Frequently Asked Questions
- Gas Fireplaces
1. What is Zone heating and how
can it save on central heating costs?
Forced air central heating systems
distribute heated air from a central furnace unit
through ducts to various points in the home. The furnace
burners cycle on and off as often as 3 - 4 times per
hour depending on the thermostat's setting and sensitivity.
Typical furnace gas inputs range from 80,000 to 120,000
BTU/hr and are sized to heat the home in the very
coldest weather. During average heating weather, furnace
"on cycle" times may be relatively short
with the burners shutting down before peak efficiency
is even reached. This results in reduced efficiencies
through "cycling losses" (like a car's mileage
in stop and go traffic). Also, room comfort levels
fluctuate along with furnace heat cycles, sometimes
warm one minute and cool the next. With central furnace
systems, it's often necessary to overheat portions
of the home just to get comfortable in the area you
wish to spend time.
By contrast, an efficient gas fireplace zone heater
puts warmth directly into the space you wish to heat
with virtually no cycling losses. These gas heaters
utilize special lightweight steel and ceramic components
to heat up quickly and reach efficiency in minutes.
With an efficient gas fireplace installed in one or
more of your main living zones, you can enjoy increased
comfort while reducing furnace usage in colder weather
or eliminating it during warmer spring and fall weather.
2. What are the advantages of
the direct vent fireplace?
Direct vent technology is available
in single-sided or multi-sided fireplaces, as well
as freestanding and insert models. They use a sealed
combustion chamber that vents out the back or top,
to the outside. This allows easy installation of a
beautiful and realistic fireplace. The vent can be
run horizontally through an outside wall, or vertically
through the roof, depending on your preference. Because
no room air is used for combustion, direct vents are
especially efficient (up to 70+%) and will not alter
the quality of your room air. All combustion air is
drawn from outside the home and 100% of the combustion
by-products are exhausted to the outside.
3. What is the cost of operating
a gas fireplace?
This varies by region, by gas utility
and by fuel type. Based on national averages, a gas
fireplace will cost just under a penny per hour for
every 1,000 BTU's (if your fireplace consumes 20,000
BTU's, it will cost you 20 cents per hour. LP units
are slightly higher to operate. Your monthly gas bill
should include your exact cost per therm (100,000
BTU's). Based on this rate, and the BTU input listed
on the rating plate on your fireplace, you can calculate
the cost for your area.
4. Will my gas fireplace function
Yes. No electricity is required
to operate a gas fireplace as they operate via a millivolt
valve system. During a power failure, your fireplace
will be a secure source of heat.
5. Should I shut the pilot off
in the summer?
Yes, or you can safely leave it
burning. The pilot helps keep the moisture from inside
the firebox, which is caused from the humidity in
the air. It also will extend the life of the thermopile
and thermocouple when the pilot is left on.
6. Can a blower be added to my
Many fireplace heaters are so effective
at producing both radiant and convected heat that
a blower will not do a lot to improve your comfort.
Blowers cannot deliver radiant heat nor will they
influence air circulation much beyond the immediate
area of the fireplace. Blowers are optional on most
heat circulating (grilles on top and bottom of fireplace)
units, and for some hearth products the blower is standard.
Adding a blower is easily accomplished if power (110v
AC) was provided to the electrical junction box of
the fireplace at the time of initial installation.
If power was not provided, a fan option is still possible,
but installation is complicated and therefore more
7. If I want to convert my wood
burning fireplace to gas, is a set of gas logs or
a gas insert going to be my best option?
Your decision really comes down
to whether heat or aesthetics is your number one priority.
If heat is your first concern, or the existing wood
fireplace has had a history of down drafting (smoking),
you should purchase a gas insert. From an initial
cost standpoint, an insert will cost 4 to 5 times
more than a set of gas logs. However, since decorative
gas logs are inefficient and an insert has an operating
efficiency in the 70% range, your payback on the fuel
you will save is about five years. After that the
insert begins saving you money.
8. How often do I have to clean
the gas fireplace and vent?
Although the frequency of
your fireplace servicing and maintenance will depend
on use and the type of installation, you should have
a qualified service technician perform an appliance
check-up at the beginning of each heating season.
Whenever a film begins to build up on the glass, it
is recommended to use a special cleaner (Kel Kem)
to clean away any residue. SOLACE offers a comprehensive
safety check-up and cleaning for only $80.00. For
details or to sign up for maintenance, click here.