Whether you’re looking to replace an existing gas fireplace or will be purchasing one for the first time, your research has probably raised a few questions about how they work. Specifically, you may be unsure whether a gas fireplace requires electricity.
Those fireplaces that generate real flame with gas will need a way to start those flames. A pilot must be ignited in order to accomplish this, but does this mean that electricity is always required? This depends on the type of pilot light and ignition system being used in a particular model of fireplace.
Do Gas Fireplaces Need Electricity?
It is true that in the past, gas fireplaces didn’t need any electricity at all. This is simply because they had their own standalone system to ignite their pilot lights and/or had continuous pilots that were on all the time and therefore didn’t require ignition.
In older models with a standalone ignition system, the spark required to light the pilot was generated by a thermopile, which itself would generate sufficient electricity to produce the spark. Therefore, no electrical connection from outside the unit was required.
Many of today’s modern gas fireplaces use IPI, or intermittent pilot ignition systems. These systems allow the fireplace to be started when needed, instead of always burning gas with a continuous pilot light. A fireplace with an IPI system does require an electrical connection to generate the spark.
Do Direct Vent Gas Fireplaces Need Electricity?
Direct vent gas fireplaces draw air in from outdoors to fuel the fire while pushing all of the exhaust and particulates created by combustion to the outdoors. All of this is able to occur without the need for a chimney, but what about electricity?
A direct vent gas fireplace does not need electricity to operate; instead, the pilot light is ignited by a battery system, or a piezo ignition system (PIS), which, like the button on your barbeque, generates a spark when pushed.
However, most modern direct vent gas fireplaces also do have blowers to spread the air throughout a room, and this does require electricity, though not always.
Do Ventless Gas Fireplaces Need Electricity?
A ventless or vent-free gas fireplace is an all-in-one type of unit which contains its own control system, ignition system, and burner tray. Ventless units do not require chimneys, but they do require electricity to run, although many models also include a backup able to be run by battery.
Because they are not connected to the outside, ventless gas fireplaces are able to keep and emit more of the heat they generate than other fireplace types.
Which Types of Gas Fireplaces Will Need Electricity?
Generally speaking, any gas fireplace that has a blower and all ventless models of gas fireplaces will require electricity. However, fireplaces with blowers do not need an electrical connection to ignite the pilot light; they only need electricity when the blower turns on to circulate heat around the room.
Will a Gas Fireplace Work During a Power Outage?
The answer to this question is yes, as long as you choose certain models. If you currently have an older gas fireplace model, chances are good that it is not connected to your home’s electrical supply. Therefore, you will still be able to run these gas fireplaces without electricity.
A direct-vent fireplace can also be used in power outages, as these units often include a backup system that is run by batteries. As well, some models of direct-vent gas fireplaces will be able to power the blower using batteries or a self-generating system.
Any gas fireplace that uses a thermopile to generate electricity will be able to be started and used with no other power source needed.
If a gas fireplace has a cord and must be plugged in when installed, it will be using electricity to spark the pilot light. While this can be ideal from an efficiency standpoint, this can also mean that the unit will not run in a power outage.
A battery-powered backup system is the solution if you wish to be able to run your gas fireplace regardless of whether the power is off or on.
All that you’ll need to do is find the compartment on the unit and insert a few standard-sized batteries. However, it’s strongly advised that you remove these batteries until the next time the backup system is needed.
It’s also important to remember that, even if the blower on your gas fireplace doesn’t work without electricity, your fireplace will still be able to radiate heat. Therefore, you can still heat your home in a power outage.
Choosing the Perfect Gas Fireplace for Your Needs
There are many types of gas fireplace on the market, including direct vent, vent-free, indoor, and outdoor. You can opt for a modern ribbon style or more traditional drum or fireplace styles. This can make it a challenge to choose the best one for your home.