Know your regulations

2020 Certification: Are you missing the mark?

By Félix Gaspar

| October 29, 2019

We often talk about the EPA 2020 certification when referring to wood stoves and fireplaces. However, this standard, without being complex, contains many aspects that need to be explained. In order to help you understand all the nuances and the meaning of the EPA 2020 results, we prepared this short article.

What is the EPA 2020 wood stove standard?

There is more than one recognized certification method and standard in the wood stove and fireplace industry. Indeed, depending on the type of appliance or the fuel used for the tests, two units may be compliant with different results.

The new EPA 2020 standard allows for two possible avenues of certification. The first is the one you have heard the most about, namely that a threshold equal to or below 2.0 g/h of organic particle emissions in the air must be reached. To do this, the device must have been tested to have crib wood. This type of fuel is standardized with a specific shape and dimensions. This is the traditional method of doing the EPA test. Note that the 2.0 g/h objective is also the target that pellet appliances must reach.

The second emission target that can also qualify a stove or fireplace is 2.5 g/h. The difference in the pass mark is in the fuel used. For this test, cordwood is used. This certification is more realistic compared to the reality of the consumer. Indeed, it is the type of wood that everyone uses at home. Since cordwood is an organic material that can vary in terms of density, humidity, etc., the margin of error is greater and that is why the standard allows up to 2.5 g/h .

The target becomes 4.5 g/h if the device has been certified with the CSA B415 standard. The latter is also accepted in Quebec, but we can expect this to change eventually to align with the EPA standard. This is a temporary way to sell a stove that does not comply with EPA 2020. The fact remains that manufacturers who sell only in Canada have every right to do so, for the moment. The CSA B415 upgrade date is not known at this time.

Finally, decorative appliances with a window larger than 500 in2 are not subject to a certification requirement. They therefore do not appear in the list of EPA devices, because their emissions are not measured. However, the regulations allow you to sell them without worries. The reason for this exception is that they are designed for short term amenity and not heating over long periods of time. Government authorities therefore take it for granted that they do not represent a threat to the environment and therefore do not need to legislate in relation to this category of devices.

In short, what you need to keep in mind when buying a stove or fireplace is that it must be certified according to the most recent standard for its category. Inform yourself.

Several companies like Pacific Energy already offer devices that are certified for 2020.

Here is an example of the homologation plate found on the back of a Pacific Energy Summit LE wood stove. It achieved a result of 1.8 g/h.

How can I know if my stove or fireplace is certified?

It’s all very well to know the regulations, but how do you know the standard that your current or future device meets? To do this, you have three options. The first is to look behind your stove or fireplace and locate the rating plate. This will tell you everything you need to know (emissions, year of approval, regulatory body, etc.).

The second way is to consult the user manual of the device in question. You will find all the details on the approvals received. If you have lost the manual for your device, know that they are often found on the manufacturer’s website in the archives section. In addition, nothing prevents you from contacting them directly to ask them questions.

The third option is to go to the EPA site and see if your device is part of their database. To do this, you must have at least the name of your manufacturer as well as the device model. You can consult the database of approved devices here.

Useful definitions

  • EPA: stands for the Environmental Protection Agency. This American agency sets standards and regulations in terms of the environment. In Quebec, for stoves and fireplaces, we have decided to follow EPA standards.
  • CSA: is the acronym for the Canadian Standards Association. This non-governmental organization defines norms and standards of all kinds, including stoves and fireplaces. Governments can then decide whether or not to adopt them. In Quebec, in terms of stoves and fireplaces, we have decided to allow appliances certified according to the CSA standard.
  • G/h of particles: represents the quantity in grams of solid organic particles that are evacuated into the atmosphere each hour by a solid fuel appliance.
  • Crib lumber: corresponds to a specific configuration and quality of lumber that is cut to dimensions generally 2 in x 4 in or 4 in x 4 in. This stapled lumber configuration was created to improve consistency in lab testing.

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