Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s how profound and insightful her reviews always are.
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may arise during our tests and research.
Last updated: January 27, 2021
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Even the highest-rated direct vent gas fireplaces can turn out to be disappointments when installed in your home. Of course, this is likely to be the case if you only look at the ratings of the products without matching them to your needs first.
However, if you pay attention to the features, including the size, weight, color, and construction materials of the tools, you might find the best direct vent gas fireplace for you. Ideally, you want something that will fit and is easy to install in your home, and these are the features you look to for that. There are a few additional features as well that will affect functionality once the fireplace is installed. Nevertheless, information is a crucial element of getting the best direct vent gas fireplace. As such, we will provide you with as much data as you need.
If you are only moving into your first home, you may want to consider the Majestic Quartz QUARTZ32IN Natural Gas Fireplace. Of course, you want your first experience with such a fireplace to be positive. The tool in question is likely to fulfill that mandate.
Size-wise this is one of the more compact devices on the list. This being the case, the tool won’t be taking too much of your space for its installation. If you want to experience the ambiance the device has to offer, you should find some space for it in the living room.
Installation of the tool will also not be complicated since you have both top and rear venting options available. Again, if this is your first home, you probably won’t need much heat.
This tool offers a maximum of 21000 BTU. Admittedly, you can reduce the heat and BTU output to about 15000 by toggling the controls. If you do this, your fuel is likely to last longer. However, the output you select will also be dependent on ambient temperatures available at the time of use.
You get the feel of a traditional fireplace while using this product without chopping wood or dealing with ash. Also, the fireplace is pre-wired for a wall switch. The installation will, thus, be a little easier. Additionally, you have the element of a tempered glass screen. This will allow you to look at the fireplace as you relax on the couch. Also, the heat efficiency of the device is not too shabby.
What we liked:
Compatible with both top and rear venting
Comes with a tempered glass screen
Easy to use
What could be better:
Accessories and changes in outlook add to the already high cost of owning this fireplace
Another excellent option is the 48” Empire Boulevard Direct Vent Linear Fireplace. As you can tell, this device is very wide and may need a lot of your wall space for installation. It works well with apartment buildings and other houses that don’t include a fireplace in their designs.
In addition to making your living room look better, it can also provide heat. This is evident in the BTU output of the device. As it stands, not many options, even on this list offer more than 38000 BTU.
Of course, the manufacturer realizes that it would be foolhardy to include such flames without an option to reduce the heat. You can, therefore, reduce or increase the heat in accordance with the ambient temperatures.
The matte black liner and barrier screen make the fireplace pleasing to look at, especially when the fire is lit. It is also not difficult to match this with the overall interior design of most houses. An aesthetic element can also be added to the device by purchasing crushed glass to put in your fireplace. This means that you have to dig deeper into your pockets for some extra cash.
Worth noting is the inclusion of remote control in the design of the device. This, of course, makes operation so much easier even at a distance. However, manual operation is also possible if you are close to the device.
Also, for operation and set-up guidelines, you can check the LCD provided. The device will work whether there is power or not. This is because a backup battery is incorporated. Also, the remote gives you the capability to switch to standing pilot mode, which will allow control of the fireplace even in a power outage.
While power is available, the standing pilot is eliminated from the working processes by the intermittent ignition system. This way, you don’t end up using as much energy to keep the device on and the fire burning.
A simpler device may as well be what you are looking for. In this case, the Empire DVD36FP30N Tahoe Deluxe 36» Millivolt Fireplace fits the bill. It has a 20000 BTU maximum output. For a small home or apartment, this is more than enough.
Also, heating efficiency is one area that the product performs very well. After all, it is rated at 83%. None of the competition on this list can surpass that statistic. This as well means that energy produced does not go to waste. Also, a top venting system is included. You should know this beforehand so that you can plan the installation effectively.
The louvers serve to distribute heat throughout the room by the air currents. Of note is that these louvers are black. Inside the device, you have a fiber liner that looks a lot like bricks. This will, of course, give the look of a traditional fireplace.
Another aesthetic element you need to know about is the inclusion of ceramic fiber logs. When you turn the fireplace on these logs, end up looking like firewood. The best part of that is that there is no ash left after you turn the device off. This also means cleaning is not something you need to worry as much about as you would with other fireplaces.
