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Any Interest in a Super Efficient Gas Fireplace?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by R&D Guy, May 28, 2007.

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Any Interest in a Super Efficient Gas Fireplace?

  1. Big Interest

    53.8%
  2. If I bought one efficiency wouldn't be a deal breaker.

    46.2%
  3. Who talkes about gas on this website - lets talk about wood and big piles of wood!

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
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  1. R&D Guy

    R&D Guy New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    Messages:
    375
    Over the years I've seen the gas industry go away from efficiency and move towards units which are more aesthetically pleasing then good heaters. I know some of the complaints I've received in the last few years is that the more efficient units blow you out of the room to quickly. I can appreciate that since I like having the gas fireplace on when company comes over, but at the same time I also like the whole zone heating concept where you heat the room you're in and not the entire house. I recently designed a unit which allowed the consumer to adjust the level of efficiency by turning a bypass lever. Now we're not talking 30% (typical open masonry fireplace) to 90% (furnace levels), but there is a noticeable and immediate difference in the amount of heat given off.

    At the 2007 HPBA one thing that caught my eye was a maker I've never heard of. ECS has a gas unit which is claiming 93% efficiency. Not only that, but the heat exchange is high enough that the venting is done via PVC pipe. That shocked me - plastic vent pipe?? Never thought of that! So the 2 biggest drawbacks I can think of is that the unit cannot run during a power outage (exhaust fan), just like the furnace in your house, and it’s a Really plain looking unit. At HPBA there was zero buzz about this unit, while an efficient pellet stove got a Vesta Award. Of course we all saw Travis mop up the awards with both "Best of Shows" *Rolls Eyes*.

    So my question to all of you; is there any interest in an efficient (90's) gas fireplace? Bouncing the idea off of contractors and colleagues is a big “No,” sighting that most all houses that have a gas hook-up already have a very efficient gas furnace. The fireplace is more for aesthetics, and that extra line on the features list when selling. Personally I see a big push for green appliances in the immediate future.

    Do you agree??

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  2. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Messages:
    580
    Loc:
    Shokan, NY
    I think the answer will vary depending on the marketplace. Obviously, the builders favor less efficiency, less cost. However, the homeowners will answer based on their needs. If a homeowner does not need watch their pennies and nickels they will favor better aesthetics and less efficiency. If the homeowner needs to watch the budget, they may favor the highest efficiency in their gas fireplace and use it more like a wood stove, and less like a fireplace.

    We see a definite trend toward less heat output in gas fireplaces. Those folks who have the money to invest $5000+ in a fireplace are not usually overly concerned that the fireplace does not have the highest heating efficiency. They are usually more interested in the ambiance and heating is secondary. The folks who need to save money on the cost of heating their living spaces tend to lean toward highly efficient free-standing gas stoves and inserts. They cost less to acquire and can be used in a similar fashion to wood stoves, but without the work of a wood stove.

    I think the majority of gas fireplace customers will answer in favor of aesthetics and compromise on efficiency.

    Sean


  3. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    We turn a lot of customers away from our higher BTU high effeciency units because thier rooms are not large enough. They love the unit and are willing to pay for it, but when they find out if they run it for 30 minutes the room will be 80 degrees they go for something smaller. I high end unit that looks like the ESCAPE-36DV with an option to decrease heat output would be awesome. In our market we could sell it like crazy.

    Clean Face, Firebrick interior
    http://www.heatnglo.com/products/fireplaces/gasFireplaceDetail.asp?f=27075
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,331
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    I would say that efficient fireplaces are good, but that super-efficient is not what I would shop for. I like natural draft units which work in a power failure. The efficiencies of the existing top units, perhaps 80%, is good enough in my opinion.

    I think the PVC vent units would only come into play for folks that needed power venting because of chimney problems.
  5. R&D Guy

    R&D Guy New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    Messages:
    375
    Thanks for the replies. Sean and jtp that's what I'm hearing as well. Come to think of it I've never heard sales or marketing say that a unit wasn't hot enough, its always too hot in one breath and not enough fire, and glow in the next.

    I just wonder if another trend is around the corner. With the current hybrid, and Go-Green craze it just makes me wonder if, or when the fireplace industry will have to catch up.
  6. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    A recent poster described an electric fireplace as the "blow up doll" of burning - I thought it was an apt description, and tend to feel the same way about gas "fireplaces" - I just don't see the point :roll: I don't watch the flames on my gas cookstove, and our high efficiency gas furnace provides plenty of heat (If I actually let it come on by letting the woodstove go out) A gas fireplace is no more appealing to me than a gas cookstove, and IMHO is less useful. I'm not attracted by a fake fire, thus to me a high efficiency fake is not significantly more appealing.

    If I'm going to burn something, I want it to be REAL, like cordwood, or leave it in the furnace where it can do the most good....

    This isn't to say that those who want to have a gas unit shouldn't, just that tarting up a blow-up doll doesn't make it less of an imitation...

    Gooserider
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,331
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Nah, Gas fireplaces are more like the Oriental Mail Order Bride. The flame is real nice, it's warm, it's romantic - and it heats while it looks good. Not much down side. You get all the benefits of wood and pellet stoves (the space heat, etc), plus great control and quiet. A lot going for them.

    Electric fireplaces have come a long way. Sometimes they beat no fireplace at all if you live in an apartment or condo. My sister has one in Florida and they think it is great.

    So, as they say, there is a ass for every seat. I've had three gas appliances in my homes, and I've loved them all. Two were freestanding stoves and the current one came with the house - a double sided Lennox.....sweet!
  8. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    680
    In gas stoves people look for:

    Looks (of the stove itself, since 99% of the time it is not burning)
    Realistic fire/logset (for the other 1% of the time)
    Price (most are builder installed)

    Somewhere down the line efficiency might come in, but it usually doesn't come up. Around here most people have them for looks (you should invent one that kicks on when the doorbell ring) and as back up heat for when the power goes out.
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