5 Best Direct Vent Gas Fireplace – (Reviews and Buying Guide 2020)

Direct vent fireplaces are some of the most popular gas-burning fireplaces today. They burn cleanly, are energy efficient, and direct any combustion gases out of the house through a special set of flues. As such, they are not only environmentally-friendly but also safe for indoor use. 

The only challenge is that there are hundreds of direct vent gas fireplaces, which can make shopping a little confusing. From manufacturers to models and even features, the products vary widely. 

We want to help you choose the best direct vent gas fireplace for your home. But, first, let’s look at some of the best products in this category. 

Top 5 Best Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Reviews

The following are five of the best direct vent gas fireplace reviews you can currently buy. We advise that you focus on fuel type, size (in BTU), physical dimensions, and convenience as well as safety features.

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1. Empire Tahoe Deluxe 36-Inch Direct-Vent NG Millivolt Fireplace

Empire Tahoe Deluxe 36" Direct-Vent NG Millivolt...
  • Deluxe 36" Direct-Vent NG Millivolt Fireplace
  • Dimensions: 37" Width x 35 5/8" Height x 16 3/8" Depth.
  • Millivolt Control with On/Off Switch
  • Requires barrier screen DVFB36SBL or a door set. Contact customer service for more information.

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The 36-inch Empire Tahoe Deluxe is a natural gas direct vent fireplace with a five-piece log set. The contour burners generate up to 20,000 BTU with a heating efficiency of at least 83%. The firebox is made from large, heat-resistant tempered glass that creates a magnificent viewing window. 

The unit has black slat louvers and features remote-ready controls. For greater reliability, it doesn’t use electricity. Hem-bent seams guarantee structural integrity, eliminating the need for unreliable fasteners and screws. Although this model uses natural gas only, models that use propane are available. It measures 37 x 35 x 16 inches and weighs 102 lbs. 

The Tahoe Deluxe requires a venting pipe with an inner diameter of 4 inches. It comes with a 3-year warranty and must be installed by a professional for the warranty to be valid.

Pros

  • Up to 20,000 BTU
  • Piezoelectric ignition 
  • Remote-ready controls
  • Up to 83% heating efficiency
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Barrier screen/door set not included

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2. Empire Comfort Systems Premium 36-Inch Direct Vent NG Fireplace

Empire Comfort Systems Premium 36" Direct-Vent NG...
  • Model #: DVP36FP31N-DVP36D2H
  • Gas Type: Natural Gas
  • Includes: Variable-Speed Blower with Temperature Switch, Logs, Burner, Tempered Glass, Herringbone Ceramic Fiber Brick
  • Required: Must Choose Fireplace Barrier Screen or Door Set and Frame with Barrier Screen to Complete This Unit (Not Included; Order Separately)
  • Overall Dimensions: 37.62" (H) x 39" (W) x 19.87" (D).

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another product from Empire, the 36-inch premium fireplace is a millivolt system that features a standing pilot that you light at the beginning of every heating season. Ignition is done using a piezoelectric pushbutton. Remember that piezoelectric igniters require no electricity or battery backup. This model works with any of the Empire’s seven remote control accessories, ranging from simple switches to thermostats.

The fireplace features a tempered glass view window and a four-piece log set. The log set is mounted atop Empire’s legendary Slope Glaze Burner for a rich flame. In-built glowing embers and laverock deliver the ultimate realism. Thanks to the unit’s vent-within-a-vent technology, you only need one hole in the wall for venting. The heating efficiency is as high as 82%, with louvers at the top assisting with air circulation.

This model measures 37 x 39 x 19 inches, weighs 138 pounds, and generates up to 26,000 BTU/hour. The unit works with either a fireplace barrier screen or door set, both of which are sold separately.

Pros

  • Up to 26,000 BTU
  • Includes variable speed blower
  • Ceramic fiber brick liner included
  • Up to 82% efficiency

Cons

  • Required barrier screen not included

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3. Empire Comfort Systems Boulevard DV Linear 60-Inch Multi-Function Fireplace

Empire Comfort Systems Boulevard DV Linear 60"...
  • Model #: DVLL60BP90N
  • Fuel Type: Natural Gas
  • Includes : Multi-Function Remote, Ceramic Glass and Dimmer Light below floor, Barrier Screen, Noncombustible Board supplied for top and sides of unit.
  • Overall Dimensions: 60" (L) x 79.62" (W) x 21.5" (D) x 50.37" (H).
  • 46,000 Btu

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The 60-inch Boulevard direct vent gas fireplace is a full 60-inch linear gas fireplace with a 60-inch viewing area. It is the longest standard production fireplace that uses only one 5 x 8-inch pipe. The single pipe not only makes installation easier but also ensures a clean home exterior with only one termination.

Liner options include interior porcelain panels and bronze-ridged panels. Contemporary stone with driftwood log sets complete the unit nicely. The Boulevard is designed for spaces up to 900 Square feet and delivers a whopping 46,000 BTU/hour. It only uses natural gas – fuel conversion is not allowed. Included in the package are a multifunction remote, ceramic glass, and dimmer lights, as well as a barrier screen. You’ll also find noncombustible boards for the top and sides of the unit.

