Article on High Efficiency Kuuma Wood Furnace

lampmfg

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Published December 12, 2011, 12:00 AM
Tower company claims to have best wood furnace around
Many wood furnaces and stoves burn inefficiently, sending a lot of smoke, creosote and particulate matter up the chimney. But Lamppa Manufacturing in Tower wants to change that, and they say their Kuuma Vapor Fire indoor wood furnace will make believers out of even the toughest skeptics.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

Restricted in some big cities as smoke-belching smog machines and targeted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for tough new emissions regulations, wood stoves and furnaces have been burned in recent years as a polluting relic of the past.

Many wood furnaces and stoves burn inefficiently, sending a lot of smoke, creosote and particulate matter (soot, ash, dust and more) up the chimney. That particulate matter builds up to causes smog, sometimes in levels unhealthy to people in places like Denver, Albuquerque, N.M., and Fresno, Calif.

But Lamppa Manufacturing in Tower wants to change that, and they say their Kuuma Vapor Fire indoor wood furnace will make believers out of even the toughest skeptics.

The Kuuma is a high-efficiency, wood-gasification furnace that allows people to burn a renewable, carbon-neutral, locally produced fuel. And if that sounds environmentally “green,” that’s what Daryl Lamppa is hoping.

“We know we have a product here that will solve a lot of the problems in cold-weather cities where they have the smog problems,” he said. “Our units are about as close as you can get to eliminating the pollution

problem from burning wood.”

The EPA is expected to impose new emissions regulations on wood stoves and furnaces by 2013, with requirements for efficiency and limits on the amount of particulates that go up the chimney. The limits probably will mandate less than 7 grams of particulate matter per hour during wood burning on some units — or the furnaces can’t be sold in the U.S. Some stoves will have to meet 4 gram limits.

But the Kuuma (roughly translated to “very hot” in Finnish) already is way beyond that. In tests conducted by an EPA-certified independent lab in Wisconsin, the Kuuma produced less than 1 gram of particulates — and in some tests as low as 0.45 grams.

“We knew we had something good 25 years ago because of how little wood we were burning; we knew we were more efficient. We didn’t have the smoke,” Lamppa said. “When I took out an old wood unit and put our furnace in, I went from burning eight to 10 cords each winter down to four or five cords.”

Al Witz of Calumet agrees that the Lamppas have something unique in the Kuuma.

Witz has owned one of the Kuuma indoor furnaces for about five winters and said he is amazed at how efficient they are. Where he once burned 12 cords of wood each winter to run an outdoor wood boiler heating system, he now is down to four cords with the indoor Kuuma.

For a while, Witz, who works in the heating and air conditioning supply business, used a propane furnace and once went through 400 gallons in one month. At $2 per gallon, that’s $800 for a month of heating.

Now, even if he had to buy all the wood, that’s a full season’s heating bill.

“My house is 72 degrees all the time. It’s such a nice, consistent heat. And I’m using half the wood,” Witz said. “The way the system runs itself, to keep that heat at the perfect temperature, it’s phenomenal. The air movement is so well-regulated, I didn’t think you could get a wood stove this efficient.”

Four generations of Lamppas

The company had its roots in Embarrass where Richard Lamppa — a blacksmith for the federal Works Progress Administration — used his Finnish heritage to make wood stoves for saunas during the Great Depression.

Herb Lamppa, 80, (a longtime county commissioner) followed, and Daryl, now 62, joined in as well. Now a fourth generation is involved, with Daryl’s son Garrett as the chief bookkeeper and website developer.

Lamppa Manufacturing started selling wood stoves in 1977 and now has six employees who turn out about 300 indoor wood furnaces and sauna stoves (wood and electric) every year.

“We’re a month behind now, but we still want to grow,” Daryl Lamppa said.

The standard Kuuma furnace costs about $3,900, while a larger unit for bigger homes costs about $4,350. With the reduced amount of wood needed to keep the home warm, and especially if the owner is converting from $4 per gallon oil or $2 per gallon propane, the new wood furnaces could pay for themselves within a few years, Lamppa noted.

