Gas fireplace logs are becoming quite popular. Their convenience (some come with a remote control!) and cleanliness have convinced many woodbumers to retire the chainsaw and log splitter. Gas logs may be fueled by either natural or propane gas. There are two basic types of gas logs currently on the market, the "yellow flame" and the "blue flame".
Yellow flame logs require venting while blue flame logs may be approved for use without a venting system. The yellow flame log sets produce a very realistic and attractive fire, and will often be mistaken for a real wood fire. The heat output from a yellow flame log set will be similar to the heat output from a comparable sized wood fire. Yellow flame, often referred to as "vented" gas logs generate soot and carbon which is deposited in the chimney. These deposits require chimney cleaning just like a real wood fireplace does.
Blue flame log sets are designed to provide much more heat output than a yellow flame log set. While the blue flame log sets are generally not as attractive as the yellow flame, they burn hotter and cleaner. A special type of blue flame log is the "unvented" or "vent free" gas log. Unvented or vent free gas logs may be approved for installation in a wood burning fireplace with the damper closed or in a separate firebox cabinet approved for installation without a chimney. There have been some questions raised recently about the effects vent free gas logs may have on the indoor air quality of a home when the logs are burned for prolonged periods.
In addition to gas logs, several other gas products have been developed for fireplace use. Gas fired inserts have been designed to be installed in fireplaces. These gas inserts usually have a greater heat output than conventional gas logs and may resemble a wood burning insert. Gas fireplaces have also been developed for installation where no fireplace currently exists. An entire cabinet style enclosure, complete with logs and mantle, is purchased and installed pretty much anywhere you want it. These fireplaces are usually more economical to install than a woodburning fireplace and offer the convenience of gas as a fuel.
When installing any gas appliance consult the manufacturers installation instructions and local codes. The use of a qualified gas installer is recommended for the installation of your gas hearth appliance. Everyone should have carbon monoxide detectors in the home, especially if you have a gas log fireplace.