Why Do I Need a Blower Fan on My Fireplace?

 

This question comes up quite frequently in retail fireplace shops.  To thoroughly answer this question, let’s start with a basic understanding of the way heat can transfer from one object to another.

 

THREE TYPES OF HEAT TRANSFER:

Heat is transferred from a warmer object to a cooler object through convection, radiation or conduction.

A typical forced air furnace will use convective heat to warm your home.  A heat exchanger, normally made with steel or stainless steel, is heated up by burning a fuel.  This fuel source could be gas, oil, wood or maybe even electricity.  Once this heat exchanger is hot, a blower fan cycles on.  As air is moved through the heat exchanger, this warm air is distributed throughout the house via the ductwork.  Convective heat warms air and this warm air is moved through the house by the furnace fan.

Radiant heat is how the sun heats.  Has this ever happened to you?  You’re driving down the highway with the sun shining through one side of the car and not the other.  The person sitting in the sun feels this radiant heat energy.  But the person sitting next to you does not.  That’s the radiant heat from the sun.  Another good example is dining outdoors in a restaurant during a cool evening.  Some restaurants use portable radiant heaters to keep customers comfortable while dining. The heat is delivered directly from a hot object to a cooler object through infrared radiation.  Radiant heat, heats objects.

Conduction is the third type of heat transfer.  Conduction is the movement of heat through a medium or passageway, from one object to another.  A common example of conductive heat:  Have you ever left a metal spoon in a pot of boiling water?  It can get very hot as the spoon conducts heat from the water.  With conduction, the temperature flow will always go from the hotter to the cooler object, in this case, from the hot water to the cooler spoon.  Once the temperature is the same between the two objects, the transfer of heat stops.

 

SO HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO MY FIREPLACE OR STOVE?

Your fireplace or stove, whether it’s wood or gas, can be operated with or without an electric fan.  Without a fan, you will get direct radiant heat from the glass and the cast iron or steel front of your fireplace.  Without a fan, you will get radiant heat from the front, both sides, the top and even the back of a free-standing wood or gas stove.  But by adding a fan to your appliance, you will enjoy convective heat in addition to the radiant heat.

 

 

 

HOW THE FAN WORKS

As room air moves through specially designed convective air chambers in fireplaces or stoves, heat is transferred from the hot surfaces to the moving air.  The fan circulates this warmer air through the appliance and back into the room.  Most fans on fireplaces and stoves use a rheostat to vary the amount of air the fan is moving.  Turn the rheostat fan control up and a higher volume of air moves through the appliance.  By turning the fan knob down, a smaller volume of air moves through the unit and less heat will be blown into the

Single Cage Universal Fireplace Fan

Single Cage Universal Fireplace Fan

room.  Fan adjustments can be done manually.  However, with many gas fireplaces and stoves today, adjusting the speed of the fan can be done with a multi-function remote control.  It’s worthwhile noting that a fan will increase the heat transfer efficiency of your fireplace or stove.

 

Most blower fans on fireplaces and stoves will circulate air in the range of 75 – 250 cubic

Dual Cage Universal Fireplace Fan

Dual Cage Universal Fireplace Fan

feet per minute.  On the low end of this range, that’s about the amount of air a bathroom fan will exhaust.  Keeping the air moving in your house, even a small amount of air, will help maintain consistent temperatures throughout the house.  It’s a good way to maximize heat output and help minimize cooler or warmer areas in the home.

 

ARE FANS NOISY?

Forced Air Kit

Forced Air Kit

Fireplace fans today are relatively quiet, especially on the lower settings.  However, keep in mind whenever a fan is moving air, there will be some noise.  Think about a calm day.  It’s much quieter than a day when the wind is blowing 25 mph.  It' the same with the air moving through your stove or fireplace.

Noises from fans other than air moving, for example squeaks, squeals or hums, often indicate a scenario that a dealer should get involved with.  A problematic fan can normally be easily replaced.

 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

An electric blower fan for your stove or fireplace will not operate, of course, in the event of a power outage.  However, you will still get the benefit of the radiant heat.  If reliability of power is a concern to you, or if you are off the grid, there are specific models of stoves and fireplaces designed to be strictly radiant heaters.

It’s also important to periodically inspect the fan and clean any dust, dirt and pet hair from it.  Incidentally, the fans of fireplaces are located behind the lower grill.  Blower fans on free-standing stoves are found on the back of the unit.

