Understanding the Difference Between A Gas Heater And A Gas Fireplace

With energy prices on the rise and wood still exhausting to chop, stack and carry, many homeowners are considering gas heaters or gas fireplaces as an additional source of heat during the colder months. Installing some kind of gas heater at home has the benefit that natural gas is significantly cheaper than electricity almost everywhere in the country.


Hence having a secondary gas furnace is definitely less expensive to operate in the long run when running it a lot during the winter. Gas also tends to heat up a living space faster than electricity as the appliance gives off heat as soon as the burners are switched on. Before purchasing such furnace, many wonder which gadget might be more fuel-efficient but unfortunately there is no straight answer to which appliance will get you warm in a way that is easy on the wallet. Read on to understand the difference between a gas heater and a gas fireplace to make your decision.


All gas devices come with a consumption rating by the manufacturer called BTU, which indicates the amount of gas that particular appliance consumes per hour. The ‘British Thermal Unit’ is used to provide greater accuracy in comparing fuels and their energy content. For instance, one BTU is the amount of heat needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water. The BTU rate can most commonly be found on the label, usually attached to the appliance, and in the accompanying manual. In many cases, there are two rates listed, one that indicates the BTU consumption on the highest setting and one on the lowest.


But there is more to consider than deciding for the appliance that has the lowest consumption rate, as efficiency is another major factor to pay attention to when it comes to selecting a supplemental heater for your home. The extraction efficiency factor measures the amount of fuel used to turn into delivered heat. The factor is also listed on either manual or label and a high rate is usually a sign for an appliance of good quality.


Needless to say, one should keep in mind that the actual amount of heat a gas furnace system gives off cannot easily be measured as some will get lost in the building’s ductwork and insulation. It is, therefore, easier to measure the amount of heat for a gas fireplace as it is delivered directly into the living space without the need for ducting.


To illustrate the difference, hold your hand directly over a gas heater next time it is running and notice how cool the air is after having travelled through the ductwork. In comparison, hold your hand the same distance to a lit gas fireplace to feel the difference between direct heat and ducted heat. Hence when looking just at the label for extraction efficiency, both gas gadgets cannot easily be compared as listed.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, it is definitely more advisable to switch the fireplace on since no heat gets lost by having to travel through ductwork. At the same time, a fireplace only localized the warmth and won’t heat up an entire building, as it would be the case when deciding for a gas heater. Therefore it is always advisable to think about what you want to accomplish when choosing a gas heater or gas fireplace.


The price tag of the new furnace will depend on the three important factors: the BTU consumption rating, extraction efficiency rating and the heat loss ratio of its delivery system. What you should definitely make sure when purchasing your appliance is that it is an energy efficient model to avoid wasting fuel.

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