Gas vs Wood Burning Fireplace: What’s the Verdict?

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Whether you’re looking to get a fireplace for your new home or thinking of replacing your old, worn-out fireplace, it’s important to compare gas and wood-burning fireplaces.

A thorough understanding of these technologies will help you decide which suits your requirements.

The following article gives a thorough comparison of gas vs wood burning fireplaces based on various parameters, including convenience, operational costs, maintenance, pollution, durability, and more.  

Features Face to Face

Let’s compare the gas vs wood-burning fireplace based on the most important fireplace features.

Wood-Burning FireplacesGas Fireplaces
Ease of UseNeed to stack firewood and a kindle to start a fireEasy to operate, remotely accessible
Fuel StorageNeed to store firewood, keep it dry and ventilatedNo fuel storage is required. Natural gas comes in through pipes
Fireplace Safety and HealthBurning embers can burn furniture and hurt kidsSafe to use
Fireplace Efficiency30% efficiency Up to 99% efficiency
Fireplace MaintenanceRegular maintenance and cleaning of creosote are required Little to no maintenance
Operational CostRelatively costlyRelatively cheap
EcofriendlinessToxic gasses are producedProduces 99% lesser pollutants
Aesthetic AppealGives a natural and traditional feelLooks good but cannot match the feel of a traditional fireplace
House Resale ValueIncreases house valueIncreases house value
Life ExpectancyMasonry fireplaces can last a lifetime15 to 20 years lifespan

Fireplace Ease of Use

Gas fireplaces win this one by a clear margin. Press the button next to the fireplace, and your fireplace comes roaring into action. Some gas fireplaces come with a remote, which further eases the process.

Compared to that, wood-burning fireplaces need a lot of effort to ignite. You have to stack wood and kindling in the fireplace in the right order. Then you need to light the firewood and tend to it until it can sustain itself.

Some people might consider the process amusing and ceremonial, but many homeowners don’t want to go through such a long process, especially when they’re sick and tired and want to relax in a warm, cozy environment.

Fuel Storage

Gas fireplaces don’t require fuel storage because gas comes in through a pipe. But there are certain areas that don’t have a supply of natural gas. Homeowners living in such areas use propane as an alternative. Since propane comes in large tanks, it can be quite a headache.

Firewood for wood-burning fireplaces needs to be stored in racks. You must be careful when storing firewood since it needs to be ventilated. Ventilation is important to allow the moisture to evaporate from the firewood to make it burn better. You also need to protect it from rainwater and mold growth.

If you have natural gas in your area, gas fireplaces are much better regarding fuel storage.

Fireplace’s Safety

Gas fireplaces are much safer than wood-burning fireplaces because they don’t produce embers. Embers can fly out of the wood-burning fireplace, damage furniture, or even hurt someone.

While gas fireplaces are safer by default, homeowners can make their wood-burning fireplaces safer by installing a fireplace glass door and a child-proof screen. This is important, especially if you have small children or pets roaming around your fireplace.


Wood-burning fireplaces produce a lot of heat. The fire inside the fireplace can reach temperatures up to 1,100 °F. But most of the heat produced inside the fireplace escapes through the chimney.

Moreover, the hot air inside the chimney rises, creating an upward draft that pulls warm air present inside the house.

That is why wood-burning fireplaces have an efficiency rating of merely 15%.

Compared to that, gas fireplaces have a 75% to 99% efficiency rating depending upon the type of appliance used.

Ventless gas fireplaces don’t need external ventilation, and no heat escapes outside. This makes it the most efficient fireplace, with an efficiency rating of up to 99%.

Direct vent fireplaces operate by venting both fresh and waste air externally. This makes them the second most efficient fireplace with a 60% to 75% efficiency rating.

Natural vent gas fireplaces take third place with a 50% to 60% efficiency rating. These fireplaces vent exhaust air externally while taking fresh air from inside the home, resulting in losses.

Fireplace Maintenance

Gas fireplaces need annual cleaning and adjustment by a chimney expert to ensure safe and efficient operation. Apart from that, a little dusting is all you need.

Wood-burning fireplaces produce soot and creosote that sticks to the chimney lining. If not cleaned regularly, it can accumulate and create blockages inside. It’s also a fire hazard, so regular cleaning is mandatory.

On top of that, homeowners need to schedule annual chimney inspections in which a chimney expert will examine the chimney thoroughly. During the examination, chimney cracks, signs of leakage, broken or damaged parts, rust, and other problems are diagnosed and fixed.

Wood-burning fireplaces contain a lot of ash and soot produced by wood combustion. Homeowners need to clean their fireplaces to get rid of them frequently. If not, soot and ash can ruin carpets and furniture and cause respiratory issues.


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Fireplace Operation Cost

On average, a gas fireplace will cost you around $500 to $2000 per year. The cost can vary drastically depending upon various factors such as the availability of gas, fireplace technology, operating conditions, etc.

Compared to that, a wood-burning fireplace will cost around $900 to $1500 per year for running 12 hours a day. The cost depends upon the price of the firewood cord, which can vary depending on your locality.

When you add the cost of chimney maintenance and sweeping by a professional, the cost of operating a wood-burning fireplace increases.

