Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s how profound and insightful her reviews always are.
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may arise during our tests and research.
Last updated: May 10, 2022
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Traditional fireplaces don’t just keep you warm, they add a touch of ambiance to your home. Unfortunately, mostly they are messy, with wood to constantly replenish and ashes to clean up. That’s why many people are choosing the best gas fireplace for their home. These come in a variety of modern types and styles to choose from, all of which offer the aesthetic appeal of a traditional fireplace without the mess.
To highlight the different gas fireplace options on the market, we’ve chosen the top 6 models out of the 23 we reviewed. Our favorite unit is the ProCom QNSD250T, which is a stylish freestanding model with both propane and natural gas options available. This one is energy-efficient, with a battery-operated Piezo ignition, a vent-free design, and comes almost fully assembled. We also included direct-vent models and a log set, with varying BTU ratings, heating areas, and styles for you to choose from.
Before you buy a new gas fireplace, there are a few features you may want to consider to ensure you’re getting the right one to meet your needs. The first thing to look at is if it is ventless or vented, so you know if you need a working chimney or flue to use it. You should also check to see if it runs on natural gas or propane since buying the wrong one will require a conversion kit to run it. The dimensions are also important since they tell you if it will fit in the space you have available. To help you decide which option is the best gas fireplace for you, we’ve created a comparison table with in-depth reviews and added a buying guide to cover all the features these units have to offer.
More features: 99.9% energy-efficient; battery-operated Piezo ignition
If you’re looking for the best freestanding gas fireplace, the ProCom QNSD250T is a great option. This model comes almost fully assembled, so it is easy to set up in your home. The stylish grate at the front gives you a great view of the realistic-looking logs.
There are two burners beneath the five logs, which makes the fire look nice and full. These burners are 25,000 BTUs, so they are powerful enough to heat a space of up to 1100 square feet. They are also 99.9% energy-efficient.
This unit uses patented dual-fuel technology that allows you to use either propane or natural gas, whichever you have in your home. It has a vent-free design, so you don’t need to worry about hooking it up to a chimney or vent. A blower may be needed to circulate the air, though a ceiling fan can also help with this.
The controls are hidden behind a small door beneath the grate. They are simple to use, with a battery-assisted Piezo ignition that lights the fire and a thermostat control dial to adjust the temperature. Once you’ve chosen the temperature you want, the unit will cycle on and off to maintain that temperature until you adjust it again or turn it off.
Another handy feature is the pilot oxygen depletion sensor, which is built into the ignition. It automatically shuts off the heater if it detects any carbon monoxide or a lack of oxygen.
More features: thermostat remote control; dual burner
Though the Pleasant Hearth VFF-PH32NG is a bit pricier than some of the other freestanding ventless gas fireplace models on the market, it has some features that may make it worth the extra cost. This piece is a full fireplace unit, so it looks like a real fireplace in your home, without the hassle of smoke and ashes.
The fireplace has a rich tobacco finish with stylish accents that add a touch of class to any room. It also has a large mantle on top that maintains the 36-inch top clearance for the fireplace, so you can place whatever you like above this space.
The vent-free technology used for this unit is state-of-the-art, so it does not require a chimney or flue to run. It is natural gas ready, putting out up to 32,000 BTUs of heat to keep spaces up to 1,100 sq. feet toasty warm. There are dual burners inside the fireplace that create two rows of flames, giving you fire a fuller and more realistic wood-burning look.
As well as the simple controls to light the flames and adjust the heat, this unit also comes with a handy remote control. This remote allows you to turn the fireplace on and off, plus lets you adjust the temperature to your comfort level. For added convenience, the remote can also be used as a thermostat, reading the temperature of the space it’s placed in so the heat level will stay at the optimal level.
The Majestic Quartz QUARTZ36IN is the smallest gas fireplace insert in the Quartz series. Despite its size, this unit still puts out up to 17,000 BTUs to heat your home as needed to keep you warm and comfortable. This natural gas unit is also a direct-vent gas fireplace, which uses this type of technology to remove the exhaust and fumes the fireplace creates from your home so you’re only breathing in clean air without sacrificing the heat.
