5 Summer Outdoor Entertaining Tips

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Summer brings plenty of opportunities to enjoy time outdoors entertaining family and friends. The key to a successful summer party is simplicity: keep things easy so you can enjoy the festivities right along with your guests.

Make this season’s barbecues, picnics and family gatherings events to remember with these simple summer entertaining tips:

Cook outside  

Rather than firing up the oven and heating up the entire house during steamy summer days, turn to outdoor cooking methods like grilling. Be sure to plan ahead with sturdy tableware that stands up to barbecued meats and other robust items fresh off the grill. Also remember that the grill isn’t just for main courses; you can use it to prepare any number of side items, like skewers of garden fresh veggies.  

Keep it comfy

With everybody outside, it’s important to keep comfort in mind. If you have access to electricity, you might consider an oscillating fan, which can stir up a cool breeze. Additionally, the air movement can help deter flies and other pests that can quickly ruin guests’ appetites. Provide ample seating options, including patio furniture, pillows and even blankets on the lawn. Also ensure there are spaces for guests to cool off, whether that’s under a shade tree or a portable canopy or umbrella.

Provide sturdy tableware

Some popular cookout foods can be a greasy nightmare without the right tableware to keep the mess to a minimum. Upgrade your outdoor dining experience with tableware like Chinet Classic White premium-strength plates, platters and napkins so you don’t have to worry about spills and leaks. They also make for easy cleanup when the party comes to a close.

Prepare seasonal sides

Let the grilled fare serve as the star of the show and keep the side dishes simple. Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and staples like potato or pasta salads and coleslaw, make for a well-rounded meal without a lot of fuss. Also opt on the lighter side for dessert. Fresh berries over ice cream or a simple white cake can be a hit.


Add lighting

Keep the entertainment alive after sundown by going the extra mile with decorative lighting. Strings of lights in fun shapes or colors can add some vibrant light to seating areas. A fire pit is also an option for adding some ambient light and even a little warmth when the sun goes down and the temperature begins to drop.




Elizabeth ManuelComment

Flame Boss 300 WiFi Smoker Controller

  • iOS & Android apps available now! Monitor pit and food temperature and change the temperature of your pit from your phone, tablet or computer.
  • Easy to Use Turns on as soon as you plug it in. There is only one mode, automatic.
  • Variable Speed Blower Runs at the best speed to reach and maintain the desired temperature in the smoker.

Universal Adapter Kit Fits Many Drum, Barrel, Cabinet & Offset Style Charcoal Grills and Smokers:

  • Weber Smokey Mountain - All Sizes
  • Char-Griller offset & barrel
  • Char-Broil charcoal grills & smokers
  • Most drum smokers - Ugly and otherwise
  • Many other charcoal grills & smokers

Kamado Adapter Kit Fits Kamado Style Charcoal Grills & Smokers:

  • Big Green Egg - All Sizes
  • Kamado Joe - All Sizes
  • Primo Grills - All Sizes
  • Saffire Grill & Smoker
  • Grill Dome - All Sizes
  • Vision Grills Classic
  • Broil King Keg – 2000 & 4000
  • Char-Griller AKORN Kamado


Better performance and results - Flame Boss® temperature controllers for charcoal grills and smokers make you a better pit master. Smoke tender and moist meat with precise and repeatable temperature control in your smoker the way nature intended – low and slow.

Less hassle  - Flame Boss® has several fantastic features, each and every one designed to deliver the rich, smoky taste you crave without the constant monitoring. Flame Boss® does it for you. You can count on it whether you’re smoking meat for the family or a huge backyard bash. We stand behind our products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Easy to use - All you have to do is plug it in and set it. Flame Boss takes it from there. Temperature controllers fit all kamado-style grills like the famous Big Green Egg. Other types are coming soon. You can’t rush greatness!




What Makes the Egg a Great Gift?

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Endless cooking possibilities. Lifetime warranty. No gift wrap required!

Have an avid cooking enthusiast or the “what to get the person who has everything?” on your holiday shopping list? Give them the gift of a Big Green Egg, The Ultimate Cooking Experience!  And with over 200 fun EGGcessories to choose from, you’ll never worry about another holiday, birthday or anniversary gift idea again. Ever! 


With a Big Green Egg you can sear steaks and chops; roast the perfect holiday bird; smoke low and slow and even bake a crispy pizza! Check out some of these great recipe options to make your next meal unforgettable. And don’t worry … the EGG cooks desserts, too … you’ll have to scroll down to see those.



Candied Sweet Potatoe


These sweet potatoes are baked in the EGG, then peeled, sliced and layered in a baking dish. Enhanced with orange juice, brown sugar and corn syrup, they’re topped with thin orange slices, then returned to the EGG and baked until wonderfully caramelized. They are sure to get rave reviews.


  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 1½ cups plus 2 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and thinly sliced


  1. Set the EGG for indirect cooking with the convEGGtor at 400°F/204°C.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes on the grid. Close the lid of the EGG and cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the potatoes, close the lid of the EGG and continue cooking for 7 to 8 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork. Remove the potatoes from the EGG and cool completely.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into ¼ inch-thick rounds. Lay the potatoes in the baking dish. Sprinkle 1½ cups of the brown sugar evenly over the sweet potatoes. Drizzle with the orange juice and 1 cup of the corn syrup and dot with the butter. Place the orange slices on the sweet potatoes, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons corn syrup on the orange slices, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Place the baking dish on the grid. Close the lid of the EGG and bake for 1 hour, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Serve immediately.

Serves 6



Coconut Cake

Adapted from Smokin’ Hot in the South: New Grilling Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue by Melissa Cookston


  • 1 coconut
  • ¾ cup solid white vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 medium eggs, separated, yolks whisked
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Set the EGG for indirect cooking at 350°F/177°C, with a Baking Stone. It is very important that you monitor the temperature level of the baking stone. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
  2. Drain the liquid from the coconut and reserve. Remove the husk and, using a potato peeler, shave 1 cup of coconut meat. Grate the rest using a box grater.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream the shortening and ½ cup of the sugar. Add the whisked egg yolks and vanilla and mix for 1 minute. Mix in ¾ cup of the grated coconut.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add a quarter of this mixture at a time, alternating with pouring in some of the ¾ cup coconut liquid from the coconut. (If you didn’t get enough from the coconut, add coconut milk from a can or regular milk to make up the difference.) Mix until the wet and dry ingredients are completely integrated into the batter.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gradually whisk in the remaining ½ cup of sugar and fold into the batter using a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, place on the baking stone on the grid, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cakes have risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.
  6. Raise the EGG temperature to 400°F/204°C, place the 1 cup coconut shavings in a pie pan, taking care not to break them up, and place on the grill for 5 minutes (keep an eye on them), until the shavings are browned and toasty.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ⅓ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing Instructions

  1. To prepare the icing, boil the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a small saucepan until it reaches 242°F/116°C on a candy thermometer. Cover and remove from the heat. Beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until very stiff peaks form, then slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites while still blending. Add the vanilla and blend until smooth.
  2. To assemble, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and ice, then sprinkle some grated smoked coconut on top of the cake. Add the second layer of cake and cover with icing. Then place the toasted shaved coconut all around and on top of the cake. The cake will keep for 3 to 4 days.

