Helpful Things | Gas Appliance Basics | NW Natural Appliance Center


Here is some helpful information and answers to questions that customers frequently ask.
How do I get my appliance installed?

We can help! Call 503-220-2362 or visit us any time. Our retail showroom is open to the public, designers and builders– no appointment is necessary. We can help you with questions regarding Energy Trust Rebates.

What is a Zero Clearance Fireplace?

Your newly remodeled family room would be just perfect if only you had a fireplace as a focal point. Or tops on your wish list for your newly built home is an efficient gas fireplace.

What you may be shopping for is known as a ‘zero clearance’ gas fireplace.

Zero Clearance refers to the fireplace needing little or no space between the fireplace and the combustible building materials surrounding it. These models are built specifically to suit those conditions.

Otherwise you’d have to go through the time and expense of installing a wood-burning fireplace and then retrofit that with a gas insert or logs.

Generally speaking, there are two ‘families’ within this product line. You’ll find ‘decorative’ models in many new homes – they’re there to be a fireplace, but heat production (and efficiency) is not the primary concern.

There are also heater rated models – these usually have additional features, including greater efficiency. Put it this way: a decorative model will cost about 30-cents per hour for about 50% efficiency; a heater rated model will also cost about 30-cents per hour, but the efficiency will be closer to 80% so you get more useable heat.

There are dozens of models to choose from – large and imposing for a great room, smaller and more shallow in depth for those situations where you don’t want the fireplace to take up too much floor space.

Don’t forget to allow for the depth – the fireplace pictured here may look flat, but it’s 21 1/2 inches deep. If you want to save floor space, you could put the fireplace flush to an outside wall and build a chase out around it.

Or you can choose to frame in the fireplace, keeping everything spare or hanging a floating mantel above the fireplace. Or you could buy or build a mantel cabinet around it. Options abound.

Interested in getting Natural Gas service?

If you don’t currently have natural gas service in your home and are thinking about acquiring service, we are a good place to start.

The NW Natural Appliance Center can show you some great cooking and heating options for your home. We’ll explain the new service procedure then get you matched up with a NW Natural New Service Representative who will guide you through the process.

Using gas as a primary fuel saves you a bundle in energy dollars. With a traditional gas tank water heater, you’ll save up to 50 percent of your fuel costs over electricity (in the Portland metro area). Similar savings are available with both gas furnaces and gas dryers.

Actually, the only gas appliance we can’t say that about is a cooking stove – no one’s actually been able to successfully figure out an ‘average’ cooking cycle. Even so, cooking with gas is standard in most professional kitchens.

We take great pride in helping people enjoy the benefits of natural gas service. Warm fireplaces, convenient gas cooking ranges, tankless water heaters and beautiful gas grills are some of the things that you can look forward to in your natural gas home.

Click here to visit the NW Natural page on residential gas conversion

Cooking with Gas

Come on, you know you wanna….Ever thought about all those restaurant chefs busy tossing, flipping, stirring over those big beefy restaurant burners? It’s the control that cooking with gas gives them – hot is hot, off is off….and all the temperatures in between.

While you may not want the hassle of trying to install a true restaurant range in your kitchen (can you say structure reinforcement, completely non-combustible walls and surfaces, massive venting?) many of today’s gas ranges come pretty close to commercial strength.

With gas, you’ll want at least one range burner 12-thousand BTUs or better. It’s not unusual to find burners capable of 15-thousand, or 18-thousand BTUs or even higher. For some folks, one of the biggest knocks against cooking on gas is you can’t turn the burner low enough…many ranges now have low, low, low simmer burners.

30″ is the standard size for ranges, but with many of the premier manufacturers, 36″, 48″ and even 60″ ranges are possible with a number of different burner configurations possible. You could get a griddle, a grill or even a step-top where the burners are on two different levels.

All ranges require ventilation these days and we sell vent hoods from Broan and Vent-a-Hood that will cover just about any need. If you’ve never had a gas range, and you need an installer, we can help with that, too.

Electronic Ignition vs Standing Pilot Light

So which is better? Does it make a difference in how my fireplace operates – and can I still use it in a power outage?

Gas fireplaces have traditionally used a standing pilot light to ignite the flames. Because that system does not use external electricity, the fireplace works if the power goes out.

Newer generations of gas fireplaces use an electronic ignition system, requiring electricity to start up.

In the event of a power outage, though, these fireplaces will work on battery back-up so you’ll stay toasty warm!

Electronic ignition fireplaces save you the cost of running a pilot light 24/7, usually about $8 to $10 a month. An additional perk is that they may qualify for a rebate from the Energy Trust of Oregon.

So what about those of us with the traditional pilot lights? At this time, there is not a retro-fit electronic ignition system available.

Gas logs or a gas insert?

There’s more than one type of appliance you can use to convert your woodburning fireplace to gas. So how do you know which one would be best for your home?

Gas logs reserve the open look of your fireplace and usually provide big, beautiful flames. They’re perfect for an occasional fire.

In most cases, they’re match lit, although there are remote controls which would mean you’d have a standing pilot light so you can ignite the logs with either a special wall switch or remote.

With all vented gas log sets, glass doors, if you have them, must be wide open and the damper completely open for safe operation.

In either case, logs are considered a decorative appliances, both for their overall efficiency and cost per hour.

A log set mimics the efficiency of your woodburning fireplace, meaning they’re about 10 percent efficient and can cost anywhere from 75-cents to $1.25 an hour to use, depending on the size (BTUs) of the burner under the logs.

The more BTUs you’re using, the higher the cost. If you have a pilot kit on the log set, figure about $8 to $10 dollars a month for the pilot light.

A gas insert, on the other hand is a sealed unit with a permanent glass face. You can see the logs and flames, and the manufacturers often offer screens or ‘operable’ doors to disguise the glass.

Right off the bat, your efficiency pops up to about 80-percent and since inserts use a lot less gas than log sets, usually run about 40 to 45 cents per hour. That’s why we’re able to call inserts an efficient room heater or zone heater.

Traditionally, inserts have used a standing pilot light to ignite the flames – most of the new models are equipped with electronic ignition, so you save the cost of running the pilot light. They still work in a power outage with battery back-up.

If you need extra heat for a large room, or you spend most of your time where the fireplace is, an insert may be the best choice for you.

When shopping for either appliance, it’s helpful to know the dimensions of your fireplace opening – height, width and depth from the center to the back. The measurements will help you select the appropriately sized equipment.

Happy shopping!

Kozy Heat Fireplaces

We are pleased to announce that we have added Kozy Heat to our line of Fireplaces and Inserts.

Stay warm this winter

Save up to $950 in incentives through May 31, 2018.

Upgrade your home with a beautiful natural gas fireplace that’s easy to install and easy on your pocketbook.