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Residential Wood Burning

Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWBs)

What are OWBs?

A smoking outdoor wood boiler

OWBs (also known as outdoor hydronic heaters) are fuel burning devices:

  • designed to burn wood or other fuels;
  • that the manufacturer specifies for outdoor installation or installation in structures not normally occupied by humans; and
  • that are used to heat building space and/or water through the distribution, typically through pipes, of a gas or liquid (e.g., water or water/antifreeze mixture) heated in the device.

A typical unit looks like a small metal storage shed with a stack. OWBs can also be used to heat swimming pools, greenhouses, milk rooms, etc.

Regulations for OWBs in New York

DEC adopted Part 247, Outdoor Wood Boilers (leaves DEC website) on December 29, 2010. The rule affects owners, operators, manufacturers and distributors of OWBs. It is also important to check with your town clerk to see if there are any local laws related to OWBs in effect in your town.

Nuisance Situations

Nuisance situations typically arise in cases where an OWB is installed close to a property boundary line, has a short stack and/or burns unseasoned wood or other inappropriate fuel. Three examples of a nuisance condition are:

  • activation of smoke detectors in neighboring structures;
  • visibility impairment on a public highway; or
  • a visible plume from the OWB contacting a building on an adjacent property.

Contact the DEC regional office for your location if you are adversely impacted by smoke from a neighbor's OWB.

Indoor Wood Stoves

New indoor wood stoves are not regulated by the DEC. They are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through a New Source Performance Standard (40 CFR 60, Subpart AAA). For more information, visit EPA's Wood Heater Compliance Monitoring Program (leaves DEC website).

Fireplaces and Fireplace Inserts

EPA has a voluntary program regarding fireplaces and fireplace inserts. For more information, visit EPA's Burn Wise (leaves DEC website), a program that promotes the importance of burning the right wood, the right way, in the right appliance.


More about Residential Wood Burning:

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