EPA/CSA standards: everything you need to know for wood heating

What is the EPA standard?

EPA is the US agency responsible for setting environmental standards for the United States, namely fine particle emissions from wood-burning appliances. To be legally sold in the United States, wood and pellet appliances must therefore meet the most recent requirements of the standard. In May 2015, it was set at 4.5 g/h or less of fine particle emissions, then was revised downwards on May 15, 2020. It is important to mention that EPA certified appliances emit up to 90% less particulate matter in the atmosphere than conventional stoves. 

Since May 2020, pellet appliances must emit 2.0 g/h or less of particles, while the rate applicable to wood appliances depends on the test method chosen by the manufacturer: 2.5 g/h or less for appliances tested in cordwood, 2.0 g/h or less for appliances tested in crib wood. Since wood-burning appliances are used with cordwood, this is the most representative test method of the real performance of the appliances. The EPA recommends that manufacturers use this type of combustible to perform certification tests, and this is exactly what we do at Drolet! 

What is the CSA emission standard? 

In Canada, the CSA B415.1-10 standard regulates fine particle emissions. Canadian provinces accept CSA B415.1-10 and EPA certified appliances. Under CSA B415.1-10, wood appliances must have emissions below 4.5 g/h. Exceptions may apply, as is the case for the city of Montreal, where emissions must be less than 2.5 g/h (regardless of EPA or CSA certification). If in doubt, check if your municipality has a specific by-law relating to wood heating. 

Do I have to change my appliance ?

Everywhere in the United States and Canada, except for Nunavut, EPA or CSA B415.1-10 certified appliances are mandatory. Exceptions exist, namely for decorative wood burning fireplaces, wood cook stoves or camp stoves. Each municipality may require that the appliances installed on its territory meet more stringent standards as is the case for the city of Montreal, even if the province does not require it. It is therefore important to refer to your municipality for the current regulation, as well as to check whether a subsidy program for the replacement of old appliances is available to citizens. 

In almost 100% of cases, municipalities do not require the replacement of existing appliances, but require that all new installations comply with the new regulations. There are exceptions, however, including the city of Montreal, where this acquired right is not applicable. After first announcing a complete ban on wood burning appliances, the city retracted and finally established a regulation in October 2018, which stipulates that all wood burning appliances used on its territory must emit 2.5 g/h or less when tested to EPA or CSA B415.1-10. Therefore, existing appliances on the territory of the city of Montreal that emit more than 2.5 g/h must be replaced or condemned. 

How much grams per hour (g/h) does my appliance emit ?

If you already own a wood-burning appliance and wish to verify the number of g/h it emits, refer to your appliance’s certification label. This is usually found in the following places:  

  • Free standing stove: at the back of the appliance
  • Insert: behing the faceplate, on the side of the appliance
  • Zero clearance fireplace (prefab): under the combustion chamber, accessible behing the bottom louver 

If the information you are looking for does not appear on the certification label (which is the case for several appliances), you can also check your user manual or the EPA database if it is a recent appliance: https://cfpub.epa.gov