I have begun looking into a peninsula style fireplace for my home. So far I have looked at four different brands (Lennox, Heat'n'Glo, Monessen, and Napolean) at three different dealer showrooms. I have noticed that the flame on all of peninsula models I have seen so far is not very impressive, almost disappointing. Maybe about 1/3 the intensity/height as compared to insert models.
All the dealers assured me this was normal and the flame was at max intensity. One did tell me that it takes about 10 minutes for the flame to reach maximum intensity, but after 10 minutes it still was nowhere near close to the intensity of the inserts.
If I had to guess I would think that because there is glass on three sides, the manufacturer limits the intensity because the glass would not endure the same level of flame that an open insert would. Any thoughts?
Fireplaces are famous for having a ROARING fire. That can be an advantage because anywhere from 90-100% of the heat generated is lost up the chimney.
With a conventional fireplace, most of the heat goes directly up the flue without ever getting into the house. Radiant heat from the fireplace does get into the house, but the fireplace is constantly sucking large amounts of heated room air from the house up the flue.
These two factors ---the inefficiency of extracting heat from the combustion process and the venting of heated room air up the chimney is the reason for the famous inefficiency of a conventional fireplace.
Gas fireplaces are a lot different, often being 75-80% efficient. That's because the fireplace is designed to extract much of the heat produced from the combustion gasses and circulate it into the dwelling space. Secondly, gas fireplaces take little or no combustion air from the dwelling space. For these reasons, they are highly efficient as described ---75% or more.
But if you combine high efficiency with a big flame, you produce a LOT of heat that will grossly overheat most rooms and force people to turn the fireplace off. The smart person will seriously consider buying a gas fireplace with a small BTU input, so that they can leave it on longer, and during the spring and fall without overheating the room (and also keeping the bill for gas down).
Think carefully about whether a BIG flame and a LOT of heat is really something that will work in your situation.
Many of these models have burners that spread the flame out like acampfire. When you do this, the overall flame can appear smaller than a one with a tube burners for instance, which generally has a taller flame. The BTUs are there, they're just spread out.
Keep the fire inside the fireplace.