This unit uses an IntelliFire Plus ignition system, which includes memory settings that allow you to maintain the heat level in your home without constantly adjusting the controls. This ignition also monitors the ignition at all times to ensure that it is functioning safely. It even helps conserve energy, which helps save you some money on your monthly heating bill, even during those chilly months when you’re running it more often.
This unit can be customized to fit your tastes, changing the interior of the fireplace from a traditional look to a contemporary one. It includes tempered glass on the front to increase durability without interfering with the view of the flames. There are 8 ceramic fiber logs inside the fireplace, as well as some glowing embers, to make the fire look even more realistic.
Other features include the venting on the top or the rear, depending on how you want it installed. It also comes with a full firescreen front and hood for added protection from the flames.
The Empire Tahoe Deluxe Millivolt Fireplace is a direct-vent model, which will draw in fresh air from outside your home for combustion. It also uses this vent system to get rid of the exhaust, so you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide in your home as the fireplace heats it.
The venting is at the top of the unit, so you can place it right in your existing fireplace or anywhere else that you can add the vent system without causing too much of an eyesore. There is a tempered glass window on the front of the unit that gives you a great view of the dancing flames when the fireplace is lit. There are also fireplace barrier screens with or without door sets available if needed.
The Tahoe Deluxe also comes with stylish louvers on the top and bottom of the fireplace front, which help circulate the heated air around the room. These louvers come in horizontal or arched, depending on your preference. Beneath the bottom louvers are the unit’s controls, which are easy to use to get your house warmed up to the perfect temperature.
There are also a few upgrade options available that can be swapped out or purchased separately. You can swap out the liner for a different style or add a blower if needed. Ceramic fiber logs are also included for a more realistic fireplace look. This unit is 83% Steady State energy efficient for added convenience.
More features: 2 rows of flames; thermostat control knob
The Pleasant Hearth VFS2-PH20DT is a stylish unit that is compact enough to fit into an apartment or small home without sacrificing too much of your space. Despite its small size, this unit is quite powerful, with a rating of 20,000 BTUs on its highest setting, so it will easily heat an area of up to 700 square feet in no time.
This is a vent-free gas fireplace, so you don’t need to worry about any complicated hookups when setting up your new unit. This model includes dual-fuel technology, so you can use it for either natural gas or propane, depending on what you’re already using in your home. This fireplace includes a minimum clearance design that lets you put this unit almost anywhere you need it.
Inside the unit is a dual burner, which makes the fire look a bit fuller, for a more authentic fireplace appearance. There are also some fake logs in there for an even more realistic look in your living room, kitchen, or anywhere else you place this unit in your home.
The controls are easy to use to get the fire going. There is an electric spark ignition that requires a simple continuous press to light the fire. There is also a dial with 5 heat settings that you can adjust as needed for a comfortable temperature. The controls are at the bottom, though, making them hard to reach without kneeling in front of the fireplace.
More features: 6 highly detailed, hand-painted refractory cement logs
If you already have a fireplace but don’t want to deal with the hassle of wood and ashes, the Sure Heat SH18DBNG may be a good option for you. All you need is the empty fireplace with a working flue that’s at least 28-inches wide at the front, 15 inches at the back, and has a depth of 15 inches or more for this log set to fit. You also need a natural gas hookup and some matches to create those wonderfully warm flames.
This piece is made up of six detailed refractory cement logs that are hand-painted and stacked beautifully on a tiered grate to create the look of the perfect fire right in your home. Even the embers glow for an even more realistic look. Beneath the logs is a U-shaped dual burner for a more authentic fire appearance. A pan, grate, and some shale is also included to add even more detail.
