Direct Vent vs. Ventless Gas Fireplaces vs Custom Gas Fireplaces (Linear Burner System)

July 27 | By Spark Modern Fires

Which option is the right choice for me?

If you’re on the hunt for a new gas fireplace, you’ll soon discover there are basically two types from which you can choose: direct vent and ventless. A third option is a custom gas fireplace. The descriptions of these first two fireplace styles are fairly self-explanatory. Direct vent fireplaces require the installation of an appropriate venting system. Ventless fireplaces operate without the need for additional venting. The third option of going custom is more complicated and costs more. However, you can get the fireplace that most exactly meets your needs and wants. More on that later…

Trying to decide which type of fireplace is the right choice for you?

Here is a comparison of the first two options to assist you in making the right decision for you.

Ensure Optimal Air Quality Indoors

Direct Vent Fireplaces

If you want a fireplace that will not have any impact on the air already found in your home, a direct vent fireplace is the right option for your needs. The main role of direct vent fireplaces is to promote a comfortable atmosphere and an attractive appearance without having any effect on the air quality inside your home.

Direct vent fireplaces are designed to work with an independent venting system that is sealed, bringing in clean air from the outdoors for combustion. At the same time, the venting system draws from the air outdoors, exhaust fumes and flammable gases are filtered back outside.

The firebox front is totally sealed from the inside of the house, ensuring the venting system functions properly. An important part of this process includes the prevention of any flammable gases from permeating the living area.

Direct vent fireplaces earn high marks for the concentration of heat they generate. This type of fireplace is powerful and effective, operating at a level of up to 85% efficiency. When coupled with a fan or fireplace blower, additional heat can be moved from the firebox itself into the remainder of the home, thus increasing the efficiency of the unit.

Extremely versatile, direct vent fireplaces can be implemented in nearly any room in your house. Among the areas often selected for a direct vent fireplace are:

  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Basements
  • Living rooms
  • Family rooms
  • Kitchens

The only limitations you face when selecting the right location for your new direct vent fireplace is whether or not venting can safely be installed. In some cases, municipal code restrictions may make your initial choice of installation untenable.

The type of direct vent fireplace you select will determine which type of venting system you will require. The two venting systems for this type of fireplace are co-axial or co-linear vents. You can expect to pay between $200 and $1500 for your venting system. In some cases, this cost will be even substantially higher. The final expense is determined by the amount of vent run and pipe required.

To properly install your vent system, cutting a hole in your wall or ceiling may be required. If you have an existing chimney in your home, it may be possible to vent directly through that.

Visually, the main benefits direct vent fireplaces offer are a full flame appearance and many media bed selections from which to choose. With many different styles available to you, direct vent fireplaces offer the ideal alternative to the traditional wood-powered versions.

No Ventilation Necessary

Ventless Gas Fireplaces

Ventless gas fireplaces are extremely affordable, offering optimal heat distribution for a reasonable price.

Sometimes referred to as vent-free fireplaces, ventless gas fireplaces are an inexpensive way to help offset traditional electricity bills and are much cheaper to install than direct vent or wood-burning fireplaces.

Since this type of heat source does not need a venting system, the heat generated by the fireplace remains in the area where it is installed. This also allows for greater flexibility when it comes to places in your home where a fireplace can be added.

Instead of drawing air from outside the house, ventless fireplaces use indoor air. The air drawn from your living environment is then redistributed as heat. Ventless gas fireplaces are designed to operate at near 100% efficiency levels, making certain no flammable gases are left in the home. Any by-products of the combustion process are contained.

Because neither a chimney nor a ventilation system is required for a ventless fireplace, this type of heat source is much more reasonably priced and costs far less to install. This also means you have more options as to where your fireplace can be located. Unusual locations, including in the middle of a room or away from walls, are easily doable with a ventless fireplace.

One of the more concerning aspects of ventless fireplaces is that by-products remain in the living environment instead of being safely vented outdoors. Because of this potential problem, ventless fireplaces must be installed with careful adherence to the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Ventless fireplaces can exacerbate smells in the house, and since there is little exhaust following combustion, these aromas may lead to some lung irritation. Because of this, ventless fireplaces are not the preferred choice for anyone suffering from allergies, asthma, or other ailments of the lungs or respiratory system.

It is important to note that ventless fireplaces may also have an impact on your home’s humidity levels. As oxygen is consumed, water vapor is added into your home environment. Since there is no ventilation system in place for the release of this water vapor, you may see an increase of condensation on windows and walls that, over time, can lead to the development of mold and mildew. It is recommended that you keep a window near the fireplace slightly open to allow for the safe release of water vapor.

To prevent issues with carbon monoxide, ventless fireplaces are all installed with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor. The role of this sensor is to assess the oxygen levels in a house and to trigger an automatic shutoff if the oxygen supply is not maintained at a safe rate.

If you’re looking to offset the cost of your utility bills with a heat source that is inexpensive to install and maintain, ventless gas fireplaces are the way to go.

The appearance of the flame is not as realistic as with a direct vent fireplace; however, the generated warmth is more consistent and intense.

What About Safety?

The final authority when it comes to the choice between a direct vent or ventless gas fireplace is your municipality’s building and fire codes.

If the ventless gas fireplace is your choice, it is important to find out which rooms in your home are best suited to this type of heating unit. You will also need to measure the room to be certain it is large enough for sufficient amounts of oxygen during burning.

Some states have prohibited the use of ventless gas fireplaces entirely. Other states permit their installation and use but have instituted a very rigid set of specific regulations regarding the installation process.

What is the #1 Direct Vent Fireplace?

Fire Ribbon Direct Vent Vu Thru

The Fire Ribbon Direct Vent Vu Thru gas fireplace adds a beautiful design element to any home. A direct vent gas fireplace with a see-through finish, this heating unit has a modern feel to it that makes it the ideal addition to any contemporary dwelling. A focal piece in any room, the Fire Ribbon Direct Vent Vu fireplace offers efficient warmth to help reduce traditional energy costs.

Among the benefits of this direct vent fireplace model are:

  • The patented Fire Ribbon design and technology
  • Fixed glass windows for a seamless finish
  • Complete customization of the surround area
  • Simple installation
  • Flexibility in location
  • Easily vent able through a roof or exterior wall
  • Vent system that draws from outside air for no heat loss or drafts
  • 80% efficiency

What is the #1 Ventless Fireplace?

Fire Ribbon Vent Free Slim

The Fire Ribbon Vent Free Slim is a ventless fireplace that is modern, efficient, and eye-catching. A gas fireplace that is mounted on a wall, this particular unit enhances the beauty of a room, contributes substantial heat, and requires virtually no floor space. Inexpensive to install, this fireplace has quickly become one of SPARK’s top sellers.

Some of the advantages of the Fire Ribbon Vent Free Slim are:

  • The proprietary Fire Ribbon design and technology
  • Easy installation
  • No renovation is required for installation
  • Completely ventless (no need for a chimney or hearth)

Thinking it’s time to add a gas fireplace to your home? Still struggling with which option is the best choice for you?

We’re here to help!

Contact the Spark professional team now at 203-791-2725 or for your no-obligation consultation. We look forward to serving you.




Colleen Gove Healey


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