Dealers Say Customers Warm Up to Savings and Efficiency of Vent-Free Gas Heating Appliances PDF Print E-mail

Arlington VA. – March 8, 2006 – With this winter’s high energy costs, hearth dealers across the country are finding receptive ears among home owners about vent-free supplementary gas heating products, which include vent-free gas logs that are placed in a masonry fireplace or firebox, vent-free gas fireplaces, vent-free gas stoves and vent-free gas room heaters.  The response to vent-free has been hot just about everywhere the appliances are sold, but the reasons for the high response vary, depending on the locale.

“Our sales of vent-free appliances have grown tremendously in the last five years,” said Susan Scott, of O’Malia’s Fireplace Shop in Carmel, Indiana, “and much of that is due to our knowledge of the products. It’s very important for the retail store staff to educate themselves about the advantages of vent-free products so they can educate the consumer. Our customers respond especially to the efficiency of vent-free appliances, their spectacular beauty, and their ability to produce plenty of heat as well. Our biggest draw for vent-free is when the customer doesn’t already have an existing fireplace. This is the opportunity to add a fireplace or heater system to a room or garage and not be concerned with the need to install a vent or chimney. That’s a huge cost savings.”

Instant and plentiful heat is a customer “hot button” for vent-free, according to Ajay Gupta, president of Housewarmings in Lexington, Kentucky. “With any appliance other than vent-free, it takes quite a while to build up heat in a room. A vent-free heater or logset provides heat immediately. We’ve found that this is a key point for our customers, along with the 99% efficiency of vent-free appliances. With a vented logset, you lose up to 70% of the heat out the vent, but with vent-free, there’s no vent and the fireplace flue is closed, so all the heat stays in the room. With today’s fuel costs, that’s a big factor for our customers.”

“With our customers, it’s the money savings of vent-free, pure and simple,” said Ricky Sullivan, owner of Hearth and Grill Shop in Nashville, Tennessee. “When there is no existing fireplace, the 75% installation cost savings of vent-free over a vented system are compelling. With a vent-free gas system, you don’t need the vent pipe or a hole in the wall or roof; that cuts the labor and materials costs way down. Add the significant operating cost savings of vent-free heat and, to our customers, that’s a winner. In the past, our sales had been dominated by vented heating, but in recent years we now we sell about 60% vent-free and 40% vented. It’s very easy to sell vent-free.”

Vent-free products’ ability to provide zone heating is a big attraction for customers, said Grant Sasser, of Hometown Hearth and Grill in Portland, Oregon. “We sell a lot of vent-free gas wall heating units. People use them for heating in the family room, garage, or shop. We also sell many to commercial greenhouses. The vent-free heater allows the customer to have plenty of heat in the room where they spend most of their time and turn down the central heating system. Our customers also value the ability of most vent-free heaters to operate during electrical power outages. They can be really important for emergency heating.”

“It’s plain dollars and cents spent for heating,” noted Steve Loggins, owner of Loggins Fireplace and Patio in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. “To begin with, if you’re putting a whole fireplace in, a vent-free heating installation will cost about 50% to 60% less than a vented installation. But the operating cost savings are what truly convince our customers. In our area, a 24" vented gas logset, which has a 60,000 Btu input, costs about 95 cents an hour to operate. For the same size logset, the vent-free gas heating input is 36,000 Btu, and it costs about 54 cents an hour to operate. So vent-free saves the owner 41 cents an hour. But the savings are actually greater than that because, with a vented unit, you’re venting to the outside a lot of the valuable warm air you’ve already heated with your furnace. To our customers, vent-free’s savings are just common sense.”

All U.S. Code Groups Now Allow Vent-Free

With the International Association of Plumbers and Mechanical Officials’ (IAPMO) Uniform Mechanical Code adoption of the use of vent-free products in January 2006, every gas code group in the U.S. now allows the sale and installation of vent-free gas products. This new code is in the process of being adopted in some areas of the U.S. Home owners should always check to see which code is in effect in their area. Sue Walker, chairman of the Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance said:  “Working with the IAPMO group was very rewarding and resulted in an understanding of the code process and technology of vent-free gas appliances.  This acceptance of vent-free gas appliances now opens many new localities and choices to consumers in these Northwest states areas.”

The city of Las Vegas is the most recent municipality to allow the use of vent-free gas appliances. Vent-free gas appliances have been approved for use in a new $500 million multifamily housing project in Las Vegas. In 2004, Massachusetts became the 49th state to approve the sale of vent-free supplementary gas heating products.

Since 1980, over seventeen million American homes have relied on vent-free gas space heaters, fireplaces, logs, inserts, and stoves for supplemental heating. Because they operate on natural gas or propane, they can easily and affordably be placed almost anywhere in the home, even in the middle of a room. Vent-free products range from 5,000 to 40,000 Btu – including 8,000 to 10,000 Btu units for bedrooms and 6,000 Btu units for bathrooms. Super-sized fireplaces, measuring 52" from floor to top, are also available for larger rooms.

Vent-free appliances offer a huge selection of styles, sizes, and colors to choose from to suit any home décor. For fireplaces and log sets, home owners can choose from such wood styles as driftwood, oak, weathered oak, maple, pine, aspen, birch, and many others. The home owner can select a wood that’s appropriate to their region. There’s also a choice of log types, such as split oak and solid pieces of wood, as well as glowing embers – even an amazingly realistic set of coals in a gas-fired coal basket. With no wood to haul or ashes to clean out, home owners appreciate the convenience, savings of time and effort, and ease of use of vent-free gas products. These logs are perfect for a quick installation in an existing fireplace. All that is needed is a gas line and closed damper for 99.9 percent energy efficient heat. Nothing is lost up the chimney as the damper is closed.

Innovations in Vent-Free Appliances

Consumer demand has spurred manufacturers to continue to invest in vent-free gas appliances. Some recent advances in heating technology and design:

  • A new vent-free heater uniquely combines infrared and convection heat without using ceramic plaques. Instead, it uses ceramic fiber imprinted with a sun pattern that glows.
  • Another new design hides the flame behind smoked plexiglass, styled similarly to a plasma TV.
    Air cleaning plasma technology is now available in some vent-free appliances. This process emits positively and negatively charged ions which cluster around impurities and completely inactivate them at the molecular level – much the same way nature cleanses the air outdoors.
  • A CSA-approved gas outlet links a standardized plug on an appliance connector to a home’s gas supply. For example, one outlet can be used for multiple appliances, such as vent-free gas patio heaters, gas grills, or gas lights.
  • Of course, vent-free gas fireplaces and heaters have always been a great answer for transforming an unused corner into a new gathering place for the family. Now, recently introduced designs are “going vertical and slim” so they tuck very unobtrusively into corners and blend with home décor. 

An Outstanding 25-Year Track Record for Safety

Every vent-free gas product sold in the U.S. is equipped with a precision-engineered Oxygen Detection Safety-Pilot (ODS), which automatically shuts off the gas supply if the oxygen level in the room approaches a defined minimum set by American National Standard (ANSI) Z21.11.2. This safety standard requires the product to satisfy many construction and performance requirements. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has stated that it is not aware of any documented incident in the CPSC In-Depth Investigation (IDI) database of fatal CO poisoning associated with an ODS-equipped vent-free gas heating product. These appliances have earned an outstanding safety record.

For a free copy of the 16-page Consumer Guide to Vent-Free Gas Products – which includes detailed sizing guidelines, and the results of independent studies on indoor relative humidity and indoor air quality – write to the Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance, 2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201, email to mcarson@gamanet.org, or visit the website at http://www.ventfree.org.