Gas vs. Wood Fireplace. What is the Better Choice?


Burning wood for heat is a practice as old as humanity, yet it’s no longer necessary to the extent it once was. Technological advancements have inspired the development of cleaner, more efficient, elegant modern fireplaces that provide all the benefits of wood-burning hearths with significantly less maintenance and virtually effortless operation.

It’s no surprise, then, that modern gas fireplaces are increasingly being embraced as the superior alternative to wood-burning hearths and stoves.

Ortal Front-Facing Gas Fireplace

The Burning Question: Gas vs Wood Fireplace?

Whether you’re an architect drafting plans for a new housing development or a homeowner considering replacing an existing fireplace, choosing the right model is an important decision—your goal is to select a fireplace that will prove to be a smart investment for years to come.

At Ortal, we believe gas fireplaces are unequivocally the better choice. Here’s why.

Gas Fireplaces Are “Greener” and Cleaner

Gas fireplaces are friendlier to the environment and easier to maintain. With a gas fireplace, there’s no shoveling ash and embers, no dirty buildup in the chimney, and no mandated annual chimney sweeps (although, annual inspections are always a good idea and may be required by local law, regardless of fireplace type).

While all fireplaces require some maintenance to ensure safety and optimal functioning, wood-burning hearths top the charts in the maintenance department. They also contribute to atmospheric problems like smog and acid rain, emitting 28 times more fine particulate matter than gas fireplaces, according to a report by the EPA.1

Ortal Traditional Front-Facing Gas Fireplace

Gas Fireplaces Offer Advanced Safety Features

Well-designed direct-vent gas fireplaces—like the models in Ortal’s impressive collection—make safety a priority.

Heat Safety

Ortal’s heat barrier solutions are a prime example. Our fireplaces include an optional double glass enclosure (most models) that features a thin ventilation layer between two glass panels. Small fans at the base of the fireplace propel air through the two layers, significantly reducing the temperature of the outer glass panel. With our double glass solution, you will enjoy a convenient ambient heat. As an alternative to our double glass enclosure, Ortal offers a protective screen that reduces the temperature of the glass panel without obstructing the view into the fireplace. Like our double glass enclosure option, the protective screen significantly reduces the risk of burns from touching the fireplace’s glass panel. These advanced heat safety features make Ortal’s fireplaces ideal for homes with children and for use in public spaces.

Conversely, the typical wood-burning fireplace offers little protection from burns, and embers can easily escape the firebox—especially with gusts of wind that come down the chimney.

Air Quality

Direct-vent fireplaces also help prevent indoor air quality problems, which are common with traditional wood-burning hearths. For example, Ortal’s modern gas fireplaces use a completely sealed co-axial flue system that takes in combustion air from the outside and expels the exhaust outside, so indoor air quality is not affected.

Conversely, the combustion from traditional fireplaces often creates indoor air quality issues, especially if the interior space is not properly ventilated. Chimney fires from soot buildup are also a concern; the National Fire Protection Association reports that chimney problems from wood-burning fireplaces are associated with approximately one-third of all heating equipment fires.2

Gas Fireplaces Provide Instant Ambiance

If you’ve ever struggled to start a fire with wood—and keep it going—you know how frustrating it can be dealing with fussy timber. If the conditions aren’t just right (e.g., the wood is wet or still green), starting a fire can become a real project. Then there’s the necessity of purchasing, storing, and lugging around messy piles of wood.

Gas fireplaces are inherently easier and less time-consuming to operate than wood-burning hearths. Ortal’s modern gas fireplaces ignite with the push of a button, creating a mesmerizing glow on command and providing warmth in minutes. No muss, no fuss.

Ortal Three-Sided Gas Fireplace

Gas Fireplaces Are Contemporary and Versatile

We saved the best for last. The sleek elegance of a modern gas fireplace is unparalleled and its versatility unmatched.

Traditional masonry fireplaces are limited in terms of where they can be placed because of ventilation requirements. Ortal’s Power Vent System, on the other hand, can circulate air up to 90 feet away from the fireplace, opening up a world of possibilities for hearth placement. And, as we mentioned earlier, our heat barrier solutions create a cooler, safer design.

In short, gas fireplaces are the cleaner, greener, safer, and more elegant choice for the modern home. Ortal offers more than 80 standard models in a variety of sizes to suit virtually any space, and we provide start-to-finish project support. Browse our extensive catalog for design ideas and inspiration.

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