Serves 10 to 12


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Very Berry Pizza

Recipe adapted from Pizza on the Grill Expanded, by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer


  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized  ginger
  • Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated with a Micro- plane or zester
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for kneading the dough
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ball prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup uncooked grits or polenta, for rolling the dough
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as canola) or nut oil (such as walnut)
  • ½ pint fresh blueberries, picked over
  • ½ pint fresh raspberries, picked over
  • ¼ cup honey


  1. Combine the ricotta, vanilla, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the ginger, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Reserve for topping.
  2. Sprinkle the work surface with the flour. Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and knead it into the dough. Set aside until ready to make pizza.
  3. Set the EGG for direct cooking at 400°F/204°C. Preheat a Pizza & Baking Stone.
  4. Roll out and shape the dough, add to preheated Pizza & Baking Stone ,and cook the first side of the crust. Use tongs to turn the crust over. Continue cooking until the bottom crust is well browned.
  5. Remove from the EGG and immediately spread it evenly with the ricotta mixture. Let your inner artist dictate how you arrange the berries over the top. Finish with a generous drizzle of honey. Slice and serve immediately.

Serves 2 to 4

*You may also want to try adding the pulp from 2 fresh passion fruits to the ricotta cheese mixture.

*Buy a few extra raspberries and make your own raspberry lemonade.




Elizabeth ManuelComment

Make grilling clean-up easy! Follow these tips so that you can get back to enjoying your outdoor space with friends and family.

  • Before lighting the grill, apply non-stick spray on the grates. The protective spray cuts down the clean-up time afterwards. 
    For charcoal grills, line the bowl with aluminum foil. After grilling, and once the grill and coals are cool (as a rule of thumb, always allow coals to burn out completely and let ashes cool* at least 48 hours before disposing), simply discard the foil with the coals and ash. Then, wash and reline with foil for next time.

** If you must dispose of coals and ashes before completely cooled, place them in heavy-duty foil and soak with water completely before disposing in a non-combustible container.

  • There are multiple options to scrub away buildup on the grates once the grill has cooled (various brush types and cleaning blocks).
  • Squirt grease-cutting dishwashing detergent on grill and grates (once cool). 
  • Scrub with brush or abrasive pad, then rinse. A repeat may be necessary. 
  • For tougher jobs, place cool grill grates inside a plastic garbage bag and spray them with oven cleaner. Tie the bag shut and let it sit outside for a few hours. Wearing rubber gloves, place grates on a newspaper and then scrub with abrasive brush or scrub pad. Rinse with water.
  • You can also spray oven cleaner in the bowl of the grill and, wearing rubber gloves, wipe the residue out using crumpled newspaper.

Grill Brush Safety

If you opt to use a brush with bristles to clean your grill, follow these safety steps:

  • In many ways, grill brushes are like toothbrushes. When you see the bristles beginning to flatten or lose their efficacy, it’s time to replace.
  • Apply the “tweezer test”: take a pair of tweezers, randomly select five to 10 bristles and gently pull – if any bristles come off, it’s time to replace.
  • We don't recommend not leaving grill brushes exposed to the elements when not in use. The rain, sunlight, humidity, snow, etc., can age them prematurely. 
  • Above all, treat your grill brush just as you would any part of your grill and grilling environment: Follow manufacturers’ instructions and continuously inspect before and after using.


Five Easy Ways To Green Up Your Next Barbecue

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Spring has (finally) sprung and we all know that means barbecue season is officially upon us. The unofficial summer pastime brings together families and friends as we head outdoors to fire up the grill and enjoy the warmer weather. It also provides the perfect opportunity to reduce our eco-footprint. Not sure where to start? No worries; we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re planning a huge event or just grilling for the family, here are five easy ways to green up your barbecue without killing your grilling fun! 


This is an all-around win/win for you and the environment. Local, seasonal produce means fresher produce since it doesn’t have to travel as far or as long to arrive on your plate. Local produce tends to have fewer preservatives and growth chemicals. You’ll also help save the energy that’s typically needed to transport crops longer distances, thereby reducing the carbon footprint. You can visit your local farmer’s market, and many grocery stores are now stocked with “buy local” sections to make consuming local produce easy.


-  While recyclable silverware is always a win, try trading in those paper plates and plastic cups for reusable silverware. That doesn’t mean you need to break out your fine china — instead, look for party-ware plates and cups that can be used throughout the season. You’ll be helping to reduce overall waste and you won’t have to worry about your food soaking through the plate. For everything else, try unbleached, 100 percent recycled and biodegradable options.


You might not be able to get everyone on board with no carbonated drinks, but you can minimize your overall imprint. Try replacing half of your normal soda can and bottle purchases with homemade drinks like your auntie’s favorite punch, Sangria, iced tea or even lemonade.


This is a major pain point for charcoal purists, but you can green up your grill by looking for electric, natural gas and propane options — they produce less waste and are much more efficient.


- For those who are committed to that charcoal-grilled flavor, you can still reduce your grilling imprint by ditching lighter fluid. It is made with all sorts of harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide that are going into the environment and into your food. Instead, try an electric metal lighter, charcoal chimney or even go old school with twigs and matches. And, if you can, opt for lump charcoal. It is a bit pricier, but it is all natural, lights easily, and burns hotter.





Elizabeth ManuelComment

Celebrating Meat in All it's Glory! 

National Beef Month is a time to celebrate the community of farmers who work hard every day to raise safe and nutritious beef that is enjoyed by consumers around the world.

Raising beef is a complex process, but throughout the entire journey, one thing remains constant — the shared commitment to raising cattle in a safe, humane and environmentally sustainable way by using the latest technology and resources. Currently, more than 700,000 cattle farms and ranches in the United States, with an average herd size of 40 cattle, produce 19 percent of the world’s beef. Of these operations, 97 percent are family-owned.                                      

From the farmers and ranchers to the processors, thousands of people play an integral role in the journey of beef from the field to the market. Please join Indiana’s beef producers in celebrating all those involved in the process throughout May with National Beef Month. But don’t limit your celebration to just one month when you can feast on this wholesome, delicious food all year round. Celebrate beef throughout the rest of the year!
— Joe Moore, Indiana Beef Cattle Association Executive Vice President

The Average American Eats About 61 lbs of Beef Each Year! 

