Love the rustic appeal of a crackling fire but loathe the clean-up? Need the heat your fireplace puts out, but longing for a sleeker, more contemporary look? Gas logs are a safe, energy efficient, budget-friendly alternative that are designed especially for wood-burning fireplaces.

Ready to sit back and relax instead of stoking kindling? Read up on gas logs now.

What kind of wood-burning fireplace do you have?

Gas logs are designed to convert a wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace. There are few exceptions to this rule. If you install gas logs in a fireplace not built to accommodate them, you may be creating a fire hazard or source of unhealthy fumes in your home.

Masonry fireplaces, which are built from brick or stone, are compatible with most gas logs.

Split Oak Designer Plus Vented gas logs

(Masonry fireplace featuring Split Oak Designer Plus Vented gas logs from R.H. Peterson)

Prefabricated or zero-clearance fireplaces have some limitations. While most vented gas logs and some ventless gas logs will work fine in them, check the user manual for your fireplace for details. Or, contact the fireplace manufacturer directly and reference the model number, which should be stamped near the opening or at the top behind the mesh curtain, if there is one.

Unfortunately, you can’t install gas logs in a wood-burning or gas stove. If you are interested in using new logs with an existing gas fireplace that came with logs, you may not be able to change the logs, so contact the fireplace manufacturer directly to see what your options are.

What kind of fuel will you use?

Your two choices—natural gas or propane—will depend on whether you have a gas line running into your home already or not.

If you have a natural gas line, your converted fireplace will need natural gas logs.

If you don’t have a gas line, you’ll likely want to install a propane tank and purchase propane gas logs.

How do you want your gas fire to look and feel?

Vented gas logs have more realistic flames that wrap around the logs as if they were wood. However, they probably won’t put out enough heat to warm an entire room.

Vented Charred Mountain Birch gas logs

(Vented Charred Mountain Birch gas logs from R.H. Peterson)

Ventless or vent-free gas logs burn cleanly, like a gas range in a kitchen. The flames aren’t as realistic as vented gas log flames, but they do produce more heat. After an hour, though, you’re going to need to crack a window to let more oxygen into the room. With ventless gas logs, you’ll also see some condensation.

Ventless Split Oak gas logs

(Ventless Split Oak gas logs from R.H. Peterson)

Remember, the type of fireplace you have might make the choice between vented and ventless for you.

How do you want to control your gas fireplace?

All the power is in your hands...but you need to decide exactly how you want to control your gas log fireplace. Do you want a remote control or are you happy to light your gas fire with a match? Do you want to be able to adjust the flame? Would you prefer a thermostat?

More control means a higher price, but greater ease and comfort.

What size gas logs do you need?

Your gas logs should complement the size of your fireplace, but they do need to allow extra room on the sides for air flow to keep the gas valve from overheating. Your fuel type and the way you want to control your fireplace will affect the size of the logs you can use, too. It’s smart to make those two decisions before you think about log size.

When you start shopping, you’ll need four measurements taken from your fireplace: the front width, the back width, the depth and the opening height.

What shape is your fireplace?

Front-facing, L-shaped and three-side bay-style fireplaces use gas logs that are smaller in the back and feature a single burner.

For a see-through fireplace or a peninsula-style fireplace that has two long sides and one short side, you’ll want to buy specialized “See-Thru” gas logs. These logs send flames to the front, back and middle of your fire rather than just to the front and middle. They also have equal-sized logs and grates, which look more natural when viewed from different angles.

What do your local building codes require?

Cities, states and municipalities require you to install gas logs that meet their certification standards. To find out which types of gas logs are legal in your community, check in with your local building department.

The logs we sell at Hansen Wholesale fall into three different classes: non-certified (allowed by some states), RADCO-certified (required by more states) and ANSI-certified (required by most states).

Go ahead, leave the wood outside this winter. With gas logs on your hearth, sitting in front of a roaring fire is as easy as flipping a switch. Making the change is easy, too. With this handy gas log Q&A, you have all the information you need to figure out which gas logs are right for you.

Need a little extra help? We want you to love your fireplace—and to convert it safely. That’s why we offer a free consultation service to help you figure out exactly what will work in your home.