The following is a brief outline of the four types of gas fireplaces that are generally available. The type you choose depends on your aesthetic preferences, comfort requirements, and whether you already have a wood-burning fireplace that you would like to convert to gas.
Log inserts – A log insert is an artificial gas-burning log that is installed into a pre-existing wood-burning fireplace. The log insert does not provide any useable heat. This is a good option when you have a wood-burning fireplace that you no longer want to actually use but don’t want to get rid of because you like the look of it in the room.
Fireplace inserts – A fireplace insert consists of a fully enclosed gas fireplace that is installed into a pre-existing wood-burning fireplace. This type of fireplace provides enough heat to warm an average-sized living area (25 000 to 40 000 BTU output).
Built-in fireplaces – The built-in gas fireplace is a self-contained fireplace that does not require a pre-existing fireplace structure. It can be installed virtually anywhere in the home. Built-in gas fireplaces are an efficient way to heat even a large living area. Although the actual fireplace itself is a complete unit, it must be framed within a box, called the surround. The surround is then finished in a way that complements the room.
Stand-alone fireplaces – These look more like stoves than fireplaces. In fact, some are styled much like the old-fashioned cast-iron or enamel wood-burning stoves with attractive metal moldings. Unlike wood-burning stoves, stand-alone fireplaces are efficient as well as charming.