Estimates are between 970 million and 1.4 billion cattle live on the planet. India has the largest cattle inventory in the world, followed by Brazil and China. Those three countries are home to roughly 64 percent of the world’s cattle. The United States has the fourth-largest cattle inventory in the world, with more than 94 million head of beef cattle. The United States provides 19 percent of the world’s beef, but only has 10 percent of the world’s cattle. Texas is the top producer of beef in the United States, followed by Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Celebrate National Beef Month by enjoying an all-American juicy hamburger or a thick, delicious, mouth-watering steak on the grill during the summer grilling season.


  • Some of the best cuts for grilling include the strip steak, flank steak or ribeye steak. The all-American juicy hamburger also is a great option when it comes to grilling. Prior to cooking, season your burger patty or steak with herbs and seasonings, as desired.


  • Trim visible fat before grilling to help prevent flare-ups. For best results, grill over medium heat. If the food is grilled over too high heat, the exterior can become overcooked or charred before the interior reaches the desired doneness. For charcoal grilling, when coals are medium, ash-covered — about 30 minutes — spread charcoal out in a single layer and check cooking temperature. To check the temperature, cautiously hold the palm of your hand above the coals at cooking height. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away; approximately 4 seconds for medium heat.

For gas grilling, gas grill brands vary greatly and grilling times may need to be adjusted.


  • To determine proper degree of doneness for ground beef, insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally from the side into the center of the patty to ensure an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness. For steaks, half an inch or thicker, insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally from the side, so that it penetrates the thickest part or the center of the steak, not touching bone or fat. After cooking, let steaks rest before serving to achieve desired degree of doneness, which may range from medium rare at 145 degrees to medium at 160 degrees to well done at 170 degrees.

Widely popular, easy to fix, wholesome and satisfying, burgers and steaks have earned a place in the hearts of Americans.

A recent survey found that when it comes to the grill, Americans choose beef. Nearly three out of every four American grillers say the one meat they grill most often is beef, at 69 percent, versus chicken, at 25 percent, or pork, at 6 percent.

Beef delivers 10 essential nutrients, all in one tasty package. These nutrients — including zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins — are important to good health.

For beef recipes and additional cooking tips, visit: BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com 



Elizabeth ManuelComment

NOT ALL PELLETS ARE CREATED EQUAL. The best wood-fired grill on the market demands the best pellets on the market. Real taste doesn’t just happen, it’s tied to quality materials and achieving perfect smoke. At Traeger we don’t just manufacture our own pellets, we created the “gold standard” in pellet production, ensuring your fuel delivers incredible pure, hardwood taste, and consistency in your cooks you can rely on time after time.

Flavoring your food with rich, hardwood taste just makes sense! Flavoring with gas? Not so much.  Our 100% all natural hardwood pellets ensure you get only the highest-quality pure hardwood flavor, and nothing else. Whether you’re grilling, smoking, roasting, baking, braising, or barbecuing your food, it will all get infused with amazing wood-fired taste. 


When it comes to pellets, the best-tasting smoke starts from the inside out. Thin, blue smoke, the highest quality smoke, can only be achieved with the right moisture ratio. Our hardwood's unique compact cell structure results in a balanced, dependable burn. Traeger has spent years mastering the development of hardwood pellets that have just the right amount of moisture content—the sweet spot—to maintain a perfect burn-to-smoke ratio. Pellets that don’t hit our moisture ratio, create bitter-tasting white smoke, instead of pure, blue smoke, due to high carbon content. Our hardwood is also completely bark-free giving you a clean burn that won’t increase your ash content and cause lots of pesky buildup. 


Other pellet mills bind their pellets with additives and source their wood from old flooring or cabinetry, meaning you never really know what’s in your hardwood or where it came from. When purchasing Traeger pellets, you can rest easy knowing you’re getting 100% virgin hardwood that doesn’t contain unnatural additives or fillers, giving you superior and unmatched flavor. Aside from a food-grade oil used as a die lubricant in the manufacturing process, our pellets only have 1 ingredient; 100% natural hardwood—that’s it. 


Quality is the name of the game! Traeger has had the same team leading our pellet mills for 20 years, creating the perfect patented process for the highest-quality pellets on the market. Our  teams go through a strenuous daily process of quality control,  leaving no pellet behind so you know you’re getting the best no matter the flavor. It takes top-performing pellets to have a top-performing grill, as well as the ultimate flavor and taste, so Traeger ensures that only the best hardwood is used. This also means implementing three to five burn tests a week at our mills to make sure we’re achieving consistency, and perfect smoke, you can rely on bag after bag.


Traeger’s four pellet mills are all located right here in the U.S., and are owned and operated by Traeger, for ultimate quality control. Having our pellet mills located in the U.S. gives Traeger the ability to oversee the process from raw wood, all the way to bagging, and ensure it meets our strong guidelines for smoke perfection every step of the way. Traeger is the only wood pellet grill company in the industry that owns their own mills, and it’s something we take pride in. If our pellets don’t meet our standard requirements, they don’t make it into a bag—simple as that.


After being in the business for 30 years, we’re more than just resident experts—we’ve created the “gold standard” in pellet production. Traeger pellet mills use a special pelletizing process to create the best pellets on the market. We start by bringing in clean, green hardwood sawdust, then dry it to the optimal moisture content for smoke creation, using a rotating drum and furnace. The hardwood material is then run through a hammer mill to uniformly grind the sawdust to an optimal size. Once uniform, they’re compressed and run through a rotating die and extruded out into the signature Traeger pellets you know and love. The last step is cooling them in a holding bin before getting bagged and ready to ship to your Traeger dealer, or right to your doorstep.


Did you know Traeger doesn’t harvest a single tree for our pellets? We only use reclaimed hardwood from freshly cut timber that meets our industry leading standards. We utilize the sawdust from clean, green hardwood that would otherwise go to waste to make our pellets. Because of our manufacturing process and the quality of our wood, our pollutant emissions are also lower on average than any other pellet manufacturer. In an effort to support our community and implement more “green” initiatives, Traeger has partnered with Tree Utah to plant trees in our community and find unique ways to support the local environment.



Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Expand your living space into the outdoors with an amazing outdoor kitchen! Everyone has their own style they prefer so here a list of ideas to get you started! 

kitchen 1.PNG


Inspiration for a transitional backyard stone patio kitchen remodel in Minneapolis.

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Large trendy backyard tile patio kitchen in Melbourne with a roof extension. Great idea for storage to protect grill from weather.

kitchen 3.PNG


Inspiration for a timeless backyard outdoor kitchen deck remodel in Brisbane with a roof extension

kitchen 4.PNG


Mid-sized rustic backyard stamped concrete patio kitchen idea in Boise with a pergola. Elegant yet  comfy.


