Clearing the Air: Outdoor Wood Boilers Face Regulation

Clearing the Air: Outdoor Wood Boilers Face Regulation

Photo by the VT Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Tom Powers, a retired Air Force tech sergeant and a member of the Peru Town Council, keeps an eye on a wide range of issues that affect this northeastern New York town – zoning problems, the local water supply, road maintenance. Over the last couple of years, one of the top items on his agenda has been the plumes of smoke rising from a dozen backyard wood boilers in the town.

A couple of these wood boilers are right in the hamlet of Peru, about 750 homes lying along the banks of the Little Ausable River. The others are dotted around town, an 80-square-mile swatch of rolling woods, farms, and apple orchards about 10 miles south of Plattsburg. On a chilly, matte-gray day earlier this winter, all of them appeared to be in operation, smoke spiraling lazily into the lowering clouds.

These outdoor boilers burn wood – and almost anything else – and typically supply heat to one or more buildings at far less cost than it takes to heat a house or barn or greenhouse with fuel oil or propane, a disparity that grows as the cost of oil goes up.
The smoke, however, is a very serious problem. Most outdoor wood boilers are primitive from an engineering perspective – simply metal boxes surrounded by a small water jacket. The wood burns in the box and heats the water, which is circulated to the building. If it’s inconvenient for the owner to tend the boiler, he or she can load it with fuel every 12 to 24 hours or so and adjust the thermostat so it will deliver a steady trickle of heat all day.

Burned in this fashion, the fire simply smolders for much of its burn cycle, sending smoke wafting out of the stack. The stacks are usually quite short, roughly half the height of the roofline of a two-story house, which means that the smoke can form a pall near the ground. If there are nearby neighbors, their homes can be invaded by the smoke. The problem is exacerbated when operators burn green or wet wood, or, worse still, things like garbage or old tires, which some of them do.

At the same time, outdoor boilers potentially are a very cost-effective way to utilize firewood, of which there is an enormous supply, especially in the heavily forested areas of the northern tier of the United States. Furthermore, burning wood for fuel is sustainable because wood, unlike coal or oil, is a renewable resource. Replacing those fuels with wood reduces the user’s “carbon footprint” and thereby decreases global warming. And these boilers can be made to burn cleanly. Some producers have developed boilers with drastically reduced emissions and increased burning efficiencies. These cost more to install, but savings from more efficient use of fuel help earn back the initial investment.

These factors – the threat from low-lying wood smoke, the prospect of big financial savings, and potential environmental benefits – have combined to form a highly contentious public issue. Some states, including Vermont and Maine and, farther west, Michigan and Washington, have established strict constraints on boiler emissions. New York is now developing a statewide regulation. Meanwhile, many town governments, particularly in New York and Massachusetts, have moved on their own to regulate outdoor boilers.

In response, the wood-boiler industry has mounted an aggressive campaign to protect its right to continue to produce boilers of all types, including the poorly engineered, smokier units.

Heating with wood

For a process whose roots lie well back into prehistory, burning wood to generate heat can be surprisingly complex. In this country, we began with fireplaces, where much of the heat went straight up the chimney, and then we moved to various types of indoor stoves. The generation of woodstoves that appeared in the mid-1960s was not a whole lot more efficient than fireplaces. The fact that they could be damped down – deprived of a full supply of air – meant that a homeowner could load them up, choke off the air flow, and then get a more or less steady flow of heat for hours.

Choking off the air supply, however, is an inefficient way to get heat out of fuel and also a very dirty one: these stoves were generating a lot of smoke and pollution, and that was a major problem. In a town like Waterbury, Vermont, which lies in a bowl of hills along the Winooski River, a temperature inversion in winter could trap the smoke near ground level and make the town almost uninhabitable.

Photo by VT Dept. of Environmental Conservation

In response to the public outcry over this issue, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued rules in 1988 that forced manufacturers of wood stoves to improve their products. The older stoves, pre-EPA-certification, would typically emit 40 to 60 grams of fine particulates into the air every hour. After manufacturers were required to meet EPA standards, the allowable limit was set first at 8.5 grams per hour; in 1990, that limit was cut to 7.5 grams per hour (4.1 grams for catalytic stoves). So, to stay in business, manufacturers completely re-engineered woodstoves with catalytic converters or improved air flow to burn wood efficiently and cleanly.

These regulations, however, exempted wood-fired central heating appliances, including outdoor wood boilers. When manufacturers recently began to ramp up production of these devices, many of them used the same old inefficient box technology of the banned indoor woodstoves, which is simpler and less expensive to make – and just as smoky as the banned woodstoves.

Even the cleanest-burning woodstove emits some pollutants, which can include soot, fly ash, creosote, and heavy metals. These chemicals can be very dangerous in and of themselves, but perhaps the greatest danger from wood smoke is that the particles produced can be very small, smaller than 2.5 microns. A micron is a millionth of a meter, and 2.5 microns is roughly one-20th the diameter of a human hair. When a person breathes in these tiny particles, they go deep into the lungs, bypassing the normal protective structures of the airway that capture bigger particles. Any particles less than one micron in size not only enter the deepest part of the lungs but also go directly into the bloodstream. A growing body of medical research shows that these particles are carcinogenic and dangerous to human health.

Proven technology

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are outdoor boilers on the market that can burn wood with negligible emissions and minimal danger to public health, producing smoke that is even cleaner than that of the newer, EPA-certified indoor woodstoves. One of these is the Garn boiler, produced by the Dectra Corporation of St. Anthony, Minnesota. The Garn, which when standing out in the open resembles a miniature railroad tank car, is built of heavy steel and is well insulated. The main combustion chamber is a rather small box that sits inside of a large pool of water, which acts as a heat sink.

Air is sucked into the unit by a constantly turning fan and is divided into two streams before it enters an insulated combustion chamber. The bottom stream goes right through the burning logs and engenders a very hot fire. The second stream passes over the top of the combustion chamber and gathers the volatile gases being given off by the burning logs. That stream enters a secondary combustion chamber, where these gases are themselves burned. The exhaust that remains, much of it water vapor, then traverses a serpentine exhaust system running through the water pool, which wrings even more heat out of it.

This type of wood-gasification boiler solves the emissions problem by addressing the fundamental physics of the issue, namely that the burning of wood and the storage of heat need to be handled in two separate stages. In order for wood to be burned efficiently, it needs a well-insulated firebox with lots of airflow to achieve high temperature combustion. In order for the resulting heat to be utilized effectively, it requires a large storage reservoir that can hold the heat between firings. Rather than smoldering away, therefore, a Garn is burned hotter (and less frequently) than the low-tech smoky boilers, whose design places a small reservoir of cold water directly against the firebox.

Illustration by Susan Margolis
Short chimney heights (compared with house chimneys) and smoldering
wood create serious air pollution. Illustration based on
Smoke Gets in
Your Lungs: Outdoor Wood Boilers in New York State. Environmental
Protection Bureau of the Attorney General of New York State, 2005.