The Kuuma furnaces are designed to replace oil or gas furnaces (or old wood burners) as the heating part of a forced-air system. They are indoor only and usually require a basement or first-floor space that’s out of the way. The furnaces are meant to heat, not offer ambiance.

Since the first Kuuma furnace was produced in 1982, the Lamppas have been tinkering with innovations. In 2010 they paid to have their furnaces tested for efficiency so buyers would qualify for the $1,500 federal energy tax credit (now $300). The Kuuma aced the tests, spurring the Lamppas to promote their product as among the greenest wood-burning units on the market.

The federal government required a thermal efficiency rating of 75 or higher to qualify for the tax credit. The Kuuma hit 84 percent. And the Lamppas’ furnace has a fuel combustion efficiency rating between 98.1 and 99.4 percent, unheard of numbers for wood-burning appliances.

Better burn, no smoke Without giving away too many trade secrets, Lamppa said the key lies in the fire burning from front to back in the ceramic-lined fire box. The air coming into the box is pre-heated. A system of baffles keeps the fire burning at an even heat, and a computer module controls the overall airflow. Set by the homeowner, the module will keep the fire going at the precise level to deal with outside temperatures.

All of it runs without trying to force air through the system. Warm air simply rises up as it moves through.

“The electronic control panel runs the fire like cruise control. Just set it and it keeps it at the right level,” Lamppa said. “The system opens and closes the air flow like a carburetor on a car.”

Wood stoked in the Kuuma commonly burns for eight, 10 or even 12 hours, according to testimonials on the company’s website. And customers say they simply rake the coals forward, add more wood and walk away. Many say they never have to light a fire twice in one winter.

The first thing you’ll notice when you see a house with a Kuuma furnace is smoke, or the lack thereof.

“After the first few minutes, our units just don’t put off any smoke at all. That’s because they are so efficient,” Lamppa noted.

If there’s no smoke, there will be no creosote buildup, Lamppa said, and that means no bothersome chimney cleaning or deadly chimney fires.

“I haven’t cleaned my chimney in 28 years, since I threw out my old wood stove and put in one of ours, and I burn birch with the bark on,” Lamppa said. “We started burning wood seriously during that gulf oil crisis (of the 1970s) but we figured there had to be a better way. We were just tired of all the creosote and worrying about fires. Now, nothing. There isn’t any creosote so there aren’t any fires."

Tower company claims to have best wood furnace around | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota
 

lampmfg

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How does it burn greener wood?

Most people mix soft wood with hard wood, if they have soft wood. If you burn just soft wood, you can expect about 2 hrs. shorter burn. Generally hard wood has 20 million BTU's /cord or more and soft wood has anywhere from 10-16 million BTU's/cord. Some people in western use all soft wood because they don't have any hard wood out there and they still get smokeless burns, but they don't last as long.
 

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Most people mix soft wood with hard wood, if they have soft wood. If you burn just soft wood, you can expect about 2 hrs. shorter burn. Generally hard wood has 20 million BTU's /cord or more and soft wood has anywhere from 10-16 million BTU's/cord. Some people in western use all soft wood because they don't have any hard wood out there and they still get smokeless burns, but they don't last as long.
Sorry , I meant unseasoned wood with a high moisture content.
 

Felman

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Why would you want to burn unseasoned wood?


Would you ask how an oil burning furnace burns fuel oil that has a high water content?


Or how an automobile burns gas that has water in it?



You are trolling this thread.
Unseasoned wood is a possible/highly probable fact of life and my neighbor's smoke is proof. He prefers wetter wood so it lasts longer and I'm glad the wind blows away from me. I like the Kuuma computer but am curious
 

Marc

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Sounds like an interesting product, but a poorly written article.

We've had low particulate high-e woostoves for how many years now? 20ish? And have had "gassifying" wood boilers for how long? At least 15? I'm glad someones making a hot air furnace version of this, but it's not ground breaking technology or anything.
 