Bon Vivant

This gourmet kitchen includes wood burning pizza oven, grill, side burner, egg smoker, sink, refrigerator, trash chute, serving station and more! 

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This outdoor kitchen/bar provides everything you need to entertain your guests outdoors. The stunning stainless steel cabinets along the wall house a sink, refrigerator and plenty of storage.

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Contemporary tile patio kitchen idea in Miami.

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This freestanding covered patio with an outdoor kitchen and fireplace is the perfect retreat! Just a few steps away from the home, this covered patio is about 500 square feet. The homeowner had an existing structure they wanted replaced. This new one has a custom built wood burning fireplace with an outdoor kitchen and is a great area for entertaining.

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Stunning contemporary coastal home which saw native emotive plants soften the homes masculine form and help connect it to it's laid back beachside setting. 

kitchen 10.PNG


Outdoor kitchen deck - Mid-sized traditional backyard outdoor kitchen deck idea in Kansas City with a pergola.



Retro Colors, Creative Designs and Sustainable Packaging Among 2018's Top Fireplace, Barbecue and Patio Trends

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Consumer interest in new fireplaces, barbecue grills, and outdoor furnishings is on the rise nationwide, and the industry’s manufacturers are in Nashville this week for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo, unveiling new products that are trending equal parts retro, eco-friendly, and technologically advanced.

“HPBExpo is the nation’s largest trade show for indoor hearth and outdoor patio, arriving just as retailers prepare their spring barbecue and patio displays and decide on their fall hearth promotions. Consumer tastes are always evolving, particularly as millennials’ home purchasing power expands, and we are excited at the wide array of new technologies, creative designs, and clever innovations manufacturers are displaying at this year’s Expo.”  - Jack Goldman, president & CEO of HPBA.

To celebrate this year’s HPBExpo, which will have its highest attendance in three years, HPBA shares six top trends expected at the show:

· Retro Colors: Retro is the new neutral. This year, brightly colored grills are replacing the typical black and stainless-steel grills. Colors are also a big trend when it comes to the patio. Overall, outdoor spaces are becoming more vibrant and colorful in 2018.

 · Digital Monitoring: Technological advances continue to surge. Grills have had smart capabilities for the past few years, but most controllers have only worked locally while the user remains in range. This year, new technologies allow monitoring grill and hearth temperatures from farther distances.

 · Outdoor Fireplaces: According to industry research, outdoor fireplaces are gaining popularity. One in 10 consumers are planning to add fireplaces and heaters to outdoor kitchens. Even indoor fireplaces are starting to mimic the outdoors. A trending fireplace design is including media that mimics nature, such as rocks and branches.

 · Pellet Grills: In terms of ownership, wood pellet grills are among the fastest rising. Pellet grills are versatile and will grill, roast, and smoke. They hearken back to our earliest cooking technique, while creating great flavor with convenience. Because of their small size, wood pellets burn cleanly and quickly to a fine ash to create the ultimate wood-burning fire.

 · Year-Round Grilling: Summer holidays continue to be the biggest grilling days of the year, but grilling is starting to become a year-round pastime. Many consumers are braving the chilly temperatures to grill for the Super Bowl (23 percent), Thanksgiving (14 percent), Christmas or Chanukah (10 percent), and New Year's Eve/Day (9 percent). Retailers are responding with accessories supporting cold-weather grilling, including heat lamps and hearty cookware.

 · Recyclable Packaging: Sustainability is top of mind this year, and the industry is embracing the eco-friendly mindset. In an effort to reduce waste, manufacturers are creating more recyclable packaging.   


About the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), based in Arlington, Va., is the North American industry association for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives, service firms and allied associates for all types of barbecue, patio and hearth appliances, fuels and accessories. The association provides professional member services and industry support in education, statistics, government relations, marketing, advertising and consumer education.


20-year Anniversary of North American Industrial Wood Pellet Exports

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Twenty years ago on April 6th 1998, the first trans-ocean bulk shipment of wood pellets from North America, which were carried on the Mandarin Moon, arrived and began discharging 15,000 metric tonnes of wood pellets at the port of Helsingborg, Sweden.

FutureMetrics' partner and operations expert, John Swaan, entered into the first off-take agreement for bulk pellet delivery from north America, produced the pellets at his pellet plant in Prince George, B.C., and loaded the ship in Prince Rupert, B.C., on Feb. 9, 1998. After a long transit from the west coast of Canada to Europe, the ship was unloaded in Helsingborg, Sweden for use as fuel by Helsingborg Energi.

John was the pioneer in what is now a rapidly growing industry that in 2018 will use about 21 million tonnes of wood pellets. A significant proportion of those pellets are shipped from north America. 

FutureMetrics is proud to have John Swaan as a part of our team for the last six years. John's many decades of experience and the knowledge he has accrued is an asset for anyone seeking world-class pellet plant operations. John will help existing or developing projects understand how to maximize production at optimal costs while maintaining consistent high quality output with minimal risk to operators and equipment. 


6 Ways to Highlight Your Fireplace With Wallpaper!

Scott JacksonComment

Why use wallpaper to show off your fireplace?

There are almost endless wallpaper design options that can help you create a stunning room without taking up any floor space. But to ensure success, you’ll want to check that your fireplace has proper ventilation, choose a high-quality paper and work with a pro to install it correctly.

1. Wallpaper the facing. The immediate exterior walls surrounding your fireplace are the easiest place to start. When it comes to wallpaper, the cost can add up, which is why choosing to showcase a particular aspect of any room — a single wall, a nook or, in this case, the facing above a fireplace — makes a statement without having to deal with the cost of a wrapping the whole room in wallpaper.

2. Flank the fireplace. Consider your fireplace the art in the room and cover the walls on each side with wallpaper. By papering the walls on both sides of the chimney (but not the chimney itself), you make the entire fireplace wall stand out. In addition to the beauty of the wallpaper itself, you have the option of adding a paint color to the chimney to tie it together.

3. Use wallpaper panels. Keep the wallpaper confined to panels around the fireplace and the rest of the room. You can do this by papering sections of the wall and then separating them from one another with wooden moldings. This often will be a custom design, which allows you to frame your fireplace however you want. Panels are a good option if you feel that wallpapering your whole room might make your space look too busy.

4. Back the shelves. Using wallpaper in bookshelves is an idea you can use in any room, but it’s especially great to try around a fireplace. This option can elevate the shelving you already have without too much effort. 

5. Add a backdrop. If you have a freestanding fireplace, you can quickly make it stand out by giving it a backdrop. Besides looking terrific, this design addition also addresses the challenge of what to put around the fireplace to complete the design, since many of these types of fireplaces need to be separated from other objects and pieces of furniture.

