If you have a gas fireplace, you can use regular wood or one of two types of gas logs to heat your house. The type of logs that you burn depends on a variety of factors, including your desired aesthetic, efficiency, and local laws.
Gas Logs vs. Wood
You can use regular wood in your gas fireplace. You must attend to the wood constantly to ensure that it’s burning properly, and it’s inconvenient to store in large quantities and it can be quite messy. Above all else, regular wood poses a fire risk.
You have alternatives to traditional wood, namely, gas logs. These logs require no maintenance and they’re easy to install. Best of all: they pose less of a fire risk while supplying twice as much heat as regular wood. Gas logs have two main categories: vented and vent-free.
Vented Gas Logs
Vented logs provide you with a large, realistic flame. They operate in conjunction with an open damper or chimney flue. They are decorative and simulate a traditional, wood-burning fire. Of the two types of gas logs, vented ones are the least efficient because most of the heat they produce escapes through the chimney.
Vent-Free Gas Logs
Vent-free gas logs operate with a closed damper or chimney flue, which means your fire won’t be as large and won’t appear the same as a wood-burning fire would. They are incredibly efficient, however, because none of the heat that the fire produces escapes through the chimney. These logs, sometimes called vent-free heaters, have U-shaped burners and cement “logs” sitting atop a heating element. They can usually be controlled by a thermostat, which allows you to maintain a room temperature. Beware, however: vent-free gas logs provide additional moisture to a room, so ensure that the room is properly vented to prevent mildew from forming.
Some states and municipalities regulate the types of gas logs that are permissible. Most often, if a type of gas log is prohibited it’s the vent-free logs. For example, in some areas, vent-free gas logs are not allowed in bedrooms, bathrooms or RVs.