Coming Soon: More Efficient, Cleaner Outdoor Wood Boilers

Learn about changes to create cleaner outdoor wood boilers, improvements are underway for the inefficient, air-polluting outdoor wood furnaces on the market today. With the help of the EPA and state governments, we may soon have better boilers from which to choose.
By John Gulland
December 2007/January 2008
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Outdoor wood boilers are undergoing improvements to become cleaner, more efficient sources of heat.
Photo by Vermont Dec


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Say goodbye to the old, inefficient, smoky wood boilers — there may soon be a better option: cleaner outdoor wood boilers. While they are a popular water and space heating device for many rural areas, outdoor wood boilers emit at least 20 times more smoke than Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified woodstoves, and have been virtually unregulated.

Cleaner Outdoor Wood Boilers

Outdoor wood boilers are a popular heating solution in some rural areas, but they’re also controversial. While the boilers are fueled by renewable resources if the wood is sustainably harvested, current designs are woefully inefficient and polluting.

What exactly is an outdoor wood boiler? Also called an outdoor furnace, water stove or outdoor hydronic heater, it looks like a metal-clad shed with a short chimney poking from the roof. It’s basically a large firebox surrounded by a water jacket. Two insulated pipes run underground to the building it heats. One pipe delivers the heated water for space heating and domestic hot water, and the other returns the cooled water to the boiler for reheating. A single boiler also can heat a second building, such as a workshop.

Unlike other heating equipment, outdoor wood boilers have been virtually unregulated. Unfortunately, they emit at least 20 times more smoke than EPA-certified woodstoves, according to the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management.

In a 2005 report, the New York state Environmental Protection Bureau found that wood boilers’ efficiencies range from 28 percent to 55 percent, with an average of 43 percent. The report compared those numbers to efficiencies for EPA-certified woodstoves, which are typically 68 percent to 72 percent.

In response to the smoke pollution problem, the major outdoor wood boiler manufacturers, along with state environmental regulators, helped to write a smoke emissions test standard for outdoor boilers under the auspices of the American Society for Testing and Materials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted similar testing standards and a program which includes emissions guidelines. While the EPA program is voluntary, some states will require all outdoor boilers to meet these new guidelines, or similar standards set by individual states. Vermont, for example, has already adopted their own.

New wood boilers that meet the updated guidelines are already in various stages of development, and if everything goes well, a number of cleaner outdoor wood boilers could be on the market as early as next summer.


For more information on outdoor wood boilers, visit these websites:

www.vtwoodsmoke.org

outdoor wood boilers search results from www.epa.gov

www.woodheat.org








Post a comment below.

 

Gerald Miller
8/3/2012 7:36:35 PM
Earth-Stak Integrated Emission Control Technology Earth Outdoor Wood Furnaces is the First and Only outdoor wood furnace manufacturer to offer integrated emission control technology. ES-100: The Pollution Control Device uses an intelligent catalytic approach. The Earth Bio-Fuel Controller (EBC) manages the device to pre-heat the catalyst, manage power and control oxygen to reduce smoke and combustion gases, especially useful during start-up and reload. This technology is lab-tested and shows an increase of overall furnace efficiency and reduces emissions by up to 90%.*