6. Wrap the whole room. For those who aren’t afraid of going big with wallpaper, you can wrap the room, including the fireplace facing, in your favorite paper. Opting for a full-room wallpaper wrap doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go bold. Monochromatic papers create a refined look that feels lush and luxurious while keeping an overall understated look in the space.

Installation considerations

If you move forward with wallpaper by the fireplace, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind to ensure that your paper doesn’t warp, bubble or come off the wall. 

  • Proper ventilation around your fireplace
  • The necessary cover or doors on your fireplace
  • Wipeable wallpaper, so soot can be removed with a damp cloth
  • Expert installation, since the wall prep and adhesive are particularly important in this area of your home

Paper selection

Every home and fireplace situation is different, but, in general, if you have proper venting around your fireplace, you shouldn’t have any issues using wallpaper nearby. That said, a fireplace often emits heat and smoke. Because of that, the most important things are to purchase a high-quality wipeable paper and to prep the wall properly. 



Shopping for Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Fireplaces and wood stoves do more than provide heat on a cold day — they anchor a gathering place at the heart of a home.

“They’re a great focal point for any family hangout spot. What brings people together? Either a really beautiful meal or a really warm fire.”  - Colin Brice, who founded the New York architecture firm Mapos with Caleb Mulvena.

For that reason, fireplaces take center stage in many of Mapos’s residential and hospitality projects, including the Lake House hotel in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the forthcoming hotel The Maker in Hudson, N.Y. 

There are various options for adding fire features to existing homes, Mr. Brice and Mr. Mulvena said, including wood stoves, gas fireplaces and models that burn ethanol. But there are important differences: Some, like wood stoves, can function as the main heat source for a room; others, like ethanol fireplaces, are more about ambiance.

“The big question is, What do you want your fireplace or stove to do?” Mr. Brice said.

• Where will it be installed? “We try to think about how a fireplace can be more than a thing in the wall,” Mr. Mulvena said. Positioned in the center of a room, “it can be an element that divides space.”

• Is there a way to vent it? “A lot of gas fireplaces are what is called ‘direct vent,’ where you don’t need the traditional vertical flue — you can vent out a wall,” Mr. Mulvena said, whereas fireplaces “that use ethanol can be ventless, because they don’t have toxic byproducts.”

• If the fireplace is the focus of a room, where should the TV go? “If a television must be in the same space, we always try to hide it,” Mr. Mulvena said. “Let the fireplace be the true center of the living space.”


3 Predictions for 2018: Trends in Grilling & Smoking

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Another New Year already?! It seems like just yesterday I was writing my blog on BBQ Trends for 2017. It’s time to dust off my crystal ball for the trends that will shape barbecue in 2018.

Fusion ’que: Call it globalization’s upside. Call it melting pot extreme. It’s what happens when traditional American barbecue meets authentic ethnic cuisine and it’s happening more and more across the country. Case in point: the brisket ramen (Japanese noodle soup) served at Kemuri Tatsuya in Austin, Texas. Or the brisket tacos dished up at The Pit Room in Houston. (Like many of the new wave barbecue joints, they make their tortillas from scratch here, using—what else?—brisket drippings.) Look for more East-West mash-ups in the coming year, and be sure to let us know via Facebook or Barbecue Board what cuisines are fusing in your region.

Philanthro-’que (food philanthropy): When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Stan Hays and his Operation BBQ Relief roared in to provide hot meals to the thousands of people left homeless (and kitchen-less) by the storm. Since founding Operation BBQ Relief in 2011, the CNN Hero and his army of volunteers have served more than 1.7 million meals in 24 states to more than 40 communities that have suffered from devastating natural disasters. In a similar vein, the Spanish born super-chef, Jose Andres (whose restaurants include the amazing live fire chop house Bazaar Meat in Las Vegas) boarded one of the first planes to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. To date he’s served nearly 2 million people—dwarfing the efforts of FEMA. So what can you do? For starters, donate your time, barbecue rig, or cash to Operation BBQ, learn more here.

Veal is back: Remember veal? That mild, sweet meat so spectacular grilled in the form of a veal chop? After decades of pariah status (and chef boycotts) on account of the cruel confinement conditions under which factory farms raised calves, veal is finally returning to restaurant menus and meat markets. But this time you can eat it with a clean conscience thanks to a new generation of ranchers that are raising calves in herds on pasture grass outdoors. Lori Dunn of Strauss Meats (the veal purveyor I use) reports that veal sales soared more than 10 percent last year. So how do you know you’re getting humanely raised veal? Look for the words “pastured” or “group raised” on the label. For ideas on how to grill this terrific meat, click here


Should I install an electric fireplace?

Elizabeth ManuelComment

The fire can be so delightful, and all you need is an electrical outlet.

A fireplace improves the atmosphere of your home, but fireplace installation can be costly and require a great deal of maintenance. If you don’t have a chimney or simply want to avoid the hassle of a wood-burning or gas fireplace, electric fireplaces provide an alternative to traditional systems.

They come in many different styles, but generally, electric fireplaces use mirrors, Mylar and LED lights to mimic the look of flame. An electric fireplace log might be metal, wood or rock.


Electric fireplaces require much less hassle than traditional wood-burning or gas fireplace inserts. Since they need no gas lines, chimney or other infrastructure, you can install an electric fireplace anywhere you have a power outlet, and in homes where fireplaces are not an option.

Since they don’t emit harmful fumes such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, electric fireplaces require no chimney, venting or the monitors and maintenance involved in a ventless gas fireplace. They also produce no soot or ash, so they’re easy to clean and maintain.

Most homeowners can DIY electric fireplace installation — all you need is a power outlet, and it can be as easy as hanging it on a wall. With more complex home decorating ideas in mind, such as insetting it in a wall, you might need a carpenter or electrician to handle those details, but the fireplace element requires no professional expertise.

Because electric fireplaces don’t burn or use combustible fuel, they don’t corrode and wear out very slowly, allowing them to last many years longer than their fiery counterparts.


Don’t count on an electric fireplace heater to warm your home. Most electric fireplaces emit about as much heat as a few pilot lights — hardly enough to warm up even a small room.

Although recent technological advances have improved the aesthetics of electric fireplaces, their simulated fire still tends to look fake compared to authentic flames. Since they depend on a power source, electric fireplaces won’t light or heat your home in the event of a power outage or storm.

Also, electric fireplaces involve higher operational costs. On average, an electric fireplace uses $1.84 of electricity every eight hours.

How can an electric fireplace help home decorating?

Electric fireplaces come in a wide variety of designs, ranging from sleek and modern to a traditional wood look, making them ideal for a wide range of fireplace decorating ideas. Or you can forego modern fireplace design and install an electric fireplace insert in an existing brick or masonry fireplace opening to create a very traditional atmosphere. This creates all the charm of a brick fireplace mantel and even a spot to hang the stockings for Santa.