There is one flaw with the design of this vented gas fireplace log set, which is the aluminum pipe that is used to connect the log set to your natural gas. This piece is a bit long and rigid, which makes it hard to connect this properly. Many people buy a flexible hose connector to replace this, which works much better. This unit has a great low price, so this little extra won’t add too much to the cost.
Why is it special?
Great low price
What are the flaws?
Confusing instruction manual
Poor quality gas line connector
Things to Consider
It can be hard to choose a new gas fireplace, especially when you consider how many types and styles there are to pick from. You also may not be sure which gas fireplace brands are the best ones, so this can add to the confusion. If you’re in the market for one of these units, checking out the features that are offered is the best place to start.
Features to consider while choosing a gas fireplace
Gas fireplaces can come with a wide variety of features. If you’re unsure what exactly these features are, this can make choosing one for your home extra difficult. The following sections can help clear up these areas.
Freestanding or direct-vent?
The two main types of gas fireplaces on the market are the freestanding and direct-vent models. Freestanding units are also called ventless since they require no vent to run them. These fireplaces, like the Pleasant Hearth VFS2-PH20DT, are quite efficient, so they save you money on your heating bill every month. They are also among the cheaper gas fireplaces, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get your hands on one.
Another benefit of the ventless models is that they allow all the heat they produce to stay in your home. They are also more flexible on where you can place them since you don’t need to have them near a chimney or flue. You can put them in a corner out of the way or right in the center of your living room if you like, wherever it fits best.
Of course, these models do have their flaws. Since no vents are taking any air out of your home, any residual byproducts they produce stays in your home along with the heat. This has led to some strict installation requirements, including adding blowers or fans to circulate the air as they run. These units can also create minimal exhaust, which could cause lung irritation over time. These units are best avoided by those with allergies, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. Freestanding fireplaces may even increase humidity, creating water vapor that could show up as condensation. This could lead to the growth of mold and mildew if not wiped away regularly.
Direct-vent gas fireplaces, like the Empire Tahoe Deluxe Millivolt Fireplace, use a sealed venting system, which allows the fireplace to draw in fresh air from outside your home for combustion. It also uses the venting system to remove any combustion gases and harmful byproducts from your home. These units include a sealed front on their fireboxes that create a more efficient venting system while still allowing the heat to warm up your living spaces.
A direct-vent fireplace operates at 85% efficiency or higher, plus it can create a fair amount of heat. Adding a blower can increase the heat pushed out of the firebox, allowing them to warm up your home even more.
The issue with direct-vent units is that though they can be installed almost anywhere in your home, you do need to have the proper venting in that area to do so. If you don’t have it where you want the fireplace to go, you may need to do some pricey renovations, including cutting into a ceiling or wall.
There are two main fuel types when it comes to gas fireplaces, natural gas and propane. Though some models, like the ProCom QNSD250T, are outfitted for both with some minor conversions needed, most fireplaces use one or the other.
Natural gas is rather common in residential areas, provided by the area’s utility company. It is piped directly to a home, so there are no tanks to deal with. This gas burns clean, so it is environmentally friendly, plus it is less expensive than buying wood. Natural gas also offers a consistent output of heat.
Liquid Propane Gas is delivered to your home by a local propane company and stored in certified tanks. Propane is more common in areas that do not offer natural gas, like rural areas.
Propane is a byproduct of natural gas and burns about 3 times hotter. It also costs more than natural gas but since it burns hotter, you can run your propane fireplace for shorter amounts of time, evening out those costs. Another benefit of propane is that it creates a flame that looks more like that of a wood-burning fire, so it has some extra aesthetic appeal when used for a gas fireplace.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, which is used as a unit of measure for heat. When it comes to fireplaces, the higher the BTU rating is, the more heat the unit will put out. This means that the more powerful units can heat larger areas or smaller ones in a short amount of time. Of course, you shouldn’t get a high BTU unit to heat a small area, as this is overkill. You also shouldn’t skimp on a low BTU model to heat large spaces since this will require your unit to run constantly and likely never reach the desired temperature.