CrappieKeith

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Sounds like an interesting product, but a poorly written article.

We've had low particulate high-e woostoves for how many years now? 20ish? And have had "gassifying" wood boilers for how long? At least 15? I'm glad someones making a hot air furnace version of this, but it's not ground breaking technology or anything.

Your points are valid...however it was just an advertisement...let them have that at least.
 

lampmfg

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Sorry , I meant unseasoned wood with a high moisture content.

Unseasoned doesn't work. When someone invents the technology that allows you to burn all types of wood with the same results, all of us other manufactures will be out of luck!!:smile2:
 

JeffHK454

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Advertisement?

QUOTE]

I believe there are some around here insinuating that the article was nothing more than a general columnist regurgitating info and stats you and your company had provided .

I'm currently in the market for the cleanest burning and best made forced air wood furnace ... more than one manufacturer seems to claim they have it.
 

lampmfg

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Advertisement?

QUOTE]

I believe there are some around here insinuating that the article was nothing more than a general columnist regurgitating info and stats you and your company had provided .

I'm currently in the market for the cleanest burning and best made forced air wood furnace ... more than one manufacturer seems to claim they have it.

We have certified test results from Intertek with the lowest emissions and best overall efficiency numbers we have seen from any forced air furnace to date. We believed it was the best many years ago, but couldn't market it as the best until we had the tests done, otherwise they would be nothing but claims.

Shoot me an e-mail with an questions.
 

CrappieKeith

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Unseasoned doesn't work. When someone invents the technology that allows you to burn all types of wood with the same results, all of us other manufactures will be out of luck!!:smile2:

Not to get into a pizzing match ,but I recall you said in one of your posts...maybe in the EPA thread ..that you could burn green wood.So which is it?
 

lampmfg

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Q - If the wood wood isn't perfect, what's the best method to burn it?

A- Our furnace does automatically adjust to a certain degree but for optimal efficiency it does require seasoned wood. Hardwood (1 year) and Softwood (6 months). However it still work well if you mix some wet with mostly seasoned wood.

Your Comment- That's great...glad to see that someone finally figured out a way to reverse physics...when you can make green wet wood actually produce some decent btu's you have really found the holy grail....wait you can't change physics...my bad.

A- You just can't bite your tongue ever can you? He asked if the wood wasn't perfect what is the best way to burn it.

You can burn it, but it's not recommended for optimal efficiency. However, we do have people who mix some wet wood with mostly seasoned when in a bind.

Now if you would like me to pull some quotes from that EPA thread made by your customers about some of your claims let me know... :msp_smile:
 

CrappieKeith

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Q - If the wood wood isn't perfect, what's the best method to burn it?

A- Our furnace does automatically adjust to a certain degree but for optimal efficiency it does require seasoned wood. Hardwood (1 year) and Softwood (6 months). However it still work well if you mix some wet with mostly seasoned wood.

Your Comment- That's great...glad to see that someone finally figured out a way to reverse physics...when you can make green wet wood actually produce some decent btu's you have really found the holy grail....wait you can't change physics...my bad.

A- You just can't bite your tongue ever can you? He asked if the wood wasn't perfect what is the best way to burn it.

You can burn it, but it's not recommended for optimal efficiency. However, we do have people who mix some wet wood with mostly seasoned when in a bind.

Now if you would like me to pull some quotes from that EPA thread made by your customers about some of your claims let me know... :msp_smile:


Do what you want...ok let the pizzing match begin....as a matter of fact the customers had improper installations...which I confirmed on a direct phone call.

This is about you and your comments...now you want to spin it. It is what it is.
Note that I'll not let guys get hood winked...ask Pook.
Also note...I've never said Kuuma was a poor wood burner.I just take exception to certain comments...mixing green wood...I'd had said maybe you should go buy some dry wood until your wood supply has seasoned.
I'm having a hard time understanding if you are just that uneducated only quoting from Co.published material and then when you get out in uncharted territory you make poor comments or you are just trying to sell furnaces.....
 
