How to select and install a gas fireplace log set
Get a classic fireplace look with modern convenience
A fireplace can completely change the look of a room, but there’s more to installing a gas log set than just choosing an attractive model within your budget. With the sheer number of configurable, customizable, and interchangeable options available, the buying process may seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help you find the perfect log set for your fireplace—and make sure it’s installed properly, too.
How to choose a gas log sets
Vented or vent-free gas logs?
The first choice you’ll need to make when choosing a gas fireplace log set is whether you want a vented log set or a vent-free log set . Vented log sets must be installed in an approved fireplace opening with a working chimney. In contrast, vent-free gas logs can be operated in an existing fireplace with the flue closed or in an approved firebox. Vented fireplaces are typically better for aesthetics, while vent-free fireplaces are better for heat.
We cover this topic in greater detail in our article, “What you need to know about gas fireplace logs,” so be sure to check out that article for a detailed write-up if you’re still unsure of the best option is for your installation.
In most cases, your fuel type will be determined by where you live. Typically, urban and suburban homes will have natural gas delivered to the home via underground piping. Propane is more common in rural areas where natural gas is not available and will be stored in a large tank on the property.
In either case, be sure to know your fuel type before purchasing your gas log set. Fireplace gas logs are designed to work specifically with either natural gas or propane. A natural gas system will not operate on propane, or vice versa, without a conversion kit—if one is available at all.
Gas logs and burner system
Ultimately, the gas log set you choose will depend largely on your own personal preferences as well as your budget. Gas log quality and prices will vary greatly, and in most cases, you get what you pay for.
Specialty brands like Real Fyre, White Mountain Hearth, Rasmussen, and Grand Canyon create the most realistic gas logs on the market. Products from these brands are manufactured primarily in the United States using molds from real logs. These units are also hand painted or stained and use the highest quality materials to ensure a long product life.
Keep in mind your gas logs will be off for the majority of the time, so it’s important to select logs with an attractive appearance even when they’re not in use. Though a lower-tier gas log set may cost less up front, it will likely need replaced sooner and will not offer the same realistic appearance as premium gas logs.
Ignition and remote control options
The “best” ignition system for your gas log set will be highly dependent on how the appliance will be used. There are several options available depending on desired features and budget range.
Basic, reliable, and inexpensive. A manual ignition system isn’t complicated—just turn a valve key and light the fire by hand. These ignition systems are great for those looking to set up a fireplace in the most economical way possible. However, these systems don’t offer the added safety of a pilot system. For this reason, manual ignition systems are only available for natural gas units.
Manual Safety Pilot Ignitions
A manual safety pilot ignition retains the simplicity of a regular manual ignition but adds the safety inherent with a pilot system. This type of system still requires manual ignition of the pilot, but a knob or valve key can be added to light the entire system.
Remote Safety Pilot Ignitions
The next level up from a manual safety pilot system, a remote safety pilot system features all the same benefits as a manual safety pilot kit. However, as the name suggests, adds compatibility with a remote control system for an added level of convenience. It’s fire at the push of a button—from anywhere in the room.
Electronic Safety Pilot Ignitions
An electronic safety pilot ignition, also known as an intermittent pilot ignition, offers the highest level of convenience for your gas log set. This system uses batteries or hardwired circuits to light the unit automatically. In addition, these ignition systems can operate using a remote control or switch.
How to measure for a gas log set
For a gas log set to look great and perform properly, it must fit the fireplace it’s in. However, we frequently see incorrectly sized log sets and myriad issues to go along with them. There’s more to sizing a gas log set than measuring your firebox width.
Here are some tips for getting the correct size gas log set:
1. Always read the manufacturer's specifications
Fireplace and log set owner’s manuals are always packed full of information. Some of the most important information listed is the minimum specifications for firebox dimensions. These measurements aren’t a suggestion. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in a poor performing unit at best and a safety hazard at worst.
2. Don’t buy a set that’s too large
This is more of a point 1b, but it’s something we see frequently enough we want to call it out on its own. Make sure your log set isn’t too large. Many customers buy the largest set they can fit without taking into account factors like proper clearance. Just because a set will fit doesn’t mean it’s the best option.
3. When in doubt, give us a call
It’s our job to help people find fireplace products. Our product experts have been reading product catalogs, brochures, and user manuals every day for years. You may be doing this for the first time, but they do this multiple times a day every day. Contact us and we can make the buying process easier for you.
How to set up your gas log set
You’ve done all your research, purchased your gas log set, and now you’re ready to install. This is the easy part, right? Just set the log set in and fire it up?
Once you receive your gas log set, there’s still a bit more work to do to make sure everything is installed correctly. While you can do the following steps yourself, we recommend you contact a fireplace installer who’s certified in your area. After all, you’re dealing with gas and fire. Don’t sacrifice safety just to save a few dollars.
Should you decide to install a gas log set on your own, follow the steps below to ensure a finished product you’re satisfied with.
How to install a gas log set in your fireplace
1. Read the installation manual thoroughly
This step is so important it’s worth mentioning again. Always review a product’s installation manual prior to installation.
2. Turn gas off and locate the gas supply stub in the side of the firebox
Most gas log sets will need to have the gas coming from the right rear side of the burner system, but this can vary from appliance to appliance.
3. Connect the gas supply to the burner using a flexible gas line
If using a safety pilot kit, it will be installed between the burner and the gas supply. Pipe dope or tape must be used to seal all non-flared fittings during this step.
4. Place the burner in the proper position in the firebox
Typically, the correct position for the burner will be centered and to the back of the firebox, but this can vary.
5. Turn the gas back on and test all connections for leaks
Leaks can be found using a leak detector if one is available. For a lower tech option, soapy water can also be used. If no bubbles form, the line is sealed tight.
6. (Optional) If using a grate to hold the logs, position it over the burner
The correct position for the burner will be noted in your product manual.
7. Add necessary media
Most burners will need to be filled with sand, vermiculite, lava rock, or fire glass to disperse the gas and give the fireplace a fuller flame appearance.
8. Position logs according to placement chart
At this point, you can also add any additional accessories to your firebox. These include compatible items such as glowing embers, coals, or other decorative enhancements.
Speak to our product experts
Installing a gas log set doesn’t have to be difficult. Our experts can lead you through the shopping process to ensure you have a product you’re satisfied with. We’re here to help Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. Give us a call and let us help you build a hearth space you can be proud of.