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Single Burn-Rate Wood Stoves New Again

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Single burn-rate wood stoves have been around since the very first crude wood-burning appliances were created. Basically, they’re wood stoves, inserts or fireplaces in which the incoming combustion air cannot be adjusted, unlike the majority of today’s wood stoves. This results in a burn rate that cannot be dampered or controlled for long burn times.

Proponents claim that since these units burn very hot, they produce very low emissions, even with a large firebox.

Thousands of these single burn-rate stoves have been sold over many years. Most are less expensive, simple, price-point models used as shop, garage and barn heaters. Until Dec. 31, 2015, the EPA did not regulate single-rate models. But with EPA’s new NSPS, single burn-rate stoves must now meet the same emissions requirements as adjustable burn-rate models – 4.5 gph now and 2.5 or 2.0 gph in 2020.

There now seems to be more interest from manufacturers in wood stoves, inserts and fireplaces featuring a single burn rate.

ICC has introduced in its RSF line a single burn-rate wood fireplace with a large 4.4 cu. ft. firebox that produces 1.3 gph of emissions. ICC’s Ray Bonar says other models in testing have delivered less than 1.0 gph with non-catalytic technology. Modulating the wood load, says Bonar, can control the high heat produced by single burn-rate models, or excess heat can be routed to other rooms. 

“These are not whole-house heaters since they are not easily controlled,” says Bonar. “They are not quite as efficient as adjustable burn-rate models, but they produce super low emissions and a super looking large fire with about a three- or four-hour burn time. They won’t replace the normal adjustable burn-rate models, and they aren’t recommended for every instance. They represent a limited market for the customer who wants the aesthetics of a big fire, but we see them as a sales opportunity.

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