Skip to Content

Wood vs. Gas Fireplaces: Pros, Cons, Costs, and More

Adding a fireplace to your home can be a great idea. A fireplace can make you feel comfortable and at home, no matter what type of fireplace you decide. A fireplace is also a great way to add more value to your home. Choosing the right fireplace to have in your home can be a difficult decision. 

Here’s what to know when choosing between a wood and gas fireplace:

Wood Burning FireplaceGas Burning Fireplace
Natural focal point in the homeXX
Increase the value of homeXX
Works without powerXX
Lowers utility billXX
Low cost to set upX
Energy EfficientX
Easy to UseXX
Low maintenanceX
Low Smoke EmissionX

Choosing between a wood and a gas fireplace usually comes down to the benefits and what works the best in your home. Understanding how each of these will work can make a big difference, so let’s take a closer look at a wood fireplace and a gas fireplace to see which one is the best and will fit the best in your home.

Wood Burning Fireplace vs. Gas Burning Fireplace

There are many great options for choosing a fireplace for your needs. The two most common types of fireplaces include the wood-burning fireplace and a gas-burning fireplace. 

A wood-burning fireplace relies on wood and a match to use and keep the home warm. This is the traditional type of fireplace that we may see in older homes. It can be very cozy to use but will require a lot of smoke, a lot of wood, and a lot of maintenance with all the cleaning. 

A gas fireplace can provide the same heat and comfort that you need, but it relies on gas rather than wood to burn. This can make it cleaner, though the installation is usually more expensive than a wood-burning fireplace. Both are great options in any home. 

The Wood Burning Fireplace

Let’s start by looking at some of the benefits and negatives of choosing to have a wood-burning fireplace in your home. 

The Benefits of a Wood Fireplace

A wood-burning fireplace is a popular option for many homeowners because it looks nice and is efficient. 

Some of the reasons why you may want to go with a wood burning fireplace include:

  • Provides a natural focal point in your home. Nothing looks nicer in your home than a fireplace for everyone to gather around. 
  • Provides heating during power outages. Even when the power goes out in the winter, your wood-burning fireplace will work. Just get some wood and a match and you are ready to go. 
  • Increases the value of the home. Any time of fireplace, including the wood burning fireplace, will help increase the value of the home. 
  • Can reduce your utility bills in the winter. When you rely on the heat from the fireplace, you can lower the heat you use from your utilities. 
  • Does not cost as much as a gas fireplace. If you need to save money when adding in a fireplace, then the wood burning fireplace is the best option. 

These benefits can make the wood-burning fireplace an easy choice. If the power and electricity go out, then you can still use the wood-burning option. When the winter gets cold and others are running their heaters, you can cut down on utilities by using the wood-burning fireplace. 

The Negatives of a Wood Fireplace

While there are a number of benefits to using a wood-burning fireplace, there are also a few drawbacks that may make you reconsider whether this is the best choice for you. 

Some drawbacks of choosing the wood-burning fireplace include:

  • You will need to chop or buy wood to use them. 
  • They require more maintenance to keep clean.
  • They allow a lot of heat loss compared to gas. 

You will need to be prepared to clean the chimney of all the soot and other smoke chemicals on a regular basis to prevent any issues inside the home. A professional chimney sweep can help with this. 

The Gas Burning Fireplace

Another option to choose is a gas-burning fireplace. While many homeowners love the wood-burning option, there are still many benefits for choosing a gas fireplace, which is why many people are gravitating towards it. 

The Benefits of a Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces have gained a lot of popularity over the years, allowing homeowners to have a fireplace without needing to cut down wood or worry as much about the ventilation. 

