Thursday, May 30, 2013

EPA Requests Outdoor Boiler Companies to Remove Disputed Efficiency Ratings

On May 9, the EPA sent letters to manufacturers of outdoor boilers (also called outdoor hydronic heaters) requesting that they remove efficiency information for EPA qualified models tested with EPA’s previous Method 28 OWHH from websites and all printed materials. The EPA sent them new hangtags without efficiencies to replace the old ones. 

The letters, signed by Gregory Green, Director of the Outreach and Education Division, asked that this be done by June 14, giving companies about 7 weeks to comply. The companies are also asked to inform their retailers to discontinue use of the old hangtags and printed materials using the old efficiency numbers.

The EPA’s move to stop the use of those discredited efficiency numbers was welcomed by the Alliance for Green heat and many state agencies and industry members.   

The request is the latest twist in a voluntary program that called into question both the EPA’s credibility to test efficiency and the boiler companies who continued to use the impossibly high numbers. It also gave a significant marketing edge to outdoor boilers who could claim far higher efficiencies than wood and pellet stoves and automated European boilers.  Outdoor boilers tested under the previous EPA approved test method were reporting efficiencies of up to 97%. 

The EPA removed the efficiency numbers from their website in 2011 and requested manufacturers to stop using them.  Manufacturers reportedly balked, saying they wouldn’t stop using the high efficiency numbers until their competitors stopped.
Today, it is unclear how efficient Phase 2 outdoor boilers actually are. According to a paper from Intertek, one of the leading wood stove test labs: “With the exception of a number of test reports indicating impossibly high efficiencies, the weighted average efficiencies of appliances meeting EPA Phase II emissions limits average 55%.”  The State of Maine gives an estimate of 65% efficient to Phase 2 outdoor boilers on its fuel calculator and 55% for unqualified boilers.

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1 comment:

  1. The true efficiency of boilers is always in question, and those numbers, though perhaps inaccurate, slightly misleading and overly-exaggerated gave the average consumer some sort of grading and comparison scale. I is the average consumer going to compare efficiency now?