Gas Burning Wood Stove Buyer's Guide
- Woman holding sparkler near fireplace
You may have heard about traditional gas fireplaces, but have you heard of a free standing gas fireplace or gas stove fireplace? They're practically gas heating stoves that look like wood-burning stoves, but without all the wood cutting and ash cleaning most people associate with a wood stove. The gas models are also more versatile than wood burning stoves and can be installed closer to walls or other combustibles.
Here's an overview of what to expect with gas burning wood stoves. We'll cover how they work, venting and installation options, brand recommendations, and maintenance tips.
What is a Gas Burning Wood Stove?
- Empire Vent Free 30 Inch Cast Iron Gas Stove
A freestanding gas fireplace offers the aesthetic and warmth of a wood burning stove without the extra hassle of tending to a wood fire. They are similar to gas fireplaces in the sense that they burn gas and use a decorative gas log set. Several venting options are available including vent-free, direct vent, and b-vent.
Since the stoves are free-standing, they offer better heating because none of the radiant heat is lost to a walled enclosure. Gas stoves are also beautiful. While they do take up floor space, they more than compensate with beautiful styling and outstanding quality. It's hard to beat the charm and convenience of a gas burning wood stove.
Types of Gas Burning Wood Stoves
Direct vent, B-vent, and vent free gas burning wood stoves function like their fireplace counterparts. Each of the venting options has its pros and cons, but with all the available options, you'll be able to find a model that fits your priorities.
Direct Vent Gas Stoves
Direct vent gas stoves are essentially a direct vent fireplace inside a stove body. This is because the firebox must be sealed in order to function properly. Many direct vent stoves feature a sealed firebox within a cast-iron stove. The stove is then assembled in sections around the firebox.
The stoves typically offer either standing pilot systems that allow control from a wall switch or remote or may use a spark ignition pilot to save on gas consumption. Spark ignition systems will sometimes offer an upgraded remote to control accessories. These stoves also have accessory options like blowers and liners.
- Inside view of double-wall chimney pipe
The venting is a co-axial system that features a small vent pipe nestled within a larger vent pipe. The small pipe vents exhaust gases to the outdoors, while the larger pipe brings in air from outside for combustion. Unlike b-vent venting systems, direct vent pipe can be routed horizontally or vertically.
The optional blowers help distribute the heat throughout the room and the liners and log sets add decorative touches. Basic models have manual on/off controls on the unit itself. However, many models offer handheld remotes or even smartphone compatible controls.
Check out our article on direct vent gas fireplaces for more details on how direct vent models operate and the options available.
B-Vent Gas Stoves
- Majestic Oxford Gas Stove
As with b-vent gas fireplaces, b-vent gas stoves tend to offer the best comparison to an authentic wood fireplace. They have a taller flame than vent-free appliances and lack the sealed glass front of direct-vent models. They are less common due to their decreased heating efficiency and are used mostly for aesthetic.
The open front and venting system pulls air from the room and vents exhaust through a vertical pipe. Although this results in better flame quality, a lot of heat is lost to the venting system. If you want your stove to be a supplemental heat source, direct-vent or vent-free models are a better option.
Some manufacturers, such as Napoleon, offer direct vent stoves that can be vented like a B-vent model. The purpose of this is to allow the use of their direct vent stoves in an application where supplemental heat is not needed, but flame effect is still desired.
Keep in mind that the vent pipe must be installed vertically through the roof. The pipe must also maintain the minimum clearance away from combustibles. You can read more about b-vent gas appliances in this article.
Vent Free Gas Stoves
- Buck Vent Free Gas Stove
As with vent free fireplaces, these units are self-contained and do not need a venting system. The models are inexpensive, low maintenance, and easy to install. They need less clearance from combustible material so there is more flexibility in installation. However, there are a few instances where they are not recommended.
Vent-free stoves are built to burn so efficiently that the byproduct can vent back into the room. This is quite convenient since no venting is required and you only need a gas line to install the stove. A power supply is not necessary for vent-free models unless you have an optional blower.
