2020 “phase 2” and outdoor wood boilers

Dmurph2016

New Member
May 9, 2019
21
Mass
Pretty new to the forum, I don’t own a house with a outdoor wood boiler but the concept is pretty interesting to me so I’ve been reading up on it. I see the 2020 the epa is changing regulations. How is this going to affect manufactures such as central boiler? ( the main name I’ve seen) are the newer stoves that much better? Or are they not worth running anymore do to all the epa crap that makes them less reliable/ more work and expensive to hear with?
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,454
Downeast Maine
I'm not sure on which boiler MFG's will be 2020 compliant. Unlike EPA emission controls on cars and trucks, there are no downsides to having them on the stove. You will use less wood and keep the air around your air clean. It's a win win, you have less work to do and your kids won't get lung cancer!
 
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blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,391
WI, Leroy
there are several newer designs- central boiler- has their E-classic supposedly EPA compliant but do not state which specs it meets. You can bet the cost will increase substantially. A a whole the OWB industry is scrambling due to their own procrastination. Other thing to check is your local regs. in some areas they are banned completely. In my own location I can't install one -Local ordinance- but there is a small flaw in the ordinance as it specifically states OWB-- there are air to air outdoor furnaces as well. The main problem with these units is the whole outside casing is a water jacket this in turn sucks a lot of heat off the fire giving incomplete combustion - some of the newer designs have included secondary burn tubes added on the the original design. A few have gone to the more classical design of a true boiler systems ditching the full water jacket approach. Even fewer have incorporated cats- those likely will be the ones that will make the specs not just the current temporary ones now in place. with a cat system you now have a exhaust temp in the 1000 deg+ area that can be used to heart your transfer media with out impacting the burn temp in the main combustion chamber.
 

Aranyic

Burning Hunk
Sep 3, 2015
130
Ohio
You can check EPA certifications at this website for hydronic heaters; only a couple have hit 2020 specs unless it's out of date (it is an EPA website so who knows how often that is done).

https://cfpub.epa.gov/oarweb/woodstove/index.cfm?fuseaction=app.searchwh

I've been looking at them a couple years and still waffling between indoor with storage or outdoor. There have been a couple of threads I've started and I'm coming out about $2000-$2500 more going with an indoor using non-pressurized storage. My wife can go either way we've settled on a good location for the outdoor stove that's kind of out of sight. And got a layout in the basement for the indoor with storage.

At the moment I'm leaning more OWB primarly due to one fact. When I burned indoors I went to a blazeking catalytic stove because I loved running a twice a day loading cycle and not having to every really worry about starting a new fire. I loaded in the morning; burned it on high for 20-25 minutes to char the wood and then loaded again when I got home. The OWB is much more similar to that style of usage. Realistically as much as I like the aspects of the indoor with storage I think I'll be happier with that scenario.

I've pretty much got my choices down to a Heatmaster G200 and a Central Boiler Classic Edge 550 HD Titanium.

Heatmaster generally has the much better reputation online; the down side the dealer is 2 hours away and the stove is a little over $1700 more. The distance and some issues reaching the dealer concerns me more than the money. I realize he does all HVAC and it's been a hot couple weeks here; I'm sure they are swamped. But it took 3-4 calls over 2 weeks to finally reach him and it won't be much better when it's 15 degrees out in January if I have an issue.

Then I've got a CB dealer 35-40 minutes away with an excellent reputation. It's a father (originally) now father/son that have been selling them for 25 years. I went over this weekend and spent an hour going through the stove and talking through the overall setup.
 

E Yoder

Feeling the Heat
Jan 27, 2017
343
Floyd, VA
Very few boilers are 2020 compliant right now. I expect to see several coming out this winter before the May 15 2020 deadline. I don't expect them to be worse as far as reliability goes, but the price will most likely go up a bit.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,305
Philadelphia
I see the 2020 the epa is changing regulations. How is this going to affect manufactures such as central boiler?
Would it be too much to hope it completely shuts them down? Outdoor boiler installations are usually horrendously inefficient, due to a combination of poor design, line losses, and poor operator habits (re-enforced by a “mess is out there” attitude). They should be banned, IMO, and thankfully that is happening in many areas.

Or are they not worth running anymore do to all the epa crap that makes them less reliable/ more work and expensive to hear with?
On wood stoves, which went thru a massive EPA cleanup 30 years ago, the results have been wholly positive. There were some initial hiccups though, the wood burning industry isn’t known for rapid innovation and deep R&D.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,299
Nova Scotia
Would it be too much to hope it completely shuts them down? Outdoor boiler installations are usually horrendously inefficient, to to a combination of poor design, line losses, and poor operator habits, re-enforces by a “mess is out there” attitude. They should be banned, IMO, and thankfully that is happening in many areas.


On wood stoves, which went thru a massive EPA cleanup 30 years ago, the results have been wholly positive. There were some initial hiccups though, the wood burning industry isn’t know for rapid innovation and deep R&D.
Seems a little bit of inconsistency in that - why not give the OWBs a chance at getting better with the same sort of EPA cleanup that cleaned your stoves up? Maybe there would be a similarly wholly positive result. Why call for a complete ban on OWBs when stoves improved without one?

