Multiple recent reports, articles and comments by Clean Air Fairbanks, Russ Maddox, Heidi Zemach through SewardCityNews and others have incorrectly reported and commented on the safety of burning Alaskan coal in Harman coal stoves. To shine the light of truth on this issue, I put forth the attached letter I received today from a design engineer at Hearth & Home Technologies, which owns Harman Home Heating, that states:
“Coal units are tested with anthracite coal, because it has the highest carbon content and lowest moisture content of all coal types and therefore generates the highest temperatures during testing. The type of coal available in Alaska is typically bituminous or sub-bituminous coal, which has less energy content per pound of fuel and thus generates lower unit temperatures. Therefore, in terms of safety and clearances to combustibles, Alaskan coal does not pose a safety concern.
The only issue with high moisture content, high volatile coal is typically the emission of un-combusted volatiles. These can condense in the chimney and can result in a chimney fire if the chimney is not properly swept and maintained. Additional diligence in maintaining a clean chimney system will be required when burning the type of coal typically found in Alaska, but beyond that, there is nothing inherently dangerous about burning Alaskan coal in a Harman coal stove.”
This document clearly refutes the inaccurate statements recently put forth into the public domain by these groups and individuals and should reassure Alaskans that burning Alaskan coal in Harman coal stoves is not unsafe and they are not at risk of voided warranties or denied insurance claims because they burn Alaskan coal in Harman stoves. Alaskans who have further questions should consult their stove manufactures and their insurance companies for accurate information as the groups and individuals listed above cannot be trusted to provide unbiased and accurate statements if the truth is contrary to their objective of denying Alaskans the opportunity to burn coal or they are parroting the statements of these groups.
Properly cleaning chimneys is a safety issue for all people who heat with stoves, regardless of whether wood or coal is burned. We have years of experience burning Alaskan coal in two different Harman stoves and can attest that our risk of chimney fires from burning Alaskan coal is a small fraction of the risk of chimney fires from creosote buildup with burning wood.
I am in no way affiliated with Heath & Home Technologies, Harman Home Heating, Usibelli Coal Mine, Aurora Energy, Alaska Railroad or any stove retailers. I am a local Seward resident who owns two Harman coal stoves and who has successfully, safely and inexpensively heated their home by burning Alaskan coal for years. This letter from Harman resulted from a simple phone call to explain what was being stated in the public domain about burning Alaskan coal in Harman stoves and asking Hearth & Home Technologies/Harman Home Heating for their response.
Anyone can contact a stove manufacturer to receive this same information. But many people will be swayed by what groups and individuals who have perceived authority state and will not make their own effort to find out if it is true or not. My goal is to put the truth out to people who burn Alaskan coal that they are not unsafe and at risk and to people who might be interested in burning Alaskan coal that they do have good options. People need the truth so they can make informed decisions, not misleading statements masquerading as fact to advance a particular agenda.