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lampmfg

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Do what you want...ok let the pizzing match begin....as a matter of fact the customers had improper installations...which I confirmed on a direct phone call.

This is about you and your comments...now you want to spin it. It is what it is.
Note that I'll not let guys get hood winked...ask Pook.
Also note...I've never said Kuuma was a poor wood burner.I just take exception to certain comments...mixing green wood...I'd had said maybe you should go buy some dry wood until your wood supply has seasoned.
I'm having a hard time understanding if you are just that uneducated only quoting from Co.published material and then when you get out in uncharted territory you make poor comments or you are just trying to sell furnaces.....

I can see where improper installations would be a problem and I still don't see anything wrong with my comments. It's not like we don't tell them when asked to get seasoned wood, but as you know some customers don't always have the resources (funds). So if they have access to a lot of unseasoned wood they make the decision which isn't efficient but still will produce heat when in a pickle. I don't doubt many of your customers do the same thing...
 

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Your points are valid...however it was just an advertisement...let them have that at least.

Hey Keith....when you going to come over and see the Kuuma burning and quit assuming it's just an advertisement? I have been heating with this furnace so far this winter and have no creosote buildup, way more even heat with a LOT less wood than my previous furnace. 12 hour burns on a fill. What do you want to argue about now?!
 

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Hey Keith....when you going to come over and see the Kuuma burning and quit assuming it's just an advertisement? I have been heating with this furnace so far this winter and have no creosote buildup, way more even heat with a LOT less wood than my previous furnace. 12 hour burns on a fill. What do you want to argue about now?!
You work that Kuuma for 15 years and we will see what is what.Seeing that you cracked it in half the time others normally do I'd think you were burning it to fast hence the firebox cracking...but 12 hours...that's pretty good...no denying it...now what will it do when it gets cold?
I get 12 hours out of my yukon....that's sorta average for me.

I knew you had an issue ..I wanted to take care of it..but instead you went and changed out so all of the facts can't be verified and to boot you want to come online and act like you are....I guess that showed us....
Enjoy your Kuuma.....
 
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cfarms

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You work that Kuuma for 15 years and we will see what is what.Seeing that you cracked it in half the time others normally do I'd think you were burning it to fast hence the firebox cracking...but 12 hours...that's pretty good...no denying it...now what will it do when it gets cold?
I get 12 hours out of my yukon....that's sorta average for me.

I knew you had an issue ..I wanted to take care of it..but instead you went and changed out so all of the facts can't be verified and to boot you want to come online and act like you are....I guess that showed us....
Enjoy your Kuuma.....

So if I was "burning it too fast" why was it creosoting up so bad I had to clean the heat exchangers every 2-3 weeks? You said I wasn't burning it hot enough hence the creosote!
 

CrappieKeith

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Who knows now...had I known it was an unresolved issue I would have come over for you..we normally do not make house visits except for exceptional people...this would have been something I'd do of my own accord.
You know ..to help a neighbor.
 

MNfarmer

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as a matter of fact the customers had improper installations...which I confirmed on a direct phone call.

You are right on the direct phone call part but there is more to the story. I had called and talked to you about my furnace making creosote, never said it was plugging the chimney, nor did I say your furnaces were junk as you had accused me of saying when I called you!!!!! You also asked me to write a reply with your findings which I intended to do after I got home from work. (We talked on the phone right before I left so I didn't have time then to do it) Instead you took the liberty yourself to write your own reply for me in which you blamed all my problems on an over sized flue in my chimney. So, maybe you should tell future customers before they purchase a furnace from you that they need to have just the right chimney in order for the furnace to work properly. Had you told me that when I was looking at buying one I probably would have held off until I could have done some work to the chimney. But, you didn't. Oh and I also remember you saying in our phone call you had some creosote issues with your furnace. Does that mean yours is an improper installation too?? Yes, I know, you idle it all day long so you don't have to build a fire when you get home. I'm sure many other people do that too. So don't blame a customer's creosote problem on an improper installation when yours is apparently (properly installed) and yet makes creosote!!
 
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