As cold weather approaches, those thinking of purchasing a wood-burning stove for heating their home may want to consider the winners and finalists of this first-ever event. The Wood Stove Decathlon, held in Washington, DC, concluded on November 19 after five days of testing and judging.
The Decathlon was created in order to stimulate competition and more efficient wood-burning stoves in anticipation of future EPA changes in regulations regarding wood-burning appliances. The event offered opportunities for people to see the most advanced stoves in the world, visit exhibitions, and attend talks and panels with ten of the nation's leading stove experts.
The 14 finalists in the competition were Dragon Heater, Firemaster, Helbro Stoves, HWAM, Intercontinental, Kimberly, Mulciber, Ofenbou and Feurerstellen, Smartsove, Travis, Tulikivi, Walker Stoves, Wittus, and Woodstock Soapstone. These companies entered high-efficiency wood stoves, rocket heaters, masonry heaters, and retrofits to modify existing wood stoves.
Woodstock Soapstone took the grand prize as well as first place in efficiency with its hybrid stove which includes a combustion regulator. The company was considerate enough to share its $25,000 prize with the two teams that competed without financial sponsorship- IntensiFire and Walker Stoves.
The $10,000 second prize was shared by Travis Industries and Wittus-Fire by Design, who donated their share back to the Alliance for Green Heat, one of the sponsors of the event.
The winner for innovation was HWAM; for lowest carbon monoxide emissions was Travis Industries; for affordability, IntensiFire; for market appeal, Travis Industries; and for lowest particulate emissions, Mulciber.
The Judges were Thomas Butcher, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Bill Clarke, Osprey Foundation; Philip K. Hopke, Clarkson University; Mark Knaebe, USDA Forest Service; James Meigs, Popular Mechanics; Ellen Burkhard, NYSERDA; Norbert Senf, Masonry Heater Association; Kirk R. Smith, University of California, Berkeley; Rod Tinnemore, Washington State Department of Ecology; Raymond J. Albrecht, Technical Advisor to BTEC.
A major sponsor of the event, The Alliance for Green Heat, has more information about the Decathlon on their website at forgreenheat.org. Other sponsors included the Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington Department of Ecology, the New York Sate Energy Research & Development Authority, Hearth.com, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, the Masonry Heater Association of North America, and the Catalytic Hearth Coalition.
There have been stove competitions before. From the Alliance for Green Heat website: “In 1783 - During a period of extreme cold in Europe known as the "Little Ice Age," Frederick the Great of Prussia holds a contest for the masonry oven that could provide the most heat for the least amount of wood. Johann Paul Baumer wins in 1784 with a design that used outside air for combustion and "featured controllable air intake and a flue gas flap, and well-matched grating size, fire capacity and external surfaces".
Such stoves are known today as masonry heaters. The Masonry Heater Association of North America educates masons in the art of masonry heater building. Masonry heaters are site-built appliances which are clean-burning and produce radiant heat without using electricity, fans, or ducts. Two masonry heaters were finalists in the competition.