Not a fan of the 'ban' word, in general, I guess.
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,055
Northern Maine
I'm also not a fan of the ban wagon. Areas that had problems addressed that with restricting installation and I don't blame them. I mean what kind of moron installs a stink pipe in the middle of a suburban neighborhood and loads it up with green wood?

We all know these OWB can be made to burn clean with proper design and education.

That said I go by a rural place in the winter that has made their boiler portable. Yup, water lines on the ground going into the basement thru a cellar window. There is not a stick of wood to be found at the place all year until winter when a fresh pile is dumped on the ground next to the boiler. The smoke coming out of that thing is disgusting.
I went past another place last winter (I take many different routes home) that had a boiler or stove in the basement with a SS pipe coming out the cellar window and up the side of the house. Issue was they didn't have enough pipe so it stopped at a window at the second floor and they were using the flue. The front of the house was covered in this black goo from the pipe and you could not see out the window. I should have stopped and taken a picture.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,305
Philadelphia
Seems a little bit of inconsistency in that - why not give the OWBs a chance at getting better with the same sort of EPA cleanup that cleaned your stoves up? Maybe there would be a similarly wholly positive result. Why call for a complete ban on OWBs when stoves improved without one?

Not a fan of the 'ban' word, in general, I guess.
Due to line loss, short stacks, and other inefficiencies built into the very principle of locating the boiler outside of your heated envelope, they will always have lower net efficiency than the same tech built into an indoor boiler. That is my primary issue with them, and why you often see their owners talking about burning 20+ cords per year to heat relatively modest spaces.

The problem isn’t “boiler” or “wood”, it is the “outdoor”.

Then there is the intent of the owner, many or most who choose this route do it for the express purpose of being able to burn their wood without having to split it dry it. That will not change, as long as OWB’s exist.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,305
Philadelphia
That said I go by a rural place in the winter that has made their boiler portable. Yup, water lines on the ground going into the basement thru a cellar window. There is not a stick of wood to be found at the place all year until winter when a fresh pile is dumped on the ground next to the boiler. The smoke coming out of that thing is disgusting.
That description covers nearly 100% of those I see around here.
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,316
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Due to line loss, short stacks, and other inefficiencies built into the very principle of locating the boiler outside of your heated envelope, they will always have lower net efficiency than the same tech built into an indoor boiler.
I've read that Europeans look at us Americans sideways when it comes to OWB's. The little bit I know of OWB's, it's mainly an American thing.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,305
Philadelphia
I've read that Europeans look at us Americans sideways when it comes to OWB's. The little bit I know of OWB's, it's mainly an American thing.
I’d bet the Canucks are with us, but I’m not surprised if you tell me they have no popularity in Europe, those guys have been dealing with a shortage of wood since before Colonial times. In fact, I thought timber was one of the primary methods of funding colonization, if not a driver of it.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,299
Nova Scotia
Due to line loss, short stacks, and other inefficiencies built into the very principle of locating the boiler outside of your heated envelope, they will always have lower net efficiency than the same tech built into an indoor boiler. That is my primary issue with them, and why you often see their owners talking about burning 20+ cords per year to heat relatively modest spaces.

The problem isn’t “boiler” or “wood”, it is the “outdoor”.

Then there is the intent of the owner, many or most who choose this route do it for the express purpose of being able to burn their wood without having to split it dry it. That will not change, as long as OWB’s exist.
Yes, there is certainly lots of things that people don't get right in OWB installs & operation.

Most of the people I know or know of do outdoor to get the mess & 'danger' (real or perceived) outside away from their living space. Stacks don't play much a part in efficiencies in new good ones - the chimney doesn't drive the combustion, fans do. Line loss would practically be a thing of the past if people use the proper piping & don't cheap out on it. That would still leave some stand by heat loss out the jacket, that has also been improved but no can't possibly be totally eliminated. Just as there are those who burn 20+ cords, there are also who have seen not a big increase going from inside to outside - as long as it is done right, with the right stuff. (And operated right, yes). They will never be as efficient as an indoor boiler done right, no. But the efficiency gap is getting smaller. And that efficiency difference might disappear all together if you factor in those who heat multiple buildings with one. All hardly a reason for a ban. Local ordinances should be able to handle poorly performing nuisance operators - and yes, there are some of those almost everywhere.

(Written from an IWB preference perspective).
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,305
Philadelphia
Yes, there is certainly lots of things that people don't get right in OWB installs & operation.

Most of the people I know or know of do outdoor to get the mess & 'danger' (real or perceived) outside away from their living space. Stacks don't play much a part in efficiencies in new good ones - the chimney doesn't drive the combustion, fans do. Line loss would practically be a thing of the past if people use the proper piping & don't cheap out on it. That would still leave some stand by heat loss out the jacket, that has also been improved but no can't possibly be totally eliminated. Just as there are those who burn 20+ cords, there are also who have seen not a big increase going from inside to outside - as long as it is done right, with the right stuff. (And operated right, yes). They will never be as efficient as an indoor boiler done right, no. But the efficiency gap is getting smaller. And that efficiency difference might disappear all together if you factor in those who heat multiple buildings with one. All hardly a reason for a ban. Local ordinances should be able to handle poorly performing nuisance operators - and yes, there are some of those almost everywhere.