So, the question comes up again:  Do I need a blower fan on my fireplace or stove?  It’s all about comfort, based on your preferences.  That being said, most WE LOVE FIRE experts are big fans of fans!

 

More on this topic:

 

Below is a list of fireplace and grill stores that service Virginia (VA)

Manassas, VA

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109

Mechanicsville, VA

Hearth & Home Shoppe
8151 Mechanicsville Tpk
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

Visit Store Page

Roanoke, VA

Dixie Building Products Inc.
3342 Melrose Ave NW
Roanoke, VA 24017


For more information, contact your local fireplace and grill store..

22 Responses

  1. Mark Hartman
    Joe, We have a R. H. Peterson real frye vent free gas logs G18-2 series 30 in. Our fireplace is open see through on both sides of the dining room and the great room. We currently use a standing fan to blow out the hot air into the room. Our dealer was not much on putting in a blower when we first put it in. I called the company and they do not recommend a blower. Looking at this website gave me so hope that maybe there is a way to put in a blower that would accommodate our needs. In reading this article it appears you have your doctorate in fireplaces. Thanks, Mark
    • Dominique Page
      Good morning! Thanks for your message. A fan is a good idea for a sealed fireplace. It can also be a good idea for some decorative fireplace that are factory built. But they are not a good idea for masonry open fireplaces. The risk being that the exhaust fumes would be transferred inside the home, with a risk of CO levels increasing to a point where it can be dangerous. Not knowing exactly what your fireplace is like, it is hard to make a judgement call. But if the fireplace expert did not feel good about it, I would follow their advice. Using the blower to blow air 'away' from the fireplace inside your home sounds scary to me. Do you have a CO detector near your fireplace? That would be a good idea.... Stay safe and warm! Dominique
      • Lynda
        Does a fan/blower use a lot of electric?
        • Dominique Page
          Good day Lynda. Thanks for reaching out. A fireplace fan draws very little energy. If you want a comparable, it is similar to what a 100-watt light bulb would use. Hope this answers your question.
    • Candace
      Wondering how close an outlet should be to the fireplace if inserting a wood burning insert with a blower? I understand that I can’t have a outlet inside the fireplace itself but does the cord then hang out the front of the fireplace? Renovating my house right now and the electrician is wondering best placement for the outlet
      • Dominique Page
        Hello Candace. Thanks for reaching out. The best way to handle the outlet is to look at the clearances to combustibles as provided by the Fireplace Insert manufacturer. It will be detailed in the owner's manual. I hope that answers your question. Dominique
  2. Ronald Ring
    I am installing a vented gas log system to an existing outdoor fireplace and the customer would like to be able to feel more than just radiant heat, I suggested using gas log blower that is quiet and efficient before doing research, can you help me with a product that may work for this application
    • Dominique Page
      Good morning! Thanks for reaching out! We don't really recommend that type of fan. they tend no to be reliable and we don't like to push back the 'exhaust' that contains CO back onto people. That is simply our viewpoint. Radiant heat can be however, increased when using a vent free gas log set, as these are designed to burn cleaner with no CO. All the best!
      • Natasha
        I have a masonry fireplace with existing vent free gas logs. How can I improve heat/air circulation and reduce heat under mantel?
        • Dominique Page
          Good day Natasha. Thanks for reaching out. There are ways to make this fireplace more efficient. The most popular one is to put in a gas insert. It will make a huge difference in the heat felt into the room. The best way to go at it is to get a fireplace expert make a quick assessment of your home and propose the best solutions. We may have a local expert close to you. Gas inserts we really like are the Napoleon Oakville and the Ambiance Inspiration.
  3. Janet Kelly
    We are building a new house with a Radiant gas fireplace...First question is do we need a blower to actually feel any heat from this setand can it be added after closing..Second can a radiant fireplace set be converted to a ventless gas log insert...
    • Dominique Page
      Good morning! Thanks for reaching out. This sounds like a nice project! Most fireplaces will offer the option of the fan being installed later. But the cost of doing it later is significant. Most gas fireplaces now come with the fan included. This allows to reduce the cost of the fan, as it is installed in the factory. It also makes the fan 'operable' with the remote. We prefer to get the fan right from the get go... Now your question on conveting to 'ventless' logs is a good question. We're somehow biased on this one. We find, that 'vented' fireplaces and logs will provide a much nicer flame pattern. Ventless ones have to burn super clean and will tend to have to be more of a 'boring' and unrealistic fire. This is simply our opinion...We think what making sure to choose the right fireplace to start with is better. I hope this answers your question. Stay safe!