That’s why you need to look at the heating area as well as the BTUs before you buy your unit, so you know how many BTUs you need. You should also look at the insulation in your home. Poor insulation will retain less heat inside your home, so a more powerful unit may be needed to keep the area at a comfortable temperature. You should also consider the climate you’re living in. The colder the area, the more heat your heating system will need to provide to keep the temperature comfortable. The colder it is, the more power you’ll need.
Though it isn’t listed in some models, like the Sure Heat SH18DBNG, most of the best-rated gas fireplace inserts or freestanding models have a recommended heating area. This is determined by the BTU rating, which we discussed above. The BTU rating a unit has works best with heating areas of specific sizes, maintaining the temperature instead of warming it too much or too little.
If the gas fireplace you’re considering doesn’t have a heating area recommendation, there are approximate BTU outputs recommended for specific room sizes. For instance, with proper insulation, a unit with 4,000 BTUs is best for a room of up to 200 square feet. For every 200 square feet you add, you should add another 4,000 BTUs. So, a room of up to 600 square feet needs 12,000 BTUs while spaces up to 1000 square feet need about 20,000 BTUs. The larger the space is that you’re heating, the more powerful your gas fireplace model should be.
You should also add a couple of thousand BTUs if the insulation of your home isn’t the best. Moderate insulation in rooms of 800 square feet need about 24,000 BTUs to maintain the temperature. The same amount of space with poor insulation needs at least 36,000 BTUs to keep warm. Of course, these units will also cost more to buy and to run since they are using much more fuel than the smaller units and run much longer to make up for the heat you’re losing through the poor insulation, so you may want to consider upgrading your insulation before getting the gas fireplace. Though the initial cost may be high, the less fuel used in your gas fireplace will go down, saving you money down the line.
The dimensions of the gas fireplace you’re choosing are important for a few reasons. First of all, you need one that can fit in the space you have available for it. A huge model like the Pleasant Hearth VFF-PH32NG may not fit into a small apartment, especially when you consider that it needs some clearance space on the back and sides as well. The bigger the unit, the more space it will take up.
If you have an existing fireplace that you’re adding a direct-vent or a log set to, you need the unit to fit in there properly. If it’s too big, it won’t fit right, especially when you add in the liner that goes into the fireplace before you add the unit. You also don’t want it to be too small for the area since it won’t fit securely if there is too much space between the gas model and the walls of the fireplace.
Ease of installation
The ease of installation is another important feature to look at when buying a new gas fireplace. The easier it is to install, the faster you’ll have it up and running. The ProCom QNSD250T and other freestanding models come almost fully assembled, so it takes very little time to put it together. Then you only need to hook it up to your natural gas or propane line, which should be a quick and simple task.
Direct-vent models may need a bit more skill to install, so if you aren’t familiar with how to do this, you may need to hire a professional to do it for you. This is because it not only needs a gas line available, it also needs the venting to hook up to. Placing it in an existing fireplace could make this easier since the chimney will already be there. Otherwise, you may need to cut into your ceiling or wall to create the ventilation you need. The less work you have to do to get your new gas fireplace installed, the better you’ll feel about buying one.
You want every single thing you buy for your home to work properly. If it doesn’t, you also don’t want to be on the hook for any costly repairs or replacements, especially if the issues you’re having are caused by faulty parts or improper manufacturing. That’s why you should always check out the warranty on every product you buy, including your new gas fireplace.
A few of the gas fireplaces on our list have a one to three-year limited warranty for all parts and labor needed to deal with a faulty unit. You should also look at the fine print on this type of warranty. The ProCom QNSD250T has a one-year limited warranty, though it specifies that you need to have the unit installed by a qualified installer. If you try to do it yourself, you will void the warranty, so any issues with it will need to be paid out of your pocket.
