As you shop around for a heater and fireplace for your home, you will hear two terms used. The first is vented and the second vent free. With the second option, the heat is released into the home for better heat efficiency than being directed outside through a vented or chimney.
The nice thing about vent-free heaters and fireplaces is that they are available in a huge selection of styles. Additionally, most are very affordable, easy to install, and will save you money on your heating bills. You will find logs that look amazingly real and can be placed inside the fireplace and then used with the damper closed instead of open.
Many of the heaters are mounted to the wall and range in size from 10,000 BTU up to 40,000 BTU. The larger size vent-free heaters resemble top of the line stoves, which is why they are so popular. Again, with the heat being vented directly into the home, there is tremendous increase in heat efficiency while a lower heating bill.
One of the drawbacks associated with a vent-free heater or fireplace is that the byproducts can reduce the indoor air quality and increase problems with moisture. Now keep in mind that gas is a clean-burning type of fuel but because it is gas, there is a small degree of pollution produced. The amount of pollution would be dependant on the size of the heater or fireplace and the way in which it is operated. While most builders and manufacturers approve the vent-free option, some still feel there are better options.
If you are thinking about using a vent-free heater or fireplace for your home or office, the recommendation for safety is never to run the unit for more than two hours at a time. Additionally, once the logs are placed in the fireplace, you cannot mess with them. This type of appliance has undergone intensive testing under a wide range of circumstances to ensure their safety for operation and air quality.
Another consideration with a vent-free heater or fireplace has to do with insufficient oxygen supply, which causes carbon monoxide poisoning. The good thing is that every unit built since the early 1980s has an oxygen depletion sensor, also called an ODS. If at any time the oxygen level fall below a specified level, an electric current goes to a fuel cutoff switch, cooling the flame and then shutting off the gas.
Just remember that there have been studies show that other factors can cause performance problems with the gas burners. For instance, they can become clogged over time from pet hair or dust, causing the fire to burn inefficiently and producing higher levels of carbon monoxide. Additionally, air can leak through the damper causing problems with the flame, again increasing carbon monoxide output, and even when the ceramic logs are placed incorrectly, problems can occur that lead to higher levels of carbon monoxide.
If you are interested in getting a vent-free heater or fireplace, make sure you follow code to purchase the right size unit with the right type of features for your specific needs. By following safety guidelines with ventilation, maintenance, and a quality unit, you will enjoy benefits.