The Reasons Why Gas Fireplace Logs Heat Your Chimney Better Than Your Room

Frustrated with the lack of heat you get from your natural gas fireplace log set?  Carl Herkes explains why gas fireplace logs are inefficient.

Natural gas is on the rise.  It is predicted to double in cost this year.  Are you afraid to use your gas fireplace because you know those gas logs don’t throw enough heat?  Are you frustrated because the gas logs are downright ugly when they aren’t burning?  And now you won’t use them because you can’t stand to waste the natural gas?  Let’s face it.  Traditional gas fireplace logs are inefficient.  Let me explain why.

First, much of the gas burns behind the logs.  You don’t see most of the flame and you don’t feel the radiant heat from it.  In order to see a good deal of flame, you must turn the gas much higher than just an idle.  In doing so, you are burning more gas than you should.  This also presents an additional problem.  By-products, mainly in the form of soot are produced.  Not enough oxygen can combine with the natural gas to completely burn it up.  Remember the days when cars were not equipped with catalytic converters?  Remember driving down the road and smelling the exhaust of the cars around you?  That is the smell of gasoline not being completely burned.  The catalytic converter solved that problem.  It gets very hot and helps to burn any leftover gasoline before it exits your exhaust system.  Fireplaces are like cars without catalytic converters.  Soot and other by-products are produced when natural gas is not completely burned.

Secondly, gas fireplace logs have some fill underneath them that is supposed to look like ash from a wood burning fireplace.  That fill substance is usually crushed lava rock.  Lava rock neither retains nor radiates heat.  No doubt, you have seen countless styles of heaters on the market.  Whether electric, natural gas, kerosene or propane, they all share a common feature (with the exception of a few radiator-style heaters).  The heaters all have reflective surfaces around the heating element to better radiate heat into your room.  Those heaters do not have a lava rock lining around the heating element.  Manufacturers know that a reflective surface is the best surface for throwing radiant heat.

Thirdly, the gas logs themselves do not help to drive radiant heat into the room.  The logs do retain heat, but the surface of them (made to look like bark on a tree) is certainly not reflective.  The surface of the logs is usually very rough and starts getting covered with soot the first time they are used.  The soot further inhibits the logs from radiating heat.

In summary, gas fireplace logs are sold because some people would like to see a fire that mimics what a real wood fire looks like.  Often, manufacturers don’t take into account that consumers are only getting half the benefit of having a fire if it’s only visual, but lacks the heat advantage.

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