Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 2012 Atlanta Hearth Expo

If you like wood and pellet stoves, Atlanta was the place to be last week. But if you were looking for innovative new stoves, you would have been disappointed. Many manufacturers are still waiting to make sure they know what the new EPA emission numbers will be before bringing out new products. There still appears a palpable fear that EPA standards could go down to 3 grams an hour, even though their proposal has said 4.5 grams for some time.

Two companies are now in production with hybrid stoves, pushing the grams per hour below 0.5. The Travis Cape Cod, which won a Vesta last year, is just now hitting the market, using both secondary combustion tubes and a catalyst. Tom Morrisey, owner of Woodstock Soapstone Stoves, has had a hybrid for nearly a year, also with a very large firebox and low emission numbers.
We were happy to see a masonry stove win a Vesta this year for best wood product. Tulikivi came out with the Harmaja smaller masonry stove that retails under $6,000. It is also a hybrid of sorts in that it combines convection with radiant heat.

The show was somewhat smaller than previous years, with some big manufacturers like HHT, Jotul and Vermont Castings not attending.

The EPA ran a scaled down version of its Wood Smoke Meeting and Hearth Industry Tour, attended by about 10 state air quality officials, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Environmental Health and the Alliance for Green Heat. Led by Larry Brockman, the seminar focused on change out programs and problems with the burgeoning population of outdoor wood boilers. (In this month’s Hearth & Home magazine, industry expert and insider Paul Stegmeir wrote that there may be 500,000 units in the field now “with a large, developing market in many wood-rich states.”)

Next year’s Expo will be back in Orlando and by then, the new EPA emission standards will likely be more clear, but still not final. We will know who our next President is and some in the industry hope that if Obama is out of office, the new emission standards will be watered down and the DOE’s direct vent gas rules dropped. We disagree. We think the NSPS will – and should - move forward without interference of a new administration, if there is one.

Smokeless stacks in the outdoor burn area in Atlanta while 10 – 15 wood stoves were in use. 

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