You can buy an electric fireplace at either a big-box store or a specialty fireplace hearth retailer. The big-box models usually tend to cost less, but specialty outlets often have a wider selection, more expertise to help you pick the best model for your needs and higher quality brand names.


Want to grill? These local guys say don't let the cold weather stop you.

Elizabeth ManuelComment

With colder weather creeping in , few people are thinking about cranking up the grill for a sleet-covered cookout.

Then there’s Rick Barrera.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stops this guy from firing it up. And it’s no wonder: When you’ve got a grill like Barrera’s, you want it to be smoking.

“Got it from a guy in North Carolina, 500 bucks,” he said this week, turning burgers over a grate built into the front end of a 1955 Chevey Apache pickup truck. Yep, his grill is right behind the grill. “He said the truck was beyond repair, but he didn’t want to get rid of it. So he chopped it up and turned it into a grill,” Barrera said. “He only sold it to me because the wife made him.”

The Aragona retiree isn’t the only outdoor cooking enthusiast who refuses to stop just because it’s cold. Hardcore grillers across Hampton Roads agree: With a few cold-weather techniques, grilling can be just as great in the winter as in the summer.

Propane supplier Blue Rhino is among the companies that offer tips. The gas acts differently when it’s cold, the company said, so depending on just how low the temperature dips, you can use up to 50 percent more propane while cooking. So make sure you have an extra tank .

Grill maker Weber warns that if you’re wearing a scarf or other loose-fitting clothes to keep you warm, make sure those items are tucked in. You wouldn’t want to ruin a good cookout by catching on fire. The company also suggests using a timer to keep an eye on how long food has been cooking. Every time you open the lid, heat escapes. And when it’s super cold, that will severely delay cooking time.

Like Barrera, Bill Dixon doesn’t understand why people would put away their grills for the winter. Cooking on a more-traditional, barrel-style smoker, Dixon said people are missing out when they stay inside.

They’re missing everything wonderful about grilling just because it’s cold outside,” the Back Bay resident said. “This is a great time to smoke turkeys and give them away as gifts.”

Dixon, who has a reputation of being one of the area’s top grill masters, also puts together cooking videos for his Pungo Prairie website. He’s preparing to do one soon on grilling on cedar planks.

“You soak the planks, and they can be cherry, hickory, anything you’d use for smoking, in white wine and water, then put fish or meat on them. The edges start to smoke and the smoke waifs over the meat. It’s a fantastic way to turn a regular grill into a smoker.” - Dixon

Dixon’s grilling endeavors take him all over the place as a part-time caterer. His love of grilling year-round stems from watching people enjoy his food.

For Barrera, it’s also about family.

“I tow the grill to the park or to where we go camping ... just about anywhere,” he said. “It’s an experience that we can all have together and everybody enjoys it.”

Grilling also has kept his family fed in a time of crisis. Barrera lived in New Jersey when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. “We were without power for 15 days, so I fired up the grill all the time. Day and night, cold rain, it didn’t matter,” he said. “I didn’t stop.”

He looks back at that time and wishes he would have had his truck grill, with its large capacity. “The guy I bought it from said I could put 150 chicken wings on it,” he said with a smile. “I try different things all the time. My favorite is ribs. But I’ll cook anything.

“I just love to grill.”


Hot Fireplace Design Ideas

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Brick Fireplace

The classic mirror-over-fireplace trick can reflect traditional or modern tastes, depending on which style of mirror you choose. 

Black Slate Fireplace

Get dramatic with a painted fireplace surround, glamorous black slate (not ceramic tile) and an elegant wood mantel.

Stone Fireplace

Forgo a mantel for the sleek look of stone, all the way up to the ceiling.

Mosaic Tile Fireplace

Iridescent glass mosaic tile makes your hearth the jewel of the home. 

Painted Brick Fireplace

Cover up dated brick with a fresh coat of white paint.

Ornate Fireplace Mantel

Visit salvage stores and antiques shops for one-of-a-kind mantels that can be transformed with stain and lacquer. 

Slate Fireplace

Make a cool, contemporary and powerful focal point in your room with a large-scale slate hearth.

Limestone Fireplace

For a classic look, surround your fireplace with buffed limestone tile and a contemporary wood mantel. 

Painted Fireplace

Create the look of adobe for your fireplace with plaster and a bold paint color.


Beyond fireplaces: Historic heating methods of the 19th century

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Thanks to modern heating systems, we can enjoy the cozy picturesqueness of a fireplace without depending on it to keep our homes warm. But that wasn’t the case in 18th- and early 19th-century America.

“Up through about 1800, the wood-burning fireplace—very popular with English settlers—was the primary means of heating a home. The problem was that winters in America can be much harsher than in England. The weather quickly exposed how inefficient fireplaces are at heating a room.”  -Sean Adams, professor of history at the University of Florida and author of Home Fires: How Americans Kept Warm in the Nineteenth Century

The majority of the heat in a fireplace goes up and out of the flue. What little heat does make its way into the room gets concentrated directly in front of the firebox, leaving the rest of the room quite cold.

In 1741, Benjamin Franklin sought to improve the efficiency of the fireplace. He introduced a cast-iron insert for the firebox—called the “Franklin Stove”—in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, volume 2. While it didn’t fundamentally change the design of a fireplace, it addressed his theory about heat.

“Franklin believed heat to be like liquid—he was trying to keep the heat in the room as long as possible, or else it would rush out of the room,” explains Adams.

The Franklin Stove had a series of baffles, or channels, within the stove to direct the flow of air, to keep as much of the heat circulating in the firebox and flowing out into the room as possible. However, the design had problems.

“The stove had to be very tight,” explains Adams. “If there were any leaks, smoke leaked out into the room. Wind would also blow the smoke back into the room. It wasn’t considered a real success.”

Toward the end of the 19th century, the inventor Count Rumford devised a fireplace designed along a set of proportions so it could be built on a variety of scales.

"In the fireplaces I recommend the back [of the fireplace] is only about one third of the width of the opening of the fireplace in front, and consequently that the two sides or covings of the fireplaces...are inclined to [the front opening] at an angle of about 135 degrees." - Count Rumford writes in a 1796 essay,

The Rumford fireplace efficiently burned wood while its characteristically shallow firebox reflected as much heat as possible out into the room as possible. The handy design of the Rumford gained a strong following. Thomas Jefferson installed eight of them at his country house Monticello. Rumford fireplaces became so mainstream that Henry David Thoreau wrote about them in Walden as a basic quality of the home, alongside copper pipes, plaster walls, and Venetian blinds.

By the 1820s and 1830s, Adams explains, coal was quickly becoming a dominating fuel type. Stoves that could burn either wood or coal—the type being pushed was Anthracite, or “hard” coal—became popular. Iron stoves were not new technology. While English settlers brought fireplaces, German settlers had iron stoves that did a good job of heating a space. But what was new was the type of fuel: coal. Adams explains that since coal was so different from the familiar fuel type of wood, it took a little while to gain popularity.