Jonathan_4
5/1/2009 3:27:57 PM
At Nature's Comfort we are expanding our boiler line to meet these new guidlines by later this year. Most of our current boilers burn extremely clean as they already achieve gasification. Our new units will just have a more efficient gasification system and meet all the new requirements by EPA and UL. I personally use one of our current units and it smokes less than most average fireplaces when it is idling and you can hardly tell it is burning when it is in full burn cycle. I have to look for the heat waves near the chimney to know if it is still burning. I am also getting 18-24 hour burn times when using good aged hard wood. When I burn junk wood I get more like 12-18 hour burns. Burn time efficiency varies based on alot of factors, but I have had several reports from dealers that are similiar. We are also growing and looking for new dealers. If you are interested please let us know. We know some companies are going out of business because of these regulations or other reasons. If you are a dealer of one of those companies, please let us know and we would love to have you on board with us. We offer protected territories, great service, shipping within two weeks (if you need it that fast) ALL YEAR AROUND and great products. We will be happy to give you a list of people who carry us and other brands and they can give you a objective opinion of our boilers. Come visit us at www.naturescomfortllc.com and go to the contact page for info on who to talk to about being a dealer. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan_4
5/1/2009 3:26:54 PM
At Nature's Comfort we are expanding our boiler line to meet these new guidlines by later this year. Most of our current boilers burn extremely clean as they already achieve gasification. Our new units will just have a more efficient gasification system and meet all the new requirements by EPA and UL. I personally use one of our current units and it smokes less than most average fireplaces when it is idling and you can hardly tell it is burning when it is in full burn cycle. I have to look for the heat waves near the chimney to know if it is still burning. I am also getting 18-24 hour burn times when using good aged hard wood. When I burn junk wood I get more like 12-18 hour burns. Burn time efficiency varies based on alot of factors, but I have had several reports from dealers that are similiar. We are also growing and looking for new dealers. If you are interested please let us know. We know some companies are going out of business because of these regulations or other reasons. If you are a dealer of one of those companies, please let us know and we would love to have you on board with us. We offer protected territories, great service, shipping within two weeks (if you need it that fast) ALL YEAR AROUND and great products. We will be happy to give you a list of people who carry us and other brands and they can give you a objective opinion of our boilers. Come visit us at www.naturescomfortllc.com and go to the contact page for info on who to talk to about being a dealer. I look forward to hearing from you.

Dave_6
12/4/2008 12:37:43 PM
There are much cleaner units on the market right now. Take a look at the EPA website and you will see the Aspen by Greenwood. I have one and it works GREAT! It is listed as the cleanest right now that is out there. It also uses half the wood that the older models used to use. Feel free to get in touch with me for more information.

Don_3
11/18/2008 10:04:15 AM
What Shaver Outdoor Wood Furnace doesn't tell you! I bought a Shaver model 290 and had it shipped from the factory to PA. There is a charge for the metal pallet that it is shipped on but you can get a refund if you send it back. Setting the 290 on my concrete slap was more of a hassle than the company leads you to beleive. They say drop a chain down the chimney and use a front end loader to move it. Well the chimney on the 290 isn't in the center of the stove which made moving it very hard. The stove wanted to tip because of the off center weight. I ask them why they didn't put a hook in the center for lifting and they told me it created a weakness in the stove. Yeh right! The exterior sheeting fit and finish needs some improvement. A lot of burs and sharp edges, the corner sheeting is flimsy and the door latch is not a good design. They say to wire up a switch on the front of the stove to turn of the blower before you open the door. Why wouldn't the company either sell the stove with the switch or rework the door so when you open it it trips a switch to shut off the blower! The cheap plastic motion light lasted about a week before I had to replace it. I bought the 290 to hook up to two different buildings. The hookups in the back of the 290 are both on the same side, make it very tight to install two circulators and all the plumbing. Why wouldn't they put one on each side! In conclusion I would not recommand a Shaver Outsoor Wood Furnace to my friends. Shaver makes a big deal out of the fact that their stoves are the best. I think this claim is based on the fact that their stoves are 3/8" thick fire box and 1/4" thick water jacket. My 290 should last me a long time but I think the company falls short on the other aspects of their stove. Do your research and buy from a local dealer and save yourself a lot of headaches.

Brian Schlattman
10/6/2008 1:08:40 PM
I have found the aqua-therm outdoor wood boiler to suit my needs and they are coming out with energy eff.units. Burnwoodnotmoney.com

callie_1
1/14/2008 11:47:03 AM
outdoor wood gasification furnaces are available and are only awaiting final EPA approval, which should happen by the end of Jan 08. these units can be ordered factory direct from www.woodgasificationfurnace.com these are the hybrid green furnace of the future that are available NOW. call 877 904 8424 for more info.








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