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should outdoor boilers be installed in non-attainment areas?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by John Ackerly, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    An intense fight is going on in Utah, where a boiler manufacturer is making case that outdoor boilers are cleaner and more efficient than wood stoves, so they shouldn't be regulated any differently. In my opinion, even Phase 2 qualified outdoor boilers should not be allowed in valleys that experience lots of inversions and are in air quality non-attainment. There is simply too much potential for them to be operated poorly by the owner. Industry fought so hard to clean up the air in places like Libby, and this sort of precedent could be big set-back for valleys like that. We posted some stuff on our blog about it
    http://forgreenheat.blogspot.com/2013/03/outdoor-boilers-cleaner-than-wood.html, but interested to hear what folks think about it. Check out attached "fact" sheet that is being circulated in Utah.

    Attached Files:

    heaterman likes this.

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  2. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I'm not a fan of OWB.
    Too short of a stack and you're right people will burn all kinds of crap in them..some people anyhow.
    Make it so they need like a 30ft. stack or something.
  3. KaptJaq

    KaptJaq Minister of Fire

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    FIRST: The flyer shows emissions per mmBTU. When you are in an area that is subject to inversions and particulate contamination the reference point has to be emissions per hour. During the course of an inversion the OWB will put more particulate into the air than a wood stove.

    SECOND: Most people that use OWBs use so much wood they do not have time to season it. If they burned it cleanly it would be much less of a problem. I know of only one person that considers his neighbors when he burns his OWB. He uses seasoned wood, has a tall stack, large storage, and when weather conditions are not right (he is in a valley in Vermont) he goes to his fossil fuel backup. If there were some way of making ALL wood burners, including indoor stove users, use their equipment properly this discussion probably never would have come up.

    THIRD: If you search the news for articles on outside wood burners you will find a number of communities that are considering banning them. Some pro-actively based on the bad press a few OWB users have generated (See the recent Fairbanks stories)

    As I said in another thread before it was moved to the ash can: I don't think a ban on OWBs or any bio-mass heaters is the way to go. Clean them up and develop some method of accurately measuring the individual users' compliance with emission standards. Yes, it adds a new layer of government rules and regulations but the days of throwing tons of green wood in a steel box with a 6' stack are numbered. If the users are not considerate of their neighbors then the government, elected by the majority, will step in.

    KaptJaq
  4. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Seems history always repeats itself.
    I saw a story about Donora on the weather channel.
    Check these links out and see just why pollution laws went into effect, and why we should keep trying to clean thing up.
    Not a big OWB fan here. Some friends have them, and all burn green wood in them. Makes my head spin when they tell me they go through 20-24 cords a year through these things.
    http://chenected.aiche.org/environment/not-john-carpenter’s-“the-fog”-but-just-as-deadly/
    http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-14D
  5. Nick Mystic

    Nick Mystic Minister of Fire

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    Some friends of mine living in Maine are planning on setting up an OWB to heat a small green house and shop. I was talking to them this past weekend and I asked them if they had at least a couple years of wood laid up drying? They said, "No, you just cut the trees down and toss the logs into the OWB without even splitting them." I tried to explain why that wouldn't be a good idea, but they pretty much blew me off saying they already visited someone in the area with the same set up and that was how he did it with no problems. It's hard to conquer ignorance when the facts get in the way with what they want to do!
  6. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    In the current "wood totals" thread, PLAYS WITH FIRE was describing one of his neighbors, who was chewing thru 25 cords annually in his OWB. He was consuming 600 million BTU's to heat only 5000 sq.ft. plus a pool house. I don't believe in banning anything, it goes against the principles upon which this country was founded... but there has to be some way to curb that sort of irresponsible behavior. Perhaps tax the use of OWB's to put their cost on par with cleaner forms of heating... but that's a discussion for a whole other forum.

