Q&A Direct Vent vs. Vent Less

QandA Posted By QandA, Oct 5, 2001 at 2:20 PM

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  1. QandA

    New Member 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2012

    My wife and I have a little dilemma and a friend suggested that I ask you and see if you couldn't help. We are thinking of adding a fireplace to our family room (18'L x 13' W x 20' H) that opens to our upstairs bedrooms. To date our investigations have come up with conflicting and confusing results. We know that we want gas for the cleanliness of it but we would like it to throw some heat as well, as this is the coldest room in our house. I could see us running this unit at least 4 to 5 hours a day.

    Our first exposure was with direct vent fireplaces. As we continued our search we discovered "Vent-less" fireplaces. Interestingly enough all of the places we visited sold both types of fireplaces. However, the first two places we visited didn't seem to have a preference they would sell us with whatever type of unit we wanted to purchase. The last two however drastically pushed one over the other one with warnings making us thoroughly concerned and confused.


    Sounds like most of the information you received is true, but it might be flavored a bit by the salespeople. If you search the Q and A for Ventless or Vent free (http://chi.hearth.com), you'll find a lot of information relating to your question.

    One problem is that "real world" tests have not been done with Vent Free units...the industry is spending millions on advertising, lobbying and other sales efforts and little on testing. This is truly unfortunate for the consumer.

    Another problem is sizing. The 30-40,000 BTU Vent Free units are too big for many areas, yet you rarely get a good looking flame when you turn these units down.

    I personally would pick a direct vent unit because I am extra sensitive to this sort of stuff (I don't smoke, drink, do caffeine or eat meat). If you have asthma or any other like problems you should definitely stay away. However, there are many people who are not at all bothered by Vent Free. Price is also a factor. You probably found that Vent Free units cost less than Direct Vent.

    In any case, a Vent Free unit sized and installed correctly can be safe..there have been no reported deaths attributed to them despite millions of units sold. In the end, the decision is yours.
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