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Natural Gas or Propane
For fireplaces that use fuel, you will find that you have your choice of natural gas or propane. Both have advantages and disadvantages that you need to consider. For starters, when it comes to natural gas, there are always concerns of supply. In fact, back in the 1970s, people that had natural gas fireplaces or heaters were told to turn the gaslights off. Even homebuilders were required to stop installing fireplaces that used natural gas because of the fear of shortage.

What we know today from the American Gas Association (AGA) is that more than 60 years of natural gas supply has been proven but beyond that, the amount of natural gas that will be available is uncertain. The gas is stored in gas fields that are simply accessed when supply demands. Now, the good news is that new technology has created a way to drill deeper into the ground than ever before to reach even more natural gas. Another good piece of information is that approximately 90% of all natural gas comes from the United States and only 10% from other countries

If you have a traditional fireplace, it can be converted to operate off either natural gas or propane, your choice. The difference is that while natural gas is obviously natural, propane has a different type of chemical base so it burns differently. If you change from burning natural gas to propane, your fireplace will need a few adjustments. For instance, the orifice or device to control the gas flow will need to be adjusted to allow for a higher heat valve since propane burns much hotter than natural gas. Just remember that if you have a stove, check with the manufaturer first, as it may not be able to burn both types of gas.

Interestingly, propane is found in most natural gas and is actually the product that is refined from crude petroleum. As mentioned, propane burns much hotter than natural gas since it contains about 2,500 BTU per cubic foot while natural gas only has 1,012 BTU per cubic foot. This is important information that you need to know when it comes to fireplaces.

Consider this - the average set of vented gas logs measuring 24 inches will burn 60,000 BTU per hour. Now, you can purchase smaller logs burning only 8,500 BTU but you can also go with a large set of logs that will burn an amazing 100,000 BTU. For fireplace inserts, you will find numbers ranging from 12,500 to 50,000 BTU per hour and for vent-free logs, from 8,500 to 39,000 BTU.

Before you make your choice, you need to ensure there are no restrictions from your building code authority or home association. Secondly, if you are unsure which direction to go, talk to a fireplace professional to ask for their recommendation.

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