The small amount of smoke might be a concern for those who are particularly sensitive to air quality. These models are not recommended for people with asthma, smoke allergies, or bronchitis.
Always install vent-free models in a room that is big enough and has enough ventilation. Manufacturers will state the smallest square footage the models are designed for. It is important to follow these restrictions since you need to make sure the stove has enough oxygen and ventilation for safe operation. Vent-free appliances are also limited to 40,000 BTUs in order to protect the oxygen supply in the room.
Read more about vent-free appliances here.
If you're looking for leading brands with some of the best gas stoves for sale, take a look at the ones listed in the section below.
- Vermont Castings - A long time producer of high-quality wood stoves, this manufacturer offers heirloom grade stoves that feature timeless design and superior craftsmanship. Their models are slow to evolve in style, but continually offer the latest in burner and control technology.
- Napoleon - It's difficult to find a more all-inclusive product line up than Napoleon products. Realizing early on that the best way to build a strong company was to build something for everyone, Napoleon offers stoves in wood-burning, gas, and pellet fueled models. All of their models are built to high standards and are constantly evolving and improving based on real-world needs.
- Quadra-Fire - A long-time manufacturer of high-quality hearth products, Quadra-Fire offers consumers a handsome looking assortment of gas-fueled wood-style stoves. Their products are timeless and built to a level of quality that makes them stand out.
- Jotul - Long admired for their long-running lineup of wood-burning models, Jotul also offers a significant lineup of gas-fueled models that do a fantastic job imitating the look of their wood-burning models. Quality and style go hand in hand with this brand of products.
Convert a Wood Burning Stove to Gas?
It is technically possible to convert a wood-burning stove to burn gas fuel, but it is not recommended. It is far safer to start over with a model designed for gas instead of trying to convert an old stove. Here are several reasons converting to either propane or natural gas could negatively affect the operation and safety of the stove.
- Altering a wood-burning stove in any way automatically voids the warranty.
- If someone did decide to follow through with the conversion, they would be limited to vented natural gas log sets with a match-lit ignition system. This requires drilling a hole in the unit and having a professional install a gas line.
- The limited space offered by a wood stove doesn't leave much room for the conversion pieces. As a result, the burner, grate, and gas log set are overcrowded.
- Using propane gas is a safety hazard and has the propensity to explode if improperly ventilated. The typical dimensions of a propane stove heater or wood stove do not offer enough space for the propane to disperse safely. In this case, it's best to get a free standing propane fireplace instead.
- During operation, the door(s) must remain open or be removed on a converted gas-burning stove to prevent overheating the components.
Just because you can buy and install the conversion pieces doesn't make it safe. It's not worth the risk!
Get the Most Heat from a Wood Stove
- A couple laughing near a gas burning stove
There are a number of strategies and accessories you can use to get the most heat from a wood stove. Fans, blowers, and occasionally a hot air distribution system are common ways to extend heat from the unit. Another option is to use the fan setting on your existing HVAC system to help distribute the warm air from the stove.
If you have an HVAC system, it's best to install the gas-burning wood stove near a return air vent. The return vent will suction warm air from the stove into the venting system and redistribute it to far-reaching rooms. This is an inexpensive option since the fan setting on the HVAC system costs the same as running two box fans for small and mid-sized homes.
Hot Air Distribution System
Only a handful of wood-burning and gas-burning wood stove manufacturers permit the use of a hot air distribution system. The distribution systems function similarly to HVAC systems. In some cases, they are a hassle to install.
In new construction, routing the ducting is usually straightforward. Existing construction often poses a challenge since you may need to cut through drywall and flooring. We recommend getting a quote for the labor involved to route the ducting in order to make a decision about whether it is worth it for your home.
Tired of trying to find a comfort zone between stifling hot air and cold drafts? Blowers help distribute heat more evenly so you can enjoy a nice warmth throughout the room. The blowers available for gas burning wood stoves are usually rotary blowers.