For comparison, the water reservoir in Garn boilers range from 1,400 to 3,200 gallons, depending on the model. Those in the smoky variety range from 140 to 400 gallons. The efficiency ratings of the two types of boilers bear out the Garn approach. According to New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, the efficiency of the older outdoor wood boilers currently operating in the state ranges from 28 to 50 percent, with an average of 43 percent. That means that for every two logs you put on the fire, the heat from at least one full log goes up the chimney. EPA-certified woodstoves, by contrast, run from 68 to 72 percent, obviously much better. The efficiency of the Garn outdoor boiler, meanwhile, exceeds the EPA standard for woodstoves.

The rub, of course, is the price. According to Eric Johnson, editor of The Northern Logger magazine and moderator of an online discussion forum on wood-fired boilers, wood gasifiers range in price from less than $5,000 at the low end to more than $10,000 for a Garn. “Bear in mind that there are substantial installation costs for these boilers as well as the relatively high initial purchase price,” Johnson said. “You have to take into account things like piping, a chimney or chimney liner, optional hot water storage, heat exchangers and other equipment and parts needed to mate a wood gasifier to your existing home heating system.” Johnson added that the hot water storage is already included in the Garn design.

Setting standards

Since the 1970s, the air quality divisions of the six New England states plus New York and New Jersey have been working together as a group on solutions to emission problems. This group, called NESCAUM (Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management) has turned its attention to wood boilers and has produced a model rule that it recommends to any government body trying to regulate outdoor boilers.

In essence, the rule aims at making the boilers approximately as clean-burning as EPA-approved indoor woodstoves. The devices are not entirely comparable, however, and NESCAUM and others interested in the outdoor wood boiler industry have developed a different set of measurement standards: indoor woodstove emissions are measured in grams of fine particulate per hour, while outdoor boilers are assessed in terms of pounds of particulates per one million BTU (British Thermal Units) of heat produced inside the boiler.

The NESCAUM emission standard was set at 0.44 pounds of particulates per one million BTUs produced in the boiler (not delivered to the house). The EPA has set a guideline (unlike a standard, a guideline is not enforceable) for outdoor boilers of 0.60 pounds per million BTUs. Most regulations now in effect or being adopted in the region use one or the other of these two numbers. By 2010, the NESCAUM model also calls for an even tighter standard to be adopted: 0.32 pounds per million BTUs.

These emission level provisions are central to the issue, and controversial, because once adopted by a state, they would force a manufacturer of traditional smoky boilers to either redesign its units or retreat from the field.


Other provisions that NESCAUM recommends include standards for setbacks from roads and neighbors, guidelines for opacity of smoke (another indicator of how cleanly a boiler is operating), and minimum smokestack heights to protect against particulate emission. Low smokestack heights have been a particularly vexing issue since, unlike indoor woodstoves, whose chimneys are required to be taller than the surrounding roof and whose tops are generally 20 to 30 feet above the ground, the typical outdoor boiler comes with a stack more in the 10- to 12-foot-high range.

As important as these NESCAUM constraints are, an equally important provision of the model rule is that it applies to manufacturers, not to the individuals who buy and operate the boilers. Just as with woodstoves, no one expects some government employee to go around checking on the volume of smoke coming out of a backyard stack. The rule envisions that governments will set up certification systems that manufacturers will have to comply with in order to sell their units in that jurisdiction.

A rule incorporating much of the NESCAUM model goes into effect in Vermont on March 31, 2008. The emission standard will be 0.44 pounds of particulates per million BTUs and will improve to 0.32 pounds in 2010. Maine’s law goes into effect at the same time, but using the EPA’s emission standard of 0.60 pounds rather than 0.44. Maine will, however, also go to 0.32 pounds in the spring of 2010. Both states have setback and stack height provisions.

Many towns in other states in the Northeast, meanwhile, are imposing restrictions of their own; these vary widely in detail and effectiveness. At least 20 towns in Massachusetts have instituted at least some controls. Several towns in the eastern Adirondacks are among the more than 50 communities in New York that have either done so or are considering it. In early January 2008, for example, the town of Essex, New York, adopted a rigorous, multi-pronged law for their community.

Ron Jackson, the town administrator in Essex, said that the issue had been very contentious but after several public discussions, there was a strong consensus that something had to be done. The final ordinance was one of the strictest adopted by a single community.

Out in the countryside, any new boiler will have to meet the 0.44 pound per million BTU standard. This will eliminate many of the units currently on the market. The operator will have to burn seasoned wood, or other high-quality fuel such as corn, wheat, soybeans, or wood pellets. In the historic district, a hamlet surrounding the ferry dock on Lake Champlain, the boilers are banned entirely; the reason, Jackson says, is that the houses are very close together and at a low elevation, so temperature inversions cause smoke to sit down among the houses.

In the rest of the hamlet and running along the shoreline north and south of the ferry dock, there are setback requirements. Any neighbor within 500 feet of a proposed boiler would have to agree in writing not to object. Finally, in this district – between the open farmland and the historic district, mostly right along the lake shore – boiler operation would be banned from May to September.

Other towns are still struggling with the issue. In Jay, a small town in the high peaks of the Adirondacks, Randy Douglas, the town administrator, said his community has held a public hearing on the issue but has not decided what to do. They have set up a committee to seek a compromise between supporters and opponents of regulation.


“One of the problems is what people are burning in them,” Douglas said of the boilers. “You’re supposed to burn dry wood…I’ve seen with my own eyes the black smoke rolling right out of them, and it leads me to believe they were burning something other than wood – construction debris or garbage or whatever. People are desperate,” he continued. “Fuel oil is expensive, and people are burning whatever they can to keep their stoves going.”

The fact is, however, that developing regulations at the local level is particularly tough, socially and politically. Tom Powers in Peru, New York, is acutely conscious of that every day. There were half a dozen boilers in town in 2007 when Peru enacted a moratorium on outdoor boilers and set up a committee to work on it.

“I don’t believe the town wants to ban them,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see them in the hamlet, but if they were in the back woods, it wouldn’t matter.”

The members of the Town Council know all the residents who operate the boilers in town, including within the hamlet. In a small town, it’s hard to say no to your friends and neighbors. That’s true even though Peru is unusual in having a local law on the books requiring any Peru resident to get a town permit before installing any heating device, even in the house. Of the dozen boilers now in town, only one has such a permit. Will the Town Council move against these illegal boilers? Powers just doesn’t know.

The battle heats up

Estimates of the number of boilers operating nationwide run from 150,000 to 200,000, with very rapid growth. There are dozens of manufacturers, many of whom are represented by a national trade association, the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, which has mounted an all-out defense of their members’ right to continue to produce and sell even the smokiest boilers. Advocates for regulation, they charge, are simply trying to stop people from heating with wood.

The largest of the U.S. manufacturers is Central Boiler, Inc., of Greenbush, Minnesota. Rick Kezar, sales and marketing director for Central, declined to disclose the emission figures for the company’s Classic boilers, one of the most popular units on the market, but he denied flatly that they were a problem. He also acknowledged, however, that the Central Classic boilers could not meet the 2008 Vermont or Maine emission standards.

Advocates for regulation are betting that the tightened standards will lead to very sharp upgrades in technology and that air quality will benefit from that. In fact, Dick Valentinetti, the director of the Air Pollution Control Division of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation, notes that Central Boiler has designed a boiler that would qualify for certification under the new Vermont law. At the time this story went to press, however, there was some question of whether Central Boiler’s “E-Classics” were yet available for purchase.

Valentinetti said that he did not think that there would be any governmental moves to eliminate old smokers that are already in place. Instead, they would be grandfathered in. Adam Sherman, an analyst at the Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC) in Montpelier, Vermont, says he worries about manufacturers dumping as many of their early boilers on consumers as possible before the regulations take effect.

Phil Etter, environmental analyst for the Vermont Air Pollution Control Division, said that there are a number of technical issues surrounding testing of the emissions and efficiency of outdoor wood boilers, but that these are on their way to resolution. Once those are resolved, he says, there will be no problem delineating high-quality boilers, with advanced technology, from the old-style smokers.

Community boiler

Photo by Phil Rice
Alan Keitt feeds the Garn outdoor wood
boiler at Cobb Hill in Hartland, Vermont.

One of the most striking demonstrations that it’s possible to generate heat sustainably and cleanly with an outdoor wood boiler can be found at a place called Cobb Hill in Hartland, Vermont, a 270-acre farm lying in a bowl of hills a few miles west of the Connecticut River. Cobb Hill is a co-housing project, comprised of about 20 families, with 40 or so adults and 20 children. On the valley floor, the residents operate a farm that produces vegetables, turkeys, meat chickens, honey, maple syrup, and a herd of Jersey cows that supports a thriving cheese business. Also on the site is the Sustainability Institute, which does research on systems issues.

The residents live in a necklace of homes that climb a steep rib of Cobb Hill northwest of the valley floor. The organization and ethos that guide the group reflects the vision of the late Donella Meadows, a systems analyst at Dartmouth College, who was one of the project’s co-founders.

About halfway up the hill, roughly in the middle of the housing units, both duplexes and single-family homes, is a low building that houses a Garn outdoor wood boiler and 60 cords of firewood. This boiler provides 85 percent of the annual heat and hot water needs for 19 single-family homes, three apartments, and a common house for the community. The remaining heat is supplied by propane. A back-of-the envelope calculation shows the annual cost to be around $400 per family. By contrast, the Federal Energy Information agency estimates that the typical per-family heating cost in the Northeast in the winter of 2008 will exceed $2,000. One-fifth of the cost, and of course, the Garn produces minimal emissions.

The Cobb Hill boiler does exact a social cost that couldn’t be met by the ordinary residential boiler operator. The co-housing group assigns a resident to monitor the maintenance needs of the machine, checking things like its gaskets and other mechanical parts, and watching the fuel use. The current monitor is a retired physician, Alan Keitt; he is backed up by his predecessor, Phil Rice, an analyst at the Sustainability Institute.

In very cold weather, the Cobb Hill residents add fuel to the boiler every hour for 19 of the 24 hours in the day, which is part of the shared responsibilities. Loading the boiler, however, is very simple. Open the door, throw two or three chunks of 30-inch-long firewood onto the bed of coals, close the door, and you’re done. And the one boiler is heating 23 family units.

“We could have gotten a pellet boiler (with automatic feed),” Rice said. “But chunk wood is local and it has much less embodied energy than wood pellets. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing,” he continued. “If you just want to turn on a thermostat, don’t heat with wood. When you handle the wood that heats your house, it closes a cycle in your mind. People who move here from the city now appreciate how the whole heating system works. I think that’s critical.”

Rice said that getting the five-A.M. shift enriches his life. “It’s my time to see Orion, the great winter constellation. I see it at night when it’s coming up, and then, at 5 A.M. I see it going down. I get to see some glorious things.”

Whether the outdoor wood-boiler industry itself will see similarly glorious things remains an open question. The next few years will see more and more states and towns adopting regulations, while manufacturers will come out with new models to try to meet those regulations. Outdoor wood boilers may yet become the right answer to how best to heat a house in the Northeast – a region where those houses are surrounded by the fuel that heats them.

Hamilton E. Davis is a writer from Burlington, Vermont.

  1. Al Sayee → in NY 11742
    Apr 05, 2008

    A very clear update on the updating of wood boilers. About time. I suppose I will be next in line to get one installed in my house. At present I have an oil burner, which is a cash cow for the oil suppliers, and as far as I am concerned, is draining away all my savings.

  2. Hank Daum → in South Western Wisconsin
    Jun 23, 2008

    We were just at an Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. We will be converting our curved roof barn into our home (barn footprint is 36 by 104 feet, and 25 feet to-the-peak). We are looking at alternative sources of energy for heating/cooling the structure and thought that the Energy Fair would ba a great place to get educated. We wanted information on Wind Turbines for electricity generation, solar for both PhotoVoltaic and passive heat capture, etc. We currently heat our ~2,000 sq ft (totally uninsulated) 150 year old farm home with an EMPYRE 450 outdoor wood burner, using pallet wood. Only way we can afford to heat it!

    While wandering around the exhibits at the Energy Fair my wife, my step son and I unexpectedly came across the GARN booth and got excited…..highly efficient burn, nice reservoir of stored heat, and we CAN put it into the basement (formerly milking parlor) of the barn/home. Pretty awesome.

    The information we got from the GARN GUYS alone made our 3 hour drive to the Energy Fair worth the trek. 

    My wife particularly likes (a) the fact that there is negative air pressure ‘at the door’ - so no more smelling like a fireplace after loading the burner, and (b) we can have the unit inside the house - so no more getting all bundled up just to go out and load the burner.

    I agree - we WILL be buying a GARN for the heating of our soon to be converted, new home. We will sell our 3 year old EMPYRE outdoor wood burner (which has and continues to function admirably for us) and move to the GARN.

  3. Walter Kozlowski → in Plainville CT
    Jul 05, 2008

    Very nice usable information and advice. Our home has eastern exposure, no tall trees around close urban area. I am thinking to install sun water heating system and electric collection panels. At this moment searching for information and costs associated with it. If you or same one has ability to help us we appreciated.

  4. Chuck Wooster, Northern Woodlands → in Corinth, VT
    Jul 22, 2008


    I highly recommend the forums at the website The “Green Room” has many discussions about solar, and the “Boiler Room” has lots about wood gasifying boilers. We are currently installing a wood boiler at our home and already have solar electric and hot water systems in place.

