Gas logs, or gas fireplace inserts, have grown in popularity in recent years thanks to easier maintenance and lower installation costs compared to brick and wood traditional fireplaces. Combined with the fact that gas fireplace inserts prices have been falling for quite some time, gas logs are becoming the obvious choice.
Especially this time of year when winter is setting in, the thought of sitting in front of dancing flames in the comfort of your home without the need to haul wood drives many to the decision of buying a fireplace gas insert, a gas log set or a vent free gas stove, depending on existing infrastructure.
When the decision has been made to purchase a gas log set one encounters a bewildering abundance of options, prices, brands and retailers. This post is as attempt to clear some of the fog (sorry, smoke) around gas fireplace logs and the terminology around them (vented, vent free or ventless fireplaces, direct venting, propane gas logs or natural gas logs etc.) Furthermore, we’ve included a review of some of the top online stores that offer gas logs , gas stoves and fireplace inserts (see table above) comparing the pros and cons of each as well as offer some tips on what to watch out for when you buy a gas log set online.
Vent Free or Vented Gas Logs
The most important decision when purchasing a gas log set is weather to go with vent free gas logs or vented gas logs. Vent free gas logs are designed to work safely without the need for a chimney or any other ventilation form. They emit more heat than their vented counterparts but give off less of a “fire show” in terms of color and intensity of the flames. Vented gas logs require an open chimney (for gas fireplace inserts). If you don’t have a brick built chimney you can buy a prefabricated direct vent fireplace (the term direct vent refers to a gas log unit that can be vented through a wall or roof without the need for a brick chimney). The type of venting doesn’t affect the price of gas fireplace inserts by much. In some cases the use of vent free fireplace logs is prohibited or limited by state regulations so check your local regulations before buying one.
Natural Gas vs LP Gas Logs
Another major decision is weather to get a natural gas fireplace insert or LP (Liquid Propane) gas log. This decision would normally depend on the existing infrastructure at your home. If you are already set up with natural gas plumbing or can have one set up with ease you’ll probably go with that option. Otherwise you’d have to choose an LP gas log. LP gas logs require a safety pilot (since Propane is heavier than air and may puddle through the home when leaked) and are usually chosen only for lack of natural gas availability.
Cheap Fireplace models vs Expensive Fireplace models
As with anything else in life price matters. gas fireplace inserts prices range from several hundreds to several thousands of dollers. Some of the factors that affect price are: Log width (the wider the log the higher the price), brand, ember style, warranty extensions, other gas log add-ons and accessories included in the purchase (i.e. lava granules), log material, shipping costs and more. High priced gas fireplace inserts aren’t necessarily better so if you’re looking for low priced gas fireplace inserts you can definitely find them online especially if you are willing to wave some of the fancy gadgets or log designs that come with the more expensive gas log models.
Log material (refractory cement vs refractory ceramic gas logs)
The material the fake fireplace logs are made of bears on their ability to heat as well as on longevity and realistic looks. The two main options are ceramic gas fireplace logs or cement fireplace logs. Ceramic logs radiate more heat and last longer but are generally more expensive. Cement gas logs are cheaper but omit less heat and tend to loose their “looks” relatively fast.
Gas Log Accessories
The variety of gas log accessories is endless and includes replacement logs, gas log alternatives such as fireglass sets, fireball sets and geo-shapes sets, different types of ember, stylish fenders and canopies, decorative pine cones, wood chips and acorns and the list go on and on. We recommend the gas log newbie to start with a basic set and add these alternatives as the hobby grows on him, especially if price is a concern.
Remote Controlled Gas Log Sets vs manually lit gas logs
There are several options to how the gas log set can be lit. The most basic option is match lit gas log sets. Match lit sets don’t have a safety pilot and you’ll need to hold a long match close to the gas tube in order to light them. While this method is the least convenient and least safe it is also the cheapest. Next come manual safety pilots where the fire is lit using a hand knob. Next are remote controlled safety pilots which are similar to manual pilots with the added option to turn the knob using a remote control. The most expensive option is electronic ignition remote system that render the safety pilot unnecessary and are more efficient and quit than the other options, however this option is the most expensive of all.
Gas Log Brands
When it comes to products with serious safety considerations, buying from a known brand with proven standards and quality control is crucial. Here is a short list of the leading gas log manufacturing brands:
- Peterson Gas Logs – RH Peterson has been around for over half a century and are one of the better known and valued gas log manufacturers. Their gas log sub-brand is named Real Fyre and is especially known for the detailed design with high definition bark and natural colors for authentic wood realism. Peterson’s Rel Fyre gas logs include both vented and vent free models and are made is a variety of styles: the Charred series with varieties such as burnt heritage oak, charred red oak and more, the Designer series with elegant hand painted gas log styles including mountain birch, old English coal and many more.
- Hardgrove Gas Logs – Another well known brand is Hardgrove gas logs. Hardgrove produces mostly vented gas logs (though their catalog does include one or two ventless models) with unique realistic log styles such as Rustic Timbers, Highland Glow Hardgrove gas logs and Canyon Wildfire logs.
- Rasmussen Gas Logs – Rasmussen has been producing gas logs for 50 years. Their product line offers a broad range of styles that includes both vented and vent-free burners, a veritable forest of concrete logs offered in sets from 12″ to 96″ as well as gas log alternatives such as FireBalls, FireShapes and FireStones. Some of their more original gas log styles include the Rumford Tipi, Evening Campfire Rasmussen Vented Set and the Pine Cones Rasmussen Vented Set.
- Monessen Gas Logs – Monessen gas logs excel in realistic looking, heat intensive gas logs offered for affordable prices. Their product line highlights are the Split River Oak Monessen Vented Set, Charred Hickory Monessen Vent Free Set, Mojo Monessen Vent Free Set and many more.
Where to Buy Gas Logs Online
The final and most important decision is where to buy your gas log set. Buying a gas log set online makes sense for two main reasons. First, online vendors often offer lower prices thanks to lower costs on inventory and sales space. Second, you can cover a lot more ground and compare prices and models with more ease when you buy online. Many online stores offer gas log sets of all shapes and sizes. We recommend using a well known retailer for the same reason we recommend buying from a known brand: when it comes to products with safety concerns you’d want to rely on a vendor who knows how to handle, ship and offer customer support for your product. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing where to buy gas logs online:
- Authorized Dealer – make sure you buy your gas log from an authorized dealer, otherwise you’ll run into problems activating your manufacturer warranty if and when the need arises.
- Shipping Policy – While some gas log sets are light enough to be shipped via UPS or Fedex, most sets require truck delivery using a freight carrier. These deliveries take longer and may incur additional cost so make sure you are clear about the vendor’s shipping policy. Some online retailers offer free shipping in all cases which may substantially lower the costs.
- Return Policy and damages – There is a change the gas log unit will arrive damaged. Make sure you understand the vendor’s return policy to prevent falling between the chairs if that happens. (For example, some retailers specify under what conditions you should not accept the package from the carries when it appears damaged).
- Support – Receiving your gas log set is not the end of the story. You may run into problems during installation, find that some part are missing or have questions regarding maintenance and operation of the set. It’s important to find out what kind of support the vendor offers (online chat, email, phone etc).
- Price cuts, Coupons, Rewards, Sales and Deals – Online stores often offer coupon codes at checkout, special sale prices or reward programs for returning customers. These may have a significant effect on pricing so make sure you’re aware of all saving options offered by the vendor.