(Written from an IWB preference perspective).
Great post. Thank you for that.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,055
Northern Maine
I've read that Europeans look at us Americans sideways when it comes to OWB's. The little bit I know of OWB's, it's mainly an American thing.
Where are many of the well known brands of boilers made/developed? Their energy costs are crazy expensive and I know in Italy strict controls are in place for electric appliances.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,391
WI, Leroy
in my home area 9 out 10 places have owb's ( farm country) even though there is a total ban on them ( perhaps grandfathered? ) at any rate most are on farms but I have noticed a couple in town centers ( big towns may be a dozen or so homes on either side if the main drag.) Thought about it until I checked the posted regs. + it isn't particularly inexpensive to set one up. Stuck a wood stove in the middle of the main floor - works for me. Furnace hardly runs all winter- but I will need to do something with the basement gets too cold down there to get any work done. Likely a pellet stove just because they are a forced exhaust which gets away from the huge expense of a 30+ ft class A flue. I do not need it running 24/7.
 

Dmurph2016

New Member
May 9, 2019
21
Mass
I understand how people burn 20 cords a year and see how they are to blame them for being efficient and whatnot. From my reswevh seems like the newer gassers are a lot more efficent. There’s a house that I’d like to buy in a few years. Currently has a Owb a old central boiler. I just want to see what the options will be in the future if I buy the house and I need to replace the boiler.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,299
Nova Scotia
I understand how people burn 20 cords a year and see how they are to blame them for being efficient and whatnot. From my reswevh seems like the newer gassers are a lot more efficent. There’s a house that I’d like to buy in a few years. Currently has a Owb a old central boiler. I just want to see what the options will be in the future if I buy the house and I need to replace the boiler.
I would expect to and budget for replacing the underground lines also. With good (not cheap) stuff.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
4,655
NE Ohio
IMO Central Boiler (or at least many of their dealers) is responsible for much of what's bad out there with how many people run their OWB's...they have spewed so much misinformation for SO MANY years now...more recently, they will give you the right information "officially", because they have to, but then turn around and give you the ole "but this is how I run mine" wink wink.
I'm not one for promoting big brother cracking down on peoples freedoms...but so many of these company's have done the bare minimum to get by for so long, and even now are still skirting the issues with things like "commercial bldg. use only" and "coal burner" loopholes...apparently somebody just needs to drop the hammer on 'em...
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,454
Downeast Maine
I know a guy with a really nasty OWB setup and his neighbor moved away because of it.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,299
Nova Scotia
I know a guy with a really nasty OWB setup and his neighbor moved away because of it.
Ya, that's not good. If it was here & affecting me that way, I would go to my municipality and lodge a complaint. Not sure how well the situation would get fixed, but I would try that ahead of having to move. Unless there were other reasons at play that would add in to the decision to move.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,454
Downeast Maine
Ya, that's not good. If it was here & affecting me that way, I would go to my municipality and lodge a complaint. Not sure how well the situation would get fixed, but I would try that ahead of having to move. Unless there were other reasons at play that would add in to the decision to move.
Perhaps there were, his burning habits did not change when his neighbor(s) moved out. The person in question basically bragged about being able to burn free wood and other garbage and not have to worry. He also burns 10+ cord every year and has no thermal storage.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
16,724
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
We’re on a slippery slope here. Is it burning 20 cords a year that is the problem? Then you had better limit house size so that nobody burns more than their fair share of fuel. I don’t think we should care at all about how much fuel is used. Instead, I hope that we regulate an emissions requirement first and an efficiency requirement second.

Even house fossil fuel furnaces are similarly regulated. Further, they are regulated for size as well to somewhat match the house’s needs.

We regulate duct insulation values so the line losses to the owb can be regulated as well.

I’m not a fan of banning owb as a device. Instead, what’s the evil thing about them that you’re trying to stop?
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,454
Downeast Maine
We’re on a slippery slope here. Is it burning 20 cords a year that is the problem? Then you had better limit house size so that nobody burns more than their fair share of fuel. I don’t think we should care at all about how much fuel is used. Instead, I hope that we regulate an emissions requirement first and an efficiency requirement second.

Even house fossil fuel furnaces are similarly regulated. Further, they are regulated for size as well to somewhat match the house’s needs.

We regulate duct insulation values so the line losses to the owb can be regulated as well.

I’m not a fan of banning owb as a device. Instead, what’s the evil thing about them that you’re trying to stop?
It's not the amount of fuel burned, it's the amount of fuel wasted that's the issue. you can absolutely limit fuel, just like watering lawns is limited in places with drought conditions. That's not the point though, I agree.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,055
Northern Maine
I know a guy with a really nasty OWB setup and his neighbor moved away because of it.
I probably would have ventilated it first long before I sold my house.
 
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