About the list of authorised woodburners and requirements in urban areas

This page has information about the list of authorised woodburners, requirements for installations of woodburners, frequently asked questions and recommendations on cleaner forms of domestic heating appliances.

Promoting cleaner forms of heating to reduce air pollution

The Ministry encourages cleaner forms of heating. Domestic heating options that produce fewer emissions include heat pumps and pellet fire burners. Insulation requirements under the Building Act 2004 must be adhered to.

For more information see How to improve the energy efficiency of your house [Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website].

About the list of authorised woodburners

Purpose of the list

The list of authorised woodburners is to help purchasers and building consent officers find compliant models.

It includes pellet burners that have been tested and found to have levels of emissions and efficiency that would meet the woodburner standards in the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.  

Use of the list

The Ministry does not accept any liability arising from use of the list and will not pay compensation to anyone relying on this list in the event a woodburner is found to be non-complying and has to be removed. The Ministry encourages retailers to make purchasers aware of these caveats.

We strive to keep the list updated but please note that the list may not necessarily be complete and we may be in the process of including newly authorised models.

Multi-fuel burners and open fires are not recommended

There is no Ministry list of authorised multi-fuel burners (including coal burners) or open fires as these are not recommended forms of heating because of the increased particulate matter emissions they produce. In some regions, councils may specifically control these forms of heating through rules or by-laws.

Further information

If you would like to be notified of updates to the authorised list, or have any queries regarding woodburners that have not been answered by the information provided below, please email woodburners@mfe.govt.nz

Requirements for woodburners in properties less than two hectares

Woodburners in properties less than two hectares

All new woodburners installed from 1 September 2005 on properties less than 2 hectares in size must have emissions of less than 1.5 grams of particles per kilogram of dry wood burnt and a thermal efficiency of not less than 65 per cent. These requirements are set out in the woodburner standards which are part of the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.

Open fires, multi-fuel burners, pellet burners and wood-burning cooking stoves are not included in the definition of woodburner so are not covered by the woodburner standards.

For more information see the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality

About the two hectare rule

Most urban areas in New Zealand experience air pollution during winter. Our focus is on improving air quality in those areas. Urban areas typically have smaller property sizes and as there is no nationally consistent definition for an urban environment, a property size of less than 2 hectares was used. The standard two hectare rule applies throughout New Zealand including rural areas.

How burners are authorised

There are two steps a woodburner model needs to go through to be authorised:

  1. The emissions and efficiency of the model are tested by a laboratory. The laboratory issues a test report which states the results of the test.
  2. An independent body (Environment Canterbury or the Nelson City Council) physically checks the model against the test report and gives the model an authorisation number.

An alternative authorisation stream was introduced in June 2011 for models of burners that cannot be tested using the prescribed testing protocol. It enables burners to demonstrate compliance with the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality using a functionally equivalent method.

See Authorisation procedure for functionally equivalent methods [PDF, 495 KB] [Environment Canterbury's website]. 

Frequently asked questions on woodburner use and installing woodburners in urban areas

Question

Answer

What can I do to help improve air quality in my area?

One way you can help improve air quality in your area is to use cleaner forms of home heating, such as heat pumps and pellet burners. Some councils offer grants or low-interest loans for the purchase of cleaner domestic heating forms.

 

How do I operate my woodburner efficiently and responsibly?

If you are using a woodburner, ensure that you are burning appropriate fuels. Dry firewood, sourced from a reputable wood merchant, is the most appropriate fuel for use in woodburners. Dry wood has a lower moisture content than wet wood and when burned it produces less smoke and less particulate matter pollution. The size and quality of your wood also has an effect on the efficiency of your woodburner.

 

Many councils have specific rules against burning fuels such as plastics, construction waste and treated wood. These regional rules can be found in council regional plans.
 

Using kindling, opening the vents when adding wood, and burning the fire brightly can also increase efficiency and reduce the amount of emissions produced.

 

Can I burn treated timber in my woodburner?

No. Treated timber should not be burnt in woodburners, multi-fuel burners or open fires. Burning treated timber causes elevated levels of airborne arsenic. Councils may also have specific rules that prohibit the burning of treated timber.

 

Treated timber is timber that has been treated with a preservative called Chromate Copper Arsenate or with other chemicals. Timber is generally treated to resist decay and insect attack.  Timber from building sites, fences or decks is likely to be treated.

My neighbour’s chimney is producing a lot of smoke, what can I do?

Your local regional council may have rules in its regional plan that prohibit or limit smoke from chimneys. You can call your regional council and bring this to their attention.