This purchase is, however, not a complete tool. Either a barrier screen or a door set needs to be purchased to complete the device. For this reason, you need to set aside some money for the acquisition of these extra components.
What we liked:
Easy to use
High heating efficiency
The interior of the fireplace looks a lot like bricks
Ceramic fiber logs are included and make the fireplace look a lot more authentic
What could be better:
You need to purchase a barrier screen or a door set separately
The Napoleon GX36NTR Ascent 35 Gas Fireplace as well makes a good case for why it should be included in this list. It features an electronic ignition system. As such, the push of a button is enough to turn it on or off.
Also, one key selling point of this tool is the versatility when it comes to fuel options. The fact that it can work with both natural gas and propane means it will fit in your home set up no matter what type of fuel you use.
Additionally, BTU output matters a lot for anyone looking to install a fireplace. After all, you probably want the fire to heat your living room as well. This being the case, the fact that it offers up to 26,000 BTU is likely one of the reasons why potential buyers will choose this over other options.
Also, like the premium pick, this tool only offers top venting. As such, you should carry out the installation in a way that it allows fumes to go up a chimney or pipe and out of your house.
This will as well lead to loss of some of the heat produced. Additionally, the tool comes with a PHAZER® Log Set. This gives the illusion that you are using firewood rather than gas to fuel your fireplace.
What we liked:
High heat efficiency
High BTU output
The log set gives the purchase the look of a traditional fireplace
Electronic ignition system
What could be better:
This tool seemingly does not have any cons to speak of at the moment
The Majestic Meridian Series Gas Fireplace is from the same manufacturer as the editor’s choice product in this write-up. While you may like the option of having either top or rear venting, you should know these components don’t come with the main package. You will thus have to budget for whichever venting option you settle on separately.
Also, while it is pre-wired for a connection with a wall switch, it does not come with the said switch. This just serves to pile up the costs of owning this equipment. Just like a lot of options on this list, ceramic glass is used to cover the front part of the fireplace. Additionally, this casing is complemented by a black mesh front. The main reason for the addition of this component is improving the aesthetic aspect of the device. Chances are you won’t need to change the décor of the room so that the product doesn’t seem out of place.
The ignition system also warrants a favorable response from people looking into this as a potential purchase. Where heating is concerned, you are likely not to be disappointed by the device as well.
What we liked:
Rear and top venting options
Black mesh is added for better aesthetics
High BTU output
Controllable heat output
What could be better:
The fireplace is relatively expensive
Accessories including the venting options are sold separately
Another tool that should appeal to a lot of buyers is the Empire DVC28IN31N Innsbrook Large Clean Face Fireplace Insert. The image we have provided above should show you the overall look of the device. As such, if you have a brick wall or wallpaper that you want to match with your fireplace, this is the option for you.
On the higher end, the BTU output is rather impressive, but the fact that you can’t go below 25000 BTU can be concerning. This is because 25000 BTU is still relatively high output. Nevertheless, for some people, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Also, the flame height will change according to the BTU output that you select. Due to the heat, it is smart of the manufacturer to include heat resistant ceramic glass. Another component of the tool is a built-in automatic blower. For better heat distribution in the room, this blower is ideal.
Additionally, you cannot use propane with this tool. Instead, it was built to work with natural gas only. Also, with the tool’s automatic ignition system, it will be a piece of cake to turn the device on.
You may also appreciate the hand-painted ceramic fiber logs that come with the purchase. The fact that it is mobile home approved also means that you can buy this even if you don’t live in a standard house. Additionally, a three-year warranty is provided with this purchase. Worth noting is that there are no rules against installing this in your bedroom or bathroom.
What we liked:
Comes with a three-year warranty
Features realistic-looking ceramic fiber logs
You can install this in a bedroom, bathroom or even in a recreational vehicle
Comes with a heat resistant ceramic glass screen
What could be better:
Due to its outlook, it may not fit a lot of interior design scenarios
Another Empire fireplace makes it on to our list. This 42” option is also one of the bigger devices on this list. As such, you will need to set aside a large portion of your wall for its installation. However, its benefits include more than just its big size.
One feature that lots of buyers will look forward to having is the use of a remote to control the flame levels. However, the remote is not included in the initial purchase, and you are going to have to budget for it separately.
Also worth noting is that this tool only works with natural gas. Consequently, you should make arrangements to procure the gas as well if you are going to use the tool effectively in your house.
