A wood stove is a practical appliance that can heat your home at an affordable price. Since it burns fuel to produce heat, it is regulated by many different agencies. Local building codes for fire and safety are among the policies needed to be followed by the homeowner.
Manufacturers however are also required to follow certain regulations for their wood stove products. One of the most important is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) requirements. The EPA sees to it that these stoves will not cause excessive pollution. Too much smoke and pollutants produced by wood burning stoves will cause unsafe conditions for the home and the people that live in it.
EPA certified stoves however meet regulations and ensure that the wood burning stove is within accepted limits and is generally safe for use. To know more about these limits, read the next section on how EPA certifies and classifies wood stoves.
Wood stoves can generally be classified into 2 categories. These are catalytic and non-catalytic. Basically, the catalytic combustion stoves use a catalyst to further combust gases and produce cleaner emissions. Non-catalytic combustion stoves don’t have such a device but may usually feature a baffled wall where gases can remain hot and promote complete combustion.
The EPA sets limits for both stoves in terms of smoke emission. Some states may have lower or different emission limits, but generally the limits are:
Non-catalytic stoves -7 .5 grams per hour
Catalytic stoves – 4.1 grams per hour
An EPA white label or tag should feature the emissions of the stove. If the stove doesn’t have this tag, its certification is doubtful. You can find the list of EPA certified stoves here.
The EPA does issue some exemptions for stoves or hearth appliances but these usually fall under the category of appliances that use a very, very high ratio of air to fuel. This means that there is plenty of air to ensure complete combustion. This also means that the high air ratio will carry out most of the heat from the stove out to the chimney, not into your house. Basically, you’re looking at a stove that functions like an ordinary fireplace. It has a bright and roaring fire, but not much heat. If the unit will produce heat, it will come at the expense of more fuel than certified wood stoves.
So check the label, and go for lower emissions as much as you can. This will help you choose a stove that will provide lots of heat and be kind to the atmosphere at the same time.