Some of the benefits of using a gas burning fireplace include:

  • They look realistic while being easier to use. Even though they are not the same type as a wood-burning fireplace, they look realistic. 
  • They are energy efficient. These are really easy to take care of and can produce a lot of heat for little work or money. 
  • They are easy to use for homeowners who have never used a fireplace. These are easier to take care of than a traditional fireplace, making it good for a new homeowner. 
  • They require very little maintenance. Gas fireplaces will not need a lot of maintenance to take care of and little cleaning. This makes it a great option. 
  • They can work during a power outage. Your gas fireplace will be able to work, even if the power goes out to keep you nice and warm. 
  • They will not have any embers or smoke so generally seen as safer. Wood fireplaces are nice, but they bring out a lot of smoke and embers that can be dangerous. This is not found with a gas fireplace. 

With a gas-burning fireplace, you can get some of the same benefits of the wood-burning option. However, it is without some of the hassles like finding wood or worrying about all the smoke and embers. For some people, this makes it the better choice. 

The Negatives of a Gas Fire

While there are many reasons to choose a gas-burning fireplace, there are a few negatives and drawbacks that may make you consider not using this fireplace. 

Some of the negatives include:

  • These fireplaces use propane gas, which can be expensive. 
  • The cost of installing this kind of fireplace can be higher, especially if you don’t want to use a gas line. 
  • These do not provide the same ambiance as the wood burning fireplaces. 
  • Installation is more difficult since gas lines may have to be installed to the fireplace.

If you only plan to use the gas fireplace on occasion or you already have a lot of the setup done, it can be the better choice out of the two. 

Gas vs. Wood Fireplaces: A Complete Guide

The cheat sheet above can give you a quick glimpse into each type of fireplace, but it comes down to all the details. We’ve broken the competition down across 8 areas to help better explain their differences.

Cost to Install

When choosing whether to go with a wood-burning or a gas fireplace, it is important to consider how much it will cost to install one of these. Both types will cost a different amount, and the exact amount spent depends on whether you need additional things added in, like the gas line. 

The amount you can expect to pay for a new fireplace will include:

  • A wood-burning fireplace will cost between $1,900 and $3,300
  • A gas-burning fireplace will cost between $2300 to $4000
  • A masonry fireplace will cost between $3500 and $5600

Wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces may end up being about the same price, depending on the exact type of materials. If you want a built-in fireplace, the costs will go up because of all the handiwork that needs to be done on a masonry fireplace. 

Cost to Run

Once the fireplace is installed, you will need to know how much it will cost to run the fireplace. These costs can add up over the years, so it is important to consider these costs when choosing the option that is best for you. 

For a gas fireplace, you will need to know how much your gas company charges for the energy that you use. This will give you a better idea of how much you are going to pay for this kind of fireplace. 

With this in mind you can figure out how expensive it will be using:

  • The cost per unit of energy
  • How many units the fireplace will use an hour
  • How many hours you plan to use the fireplace

For a gas fireplace, it will usually cost around 17 to 19 cents an hour to run the fireplace or about $60/year for the average homeowner. Consider how much energy this can save you from heating up every room in the home; you will save a lot of money. 

When it comes to a wood-burning fireplace, the costs will be a little bit different too and includes factors like:

  • How much wood you will need
  • How much you will use the fireplace
  • The cost of the wood and matches

It is estimated that to get the same BTUs of the gas fireplace we talked about above, it can cost $190 a year to use the wood-burning fireplace. You will also need to pay extra to clean the wood fireplaces and keep the chimney clean, so this can be added to the costs to run. 

Which Is Safer?

Another question to look at is whether a gas or a wood fireplace is safer to keep in your home. While there are different factors to consider when choosing which is safer, most of the factors lean towards the gas unit being the safer of the two options. 

The reasons that a gas fireplace is often considered safer than a wood-burning fireplace include:

  • Natural gas is generally seen as safe to use. 
  • Gas fireplaces do not produce a lot of smoke
  • Gas fireplaces do not produce embers that could hurt someone. 

If you use the proper caution, then a wood-burning fireplace can be completely safe. When it comes to finding the method that is safer to keep your home safe though, the gas fireplace will be a little bit better. 

Which Has a Better Heat Output?

