In your opinion: Best looking gas fireplace?

oruborisFebruary 10, 2007

New build is finally moving along, and I'm looking for a gas fireplace.

My first priority is a natural looking fire with glowing embers and nice tall flames.

My second priority is a sturdy unit that will last for years.

Heat output isn't that big a deal, since the primary heat in the house will be radiant floor. Still, no point in wasting money either: should I have a blower or not?

Dimensionally, I'd like wide, not too tall, and not too deep, since it could make framing tougher.

My builder likes Fireplace Extraordinaire [though I've stumbled on some posts on other boards that suggest they may not be well built]. I like the way mendotta's look, in as much as you can tell via web video...

So share your wisdom: what fireplaces have you seen in person that looked almost like woodburners? Which brands have you heard good things about, quality wise?

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Ours! Jotul Acadia zero clearance unit with the optional cast-iron arched doors.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 9:04AM
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I was torn between the Mendota & the Heat & Glo Escape, and we ended up with the Escape. It's in & working, but we still need to finish the surround and mantel & paint the bump out (which is 23.75", btw). The flame & log set look great and we have a large open view of the firebox. The glass viewing area is tall, I think it could be a few inches shorter and still look great. One thing that steered me away from the Mendota was that while I liked the larger viewing area in its largest size, I did not like that the log set was too small for the firebox (it was the same size as the next lowest size and there was a good amount of empty space between the end of the logs and each side of the firebox wall).

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 2:19PM
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Any from Travis Industries, or Lopi or Avalon all have very realistic ceramic burners. Heat and burn like real wood fires.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 10:50PM
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We also are going with the Heat-n-Glo Escape. we looked at the other major, big flame units such as the Lennox Monticello,Napolean Madison, Town & Country & Vermont Chateau. One of the reasons we chose escape is that it requires the least framing depth at 22". Some of the others are around 29".
It is not installed yet but in the showroom it has a nice realistic flame and not overly hot at 40,000 btu inout max.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 8:05PM
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Recently have been looking for one for my wife's family dining room addtion we are in process of building and room is only 34 X20. Looked at Xtrordinairs & 32 & 36 but salesman thinks 36 will overpower my room with heat. It does look real 5 minutes after they cut it on & those embers warm up. Salesman also directed me to the Avalon & Lopi modesl which also feature the Embyer fire(Travis Industries) display. So far I haven't see one as close to real as this one.
Going to see Heat & Glo Cerona & Heat N glo Escape models tomorrow. Today I looked at Hearthstone's Gas Fireplaces.. the price was right for the Hearthstone...must be end of season pricing since it was below 2K but I want to see If I can find something that looks more 'realistic'. Haven't seen a Mendota who makes that?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 10:56PM
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We have an Eiklor and it is awesome. It is a five burner system and the burners have a life time warranty. It is a direct vent system and we like it very much.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 3:07PM
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Your builder is absolutely right, the Fireplace Xtrodinaire is the best looking gas fireplace around. I've looked at (seems like) hundreds during the last few months and none of the others compare. The other log-sets look so fake, one can clearly see that they're not "real wood." The FPX will fool you. Check out the FPX "Revolution 36 CF Rectangular F/P." This f/p has the size and depth of a real woodburning f/p---really, I have not seen any that compare.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 9:07AM
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THanks for the help so far: there are so many choices my head is spinning...

The framing has gotten more complex than I'd planned, and now there's a 6x6 dead center behind where the fireplace will be. so instead of having it outside the room [so to speak] it will have to be inside, and I'm suddenly concerned with just how deep it is, front to back.

And I'd really like an arched top: there'll be 4 arched windows in the same wall, I think it would be nice to keep the theme going.

I'm also looking for a really low turndown rate, information that seems a little hard to come by on some units.

The Eiklor sounds intriguing with a 5 level burner, but looks to me like they don't actually make fireplaces, just log sets.

Here's a link to the Mendota site, if anyone is interested: They feature a 3 level burner, look pretty good to me, but I haven't had a chance to see many others actually burning yet. The point about the 2 larges models taking the same log set is a good one: it's mentioned on the website, but the implications were lost on me till LS pointed it out.

I notice that the xtrordinaire uses the 'emberfyre' burner, just like heat and glow. Makes me think most of the heating specs are pretty close...

Thanks again, further commentes welcome, as the search continues...

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 6:12AM
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I just put in two fireplaces. A Fireplace Extrordinair "Bed & Breakfest" model in a small den. A Excalibur model P95 for a large living room area. I love both! Both look real to me and both put out a LOT of heat. I live in upstate New York and I had a "Design Air in Hillburn put them in and they were great also. I think my fireplaces look wonderful. One is in a cabinet, one with a huge mantel. Best thing I did for my home.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 2:02PM
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Boy, that Excaliber model is NICE! I think I like the look of it better than the Xtrordinaire.

I'm going round and round on this, currnently leaning towards the Mendota again. Partly because the burner can be turned waaay down, and is infinetly variable: does that sound like a useful feature to anyone but me? Seems like it would allow you to enjoy a small fire when you really didn't want the heat. They also have a set of doors that match the windows in this room:

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 12:42AM
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It may not be what you were originally looking for, but nothing looks as good as a thermart fireplace. It is also superior in its heating characteristics and degree of control of heat output.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thermart

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 9:58AM
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Thermarts are cool, but too modern for my home.

