Gas fireplaces

May 2017

Technical bulletin on amending the standards

Webinar – May 2017

On March 4, 2017, the Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) issued a Notice of Intent to amend Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations (the Regulations) to adopt minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for gas fireplaces. This technical bulletin has been released to initiate the consultation process and to collect stakeholder views on the requirements being considered for gas fireplaces.

Input received during this stage of the process will inform the development of the Amendment 15 proposal. In addition, NRCan will undertake a cost-benefit analysis using the best-available Canadian market data to assess the economic and environmental impacts of these updated standards and to ensure Canadian consumers and businesses benefit from their implementation.

The Government of Canada intends to pre-publish a regulatory proposal in the Canada Gazette, Part I, within approximately two years of publishing this bulletin.

Background

Through the Pan-Canadian Framework and Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference the federal, provincial and territorial governments have committed to working together to achieve climate change goals. Through this collaboration, governments agreed that standards for some heating products could, for climatic and market reasons, exceed the stringency of those in the United States.

In Canada, gas fireplaces manufactured as of June 1, 2003 are subject to the Regulations. Currently gas fireplaces are subject to testing and reporting requirements only, and EnerGuide® labelling is done on a voluntary basis. NRCan is considering: introducing MEPS for gas fireplaces; establishing prescriptive requirements for pilots, main burner operation limits, and combustion air; and requiring mandatory labelling.

The amendment to the Regulations being considered recognizes the different functional roles of decorative gas fireplaces and gas fireplace heaters, and as such provides for distinct definitions and MEPS.

Pilot types and operation
NRCan is considering regulating the types of pilots that can be used in gas fireplaces, such that pilots would be automatically extinguished after a maximum period of time after the main burner shuts off. Intermittent, interrupted and on-demand pilots would meet this requirement. Controls that provide users with a means of operating the fireplace with a continuous pilot, either in a default or optional mode, would not comply.

The maximum time a pilot could stay ignited after main burner shut-off would be seven days for gas fireplace heaters, and one day (24 hours) for decorative gas fireplaces.

Fireplace efficiency
NRCan is also considering that gas fireplace heaters be required to have a fireplace efficiency (FE) of 50% or greater when tested in accordance to CSA P.4.1-15. The FE metric is used to describe the tested annualized heating performance of the fireplace.

Because decorative fireplaces are not intended to be used as heaters, NRCan is not considering FE MEPS for decorative gas fireplaces at this time.

Main burner operation
To limit users from attempting to use a decorative gas fireplace as a heater, NRCan is considering requiring that the main burner of a decorative gas fireplace be automatically extinguished after a predetermined period of time if the user has not operated the main burner gas valve.

The main burner of decorative gas fireplaces would be required to be automatically extinguished after 4 hours of static operation.

NRCan is not considering similar timed operation requirements for the main burner of gas fireplace heaters at this time.

Combustion air
The use of indoor air to support combustion allows conditioned indoor air to be exhausted from the building. Air introduced into the building to replace exhausted combustion air would need to be conditioned to maintain indoor comfort. For decorative fireplaces this could result in an increased use of space heating energy to maintain indoor temperatures during operation of the decorative fireplace. To limit this effect, NRCan is considering requiring that decorative gas fireplaces draw combustion air directly from outside the building, unless intended to be installed as replacement appliance only, and marked accordingly.

Product description

Gas fireplaces are gas-or propane-burning appliances which provide a view of the flames, and resemble solid fuel-burning fireplaces or stoves in appearance. Gas fireplaces may be freestanding, recessed, zero clearance or insert units.

There are two primary types of gas fireplaces – decorative appliances and fireplace heaters. Outwardly they can appear very similar but their intended use differs. Decorative gas fireplaces, those within the scope of ANSI Z21.50/CSA 2.22-2016 Vented decorative gas appliances, are intended primarily to burn with an aesthetically pleasing flame with minimal heat being directed towards the room side of the appliance. As this appliance is not intended to be used as a heater, it is not permitted to be fitted with or controlled by a thermostat.

