Direct Vent vs. Vent Free Gas Inserts: Which is Right for Your Home?

If you want the warmth of a real fire without having to manage a real wood burning fireplace, a gas fireplace insert could be right for you. If you have decided to buy a gas insert, gas fireplace, or gas log set, that’s great! Haven’t yet decided between any of those three heating solutions? Check out our blog post on the pros and cons of each option. Once you decide, you will have to pick between two venting options: direct vented gas inserts or vent free gas inserts. So, what are the pros and cons of each type of venting option? When it comes to direct vent vs. vent free gas inserts, which one will work best for your home?

In this blog post, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of direct vent and ventless gas inserts. You will find that the advantages of a gas fireplace insert far outweigh the negatives. This blog post is meant to give you the information you need to make an informed decision for which fireplace insert product is best for you. We have already written about the differences between direct vent and vent free gas logs and gas fireplaces in previous posts. Continue reading to learn more about direct vent vs. vent free gas inserts to learn the best heating solution for your home.

Direct Vent vs. Vent Free Gas Inserts: Pros & Cons

Direct Vent Gas Insert Advantages

What are the advantages of direct vent gas inserts? Let’s look at the pros to using direct vented gas fireplace inserts in your Cape Cod home:

Better Aesthetics & More Realistic Looking Flame

Direct vent gas inserts generally have a more realistic looking flame than a vent-free gas insert. For vent-free gas inserts to reduce the risk of emissions being transmitted into the home, the burn temperature of the fire needs to be higher. So, this higher temperature produces a less realistic, sometimes blue flame. When it comes to a direct vented gas fireplace insert, it produces a realistic flame because the temperature is controlled. This results in a flame that most closely resembles a wood burning fire. If realism and aesthetics are important to you, direct vent will always beat vent free.

No Heat Loss

Direct vent gas inserts use outside air for combustion. This results in no cold air coming in the house from windows, doorways, or other leaks to feed the fire like a natural wood fire does. As a result, this allows the room air to not lose heat and then warm up faster.

Must Vent to the Outside

Direct-vent gas fireplaces do require a way to vent to the outside. This venting could take place through an existing brick or masonry chimney, but you are not limited to just using an existing chimney to accomplish the necessary venting. If you don’t have a chimney, the direct vent can be terminated horizontally through an exterior wall instead of vertically to the top of the roof through a chimney. This will give you some flexibility and more options as to where you can install your direct vent gas insert in the home. Wherever there is an exterior wall, you can install a direct-vent gas fireplace insert.

Better Safety

Due to how it is designed, a vented gas fireplace insert will not affect the indoor air quality of your Cape Cod home. Direct vent gas inserts use a high temperature glass panel to separate the burning area of the gas insert from the inside of your home. So, your vented gas insert will take air in from the outside and then exhaust all the gases to the outside. This contrasts with a vent-free gas insert, which vents into the home.

Direct Vent Gas Insert Disadvantages

We have gone over the advantages of a direct vent gas inserts. Well, are there any direct vent gas insert cons? Actually, there are some minor disadvantages of direct vent gas fireplaces inserts, although we do not think they are anything that should keep you from buying one. They are just some details to keep in mind so that you can make the correct decision for your specific Cape Cod home. Here are the top 3 disadvantages:

Not as Flexible as Vent Free Gas Inserts

In order to install a directly vented gas insert, you must use a chimney or an exterior wall. This is so that it can both take in air from the outside and then vent out the by-products from the flames inside the fire box. This is not as flexible as a vent-free gas insert. Since the ventless gas insert vents directly into the home, it does not need to be placed in a spot where it can vent to the outside. So, vent free gas inserts could be installed in interior areas of a home without a chimney. This is something that direct-vented gas inserts cannot do.

No Access to Flames

A direct vent gas insert is so safe because of the sealed combustion behind its glass. You cannot remove the glass or get access to the flames for the direct vent gas insert to function properly. This might be an advantage to those with small children or pets, but it could also be considered a negative by those who want access to fire.

Usually More Expensive than Vent-Free Gas Inserts

Generally, direct vent gas inserts are more expensive to install than a vent-free gas fireplace insert. With professional installation and any remodeling that needs to be done, direct vent gas inserts will cost you around $3,500 – $8,000. Vent free gas inserts, on the other hand, will cost between $1,000 and $5,000.

