New tech hoped to increase wood burner efficiency

A Dunedin fireplace manufacturer says its technological innovation means woodburners may still have a place in modern homes.

Escea Fireplace Company, based in Green Island, has been heating up New Zealand and Australian homes for the past two decades.

The company has introduced three new models of wood burners outfitted with direct vent technology.

Chief executive Nigel Bamford said the technology was an answer to the problem of more airtight constructions, under stricter housing emissions and efficiency regulations.

"Traditional wood fires have to source all the air that is used for combustion from inside the room, and if you don’t have gaps, drafts and ways of getting air into a room, the wood fire can’t continually take air from a room unless it’s being replaced from somewhere," he said.

"Consumers are having more and more trouble putting conventional wood fires into new homes, so our direct vent fire ... pulls its combustion air from outside, so it doesn’t take air from the room at all."

The fireplaces used 100% external air, with none being drained away from your living room, Mr Bamford said.

For all the air that went out the chimney flue in a conventional wood burner system, an equivalent amount of air needed to reenter the living room from outside, which was not the healthiest nor efficient system for the modern home.

"Our system avoids that entirely.

"It means the air quality in the room is improved.

"Because the wood fire is not creating a cold draft, you then use less wood over the course of a year to heat your home."

Escea Fireplace Company chief executive Nigel Bamford showcases the company’s new woodburner in...
Escea Fireplace Company chief executive Nigel Bamford showcases the company’s new woodburner in its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, complete with a robotic welder. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Mr Bamford said direct vent technology had been used in gas fireplaces for a long time, but Escea had transferred this proven method to the wood burner industry to address the same need.

About 95% of all gas fires pulled their air in from the outside, and it was about time wood burners started doing the same.

Wood burners had also always trumped gas heaters in terms of demand in New Zealand, he said.

While a few other brands had "played" with the technology, Mr Bamford said Escea had evolved it to create larger and more attractive fireplaces.

It was not a common process, but the company believed the technology could be the way of the future for the wood burner industry.

The sheer size of the glass viewing area also meant "quite an impressive visual flame" was created inside the fireplace.

Escea had recently expanded into a new state-of-the-art 1800sqm wood fire factory and Mr Bamford said they always enjoyed the support from Dunedin customers who saw the value in locally-built fireplaces.

"Dunedin people need products with a bit of horsepower, with a bit of heating ability.

"The ones that are locally designed and made tend to be a good fit for the local requirements."