Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers

Public Awareness and Reasearch of Outdoor Wood Boilers


Below you will see the Frequently Asked Questions Page that we developed nearly 5 years ago (wow has is it been that long?) The reason we have asked you to come to this page is to give some updates and clarifications on where we are in our lives and why we have been gone for so long.

In January 2008 we moved from our home that was being attacked by our neighbors Outdoor Wood Boiler.  If you are not aware this was our first home as a married couple. The home had been in my family since my Grandfather and Grandmother built the residence in the 1940s. We sought help from every level of government starting with our local elected officials all the way to the national level of elected officials. To our dismay "no one" helped. As we felt we had no other options we sought legal advice. After spending nearly everything that we had, we simply could not financially continue our fight against the corporation of Outdoor Wood Boilers. Eventually, the owner of our first home, a family member, sold the property for a lot less than it probably was worth simply to "get rid" of the home. To this day the house is sitting vacant simply crumbling (or being rehabbed for an extended period of time) as the neighbor still smokes out the neighborhood with his Outdoor Wood Furnace. 

Professionally, after the move in 2008, opportunities arose for us to move for employment purposes. Since our move in 2008 we have resided in two different states other than Illinois where our first home was located. We will go into more detail below as we edit the "personal faqs" section at a later date, but we are now content living in a residence nowhere anywhere near an Outdoor Wood Boiler.     

To summarize, with professional opportunities arising over the past few years and simply being "burned out" from the whole Outdoor Wood Boiler controversy we decided to take a step away from the whole situation.  What sparked us again was someone who contacted us a few months ago, to thank us for all of the efforts we have made regarding educating the public on Outdoor Wood Boilers. We almost felt that all of the sleepless nights and sickness we endured when creating this site should not be lost in cyberspace forever. So we invite you to view our site. If you haven't already please read the Notice posted on the Main Page from 10-5-13.   

Please check back often as we have full intentions on updating the content below in the near future. Enjoy our site and we hope that if any of the information collected on these pages helps you the reader, we feel our efforts are worthy of maintaining these pages.  

Frequently Asked Questions (OWBs)

Frequently Asked Questions

(updated May 2008)

What is an Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB)/Furnace (OWF)/Hydronic Heater (OWHH)?

A typical outdoor wood-fired hydronic heater (OWHH, also known as an "Outdoor Wood Heater," "Outdoor Wood Boiler," or "Outdoor Wood Furnace") burns wood to heat water that is piped underground to a nearby structure (usually a home) resulting in heat for the building.  An OWHH resembles a small shed with a smokestack, typically located on the outside of the building to be heated.



What exactly is the problem with Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWBs)?

Outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters can be substantially dirtier and less efficient than most other home heating technologies.  With their smoldering fires and short smokestacks (usually no more than six to ten feet tall), OWHHs create heavy smoke and release it close to the ground, where it often lingers and exposes people in the area to nuisance conditions and health risks.

Although these units are designed to burn dry, seasoned wood, some people use them to burn green wood, which generates much more smoke.  Others burn household trash or construction debris, which not only release harmful chemicals and pollution, but can be against state law.

Outdoor wood-fired hydronic heater emissions are a significant concern in many local areas.  Numerous scientific studies report potentially serious adverse health effects from breathing smoke emitted by residential wood combustion.  Residential wood smoke contains fine particles, which can affect both the lungs and the heart.  In some areas, residential wood smoke can be a significant source of exposure to fine particle pollution.



Does the release of smoke from an OWB have an effect on a person's health?

Yes!  If someone claims that the smoke from an OWB does not affect a person's health, they are ignoring the facts:

Outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters (OWHHs) produce smoke when wood does not burn completely.  Most current OWHHs smoke even when operated according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Even new generation OWHHs that meet EPA's voluntary program performance specifications can produce smoke if operated improperly.

Smoke from OWHHs contains a complex mixture of gases and particles.  The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems.  EPA is concerned about particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because those are the particles that generally pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs.  Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and can aggravate existing diseases, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).



Are there any research studies showing wood smoke effects on health?

Yes.  To view a collection of studies and research: PLEASE CLICK HERE

If you have any more studies to add, please let us know.

How much pollution does an OWB create compared to other heating sources?

One OWB emits as much pollution as:

* 12 EPA-certified indoor wood stoves

* 1,000 homes with oil heat

* 1,800 homes with natural gas heat

OWB's create on average 72 g/hr of PM 2.5 particulates.

Source: New York Attorney General's Report (2008):  CLICK HERE

How much PM 2.5 is created by OWBs compared to other heating methods?

OWB = 72 g/hr

Conventional Wood Stove = 18 g/hr

EPA Certified Stove = 6 g/hr

Oil Furnace = 0.07 g/hr

Gas Furnace = 0.04 g/hr

Source: New York Attorney General's Report (2008):  CLICK HERE

What is an OWB's Efficiency?  

According the New York Attorney General's Office an average for OWBs is 43% efficiency.

Source: New York Attorney General's Report (2008):  CLICK HERE


How long have OWBs existed?  Is this a new trend to heat homes?

United States Patent 4724798 was filed in January of 1987 and was published in February of 1988.

Source(s): U.S. Patents Office

How long has the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency known OWBs were problematic?

