Modern and linear designs are heating up the fireplace market, along with a new installation requirement builders and remodelers need to know about.

Screens between the trim and the glass of a gas fireplace help prevent users from dangerous heat.
Consumer Products Safety Commission Screens between the trim and the glass of a gas fireplace help prevent users from dangerous heat.

Announced last year, and put into effect in January 2015, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and its Canadian counterpart now require vented gas fireplaces to include a safety barrier screen as standard equipment. According to representatives in the hearth industry and at the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the change is designed to prevent direct contact with the fireplaces' glass fronts, which can reach upwards of 500 F - even approaching 1,000 F in some cases.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) was a key player in getting the new regulation in place. "While gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts are a great asset to any home, the glass can become very hot during operation and stay hot long afterwards, creating a potential burn hazard," says Jack Goldman, HPBA president and CEO.

Beyond the manufacturers' requirements, a letter from Napoleon Fireplaces to its customers notes that the same regulation requires that installing dealers can no longer install gas fireplaces without factory-approved safety barriers. "This means that when the installer leaves the installation, it is their responsibility to ensure the safety barrier is installed to the manufacturer's instructions and local codes," the letter says.

Love for Linear, Modern

ANSI-compliant fireplace units began shipping at the end of 2014, though HBPA and several manufacturers expect a mix of older and newer models to be on the shelves as retailers move old inventory out. Among the newer models coming to market are several styles capitalizing on the trend toward linear, modern fireplace designs.

"From our perspective, modern fireplaces are less of a trend and more of a fixture in the gas hearth category - they're here to stay," says Becky Scribner, brand director for Heat & Glo. "With that in mind, we're focused on continuing to satisfy growing consumer demand by developing new modern products that pair quality with realistic, streamlined designs." Heat & Glo's Mezzo, shown at the top of this article, is one such design. The linear fireplace offers additional modern conveniences, including wi-fi capability to allow users to operate the fireplace from an app.

Photographer: Jim Linna

Fireplace Xtrordinaire has also introduced a range of new linear designs that underscore the barrier screen regulation. The new line of three High Output Linear Gas Fireplaces (model 3615 pictured above) serve as full-convection home heaters, with the largest model capable of heating up to 2,800 square feet with 56,000 Btu. An optional power heat vent kit can be used to heat additional rooms up to 20 feet away. Fireplace Xtrordinair says their barrier screens are designed to be low-visibility so the screen doesn't detract from the fireplaces' aesthetics.

Napoleon is seeing trends toward the modern, particularly in younger homeowners. "Several new trends are emerging this season that are really changing the way people are thinking about fireplaces," says Stephen Schroeter, senior vice president at Napoleon. "The younger generation of fireplace buyers want a quick-lighting fireplace that's easier to maintain," he says. For that reason, "gas fireplaces will continue to rise in popularity, and we'll continue to see the trend of sleek and modern fireplaces. Look for clean, linear lines with less metal and more glass." For homeowners looking for a more traditional fireplace layout, Napoleon's StarFire model (above) fulfills the modern aesthetic with its clean lines and expansive glass area.

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