    In general, the thinking seems to be that heating a house in New England entirely with solar hot water is not a good way to go. You’d need a very large number of collectors for the winter (8-12, maybe more), and would need to drain/cover/remove all but 2 or 3 of them in the summer to keep the system from boiling. The current thinking is to install enough solar to provide all of your domestic hot water during the non-heating season, then use a wood boiler for both during the heating season.

    Good luck!

  5. Air Freedom → in Illinois
    Jul 26, 2008

    The problem is this as quoted by the U.S. EPA: “Current outdoor wood-fired heaters are substantially less efficient and more polluting than other home-heating devices.” That pretty much sums it up. An OWB creates on average 72 g/hr of pm 2.5 particulate matter as compared to other forms of heating (even with wood) of: OWB = 72 g/hr Conventional Wood Stove = 18 g/hr EPA Certified Stove = 6 g/hr Oil Furnace = 0.07 g/hr Gas Furnace = 0.04 g/hr Secondly, these DON’T I repeat DON’T save a person money. These cost around at minimum $10,000 to install and operate before you even throw your first log on the fire? So when someone claims “I can’t afford my bills” well they sure could afford $10,000 to buy on of these monstrosities. I know I don’t have $10,000 to throw down on anything much less, something like this. So don’t believe the “I’m so poor I can’t heat my home” argument because it is all bogus. So in closing would you want this across from your house?

  6. Air Freedom → in Illinois
    Jul 26, 2008

    Please visit the websites below to learn more about OWBs and the victims they have claimed throughout the U.S.:

  7. Mike
    Oct 09, 2008

    First comment would be, where are you getting your numbers on a cord of dry firewood?? $150 yeah, maybe 15 years ago!! Let’s start with true numbers, say $300 for dry, $250 for seasoned, and $225 for green. Those are real numbers in northern NH.

  8. Adam → in Illinois
    Oct 25, 2008

    For those who read the comments about it costing $10,000 to install and purchase a OWB and were horrified, no worries. Check eBay, that poster obviously has no common sense or simple mechanical knowledge to be able to hook one of these up. Second although firewood may cost “$300” for a cord it is obvious this person has never considered cutting it themselves.

  9. Mark → in Maine
    Nov 06, 2008

    We decided not to build, but to restore an 1880 farmhouse 10 years ago. We soon learned that the 1975 oil boiler was about 70% efficient and consumed 1700 gallons per year.  At $4.60 per gallon (which is a little cheaper than most liberal dems like to see it), would cost us $7,000.00 plus per year. The new e-classic OWB will use around 8 cord per year at $225.00.  It is not your daddy’s OWB and was pricey but you do the math! Get serious! is there any form of energy liberals would be accepting of! You name, and they will find fault with it! I’m just waiting to find out how I will be punished for this purchase, probably a phony global warming wood tax under!

  10. Kerry → in Northern Indiana
    Jan 18, 2009

    Living in northern Indiana I grew up on a farm and cutting firewood was a big part of my life.  I enjoy everything from cutting to hand splitting the wood.  My dad used a Vermont Casting wood stove, now I do as well.  Mine has a catalytic system that burned out the first year of operation.  It continues to do the job yet uses more wood.  A Garn is in my near future.  The more people that think us wood burners are nuts, the better.  More sources for us!!!!! Like my grandfather said “This is the fuel that warms you twice.” Working to get it, and the reward of free heat.  I don’t understand burning green wood, dry is better in every way. Many of the people who just can’t mind there own business talk about us hurting the environment with smoke from natural wood in my area are the same people wanting to install a 17 mile paved bike trail through farms and people’s back yards. That’s good for the earth, more asphalt.  How many poisonous gases will be let in the air laying 17 miles of asphalt on old railroad stone going from a town of 2000 to a town of 500 with nothing in between.  My point is some people’s hypocrisy have no boundaries.  Burn because we can and enjoy what goes with it.  I love Stihl chainsaws, I love my grandpa’s old ax. I love wood heat.  I try to burn clean with seasoned hardwood.  I figure cutting and burning wood disturbs environmentalists enough, next they will come after my dirt bikes.  I love getting fired up!!!!!!!

  11. Vivian → in Central MA
    Jan 24, 2009

    We have lived downwind of a Woodmaster ss434 for eight years. It stinks up our field and yard and comes into our house unless you keep every window & door shut tight. We have spent decades and thousands of dollars making our acreage a clean and lovely outdoor recreation area, which is unusable for half of the year because of the discomfort of breathing
    the burning creosote. We have burned wood in the past, (for one winter our only heat was an indoor wood stove) so we’re not anti-wood burning. The boiler owners have refused to raise the stack (no reason given), and the wife has shouted from her front porch (they built right behind us even though they have 14 acres) that she hopes the smoke kills us, and to choke on it. They don’t cut their own wood, the only time they step outside is to load the furnace and drive away. They have no outdoor activities, and don’t care that they ruin ours. It almost seems like they enjoy it - and after reading some of these posts, I believe they do. So much for Love Thy Neighbor.

  12. Jim → in United States
    Mar 16, 2009

    Air freedom, Kerry is right (but Mcculloghs are better saws!!), hypocrisy is the MO for some. when you and your ilk and neighbors stop burning coal for electricity, then and only then can you complain about particulate matter, Vermonters live downwind from you, and don’t butt into others affairs.  Same with Vivian.  The folks living downwind OWN that land and have a right to use it as they see fit instead of their whiny neighbors. If you want the stack raised, offer to pay for it, otherwise keep it to yourself.  Savings from an OWB are enough for me to buy a $10,000, unit, with expectations of at least 3/4 savings on my annual propane bill of $3500, and still have time to catch 1000 perch through the ice during winter. Since I already have a recreational pyro pit entertainment center, my neighbors are used to smoky fires on a cool spring or fall night, and learned to shut the windows.

  13. Vicky → in New York
    Apr 18, 2009

    wow Jim, you sound like the big shot organizer telling everyone what they can and can’t do. What a terrible attitude you have. I’m very happy you are not MY neighbor. How dare you say the affected residents should pay for a stack height increase? And your comment about “whiny” neighbors living downwind is as rude as your entire post. When the “wood dust” settles in your lungs, in reality, burners are the perpetrators - and non smokers own the rights to breathe clean fresh air - over their perp neighbors’ wood burning whims and thoughtlessness. Why don’t you become a fireman? Oh, btw, don’t firemen wear masks when they’re around burning houses? Why? To protect their lungs!!! Who in their right mind wants to inhale noxious, carcinogenic wood smoke? Unless maybe they are addicted to burning wood - which parallels tobacco addiction. Tobacco and wood smoke are closely related and both are killers.

  14. Vicky → in New York
    Apr 18, 2009

    Some FACTS for wood burners.

    and there are plenty more facts, illustrations AND actual videos online besides the ones listed on the link above.

    Try reading and becoming educated before you judge someone who does not want their lungs and homes filled with someone else’s putrid wood smoke. Ugh!

