The first obstacle is finding a store that is right for you. There are a lot of options from which to choose, including online possibilities, to the box stores, to the full-time hearth shops. Due to the fact that fireplaces are mechanical appliances that will more than likely require some maintenance, it would be wise to purchase a good quality fireplace from a store that can provide service should a problem arise. Because of this, we would avoid recommending the internet or a “box” store. With that being said, you will want to make sure the full-time hearth store you select is licensed and insured, especially if you will be needing the unit installed. Some shops may claim that licensing is not important or that a permit is unnecessary for a fireplace installation, but this is simply not true! Michigan law requires a permit and inspection for every unit installed. If you neglect this important aspect, you might have a real problem!
The next hurdle involves finding the right fireplace from an overwhelming number of choices. To simplify this decision, we recommend asking yourself three questions: What do I want my fireplace to accomplish? What do I want it to look like? How much do I want to spend?
What do I want my fireplace to accomplish?
This refers mainly to heat output. Fireplaces can range, on average, from 25,000 to 50,000 BTU’s and include high output models with blowers and ceramic glass that are designed to put out a lot of heat. If heating is your main concern, you should try to stay in the 40,000+ range, although a smaller output will also work.
What do I want my fireplace to look like?
Here is where the decision gets a little more difficult due to the number of options. First, decide if you want a more traditional log-look or a more modern-look with a newer linear-style fireplace featuring colored glass chips and lights. Next, you should decide which size fireplace best suits your area. A standard, traditional-size fireplace has a glass width of about 36” while linear models can be upwards of 60” or more. One factor to consider is ceiling height. Taller ceilings sometimes need larger fireplaces to keep them from getting lost in the room. Another factor to consider is whether or not you are planning to put a TV above the fireplace. If you are, you might want to size the fireplace and surround larger than the TV so it doesn’t look disproportionate. Now the choices start getting a little easier! You just need to consider which add-ons you might want such as brick refractory, remote controls, fans, or lights.
How much do I want to spend?
The amount you spend is completely up to you and your budget. On average, a direct vent gas fireplace box alone, not including venting or labor, can range from $1500 to $4500. As with most things, you get what you pay for. If you choose a less expensive fireplace, we would recommend choosing a higher quality model versus choosing one with more bells and whistles.
Hopefully, this information will help you wade through some of the confusion involved with picking out a gas fireplace that’s perfect for you. By pre-planning and answering some of these questions prior to visiting your local hearth store, you just might be able to narrow down your options, making it easier to get the fireplace that best fits you!