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Wood Burning in New Jersey

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Outdoor Wood Boilers

The NJDEP Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) program is aware of numerous complaints of the smoke and odors of outdoor wood boilers and other wood burning equipment. Issues with outdoor wood boilers are being investigated under the authority of N.J.A.C. 7:27 Subchapters 3 and 5. Local actions are appropriate to reduce and prevent the excessive smoke from residential wood burning occurring in New Jersey. Some local ordinances have already been passed in the State.

Wood burning should be done with dry hard woods in devices that do not smoke after the start of the fire. No visible emissions are allowed from wood fired boilers, except for 3 minutes out of 30 minutes which allows for starting the fire. Many older OWBs have been cited for excessive smoke, and it is unclear whether new OWBs can be operated without visible smoke. If you are considering the purchase of a new OWB, you should insist that it come with a guarantee that it will not smoke after startup, when operated properly. Otherwise, if it smokes and causes verified neighborhood complaints, you will be cited and will not be able to legally use the unit.

Outdoor Boiler

Quick Facts about OWBs in New Jersey:

Outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) burn wood to heat liquid (water or water-antifreeze) that is piped to provide heat and hot water to occupied buildings such as homes.

OWBs are not banned in New Jersey. However, if an OWB violates N.J.A.C. 7:27 Subchapter 3, then you may get fined.

C&E and/or the local CEHA respond to and investigate neighbor complaints.

Consider all the facts before purchasing an OWB. Residents need to check their town's local ordinances and permit requirements before purchasing and installing an OWB.

NJDEP does not certify residential or commercial OWBs. If your OWB violates NJDEP regulations, you may have to uninstall it.

OWBs can have a negative impact on you and your neighbors' health.

There are no federal regultions for OWBs. However, the USEPA has voluntary standards that manufacturers may choose to implement for their units. These units are cleaner than older versions of OWBs but they still may not meet New Jersey's regulations.

Other FAQ answered by the USEPA.


Introduction to Burning Wood

Even though wood is a renewable energy source, burning wood impacts public health and the environment. One such environmental impact is the release of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Wood smoke also emits fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which pose a significant health risk, and is the largest source of PM2.5 in the State's area source emission inventory. This site is intended to provide you with the facts of wood burning and what the State is doing to control wood smoke in New Jersey.

A fact sheet that summarizes this website is also available (Click Here).

As the price of oil and gas in the Northeast continues to rise, more people are turning to wood burning as a primary or supplemental heat source for their homes. This trend was also demonstrated in the 1980’s. Another growing trend in homeownership is to burn wood in yards for ornamental reasons. Firepits and chimeneas have become increasingly popular. Another new source of wood smoke comes from outdoor wood boilers used to heat hot water that in turn heats the home, swimming pools, greenhouses, etc. As the usage of these units has grown, a growing number of citizens have turned to local, county, and state government for assistance in addressing the wood burning activities of their neighbors.