EPA Regulations and JUCA

Since air-tight products created a bad reputation for pollution and massive creosote production, the government got involved. The EPA made strict pollution limits for those products in 1988. In trade magazines at the time, several companies bragged about spending half- or three-quarters million dollars on R+D for their new products. (Why they would brag about such an expenditure?). They were clearly counting on huge volume of products, expecting that the number previously shared between 500 manufacturers would now be sold by the 34 companies remaining.

They were wrong. In 1988, quality woodburners retailed for about $800-1200. A year later, the new models were $1100- $1500. Very little different in the products. Often, MUCH smaller fireboxes, seldom as large as 3 cubic feet! Actually, those "NEW*quot; airtight woodstoves often had a slight reduction in burn times, but substantially higher prices. One $1400 product (which was marketed hard and became fairly popular) passed the EPA burn test, but had a 1.2 cubic foot firebox and needed to be re-loaded with wood EVERY 36 MINUTES!

That company didn't emphasize this aspect in their ads! That particular product had a normal full load of 12 pounds of wood!

Their glowing expectations of large numbers of products to pay off huge R+D costs and big advertising budgets just didn't materialize. When people got a product, they quickly told others about how useless their woodburner was, and few others bought them. With fewer products sold, a larger fraction for those R+D bills was necessary. Most quality air-tight woodburners today retail at $1500-$2200, for a product which realistically will heat 1-3 rooms. From a owners point of view, it's not cost effective. Such a product will take a LONG time to pay for itself, if ever, even if wood is available for free.

JUCA has only EVER manufactures NON-airtight products. Our unique design principles allow extremely high operating efficiency while still allowing the fire adequate oxygen to minimize pollution and creosote. Therefore, the EPA requirements do not apply. Actually, they don't apply for two totally different reasons. First, the EPA exempted central wood furnaces, which nearly all JUCAs qualify as. Secondly, the JUCA non-airtight operation creates a higher than 30:1 ratio of oxygen to wood and thereby is exempt as being non-airtight.

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The EPA made it abundantly clear that their strict rules were ONLY meant to apply to air-tight products, which happen to be MOST of the woodstoves on the market. In the Federal Register, of February, 1988, EPA 40 CFR Part 60, states:

The intent of the committee was to exempt from the standards those appliances which rely on clean-burning air-rich conditions and which have high combustion efficiencies.

This statement exempted traditional masonry fireplaces and the very few non-airtight woodstoves (like JUCAs) that were and are on the market.

So, ... all those expensive R+D costs didn't apply to us. Actually, our original products from 1973 have always burned so cleanly, they would easily have passed the EPA tests. The EPA procedures cannot actually be applied to a non-airtight product. Their test rules require setting a woodburner for about 5 lbs/hour of wood consumption while also requiring using kindling and split wood to do it. A JUCA CAN burn at the 5 lbs/hour rate, but it does it by burning VERY thick pieces of wood, and plenty of oxygen. We sometimes refer to this as FUEL-limited rather than AIR-limited or airtight.

What this means is that the EPA test fills a stove with thin strips of wood that wants to burn fast and ferociously, which then requires suffocating it so it cannot. That happens to be a common usage of airtight woodburners and is also the situation which produces the most pollution and creosote.

JUCAs were designed with large fireboxes and intended to be loaded with thick logs. These big logs burn slowly and long without any air restriction. It turns out that by using two 8" diameter, 24" long logs in a JUCA (about 60 pounds of wood), a normal burn time is 10 1/2 to 11 hours. This uses wood at about 5 1/2 pounds per hour, and burns more cleanly than any product ever tested by the EPA (in the area of 1 gram/hour or sometimes much less). However, the EPA doesn't count this as valid comparable results because the fuel piece size is so different. They claim (rightly), that by allowing more than one variable, the results are like apples and oranges. So they apply their tests ONLY to airtight products, for which they were intended. WE just say that with the one exception of wood-piece size, we could have knocked the socks off all approved air-tight woodburners, not only in low pollution, but also in long, even burns, and full-house- heating outputs with overnight fires. Where airtight products struggle to get results of 5 grams or 3 grams/hour, our NON-airtight products EASILY get well below 1 gram/hour!

The point is, we didn't have to increase the price of our products by the $300-$400 the other guys did.

In the recent couple of years, some regulators are starting to understand the tremensdous difference between airtight and non-airtight products. Some have even come to realize that "no burn" days and exclusion from new construction, should NOT apply to non-airtight products. Hooray! We've been trying to tell them that since before 1980!

Masonry heaters and non-airtight products are permitted in the super strict rules of Canada's R-2000 houses. Even the unbelievably strict rules conpemplated for Minnesota allows masonry heaters and non-airtight products like JUCAs. Washington state granted an exemption for non-airtight products and masonry heaters a number of years back. There ARE signs that intelligence is seeping into such regulations! But, there are still many jurisdictions where non-airtight products are still lumped in with airtight products, and kind of indicted by association! Oh, well!

This suggests that it would be prudent for you to check on how enlightened your local regulators are regarding this subject. In a perfect world, they would understand the distinction between airtight and non-airtight products, but many bureaucrats are not knowledgeable on such distinctions. If you encounter such resistance, we suggest printing out this and other similar pages in our site, to make your case. Usually, they will then remove any roadblocks they had put in the way.

The JUCA Home Page is at: juca

E-mail to: JUCA1@mb-soft.com