The blowers mount toward the back and bottom of the stove. They draw air from near the floor and direct it along the back of the stove and then through a vent on the top. This circulates the heat and helps create a more even temperature. Some blowers operate with a basic on/off switch, but others offer thermostatic control and different fan speeds.
Since blowers for gas burning stoves are similar to ones for wood stoves, you can read our article on wood stove fans for more details on blowers.
Accessories and Components
Freestanding gas stoves may operate like their fireplace counterparts, but they have a unique appearance. Choose from a whole selection of accessories to enhance the decorative aesthetic of your gas burning stove. After all, these stoves aren't just for heating - they also add charming character to your home!
- Kingsman Herringbone Refractory Liner
Interior brick or reflective liners are available for many stoves, depending on the model and design. The liners often have additional sections since the stove interiors tend to be more complex than fireplaces.
- Minuteman wrought iron trivet scroll
Designed to mimic the functional heat sinks of a wood stove, gas stoves sometimes offer different styles or colors of integral trivets.
- Side shelf on wood stove
Some stove models offer accessory side shelves that bolt to the side of the stove body. The shelves add a unique look and make the stove more of a focal point.
- Empire Vent Free Cast Iron Stove on a hearth pad
While not usually required for gas stoves, hearth pads make the stove look more authentic.
How to Vent a Gas Stove
Because stoves are free-standing, direct vent and b-vent models have their venting systems exposed in the room. (Obviously venting is not a consideration for vent-free stoves.) This is the main difference between gas fireplaces and gas stoves, since fireplaces conceal the venting.
We'll start with direct vent stoves. As with direct vent fireplaces, they use a co-axial (pipe within a pipe) design. In almost all cases, direct vent stoves are rated for a variety of vent pipes. It's important to use the correct adapter for the venting system you select.
Many direct vent stoves have the venting collar positioned at a 45-degree angle on the back of the stove. This allows an elbow to attach vertically or horizontally depending on the venting configuration.
Some manufacturers offer a purpose-built venting kit for certain models. The kit is placed against an outside wall and vented horizontally. One example is the Napoleon Direct Vent Cast Iron Stove that can vent directly through the wall with this venting system.
- Majestic natural gas stove
If the stove is to be vented vertically, manufacturers of stove pipe offer black painted pipe sections and support to give it a finished look. The components are modeled after wood stove venting for a more authentic style. Because their flue gas temperatures are lower than wood burning stoves, gas stoves can be tucked closer to a combustible wall. Some models only require an inch of clearance.
- Venting pipes
A B-vent pipe is less expensive than direct vent pipe. You can use approved high-temperature paint to paint the b-vent pipe to match the stove. You can also enclose the b-vent pipe in a generic 6-inch stovepipe for aesthetic purposes. Unlike direct vent systems, b-vent pipe must be installed vertically. Some direct vent stoves can be vented with low-cost b-vent piping using a specialized adapter on the flue collar. This modifies the stove to pull combustion air from the room like a b-vent stove.
Care and Maintenance
Because gas burning stoves are freestanding, they are more susceptible to collecting dust and fur in the control valve area of the unit. We recommend gently vacuuming the control and valve area any time you dust and vacuum the room. Dust or fingerprints on the stove body can be wiped away with a cotton cloth and a non-abrasive water-based cleaner.
As always, read the manufacturer's instructions for your particular stove. Gas appliances are famously low-maintenance, but you still need to follow the guidelines for cleaning and regular inspections.
- Shipping facility
Manufacturers usually ship freestanding stoves in a crate to prevent accidental damage. Stoves are seen from all sides when installed, so suppliers go the extra mile to crate, wrap, and insulate the stoves during shipment. The stoves ship via LTL carrier.
Don't forget to inspect your stove for any dents or missing parts before signing off on the delivery. Contact the manufacturer right away if you notice any damage or defects.
Gas burning stoves are all about having the warmth and charm of a stove with the easy maintenance of a gas appliance. With a number of venting options and stove styles, you can find one to suit almost any situation.
