Ventless, vent-free, or unvented, these units have become so commonplace in New England homes and hearth shops that many customers don’t even think to question their place in the world of hearth appliances. The misconceptions surrounding ventless units are so plentiful, however, that we feel it’s necessary to provide some clarification for our customers. The term “vent-free” itself is actually a trick used by companies to make customers feel as though they are being “freed” or liberated from a venting system. However, what they lose in venting, they gain in many other issues. Read on to learn more!
Homes experience lowered levels of oxygen all the time – from fans, candles, drafts, etc. – which causes incomplete combustion in a gas-fired unit. Incomplete combustion produces carbon monoxide…and without an exhaust system, it has nowhere to vent to but your living space. Some owners claim these units are harmless because their CO detectors have never gone off, but they are actually only triggered by high CO levels…meaning that low or moderate levels of carbon monoxide aren’t even detected. Of course, carbon monoxide is harmful in any amount, and our number one priority is our customers’ health and safety when they purchase a unit from us.
One of the most common misconceptions about ventless gas units is that they are 100% efficient, and are thus the perfect solution for home heating. However, one fact is always conveniently left out: it is required by law to keep the windows open while burning them, even on the most bitter cold days. Even then, they cannot be used for more than just 2 hours at a time. Another forgotten fact? The average ventless log set produces less than 30,000 BTUs of heat…however, our vented log sets (not inserts) produce 80,000+, less than half of which is lost up the chimney. Thus, our vented log sets actually give you more heat!
Many people who have owned ventless units for years notice that their walls and celings have turned black over time. This is because, without a venting system, the soot produced by ventless units needs to go somewhere. Another byproduct of combustion that gets sent into your home is water vapor. The high levels they release (about a 1/2 gallon per hour!) heavily collect on walls, furniture, and appliances, and can cause damage.
A common complaint among new ventless owners is that the flame looked spectacularly better on the website than it does in their living room. Anyone can Photoshop a flame onto a log set, but a ventless unit can never look that way in real life. When a unit is vented, the fire is lush and dances between the logs like a wood fire. With ventless units, the burner must be completely seperated from the log set to allow the flow of oxygen. Not only this, but the lack of a flue (and thus an established draft) results in flames that barely reach past the logs.
The EPA does not support ventless units, no matter how well maintained. They are already outlawed in California, Massachusetts, and Canada, and will likely become illegal throughout the rest of the country by next year.
Worried about efficiency? Our vented gas inserts, stoves, and fireplaces are manufactured to be up to 89% efficient!
Don’t want a vent to take up space? The experts at Dean’s can work with you to determine the most efficienct placement of a unit so there is minimal venting. Some units can even be vented straight out the back!
On a budget? With our wide array of gas products, one of our salespeople will help you make the best decision for your price range.
Still want a ventless unit without a shadow of doubt? Consider an electric unit or an EcoSmart bioethanol-fueled burner (bioethanol is a clean-burning fuel based on corn and sugarcane). Both options are 100% efficient, need zero venting or fuel source connections, require no extensive installation, and are most importantly safe for your home’s air quality. Stop by Dean’s and see these ventless solutions fired up in person!