Additionally, the manufacturer makes use of ceramic glass to cover the fireplace. This means you can look into the furnace and see the flames burning. Also, the glass has certain other benefits, such as being durable and a high melting point. This way, it will be able to handle the heat from the fire.
Another thing you need to know is that there are two venting options to choose from. These include the top and rear options, and you will likely have to choose one to use depending on the design of your house.
Also, the maximum and minimum BTU outputs should not be lost on you. In this case, they are 20,000 and 14,000 BTU, respectively.
What we liked:
You have both top and rear venting options
Comes with a ceramic glass screen for viewing the flames
What could be better:
While it is remote compatible, the fact that you have to buy the remote separately is quite disappointing
Another fireplace with two venting options makes it onto our list in the form of the Innovative Hearth Holdings DRT3500 Pro Series Gas Fireplace. You can either use the top or rear venting option to get rid of the fumes that are produced by the device.
The ceramic glass featured on this tool is another one of its assets. BTU output is not shabby either. For most people’s heating needs, this BTU rating will be enough. It might even be excessive for some of you, necessitating that you reduce the heat.
With its full function remote, it should be a relatively straightforward matter to change heat at a moment’s notice from anywhere in the room. If you want a tool that works with propane gas, this is not the fireplace for you.
Also, the design is meant to allow for the circulation of the heat provided to the surrounding environment. Additionally, you have an energy-saving ignition system at your disposal.
Another thing to remember is that while this fireplace is 35” in size, there are other versions of the same that are bigger.
The Majestic JADE32IN Jade 32″ Gas Fireplace is also worth considering for purchase. It comes with a 32” frame that works for relatively small spaces. Some of the fireplace’s features as well are amazing. However, they do not include a high BTU output when compared to the other options listed.
Second, the heating efficiency may not be all that good as well. However, the ignition system is likely to impress a lot of people. This feature adds a bit of safety and reliability to the direct vent fireplace.
You also have to contend with the issue of top venting if you are to get rid of the fumes that build up in the device. Additionally, with its automatic battery backup, this tool could just as easily work even when there is no power. An impressive timer mode can also be activated if you want the fireplace to shut down after some time.
What we liked:
Comes with a timer mode
Automatic battery backup is included for use during power outages
Impressive ignition system
What could be better:
Heating efficiency is not the highest in the market
BTU output only maxes out at 19000
Things to Сonsider
After you’ve decided to get a direct vent gas fireplace insert, the next best thing to do is acquire as much information about these products as possible. This way, you get to know which the highest quality devices are just by looking at features. This will help you make more sense of your buying options. Also, with such information at your fingertips, you are less likely to make regrettable purchase decisions. As such, this buying guide should be an asset to you.
What is a direct vent gas fireplace?
A direct vent combustion system is unique in that it will incorporate air that it sources from outside your house in the combustion system. Similarly, the fumes and combustion gases produced when burning the provided fuel exits directly from the fireplace to the outdoors.
Also, these fireplaces often feature a prefabricated metal design. However, a glass screen may as well be included so that users can view the flames that are providing their homes with heat.
Additionally, the main difference between this and a vented fireplace is that the latter uses oxygen from the room where it is installed as part of the fuel-burning process.
Benefits of direct vent gas fireplaces
These fireplaces are associated with some benefits, which is probably why you are thinking of buying one in the first place. The closed design for one ensures that you do not have to deal with harmful gases in your home. If you were to use a traditional wood fireplace, some of the carbon dioxide would waft into your space due to the open design. If you are not careful, you may even experience carbon dioxide poisoning. This tool eliminates that problem.
One may also consider the fact that the fire does not use up the oxygen from the room. You will thus breathe a little easier with a direct vent option.
Increased safety is another benefit. The flames are enclosed and regulated easily using the controls provided. You, therefore, never need to come into contact with the fire. Pushing a button is enough. Of course, this also means that you and your family are further away from harm.
Another benefit is the increased heating efficiency. With other fireplaces, a lot of heat can be lost through chimneys and other outlets. With these devices, the design ensures the heat goes into the home rather than get wasted. For this reason, heating efficiency statistics are quite high.
Features to consider when choosing a direct vent gas fireplace
Also, if you want to know whether a direct vent gas fireplace is right for you, look at the features. If, you don’t know what the features listed mean, we have provided a comprehensive breakdown below.
