Choosing between a vented and a ventless fireplace will come down to whether it's legal in your state and budget limitations
Adding a fireplace to your home can make for a great centerpiece throughout the year while also adding some cozy heat to your home during the winter. There are two main types of fireplaces on the market: vented and ventless. You’ll want to consider a few items first, such as budget, local codes, and where you want to put the fireplace in your home.
Vented Fireplace Pros and Cons
Vented fireplaces are classic fireplaces that also involve a flue and chimney. The chimney ensures the gas, excess heat, and smoke escape the home. You can also choose to have a wood-burning fireplace with a vented fireplace, creating that cozy vibe that’s impossible to replicate.
A vented fireplace often has fewer safety concerns when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning. While CO2 poisoning is rare, it still affects around 15,000 people, according to the CDC. This is thanks to the chimney and flue providing a way for the gas produced from burning lighter fluid or wood to escape through the roof and out of your home safely.
Vented fireplaces typically have fewer restrictions when it comes to burning as well. While you may still need to limit burning because of local wildfire and dry season regulations, you normally have free rein to install one whenever. So, even if you never plan on using the fireplace and want to use it solely for decoration, at least you can install one where you live.
Because you need a chimney and flue built to support the gas and smoke, your fireplace will, of course, require vents, and often cost more than other types. You’ll also pay more in maintenance costs, as you’ll likely need to hire a local chimney sweep for regular maintenance. Chimney sweeps cost around $260 on average, depending on where you live and what level of inspections you need.
Vented fireplaces are also less energy-efficient, as heat does tend to escape through the chimney. So, if you were to compare a ventless and vented fireplace when it comes to gas (including popular gas logs) usage, the vented will always need to use more to produce the same amount of heat as the ventless option.
Ventless Fireplace Pros and Cons
Ventless fireplaces are prefabricated fireplaces that connect to your main gas line. It comes with built-in technology to balance the amount of carbon dioxide that it produces. Despite more control on the gas, these fireplaces tend to heat a space just as effectively as a traditional vented fireplace.
Ventless fireplaces don’t require the chimney-and-flue combination that a vented fireplace requires, helping cut installation costs. Without these restrictions, you can put a ventless fireplace in most areas of your home.
The lack of heat loss also gives this type of fireplace a boost in energy efficiency, meaning you save more money when it comes to heating.
You’re limited to only a gas-burning ventless fireplace. Many people consider electric fireplaces imitation fireplaces, as they don’t produce any fire, only heat.
Certain cities and states, such as California, Massachusetts, and some cities throughout Texas, ban ventless fireplaces. This means you might not be able to install a ventless fireplace at all. If you do push through and install one anyway, you’ll likely face fines, which would defeat the cost-saving purpose of opting for a vented fireplace.
Vented vs. Ventless Gas Fireplace
If you live in any of these states, you’re limited to vented gas fireplaces. But, if you want to avoid the extra costs associated with a vented fireplace, you can try utilizing an electric fireplace instead. This still gives you a fireplace without the chimney and creates that cozy ambiance that many are after with a fireplace.
But if you live anywhere else, you can consider a ventless fireplace, as long as you take the necessary precautions to ensure ventless fireplace safety. It requires less space and has more flexibility for installation in just about any room in the house.
Vented natural gas fireplaces offer the traditional brick and mortar appearance that most people associate with fireplaces. However, you can technically have the mantel of a vented fireplace and still use a ventless option.
The appearance comes down to personal preference. Technology hasn’t left fireplaces behind, and you can easily choose a traditional or modern style for both vented and ventless gas fireplaces.
When it comes to the price point, ventless gas fireplaces will always come out on top. But you do inherit the risks associated with it, making it a give-and-take investment. Ventless gas fireplaces don’t need the same exhaust points, which significantly decreases the cost.
A ventless fireplace’s return on investment (ROI) tends to be greater than the ROI of a vented gas fireplace. This is primarily because removing a ventless gas fireplace is much easier than a vented option if a potential home buyer doesn’t want the fireplace.