Fireplace’s Environmental Impact and Health Risks

Homeowners that are concerned about their carbon footprint should opt for gas fireplaces. Natural gas fireplaces produce 99% fewer pollutants compared to wood-burning fireplaces.

A gas fireplace is also a healthier option as it does not produce smoke pollution, which is a major problem with wood-burning fireplaces. A gas fireplace significantly reduces the risk of smoke-associated diseases such as cancer, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and other respiratory problems.

Fireplace Aesthetic Appeal

Wood-burning fireplaces win regarding aesthetics. Despite advancements in technology, gas fireplaces have not been able to match the ambiance and atmosphere a traditional fireplace creates.

The crackling and popping of the logs, coupled with the natural smell of firewood, create a soothing environment, an environment that unwinds our nerves and helps us relax after a tiring day.

While the newer versions of gas fireplaces strive to provide more realistic flames, they have a long way to go before they match the aura created by a traditional fireplace. You also cannot cook marshmallows in a gas fireplace.

Increased Resale Value

Regardless of the type of fireplace you have, if your fireplace is well-maintained, it is sure to increase the value of your property.

Whether a gas fireplace adds more value depends on current market trends and the type of buyer interested in your house.

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a gas fireplace is around 10 to 15 years. But if properly maintained, it can be extended. Sometimes replacement of a few isolated parts can prolong the operational life of your fireplace, but there comes a point when replacement is a better and cheaper option.

Wood-burning fireplaces can last for 20 to 30 years before they need replacement. Regular cleaning and maintenance can increase the life of your fireplace.


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Standout Features

Now that we’ve compared the features of gas vs wood-burning fireplaces let’s discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both these fireplaces.

Gas Fireplace Pros and Cons

Here are the main benefits and drawbacks of a gas fireplace that you need to consider when making a purchase.

Pros of Gas Fireplace

  • Gas fireplaces don’t need logs, so you don’t have to maintain a wood log rack.
  • No foul smells of soot and creosote.
  • Gas fireplaces do not produce ash or other combustion by-products.
  • Easy to use. You can easily adjust the fire and heat of the gas fireplace using a remote control or a push button.
  • The fire will not flicker or die out as long as there is a constant gas supply.
  • Gas fireplaces such as direct vents and ventless gas fireplaces do not use warm air from inside, so the air does not escape through the chimney.
  • It’s safe to use gas fireplaces as they don’t come with the risk of burning embers flying out of the fireplace and hurting someone.
  • Gas fireplaces are the most efficient. They have an efficiency rating of 60% to 99%.
  • You can install gas fireplaces in multiple rooms. It is best to install gas fireplaces in the most used rooms.
  • Gas fireplaces do not produce a lot of toxic or hazardous byproducts.

Cons of Gas Fireplace

  • If there is no gas supply in your locality, you’ll have to use propane which can get expensive.
  • Since the fire is inside a sealed glass, you won’t feel the heat of the fire on your skin.
  • Some people prefer traditional fireplaces because of the aura it creates owing to the crackling and popping of firewood and the smell of the burning wood. This is something a gas fireplace cannot replicate.
  • Gas fireplaces come with the danger of a gas leak which can be life-threatening. If you suspect a gas leak, exit the building and call for professional help immediately.
  • If not properly maintained, gas fireplaces can emit CO2. Therefore, installing a CO2 gas detector in rooms with a gas fireplace is best.
  • Gas fireplaces are harder to modify compared to wood-burning fireplaces.

Wood Fireplace Pros and Cons

If you’re considering buying a wood-burning fireplace, check out its benefits and drawbacks to make a more educated decision.

Pros of a Wood-Burning Fireplace

  • More durable. Prefabricated fireplaces can last up to 30 years, while masonry fireplaces can remain operational for a lifetime.
  • You can cook marshmallows in a wood-burning fireplace.
  • Easy to convert. If you’ve got a wood-burning fireplace, you can easily make a switch to a gas fireplace if you want.
  • Preferred by people who value tradition and the crackling sounds of burning logs.
  • You can choose your firewood, which means you can choose to have a quick-burning fire, a long-burning, or one with a pleasant aroma.

Cons of Wood-Burning Fireplaces

  • Before using it, you’ll need to chop your firewood and store it in a well-ventilated and dry place for months.
  • It’s a hassle to light a fire.
  • You can’t leave the fire unattended. Burning embers can fly off and burn your furniture or your loved ones.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces need regular cleaning as they produce soot and creosote. Without regular cleaning, it is not safe to use a wood-burning fireplace.
  • You need to vacuum or clean out the ash inside the fireplace.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces are inefficient because most of the heat escapes from the chimney.
  • It also pulls out warm air present inside your house.

The Takeaway

Now that we’ve done a thorough comparison of gas vs wood-burning fireplaces, you’re in a much better position to decide which one will be best for you.

If you’re looking for something that’s eco-friendly, safe, easy to operate, and more efficient, it’s best to go with a burning fireplace.

But if you prefer the traditional feel of wood logs burning, you should stick with the wood-burning fireplace.

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Thomas Green

Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.