  15. Brad → in Charlevoix the Beautiful, Michigan
    Apr 30, 2009

    I would like to clear a few things up. I have actually installed a OWB in 1999, I have invested $7500.00 in the system. This includes a 16 by 32 wood storage barn, all the components to heat my water, house, a 40 by 40 pole barn, and my hot tub that I sit in and watch my OWB at work. I am not sure where most of you are buying your wood at 200-300 a cord, I have never spent more than 60 a cord. I buy my wood by the pulp cord, that is by a log truck @ $625.00 a load which gets me 23 face cord. So the point is that some of you trying to point out how expensive it is to install and operate a unit need to take another look. I spent about $925.00 this winter in Northern Michigan to heat all items mentioned, before this OWB it would have cost me about $4000.00. Every time that great big pig on wheels comes to my house to bring me that really clean “propane” it would cost me 900-1200 each time at 3-4 times a year. The best part is that I have the ability to install all of this myself, it was one of the greatest things I ever did, and it is really paying dividends now. My second point is that if you think that because some guy delivers your heat by truck you are some how helping the are we breathe you need to re think that. I do understand how it might be frustrating for some of you living next door to one on some days, but lets get real, the wind direction is continually changing, so I no it isn’t as bad as you would like everyone to believe. You really should be proud of your neighbor’s if you truly care about the planet. I really doubt that for most of you your issues with your neighbors have anything to do with there OWB.

  16. Vicky → in New York
    May 31, 2009

    Tests done by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) found that the average fine particle emissions (a particularly harmful pollutant) from one OWB are equivalent to the emissions from 22 EPA certified wood stoves, 205 oil furnaces, or as
    many as 8,000 natural gas furnaces. One OWB can emit as much fine particle matter as four heavy duty diesel trucks on a grams per hour basis. The smallest OWB has the potential to emit almost one and one-half tons of particulate matter every year.  Wood smoke travels far into the atmosphere where the fine particles pollute clouds and cause global warming—and YES Mark - there IS such a thing as global warming.

    Huntington NY just BANNED OWBs because of excessive carcinogenic smoke. An OWB distributor from Catskill NY agreed, these devices have no place on less than 5 acres. I would think Councilmembers and OWB suppliers have more knowledge than you people do. I for one do not and WILL not breathe anyone’s wood smoke. 

    We’re working on drafting and revising wood burning laws. Don’t waste your money on these OWBs people. They’ll eventually be banned or very strictly regulated. Put on a sweatshirt until cleaner heating alternatives are available.

    To Jim: I own my land too. Why should someone else have the right to infect my home with harmful wood smoke? Where are my rights? Do I have to live with the smoke to please burners so they can save money at another’s expense?

  17. Vicky → in New York
    May 31, 2009

    Visit for important information, along with

    We’ll be proud of our neighbors when they use clean energy, rather than burning wood that creates black carbon soot.

  18. Vicky → in New York
    Jun 01, 2009

    Let’s really be clear Brad. Your argument in favor of OWBs is centered around yourself. First of all, wind changes but the excessive smoke and carcinogenic particulates scatter and hover all around neighborhoods, especially on still days and nights, even infiltrating houses that are tightly closed. I would like everyone to know just HOW BAD it REALLY is! Living between one OWB and a few wood stoves put me and some other neighbors into the hospital last year. YOUR savings will be someone else’s medical bill. I don’t inhale auto tail pipe emissions nor do I hang my face over my oil burner chimney, therefore I am not ingesting the excessive amount of poisons that your OWB is delivering to your neighbors’ lungs and also to you while you sit in your hot tub breathing poison. Burning wood is a filthy, self centered habit. 

    To Jim: I own my land too. Why should someone else have the right to infect my home with putrid, harmful wood smoke? Where are my rights? Do I have to live with the smoke to please burners so they can save money at another’s expense? Burners should live in isolated regions where there smoke remains THEIR smoke.

  19. Brad → in Charlevoix the beautiful Michigan/ Iraq
    Jun 26, 2009

    Hey Vicky,

    By this time next year I will have installed a wind turbine to supply electricity to my house, hot tub, barn, and my outside wood boiler. Are you going to have a problem with my wind generator too?

    If your neighbor installed one would you be the type that complains about the noise, the way that it might appear, or that a bird might fly into it and lose its life? Or would you be proud of the fact that your neighbor is doing his part to help the environment?

  20. Operations
    Sep 29, 2009

    There are people out there who will not be happy till we are once again rolling in our own filth like animals.

    Don’t try and reason with that type. Theirs is a faith based religion, not logic.

  21. Lee → in Upstate NY
    Oct 12, 2009

    Vicky - just wanted to let you know that the Globe has been consistently cooling for the past 10 years and now some of the major atmospheric researchers believe we may be in for a mini ice age.  Global Warming has been a big money grab since it was manufactured.  Although if it is true and the earth is cooling we should encourage everyone to use outdoor wood boilers to SAVE THE EARTH.

  22. Rich Michaels → in Penn
    Oct 18, 2009

    I would encourage the burning of wood, and do…BUT…responsibly. A simple test of ANY wood burning appliance, to see if it is efficiently burning…if a lighted rag or torch is placed at the outlet of the chimney, and IF the smoke burns, you have less than complete combustion. NOW, in practice, this may result in a chimney fire OR explosion in the flue/chimney. The point is, 30+% of the available energy in dry/seasoned wood is in the gaseous volatiles produced from the initial burning process. Hence, who in their right mind would buy a tank of gas and then pour a 1/3 of it on the ground..???

    As I have info on combustion, your OWB should be refractory/brick lined in the initial combustion chamber, and the ‘after’ chamber, or secondary. The stack should be at least 12ft minimum in height…AND…insulated. That allows the unburnt gases to be emitted to the atmosphere…albeit…annoying and rude to any neighbor within 1/3 mile of your installation…downwind.  And, another thing is tending the unit, cleaning often, checking the auto-controls, etc, etc.  The smoke should not be ‘biting, or rancid, or foul’ , but the sweet smell of properly burned wood.

  23. Jon → in Michigan
    Oct 19, 2009

    All of Vicky’s comments are nullified by the fact that she thinks global warming is true.  It is the biggest crock in the history of man kind. Yes some of the early OWB built in peoples garages put off a lot of smoke.  My OWB puts off so little smoke that I have to check it periodically to make sure it is still on.  And it always has been.  I could use old cars as a case for why we should outlaw cars because of the pollution they put off, but that would be as unintelligent as your reasoning seeing the modern cars emissions have been totally revamped.  Also just an FYI even without reduced OWB emissions, burning wood is carbon neutral as a log decaying in the woods puts off as much of a carbon foot print as if it were burned.  So either way it is the same.  All the liberal power-hungry people in government want to find more ways to regulate, so when ignorant people cry and whine about a practice that is as old as the world (burning wood for heat) they jump on the regulation band wagon.  Very sad.

