Ventless fireplaces have become very popular in Chicago condominiums and single family homes. They allow the addition of fireplaces to almost any room in the house without costly chimneys and venting.. The following excerpts are from an article by E How.com explaining what ventless fireplaces are and how they work.
WHAT IS A VENTLESS FIREPLACE?
A ventless fireplace, or a vent-free fireplace, does not require a chimney or vent. It is fueled by natural or propane gas or a gel fuel. The gas fireplaces are a great heat source for a single room and the gel fireplaces are used mainly for aesthetics. Ventless gas fireplaces require a gas line to be installed from a public gas source or a propane tank to the fireplace. There are many different types and sizes to fit the needs of any room. By not needing a chimney, they are very inexpensive to install. The heat the fireplace provides is measured in BTUs and will be posted on each one. This is an important number to know because it will be the determining factor of whether it is right for your particular room. Always check with your local building code office before having a gas fireplace installed, as they have been outlawed in some states. Because of certain health concerns, always have them installed by a professional. Installing it yourself without knowing the all of the particulars can lead to sickness and even death.
How Does a Gas Ventless Fireplace Work?
The first consideration in purchasing a gas ventless fireplace is its intended use. If it will be used it as a secondary source of heat for a chilly room, make sure it is sufficient, yet not too powerful for that room. The BTU measurement will describe the minimum square footage a room needs to be to use the fireplace. It is suggested they are not used for more than 4 hours a day. The reason so much attention is placed on the room size is because of the ventless feature. A gas line is installed to the fireplace in order for the gas to fuel the fire. The box in the fireplace is either made of a fireproof metal or ceramic and there are artificial logs sitting inside the box. Start the fire with a button on the fireplace or by remote control. The fire is ignited directly under the fake logs and you can see the flames around them. It almost looks like a real wood fire. You can control the amount of heat output by a dial on the fireplace or the remote control. Unfortunately, all fires use oxygen and vent somewhere. A ventless fireplace will take the oxygen out of the air in the room and replace it with carbon monoxide and moisture. For this reason the units are equipped with oxygen and carbon monoxide detectors. If it senses too much carbon monoxide it will shut the unit off. The same is true when it senses the oxygen level is too low. Because the units put out quite a bit of moisture, a mold problem could develop. Having a dehumidifier in the room helps tremendously. When the fireplaces are installed by a professional and properly sized and adjusted, they are very safe and can help with those high winter heat bills.
The Gel Fireplace
Another form of the ventless fireplace uses cans of alcohol-based gel fuel. These fireplaces also have artificial logs and the entire unit can be put together with just a Phillips head screwdriver. They are completely portable and can be moved from room to room with ease. The cans of fuel are place behind the artificial logs and lit. They will last up to 3 hours and you can burn 1 to 3 cans at a time. They even make the crackling sound of a real fire. Even though these units are just for look and ambiance, they can produce up to 3,000 BTUs of heat. The gel has no odor and does not emit any toxic fumes or smoke. This type of ventless fireplace is great for the corner of a bedroom or living room when you just want the cozy feeling of a fire.