    As Kapt Jaq already caught, the statistcs used in that graph are misleading. Plot emissions per hour, or even a more useful emmissions per BTU's delivered (not BTU's consumed), and OWB's will be much higher on that curve.
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  7. charly

    charly Guest

    Once they become a slave to getting wood for the OWB ,, it will get old.. I did it for 7 years,, I use to think wow, one year of wood for the OWB would last me 3 years with a regular wood stove... Even though mine would take a 42 inch long piece, I use to just load in 24 inch split seasoned pieces of wood and just build one row up right by the front of the door...Was just what I needed until I came back home from work , plus it didn't smoke like fully loaded boilers with green wood... My neighbor use to break his back trying to get all his wood for his OWB a month before heating season... He did it that every year, can't fix stupid!!!!!!! Burning my wood stoves is a joy compared to that, power goes out my stoves are still running and no water to worry about freezing up outside in the boiler or circulator.
  8. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Since you mention non attainment areas in the title let's tell folks what that means.

    "United States environmental law, a nonattainment area is an area considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards as defined in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 (P.L. 91-604, Sec. 109). Nonattainment areas must have and implement a plan to meet the standard, or risk losing some forms of federal financial assistance. An area may be a nonattainment area for one pollutant and an attainment area for others."

    Source: Wikipedia
    Joful likes this.
  9. Blue Tornado

    Blue Tornado Guest

    Thank you Brother Bart. I would have gone through the google process if not for your post.
  10. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I would agree with bylaws restricting OWB to EPA'd units (Phase 2?). Gassifiers.

    Throw in another bylaw re. air pollution (There are noise bylaws, right? So why not smoke ones), and you'd have the poor operators covered too.

    Not in agreement with a simple blanket ban on all OWB.
    arngnick likes this.
  11. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I was looking at a wreck for work yesterday, and the shop uses 2 HUGE OWB's. One to heat the house and the other for the shop(s).
    They were using about 6,000 gallons of heating oil a year. Now they burn 10 triaxle loads a year. A triaxle can run anywhere from 6-10cords depending on the size of the truck.
    So they burn between 60 and 100 cords a year! Also burns their waste oil in them too, I didn't say nuttin, but was not thinking nice things. One year of their wood usage would heat this place for anywhere from 15 to 25 years! What a shame!
    Taylor Sutherland and heaterman like this.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Type 2 heating oil has quoted values of 115,000 to 137,000 BTU/gal, and type 4 heating oil has quoted values of 137,000 to 148,000 BTU/gal. I've always been given 135,000 BTU/gal as a round number to use, by my heating oil provider. Assuming their oil fired boiler had efficiency around 83% (typical), it takes very roughly 670 million BTU to heat that place for a year.

    Divide into that any value you want for a cord of wood, perhaps 25 million BTU/cord as an average value (although likely higher, since they're local, and we're literally littered in oak and ash), and you figure they must be running an efficiency of roughly 26 - 44% on that OWB, whether it be due to burning green wood, transfer losses, whatever.

    Now, go back to the OP, which uses twisted statistics to imply that OWB's have lower emissions than EPA woodstoves and pellet stoves...
    Taylor Sutherland and heaterman like this.
  13. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Now, go back to the OP, which uses twisted statistics to imply that OWB's have lower emissions than EPA woodstoves and pellet stoves...

    Exactly!! When you think about it, it's no wonder the manufacfurers like CB, Heatmor, and all the rest are fighting so hard to keep the laws skewed in their favor. There is no way to make their basic design and operational premise burn clean. You simply can't stuff a huge firebox full of wood and let it smolder/burn/smolder/burn/smolder etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum. If they changed to a burn program that actually burned clean out in the real world they would destroy their main selling point of convenience (load it once a day/burn green wood)
    So they mess with the test protocol as much as possible so the results are slanted toward their method of operation.

