A traditional living space with a custom, natural stone hearth, a wooden mantel, and a square gas fireplace insert with a log set.

Gas Log Sets Vs Gas Fireplace Inserts 

Learn the differences between gas log sets and gas inserts to find the best way to convert an existing fireplace 

Last Updated: May 17, 2024

While most homeowners love the idea of having a cozy fireplace to curl up next to, some may want to avoid the effort it takes to maintain a real wood fireplace

Fortunately, there are two easy ways to convert a traditional wood burning fireplace to gasgas log sets and gas fireplace inserts. Converting your wood fireplace to gas creates a modern, low-maintenance focal point that boosts your property value, keeps your space comfortable in every season, and adds incredible ambiance.  

Follow this simple guide to learn the differences between gas log sets and gas inserts, so you can find the best way to revamp your fireplace. 

What Are Gas Logs? 

Gas log sets are a set of ceramic logs and a burner system that sits inside your fireplace. They act as a realistic replacement for authentic wood logs. Some sets are even cast from real wood and hand-painted to bring out the textures and colors found in natural tree bark. 

Available in a variety of sizes and styles, like Birch, Oak, Driftwood, and Juniper, gas log sets are affordable, easy to operate, and won’t require much upkeep.  

Most gas logs are made of ceramic fiber or a refractory cement mixture that withstands extreme temperatures. Some logs also have steel reinforcement rods inserted in the center for extra strength.  

There are two different types of gas logs — Vented and Ventless. Vented logs are designed for fireplaces with existing chimneys, while Ventless logs don't need to be vented to the outside.  

Overall, Vented log sets tend to be slightly more realistic looking than Ventless sets. However, Ventless logs produce more heat.  

For a more in-depth look at the differences between the two gas log types, check out this guide

What Are Gas Fireplace Inserts? 

Gas fireplace inserts are an effective way to modernize an old, wood fireplace, while increasing the heat output and reducing your carbon footprint. 

Gas inserts are designed to fit inside existing fireplace openings. They’re essentially metal boxes that are “inserted” into the fireplace and finished with a decorative surround.  

Gas inserts come in both Direct Vent and Ventless models. For Direct Vent gas inserts, you’ll need a fireplace with a working chimney. Vent-free gas inserts require an existing fireplace, but no venting of any kind.  

Keep in mind, Ventless inserts aren’t permitted in all localities. Before using any Ventless gas product, be sure to check your city’s laws and restrictions regarding gas appliances.   

Not sure what kind of gas insert to get? Check out this guide to learn more about the different insert styles. 

Aesthetic, Heat, & Budget  

When choosing between a gas log set and gas insert, consider these questions:  

  • What do I want my burning display to look like? 
  • Do I need a lot of heat? 
  • How much money do I want to spend?  

Gas logs are used more for looks and aesthetics than warmth. They still create some heat, but their main purpose is to replicate a real wood fire.  

Gas inserts also provide a newly finished front for your existing fireplace and cover up old firebrick liners. They typically use less gas than a log set and are great for supplemental heating, especially if you live in an area with harsh winters. Upgrading your fireplace with a gas insert can help you save a lot of money on your heating bills!  

As far as the budget goes, you can expect to spend more on a gas insert. Installation will take a bit longer, too. In comparison, gas log sets are affordable and easy to set up yourself.  

Keep in mind, both gas inserts and gas log sets need to connect to a gas line. If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to have a licensed hearth professional install one.  

Some log sets and inserts also have blowers, fans, and electronic ignitions. In this case, you’ll also need an electrician to install an electrical connection.  

We’re Here to Help  

Do you have more questions about gas logs or gas inserts? Call and speak with an NFI Certified Master Hearth Professional today at 800.919.1904

More Resources

Install your gas log set safely and efficiently with this step-by-step guide

Check out our best-selling gas fireplace inserts to narrow down your options. 

Explore six reasons gas log sets make great alternatives to wood fireplaces.