Greg Costelloe from Costelloe & Company in Concord, Ontario, is one of those innovative fireplace experts that I love to talk to. In the first photo, he is showing me a standard direct vent gas fireplace insert. This is the kind of unit that you can build a fake fireplace around, or you can set it into an existing real fireplace. It runs on gas, gives off a lot of heat and you never have to carry wood.
In the second photo you see what really looks like a fire but is nothing more than lights, mirrors and coloured filters. It is an electric fireplace insert, that doesn't even make any heat unless you turn on the electric heating elements hidden under the unit. But the flame does look real! Click here to find out how they do that.
Then, the real reason I invited Greg into the studio was to see how he was now installing gas log inserts -- a gas grill with ceramic logs that simply sits right inside that old wood fireplace and uses the old chimney. Under the grill, he sets up a mixture of sand and vermiculite which makes it really look like the coals are burning from below. The ceramic logs change colour with the movement of the flames, as do real wood logs, and you can place and replace these logs so it doesn't look like the same set of never moving logs. I have never seen a gas fire look so much like a real wood fire -- and you don't have to split or store any logs.