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How to Get More Heat From Your Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces do not fully heat a room if the type of system or BTU rating is inadequate for the space that they are in. Solutions such as blowers, gas inserts, and heat exchangers can be used to optimize the heat released from a gas fireplace.

If your gas fireplace isn’t fully heating the room, you may be wondering if this is abnormal. Can these devices be used to heat a whole room, or even as the primary heat source in your entire home? And if yours can’t produce this much heat, why not? How can you fix this problem?

Let’s explore these questions and more.

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Do Gas Fireplaces Normally Heat the Whole Room?

gas fireplace burning

The average gas insert or gas fireplace is capable of heating an entire room due to its high efficiency. On the other hand, decorative gas log sets typically do not produce enough warmth to be felt throughout the space.

The answer to this question depends on which type of gas fireplace you have. Gas log sets reside within the pre-existing fireplace in your home and utilize the chimney for ventilation. They provide the same ambiance as a fireplace with flames and warmth if you sit directly in front of it.

Unfortunately, these appliances are not very effective because most of the heat produced will go up the fireplace instead of reaching the far corners of your room.

On the other hand, gas inserts and fireplaces are self-contained units that can heat a room much more efficiently than gas log sets. The majority of heat produced by a gas fireplace will be released into your home instead of out through the chimney.

Each gas fireplace comes with a provided BTU rating that describes the max amount of heat a certain appliance produces. This value, along with the efficiency, determines how much warmth actually reaches your home.

But how much energy is required to heat your room to a comfortable temperature? This depends on many factors that vary from home to home. There are many tools such as BTU calculators to help you figure it out.

The average living, family, and bedroom sizes, as reported by the National Association of Home Builders, range from 250 – 500 square feet. Even small gas fireplaces should be able to heat rooms of this size. However, there are additional factors that can affect this ability.

A gas fireplace’s ability to heat your room depends on factors such as the insulation and surrounding climate in your home.

If your home isn’t well insulated, it will be colder inside, and your fireplace will have to work harder to raise the interior to a comfortable temperature. More heat also needs to be provided if you live in a severe climate instead of a temperate one.

Additionally, the layout of your home, including any walls and doorways, will redirect circulation and determine how far your fireplace’s heat reaches.

If your room or house is difficult to heat because of one of the mentioned factors, you can choose a fireplace with a larger BTU rating to make sure that the desired areas are fully heated.

Can You Use a Gas Fireplace as Your Primary Heat Source?

a gas fireplace with a pilot light

Using a gas fireplace as a primary heat source as opposed to central heating or a furnace is an economical and energy-efficient solution. Gas fireplaces can be used as a primary heat source to zone heat a residence. Zone heating is the strategy of solely heating a few areas so that any unused rooms are not unnecessarily heated. 

It’s worth noting that compared to central heat or furnace, using a fireplace to heat your entire home is not efficient. The heat from the fireplace would have to travel very long distances and is not practical.

However, practicing zone heating and using your gas fireplace as a primary heat source will help drive energy usage and utility bills down.

Not all gas fireplaces can be used as a primary heat source. As mentioned earlier, gas log sets don’t even produce enough warmth to fully heat a room.

Ventless gas fireplaces are very efficient because all the heat stays in the room. However, these units aren’t safe for continuous use because they allow the products of combustion to enter the room.

Water vapor inside your home encourages mold growth, and vapors from carbon dioxide and monoxide can be poisonous in large enough amounts. Ventless gas fireplaces cannot warm your house for more than a couple of hours at a time, making them unreliable as a primary heat source.

On the other hand, direct vented fireplaces send all the harmful vapors outside so they are safe to run continually. In addition, these appliances typically can be turned on and off, like a central heating system, which is a much more efficient way of heating your home.

How Much Heat Does a Gas Fireplace Put Out?

If you are considering using a gas fireplace as your primary heat source, it’s important to know how much heat a gas fireplace puts out.

Gas fireplaces can produce anywhere from 10,000 – 60,000 BTUs of heat, although this depends on the size of the fireplace you’re using. This is how the size of a fireplace affects the average BTU output:

  • Small: 20,000 BTUs
  • Medium: 30,000 BTUs
  • Large: 50,000 BTUs

Reasons Why Gas Fireplaces Won’t Heat the Room

turning on the pilot light on a gas fireplace

If gas fireplaces do not completely heat the room, this could be due to an inadequate heating system, environmental conditions, or a faulty unit. More specifically, this includes the following reasons:

  1. Unsuitable type of gas fireplace for space
  2. BTU rating or efficiency is too low for your situation
  3. Poor air circulation or too many walls
  4. Thermostat set too low on unit
  5. Flame does not stay lit in the gas fireplace
  6. Fire keeps going out

If your fire keeps going out, this is most likely due to a clogged thermocouple and burner parts. Fixing this problem is usually pretty simple and can be resolved by cleaning out your fireplace.

However, in some cases, gas fireplaces won’t heat the room because the system is not pushing enough warmth into the room.

If replacing your gas fireplace is not an option, there are other ways to make sure you are getting the most heat possible.

How to Get Maximum Heat Output From Your Gas Fireplace

a lit gas fireplace

If you are using a gas fireplace in your home, it’s likely that you want it to provide as much heat as possible during the winter months. While the BTU rating and efficiency have the greatest effect on warmth provided by a fireplace, buying and installing a new unit can cost thousands of dollars.

There are additional tools and strategies to get the maximum heat out of your gas fireplace such as:

  • Setting thermostat to the maximum value
  • Ensuring flue damper and fireplace are well sealed to prevent warm air from escaping
  • Using a blower to spread warm air evenly throughout the room
  • Converting gas fireplace to a gas insert to eliminate draft and increase efficiency
  • Installing a heat exchanger to recycle the warmth that your fireplace is already producing
  • Placing a fireback behind your fireplace to reflect some heat into your home

If you are interested in a heat exchanger but don’t have room in your budget, consider crafting your own! A few pieces of scrap metal and additional supplies can be used to greatly increase the efficiency of your gas fireplace. 

Follow this video to see how:

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