A Comparison of Gas vs. Wood Burning Fireplaces

A Comparison of Gas vs. Wood Fireplaces, Which One is for Your Home

Whether you’re looking to install a wood burning fireplace or a gas burning fireplace, it’s important to compare gas and wood-burning fireplaces.

A thorough understanding of the benefits will help you make the best decision to suit your needs. Black Goose Chimney Service also does fireplace installations for both wood burning fireplaces and gas burning fireplaces.

The following article gives a thorough comparison of gas vs wood burning fireplaces based on various parameters, including convenience, operational costs, maintenance, pollution, durability, and more. 

Features Comparison Chart: Wood Burning vs. Gas Burning Fireplaces

 Wood-Burning FireplacesGas Fireplaces
Safety & HealthEmbers can cause damage to home, people and petsSafe to use
EfficiencyApprox.30% to 50% efficientUp to 99% efficient
Fuel StorageNeed to store firewoodGas is piped in as needed.
Ease of UseNeed to manually start a fireEasy to start, multiple options for controls
MaintenanceRegular inspections, maintenance and chimney cleaning is necessaryRegular inspections are necessary, and generally less cleanings are needed
Eco-friendlyToxic gases can be producedVery little pollutants produced
Operational CostsCan be costly in time, effort and maintenance of fireplaceLess costly to operate
Aesthetic AppealLooks good and a natural aesthetic of wood burning fireplaceLooks good, and does not match the aesthetic of a wood burning fireplace
Home Resale ValueAdds home resale valueAdds home resale value
Chimney Life ExpectancyMasonry fireplaces can last a lifetimeGas burning fireplaces have a 15-20 years

Let’s compare the gas vs wood-burning fireplace based on some key features:

Safety & Health

Gas fireplaces offer more safety than wood-burning fireplaces because they don’t produce embers. Embers can fly out of a wood-burning fireplace causing damage furniture, flooring or even cause burns to people and pets.

While gas fireplaces are safer by design, homeowners can make their wood-burning fireplaces safer by installing fireplace glass safety doors and a child-proof screen. Taking these steps is part of caring for your fireplace.

This is important, especially if you have small children or pets roaming around your fireplace.


Wood-burning fireplaces can produce high levels of heat. The fire inside the fireplace can reach temperatures up to 1,000 °F. But the majority of heat produced inside a fireplace escapes upward through the chimney.

Moreover, the hot air inside the chimney rises, creating an upward draft that pulls warm air present inside the house.

That is why wood-burning fireplaces have an efficiency rating (which can vary) from 30% to 50% and can be as low as 25%.

Compared to that, gas fireplaces have a 75% to 99% efficiency rating depending upon the type of appliance used.

Ventless gas fireplaces don’t need external ventilation, and no heat escapes outside. This makes it the most efficient fireplace, with an efficiency rating of up to 99%.

Direct vent fireplaces operate by venting air externally. This makes them the second most efficient fireplace with a 60% to 75% efficiency rating.

Natural vent gas fireplaces take third place with a 50% to 60% efficiency rating. These fireplaces vent exhaust air externally while taking fresh air from inside the home, resulting in the heat escaping upwards and outside through the vent.

Fuel Storage

Gas fireplaces don’t require fuel storage because gas comes in through a pipe. But many areas that don’t have a supply of natural gas. Homeowners living in Central Virginia use propane as an alternative. Since propane comes in large tanks, it can be costly

Seasoned Firewood | Black Goose Chimney Sweep

Firewood for wood-burning fireplaces needs to be stored. Firewood needs to be stacked in a way that it can breathe. Ventilation is important to allow wood to continue drying. Firewood also needs to be protected it from rain.

In many places in Virginia where natural gas is available, a gas burning fireplace is a great option for a fireplace.

Ease of Use

Gas fireplaces win this by a long shot. Some gas fireplaces have a push button option which allows your fireplace to come to life in an instant. Some gas fireplaces come with a remote control, which allows you to start your fireplace from the comfort of your sofa.

Compared to that, wood-burning fireplaces take a lot of work to get started. Wood has to be stacked with kindling on the bottom so the fire can take hold. Then the kindling needs to be started so the fire can sustain and grow.

While some might consider the process fun and even ceremonial, many homeowners don’t want to go through the inconvenience, especially when after a long day at work and want to relax in a warm, cozy environment.


Gas fireplaces need annual inspections, cleanings and maintenance by a chimney expert to ensure safe and efficient operation. Apart from that, other care is minimal for a gas fireplace.

Wood-burning fireplaces produce soot and creosote that coats and sticks to the chimney lining, building up over time. If not cleaned regularly, it can accumulate and create blockages inside. Creosote is also a fire hazard, so regular cleaning is critical to using your fire place safely.

Chimney Inspections

On top of that, homeowners need to schedule annual chimney inspections where our team comes in and examines the chimney thoroughly. During the examination, chimney cracks, signs of leakage, broken or damaged parts, rust, and other problems are diagnosed and recommendations made for any repairs.

Fireplace Operation Cost

On average, a gas fireplace will cost you around $500 to $2000 per year. The cost can vary drastically depending upon various factors such as the availability and price of gas and propane, fireplace technology, operating conditions, etc.

Compared to that, a wood-burning fireplace will cost around $900 to $1500 per year for running 12 hours a day. The cost depends upon the price of the firewood, which can vary depending on your locality.

When you add the cost of annual chimney inspections, repairs and sweeping by a professional, the cost of operating a wood-burning fireplace increases considerably.


Homeowners that are concerned about their carbon footprint should opt for gas fireplaces. Natural gas fireplaces produce 99% fewer pollutants compared to wood-burning fireplaces.

A gas fireplace is also a healthier option as it does not produce smoke pollution, which is a major problem with wood-burning fireplaces. A gas fireplace significantly reduces the risk of smoke-associated diseases such as cancer, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and other respiratory problems.

Aesthetic Appeal

Wood-burning fireplaces win regarding aesthetics. Despite advancements in technology, gas fireplaces have not been able to match the ambiance and atmosphere a traditional fireplace creates.

The crackling and popping of the logs, coupled with the natural smell of firewood, create a soothing environment, an environment that unwinds our nerves and helps us relax after a long day. Plus, you can cook marshmallows and other food in a wood burning fireplace

While the newer versions of gas fireplaces strive to provide more realistic flames, they have a long way to go before they match the aura created by a traditional fireplace. Cooking marshmallows in a gas burning fireplace is not recommended.

Home Resale Value

Regardless of the type of fireplace you have, if your fireplace is well-maintained, it is sure to increase the value of your property. The market and trends in your area will determine the added value of the fireplace. Many homes in Central and Southwestern Virginia have fireplaces.

Chimney Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a gas fireplace is around 10 to 15 years. If properly maintained, the life of a chimney can be extended. Sometimes replacement of a few isolated parts can prolong the operational life of your fireplace, but there comes a point when replacement is a better and cheaper option.

Wood-burning fireplaces can last for 20 to 30 years before they need replacement. Regular cleaning and maintenance can increase the life of your fireplace.


When it comes to deciding which fireplace is for you, both gas fireplaces and wood burning fire places have advantages and disadvantages. Black Goose Chimney Services also installs gas burning and wood burning fireplaces so call us today and speak with an expert about what would work best in your home.

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