NE Minnesota Innovation: Family business fires up clean wood furnaces

November 2023

CERTs is proud to highlight Minnesota-made clean energy entrepreneurs!


Did you know that the word “kuuma” translates to “hot” in Finnish? That’s the inspiration behind the Kuuma Line of wood-burning products at Lamppa Manufacturing. Lamppa Manufacturing is a small, multi-generational family business that produces goods in Tower, MN. The family business is rooted in tradition, but always looking toward the future.

After rigorous Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing on Lamppa’s Kuuma wood-burning furnaces (and some great results!) caught our attention, we linked up with Garrett Lamppa to learn more. 

“There has never been a better time to upgrade to the most efficient and safest wood-burning furnace on the market," notes Garrett Lamppa. He’s the 4th generation in his family to run the company. 

"We are not aware of any other manufacturer that has exceeded the required 2020 EPA standard for emissions. Until someone else can catch up, the Lamppa Vapor-Fire furnaces are in a class by themselves.”

- Garrett Lamppa

The family says creating their prize product was initially fueled by hardship. In the 1970s, after a chimney fire, Herb Lamppa and his son Daryl Lamppa (grandfather and father of Garrett, respectively) agreed they shouldn't burn wood for heat until they could find a safer way. Chimney fires have a way of catching one’s attention. Undaunted, they decided to design a the Vapor-Fire at Intertec heating furnace in Herb's garage. This wood furnace has now evolved to the patented Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100. 

Daryl Lampaa has had one of the furnaces in his basement since they were made, and he has never cleaned his chimney, and doesn't even own a chimney brush. When you don't have smoke, there isn't dangerous creosote. Not only are the stoves safer, but they’re cleaner too.

Jump ahead to 2016. Daryl Lampaa retested the Vapor-Fire at Intertec and EPA Phase 2 Certification. At this testing, the Lamppa Furnace achieved 0.093 (the standard for 2020 is 0.15 pounds of emissions per million BTU’s of heat produced.) 

(Note: The United States adopted a new EPA emission mandate effective on May 15, 2020, that says that any wood furnace must produce less than 0.15 pounds of particulate matter per million BTUs of energy produced. This is on par with the emission from modern oil or gas furnaces.)

What does this all mean?...

Not only do they burn cleaner, but the wood-burning furnaces open up the opportunity to reduce waste. Garrett Lamppa sees the benefit of using dead wood in forests as an energy source before it rots and releases its carbon into the atmosphere. 

“Woody biomass is a renewable resource, and most wood burners continue to use this (dead) wood to avoid waste and help clean up our wood lots,” he says.

What’s next for the company? Lamppa is bringing a gasification sauna stove to market — a process that converts organic or fossil-based carbonaceous materials at high temperatures (>700°C), without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam into carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. “It's like using an EPA stove inside your hot room, but one built to take the extreme sauna environment,” says Garrett. 

Hats off to the woody biomass innovation coming from Lamppa Manufacturing in Tower, Minnesota! 

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