Recommendations needed for direct-vent fireplace

zoenippAugust 26, 2006

We are currently building a home and are planning for direct-vent gas fireplaces in two large living areas. We want to be able to turn them on in the winter and really heat up the rooms. I am unsure about which brands are most effective at turning out strong heat. I believe I read on this forum that Heat-n-Glo and Majestic were the best brands, but our builder likes to use a company that only sells Lennox. Does anyone recommend a particular brand that puts out the most heat effectively? I would love to hear brand and model recommendations. If we can't get units that put out plenty of heat, I don't think I want to go to the expense of installing them.

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Most all the major manufactures create gas fireplaces from the entry level, to high end. What makes a fireplace good, has alot to do with looks, ie brick sets, log sets, control panel, ember bed etc. What makes them work good is the efficiency level, and MOST importantly ceramic glass. You cheap and middle of the road fireplaces are going to have tempered glass, your high end high efficiency will have ceramic. Ceramic glass fireplaces start at about $2k. Some examples of those would be The Heatilator Caliber NXT, The Jotul Acadia, The lexington Forge LX series, and heat n glo makes one, Magestic/VC makes one , etc. My point being, A heatilator Novus is about 1000 bucks, a heatilator caliber NXT is almost $3000. So, my point being, is you have to be carefull reading reviews about manufactures, you need to concentrate on the models.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 10:56AM
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Mountain Guy is correct. The major brands all have a good better, best product offering. Your builders fireplace subcontractor sells Lennox. ItÂs a very good brand (Dave Lennox Heating and Air). This industry has had some instability over recent years. Lennox will be around to support you.

Since I am most familiar with Lennox brand. HereÂs my take on their direct vent product offering:

Good#1 - Superior line - Limited in sizes (two) and feature sets. Considered to be more of a production builder product. Low 20's BTU's.

Better#1 - Merit Plus (four sizes) - Offers nice logs and full feature sets with upgrade glass door and trim options. These units are built on a slim 16" chassis (only important if floor space is important) Mid 20's BTU's.

Better#2 - Elite Series (three sizes) - Larger fireplace, 21" deep and taller door openings than Merit Plus units. Upgrades are about the same as the Merit Plus line. Low 30's BTU.

Best#1 - Montebello - Two sizes. Very large fireplace with 34" tall door opening on 45" unit. Very nice if you want a traditional masonry looking fireplace (very little exposed metal) with all the benefits of gas. Up to 60K BTU gives a very dramatic flame and LOTS of heat. Ceramic glass. Looks great cold (no fire burning). Full compliment up upgrades available. My favorite! I prefer the traditional masonry fireplace look. I don't like the "radiator" look most direct vents (all brands) give you).

Best #2 - Spectra - Two sizes. Most efficient of all the Lennox units (72%). Offers choice of cast iron face or steel faces. Comes standard with multi-function remote control, blower kit, and ceramic glass. Pretty much comes fully loaded. No up grades.

You can get more precise information from the lennoxhearthproducts website. Once there, you can do your own evaluations, down load specÂs, installation and homeowners manuals.

What city and state are you located? Perhaps someone can direct you to a dealer near you.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 11:20PM
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Thanks for the good information. I went to look at fireplaces today (a Heat-n-Glo distributor and then my builder's general distributor who sells Lennox.) I looked at their recommended Heat-n-Glo (6000 series) which has max btus of 40K. The quoted price without any options was around $2200-2400. (seemed expensive). The Lennox distributor carries only the Lennox Merit Plus series in stock which has max btu's of 29k. I asked about the Montebello, which they reluctantly looked up and said will be special order and run somewhere between $2500 and $3000 without any options. The Montebello's max btu was 60k. After I left the place, the guys who helped me called my builder and asked him why in the world I was wanting such a powerful fireplace. They said they had installed over 7000 Lennox fireplaces, never with more than 29K btus. I think, however, that they do a lot of business with tract home builders like Pulte, DR Horton, etc. Our home is a large custom home. Our builder normally does only masonry fireplaces and he doesn't seem to know much about the direct vents.

My reply to the builder was that I don't want to spend the money if we're going to end up with units that won't really heat the rooms. We've had direct-vent gas fireplaces in two different homes that failed to put out enough heat to warm the rooms in winter when it got really cold (and this was in Texas). He says the Merit will put out plenty of heat. He was trying earlier to get us to go with a ventless unit (we will have complicated venting for one room; it will be difficult but can be done). Everything I have read before says to avoid the ventless for safety and health reasons.

