Are propane fireplaces energy efficient

Gas fireplace - heating fireplace with a high level of comfort and efficiency

Gas fireplaces can convince with a beautiful flame pattern and considerable heating output. In this article you will find out what characterizes a gas fireplace and what is important when it comes to this technology.

This is how a gas fireplace works

A gas fireplace (also a heating fireplace or gas fireplace) works like other fireplaces in that a fuel is burned in a combustion chamber and heat is generated as a result.

Depending on the version, the gas fireplace emits this heat as radiant heat to the installation room or it also heats a heat exchanger that heats water for the central heating or for showering and washing.

Comparable to a wood-burning stove, the gas fireplace usually always has a large viewing window in which the owner can observe an appealing play of flames. In this way, the gas fireplace in the water-bearing variant differs from a gas boiler, for example.

Propane as an alternative to natural gas

Depending on the model, propane or natural gas is suitable as fuel. The gas fireplaces operated with propane gas are mainly used when there is no natural gas connection available.

They are then supplied via a gas bottle or a propane gas tank. However, if the gas fireplace is also to offer economic efficiency in addition to a beautiful flame appearance, connection to the natural gas network makes more sense.

Control via app possible

A great advantage of gas fireplaces is their ease of use. They can be started at the push of a button and switched off again at the push of a button. In addition, there are now models that are controlled by an app or a timer.

Flame intensity, power or flame image can be set via app or control technology. In winter, for example, you can use the app to turn on the fireplace on the way back from work.

Then the gas fireplace will generate heat before you get home. The app control also offers the advantage that gas consumption can be made even more efficient. It can also be integrated into a smart home.

Gas fireplace variants at a glance

From a technical point of view, different types of gas fires can be distinguished:

These very simple fireplaces emit the heat from the gas flame directly into the room. However, these fireplaces are rather uneconomical and achieve very poor levels of efficiency compared to an open wood fireplace.

You "burn" a large part of the gas without it being used to generate heat.

This chimney has a closed combustion chamber, which significantly increases the efficiency. With such a gas fireplace, you can achieve up to 70 percent of the heating output that a wood-burning stove generates.

Depending on the model, the gas fireplace draws its combustion air from the installation room or from outside via a supply air duct. The latter variant can then, for example, be used in a low-energy house independent of room air. However, this requires a special LAS exhaust system that can supply and exhaust air.

  • water-bearing gas fireplaces:

These gas fires can be connected to a central heating system. They also have a water pocket. There, water is heated with the help of the gas flame, which is then collected in a buffer storage tank.

From there, the water can be fed to the radiators as heating water. Domestic water is heated in a second circuit. Water-bearing gas fireplaces can also be combined with solar thermal energy to increase energy efficiency.

Installation only possible by a specialist company

For reasons of fire protection, gas fires may only be installed by authorized specialist companies. This can be, for example, a furnace builder with a “gas license” or a gas fitter.

Before a gas fireplace is put into operation, it must be removed by the responsible chimney sweep. He ensures that the fireplace has been properly connected and is safe.

Gas fireplace vs. wood fireplace - advantages and disadvantages of both systems

If a gas fireplace is used as a fireplace, it can be an alternative to a conventional fireplace. Like all systems, it also has its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of a gas fireplace over a wood fireplace

  • A gas fireplace does not produce ashes. That is why the cleaning effort for gas fireplaces is significantly less than for wood-burning stoves. Incidentally, the viewing window on gas fireplaces also has to be cleaned less often.
  • Gas fireplaces emit almost no fine dust and produce less CO2 than wood-burning fireplaces.
  • A gas fireplace can be installed in apartments with little effort, without necessarily having to adjust the exhaust system.
  • In contrast to a wood-burning stove, the flame pattern can be influenced in a number of ways.
  • Gas fireplaces can be switched on and off at the push of a button and, depending on the model, can also be controlled via an app and are smart home compatible. This ease of use is not possible with a wood-burning stove. A pellet stove is most likely to offer a similarly high level of convenience.
  • If a gas fireplace is operated with natural gas, no fuel storage is necessary. There is also no need to add fuel.

Disadvantages of the gas fireplace compared to a fireplace

  • Gas is a fossil fuel. Wood, on the other hand, is more ecologically compatible and almost CO2-neutral when burned.
  • The cost of gas is higher than that of firewood. In addition, with a gas fireplace you are dependent on the local gas supplier.
  • Wood-burning stoves can achieve significantly higher levels of efficiency than gas fires. A gas fireplace is always less economical than a wood fireplace.

Gas fireplace costs: you have to expect them

Similar to buying a fireplace or pellet stove, the price range for gas fireplaces is very wide. High-quality gas-powered chimneys can therefore cost between 2,000 and 6,000 euros.

In addition, you have to reckon with another 500 to 1,000 euros in material costs, depending on the effort involved in adapting your exhaust system. For the installation of a suitable chimney, including the connection of the gas fireplace, another 400 to 500 euros are required.

If you are interested in a gas fireplace, a non-binding preliminary inquiry is recommended to a specialist company. The experts can also give you recommendations for different fireplace models and, for example, select a model for you with the performance you need.

Special feature: You can influence the flame image yourself with the gas fireplace

A "specialty" of gas fireplaces is the individual design of the flame pattern. While the appearance of a wood fire in a fireplace always depends on the type and amount of wood placed on it and on the draft in the chimney, the flame pattern of the gas fireplace can be influenced very well.

Many manufacturers offer special equipment variants, each of which creates a different flame look. Some chimneys even offer a view of the flame from both sides, so that these chimneys can be built into a wall, for example.

A gas-powered fireplace is also possible, which can be seen from three sides. Various manufacturers also offer corner models.

In addition, you can choose the equipment of the combustion chambers with gas fireplaces. Since only the gas and no wood is burned, the fireplace can also be equipped with pebbles or ceramic logs.

Which chimney do I need for a gas fireplace?

A conventional brick chimney is usually sufficient for the gas fireplace. This means that a gas fireplace can also be connected to an existing fireplace in an old building, for example.

In principle, the requirements for flue systems for gas fireplaces are not as strict as for solid fuel fireplaces, since gas burns with almost no fine dust and with a low CO2 content.

However, there are different requirements in the combustion ordinance in the federal states. You should therefore find out more here before connecting a gas fireplace. The best thing to do is to talk to the chimney sweep responsible or contact a local specialist company.

Some manufacturers specify specific exhaust systems to ensure that operations run properly. Some models even offer an additional exhaust system that helps to safely evacuate the exhaust gases, even over longer distances.

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Conclusion - who is a gas fireplace suitable for?

If you would like to combine the advantages of a cozy open fire with a high level of convenience, a gas fireplace is an attractive solution. If you don't want to put on wood to fire your fireplace and don't want to remove ashes later, you will also tend to prefer a gas fireplace.

Many homeowners and apartment owners also benefit from another great advantage: because the gas fireplace does not necessarily need a brick chimney. If you want to operate the gas fireplace as economically as possible, you should use a water-bearing model.

Sebastian is the author of this article and our expert in the fields of heating systems and heat transition. If you have any questions about the article or about your heating change, write to him at :[email protected]