  24. Gail → in Central, MI
    Oct 22, 2009

    Brad from Charlevoix? How do I hook my hot tub up to my wood burner? I know I can do it, just can’t find instructions on how? ;o)

  25. Richard → in Belleville , Ont.
    Dec 06, 2009

    The crux of the whole outdoor woodstove issue centers on emissions. Tier 2 ( White Tag ) standards go a long long way to addressing this problem. You can see a you-tube of a Garn installed in Minnesota without need for a chimney. The exhaust is as clear as a balanced flue fossil fuel heater.

    As for not breathing vehicle exhaust and suchlike try a trip up the CN tower on a humid summer day and see the smog blanketing Toronto. A month ago I was high up on the Pennines and watched a blue haze drift west to east over the hills from Lancashire and south Yorkshire filling the Holme valley. Wood burning is not an issue there but industry and transportation is. I own an outdoor wood stove and am dissatisfied with it but realize, and see,  very efficient models are in use and plan to up-grade. Probably a gasification type.

    For those in a suitable location wind turbines can power water heaters and the nice thing is that as high winds increase heat loss they also contribute to heat supply!

  26. Tim the conservationist → in Connecticut
    Dec 10, 2009

    All people who have the property and ability to pay for and operate a wood stove or OWB (requires money and labor no matter what your circumstance), in compliance with the local and state regulations, have a moral and patriotic obligation to do so.

    My OWB prevents us from burning about 1,100 gals of No. 2 fuel oil a year. This is enough oil to send a loaded tractor trailer from coast to coast and back again. The oil I save can be used by someone who doesn’t have the same circumstances. The hardwood I burn is a local resource and supplied by local labor and hard working people to whom I pay a good wage. No Arab shieq or South American dictator is required!!

    America must get a lot smarter and use our ingenuity to break the back of terrorist nations and move ourselves to energy independence(much) sooner than later.

    Until hydrogen fuel cells are perfected, there are few options.  Wood stoves and OWBs for winter heating are a great option.  Wood burning may not be the best solution if you want to count particulate matter but it works, its a plentiful local resource and it’s safe when done responsibly.

    No more wars over foreign oil.  Think energy independence and self-reliance.

  27. mark → in CENTRAL MICHIGAN
    Dec 12, 2009

    I moved after living in 1 location 23 years due to outdoor stove no neighbors had a stove in new location for 4 years now there is no clean air to breath even inside my house. Can’t wait for the outlaw of these smoldering pieces of junk. Need representatives to pass laws.

  28. Ethan → in Vermont
    Jan 06, 2010

    The problem with the majority of outdoor boilers is that they aren’t used correctly… because the manufacturers don’t always tell you how to use them correctly. Almost all of these boilers are designed to gasify their fuel. Air is introduced in a way that the fuel is supposed to smolder, releasing flammable gases (largely CO), more air is then introduced to burn off the gases. The problem is that if you attempt to slow this gasification process by shutting down the air (damping) the flammable gases never burn, and leave the chimney as the thick whiteish gray smoke we see. When a wood fired appliance is hooked directly to a thermostat, this is exactly what it will do; when the thermostat stops calling for heat, it closes the dampers on the boiler, and you get incomplete combustion.

    For this to work, the fire must be burned flat out as hot as possible, and the heat collected and stored in, for instance, a large tank of water. Then the heat can be taken from the water as it’s needed without having to control the fire. This is similar to what the Garn does. It has a huge reservoir of water that it heats up. With the addition of a properly sized heat storage tank, any modern gasifying boiler can become very efficient.

  29. Nancy T. Ambler → in Kirkwood, Pennsylvania
    Feb 03, 2010

    Whoever doesn’t like the smoke needs to move back to the city and inhale the smog there. Burning wood does not produce harmful gasses into the air. It does not harm the environment.  Fossil fuels DO.  Wood does not add greenhouse gasses to the environment. Fossil fuels DO.  This regulation will damage the economy of Pennsylvania by killing jobs and by increasing the heating cost of many homeowners by over 400 percent.  The Commonwealth consists primarily of heavily wooded, rural areas.  It makes no sense to burden the citizens of our entire Commonwealth with a rule that really only applies to densely populated areas that constitute a tiny portion of the Commonwealth.  I believe that any needed regulation should be left to local municipalities.  Thank you.

  30. Andrew → in Vermont
    Mar 07, 2010

    Great article!  Gasification wood boilers are often left out of discussions about OWBs and wood burning regulations.

    I have been using a Tarm gasification wood boiler for the last 4 years and constructed my own 1000 gallon heat storage tank two years ago.  I can attest to the clean burning, high efficency, low wood consumption of these gasification wood boilers.  They burn so clean that I can actually heat my storage tank in the summer once per week and get all of my domestic hot water from wood year round.  My home is 100% fossil fuel free.  The high cost of the units and installation are quickly recovered with the savings from no longer needing to pay for high priced fossil fuels.

    You can read gasification wood boiler reviews at my website to see what brands and models are on the market.  There are also articles and a discussion forums to help you understand gasification and heat storage.

  31. Henk Daum → in SW Wisconsin
    Mar 12, 2010

    Getting back into the fray….Those who make complain that “Outdoor Wood Burners” (OWBs) are smoke and pollution belchers are unfortunately for the most part quite correct. I have one. It produces lots of smoke, sometimes embarassingly so. I can’t wait to replace it with a ‘GASIFYING Wood Burner’.
    Andrew in Vermont makes an extremely important discinction. Outdoor Wood Burners versus Gasification Wood Burners.  Huge difference(s).
    When one is in the country and sees an out-house looking building belching smoke out its short chimney they are looking at what most would call an Outdoor Wood Burner. Most people (including myself, until I got educated) are inclined to think that all wood burners will produce smoke like that. This jsut isn’t true, and it is embarassing that the makers of the gasifiers have not educated the public on how truly clean their wood burners are.
    The smoke-belching units use old technology which could (should?) best be eliminated by legislation——Stop selling this polluting technology, but allow those currently out there to continue to burn until they ‘burn out’.  My wife and I have been using an OWB for 4 years, it saves us about $3K per year by not having to purchase propane to heat our virtually uninsulated 120 y/o farm house. Our unit is a smoke-and-pollution belcher, and I am excitedly awaiting the install of our GARN wood burner (gasifier) for heating our barn-turned-home which is under construction (we will bull-doze the current home once the barn/home is complete).
    Our OWB is likely 35% efficient, the Garn is ~85% efficient - efficiency meaning the unit will utilize 35% or 85% of the heat content of the wood to heat the house. One major difference in the two units is the OWBs don’t burn the creosote/smoke, it goes up and out the chimney, whereas the gasifiers BURN the creosote/smoke.
    We will no longer be polluters - the GARN wood burner/gasifier (a true gasifier) will meet the EPAs emission standards. In fact, it is apparent that even thirty-year old units will meet the standards the EPA is just now instituting.
    A gasifying wood burner has essentially two burn chambers. The first (primary burn) chamber burns the wood essentially as a conventional fireplace does. The second chamber (preferrably lined with some type of ceramic) burns the creosote and gases (smoke) produced by the primary burn, at temperatures in the 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit range.  Once that ceramic secondary burn chamber is up to temperature there is virtually no smoke…..the only thing which comes out of the unit is water vapor.
    I have read on various forums where people state that when converted from what most of us would call an OWB to a gasifier (a Garn, a Tarm, a Wood Gun, and many other reputable manufacturers) the ‘smoke’ was so greatly diminished that their neighbors asked them if they had QUIT burning wood!  Quite a testament to how well the gasification process works.
    Hank in SW Wisconsin

  32. J. Peterson → in northwest Indiana
    Apr 12, 2010

    “Whoever doesn’t like the smoke needs to move back to the city and inhale the smog there. Burning wood does not produce harmful gasses into the air.” 

