Vented and vent-free fireplaces are both types of gas fireplace; they are both popular for their own reasons and each can suit a different lifestyle. There are a number of differences between a vented and vent-free fireplace but the primary difference is in how the emissions are outputted.
- Vented fireplaces remove emissions from the home through a flue/vent
- Ventless fireplaces do not have a vent or flue and so their emissions are kept in the home, however they allow for more complete combustion and so produce less byproduct (emissions).
Difference in installation cost
A vented fireplace requires a flue to be installed to carry the emissions away. Since a vent-less fireplace doesn’t have the same requirement there is greater flexibility in where they can be installed. The installation is also quicker and less expensive for the homeowner.
Difference in heat output
With a vented fireplace small amounts of heat can escape out of the home through the flue; with a vent-less fireplace all of the heat produced remains within the home.
Difference in efficiency
A vent-free fireplace can heat for longer with less fuel then a vented one. Since less fuel is wasted
Difference in care
Both vent-less and vented need maintaining, just like wood fireplaces. They need cleaning and check-ups to ensure they work safely and efficiently. Vent-less fireplaces should especially have their carbon-monoxide detectors tested yearly to ensure safe use.
Look of flame
There’s a small difference in realism when compared to a wood fireplace between vented and vent-less. Vented gas fireplaces tend to offer greater realism than vent-free. To reduce the risk of unwanted emissions coming into your home a vent-free fireplace burns at a higher temperature, and can have a blue tint to it, so the look isn’t quite the same. If you’re a purist you may prefer to go for a vented fireplace.
Because of the difference in how emissions are deposited, vent-less fireplaces can sometimes have more restrictions. For instance some have a minimum clearance for mantels and other combustible materials. In some states, such as MA, there are restrictions on what room in the house a vent-less fireplace can be installed. In this case it is against the law to install a vent-free fireplace in the bedroom or bathroom.