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Consumer Resources

When choosing a wood or pellet stove, there are many questions you need to ask yourself. These questions here are intended to start you down that path, but will not replace research and discussions with a hearth-installing professional. For additional information, Consumer Reports has also put together a short buyers guide for pellet and wood-buring stoves.

  • Are pellet stoves eligible?
    Yes, they are eligible in the thermoelectric side of the competition, but not in the automated category.
  • Are boilers eligible?
    We will be selecting one electricity producing boiler to provide baseload electricity for the event. Together with solar panels, and electricity from stoves, the event will be off-grid and charge the electric vehicles of visitors coming to attend the event.
  • Can a US partner of a foreign team use the funds to fly the foreign team and their stove to the competition?
    Foreign air travel and cargo transportation costs are allowable subject to the requirements of the Fly America Act.
  • Do thermoelectric stoves have to produce more power than they require for their own operation?
    No. If you are entering a stove in the automated stove category, and it is powered by a thermoelectric generator, you can enter it in both the automated and thermoelectric category. There is no requirement that the automated/thermoelectric stove produce more power than is needed for the automated features.
  • Can I use of emissions testing results from earlier prototype of the stove?
    Yes, and explain that it was from an earlier prototype. Any testing, showing that you have benchmarks and data to work with, is likely to be in your favor.
  • If I get a $10,000 grant of federal money, do I give up any Intellectual property ownership?
    Domestic small businesses, non-profits, and universities may elect to retain title to any intellectual property made under the grant. Other entities are able to do so as well but must go through a patent waiver process not required for domestic small businesses, non-profits, and universities. The Government retains certain rights to any intellectual property generated under the grant such as a government purpose license, march-in rights and reporting requirements.
  • Are international competitors eligible for R&D grant funds?
    Possibly. While teams from any country are eligible to participate in the Design Challenge, there are restrictions on the use of the R&D grants by teams from outside the U.S. For teams located outside of the U.S. that have an established U.S. partner, i.e., a distributor, the U.S. partner could apply for the grant and use the funds to pay for the travel and shipping costs of bringing the stove to the Design Challenge. On the AGH "Request for Proposal" web page, we explain that: "All work for projects selected under this RFP must be performed in the United States. This requirement does not apply to the purchase of supplies and equipment, so a waiver is not required for foreign purchases of these items. However, all challenge recipients should make every effort to purchase supplies and equipment within the United States. There may be limited circumstances where it is in the interest of the project to perform a portion of the work outside the United States. To seek a waiver of the Performance of Work in the United States requirement, the applicant must submit an explicit waiver request in its application to this RFP. For more information about waivers, please review the document, Waivers to perform work outside the United States."
  • How will you compare emission testing between wood and pellet stoves?
    In the thermoelectric category, emission testing will not be as important as in the automated category. Also, PM emissions are just one area that is being judged. More important in the consistency, reliability and amount of electricity produced over a 8 hour period. The judges will have to determine how to do this.
  • How will a $8,000 stove be compared with a $500 dollar stove in either of the categories? Isn't that unfair?
    The Wood Stove Design Challenge has always encouraged a wide range of innovative technology to compete and the judges are very aware that there are huge differences between technologies. Remember, this is as much about innovation as anything. In the coming months we will lay out the judging criteria and address this question further.
  • Can we bring our own, properly sized firewood?
    No. We are providing all the firewood and it will likely be beech or maple. It will be well seasoned and nothing will be used that is over 25% moisture content.
  • Will you use the ASTM cordwood method (WK47329)?
    There are two cordwood test protocols in development – the ASTM and one being in process by NESCAUM. They both have a lot in common. We will likely follow elements of the NESCAM one closer than ASTM, but because of the number of stoves and time limitations, we likely have to modify things and use a shorter protocol. A key element of both protocols is testing from a cold start and capturing start-up emissions, which we will definitely be doing.
  • Who reviews the grant applications that are due on Nov. 1 and Jan. 31 and decides who gets funding.?
    The Organizing Committee reviews the applications, scores them, and we average all of the scores from each member of the Committee to select finalists.
  • When is last date to apply to be a finalist?
    January 31, 2018. There is $30,000 left in DOE funding for 3 teams to receive $10,000 grants. And additional teams can still become finalists who are not applying for grants.
  • How will you do the weighting/priority of judging criteria? Is PM given the same weight as efficiency and as CO?
    Excellent question, and we do not yet have an answer for that. We will be holding a separate conference call on this topic. As suggested, we will explore whether we can circulate a draft of the judging criteria to the teams and get input from the teams. This could be an excellent educational opportunity for teams and help build a better judging process.
  • How will CO be measured, in parts per million or grams per hour or minute?
    We suspect that it will only be measured in parts per million but will clarify that with the Organizing Committee.
  • Could there be any danger of negative pressure during the competition?
    No. The event occurs in a tent that has relatively free flow of outside air. The only thing that could cause some backdrafting is high winds or a stove design with poor draft.
  • Do teams have to fill out the NEPA Environmental questionnaire referenced in Section E. of the online application by Nov. 1?
    No. Only those teams who are selected to receive $10,000 grants need to fill that out.
  • Can you recommend an installer?
    No, we do not recommend any particular installer, but encourage you to hire a qualified one who is certified by NFI or CSIA (see below more on that). However, we do provide lists of DC/Maryland chimney sweeps and installers, and firewood dealers, who get high ratings by Consumer Checkbook, a reputable consumer watchdog group.
  • Can I install the stove myself and still receive the grant?
    The MEA encourages, but does not require, professional installation if your installation has been inspected by a county inspector or insurance adjustor. Installations must show proof of a passed final inspection if a permit is required by their county. If your county does not require a permit or inspection, it is advisable that you get an inspection from an insurance adjustor. Whether your stove was professionally installed, permitted and/or inspected, it is always advisable to contact your insurance company to let them know you have installed a wood or pellet stove. Click here for more info.
  • How do I find an NFI certified technician and why is it better than a regular contractor?
    National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified installers specialize in wood and pellet stove installation and have passed the certification exam. Most contractors do not have experience installing stoves and may not have ever installed one before. An NFI certified technician will be familiar with all the issues that may come up and how to solve them and is your best assurance that the installation will meet the manufacturers specifications and local code requirements. You can find an NFI technician here.
  • If I can't find a NFI certified technician in my area, how can I select a contractor?
    The next best thing to NFI certification is certification by the Chimney Sweep Institute of America. They also have expertise in wood and pellet stoves and particularly in chimneys.
  • Can I purchase the stove in Maryland but install it in a neighbouring state and still get the rebate or install it in my vacation home?
    No. The technology must be installed in a primary Maryland residence.
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