Efficiency, one of the most misunderstood terms in the gas fireplace industry.
When shopping for gas fireplaces, inserts, appliances, logs or whatever one of the first questions customers ask is what is the efficiency. That is a tough question to answer sometimes because the answer is different depending on what you are looking for. There are so many “efficiency ratings” out there. You have the AFUE (annual flue utilization efficiency) that tries to measure how efficient a unit is over the course of a heating season. There is also the Steady State efficiency which simply tries to tell you how how gas in converted to heat once the unit heats up. Some companies use Thermal efficiency and measure the exterior temperatures of the unit to gauge how efficient it is.
Most companies will do all of those tests in house at the factory and publish whatever they determine is their most impressive number. They can play with the appliance, the venting, gas pressure which all are an important part of the test and affect the results. I don’t think that in most cases any of those tests answer the question that customers ask. When I think about the question “how efficient is this” I think the answer should be what percentage of the gas being burned is presented to the customer as usable heat into the room. How much heat am I going to get for the money that I am spending is sort of the root question efficiency. In United States there is currently no uniform test for gas appliances to get you a side by side real efficiency number to go by. There is however in Canada a perfect solution that offers a real answer. The Canadian Energuide Standard is a test that measures all gas appliances to an efficiency by using the same exact test, in the same conditions each and every time with every appliance. Testing the units all exactly the same offers customers not only an actual correct efficiency rating but all a direct comparison of all the appliances that they may be looking at. The Energuide Standard or CSA P.4 Efficiency certification aims to provide a method for measuring annual fireplace efficiency by taking into account the units use and performance throughout the entire heating season. The P.4 standard looks at all three factors of efficiency when calculating a percentage as well. The radiant heat of the appliance, how much physical heat is coming off of the unit itself, or how hot to the touch is it. How much convective heat is coming out of the units convection chamber, cooler air being pulled in and around the heating chamber naturally and sent into the room. If the unit has a fan that is also figured in to the equation as the final piece to achieve the highest P.4 numbers. So when the question comes up “how efficient is this?” or “I am looking for the most efficient unit, which one is it?” it is a simple answer. All you have to do is look to the Energuide Standard and compare the P.4 ratings of the appliances that you are looking at. Here is a link that will take you directly to the list and allow you to check out whatever gas insert of fireplaces that you want.
Efficiency is the most important factor when buying a gas appliance. Now there is an easy way to make sure that you are getting what you want.
Warming Trends Inc.