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Fireplace Terminology

BTU (or British Thermal Unit ) The standard heat measurement unit used by the fireplace industry. One BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 lb of water by 1°F at sea level.
B-Vent (or Natural Vent ) A vent configuration that takes in air for combustion from the home and vents combusted products outside the home. Also known as Natural Vent .
Fireplaces specifically designed for builders and contractors featuring a beautiful blend of elegance, efficiency and economy.
Cabinet A fireplace cabinet is usually a wood finishing option for Direct Vent or Vent-Free Fireplaces that are installed on the floor of a room and vented through a wall. They encase the entire fireplace and can be made to fit walls or corners. A fireplace cabinet can range from 13" to 28" deep.
A device used on some wood burning stoves to reduce the temperature at which smoke is ignited.
Catalytic wood stoves and fireplace inserts have ceramic honeycomb chambers coated with a metal catalyst (usually platinum or palladium) that works to increase the rate of combustion. The catalytic combustor burns away gases and particulates normally emitted into the air. Catalytic wood stoves and inserts allow for wood to be burned at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. Also see Non-Catalytic .
A structure that is built around, and also encloses portions of, a chimney. In some cases, a chase can also house the appliance.
A firebox that is designed to heat via air circulation. Heat moves from the fire to the firebox, and is then moved out into the room by a fan through louvers at the top and bottom.
The distance required by building and fire codes between a stove, smoke pipe or chimney and combustible materials such as wood furniture or carpets. Clearances must be observed even if noncombustible plaster or other masonry materials protect the combustible materials (such as wood furniture or carpets).
Direct Vent A vent configuration that draws air for combustion from outdoors and exhausts combustion products back outside. Direct vent configurations eliminate the need for a standard chimney system. A glass panel in direct vent units is critical to keeping the combustion system sealed from the home, maintaining high efficiency and indoor air quality. See Direct Vent Fireplaces for more info.
Electric Fireplaces/Logs An electric fireplace or log set uses electricity to simulate the look, feel, and heat of a real fireplace.
When the ignition system is powered by electricity. Requires either 110v outlet or battery.
In the context of wood burning appliances, these are government regulations mandating that products sold after July 1, 1992 emit no more than 4.1 grams of particulate matter per hour for catalytic-equipped units and no more than 7.5 grams for non-catalytic-equipped units.
Firebox Portion of a solid fuel appliance where fuel (such as wood) is located and combusted.
Hearth The floor of the firebox, most commonly used in reference to fireplaces. More generally, the foundation upon which fires for aesthetic and heating purposes are built. Differs from floor protection.
EPA-approved fireplaces offering a balance of aesthetics and energy efficiency
Inserts Heating units that will fit into an existing fireplace (masonry or factory-built). The burn wood, gas, or pellets and are generally used to increase the efficiency or change the look and feel of an existing fireplace.
Mantel (or Flush Mantel) A finishing option for direct vent and ventless fireplaces. They can be made of wood, marble or stone. Mantels do not encase the entire fireplace; they only frame it. Most are only 1.75" - 2.5" deep. Mantels are used when the fireplace is installed inside the wall or on the outside wall of the house.
Designates that the height of the flame can be controlled at the unit only.
Natural Vent (or B-Vent ) A vent configuration that takes in air for combustion from the home and vents combusted products outside the home. Also known as B-Vent .
Combustion occurs inside the firebox. Non-catalytic wood stoves are generally less expensive than catalytic wood stoves and require less maintenance.
ODS (or Oxygen Depletion Sensor ) A safety device that activates a fireplace's' flame monitoring device in the event that excessive levels of CO² (carbon monoxide) are detected. When this happens, reduced levels of oxygen cause the pilot flame to become unstable and lift off the thermocouple tip. The fire then turns off automatically before the situation becomes dangerous.
Pellet Burning Heating appliances that use pellets for fuel are classified as "pellet burning." Pellets are manufactured from compressed and recycled sawdust that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Radiant Fireboxes Also known as "flush face." Radiant fireboxes emit heat via infra-red radiation and are sometimes preferred because the facing (stone, tile, or brick) can cover above and below the fireplace opening.
Designates that the heating appliance is able to powered on or off via a wired or wireless remote. Remote is usually sold separatley. The height of the flame cannot be adjusted remotely. Not recommended for vented gas logs.
Surround In the context of this website, a fireplace surround is a marble or tile frame located between the fireplace and the mantel. Cabinets rarely use surrounds. Some manufacturers call wooden cabinets "cabinet surrounds."
Thermostatically Controlled Designates that temperature is sensed at the unit, as opposed to another part of the room. Not as versatile as a remote ready appliance that has a thermostat.
Variable Flame Height Designates that the height of the flame can be increased and decreased via remote.
Vent-Free (or Ventless ) Venting style in which no chimney or external venting is required. The flame burns hot enough to eliminate virtually all pollutants. Although vent-free units offer high efficiency, some areas may not permit their installation or use. Please check with your local building official.
Zero-Clearance Fireplace A factory-built fireplace that is constructed so that it can be safely placed close to combustible material.