    Respectfully, did you take a close look at the Comparison chart up above?  Living in the vicinity of someone who heats with a poorly engineered or improperly operated wood burner can quickly turn your life into pure misery.  There’s not just the persistent stink, which can’t be kept out of the most tightly sealed house; for many people—such as adults and children with asthma, older people with cardiovascular issues, etc—there can be very serious health consequences. 

    In my suburban area of Northwest Indiana, the uncontrolled spread of wood burners is becoming an epidemic.  There’s little or no regulation.  I’ll probably soon be driven out of the area I’ve lived in for 35 years, because it’s hard for someone with asthma to live all winter under a ground-hugging blanked of air pollution. 

    Why would anyone think they have a right to foul the air above everyone else’s property line?

  33. Vivian → in Central MA
    Jun 17, 2010

    This is an update to a post made in 2009. After 10 years of living downwind of a boiler, our neighbors on the other side of our property installed one just before the state made them illegal-a regulation loophole was left open so dealers could clear their inventory.

    The net result of this is that at the age of 59, having no other health problems, I have developed “pulmonary reactive disease”, commonly known as asthma. My doctor and the pulmonary specialist who tested me have advised me to avoid the smoke at all costs, including sleeping in the tv room, to stay in the house with windows shut when the smoke is detectable (living between 2 boilers 600 feet apart that means every burning day short of gale force winds), to use an inhaler if I need to be outside for more than a few minutes.

    Wood boiler owners trivialize the problems they cause because , well, it’s “not their problem”, and because like most other people, putting money in their own pocket justifies
    any negative effect their actions might have on other citizens.

    The problems caused by Enron, Wall Street,BP,for example, all seem justified at the time because money was being made, or saved, by ignoring possible consequences down the road.The wood boiler industry was just using the standard business model to succeed, and pass that credo on to the boiler owners.

    In other words, Greed is still “good” in the eyes of those who profit from it, and bad for us “small people” who might suffer from it. No amount of regulating, philosophizing, science teaching,or preaching is going to change the mind of anyone putting “free money” in their pocket.

    All of us, we and our neighbors, feel like our civil rights and personal freedoms are being abused. I want my health and freedom to use my property at will, they want the freedom to save money on heat with an outdoor boiler. Both can’t co-exist. These are the facts.

  34. Sam N. → in Western NY
    Jun 28, 2010

    The year 0f 2007-08 we spent about $3000 heating our home and water. We bought an E Classic in Aug 2008. We cut our own wood at a cost of about $200 to $300. Granted it does generate some smoke, but so did our old fuel oil furnace. We have only two neighbors, both about 100 yards from our boiler—one NE and one NW (upwind most of the time). And guess what they heat with—wood. My next nearest neighbor is a mile away.

    I spent $10000 by the time I had it completely installed, which I did myself.Financially, it is a no brainer. I will admit I burn some green wood mixed with seasoned wood, but the coals from the green wood generate an incredible amount of heat just by themselves.

    I really don’t understand all these so called environmentalists. Wind turbines generate no smoke and as far as I can tell, are not a hazzard to anyones health, but they are opposed to them too.

    I guess the solution is to drill more oil in the ocean. Or import it from Iraq. Thats a plan!

  35. StickyDrumGuy → in china
    Jul 14, 2010

    Babington style waste oil heater pumps

    The cam gear pump works fine for filtered WVO or used motor oil Babington heaters and I have installed it on my Babington style heaters. Ldu Company’s stock number is 450516 , The only thing about the cam gear pump is that the fire kind of pulses as the cam gear rotates. If you use the spur gear pump that is LDU’s stock number 450512 then you get a steady non-pulsing fire. The WVO pump website is or you can click through to the tools section from the home page at

    LDU Company also has other parts that I use for building my waste oil burners, like gear reduction motors. I find it best to turn the pump slower because you really don’t need a whole lot of oil dripping on the atomizer ball.

  36. shaun → in Berkshires
    Nov 01, 2010

    “The smoke should not be ‘biting, or rancid, or foul’ , but the sweet smell of properly burned wood”

    I have a Alternate Heating Systems Wood Gun brand wood gasification furnace and suffer from just the fowl smelling smoke described above.  Does anyone else experience this problem?  I also get a lot of back-puffing of fresh air through my fresh air intake duct, as if the furnace can’t handle all the fresh air being delivered.  I have to shut off the manual damper to make it stop, which seems like th ewrong thing to do.  This fresh air back puffing also seems to have a little exhaust mixed into it as it does smell up the house when it happens.  What is the chemistry of the exhaust from wood gasification?

  37. Chuck Wooster → in Corinth, VT
    Nov 04, 2010

    Hi Shaun—

    I’d direct you attention to the user forums, especially the ‘boiler room’:

    There’s lots of good info here about back drafts and achieving optimal gasification. It took me a good solid year of running my gasifier and reading the forum to really get up to speed. Good luck!

  38. JB → in Amador County< CA
    Apr 07, 2011

    What wood burning, air force furnace would you recomend, one that ignites wood gases and uses no water, one that haves a secondary chaber to burn wood gasses, a gasification unit or a unit that uses water and has gasification system ?

  39. Evan → in CT
    Apr 21, 2011

    Its not that all the ‘environmentalists’ are anti wood burning, after all, it is cheap and effective. But if you can upgrade your old system to one that is cleaner and more efficient, then why the fuss? Less wood to cut, less smoke, more heat. Makes sense right? Credible facts:

    “Even when used properly, OWBs emit, on an average per hour basis, about four times as much fine particulate matter pollution as conventional wood stoves, about 12 times as much fine particle pollution as EPA-certified wood stoves, 1000 times more than oil furnaces, and 1800 times more than gas furnaces.”
    -Taken from a report by the Office of the Attorney General Environmental Protection Bureau

    OWB = outdoor wood boilers.