The Boulevard implements top venting and measures 60 x 79 x 21 inches. It weighs 360 pounds when out of the package. 

Pros

  • Clean, built-in design
  • Delivers up to 46,000 BTU
  • Multifunctionremote included
  • Ideal for up to 900 square feet

Cons

  • Single-fuel (natural gas only)

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4. Napoleon Vector 45-Inch LHD45NSB 24,000 BTU Direct Vent Fireplace

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The 45-inch Napoleon Vector is a natural gas fireplace designed to provide you with a sophisticated fireplace for the perfect evenings. It comes standard with Napoleon’s luxurious Topaz Crystalline ember bed that sparkles with an exclusive glow. Optional river rocks and colored glass are available to replace the Topaz Crystalline bed.

With regards to features, the beautiful fireplace is a modern, linear 24,000 BTU unit with fuel-saving electronic ignition. A pivoted glass door helps radiate heat into the room while a battery backup ignition ensures reliability even during a power outage. Optional features include two remote controls, ambient-glow metal fibers to enhance the glowing embers, and Mirror-Flame porcelain reflective radiant panels. Deluxe four-sided contemporary surrounds are also available separately. 

The LHD45NSB measures 46 x 40 x 19 inches and offers a 45-inch viewing area. It weighs 175 lbs and comes with a Presidential Lifetime Warranty. 

Pros

  • Delivers up to 24,000 BTU/hours
  • Luxurious Topaz Crystalline ember bed is standard
  • Electric ignition with battery-powered backup
  • Multiple optional features
  • Presidential lifetime warranty 

Cons

  • Surrounds sold separately
  • Remote sold separately

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5. Deluxe 42-Inch Direct Vent Natural Gas Millivolt Fireplace

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Finally, the Deluxe 42-inch millivolt from Empire is another worthy option when shopping for a direct vent gas fireplace. The first thing you’ll notice about this fireplace is that it’s not as small as standard recessed fireplaces. Offering up to 42 inches of fire view, it fits even medium-sized to large spaces. 

Also known as Model #DVCD42FP31P, the fireplace comes with seven ceramic fiber logs as well as a barrier screen for safety. A built-in blower helps to disperse the heat faster and more evenly throughout the intended space. You can manually control the flame height. The unit itself comes in a clean black face and a matte black interior. It vents either at the top or rear, with an electrical junction box included for hook up. You’ll find the control panel behind the lower panel.

Other features of the DVCD42FP31P include millivolt ignition – standing pilot and remote ready design – the remote device is sold separately. Overall, the fireplace measures 43 x 37 x 17 inches. It only uses liquid propane (fuel conversion is strictly prohibited). 

Pros

  • Generates up to 20,000 BTU/hour
  • Features a 42-inch viewing area
  • Seven ceramic fiber logs included
  • Supports top or rear venting 

Cons

  • The remote device is sold separately
  • Single fuel use (LP only)

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Best Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Buying Guide

One way to categorize gas fireplaces is by whether they are vented or not. In that regard, we can classify fireplaces as either non-vented (also vent-free or vent-less) or vented. 

What is a Vented Gas Fireplace?

home interior with direct vent gas fireplace

Essentially, vent-free models don’t drive the gaseous byproducts out. Instead, the gases are dispersed within the house, together with the generated heat. Since some of the byproducts of gas combustion aren’t safe for humans, direct vent fireplaces are designed for extremely high efficient burning. Some vent-free burners are as much as 99.99% efficient, meaning that combustion byproducts are negligible and rarely dangerous. 

Vented gas fireplaces are different. While also very efficient, they utilize various means to drive combustion gases outside the home. Usually, special pipes are used to guide the gases out, through the wall, roof, or the chimney.

Natural Vent vs. Direct Vent

Vented fireplaces are further divided into two subcategories – natural vent and direct vent. Natural vent models resemble conventional wood-burning fireplaces. Even the vent pipes are almost the same. The B-vent pipes used in natural vent fireplaces are, however, smaller than the A-class chimneys used in traditional wood stoves.  

Direct vent fireplaces are a lot more modern. First off, they implement what’s known as closed combustion, where the byproducts of the burning process are closed off from the room. Secondly, rather than use a single pipe (vent/chimney) to guide combustion gases out, they also introduce a second pipe to draw oxygen into the firebox. To ensure that no combustion gases escape, the fireplaces are sealed off with a glass door/panel that cannot be removed. 

The pipes used in direct vent fireplaces are much smaller in size compared those used in natural vent fireplaces. 

Advantages of Direct Vent Gas Fireplaces

Direct vent fireplaces have three main advantages over vented and natural vent models. These are;

  • Efficiency

Though not as efficient as open combustion, vent-free models (which can be up to 99% efficient), direct vent fireplaces are far more efficient than natural vent models. Most natural gas fireplaces garner efficiency ratings as high as 78%, meaning that up to 78% of the gas fuel is converted into usable heat. This is much higher than traditional fireplaces that are only about 30% efficient. Some direct-vent fireplaces are equipped with blower systems to help evenly distribute this heat throughout the intended area. 

