Facts about wood burning and corn burning outdoor furnaces.

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Information about outdoor furnaces, emissions standards, and industry terms.Myths vs. Facts: Common Myths about Outdoor Furnaces

 
MYTH:The EPA has no plans to regulate outdoor wood furnaces or other types of exempt wood heating appliances.
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MYTH: Outdoor wood furnaces are dirty and produce more emissions than other wood burning devices.
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MYTH:European wood heating appliances emissions can be directly compared to U.S. wood heating appliances.
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MYTH: Outdoor furnaces provide the least economical source of heating energy.
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MYTH: Wood heat is bad for the environment.
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MYTH: Outdoor furnaces are a nuisance to neighbors.
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MYTH: Outdoor furnaces are not safe.
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MYTH: Outdoor furnaces are personal trash incinerators.
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MYTH: Manufacturers do not care where outdoor furnaces are installed or how they are used.
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MYTH: All outdoor wood furnace stacks are short.
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MYTH: Outdoor wood furnaces smolder and smoke 24/7.
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MYTH: Several states have banned the use of outdoor wood furnaces.
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MYTH: Outdoor wood furnaces are a significant factor in the overall PM (particulate matter) emissions total.
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MYTH: The EPA has no plans to regulate outdoor wood furnaces or other types of exempt wood heating appliances.

FACT: Currently the EPA is in the process of revising the Federal Regulations that are applicable to indoor wood stoves referred to as the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). The EPA plans to Federally Regulate outdoor wood furnaces and a host of other types of previously exempt wood heating appliances possibly by 2013, according to the USEPA.

Information from the EPA’s Presentation at HPBExpo in the Manufacturer’s Government Affairs Meeting on March 2, 2011:

Residential Wood Heaters - New Source Performance Standards (NSPS)

Current Draft Revisions

EPA 2010 Phase 2 Voluntary Program Qualifying Level

  • 0.32 lb / mmBTU heat output
  • 23 EPA-qualified models already
  • Typical State 2010 regulatory level
  • 0.32 lb / mmBTU heat output
Draft NSPS limits for PM
  • 0.32 lb / mmBTU heat output for outdoor HH in 2013 and indoor in 2014

MYTH: Outdoor wood furnaces are dirty and produce more emissions than other wood burning devices.

FACT: When tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1995, Central Boiler’s non-qualified outdoor wood furnace was found to have similar emissions as wood stoves: EPA 600/SR-98/017: "Compared to a wide range of residential heating options, these furnaces' emissions were of the same order as other stick wood burning appliances."

On January 29, 2007, the US EPA announced a voluntary emission reduction program for the outdoor wood furnace industry. This is the first program that had ever been developed and made available for this class of wood heating appliance. The EPA OWHH (Outdoor Wood-fired Hydronic Heater) Phase 1 Program included a test method (Test Method 28 OWHH) and an emissions limit of 0.60 lbs/million Btu of heat input. The Phase 1 Program ended on March 31, 2010.

On October 23, 2008, the US EPA announced the EPA HH (Hydronic Heater) Phase 2 Program which includes Test Method 28 OWHH and ASTM E2618 and E2515 and an emissions limit that must be met in order to participate in the program. The US EPA announced Phase 2 of the voluntary emission reduction program for wood and wood pellet furnaces with an emission limit of 0.32 lbs/million Btu of heat output. The Hydronic Heaters that meet the program requirements are referred to as “Program Qualified.” Appliances that are EPA Phase 2 Program Qualified have a EPA Phase 2 Program Hangtag (White).

In order to meet an output based emission limit the appliance must be very clean and extremely efficient. Very few indoor EPA certified woodstoves would be able to meet the EPA Phase 2 output based emission limit (0.32 lbs/million Btu output). This is the first time that EPA established a requirement that a wood heating appliance not only had to be clean but also efficient.

Central Boiler makes significant investments in research and development to create and bring to market new and innovative designs that increase efficiency and environmental performance of outdoor furnaces. To provide even cleaner, more efficient energy, Central Boiler has created many industry firsts, including its Ripple Top® design and HeatLock Baffle®, as well as new outdoor furnace models that run on clean burning wood pellets, the first EPA OWHH Phase 1 Program Qualified Model and the first EPA HH Phase 2 Program Qualified Model.


MYTH: European wood heating appliances emissions can be directly compared to U.S. wood heating appliances.

FACT: The particulate emission CANNOT be directly compared. The testing methods are different. The European and U.S. testing protocols use different particulate sampling methods for capturing particles/dust. The European test method only samples a portion of a single burn rate category. The U.S. Standard involves comprehensive sampling during 100% of the test for all four burn rate categories.


MYTH: Outdoor furnaces provide the least economical source of heating energy.

FACT: On the contrary, outdoor furnaces are a cost-effective source of heating energy. Owners who cut their own wood, or can obtain free wood as fuel, can entirely eliminate their heating bills. Over a 10-year period, a homeowner or business may save $10,000 to $50,000 or more on heating costs.