Our research indicates that the U.S. EPA has known about the dangerous emissions that OWBs create since the early 1990s.  If this is incorrect and anyone knows of an earlier or later date, please let us know.

Source(s): Various

How many OWB's are in use? Are there more on the way?

NESCAUM predicts that by the year 2010 nearly 500,000 units may be in use at the rate they are being used.



Has the U.S. EPA done anything about this what are they doing now?

The U.S. EPA has entrusted OWB Manufacturers to self-regulate the industry, instead of forcing a ruling. To answer this question more fully, please click here:



If OWBs are so "bad," why aren't they against the law?

Unfortunately, the U.S. EPA only recommends certain operational standards for OWBs. Because of this recommendation and not regulation, OWBs do not have a standard for who should "enforce" them.  Therefore, many state, county, township, and municipal governments have enacted ordinances either regulating or banning the use of OWBs.  

Commonly, OWBs can be enforced under nuisance and property laws, however often smaller municipalities and counties do not have the functionality to carry out and uphold these laws. The local municipalities then rely on state departments to handle the situation, however some states don't (won't) address the issue as a state problem and rely on local municipalities to handle the issue.

Do people save money using Outdoor Wood Boilers?

When factoring in costs of purchasing an OWB ($5,000 - $7,000) then installation costs between $2,000 - $4,000 The math is pretty easy to add up. Even if someone pays $50 a month to heat the intial investment outweighs the benefit. To read an analytical approach to this PLEASE CLICK HERE


Are OWBs fire hazards?

When not used or cleaned properly, OWBs can cause a fire. Carelessness and neglect of the units can create soot and creosote buildup that may cause a serious fire and damage property as well as the unit itself.

Source(s): Various


What are the OWBs that pass the EPAs Standards with an "orange tag"?

Currently there are only 3 models of OWBs on the market that pass the U.S. EPA's emission standards. That means that the estimated 500,000 other units already in operation do not pass the emission standards and NEVER will, simply because of their design.

The models are:

1) Central Boiler E-Classic 2300 Model

2) Heatmor Response (not on the market as of May 2008)

        3) Greenwood Furnace Model 100

Source(s): Central Boiler, Inc., Heatmor, Inc., and Greenwood Technologies, Inc.


So what about older model OWBs?   

Unless the burner is one of the newer models it does NOT pass emission standards set forth by the U.S. EPA.  OWB manufacturers have admitted their older models are not efficient. NESCAUM believes these standards are still not enough.



What is the "orange tag" program?  

This orange tag identifies outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters that meet EPA's Phase I emissions levels for the voluntary program. Models that carry this tag have been tested by an EPA-accredited laboratory and are cleaner than other models.

To read more about the Orange Tag Program 


What are the emission standards set by the U.S. EPA?

The Phase 1 emission standards for OWBs as of March 2008 is 0.44 Ib/mmBtu (heat input)

The Phase 2 emission limit of 0.32 Ib/mmBtu (heat output) with no test run to exceed 15 g/hr for residential units effective 3/31/10



Are there any groups that are for restricting or banning Outdoor Wood Boilers?

Yes, the following groups have voiced their opposition on OWBs. Please visit their sites

The Clean Air Revival:

Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management:

Western States Air Resources Council:


Please be sure to visit the Personal FAQs page as well.

To copy this page simply copy and paste the text to a word document or please feel free to contact us at for a Microsoft Word version that we can send to you.


Personal Frequently Asked Questions

Personal Frequently Asked Questions

(May 2008)


What makes you an expert on Outdoor Wood Boilers; are you some sort of scientist?

I am not claiming to be an "expert" or a "scientist" when presenting this information about OWBs.  I have spent nearly 2 years researching this subject and have compiled these informational pages for you the reader to assert your own conclusions and decisions.

Personally, I hold a Masters Degree in Public Administration and Policy Analysis and have experience working in positions in both municipal and federal government dealing with policy analysis and decision making.

What made you create these pages?  Why do you do this?

In the Fall of 2006, my newly married wife and I had our home smoked out by an Outdoor Wood Boiler while living within the village limits of a town in Southern Illinois.  Please view the main page to watch videos and view pictures about this story.  Also, please view "The Story of the OWB" CLICK HERE.

What happened as a result of this?

Fearing for our health, eventually my wife and I were forced to move from our home in January of 2008, after enduring one and a half "burning" seasons. To view a news article we were featured in about this CLICK HERE.


Did anyone help you with your problem?

Unfortunately, we have contacted numerous governmental agencies and organizations—all of which have not attempted to help us with this issue.  We hope that one day we will not be ignored and this will be solved.  To view the list CLICK HERE.


Does this problem still exist? 

As of May 2008, we are still seeking support.  We began seeking assistance in November of 2006.

Are you the only person who is against OWBs and wood smoke?

No, many other families and individuals throughout the country are in favor of the restriction of OWBs.  Some favor a complete ban of the devices, while others favor restrictions and requirements.

Do you belong to any groups or organizations?

Yes.  I am the Central States Region Director for the Clean Air Revival, Inc.

Do you hate everyone who owns an OWB?

No, if someone can responsibly use this device without infringing on their neighbor our community, by all means, please do so.  It is your right to do as you please, but it is not your right to "take away" from someone else's property and enjoyment of it.

How do I contact you personally?

Please feel free to contact me through:





Freedom of Air website: