How Does a Propane Fireplace Work?

A propane fireplace.

Propane fireplaces are becoming more popular and user-friendly as families and homeowners become more aware of natural resource conservation, pollution, and the advantages of propane fireplaces. These advantages include convenience and warmth without the work of cutting and storing firewood, having to build a wood fire, and having to clean out the ashes. But for those who have never used or owned a fireplace, there is still the question about how they work.

Starting Your Fireplace Fire

Unlike a wood-burning fireplace where you must cut kindling wood, then use that kindling with a fire starter such as paper or charcoal starter to start your fire, with propane you have only to turn on the gas and press your starter button.

Flame Adjustment

Adjusting the flame of a propane fireplace is as simple as turning a knob. A damper, commonly used with wood-burning fireplaces is not necessary or even useful. Unlike burning wood or coal in your fireplace, propane heating is almost 92% efficient, compared with wood's 60% efficiency.

Creating a Fireplace

Many homes already have a masonry fireplace built-in one or more of its rooms. If this is true of your home, you will only need to slide a propane insert into the masonry fireplace opening. Then, all that's needed are two tubes that extend up the chimney. One of them feeds fresh air to the propane burner, and the other acts an exhaust to expel gases from the burned fuel up through the chimney and into the outside air.

For the home without a masonry fireplace, you have only to measure and cut a hole in the one wall of your house, insert a propane fireplace, and install a propane line. You can even build a mantle above the propane fireplace.

Fuel Availability

Whereas with the natural gas fireplace you have only to connect to a utility natural gas line, with a propane fireplace you will need to install a gas line. In addition, you will need to run that line to a propane tank big enough that it will provide propane gas without frequently having to take your small propane gas tank out for replacement. But if your home is already located in an area where propane is the only gas available and if you are already using it for other appliances, you will need only to extend a gas line from a propane line to your fireplace.

Using Gas Logs

If you enjoy the charm of a burning log in your propane fireplace, simply place a gas log into the fireplace. A gas flame from beneath the log will curl up around the log, as it would with a natural wood log. The advantage will be the appearance of a burning log but without the ashes to clean out of the fireplace.