MYTH: Wood heat is bad for the environment.

FACT: Biomass fuels, such as wood, are "carbon neutral," which means they do not generate a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, as do fossil fuel generated electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, and coal. Heating with renewable resources, such as wood, lessens our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil. In fact, heating an average home with wood can save enough nonrenewable fossil fuel to operate an automobile for a full year.


MYTH: Outdoor furnaces are a nuisance to neighbors.

FACT: When installed and operated properly, Central Boiler outdoor furnaces provide a safe, cost-effective and environmentally responsible alternative for home heating. Central Boiler worked closely with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) (E2618), EPA (Test Method 28 OWHH and Method 28 WHH) on testing standards and with state and local governments on appropriate regulations to prevent and/or correct misuse of outdoor wood furnaces – including burning anything other than the manufacturer's listed fuels and operating with too short of a chimney – to encourage cleaner burning wood furnaces, and to implement Best Burn Practices.

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MYTH: Outdoor furnaces are not safe.

FACT: Outdoor furnaces eliminate the threat of devastating chimney fires and dangerous smoke and carbon monoxide buildup (or oxygen depletion) associated with burning wood indoors. Outdoor furnaces are the safest, most efficient way to heat with wood. Users of outdoor wood furnaces have reported that eliminating use of indoor wood stoves has alleviated respiratory and allergy problems caused by indoor wood burning. In addition, some insurance companies prefer outdoor wood burning furnaces over indoor wood stoves because they remove the fire hazard from the home.


MYTH: Outdoor furnaces are personal trash incinerators.

FACT: Central Boiler outdoor furnaces are designed to burn seasoned wood, wood pellets. There are existing laws in some areas that prohibit the burning of trash that can be enforced against someone who burns trash in any device. Burning materials other than the fuels recommended by the manufacturer is not only bad for the environment; it is harmful to the furnace. Central Boiler forbids this practice and furnaces are posted with clear warnings not to burn trash. In addition, Central Boiler warns against burning materials such as plastics, gasoline, rubber, naphtha, household garbage, material treated with petroleum products (particle board, railroad ties and pressure treated wood), leaves, paper products and cardboard. Central Boiler works to educate distributors and users about Best Burn Practices.


MYTH: Manufacturers do not care where outdoor furnaces are installed or how they are used.

FACT: Central Boiler works to educate distributors and users on proper burning practices to create clean, safe and efficient heat. Central Boiler and its distributors educate purchasers of Central Boiler furnaces about the importance of proper siting, chimney height and fuel and provide a Best Burn Practices policy.


MYTH: All outdoor wood furnace stacks are short.

FACT: Central Boiler recommends that outdoor furnace chimneys meet recommended height requirements, Best Burn Practices height recommendations, or Central Boiler owner’s manual height specifications.

Since the mid 1980's, Central Boiler owner’s manuals have stated, "In areas of higher population it is necessary to extend the chimney to a height above the roofs of surrounding buildings."

Stack height illustratons: Example 1


MYTH: Outdoor wood furnaces smolder and smoke 24/7.

FACT: When used properly, outdoor wood furnaces produce similar emissions as wood stoves. For example, when the damper is closed and a proper emissions test is conducted, the emissions are virtually immeasurable because the air flow through the firebox and chimney of the outdoor wood furnace has been shut off. The damper can be shut off for periods over many hours under normal operating conditions.


MYTH: Several states have banned the use of outdoor wood furnaces.

FACT: No state has banned the use or installation of outdoor wood furnaces.

The States of Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania New York, Rhode Island, Oregon and Indiana regulate outdoor furnaces regarding emissions, and may include other requirements such as setbacks, chimney height and proper fuel use requirements.

Connecticut regulates outdoor wood furnaces for setbacks, chimney height and proper fuel use requirements but does not specifically regulate particulate emissions.

Here are some State Regulations (as of September 2011). Always check applicable codes and regulations before installing.


MYTH: Outdoor wood furnaces are a significant factor in the overall PM (particulate matter) emissions total.

FACT: Currently, there are 16 million fireplaces in use in the United States and they are not regulated according to EPA. There are 10 million indoor wood stoves according to EPA, and 75-80 percent of them are not EPA certified and are exempt from emissions regulation.

There are millions more wood burning appliances including indoor wood furnaces, recreational wood burning devices and other unregulated wood burning appliances, such as barrel stoves. Currently, there are approximately 200,000 outdoor wood furnaces in use, which is less than 1 percent of the wood burning appliances being used in the U.S. When all wood burning appliances are compared to the hundreds of millions of automobiles and industrial emissions sources, wood burning is a very small fraction of the total PM emissions.


 
References to outdoor wood furnaces do not necessarily refer to all furnaces manufactured by any manufacturer; in many cases the available data relates to furnaces manufactured by specific manufacturers, including Central Boiler, Inc. Some of the information presented herein is, in part, based on the conclusions drawn by Central Boiler, Inc. from a variety of data and reports, including reports published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.



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