Which gas fireplace is right for my project?
Over the past 10 years the number of gas fireplace products available to purchase in Australia has more than tripled. The options and features are seemingly endless and overwhelming to many. Some people believe a fireplace is a fireplace no matter what design but that is not the case, so how do you choose between them?
The aesthetic of the fireplace is quite often the first thought of a home owner or specifier when selecting a fireplace. Other considerations in the selection process maybe budget, size of the area to be heated, the position of the fireplace or its venting requirements.
There are basically two types of gas fireplace technologies available today;
‘B Vent’ (The oldest of the gas technologies)
Open gas fireplaces that take their oxygen supply from within the room and exhaust the majority of the burnt gas or bi-product outside through a flue pipe. The majority of the exhaust gases exit through a vent or flue system terminating vertically on a roof but sometimes horizontally on an external wall with a power flue* system.
‘Direct Vent’ (Also referred to as Balanced Flue)
Sealed glass fronted gas fireplaces taking their oxygen from outside of the building through one pipe and exhausting the bi-product back outside through another pipe. Most direct vent fireplaces can also terminate their flue systems vertically or horizontally. Some fireplaces require a power flue* system to accomplish this.
*Power Flue Versus Natural Draft
Both B Vent or Direct Vent fireplaces can be either a power flue or natural draft system.
A power flue utilises a fan to mechanically exhaust the bi-product outside. This fan is mounted either inside the firebox, in-line of the flue system or externally.
Natural Draft is a term used to describe the process of naturally exhausting the bi-product outside and drawing its oxygen in. The system doesn’t use fans to assist in this process and therefore does not require power to operate.
The Pros & Cons
Open B Vent fireplaces deplete oxygen levels in a room, are less efficient and cannot be installed in a bedroom. This type of fireplace however provides excellent ambience to a room as it looks more like a traditional open wood fireplace.
Direct Vent fireplaces do not effect oxygen levels in a room, they can be installed anywhere in the home and can heat very large areas sometimes up to 250sqm. The glass on the front of the fireplace can provide much needed radiant heat and is usually protected with a fine mesh safety screen. Where a safety screen is not provided the glass temperature must be much cooler such as a double glazed system. The cooler glass however does not provide as much radiant heat and therefore a reduction in heating capacity.
Most gas fireplaces can be installed into a timber frame and finished with a wall lining such as plasterboard but more commonly today is a non-combustible wall lining such as cement sheet. These units are referred to as zero clearance fireplaces.
Some gas fireplaces are commonly referred to as ‘inserts’ or ‘inbuilt’ models designed to be installed into an existing brick chimney. Gas inserts are typically un-insulated to keep their size to a minimum.
No matter which fireplace is selected each one has differing flue or vent requirements in order for them to work and/or meet their required efficiency levels.
All fireplaces have a restriction in the amount of flue they can be installed with. This is usually stated with a minimum or maximum length as well as the number of bends allowable if any.
Every fireplace is tested for clearances to combustible materials. Some gas fireplaces can have combustible materials contact them directly whilst other fireplaces may require more restricted conditions. If a fireplace produces more heat than another then it may require larger clearances or the use of a fan constantly operating in order to keep the firebox cool.
Some fireplaces can exhaust the heat away from the fireplace entirely meaning there is very little to no heat directly in front of or around the fireplace. This system allows ducting of that heat to selected points in the home.
Similar ducting systems also exist where you can still get heat from the actual fireplace but they exhaust some heat from the convection chamber to other parts of the home through a heat transfer or power duct system.
Lopi Fireplaces have 11 gas fireplace models ranging from a more traditional shape to the popular linear range which is landscape in its orientation. Eight models can be installed in a zero clearance (timber frame) application for an easier install.
All Lopi fireplaces are ‘natural draft, direct vent’ fireplaces which is regarded as the best of both worlds. These fireplaces can be installed in almost every situation. They do not require mechanical ventilation and can operate completely without power as the fan is not a requirement. They draw their oxygen from outside and can terminate their flue vertically or horizontally in almost all applications.
The Lopi linear fireplace range can be flued up to 12 metres vertically and 18 metres horizontally all without the need for a power flue.
Eight models in the Lopi gas range are ‘high output’ fireplaces meaning they have ceramic glass for increased radiant heat transfer and use higher levels of gas on high if more heat is required in the space.
All Lopi gas fireplaces feature GreenSmart™ 2 technology which is a combination of features that make them one of the most flexible and feature packaged fireplaces in the industry.
GreenSmart™ 2 Features:
- Wall Mountable Thermostat Remote allowing you to control the fireplace in a standard thermostat mode, a ‘Smart’ Thermostat that modulates the flame dependant on the room temperature or in a manual mode. It also allows you to operate the blower and light system.
- 6 Speed Blowers – Independently controlled of the flame and can be turned off completely if desired.
- GreenSmart™ Pilot – Both electronic (IPI) or continuous (CPI) modes. CPI can ensure hassle free ignition on colder nights and limit condensation runs on the inside of the glass.
- Accent Lighting – Adding a warm glow to your fire for added atmosphere even when the fire is off. Not just a fire, but also a piece of furniture.
Lopi Fireplaces are available from over 70 outlets nationally.