To figure out which fireplace can give the better heat output, we need to understand how the heat output is measured. In this case, it is measured in BTUs, which is just how much heat is required to increase the heat of a pound of water. To keep it simple, one BTU is about the same heat as a lit match. 

The amount of BTUs that you will get out of either of these fireplaces will depend on the model and size of the one you choose. In general, however, expect that:

  • The gas fireplace will produce between 8,000 to 60,000 BTUs.
  • The wood fireplace can produce between 20,000 to 40,000 BTUs.

Often the gas fireplace will be more efficient. You can get high numbers with the wood fireplace, but you will need a lot of wood to get this to work. Gas fireplaces can handle the higher BTUs without having to use as much energy. 

Which Is Better for Outdoors?

Both the gas-burning and the wood-burning fireplaces work nicely outside if you want something to keep you warm while enjoying nature. Both will have their benefits. Many homeowners choose to go with a wood-burning fireplace because it provides more of the rustic feel outside, but it may not be the best option for you. 

Choosing a wood burning fireplace for outdoors can be a great, and classic, option. Some of the benefits include:

  • Easier to put together and less expensive 
  • Provides the fire aroma you want while outside
  • You do not need to install gas lines to make it work. 

However, the wood-burning fireplace has some disadvantages while being outside. You will need to pay for enough wood to keep it going, and they require a lot of cleaning to make sure they can still be usable. Check with the area you live in because some will not allow these outside.

A gas-burning fireplace is a good option to use outside as well. It may not provide some of the authenticity of a wood-burning option and no crackling firewood, but there are some benefits of choosing this option including:

  • They burn cleaner so you will not have any smoke. 
  • You only need to push a button to get them started. 
  • Provide a lot of heat and warmth while outside
  • Require little maintenance or cleaning

These fireplaces are easier to use overall outside, but there are higher costs to setting them up. You will need to install a natural gas line from the main pipe out to the area you plan to use the fireplace, which can greatly drive the overall cost up. 

What Is the Environmental Rating of Each?

When you want a fireplace that is better for the environment, then choose to work with the gas-burning fireplace. While we may like to work with wood-burning fireplaces because of their appearance and how cozy they can make us feel, they are not always the best option to use. 

There are several reasons why a wood burning fireplace is so inefficient. These include:

  • They release a lot of CO2 into the air. 
  • They draw a lot of their energy up through the chimney rather than into the room. 
  • They need you to cut down trees to get the fire going.

Due to these reasons, the more efficient choice will be the gas-burning fireplace. It does release a little bit of CO2 into the air, but it is a fraction of what you see with wood-burning options. They also are good at keeping the heat in the room, using less energy to keep things warm. 

What’s the Average Lifespan of Each?

Costs to run, aesthetics, and other considerations are great, but one that really matters is how much bang for your buck you get with each model.

As long as you take good care of your wood-burning fireplace, a prefabricated version can last between 20 to 30 years. This can give you a long time to enjoy the fireplace without worrying about it falling apart. If you install a masonry chimney, these can last for generations without fail. 

A gas fireplace can last for about the same amount of time, if only slightly less. It is estimated that gas fireplaces can last between 15 to 25 years. 

There are several steps that you can take to increase how long the fireplace will last:

  • Get it serviced when something breaks
  • Clean and maintain it
  • Do not keep logs and other things in the wood fireplace

If you do not take care of either fireplace, it will wear out and stop working. This also makes them less efficient and will prevent you from getting your money’s worth out of the fireplace. 

Which Has a Better Resale Value?

The resale value will depend on how well you take care of the fireplace and who decides to purchase your home later. Fireplaces are always a good investment if you are willing to put your time and effort into them. 

Overall, gas-burning fireplaces seem to be the favorite for those looking to purchase a new home. Some of the reasons that a fireplace is useful in your home and can add to the resale value include:

  • They are economically friendly.
  • They can add 12% to the resale of the home.
  • Adding more than one fireplace can increase the value

Younger buyers are more likely to go with a gas fireplace because they like the convenience while enjoying the ambiance. Since this makes up most of the homebuyers on the market, it seems a gas fireplace is the best option. 

