Fireplaces have long been used in residences to offer a centralized gathering area for the family and serve as a dramatic focal point that’s as much about aesthetic appeal as it is functionality. However, fireplaces also can be a source of supplemental heat, and many homeowners install a fireplace as a back-up heating source.
When Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast in October of 2012, tidal surges and flooding knocked out power to millions of customers across the Northeastern United States. Those power outages left people without lights, television, and perhaps most frightening, heat. Even those who had portable backup generators found they were unable to connect central heating systems to the generator because of the overwhelming power draw. Flooding shut down some city-provided steam heating services in and around New York City, putting safe alternative heating sources in high demand.
Gas fireplaces are not only decorative, but also they can be a significant source of home heat, enabling homeowners to enjoy warmth and light without the hassle of buying and handling wood. In addition, gas fireplaces produce low emissions, which means they are not always limited to areas of the home that could provide an exterior wall for a chimney.
There are many types of gas fireplaces, and homeowners can customize the model they choose to meet their needs. Ventless gas fireplaces are perhaps the most versatile because they do not need to be vented outdoors or up a chimney. This means they can be located just about anywhere there is an available wall. However, these types of appliances are not allowed in all states because of concerns about carbon monoxide. But simply keeping a window open slightly during operation can greatly reduce the risk CO poisoning.
Direct vented fireplaces are installed on an outside wall and a pipe is used to vent the unit outdoors. The complexity of installation and unit designs make these more expensive than ventless options.