  4. John M
    We have 2 blowers in our sealed wood burning fireplace. The fans are in the back bottom and are a bit loud at the high setting. However, I assume the fans are drawing in air from the bottom vent and pushing it up behind the fireplace. There is very minimal air coming back out the fireplace. Seems a bit strange. It is possible to mount the fans at the top back of the fireplace so the air directly blows out or could the wires melt being that high up?
    • Dominique Page
      Hi John Thanks so much for your comment. Your question is a good one. Moving the fans on top of the fireplace could indeed make you feel more air flow. However, fireplace manufacturers have pretty much always put the fans underneath the firebox or on the side. Placing the blowers on top of the firebox would expose the blower motor to high heat. Those motors are rated to run below a specific temperature. If blowers were exposed to temperatures above their 'limit', it would not only damage the blower itself, but it could become a fire hazard. I wish I could offer a solution to make you feel more airflow. Maybe if you reached out to the manufacturer of the fireplace, they could point you in a different direction. Thanks again for reaching out! Stay safe and warm! Dominique
  5. Bridget
    Hello. We have a propane fireplace in our living room. The heat from the fireplace immediately rises (of course). Our second floor is open to the first floor and the second floor becomes very warm. However, the heat barely reaches those sitting in front of the fireplace. In recent years we haven’t used the fireplace and have actually hung our tv above it. We would like to use it again but know that it may over heat our tv and still provide little heat to the room itself. Is a fan the answer? Should we just plan to buy a mantle to protect the tv and live with the hot upstairs and cool downstairs? Thank you!
    • Dominique Page
      Hi Bridget Thanks for reaching out. Your question is very good! First, as you state so well, heat rises! We cannot change this natural law. However, keep in mind the other side of that law...cold air travels down. I don't how your home is setup. But the 'cool' air from upstairs is certainly travelling down somewhere. If you can provide a way for the air travelling down to be on the opposite side from where it is travelling up, it will bring more balance in the temperature between upstairs and downstairs. If you have a warm air furnace or AC, you may want to keep the fan on the circulation mode. The better the air will move in your home, the better the comfort in your home. Now, as per the TV, the answer is yes, you need to protect it. You will need to put in a non-combustible mantel shelf. That is very important. It cannot be made of wood. There many options. You may want to look at this one: https://ambiancefireplaces.com/mantels/ These are non-combustible and yet, we would swear it is real wood. They are great and affordable! Hope this answers your question! Dominique
  6. Michael Grill
    Hi I have a GRUF 36C-R vent-free fireplace that does not have louvers. I bought a HBLOT blower do have to install louvers for this to work? And if so will louvers on the bottom be enough? Thank you Michael
    • Dominique Page
      Hello Michael Thanks for reaching out. I am not sure I understand what we're looking at. Where will the blower be installed, if there is no opening, no louvers? Normally, you need the bottom louvers to be open to draw air, and top louvers to push hot air into the room. You would need both for the proper circulation to happen. Dominique
  7. Zack
    Hello - We have a gas fireplace with a bult in blower. I was wondering if plugging that into a 15amp outlet would be okay. I was told there could be a chance of circuit breaking, but I assume that is more for electric fireplaces than gas. I guess what I am asking is how many amps does a typical gas blower use. Thanks
    • Dominique Page
      Hello Zach. Thanks for reaching out. A gas fireplace blower draws very little amperage, typically under 2amps. It is okay to use on a 15-amp circuit. All the best! Dominique
  8. Alicia
    We have moved into a new house and it has two gas fireplaces (one on main floor and one in basement) that both, I believe, vent outside bcuz I can see them outside on each fireplace. However neither have a fan and I’ve been told that they don’t accommodate fans. My question is will the heat that comes from these fireplaces inside the house damage the inside walls or cause a house fire bcuz the stone around the fireplaces in our living room and basement gets super hot! I’ve wondered if putting a standing fan of some sort that’s directed towards the fireplace would dissipate the heat or is that a bad idea? Thanks for any info to help. I’m used to our old house that had a traditional log fireplace with a chimney and flue. :-)
    • Dominique Page
      Hello Alicia. Thanks for reaching out. It is very hard to tell if your fireplaces are installed up to code from where we sit. The best would be to call in a fireplace expert to do an inspection, to make sure your fireplaces are safe to use. We might have one not too far from you. All the best!

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