What is a Propane Fireplace? (with pictures)

Josie Myers
Josie Myers
A propane tank holds fuel to power a fireplace.
A propane tank holds fuel to power a fireplace.

The propane fireplace has emerged as a heating alternative for those who enjoy the radiating heat of a fireplace but do not wish to deal with the mess associated with traditional log fireplaces. A propane unit can come as a wall unit, an insert into a traditional masonry fireplace or a freestanding unit. There are advantages to each type of unit based on the set up of the home.

A propane fireplace.
A propane fireplace.

Propane can deliver efficiency that can not be found in wood burning units. The air is cleaner since there is no soot or ash escaping and there is no accompanying smell. The flame can be turned up or down with a simple twist of a knob, while the starter button on a propane fireplace makes for an easy flame. Heat is less likely to escape up a fireplace since a damper is not required. Heating runs at about 92% efficiency as opposed to wood which runs at approximately 60%, although cost effectiveness varies depending on local prices.

A propane fireplace insert is a popular choice for those who have a masonry fireplace already in place. These units slide into the hole that would have otherwise burned wood and a gas line connects from outside. Two tubes go up the chimney: one for fresh air to facilitate the combustion process and one to send the harmful exhaust out.

A wall unit propane fireplace fits into an opening cut in the wall. Drywall or plaster are cut away to the measurements required. A gas line runs from a tank outside. After the unit is placed, a mantel is built around the hole to beautify the space.

Freestanding propane fireplace units are able to be placed anywhere in the home. They generally do not have a vent and are therefore sometimes also called "ventless" propane fireplaces. Since they are freestanding, they are restricted in their placement only by the ability to run a gas line to them. Homeowners who choose this option should also plan to purchase carbon monoxide monitoring kits, as the ventless nature of the freestanding units can also allow for this harmful byproduct to be released into the air.

For those that enjoy the look of a wood fireplace but the convenience of propane, gas logs are a popular item. These refractory log look-a-likes fit inside the fireplace and a flame comes up from over top of them. It gives the warm appearance of the log burning without the mess and hassle of wood burning.

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Discussion Comments


when I went skiing last year, the lodge had an outdoor propane fireplace, and it was really relaxing. We weren't completely outside in the open, of course, but sort of on a porch or deck. It made a great atmosphere. I think it would be really neat to have one of them at your home where you could sit around during winter with a cup of hot chocolate or something.

I am just curious, if you had a propane fireplace that was vented to the outside, could you still put real wood in it, or would that cause problems of some sort?


My parents have a propane fireplace in their home, and I really like it. They even have a propane fireplace blower system installed that increases the efficiency of the fireplace. Basically it takes colder air from the room and circulates it through the flames and blows it back into the room. It lets them heat the three main rooms of the house very effectively.

I would second the carbon monoxide monitor, though. One time, the valve or something got stuck open and the gas kept running after the flame was off. The detector caught it before anything bad happened.

My parents have propane for their home anyway, but I was wondering, if you wanted a propane fireplace, but didn't already have a propane system in your house, how much work would it be to have a tank installed and the pipes run into the house?


I have thought about getting one of the propane inserts that the article mentions, since I have a wood burning fireplace now, but I just don't like having to deal with the mess and finding wood for it.

This would be a vented propane fireplace, of course, so how much would I be expecting to spend on one of them? If I could get someone to install the propane line, could I do the rest myself, or would it just be better to get someone else to do it for me? I know they all go by BTU, how much should I be looking for? I have a normal sized room that is about 16 x 16 feet or so, I think.

Is there ever any sort of maintenance you need to do with a propane fireplace?


I was always wanting a fireplace in our house, but we never really wanted to spend the money installing one and running in a new gas line. When we moved a few years back, the house we finally decided on had a propane fireplace, and it has been wonderful.

I really like the look and sound of having real logs, which we can't have with propane, but it is still nice. I like not having to worry about soot and ash getting into the house, too.

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    • A propane tank holds fuel to power a fireplace.
      A propane tank holds fuel to power a fireplace.
    • A propane fireplace.
      A propane fireplace.