published: August 2019
New 2020 wood-burning stoves to reduce emissions even more
by Nathan Good, owner,
Non-catalytic stoves have three internal characteristics that do create a good environment for complete combustion. These are firebox insulation, a large baffle to produce a longer, hotter gas flow path, and pre-heated combustion air introduced through small holes above the fuel in the firebox.
In catalytic combustion, the smoky exhaust is passed through a coated ceramic honeycomb inside the stove where the smoke gases and particles ignite and burn. Catalytic stoves are capable of producing a long, even heat output. All catalytic stoves have a lever-operated catalyst bypass damper which is opened for starting and reloading. The catalytic honeycomb degrades over time and must be replaced, but its durability is largely in the hands of the stove user. The catalyst can last more than six seasons if the stove is used properly; but if the stove is over-fired, inappropriate fuel (like garbage and treated wood) is burned, and if regular cleaning and maintenance are not done, the catalyst may break down in as little as 2 years (EPA note: Garbage should never be burned in a wood stove or fireplace).
The new 2020 stoves typically will use a hybrid-style design combining a non-catalytic and catalytic combuster, reducing pollution to well below 1 gpm of soot!
When choosing a wood stove, consider the size of the space you’ll be heating. Wood stoves can be sized to heat a single room or an entire home.
• Small stoves are suitable for heating a family room or a seasonal cottage. In larger homes with older central furnaces, you can use a small stove for “zone heating” a specific area of your home (family or living room).
• Medium stoves are suitable for heating small houses, medium-sized energy-efficient houses, and cottages used in winter.
• Large stoves are suitable for larger, open plan houses, houses in colder climate zones or older, less insulated/leakier houses.
The EPA maintains a current list of EPA-certified wood stoves. However, it’s best to talk with experienced hearth product retailers who know the performance characteristics of the products they sell. When visiting local retailers, take along a floor plan of your home; knowledgeable retailers can help you find a wood stove, fireplace insert, or other hearth product that is well suited to the space you want to heat.
Learn before you burn
Burn the right wood, the right way, in the right appliance
1. Reduce pollution and save money! Burn only dry, seasoned wood and maintain a hot fire.
• Cut, split and season/dry wood outdoors for at least 6 months before burning it.
• Start fires with clean newspaper and dry kindling.
• Burn the fire hot until well established (about an hour or more)
• Never burn garbage, plastic, or pressure treated/glued or painted wood, which can produce harmful chemicals when burned.
• Learn about high altitude best burn practices.
2. Have a certified technician inspect and service your appliance annually.
• Have your chimney annually cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Chimney fires are caused by creosote build up in an uncleaned flue and could result in a home fire.
• A properly installed and maintained wood-burning appliance burns cleaner and more efficiently.
• If you smell smoke in your home, something is wrong. Shut down the appliance and call a certified chimney sweep to inspect the unit.
• Learn more about correct installation and maintenance.
3. Help keep your planet healthy by upgrading to an efficient, newer, EPA-approved wood-burning appliance.
Additional resources for choosing a wood stove
• What’s right for you? The Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association provides guidance when choosing a wood stove or heater.
• Alliance for Green Heat—Information to consider when purchasing a wood stove.
• Wise Heat—Provides alternative heating reviews and information.
• Hearth.com—A comprehensive website that will help you find most any hearth product you are looking for and/or address any of your hearth questions.
• How much heat does that room need? Allows consumers to estimate the amount of BTUs required to heat a room by entering the room’s dimensions.