  40. Diane → in Indiana
    Oct 23, 2011

    Indiana took their sweet time in OWB ordinances. Still, IDEM passes it on to the municipalities instead of enforcing what they voted in. Rural victims are especially left out of the support needed to breathe fresh air.  Villages and hamlets are choking on the smoke.  But this is about me.

    Burners need to sit in their neighbors living room, on their porch, garden with them, see what the smoke and fumes are like if they are told there is a problem.  Work together. Try to find the solution.

    In my perfect world.

    A GARN sounds great, if I get the chance I would choose this manufacturer.  But I would never have one that is too close to my neighbor or affects my life.

    Every single day I suffer headaches, sore throat, swollen glands, hot thick-feeling skin, smoke all over me just from going out the door. Am I too sensitive, as the commissioner of Indiana has proposed might be the case “some people are more sensitive to smoke than others….”  Well, with that sensitivity I have now have breast cancer. Can’t blame it on the smoke though.  It’s just that all my good living efforts of organic gardening, feeding birds, walking my dog on the property, swimming in my pool, were coupled with deep breathing smoke and fumes for all the months since we moved in. Sensitive?  How about furious too?

    While next door beneath a canopy of trees and right next to thousands of acres of woods, a rickety old OWB smolders grey-white smoke continuously, then every forty-five minutes it billows smoke assaults over the garage roof into our property which never leaves during most weather.  Thrown in are cat litter boxes, carcasses, household trash, plastic, leaves, branches, wet wood, pine and unseasoned wood.  The man doesn’t have the sense we need for it to be operated right. He says creosote built up because his stack was too high.  We actually paid to put it up there to save ourselves then he changed his mind and knocked it down and beat on it a few weeks later.  His answer for operation is load it as full as possible and leave it smolder all day, even in 110 degree heat index and high humidity. No thought required.

    Ordinances, protection, support must come from somewhere but where?  Why is he allowed to do this to us?  Why do we have to spend $10,000 for an attorney to take it to court if there could be enforcement?  Why do we need to leave our home to take a walk?  Move away to breathe?

    Don’t tell me I am sensitive or need to move back to the city and breathe smog.  I have breathed it right here on my lovely wild property in the country 24/7/365 days a year.

    If your neighbor says they are having a problem and need some resolution - please listen to them and help.

    Thank you for listening.

  41. Larry Weese → in Cottageville, WV
    Apr 25, 2014

    I have had a wood boiler, outside for 5 years now. I only burn wood in my stove. Untreated wood only. My neighbor has a inside wood burner. My burner only puts out smoke when my thermostst turns on. His chimney smokes all the time. People who will make laws for the rest of us, need to have knowledge of equipment prior to making new rules. The next thing they will be doing is making rules as to how much smoke can come from an outside camp fire. Or if you can burn wood chips in your grill. People have been using wood burners to heat and cook by for years, as a matter of fact for thousands of years. Be careful of giving someone the ability to make laws for us.

  42. Mable → in Indiana
    Oct 10, 2014

    I have been trying to get help for over four years.I have had my home ruined with smoke from outdoor wood-boiler and cant sell it. I have had breast cancer and asthma, spot on my lungs, pneumonia and problems with my eyes from smoke that does not smell of wood. neighbor burns in 80 degree weather with his windows open. It is with in 35 ft of my door where the south wind blows it all over us.we have had to go to parking lot and sleep at 3 am it was so bad. Our health dept is useless. I have over 200 video’s and dated pictures of it blowing black smoke on us and video’s of neighbor mocking me for crying about it. we have had to live in a hell on earth and no mercy any where. Our neighbor burns his owb wide open on us.we have no ideal what all has been burned on us.have video of flames coming out top of owb and sparks going all over my yard.we are gardeners and have had to stay in house on beautiful days and h even went to churches to request prayer. My grandkids have to run to get into our home to keep the smoke off them.we go to emergency room so sick they have to give us breathing treatments as soon as they see us. If people want owb’s then they and the manufacturers need to step up and speak out if they see someone using them to harm peoples health. Our neighbor has used his owb to harm two old senior citizens. We have been entertainment for him. we use to have beautiful yard full of daylilies, irises and fruit orchard .people usto come sat in my yard enjoying them now no one can cause they cant stand the horrible smoke and afraid of what it could be.we will never be the same people it has harmed us so bad. and what really hurts is people that knew and could have stopped it turned a blind eye. we cant even use our fonly what it pulls it in the house cant open our doors or windows and if our neighbor sees us out side he opens it up on us. We are afraid it will catch our home on fire while we are asleep. Wish I could put my pictures on here then you would certainly see. Thank you.

  43. Robert Gifford → in Starksboro
    Nov 07, 2014

    I have used a Wood Doctor Brand Outdoor furnace for 7 heating seasons. We are beginning our 8th with this unit. I live in a remote location at about 1600 feet in elevation. I am in the mountains so the wind is pretty much constant. I have seen many smoking units but mine is not one of them. My unit will puff when the fan turns on for a few minutes and then it has clear exhaust and no smoke. This is only after a fuel load. once the fuel load has been fired subsequent firings are cleaner quicker. After the fan shuts down the only thing you see is a little steam that doesn’t get more then 10 feet from the chimney top. This also reduces as the fuel load is consumed. Late in the fuel load consumption there is almost no visible exhaust.  I burn a mixture of seasoned wood and some green. My greenest wood has been cut and split for at least 6 months. Its stacked covered.  This unit has more then paid for its self in fuel savings over propane or Fuel oil. My neighbors dont even know I have one. I would urge caution in outlawing this economical way of heating. Not every unit/operator is the same. I would hate to be barred from saving money and doing no harm just because a few people are irresponsible. We dont outlaw cars because some segment of the population drives drunk.

  44. Mike Ricard → in Altamont NY
    Jan 09, 2015

    I have operated my OWB since 2004.  While the amount of heat actually wasted can be debated (and it all depends on your install). The savings over non-renewal fuels such as oil and propane is tremendous.  My old farm house is as well insulated as it can be, but in the hills the wind is constantly blowing.. In 2004 my heating bill with oil ran roughly 3400-3600 per year.  Since then I pay roughly 1200 -1600 for log length firewood , I cut and split myself (good exercise by the way).. Paid 7500 for the boiler, with plumbing ( I did myself) etc. I estimate a 10K investment.  You can do that math.. considerable savings and that was with 2004 home heating oil prices.. I estimate today it would cost me 6000-6500 if I heated with oil alone…. So YES they are a good thing.  You save money and you are using a renewal resource.  Burn hardwood, aged minimum of 6 months, but I can burn some green if I need to.. Only time it smokes up is the initial load in the AM.. after that hardly any smoke…  Used responsibly and installed correctly they are great.  New gasification boilers are out, though considerable more expensive , they do have very different operational cycles..So you must be sure you understand how much heat they are capable of producing and how they fire.. With planning , proper placement, and operation OWB’s are a good source of heat.

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