Ask the Fire Guy

How many general types of fireplace are there?
Three. Wood burning, gas burning and electric.
What type of fireplace should I purchase?
Before choosing a fireplace, check with your local building department to be sure of local code restrictions. Many municipalities will not allow any fireplace which is not a "direct vent sealed combustion chamber gas fireplace."
What is the difference between wood burning fireplaces, and gas burning fireplaces?
Wood burning fireplaces are made to burn either wood, or after-market gas logs. Gas burning fireplaces can only burn gas and come complete with logs, burners and igniters.
How many general types of wood burning fireplaces are there?
Two: radiant and circulating
What is the difference between radiant and circulating fireplaces?
Radiant fireplaces have clean faces, with no visible louvers. Non-combustible finishing material can be installed to the very edge of the fireplace opening on radiant fireplaces. Circulating fireplaces are slightly more energy efficient, but have louvers above and below the fireplace opening, which cannot be covered over with finishing material.
How many general types of gas burning fireplaces are there?
Three. B-Vent, Direct Vent and Vent Free.
What are the differences between B-Vent, Direct Vent and Vent Free fireplaces?
B-Vent Fireplaces use a small diameter gas vent, which must be vented upward through the roof. Direct Vent fireplaces use a slightly larger vent which can be vented horizontally through a wall or vertically up through the roof. Vent Free fireplaces require no vent at all, but are not approved for use in California.

Not approved for use
in California
Direct Vent
Vent Free

Which type of gas fireplace is the most energy efficient?
Of those allowed to be installed in California, direct vent fireplaces are typically heater rated, and are much more efficient than B-Vent fireplaces.
If Direct Vent Fireplaces are so much more efficient, why wouldn’t I always choose a direct vent over a B-Vent fireplace?
Direct vent fireplaces produce so much heat that they may not be well suited for bedrooms or other small rooms. Direct Vent fireplaces always have fixed glass panels which cannot be opened during operation.
What is an electric fireplace?
An electric fireplace is a fireplace which operates totally by electricity. There is no flame present, only a source of light which simulates flame. They can be installed where other fireplaces can't because they require no vent or gas line. They can be wall hung, built in, or be installed within a finished cabinet.