Table of Contents

  1. How do I decide between gas, wood or pellets?
  2. Where can I get a replacement for my glass doors?
  3. What else do I need to think about before buying?
  4. With the recent energy crisis, do you still recommend gas?
  5. Two or more fireplaces cause a "smoke" problem
  6. Does a "vent-free" stove make sense in an apartment?

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How do I decide between gas, wood or pellet?

To simplify matters, we recommend that you avoid wood.   While nothing beats the crackling beauty of a wood fireplace, the development of ceramic logs and artificial embers have made gas stoves almost as aesthetic as wood. Besides, unless you are in desperate need of more exercise, why would you want to bother storing, hauling, chopping, splitting, lighting and sweeping up after wood. Are you crazy?

Wood aside, the four major factors are cost, convenience, ambiance and the ecology.  Only you can decide which is most important to you.


In the East Bay, natural gas is readily available and therefore the least expensive alternative. If you do not have natural gas available in your location, pellets offer an excellent alternative to electric heat and high propane bills. Note: Pellet stoves need electricity to operate so we recommend a back-up power source to protect you against power outages.


Again, if natural gas is available at your location, it is the most convenient source of energy. With the flick of a switch, the fire is lit and the warmth of your stove or fireplace insert is just moments away.  If you don't have access to natural gas, pellets may be your best alternative. Pellets can be purchased at many hardware stores. They are sold in easy-to-stack plastic bags and when they are burned, they produce very little ash. Also, the heat from a pellet fire is almost as easy to control as gas.


This is a matter of varying tastes but if you were to take a poll the consensus would be that wood has the most ambiance with gas coming in a very close second. More important than the type of stove may be the look. Does your home call for a modern stove or are you looking for a traditional, old-fashioned appearance? 


If protecting the environment is important to you, and it should be important to all of us, you may want to consider pellets. They are a by-product of foresting and farming. Pellets are a completely renewable resource.  Gas, on the other hand is a non-renewable resource. Once burned, it is gone. We do have two items in favor of gas though. First, it is the cleanest burning fuel alternative. Second, there is an abundance of natural gas in North America. It is definitely not a scarce commodity. 

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Where can I get a replacement for my glass doors? 

You can buy just the glass if your frame is in good shape. Every town has a glass shop that can handle this task. Take your frame to them and they will order the glass and put it in the frame for you. 

Another alternative is the Thermo-rite Glass Door. It comes in many styles and has a life time warranty.

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What else do I need to think about before buying?

Stoves come in many shapes, sizes, styles, finishes and colors. Your best bet is to call 510-223-8345 or stop by the shop for a free consultation. We can help you determine the size you should purchased based on the area you will be heating. If you are considering gas, we can estimate the cost involved in running the gas line and setting up the stove, insert or fireplace. 

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With the recent energy crisis, do you still recommend gas? 

A customer wrote, "In your FAQ, you say gas is more efficient than wood. Does that still remain true with the current gas situation in California (Feb 2001)? We're thinking that now a wood burning insert is the way to go. Gas is very expensive and pellet inserts are electronically controlled (not a good idea with rolling blackouts.) Has your position on efficiency changed? Which do you now recommend?"

Answer:   I'm still Pro-Gas! I have two gas fireplaces in my house that we use as our only source of heat.  Last year our highest PG&E bill was $130.00; we got one today for $248.00, not so great. If we were using our central heat, it probably would have been $400.00 instead.  So we are saving on our PG&E bill by using gas fireplaces. All things considered, I'm not interested in all the work or mess involved with wood or pellet. 

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Two or more fireplaces cause a "smoke" problem

A customer wrote, "We have several fireplaces in our home. On one end of the house we have a problem. The fireplace on the ground floor is the first one we always use. There is another fireplace just below it, in the basement. When we light the one upstairs, the basement fills with smoke. Any idea what the problem is or how to fix it?"

Answer:   This is a common problem. Any time you have two fireplaces, one below the other and they terminate at the same height, the smoke from the one being used can often go back down the fireplace that is not being used.  It is now common practice in the industry to terminate one of the chimneys at least 12-18" higher than the other.  It doesn't seem to matter which one is taken higher.    

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Does a "vent-free" stove make sense in an apartment?

A customer wrote, "I'm a renter who is living with a hideous gas furnace, probably the cheapest, ugliest thing my landlord would spring for, also probably fairly fuel inefficient since it's probably years old. I can't ask him to replace it because he'd just say no. So I'm looking around for something that I can buy, and possibly take with me (or offer to sell it to him) when I go.

It is a very small house in Oakland. I don't think I should be cutting holes in anything so I'm looking for a small, vent-free, free-standing stove. I *really really * like the Avalon Prairie Stove you have listed on your website, but I see that it is vented." 

Do you have anything similar in stock that is vent free? and if so, how much would it cost?

Answer:   Sorry, but vent free is NOT legal in California.  

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