If you are thinking about buying a vent-free fireplace, you need to find out if they are easy to use. Let’s compare using a vent-free appliance to using a traditional wood-burning fireplace.

Before the invention of electricity and central heating, wood-burning fireplaces were a primary source of heat and light. Today, they are a source of heat and ambiance. Traditional fireplaces are rarely the sole source of heat, but are used as a supplemental heat source. They also provide backup heat and light during a power outage.

To use a wood-burning fireplace, you need to chop or purchase cords of seasoned firewood. Since wood is home to insects and dirt, the woodpile must be stored in dry conditions several feet or more from the house, ideally in a shed. Haul in the wood and place it in an indoor wood box or rack, and make sure it is dry before you try to burn it. Start by lighting a small pile of kindling or firestarter and gradually coax the fire, over time, to accept larger logs. Continue to stoke the fire as long as you need it. Sit back and watch most of the heat go out the chimney. When the fire is out and the ashes are cold, sweep up the ashes and remove them to an ash storage bin without spilling on the carpet. Call the chimneysweep for inspections and cleanings at least twice per year.

To use a vent-free fireplace, push the “on” button. Sit back and adjust the thermostat (many models come with a remote control). Soak up the supplemental heat and ambience. When you are finished, push “off.” There is no wood, no ashes, and no mess. They do not require electricity, so they can provide heat even during a power outage. They require an annual inspection/cleaning, but no big chimney cleaning jobs. Some models even have a timer that can be set to turn on just before waking or returning from work.

Vent-free fireplaces are 99% efficient. They do not have a chimney for heat to escape through. The warm air re-circulates throughout the room. Wood-burning fireplaces create a draft that pulls warm air out of the home whenever the damper isn’t tightly in place.

Burning wood produces a huge amount of particulate matter, most of which goes out the chimney and into your neighborhood. Burning natural gas in a vent-free fireplaces produces so little pollution that it is safe to re-circulate in the home.

Depending on what you buy, vent-free flames vary from lively orange to cool blue. You can select a model that provides all the ambiance of a traditional wood-burning fireplace, without the complications.

Virtually any traditional wood-burning fireplace can be adapted to become a vent-free fireplace. Just purchase a vent-free log set, get it installed, and get a professional to connect it to the gas lines. Or choose a vent-free fireplace that can be installed virtually anywhere. Then you will be able to enjoy an easy-to-use fire anytime without hassles.