The Majestic Quartz QUARTZ32IN is a bit more complicated than the other models. It has a one-year warranty on parts and labor, except for the ones with special conditions. This includes the burners, logs, and refractory on their gas fireplaces, which have a 10-year warranty on parts but only a one-year warranty on labor. The Firebox and heat exchanger have a lifetime limited warranty for parts and a three-year warranty on labor. This is another reason to look at the warranty before you buy your new gas fireplace.
There are a few other features to consider when choosing a new gas fireplace. Some of which are for ease of use, while others are for aesthetic purposes.
The design of the logs is one thing to look at. The purpose of those logs is to give you the look of a real wood-burning fire. There are varying quantities of fake logs included, which can look like small or large fires, depending on the size of the fireplace. They should look realistic, otherwise, you won’t enjoy watching those flames.
Though not common, a remote control is a handy piece to have. These not only allow you to turn on or off the unit from across the room, but many of them also act as thermostats, so they will help maintain the temperature you want in any given area. The modes and settings on the unit should be easy to use, so you can easily adjust the heat level of your fireplace to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.
Safety features are also a must. Built-in sensors that read the air quality or amount of oxygen can help prevent a build-up of fumes or carbon monoxide, making the unit much safer to use in your home at all times.
The style of your fireplace is also something to consider. Though it may not be the focal point in your room, a nice fire can draw the eye. That’s why it’s important to have a stylish gas fireplace to really show off those flames.
Some safety tips
When using your new gas fireplace, you want to do so safely. The following tips can help get you started, preventing damage to the unit and protecting you at the same time.
Check the unit for damage before it is installed to ensure it is working properly and won’t be allowing any harmful fumes into your home.
Maintain the proper clearance around your fireplace. Not only does this include walls and furniture, but also flammable items like rugs, clothing, newspapers, books, and pet beds.
Don’t touch the gas fireplace while it is operating. The glass and metal areas on the unit can get very hot, so be sure to avoid touching it.
Be careful when cleaning it. Be sure it is completely cool to avoid cracking the glass.
Turn off your gas fireplace before leaving your home.
Have your gas fireplace serviced regularly to ensure that it is in proper working order at all times. If any issues occur, have them repaired right away to prevent further damage.
The BTU rating refers to how powerful your gas fireplace is. The higher the rating, the more heat the unit produces. This means that a unit with high BTUs will be able to heat a larger area than a unit with low BTUs. It also means it can heat the same area much faster, so you won’t need to run it for long.
No, none of the gas fireplace models in our reviews have a no-heat function. All of these units are designed to heat your home either by themselves or a supplemental heating system for your main heating system. Though they do have an aesthetic appeal, they are not meant to be used just to add the look of a fireplace to your home.
Propane is much more efficient than natural gas. A single cubic foot of propane is rated at 2,516 BTUs, while the same amount of natural gas is rated at only 1,030 BTUs. This means that a fireplace that uses propane burns only half of what a natural gas fire will burn in an hour, though the propane burns much hotter. Though propane is usually a bit more expensive to buy, it burns cleaner and more efficiently than natural gas will, so it is a much more economical gas to use.
A gas fireplace provides you with all the heat and aesthetic appeal of a normal wood-burning fireplace, without the messy wood and ashes. Though all of the units we’ve reviewed are worth adding to your home, we do have a few favorites.
The ProCom QNSD250T is our top choice. This freestanding ventless model uses both propane and natural gas, providing you with 25,000 BTUs for a heating area up to 1100 sq. feet. This model also includes a battery-operated Piezo ignition, dual burners, simple hidden controls, and a pilot oxygen depletion sensor for safety.
Our second choice is the Pleasant Hearth VFF-PH32NG, which is a freestanding natural gas unit with a rating of 32,000 BTUs. This unit is a full fireplace with a tobacco finish and a full mantle. It is ventless, with simple controls, dual burners, and a thermostat remote control.
The Majestic Quartz QUARTZ32IN is a direct-vent natural gas fireplace with 21,000 BTUs, a customizable liner, tempered gas, and a full firescreen. It also includes an IntelliFire Plus electronic ignition, with memory settings and safety monitoring.