Home > Fireplaces > Direct Vent vs Vent-Free Fireplaces

If you’re in the market for gas fireplaces you’ve probably noticed that there are different types of gas fireplaces to choose: Direct Vent and Vent-Free. While they may look alike on the surface, there’s actually a big difference between them.

Most popular are the Direct Vent options as they are efficient and safe alternatives to traditional gas and wood burning fireplaces. However, Vent-free fireplaces don't require a chimney or direct access to an exterior wall, giving you installation flexibility and higher efficiency.

Direct Vent Gas Fireplace

Direct Vent gas fireplaces require a chimney or access to outside venting and use a completely sealed venting system, pulling fresh outside air into the firebox for combustion while exhausting combustion gases outside of the home simultaneously. Because the venting system is sealed, no outside air coming in the house from doorways, windows, etc. are able to feed the fire, which allows the room to warm up faster and not lose heat. Direct Vent fireplaces are also desirable as all gases are exhausted outside, allowing no dangerous combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, into your home. Direct Vent fireplaces use a high-temperature glass panel to separate the inside of your home from the gas insert, which contrasts with Vent-Free gas fireplaces that vent directly into your home.

A Direct Vent fireplace is great for those with pets or small children because of the sealed combustion behind glass, which is protected by a safety barrier screen.

There are many venting options available, allowing Direct Vent fireplaces to be installed in different locations within your home, but each city and state has specific code requirements, so it is important to check your local building and fire codes to make sure you can install your Direct Vent Fireplace in the room of your choice. It is also important to have functioning carbon monoxide detectors and we recommend having your fireplace serviced once a year by our licensed professionals.

Vent-Free Gas Fireplaces

Instead of requiring a chimney or outside venting system, Vent-Free fireplaces are free-standing units. This makes them economical and efficient heating systems as all of the heat stays inside the home (as opposed to Direct Vent fireplaces that allow some of the heat to escape outside of the home).

Without the need to vent the air outside the home, Vent-free fireplaces offer a greater degree of installation flexibility, allowing you opportunities to install in places a Direct Vent fireplace cannot be installed, such as the interior wall in the home.

Vent-Free fireplaces pull cool room air into the firebox, the air is cycled through the firebox, warming the air before it flows back into the room as heat. This makes them extremely efficient, and they are designed to allow little to no gases to be left after combustion. Any dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide, will be minimal and within safe limits.

Vent-Free fireplaces burn oxygen, and most of what remains after combustion is water vapor and carbon dioxide. The water vapor can add a source of beneficial humidity in the dry winter months, but it can leave condensation on your windows and throughout the room. For this reason, it is recommended to only use your Vent-Free fireplace for an hour at a time to ensure humidity and oxygen levels remain within normal ranges. This also restricts installation in small or compact rooms because air quality and oxygen depletion can become a concern. It is important to check your local building and fire codes to make sure you can install your Vent-Free fireplace in the room of your choice.

Vent-Free fireplaces are ideal for homeowners who value efficiency over ambience. They’re also great for those who are looking for a secondary vs a primary source of heat.