However, the older generation tends to prefer the wood-burning fireplace better. If you live in an area where older people like to purchase, then the wood fireplace is better. 

Both gas and wood fireplaces can add some great value to your home, so you can’t go wrong no matter which one you decide to install. And if you have one or the other inside the home, just keep them there rather than trying to upgrade or switch them out. 

Are Wood and Gas Fireplaces the Same Size?

No, a wood and gas fireplace will not be the same size. Wood fireplaces tend to be bigger in size compared to gas fireplaces, which can help you to tell which type of fireplace you have. While gas fireplaces can come in a variety of sizes, they are generally going to be smaller than the wood fireplace. 

Gas fireplaces come in a variety of sizes. You can pick one based on:

  • How much room you have against the wall you want to place it
  • How much energy you want to give to the fireplace
  • How much space you need to heat up

Your gas fireplace can fall somewhere between 20 to 60 inches. These bigger gas fireplaces can rival a wood-burning fireplace. But if your wall is barely over 60 inches long, then this may not be the best option. It would take up most of the wall. Many homes stay closer to 20 to 30 inches for a gas fireplace. 

Your wood fireplace needs to be large enough to hold some logs and sticks to get the heat. This is why they are often larger than the gas fireplace. You will need to have enough space present to hold these since they are quite a bit larger. 

When choosing a gas fireplace, there are some standard measurements that you can work with. These include:

  • The opening width: This will be between 24 to 48 inches, going in increments of 4 inches
  • Opening height: This will either be 24, 29, or 32 inches
  • The depth of the fireplace: This will be either 16 to 18 inches
  • The firebox width in the back: This will start at 11 inches and go up by four inches to 33
  • Wall vertical heigh: This can be 14 or 16 inches

There are options to personalize your fireplace, but those can be harder to find and are often higher in cost. If you need one to fit a specific room in your home, this can be a good option to help you get what you need. 

Is a Wood or Gas Fireplace Better?

Both wood fireplaces and gas fireplaces are good options to choose from to help you warm your home, bring in some ambience, and have a new focal point that everyone is going to enjoy. The one that you pick will depend on your needs. 

Overall, the gas fireplace is one of the best options. It has a lot of benefits that you will need in a new fireplace, without the hassle of cleaning it all the time or finding wood for the fireplace. And it is energy efficient, so it can heat up your home without costing a lot of money. 

Each homeowner is different though. Some love the idea of a gas fireplace because of all the benefits, while others wouldn’t dream of having any fireplace other than a wood fireplace. 

You would choose a wood fireplace when you:

  • Want a fireplace that uses the traditional logs 
  • Want a fireplace that gives some of the traditional smells and sounds
  • Want a fireplace that is less expensive to set up

There are many benefits to choosing a gas fireplace too. While it is a little bit different than the wood fireplace and does have a few drawbacks, the gas fireplace is a great option.

You would choose a gas fireplace when you:

  • Want a fireplace that is energy efficient
  • Want a fireplace that is easy to set up and keep clean
  • Want a fireplace is good on the environment

While the gas fireplace is often seen as one of the best options, you do have added expense to the mix and may have to pay a little more to get it set up. Overall, this is the best choice for those who want to add in a fireplace without all the hassle. 

Picking a Fireplace for Your Needs

A fireplace is a great addition to any home. Whether you choose a gas burning or a wood-burning fireplace, it can add warmth and comfort to your home. Plus, it is a great addition to increase the resale value of your home. 

While many homeowners like to work with a gas-burning fireplace because of the easy use, the initial cost can be high. Plus, there is just something special about a wood burning fireplace! 

However, both are great decisions so choose the one that fits your needs and will look the best in your home!

Need More Help?

You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.

  • Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
  • Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10