“Coal was first marketed in a similar way to how some new technology is marketed today,” says Adams. “You needed early investors willing to take the risk. It was billed at ‘the fuel of the fashionable,’ which would revolutionize home heating.”

To match, coal stoves became highly decorative, featuring intricate ironwork and decorative finials to make them just as desirable as they were utilitarian. Coal became mainstream in post-Civil War America. Wealthier families might have burned coal in basement furnaces—with specific rooms dedicated for coal storage—while poorer families might have used little stoves in individual rooms in their home.

The architecture of the home also changed as heating technologies shifted. While Colonial houses of the 18th century needed big chimneys to support multiple fireplaces, houses built in the later half of the 19th century only needed ventilation space for stove pipes. That translated into skinnier chimneys. Inside, mantlepieces sometimes remained as a backdrop for the stoves. Even though they were technically no longer needed, they continued to act as a focal point in a room.

Also coming into play in the 19th century was steam heating, which first appeared in the 1850s but gained popularity in the 1880s. Adams explains that this is just another form of coal heating, as coal would be used to heat the water that turns into steam. Steam heating was first used in institutional buildings like hospitals but then moved to residences.

One of the most elaborate examples of a steam-heating network in the 19th century was at Biltmore Estate, the Vanderbilt-owned mansion in Asheville, North Carolina.Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of Biltmore, needed to heat roughly 2,300,000 cubic feet of space for the 175,000-square-foot house,” says Denise Kiernan, author of The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home.

Kiernan explains that the subbasement of Biltmore, which was completed in 1895, had three boilers capable of holding 20,000 gallons of water each. Those boilers created steam that circulated to radiators in a network of shafts around the house, a system that seems simple in theory but quickly intensifies when one realizes that the network had to heat 250 rooms. “Of course—this heating system had help from 65 fireplaces, some more utilitarian, others wildly elaborate,” Kiernan adds. Heating the largest private home in America was no small feat: In The Last Castle, Kiernan reports that 25 tons of coal were burned in two weeks during the winter of 1900. To prepare for the winter of 1904, the Vanderbilts placed a coal order for 500 tons to be shipped and ready.

Regardless of how elaborate or rudimentary the heating system of choice was in the 19th century, something that seemed to connect all methods, whether it be wood or coal, was a reliance on oneself to light the fire and supply the heat. Something that changes in the 20th century, when national grids of electricity and gas fundamentally changed how we heat our homes—but that’s a different story.

“The hearth becomes industrialized throughout the 1800s, but people still wanted to make the fire themselves. Now, we’re very comfortable with the idea that we can flip a switch to turn the heat on, but that wasn’t the case a century ago. They were close enough to that era of open, roaring fireplaces that people wanted to control their own heat!” - Adams


Recipes For Your Traeger

Elizabeth ManuelComment


A brisket worthy of any true Texan. This full packer is injected with Butcher’s prime, sprayed down with apple juice, rubbed with a prime rib and coffee rub mix, topped with black pepper and smoked over oak wood.



Trim fat cap off the top of brisket and remove all silverskin. Trim off any brown areas such as on the side of the brisket. Make a long cut with the grain on the thin side (flat) of the brisket and a short cut again on the flat to show direction of cuts after cooking. Trim bottom fat cap to about 1/4 inch thickness. 

Combine butchers prime and water. Inject into the brisket with the grain in a checkerboard fashion. Combine both Traeger rubs and season brisket liberally. Season the top with the black pepper.

Rub entire brisket with canola oil then spritz with apple juice and let sit for 30 minutes. 

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 180 degrees F and preheat, lid closed for 10-15 minutes. 

Place brisket directly on the grill grate and cook 8-12 hours fat side down. Spritz with apple juice every 30-45 minutes after the first 3 hours. After 8 hours begin taking the temperature by inserting about two-thirds of the way up into the thickest part. It should register between 150-160 degrees F. 

Once the brisket registers 160 degrees F, wrap with two sheets of aluminum foil leaving one end open. Pour in remaining brisket injection and seal foil packet.

Increase the temperature on the grill to 225 degrees F and place wrapped brisket directly on grill grate. Cook for another 3-4 hours until internal temperature registers 204 degrees F.

Remove from the grill and place in a cooler wrapped in a towel to rest for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, cut slices about the thickness of a pencil against the grain.

If desired, separate cooking liquid from fat and pour juices over cut slices of brisket. Enjoy!


Wood-burning stove ban will not be enforced against householders

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Sadiq Khan’s proposed ban on wood-burning stoves in the most-polluted areas of London will not be enforced against householders and will only be in operation at certain times of the year. Under the mayor of London’s plans, the stoves would be occasionally banned from use in zones in the capital from 2025 and UK-wide laws blocking the sale of all but the newest, cleanest stoves from 2022 would be brought in earlier.

In an attempt to reassure the thousands of Londoners who bought the stoves in good faith, the focus will be on educating owners not to burn wood during bad air quality episodes. Authorities will reserve enforcement for commercial users such as hotels. There are about 1.5m stoves in the UK and 200,000 are sold annually, with the appliances often marketed as a green form of home heating. However, there has been growing concern over their environmental impact. Researchers at King’s College London have found that wood-burning in the capital accounts for up to 31% of the city’s particulate pollution, up from 10% in the past. The tiny particles, known as PM2.5, are the most harmful type of air pollution and exacerbate lung and heart conditions. Khan has called for greater powers from government to act on wood-burning after he discovered it contributed half of the pollution during a dirty air episode in January.

“Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles,” he said.

The Green party and campaigners said the mayor was right to tackle emissions from the stoves. ClientEarth, a group that has won court battles against the government on pollution, said the the stoves combined with diesel car emissions in winter to create a “toxic soup”.

“A lot of people don’t realise that wood-burning has an impact on air quality, particularly in urban areas,” said Alan Andrews, a lawyer at the firm.

However, there are questions over how practical it would be to enforce the proposed ban.

The government website on smoke control zones warns of a £1,000 fine for people using unauthorised stoves. However, the Guardian understands that not a single fine was issued in London over the past year.

“A big problem here is a lack of enforcement of the Clean Air Act,” said Dennis Milligan of the Stove Industry Alliance. He said that open fires, which the act prohibits in many towns and cities, were the real problem contributing to London’s dirty air.

“I totally disagree with him on banning stuff,” said Milligan, adding he had been trying to speak to Khan all year about his members’ support for cleaner stoves but Friday’s announcement was the first he had heard of plans for a ban. The mayor’s office did not deny the claim.

Khan has written to Michael Gove, the environment secretary, asking him to amend the Clean Air Act to give him the powers to create zones where the burning of solid fuels such as wood is banned.

