Wood Boiler–EPA Exempt–plus Safety Certification

I didn’t get any comments on the piping layouts at hearth.com, but I did have a forum disagreement with a poster about the safety certification of this foreign made stove.

The statement was made that stoves that are not UL/CSA listed cannot be installed or sold in North America. There seems to be some bias toward UL certification which used to be a non-profit safety testing lab for electric appliances. In 2012 the company became for profit and have influenced some insurance companies to require their certification for wood stoves. This company does not have the facilities to test wood stoves so they use outside certifiers. Some people have had trouble with insurance agents who insisted that UL test their stoves! In fact the poster referred to his insurance agent as the source for his statement and based on his insurance, it was true for him, but non-UL certified stoves are not actually illegal or against any US regulations.

I re-read our home insurance policy and did some online research of other insurance companies and UL listing is not mentioned, it does not seem to be a universal insurance requirement. But some insurance companies get particular about wood stoves more so than fireplaces. Several web sites assert that there is no legal obligation to purchase or sell only UL listed appliances in the US. Consumer organizations respect the brand and recommend “looking for” this safety listing but appliances that are not listed can be just as safe as those that are. European standards also appear to be just as safety conscious as US or Canadian standards.

The Spectra fireplace wood boiler is certified by the Polish Center for Accreditation.

PCA Approved Spectra Stove

PCA Approved Spectra Stove

The stove has an official letter of certification from this organization and was tested by this independent lab to earn it.

Spectra Stove Certification

Spectra Stove Certification

Here is the Google Translation of the letter above:

Institute of Thermal Technology

A certificate No 331 (image of PCA seal)
Wood-burning fireplace
Spectra / Funke Aqua
a power rating of 25 kW
with the band aqueous
produced by the company:
Cichewicz Boiler C. O. Sp. with o.o
Ilino 20 B
09-100 Plonsk
was examined by the Research Laboratory of boilers, turbines, equipment,
heating and de-dusting and dust-gas emissions
Section Koslow and Heating Equipment
Institute of Thermal Technology
accredited by the Polish Centre for Accreditation
(Certificate No. AB 048) ITC report Reg. No. 8028

and meets the requirements in terms of efficiency, greenhouse gas and safe
operation stipulated in the Polish Standard BS EN 13229

additional Disclaimer
-Unit Water is designed to work in an open heating system
protected open expansion vessel PN-91 / B-02413.
Provide indispensable service-producer and delivery of spare parts.

Validity of the certificate expires on: 24.04.2010 r.

Institut Technique Ciepincj

The European standard for wood boilers includes a requirement for specific measurements of the stove’s size, efficiency, output, etc. The table is on the second page of the certification.

Spectra Stove Certification p.2

Spectra Stove Certification p.2

This is the English version of the data table.

Spectra Certification Data Table

Spectra Certification Data Table

Not only has the stove been tested for PCA certification–it also earned CE certification (an explanation of CE) which is the European safety standard. This is because this wood boiler was manufactured by Cichewicz in Poland but sold by Buderus, a large German company that specializes in boilers of all kinds. Here is a photo of the CE label.

CE Cert buderus-lublin

CE Certification Buderus-Lublin

The person who insisted that UL certification was required, didn’t seem to care about EPA certification. At first I thought that was what was being discussed because EPA certification has been required for all wood stoves sold in the United States since 1990.

The EPA requirements adopted in 1988 exempt some types of wood burners.
“The following are not affected fa­cilities and are not subject to this sub-part:
(1) Open masonry fireplaces con­structed on site,
(2) Boilers,
(3) Furnaces, and
(4) Cookstoves.”
Further, the requirements are to ensure that stoves meet emission and efficiency standards.
“An affected facility not equipped with a catalytic combustor shall not discharge into the atmosphere any gases which contain particulate matter in excess of a weighted average of 7.5 g/hr (0.017 lb/hr). Particulate emissions shall not exceed 15 g/hr (0.033 lb/hr) dur­ing any test run at a burn rate less than or equal to 1.5 kg/hr (3.3 lb/hr) that is required to be used in the weighted average and particulate emis­sions shall not exceed 18 g/hr (0.040 lb/hr) during any test run at a burn rate greater than 1.5 kg/hr (3.3 lb/hr) that is required to be used in the weighted av­erage.
The estimated efficiency shall be 72 percent if the model is catalyst-equipped and 63 percent if the model is not catalyst equipped, and 78 percent if the model is designed to burn wood pellets for fuel.”

UPDATE: The EPA adopted new rules for wood burning heaters in February, 2015. These rules are not retroactive to units already in use. The new rules include hydronic heaters, but the standard in 2016 is .32 lb/mmBtu particulate matter with a cap of 18g/h per individual burn rate. By 2020 the standard will be .10 lb/mmBtu with a cap of .15 g/h per burn rate. So the new rules for hydronic heaters are less stringent than the 1988 wood stove standard.

In Colorado, wood stoves that are not EPA approved cannot be burned in certain areas on certain days, and they cannot be installed in the Denver Metro area at all.  (Colorado Rule pdf) However, the Colorado rules exempt, wood cook stoves, wood boilers and furnaces because no EPA certification for a wood boiler exists. On “no burn” days in Colorado, Phase II or EPA approved stoves may be used. The Spectra wood boiler appears to meet or exceed the EPA requirements for high efficiency and low emissions for a wood burning appliance so we are confident we are doing out part to limit pollution while still safely using a renewable resource for heat.

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