Smoke from home heating appliances such as woodburners causes increases in ambient air pollution which can cause adverse health effects in your community. If the appropriate fuel is burned (such as only firewood in woodburners) and if it is used correctly this can help minimise pollution.

Can a woodburner be exempted from complying with the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.

No. The standards were introduced to ensure a baseline level of national consistency. Allowing exceptions to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality would go against the intent of the standards and would compromise their integrity.

Can I install a burner advertised as meeting the woodburner standards in the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality that is not on the Ministry’s authorised list?

Building consent officers who process building consents refer to the authorised woodburner list before issuing a consent. Compliance is demonstrated by going through the authorisation process. Advertising a woodburner as authorised does not necessarily translate to compliance with the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. 

 

You may call the Ministry for the Environment to confirm if this model is in the process of being added to the list, otherwise, it may not be installed in properties less than two hectares. We strongly urge people, for their own protection, to only purchase burners on the authorised list.

Can I install a second-hand woodburner?

We recommend you discuss your plan to install a second-hand woodburner with your local city or district council or the unitary authority in your area before purchasing the woodburner. There are factors in addition to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality that these agencies need to consider before permitting the installation of a second-hand woodburner. 

Can I make modifications to my authorised woodburner?

Authorised woodburners have been designed and tested to ensure that they meet emissions and efficiency limits set out in the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. Modifications may result in more emissions being discharged or a decrease in efficiency, which will invalidate the authorisation.

 

Modifying your woodburner without the advice of the manufacturer may also create a fire hazard or other safety risks.

If I move my existing woodburner to another location within the same house does it need to comply with the woodburner standards?

An existing burner that is moved within a house is considered to be a newly installed burner, so it must meet the woodburner standards in the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. You may also need a building consent.

If I want to import a woodburner from overseas what do I do?

You will need to have the woodburner tested in accordance with the Australian/New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 4013:2014 and AS/NZS 4012:2014 or a functionally equivalent method. The woodburner then needs to be authorised by either Environment Canterbury or the Nelson City Council.

 

Details regarding the authorisation procedure can be found on the webpage Authorised solid fuel burners [Environment Canterbury's website] or by contacting the Nelson City Council, see the Nelson City Council website for contact details.

Are wetbacks still allowed? Yes, but woodburners with wetbacks still need to meet the woodburner standards in the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. There are a number of wetback woodburner options on the Ministry’s list of authorised woodburners.
Can I install a multi-fuel or coal burner?

A multi-fuel burner is a domestic heating appliance designed to burn more than one type of solid fuel. The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality currently do not apply to multi-fuel or coal burners. However, some councils regulate multi-fuel and/or coal burners through their plan rules.

 

You will need to find out from your regional council or unitary authority whether it is legal to install these types of burners in your area. See council maps and websites for contact details.

 

* The Ministry encourages cleaner forms of heating. Coal burners produce more emissions than other types of domestic heating.

Can I install an open fire? Open fires produce greater emissions than other types of domestic heating. The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality has a ban on new open fires in polluted airsheds. You will need to contact your regional council or unitary authority to see whether it is legal to install an open fire in your region.
Can I install a wood-burning cooking stove?

Some councils regulate wood-burning cooking stoves through their plan rules. You will need to find out from your regional council or unitary authority whether it is legal to install these types of burners in your area. See council maps and websites for contact details.

 

A good indication of whether an appliance is a cooking stove is if it has an oven. A hot plate on top of a freestanding woodburner is not a cooking stove.

Why are some shops selling burners that do not meet the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality? You can still install woodburners that do not meet the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality provided the property the woodburner is installed on is 2 hectares or greater in size.
Why don't some Australian woodburners meet the woodburner standards in the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality? The Australian/New Zealand Standards specify the methods that must be used to test the emissions and efficiency of a woodburner. However, they do not specify the level of emissions or efficiency that a woodburner must achieve. This information is contained within the woodburner standards in the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality, which only apply to New Zealand.
Where do I get a building consent?

You can get this from your local city council, district council or unitary authority for installations that meet the requirements of the Building Act regulations.

 

See Council maps and websites for contact details.

 

My question has not been answered here. Who should I talk to?

We suggest you direct any further question to your local council if it is concerning implementation of the national-level standards or guidelines. Your regional council sets specific rules in their regional plans that relate to air quality in your area. Your local territorial authority (city, district or unitary council) will be aware of these rules and are responsible for issuing building consents for domestic heating appliances.  

 

See council maps and websites for your local council’s contact details or email woodburners@mfe.govt.nz

Reviewed:
29/07/16