One of our rooms is 24x28; the other is 19x17 and both have 10-foot ceilings. How many btus and what efficiency % should be minimal for optimal heating in each room? We live in Raleigh, NC, which is not that cold most of the time, but we want to use the fireplaces to heat up the rooms when we need to. It does get really cold occasionally (at least for this Texas girl). Thanks again for the good advice.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 10:52PM
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The Lennox Elite Series model EDV4035 or the new ELDV4035 (louverless like the Montebello) would be a close match to the Heat N Glo 6000. The Merit is a little smaller in size and BTU's than the 6000.
The BTU's and effciency issue might be best answered by the HVAC company doing the heating and air.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 1:18AM
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As you found out, you will notice that some, not all, ceramic glass fireplaces are rated with big btu imputs. The ceramic glass fireplaces will be the most efficient.
Some smaller ceramic glass fireplaces are, lexington forge lx32, Jotul Acadia, Heatilator caliber 60.
Tempered glass fireplaces do put of plenty of heat, just not the same heat as ceramic glass fireplaces. You get Infra red heat throught the ceramic, and not with tempered. Temperd glass fireplaces are usually in the low 70% range for efficiency, and ceramic's are typically in the mid to high 80%.
I sell lots of tempered glass fireplaces, usually in the 30,000 btu range. People like them and the price is typically between $1000-$2000 . I would not spend over 2k for a tempered glass fireplace, but thats just my opnion.

Stay as far away from ventless that you can.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 9:46AM
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But do these 30K tempered glass fireplaces put out ample heat? Heating is what I'm looking for; I'm not as concerned about aesthetics, although I do like the louverless look. Now my builder is telling me that his distributor said that the Montebello is used only in unusual applications like ski lodges? That sounds ridiculous to me; these are high-end home units from everything I am reading on the Lennox hearth website. I am just about ready to stop everything and just not do fireplaces in our family room and playroom.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 10:43AM
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Zoe, You're being given the run around! The Montebello is specifically targeted at the upscale, traditional looking, large room applications. Not a ski lodge. Aren't you the customer?

Certainly there aother brands and sizes available. Just don't get forced into a small 20-22" tall glass opening unit. It won't look right in a large room with tall ceilings.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 10:32PM
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You are so right. We have a builder for whom nothing is a good idea unless he has thought of it himself. He's a good, conscientious (sp?) builder but not so easy to get along with sometimes. I don't think he remembers the customer part. I called several online fireplace shops today to get their opinions and they agreed with you; the Montebello is just a powerful, high-end fireplace for the home. One of the guys who sells Vermont Castings and Lennox as well as others said that the Montebello would be his first choice. My husband called the builder and told him that this is what we want after much research and to figure out how to make it happen! Finally! Anyway, thanks to all of you for the recommendations and encouragement.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 11:53PM
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I just went to look at the Town & Country Direct Vent fireplace for a condominium that we are building out. It is quite large with an opening of about 42" wide by about 38" high! It is a high end unit and seems more expensive than the Lennox Montelbello 45, but what the salesman told me was that if you wanted it to really push more heat into the room, then there is something that they do during the installation that pushes the hot air from the interior of the unit through a vent into your room. Be sure to ask about this feature on the model that you are considering.

Good luck!
Julie Anne

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 12:33AM
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I started out thinking I wanted a direct vent gas fireplace with nice looking mantel and stone surround etc.... But now since I have actually been out to the dealers and asking questions, Im finding the gas stoves to be more practical because of the amount of heat they put out!!!! However, I still like the look of a fireplace with natural stone surround etc.....
Are there gas fireplaces (direct vent) that put out as much heat or close as a stove does??? Or how about ideas on how to make a stove more attractive in a corner spot in my living room. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 10:10PM
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ooops I didnt mean to respond here. sorry . I thought I was starting a new thread and actually found out since I wrote that post that I was wrong about the stove vs, fireplace. The direct vent is what causes more heat. ANy way sorry for the immapropriate post here.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 4:18PM
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If you want a large format DV with plenty of heat output in comparison to input, I would recommend one that's new on the market - Valor Ventana the heat output is phenominal believe can be installed in it's basic package but offers a variety of fascia options.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 1:12PM
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Any opinions on 'Regency' (Panorama P33) brand direct-vent fireplaces ?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 9:54AM
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We went with the Valor Ventana for the heat. It was expensive (with installation, I think it was right around $4K), but we can heat our entire family room/kitchen area, which is big and open, and used it daily in February/March when it was really cold. It puts out so much heat that when we're in the family room, about 8 feet away, we have to turn it down because it gets too hot after a little while. I'm still amazed by how much heat it puts out silently and without any kind of blower. It also looks great. I think it's one of the best splurges we made in our whole-house remodel.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 2:35PM
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We had a Jotul DV gas insert installed into our prefab fireplace a few months ago. Some impressions that might be useful to you: They start heating gradually and after a little while start to feel like a blast furnace. But it's radiant heat, so that the farther you are from the source the less heat you feel. Therefore, a means of circulating the air in the room is a good idea. We have an old fashioned Hunter ceiling fan that we've owned for over 20 years, and it's still going strong. The nice thing about this fan is that you can "twist" the position of the paddles so that instead of blowing air down, which you want in warm weather, it blows air up. That produces a gentle circulation of air throughout the room and evens out the temperature. The other thing you should definitely consider is to get a remote control thermostat. I think the remotes are better than the ones you install in the wall, because you never know in advance the best position for the remote that will give you the best result.