The move could affect wood-burning stove owners beyond London, too. The mayor’s office said he supported the amendment being made in a way that such powers were given to all cities, not just the capital. Secondly, Khan is calling for new EU standards mandating cleaner, lower emission stoves to be brought in earlier than 2022, when they are planned to come into force. The Stove Industry Alliance said its members had begun selling “Ecodesign-ready” stoves in February.

Wood-burning has been increasing across the UK, with a 2015 government surveyfinding consumption in homes had been significantly underestimated. It is most popular in the south-east and south-west of the country.

Wood-burning – what you can and can’t do

• Most large towns and cities in the UK are covered by a smoke control zone, which prohibits the use of open fires

• However, certain stoves approved by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can be used to burn wood in those zones

• From 2025 in zero emission zones created in London’s most polluted areas even approved stoves will be banned from use during certain times of year.



Six tips to buy the right pellet stove

Elizabeth ManuelComment

Glenn Robinson has been selling and installing pellet, wood and coal stoves in Pennsylvania for 11 years, and one of the biggest problems he faces is sizing the stove.

I became tired of false information from manufacturers about how many BTUs they claimed their stoves put out. Customers see these exaggerated BTU numbers from a small stove and think it will heat their home, but it won’t. The result is that the stove is undersized and there is premature wear and tear. One model from a big name brand would only last for 3 – 4 months before needing repair or even full replacement.
— Glenn Robinson

Glenn is not alone in identifying exaggerated BTU listings as one of the biggest problems consumers face in buying a stove.  Scott Williamson, a Massachusetts pellet installation and repair technician says that he sees stoves “all the time that are being run on high 24/7 and pellet stoves just aren’t designed to do that.”  Both installers say that under sizing of pellet stoves is one of the biggest problems, and urge customers to consider larger (higher BTU output) stoves if they live in average size homes in the northern half of the country and plan to use the stove a lot.

Here are six critical things for consumers to keep in mind when purchasing a pellet stove:

 1. Don’t undersize. If the stove is going to be your primary heat source you will likely need a medium or large pellet stove, even if a smaller unit advertises high BTU output.  Ignore BTU numbers on manufacturers websites and literature and check the EPA list.  The maximum output for pellet stoves is in the 30,000 – 50,000 range, enough to heat all or most of a small or medium house in most climates. “Don’t plan to run the stove all the time at its highest setting,” warns Scott Williamson “or you will be calling someone like me to fix it quicker than you think.”  When we tested six popular pellet stove models, we calculated an output of no more than 21,000 BTUs, far below what the EPA listed and even farther below what manufacturers claimed.


(It is possible to oversize the stove and that can be a problem, but is not nearly as common as under sizing.  “For example, the Harman P68 is notorious for being installed in small areas like mobile homes but they gunk up when they aren't allowed to get up to temperature for a bit before they shutdown,” says Scott Williamson.)

2. Beware of cheaper stoves. There are some good budget wood stoves on the market, but with pellet stoves, you are more likely to get what you pay for than with wood stoves.  “If you want a reliable stove that puts out a lot of heat, we urge customers to ignore pellet stoves under $2,500,” says Glenn Robinson.  Scott Williamson generally agrees but has seen some basic stoves like the Pel Pro and Englander hold up pretty well.

3. Check for range of heat output.  Most stoves can put out about 3.5 times more heat at their highest setting, compared to their lowest.  Some stoves have a tiny range, putting out only 1.5 times more heat at their highest setting.  If you live in a more moderate climate, in the early fall and late spring, you may want just a little heat, and still have the capacity for much greater heat output on the coldest days and nights of winter.  All other things being equal in a stove, you may want a stove with a larger range of heat output and you can check the range of all stoves on the EPA list of certified stoves. In our tests, we found that the Enviro M55 insert ran continuously for an impressive 49 hours on its lowest setting with a tested hopper size of 60 pounds and it ran for 22 hours on its higher setting.  However, with a 37-pound hopper, the Englander 25 PDVC only rain for 15 hours on its lower setting and 13 hours on its highest setting, indicating a very low turn down ratio.

4. Understand maintenance requirements. If you don’t clean your stove regularly and have it professionally serviced once a year, don’t expect high BTU output.  Most consumers get subpar performance from stoves and have to repair them more often because they are not maintaining their stoves according to the owner’s manual.  Pellet stoves are not like wood stoves: they have lots of moving parts and need cleaning of the burn pot and inside the stove on weekly, and depending on the stove, a daily basis.  Pellet stoves that are not cleaned regularly can lose 10% or more of their efficiency – and their heat output, and lead to costlier repairs. Understand the daily, weekly and annual maintenance requirements from the start and don’t put them off.  When we tested six popular pellet stoves, we found that the three more expensive ones (Harman, Quadra-Fire and Enviro) could go for a week or more without cleaning the burn pot.  However, the Englander, Ravelli and Piazzetta needed daily burn pot cleanings.

 5. Look for cleaner pellet stoves.  Pellet stoves are far cleanerthan wood stoves, even if they both have the same particulate matter in grams per hour.  Particulate matter is the tiny stuff that smoke is made out of and pellet stoves should not have any visible smoke after the 3-minute start up.   The average pellet stove used to put out about 2 grams of particulate per hour.  But since the new EPA regulations took effect in 2015, the average pellet stove emits about 1.3 grams per hour that makes pellet stoves more suitable in more densely populated suburban and even urban areas.  Choosing a cleaner pellet stove means a cleaner flue pipe and cleaner air around your and your neighbors’ homes.

 6. Beware of stoves without an efficiency on the EPA list. As with BTUs, manufacturers routinely exaggerate the efficiency of their stoves on their websites, so if efficiency and saving money is important to you, check the EPA list of stoves for efficiency ratings.  The problem is some companies still haven’t reported their efficiency to the EPA, so you may only want to purchase a stove that has an efficiency listing on the EPA list.  Pellet stoves with listed efficiencies range from 58 to 87% efficiency, but those not listed could be even lower, drastically increasing your heating costs.


The EPA list includes some slightly exaggerated efficiency numbers, but they are not nearly as exaggerated as manufacturer websites and literature. The EPA used to allow companies to calculate efficiency based on a default of 78% efficiency, even though most pellet stoves are below that, explains Ben Myren, who runs one of the stove test labs approved by the EPA. The result is a 5-10% exaggeration of some stoves on the EPA site, something that the EPA has not publicly acknowledged. (Some incentive and change out programs - Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon - require that the stove have an efficiency listed on the EPA list to get the full rebate.)



Appreciating these six factors are likely to help you make a better decision, but we also encourage consumers to rely on feedback from friends, neighbors and others who own pellet stoves. One site that can be helpful for research is hearth.com.