Do you want a big or a small fireplace? Can your home even handle a large installation? These are some of the questions you need to ask while looking at available fireplaces. One example is that mobile homes don’t often have the largest walls. As such, having a fireplace that takes up 42” of space on such a wall might be overkill. It will also serve to clatter your space a lot more. This is why the Empire DVC28IN31N Innsbrook Large Clean Face Fireplace Insert is better suited for such a situation with its 34” size.
Framing dimensions are also a big part of the size of the device and will determine installation. Remember that there is an exterior frame, an inner frame, and space in between.
These are the measurements you look at so that you know how well the fireplace will fit into your wall. Also, this tells you whether you need to make additional space arrangements in your wall before you bring in the fireplace.
Where total heat output is concerned, the Empire Boulevard Direct Vent Linear Fireplace mentioned above is the most superior. This is because it produces the highest BTU value of all the devices on our list. However, you have to be aware of even your heat requirements before you decide that this is the tool for you.
In a small apartment, you will likely never need to turn it on to the maximum. As such, it would be a waste for you to purchase that while you could make do with something like the Majestic JADE32IN Jade 32″ Gas Fireplace.
You also want a tool that converts most of the fuel it burns into heat energy. This means higher efficiency. If this was the only thing you considered in your purchase decision, then the Empire DVD36FP30N Tahoe Deluxe 36″ Millivolt Fireplace is the perfect fit. None of the other tools mentioned can match up to its 83% efficiency.
It would as well be wise to invest in a direct vent gas fireplace insert that won’t present any problems when you try to turn on the device. There are a few options out there, all with different benefits. Also, some ignition and control systems have battery backups so that you can turn the device on during a power outage.
The venting in your house as well should help make a lot of your decisions. You might also have to build a venting system for your fireplace. After all, you are going to need to get rid of the byproducts of the burning process.
For those who have previously owned fireplaces, they should pick up similar venting systems. This way, if it was a top venting system, you won’t have to convert it, so it lines up with your rear vent purchase. Installation, as a result, will take less time and will be easier.
Also, a venting collar is more likely to work with a top vent system like the Napoleon GX36NTR Ascent 35 Gas Fireplace than it is with a rear venting system. The same is the case for rear venting if you want to use pipes to get rid of the gases produced.
You as well have to be considerate of your walls and ensure the system you choose does the least damage possible. If you are undecided on a venting system, you can select an option like the Empire Comfort Systems DVCD42FP31N Tahoe Clean Face Deluxe Fireplace. This gives you both top and rear venting options, and you get to decide which one to use once you have the product in your house.
Also, powered venting is an option just in case you choose a central wall to be the new home of your direct vent fireplace.
There are a lot of small household accidents that happen now and then, especially with kids running around. This being the case, it would be smart of you to ensure you purchase a very durable fireplace. As such, it will be able to take a few knocks without significant signs of damage. Also, more durable fireplaces are sure to remain in good working condition for longer.
You will no doubt have seen that some options feature ceramic glass for their protective screens, while others are made of tempered glass. Of course, you will have to pick one out of these two options.
If you are looking for the best quality, the ceramic option is the one for you. Benefits include high heat resistance, durability, and corrosion resistance.
However, the tempered glass option has one huge benefit that may lead to a lot more people considering it for purchase. This is the affordability. As such, if you are at the limits of your budget, the tempered glass may serve to keep the cost down.
Surrounds and liner
The direct vent gas fireplaces shown in the images above seem like they are molded into single units. However, they are made of several attachable components, some of which cannot be seen once the installation is complete. You also have to take these components informally known as surrounds into account. This ensures that there are no complications in the process that will make installation impossible.
Additionally, some of the areas around your fireplace will face repeated heating and cooling since they are near a source of heat. As such, this may lead to eventual damage, which you should want to prevent. Fireplace liners serve this purpose. This makes it so that you need to think about a liner as well if you are to put the fireplace in your living room, bedroom, or anywhere else.
Ease of installation
Also, if you do not have an extra budget for installation, you should find a product that is relatively easy to install. This is because you will be forced to do the installation process yourself. If you neither have the tools nor the knowhow to get the installation job done, you should pay someone else to do it for you. As such, you have to be prepared for this even as you select the product you want to purchase.