Finally, because of a disappointing experience we have had with the installation of our insert (we're still waiting for a final piece that, fortunately, only affects appearance, not operation or safety), I think it's very, very important to select an installer who can independently demonstrate that he knows everything he needs to know about the fireplace you select. If a GC has expressed doubts about a particular fireplace that you like, it's probably because he doesn't know it and is not sure he can do it. Our insert was a really complicated installation that took over a day. A whole fireplace is likely to be even more demanding.

Good luck with your selection.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 4:25PM
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I posted this on another blog also. This looks like an older post and it may be too late..

I did a lot of research on heater rated fireplaces. I live in Lake Tahoe and wanted to use the fireplace as a heat source for my guest house.
I purchased a Lennox 42" Ravelle. It's a gas direct-vent, furnace rated fireplace and has the capacity to duct forced air to adjacent rooms up to 20 feet away. I have ducted it to the bathroom and across the room of the "studio" guest house.

It is designed to work with or without a blower, so it is advertised to work even during a power outage. Techie guy told me to purchase the cast iron face since it would hold more heat in the room. It was expensive and I didn't do that, so we'll see if I'll need to upgrade to that.

The Lennox fireplace is 42K BTU with 83-86% efficiency just like a heating furnace.

Also purchased a another direct vent gas fireplace for my dining room-kitchen area. Napoleon Starfire GD70 which is heater rated also at 35K BTU and 81% efficiency.... no ducting available that I was aware of....but will heat without electricity and advertised to offer a control for a wide range of heat and flame output. Hope that works for me.

Can't tell you how it works since my project is still being completed.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 2:31PM
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I have been looking at see-thru direct vent fireplaces for my townhouse. My primary objective is aesthetics - a realistic look. I was referred to Heat n Glo, however I am not impressed with the look of the flame, small and stays blue even after 30 min+. I'm now looking at Napoleon and Town and Country see thrus. I would love an opinion. I like the HD81 and TC36 (both clean face design) but think they are too big and too powerful (60K btu) for my townhouse - I'd have to turn down the flame most of the time and lose the effect. Opinions og the Napoleon BDG40 see thru? I would appreciate some advice here. Many thanks

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 12:09PM
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We have a 2650 sq foot, 2 story home. We bought the Valor fireplace about 3 years ago. One of the reasons we bought it was, at least at the time we bought it, the only one that could be anjusted for any flame desired, via the remote control,---the others would only turn the flame down from 100% to 80% the Valor is continuously adjustable from a mere flicker, to a bonfire (LOL).
It completely heats the whole downstairs of the house---(wished I'd know that before i replaced my forced air heating)oh well, at least the fireplace is cheap to run.
It has a fan that automatically comes on, once the fireplace is hot and turns off when it is cold.
The remote is really nifty. You can set it for "Auto" and the temp sensor is in the remote, so you can set it for 70, put the remote by your easy chair and it will adjust the fire as necessary to keep 70 degrees right at your chair. You can also program it to turn the fireplace on in the am so when ya get up for coffee, the fire is going.
This and the Solatube I added to the bathroom are among the best things we have added to our house, Luv both and they save us a Ton of Money.
I did an onyx backlit surround around the fireplace.
Happy hunting--alto I can't recommend the Valor, highly enough!!!!!!


    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 1:39PM
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How much do the Valors run?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2014 at 8:31AM
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