Vent-Free Gas Insert Advantages

Now for vent-free gas inserts, we will compare these to the direct-vent option. Here are the top advantages of the ventless, or vent-free, gas fireplaces inserts:

More Flexible & Easy to Install Anywhere in the Home

Without needing to vent the air to the outside, this gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can install your vent-free gas insert in the home. These vent-free inserts can be installed in a lot of places that direct vented gas inserts cannot be. For example, it can be installed on a wall that is not venting to the outside, like an interior wall in the middle of the home. There are no holes needed in the wall or ceiling, nor any other renovations or building needed within the home. This opens a lot of other opportunities that you might otherwise not have had with a vented gas fireplace insert.

Heating Efficiency

Since the air vapors are vented back into the home with a vent free gas insert, no heat is lost up the chimney or flue. As a result, this makes your vent-free gas insert very efficient at heating up the room fully and quickly. This is in comparison to a direct-vent gas insert, which will heat your room slowly but surely.

More Affordable

As we stated earlier, a ventless gas insert will be a more affordable gas insert investment than a vented gas insert. So, if budget is a major concern, this option will be easier to pull off.

Vent Free Gas Insert Disadvantages:

So, those are the vent free gas insert pros. Continue reading to learn about the disadvantages of using a vent free gas insert. Here are the top 4 disadvantages:

Less Realistic Looking Fire

Vent free gas fireplace inserts are usually less realistic looking than a direct vent gas insert. If you are mainly looking for an aesthetic, you should go with the direct vent gas insert. However, if you prefer warmth over aesthetics, go with the vent free option.

Some Restrictions

Ventless gas insert units have a minimum clearance to combustibles that must be met for installation in Cape Cod homes. For example, this includes wood mantles and other combustible items that the gas insert must be a certain distance away. In Massachusetts, ventless gas fireplace inserts cannot be installed in a bedroom or bathroom. They also cannot be the primary source of heat in the room they are installed in. So, you must have a conventional heating source in that room already, such as gas, electric, or oil heating.


With the air vapors of a vent-free gas insert venting into the home, you will also periodically get the smells of gasoline and soot into your home. Depending on your preference, this could be uncomfortable or undesirable. If you suffer from a respiratory illness, like asthma, this could cause some discomfort or difficulty breathing. So, it is important to keep this in mind when making your decision between direct vent and ventless.


Vent-free gas inserts release natural air vapors right back into the home, which raises the humidity. This can cause condensation on windows or doors in your home. The higher humidity can create problems with wooden pieces, such as floors or doorways. This could potentially cause mold or mildew within the home if you don’t stay on top of it.

Cape Cod’s #1 Direct Vent & Vent Free Gas Fireplace Insert Superstore: Breakaway

If you live on Cape Cod, Breakaway is your go-to source for heating solutions. We carry and install both types of gas fireplace inserts, which can be the perfect hearth product to complement your home. If you’re struggling with choosing between direct vent vs. vent free gas inserts, our experienced staff is prepared to help you select the right model and arrange your gas insert installation. And, if you are interested in learning more about our other heating products, such as decorative gas stoves, gas fireplaces, gas logs, fire pits, or generators, Breakaway can help you with these as well.

For any installation of a gas insert, it is important to always work with a certified, licensed, and insured HVAC professional or company. Make sure that you follow your recommended service and maintenance schedule for proper upkeep of your gas insert investment. Luckily for all Cape Cod residents, Breakaway and its parent company, Hall Oil Gas and Electric, can both install and offer yearly maintenance for your gas and oil heating products. You can learn about our heating installation service area here.

Visit Breakaway at one of our stores in South Dennis or Mashpee, call us at 508-398-3831, or contact us below to learn about the best heating products for your home.

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Monday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: Closed.

435 Rt. 134 South Dennis, MA 02660
Next to Mid Cape Home Centers

Phone: (508) 398-3831


Monday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: Closed.

17c Trinity Place Mashpee, MA 02649
Next to Boston Interiors

Phone: (508) 539-1674