Given the price points of these direct vent fireplaces, a warranty could be immensely beneficial to the user. The option for you to send it back to the manufacturer for repairs without having to pay anything extra is also another incentive to make the purchase. Worth noting is that warranties have expiry dates from the day that you make the purchase. An example is that you can only use the warranty on the Empire DVC28IN31N Innsbrook Large Clean Face Fireplace Insert if you have spent less than three years with the tool.
It is no secret that direct vent fireplaces are expensive. Some of the relatively cheap ones will require that you part with close to 2000 dollars. This is only the purchase price. The installation will likely cost you more money. Also, you have to budget for the gas that you are going to use, whether it’s the natural gas or propane option. As such, you should look into a tool that is affordable for you. Nevertheless, if you have enough money you can even go for 5000 dollar options and nobody would have a problem with that.
Some of the manufacturers also want to make sure that they add value to their offerings by adding a few extra features. Ceramic fiber logs, for example, are an excellent way to make the flame look better while it burns in the fireplace. Backup batteries as well are not found in all models but can be handy. Any of the extra features you find in a direct vent fireplace will likely be very useful to you. This being the case, you should look for and purchase a device with all the extra features you like if you can afford it.
As you probably know, oxygen is a huge part of any fire that burns. This is why if you eliminate the presence of oxygen, the fire dies down. As such, fireplaces need a source of oxygen for them to provide you with heat.
A vented fireplace will have an open front section. They also feature a vertical venting system. This allows them to take in oxygen from the room, use it for the fire, and then the resulting fumes will exit the house through a chimney above the fire.
With enough ventilation, this shouldn’t be a problem since you also have a steady supply of oxygen. However, these may be unsafe due to the fumes getting back into the room alongside the heat provided. Also, this may lead to carbon dioxide poisoning if one is not careful.
Another option is the direct vent fireplace which is the focal point of this write-up. This option is often sealed using glass that can conduct the heat into the room. The glass is also often transparent to allow for the ambiance provided by traditional fireplaces. As such, they need to get their oxygen supply from somewhere else.
Consequently, outside the house is just as good a source as any. This being the case, the direct vent options need a pipe system that is connected to the outside of the house to avail the said oxygen. Additionally, they need a venting system to get rid of the harmful gases that are produced by the flames.
With this, there is little to no chance of carbon dioxide poisoning. Also, oxygen depletion in the room is just as unlikely.
As mentioned above, the carbon dioxide produced by burning natural gas and propane is quite harmful. This is especially true if it is in high concentrations.
However, if you have a direct vent fireplace, this is not something that you need to worry about. As explained above, the fireplace is sealed from the environment in your house. This means it will not be able to affect the carbon dioxide as well as oxygen levels in the interior of the house. As such, they are much safer than their counterparts, especially where air quality is concerned.
If you have paid carefully studied the fireplaces above, you have likely noted that they feature different levels of efficiency. However, they all perform better than their wood counterparts and traditional fireplaces. In some cases, they can be five times as efficient as the competition.
Most direct vent fireplaces are connected to the house power using a socket or in another way. They use this power for ignition and to regulate the flame. This implies that most of them cannot work when the power is out.
However, some manufacturers think ahead of the curve and have included backup batteries in their products. These will serve to power the fireplace during a power outage. If you purchase one of these, you should have no problem using it when there is no power. An example of such a fireplace is the Majestic JADE32IN Jade 32″ Gas Fireplace.
Most people prefer to install their direct vent fireplaces on the outer walls of their houses. This is because of the proximity to the source of oxygen, which is the outside environment.
However, there is no rule against installing it on an interior wall. There is the option of power venting that will include fans. This power venting system will be able to provide your fire with the oxygen it requires. Since it is powered by a fan, it can supply oxygen whether the connecting pipes go up, down, or in circles. It can also fan away the harmful gas byproducts, ensuring they end up outside the house.
If you are wondering about our favorites, they are just as the list suggests. They include the Majestic Quartz QUARTZ32IN Natural Gas Fireplace, which is a device that would work for a lot of homes. It is relatively small, relatively affordable, offers different venting options, and even comes with a reliable ignition system. It is no wonder it is a favorite for a lot of people.
Nonetheless, if you are like most people, you can only pick one. Seeing as though we have provided guidance, all we can do is wish you the best as you decide which of the nine products we reviewed is worth bringing to your home.