We don't recommend converting an existing wood burning stove to gas. However, if you like the aesthetic of wood stoves, there are plenty of gas models that offer an authentic look.
If you have any questions about gas burning wood stoves, please contact our NFI Certified Specialists. We'll be glad to help answer any questions you might have about the models, installation, or venting.
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Gas Stoves Q&A with the NFI Certified Specialists* Please Note: All customer questions are answered by our NFI Certified Specialists free of charge!
21 Questions &
from Acworth, GA asked:
February 9, 2020
Can I use a vented cast iron gas stove outside on a slab, under a covered deck? The deck is about 12 feet higher than the slab.
This would not be a good idea. Cast iron will quickly rust when installed in an outdoor setting, even when placed under a covering.
on February 11, 2020
from Washburn, ND asked:
November 30, 2019
Where can I find a replacement thermocouple for a natural gas B vented stove? The manufacturer is no longer in business and I'm having trouble locating a replacement thermocouple.
Your best bet is to call a local plumber who should be able to provide an aftermarket option for you.
Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional
on December 2, 2019
from Portland, OR asked:
November 29, 2019
Are vent free stoves safe?
We discuss this topic in detail here
on November 29, 2019
from Madera, CA asked:
November 28, 2019
How can I make my Napoleon natural gas stone more efficient?
If you are asking about a natural gas stove, it would depend on the type of hearth system. Generally speaking, any tested and listed hearth system will have tested efficiency ratings and this information would have been included with the stove. This information cannot be changed outside of swapping out the product for a more efficient one, so I'd focus on making your home more energy efficient. If this is a freestanding gas stove, you could always add an Ecofan
on November 29, 2019
from Zimmerman, MN asked:
November 7, 2019
I want to heat a basement that is 800 sq ft. What would you recommend for BTU output?
Based on the square footage alone, you would need a stove with a Btu output of 28,000 to heat the space described. Please note that no gas hearth system with a decorative flame should be depended on as a heat source and direct vent gas freestanding stoves are not typically the best option when heating capacity is the primary factor. If you are open to a ventless gas stove, you will have a number of options that would easily heat the space described since ventless gas hearth systems are 99.9 percent efficient.
on November 8, 2019
from Pittsfield, MA asked:
October 31, 2019
Is it really possible to heat an entire 1200 sq ft, two-story house with a natural gas heating stove?
Basically, no, none of our gas stoves - either direct vent or vent-free - should not be relied upon as a heat source for that large of an area. You would need a wood stove for such a purpose.
Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional
on October 31, 2019
from Oconomowoc, WI asked:
October 26, 2019
Can you convert a wood burning stove into a gas stove?
We're sorry, but wood stoves may not be converted to gas stoves for several reasons.
on October 28, 2019
from Coventry, RI asked:
September 30, 2019
How do you remove rust from top grate of a natural gas burning heating stove?
You will want to check with the manufacturer of the stove. You may be able to sand off the rust and use our primer
and Stove Bright paint for gas stoves that you can view here
on October 1, 2019
from firstname.lastname@example.org asked:
September 19, 2019
Do you have gas stoves for a mobile home?
You can find our mobile home approved gas stoves here
and can narrow the search by clicking on propane or natural gas.
on September 20, 2019
from Dayton, WA. asked:
August 30, 2019
How many BTU's are required to heat an 1800 sq. ft. house?
A BTU output of 63,000 would be required to heat an 1800 square foot space with 8' ceiling height.
on September 3, 2019
Is ventless as safe as a direct vent?
A Vent free is safe, but does have it's pros and cons, like a Direct Vent does. Here is a great Article
explaining some of the differences between the two.
on June 12, 2019
from Kalamazoo MI asked:
June 10, 2019
Can a gas fireplace be hooked into your house duct work and fan ?
No, a gas fireplace/stove must have its own dedicated gas vent pipe and its own fan, if applicable.
Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional
on June 11, 2019
from Madras, Orgeon asked:
March 8, 2019
What does vent-free mean? Does it mean no stove pipe?
