Robin’s Quickstart To Buying A Gas Fireplace

“One of the hottest trends of 2017  will be removing those 80’s and 90’s black metal wood fireplaces and reinstalling a gas fireplace,  “enough with the oak mantels and brick slice facings”.

“Welcome to Robin’s world at”  I’ve been installing gas fireplaces for the last ten years.  I’ve been involved with new home construction as a heating contractor since the 80’s and the shift from wood to gas is complete.”

Buyers demand them (gas fireplaces) in new homes and it is an easy upgrade (1 to 3 days) in existing residential


The gas industry essentially picked up the slack as wood stove sales tapered off in the 90’s. That is why, looking at the products available, they seem like  wood appliances with gas valves. Today they are three or four generations improved with better gas valves, flame action, log sets and more modern trims.

There are:

  1. gas stoves (similar to  wood stoves)
  2. actual fireplaces with artificial log sets or rocks.
  3. inserts.

1.Gas stoves are made with sheet metal, steel or cast iron. Finishes can be paint or baked on ceramic. Two great stoves are the Vermont Casting’s “Radiance” (my favorite stove)  or the Napoleon “GDS28”.
2. Fireplaces. They come looking like a black metal box with a log set. You have to frame  after installation and finish (drywall, tile, stone, etc). There is amazing variety. They are relatively cheap as the cost comes in the finishing. Napoleon Ascent X36 (one of Napoleon’s new lineup) is a Cleanface with bigger glass and less trim.   Regency has a handsome horizontal, HZ40E, with remote flame and fan action (remotes are generally on/off).  Savannah has the best value for their Limited series linears (fully loaded).
3. Inserts are smaller gas fireplaces that go inside an actual brick or zero clearance fireplace. This is the least invasive installation as the final product looks like your existing fireplace with a gas flame with little renovation. You have to measure the width, height and depth to determine what insert you can use. A Napoleon “Inspiration GZ” is virtually the only option for metal (zero clearance) fireplaces. For brick fireplaces there are more options. (check out WORK SHOWCASE).


There are two basic types, Natural and Direct Vent.
Natural vent is only available for a stoves or inserts. There is a single pipe or liner from the unit to exhaust fumes similar to a wood stove chimney. It uses the air in the house for combustion. This would be a lesser option.
Direct Vent exhausts  the fumes and brings in combustion air using the same pipe. This is accomplished for example with a 4″ exhaust pipe inside a larger 7″ combustion air pipe. This is the preferred venting option with greater heating efficiency as no inside house air is used. Stoves, inserts and fireplaces all use this method. Also, the Direct Vent option allows  sideways venting to the outside; the chimney can be as short as 6″ straight out.


All the units come with a BTU rating from 12000 to whatever. The key here is to remember that a 2,000 sq ft two storey would probably have a 75,000 BTU furnace heating the whole home.

If you buy too large (client: “I love lots of heat”!), the unit will come on for about two minutes and shut off, as the room gets too hot. You want to see the flame for as long as possible while the room gradually warms.  30K BTUs and under is what I like to see. Higher BTUs and  you had better have a large open concept home.


Stoves and inserts start at $4500 (Inspiration insert) and up, depending on finish and accessories. Fireplaces can start a little lower depending on finish, accessories and where you are at DIY.  With FW doing the finishing, prices come in around $5600 up (Napoleon Ascent X36).  A quick observation of mine is that clients have been looking at this project for years and are knocked out by the upgrade in quality of life from this small reno.


I’ll give you three with great product lines, warranty and quality. They are, and


Look at our Homestars/Ottawa/fireplaces reviews; they are glowing.  We have an easy formula.   We answer our mail,  show up and we will not become your live-in contractor.  Our jobs take 1 to 4 days.

We are a premier gas fireplace contractor and we push for excellence in service and products.  We source Canadian and North American brands.  We finish what we install.  The company is basically myself, Robin,  Matt Hetherington (occasionally), my son and Connor Whiteside.  We are respectively a G2 and a G3 gas techs and is an Ontario Fuel Safety Contractor, FS 0076507292 (1992).  We’d love to help you with your project.

let’s talk fireplaces.  (613)-720-3186

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