installation to a qualified renovation partner. Day or Night Hearth and Home has years of experience and the largest Hearth Showroom in Maryland. Our skilled team will ensure you make the best decision for your home and family. Call or visit our Showroom today!

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