Gas fireplace heaters, those within the scope of Z21.88/CSA 2.33-2016 Vented gas fireplace heaters, also provide an aesthetically pleasing flame but are intended to be used as a heat source. The circulation of heated room air may be by gravity or mechanical means. Gas fireplace heaters can be equipped with thermostats.

Energy performance testing standard

NRCan is considering referencing the following energy performance testing standard:

  • CSA P.4.1-15Testing method for measuring annual fireplace efficiency

The CSA testing standards can be ordered from:
CSA Group
Toll free phone: 1-800-463-6727
In Toronto, call 416-747-4044
E-mail: sales@csagroup.org
Website: http://www.shop.csa.ca

Some CSA energy efficiency testing standards are also available at no cost on their website. To access free standards you will first need to create an account to join the CSA Communities of Interest.

Energy performance standard

The following definitions are being considered:

Decorative gas fireplace is a vented decorative gas appliance within the scope of ANSI Z21.50/CSA 2.22-2016 Vented decorative gas appliances, and as described in CSA P.4.1-15, that is fueled by natural gas or propane.  

Gas fireplace heater is a vented gas fireplace heater within the scope of ANSI Z21.88/CSA 2.33-2016 Vented gas fireplace heaters, and as described in CSA P.4.1-15, that is fueled by natural gas or propane.

Minimum energy performance standard being considered for gas fireplaces
Product type Testing standard

MEPS

FE1 Prescriptive requirements
Gas fireplace heaters CSA P.4.1-15 FE ≥50% Pilot shall be intermittent, interrupted, or on-demand with a maximum on-time after main burner shut-off of 7 days.
Decorative gas fireplaces CSA P.4.1-15 None Pilot shall be intermittent, interrupted, or on-demand with a maximum on-time after main burner shut-off of 24 hours.
Main burner shall be automatically extinguished after 4 hours of static main gas valve operation.
Fireplace shall directly draw combustion air from outside unless intended and marked for replacement use only.
Fireplace shall be marked as decorative and not intended for use as a heater.

1 FE is the fireplace efficiency determined in accordance with CSA P.4.1-15.

Important dates

These regulations would come into force six months after the date of publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

NRCan is considering applying the new standards to gas fireplaces manufactured on or after January 1, 2020.

Labelling requirements

NRCan is considering mandatory EnerGuide labelling requirements for gas fireplace heaters and decorative gas fireplaces, as distinct product classes.

The purpose of the EnerGuide label is to inform consumers how much energy a product uses and how that compares to similar models. Gas fireplace models, due to the design element they provide, are often specified by the consumer rather than solely by the builder or supplier.

NRCan is considering that gas fireplace heaters would be required to be labelled in a manner similar to the current voluntary EnerGuide label, which simply indicates the fireplace efficiency (FE).

NRCan is also considering that decorative gas fireplaces be labelled such that consumers can be better informed about the energy use of the appliance. NRCan proposes working with industry to design this label.

Verification requirements

NRCan would require that gas fireplaces carry a third party verification mark indicating that the product meets the MEPS and that information to be reported has been verified.

The verification mark is the mark of a Standards Council of Canada accredited certification body that operates an energy efficiency certification program for the product.

Reporting requirements

Energy efficiency report

The energy efficiency report required for gas fireplaces would include the following additional product specific information:

  • product type  (decorative gas fireplace or gas fireplace heater)
  • type of ignition system (intermittent pilot, interrupted pilot, or on-demand pilot)

The Regulations apply to products imported or shipped inter-provincially for sale or lease in Canada. The energy efficiency report must be submitted, by the dealer, to NRCan before the product is imported into Canada or traded inter-provincially for the first time.

Import report

There is no change being considered in regard to import reporting.

Comments invited

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide stakeholders with the technical detail required to comment on the requirements under consideration for gas fireplaces. 

Additional information on Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations including a current list of Standards Council of Canada accredited certification bodies can be found on the Department’s website.

We welcome your comments by June 15, 2017. All correspondence should be forwarded to:

Natural Resources Canada
Office of Energy Efficiency
580 Booth Street
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0E4
E-mail: nrcan.equipment.rncan@canada.ca