  • Safety

Direct vent fireplaces are also much safer for home occupants. The gas-burning process produces multiple byproducts, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, water vapor, and various hydrocarbons. Some of these gases, such as carbon monoxide, are not safe for humans. Extended exposure to CO causes poisoning and can kill. Direct vent fireplaces have systems in place to drive out these harmful gases to ensure you and your family’s safety. 

  • Versatility 

The efficiency and safety advantages of direct vent fireplaces mean that the units fit a wider range of applications compared to vent-free and natural vent models. Natural gas fireplaces, for instance, use the oxygen within the home to fuel the burning process while direct-vent models draw the required oxygen from outside the house. As such, direct-vent models are a better fit when shopping for a bedroom fireplace. Vent-less fireplaces, by comparison, are highly regulated countrywide and forbidden completely in the bedroom. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Direct Vent Gas Fireplace

Direct vent fireplaces come in many designs, sizes, and styles. The following are a few vital considerations to help you pick the right one for your application.

ventless gas fireplace in a decorated room

  • Design

Standard one-sided models are the norm when shopping for a direct vent fireplace. But, there are also two-sided, three-sided, and even four-sided options to consider. The three-sided models are often called peninsulas, while four-sided designs are called islands. Aside from that, you also have bay-window shaped and corner units. 

  • Physical size

With regards to physical size, the options are endless. What you need to remember is that physical size takes into account the length, depth (width), and height of the unit. Lengths often range from about 30 to 48 inches, while depths (width) range from 24 to 30 inches. Depths tend to be in the 13 to 18 inches. It’s important to consider the space you have available before making a choice here.

  • Venting style

Most direct vent gas fireplace vent either through the top or rear. Rear-vented models work best when you intend to drill the pipes through the wall. However, if wall-venting isn’t a clear cut option, go with a top-venting model that vents through the roof. Depending on the model, the vents may run vertically or horizontally – up to 25 feet or more.

  • Log options

Direct vent gas fireplaces offer two main log types – ceramic fiber logs and refractory concrete logs. Ceramic fiber logs glow and have radiant properties for higher efficiency. They are also 75% lighter than refractory logs. Refractory logs, meanwhile, are more durable. The logs typically come in three sizes, i.e., 18, 24, and 30 inches. 

  • Features and Controls

Features and controls vary from one manufacturer to another. Some important ones to consider include;

  • Ignition type: Most gas fireplaces use pilot lights, electric sparks, piezoelectric, or manual (match) ignition. Which ignition type best suits your needs?
  • Thermostat: Thermostats are vital in controlling the amount of heat generated by the fireplace at any given time. The thermostat is, therefore, critical to achieving ideal comfort during heating.
  • Remote control: The main advantage of the remote control feature is that you don’t have to walk up to the fireplace to change the flame or heat settings. You can do that from the comfort of the sofa.
  • Speed fans: To speed up the heating process and distribute the heat more evenly throughout the room, you may want to also check for the presence of a variable-speed blower.

Others

You’ll also need to consider the fuel type and installation method. Does the fireplace use propane, natural gas, or both? And, with respect to installation, is it an insert, built-in, or freestanding? Inserts install into an existing traditional fireplace, built-in models are recessed into the wall, while freestanding models stand on their own feet. 

Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Safety

Even though direct vent fireplaces feature pipes designed to direct combustion gases outside the home, they still come with a few safety risks. These include;

  • Gas build-up: There have been reports of gas build up in the firebox if the pilot light isn’t lit or goes off unexpectedly. Lighting a fireplace with such gas build-up can cause a small explosion.
  • Excess heat: Direct vent fireplaces generate a great deal of heat. Even the protective safety glass and mesh at the front of the unit might get very hot during operation, which can cause burns when touched.

To prevent these and other possible safety hazards, the following safety precautions are recommended;

  • Check for safety certifications: The best gas fireplaces are approved or certified by at least one recognized safety authority, such as the American Gas Association (AGA). 
  • Check that it’s approved for the application: This applies if you intend to use the fireplace in the bedroom, mobile home, or at a relatively high elevation. Be sure that it’s approved for that usage.
  • Ensure proper installation: For peace of mind, it would be best to have a professional install the unit. It’s the only way to ensure that everything is done as required with no loopholes.
  • Be vigilant with kids and pets: Whenever the fireplace is running, you must be around to ensure that the kids or pets don’t get too close to the unit for the risk of getting burned. 
  • Ensure regular maintenance: Gas build-up and other safety risks can be averted through regular maintenance and scheduled inspections. At least once every three or four months, have a professional look at the unit to diagnose and fix any issues as well as fine-tune it. 

Summary

Direct vent fireplaces are popular among consumers and for a good reason. They are not only clean-burning but also very efficient and safe for use even in the bedroom. If you decide to buy one, make sure to choose the right design, size (physical), and venting type. Also, consider features such as thermostat control, ignition type, and remote control. Above all, make sure that the unit is safe for the intended application.