    Why don't they just start building stuff that functions right? One has to think the money is good where they are at or else they don't have the engineering skills to pull it off.
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  14. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I'd agree with that if the Phase II's were actually any better.
  15. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Stack height really does nothing but move the smoke. The same amount of particulates are dumped in the air regardless.
    One study equated operating an OWB in your yard to be the same as having 600 people stand there and smoke a pack of cigarettes each day. I have to wonder how many people know that?
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  16. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Well with low stacks it can bother the neighbors more..that's all.
  17. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    There are a bunch of issues with tall stacks. Especially when you get much past 15'. The flue gas, which is carrying copious amounts of matter, cools too much and you have a plugged up chimney in no time with a typical OWB. That's why the manufacturers don't recommend it. Martin Lunde (Garn) had some pictures of a heavy gauge stack that was installed on an OWB and failed completely, as in rotted through and fell down, within one season of use.
  18. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Oh well!
    I don't like them at all anywho.
  19. charly

    charly Guest

    Too bad they couldn't do some type of cat technology using a natural draft like central boiler uses. Then people would be forced not to burn green wood.. I thought at one time I heard rumor of someone experimenting with a cat system for the chimney on a OWB. Personally I went from the OWB, to a gasification boiler with 1600 gallons of thermal storage and now back to wood stoves in the house... For me , I love the simplicity of the wood stove in the house again...power goes out and life goes on...and 1/3 the wood usage! No circulators to worry about failing or freezing up... I use to keep an extra one of those around as well...I had a taste of it all,,,for me it's back to basics and enjoying wood burning at it's best.... Besides it's nice to be able to watch your fire;lol
    heaterman likes this.
  20. Dilution is not a solution for pollution.

    Tall stacks just move it farther away. All of the pollution from the coal and oil-fired power plants, mostly in the Midwest, comes our way. Thanks to giant stacks.
  21. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Ok people, the problem with ANY type of wood burning appliance is:
    1. User error (read stupid, ignorant, old school, whatever)
    2. Green wood, this may fall into #1 as well
    3. Some people what as little work as possible and are too un organized to c/s/s and have enough time to buildup a year or more in advance. I think it's the culture we live in the "drive through" I want it now mentality, cut-it-burn-it, stacking and splitting takes time and effort

    When you think about it, there really is no way to regulate this other than banning all wood burning. What are we going to do? Pay some gov't agency to ride around and look at people's chimney? Split and test someone's stacks for MC? Well if someone came by at the right time I have smoke comming from either of my chimneys, gasser and EPA woodstove, both smoke during startup for a short time.

    We here on Hearth are quite biased, we have all seen the benifit of clean-burning and much lower volumes of wood to heat our otherwise unchainged homes. The guy who is putting 25+ cord green through his OWB is saving money and thats all he cares or knows about. We, here, have seen the light that that same guy could work less cutting and more prepping of his wood, and have a cleaner appliance to heat his home the same AND not soot up a zillion cubic feet of air in the process. I'd venture to say that most on here have been the "smoke dragon" guy at one time in life and thought "there must be a better way" we did some reasearch and found this site in the process and here we are now with our OWB hate, myself included.

    The whole picture IMHO.
    TS
  22. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Oh, while I'm on my rant, if any of my family members who burn wood had a gasser they'd have it so fould up with tar and soot they'd say it was a piece of junk. Just like Heaterman talking about some of his customers burning green wood in his Garns, it just doesn't work. Nothing is as simple and mindless as paying the oilman and turning up the thermostat.

    Rant finished, soapbox is open now.
    TS
  23. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    Really enjoyed reading this string of posts about outdoor wood boilers. I thought there may be a few more advocates for them around. Good news is that the Utah Senate did not pass the bill that Central Boiler was backing. We wrote up a story about it here: http://forgreenheat.blogspot.com/2013/03/bill-to-overturn-outdoor-wood-boiler.html. I think what really swayed them was when leaders from the biomass industry signed an open letter urging the Senate not to pass the bill. There is a link to that letter in the article. I wish more legislators would come to hearth.com and read strings like this when considering outdoor boiler regulations.
    Joful likes this.
  24. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    Would anyone who posted a comment on this thread mind if we reposted the comments on our blog? Since this is a public internet forum, I assume folks don't mind if their comments are reposted elsewhere? I corrected some spelling errors, cut out a few sentences here and there for length, but just copied about half the comments that I thought would be really helpful for readers of our blog to see. I'd also provide link to full thread and urge folks to visit hearth.com. Attached is what we'd use on our blog. Any objections?

    Attached Files:

  25. charly

    charly Guest

    Fine with me..

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