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It appears that gas fireplace inserts are common in a direct vent configuration (where combustion air is brought in from the outside).

Are there wood burning fireplaces that are direct vent? I'm not finding any with my web searches. Do they exist under a different term? Or do they not exist and, if not, why is that?

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Depends on how you are defining direct vent. The usual definition is the gas combustion products are vented directly through the wall and no conventional flue or chimney is required. They also draw combustion air from outside, and the combustion chamber can be sealed off from the house entirely.

You will not find a wood burning fireplace that does not require a chimney. Such a contrivance would not draw properly and would be dangerous for burning solid wood fuel. There are a few pellet stoves listed for this configuration however, but not for logs.

If your main concern, as you mention, is only that combustion air be drawn from outside, there are many fireplaces that offer this configuration as an option, including the ability to seal off the combustion chamber. They typically do this by inserting some device that blocks the device's usual combustion air intake from the house and instead provides a 4" dia. duct connection. It's up to the installer to route the duct to the outside. These all still will require a chimney terminating above the roof, typically 6" dia.

I would start searching for such devices by searching wood burning fireplace outside air. You should find many fireplaces have this option, though sometimes you need to dig in the fine print to see that it's available.

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Thanks! Yes, actually having intake air coming from the outside was my primary goal, as my understanding is that is simply more efficient (as you're not sucking up already heated air in the house up the chimney). So, it sounds like this is more of an add-on rather than factory configuration? –  DA01 Jan 16 '13 at 0:58
    
Ah! Yes, the key is searching for "wood burning fireplace outside air". Lots of options out there for that. Thanks! –  DA01 Jan 16 '13 at 0:59
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Yes, they certainly do, but require drilling a hole or running a pipe up the flue. There are also no vent logsets that work great. Just close the damper and feel the heat. The non-vented logsets are a great way to use an existing wood fireplace with a new hight tech much more efficient and cleaner fire.

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We'd actually prefer to keep it wood burning. I'll do some more digging for direct vent options! –  DA01 Jan 15 '13 at 23:26
    
I misunderstood the question. there are no direct vent wood burning units. The flue temp in a wood burning stove is too high. –  shirlock homes Jan 16 '13 at 0:04
    
Oh! That explains why it's so hard to find them. –  DA01 Jan 16 '13 at 0:19
    
The flue temp on a wood stove can top 1200F close to the firebox. Yhat certainly would melt your siding! lol. –  shirlock homes Jan 16 '13 at 0:50
    
Ah, that makes sense for thru-the-wall, but seems like they could make a system for existing chimneys. Our old house used gas inserts that were all run through the existing masonry. –  DA01 Jan 16 '13 at 0:56
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