Would be ideal for a lot of people, though...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 4:38PM
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What size are you putting in? We liked the 3 burner style on the 45in but it looked too high in the 36in that was the biggest we could go. We did go with their 2 burner 26in unit with the Bentley doors. We thought it looked the best of the ones we had seen.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 12:56AM
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It's a large space, so I'm looking at the dxv 45, which is next to the largest.

I looked at them in the shop, and was a little dissapointed in the logset, but the flames looked good.

Since I don't really need all the BTUs, I should probably go back and look at the next smaller one a bit more closely.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 1:15AM
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Make sure you have looked at the deep timber log set, they tell me there is a difference. We liked them mainly because we liked the look of the log set, but also the look of the embers made it seem more real.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 12:36AM
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I'll have to go back to the dealers. Some of the literature I've seen mentions the 'Deep timber 2' logset, but I can't find a photo of it.

I actually like the logs themselves from the smaller unit, the 'Timber fire' set, since it looks more like the way people actually stack logs in fireplace. The original Deep Timber set is almost too random, which sounds kind of stupid now that I'm typing it [sigh].

I'm really just sweating impossibly small details at this point, but I wish it were possible for me to do my own arrangement of the logs!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 5:13PM
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Oruboris, I'm with you!
I, too, wish I could arrange my own logs. Wouldn't it be nice if they made a couple of extra logs you could add and move around every few days/weeks, just to keep things interesting. But I guess that wouldn't work very well with the glass/ceramic front that would have to be opened up. Sigh ...

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 6:44PM
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This is nearly a year old (the original post, I mean) but I want to thank everyone who posted. I fell in love with the Fireplace Xtraordinair -- holy cow what an amazing flame! Its venting won't work for me, though. Shoot.

So now I'm deciding between Majestic's Chateau (flame not as great but a lovely, clean, large design) and Heat n' Glo's Escape (it's nice, but considerably more expensive than the Chateau). To be made of money ....

Anyway, I wouldn't even have known where to begin if it hadn't been for the generosity of all these posters. Thank you!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 8:37PM
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Well, here I am, coming up on month 14 of a 7 month project.

Still don't have all my FPs bought, still not sure which I'll use in the MB and [possibly] basement family room.

But I've bought mendottas for the living and dining rooms: Most other models allow you to 'turn down' the flame by opening a vent to outdoors, while the mendottas let you turn off the upper burners and dial back the lowest one.

I came accross two issues that I learned couldn't live with: Uberclean brick surrounds and log sets that sit in a little pan atop the floor of the fp [leaving the floor utterly prisine]. Either shout 'FAUX!' so loud that I can't enjoy the actual fire.

I'm surprised by how much I like Napolean's units with built in lighting: since a gas flame doesn't throw as much light as a wood one, adding the yellow-y electric light makes the fire seem much more cozy and authentic.

But I'm all the more aware that we aren't all looking for the same things: an issue that disqualifies a unit for me could be someone else's favorite feature...

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 1:22AM
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orubris - look at the Kozy Heat line of gas FP. We are redoing a FP - started in Feb - not done yet!! But, the Minnetonka by Kozy Heat is installed & we have been using it. It has different levels of flames as well as fan speeds. Works on a RC remote/ thermostat and also has a damper to open to let out heat (why? I guess ambiance - no heat?) We looked at alot of them, also have a Regency in another room. The thermostat maintains the temp setting, varying the flame & fan as needed. We also needed to have access to the plug for the fan, to operate on a generator as we lose power often. So far, we are pleased.
We also liked the Mendota, but the Kozy Heat was a better fit in the opening.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 3:48PM
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A year later for us, we got that Fireplace Xtraordinair at my wife's insistance;so she is NOT dragging, logs or wood or ash into her dining room/library.

After all the gypsum dust,painting & joint compound we went through in building that room I will have to agree with her; we made the right choice to go with a gas unit there. We had Mineral wool insulation behind the fireplace because a couple of people here said their builder's didn't insulate behind their units.We don't get any cold air blowing into our home. Our unit with the blower speed so low you can't hear it will heat up a 34 x 20 foot room in 20 minutes.
This thing really puts out heat & looks so real you'll swear it is a wood unit.
As for me; I have a Hearthstone Heritage in the basement, real wood & real comfortable, that soapstone puts out mild not overpowering heat. I have my on retreat "cave" down there as my wife calls it. We are a happy two fireplace family; now if the global warming would stop we might get to
utilize them.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 9:06AM
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Did you ever get your Mendotta's installed? How are they?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 4:19PM
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HELP! I need a gas fireplace, but all of them have ugly metal strips on the perimeter! These only seem to look right in the modern versions, and that will not match the rest of my house. I want a gas fireplace that will look like a regular fireplace- I see these in hotels and restaurants all the time and cannot figure out how these places do it. I asked the HEATnGLO people if I could camouflage these metal strips by burying them under stone or tile surround- of course, this is not safe. How do people do this?!!!!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 3:22PM
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look for a model that can be finished right up to the face. I only know because the one I'm planning to use touts it..I cant suggest any others. The one I'm thinking is a Lennox Montebello See-through. "Dramatic louverless construction gives the fireplace a clean, traditional masonry look and provides the ability to finish right up to the opening."

Maybe Louverless is what you need to search for ?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 5:36PM
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