Vent-free means it operates at a high enough level of efficiency so as to not require venting. You will not need stove pipe.
on March 8, 2019
from 14132 asked:
February 23, 2018
How many BTUs are required to heat a 32ft x 24 ft x 9 ft ceiling room with average insulation?
You will need approximately 30,000 BTUs to heat a room this size.
Tyler M. - NFI Master Hearth Professional
on February 23, 2018
from Grimsley, TN asked:
December 30, 2017
Can I use the class A double and triple wall S.S. 6 inch pipe from my Lopi Answer woodstove for a propane stove? We are going to either get a Lopi liberty or a 40,000 btu or better propane stove. Trying to compare. Had back surgery and its getting hard to bring wood up from the woodshed. I have 2000 sq ft of space to heat.
While you may be able to use the convert the existing class A chimney for use with the coaxial vent needed for a freestanding direct vent stove, any stovepipe used would need to be removed and there are no systems available that will provide heating anywhere near the Btu range needed to heat a 2000 square foot space. Only wood and pellet stoves will heat the space you describe.
on January 2, 2018
from Nevada City, CA asked:
December 23, 2017
Is there such a thing as a combination wood and propane fueled stove?
I'm afraid there is not. You can have a LP log lighter, but no stove that can burn both fuels for heat.
on December 26, 2017
from Tulare, CA asked:
December 21, 2017
We are looking for a replacement gas valve or retrofit kit gas control system for a Majestic model # DV360RFN. We have a Honeywell RV8310 E 1107 natural gas failed valve. Is this something you have?
I'm afraid not. That valve is no longer available and Majestic does not show a suitable replacement for it.
on December 21, 2017
from Boise, ID asked:
December 16, 2017
I am curious to know if there are any duel fuel, wood and natural gas free standing stoves on the market? --Hal
I am not aware of any that are currently on the market. I apologize for any inconvenience.
on December 17, 2017
from Trout Lake, WA asked:
November 24, 2017
I have a Napolean vent free fireplace insert running on propane. When it starts, the valve opens and it takes 5 seconds for the propane to ignite, usually with a woosh, then it runs normally. The pilot is not close to the gas jets, which is the reason for the delay, I guess, but is there an adjustment to ignite the gas quicker? The pilot is fixed and I don't know how to adjust. (Gas pressure is OK, I checked).
There would be no adjustment to ignite the gas faster that I know of.
on November 27, 2017
from CO asked:
September 26, 2017
I have a question about vent free stoves; how are they possible? Where do all the "emissions and gases" go? Thank you
Ventless systems are designed in a way where they provide complete combustion where the only byproducts of this process will be water vapor and carbon dioxide. Please note that you will likely not be able to install a ventless system in your home state of Colorado because most all municipalities in this state have banned ventless systems and your elevation is above 4500'. Ventless systems will not function without frequent outages being experienced at any elevation above 4500', as the thin air will trigger the ODS or "Oxygen Depletion Sensor."
on September 26, 2017
from MA asked:
July 19, 2017
I presently have natural gas logs for ambiance, not heat. Now, I want more heat and visited local chimney stores, viewing stoves and inserts. The stove insert is more intrusive on the floor space: beyond the face of the fireplace. Is that required for the radiant heat without the blowers? Or, is it possible to place the entire stove into the large enough fireplace?
Installing a fireplace insert will be your best option. While you could theoretically install a freestanding gas stove inside of a very large masonry opening, the opening would have to be massive for this to work. To answer your question, some direct vent fireplace inserts would not have to project out onto the hearth in front of the fireplace opening more than an inch or so. When any insert projects out further, a very shallow fireplace opening is normally the cause and this has nothing to do with efficiency or functionality. I would also add that most all direct vent freestanding stoves will provide lesser heating efficiency on average when compared with direct vent gas inserts, if you were choosing between these two options. If you are looking for the best gas hearth system that would work with your fireplace opening measurements, we will need to know the front width, rear width, depth and height of your fireplace opening.
on July 19, 2017
Customer Images of Gas Stoves