Best fireplace for basement?

bindersbeeJanuary 16, 2008

We are preparing to finish our basement. Part of that finish will involve installing a gas fireplace. I do not want the kind that is unvented (whatever the right term is). The fireplace will be installed in a large (18' x 24') family room. We do have a fireplace key (upstairs fireplace is above and currently a woodburning unit but we may change that out when we do this one- not sure) so depth of the unit is not too much of an issue- we have about 2.5 feet of depth to work with.

The priority for our fireplace is that it must produce actual heat. I don't care as much about a 'pretty flame', I just want my kids who will be sleeping in adjacent bedrooms to have some additional heat in the winter. We will have standard central heat but the vents are in the ceiling and don't tend to heat downstairs as well as they do up- thus the fireplace provides some supplemental heat.

We will put the thing on a thermostat so it will kick on automatically.

I know little about fireplace technology but want to make sure I'm asking the right questions and are educated about it when we start talking to local install companies. Do we need to get one with a 'blower'? What else do we need to consider? Thanks!

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I would look for a *direct-vent high efficiency (80% or better) gas fireplace, especially if you need it for supplement heat.

The more **BTUs the better. Oversizing the fireplace for the space isn't a bad thing. e.g. If the fireplace spec states it can heat up to 2000 square feet, and your basement is only 1000 sq. feet. You're better off because it may take that fireplace a long time to heat-up 2000 sq feet, but it can heat-up a smaller space more quickly. Also, adding a blower is not a bad idea either for improved air circulation.

I have a direct-vent gas stove with a blower. I went with one of the largest (more BTUs) and most efficient units I could find. I have it on a thermostat as well. Its heats up the space quickly and makes it very comfortable.

I know I couldn't enjoy my basement in the winter without my stove. My basement is also tied in with the house's central heating system, but I know that wouldn't be adequate alone.

Visit one of your local fireplace showrooms, that way you can see a bunch in operation at once. Also, have them come out and survey the area you want to install it. There are codes or installation requirements that must be followed. e.g. the vent has to be a certain distance away from a window or door.

Good luck with your decision. Hope this helps.


*direct-vent allows the fp/stove to be vented thru a vertical wall. No chimney is required.

** BTU - British Thermal Units is used to describe the power of heating. In simpler terms the higher the BTU, more heat its capable of generating.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 2:59PM
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