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Low NOx: A Furnace Regulation for Southern California

November 27, 2019

Modern inventions have made our life more convenient, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. From vehicles to the dishwasher, our generation is enjoying the benefits of years of innovations. Unfortunately, some of those advancements come at a cost. That’s the reason behind southern California’s low NOx requirement for furnace equipment.

Here in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, there are now local regulations that have to do with something called low NOx furnaces. But why should any LA homeowner care about this rule? Read on to learn how it impacts you.

Break it down: What the heck is a NOx?

You might know that water is simply the compound H2O, made up of hydrogen and oxygen. Or table salt is an ionic compound sodium choride or NaCl. These are simply chemical terms!

Similarly, NOx is shorthand for the compound of nitrogen and oxygen. In referring to furnaces, NOx is a quick term to refer to both nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide. So, a low NOx furnace is one that has a reduced quantity of nitrogen oxide & nitrogen dioxide emissions.

Where does NOx come from?

Your furnace works like a gas stovetop. On stove, when the you turn the knob on the dial, the valve for gas opens. When combined with the spark of the starter, you get a flame. Similarly, when there is a signal for a furnace to heat, a gas valve opens directing gas toward a small flame called a pilot light. This process – the creation of a flame from fuel – is called combustion. 

When combustion happens, nitrogen is released. That nitrogen ‘clings’ to oxygen in the surrounding air, creating nitrogen oxide or nitrogen dioxide. So, furnaces emits NOx compounds during the combustion process. These emissions are contained inside a special duct called a flue, which are then expelled into the air around your home.

What’s the big deal – why does everyone care about NOx?

According the Environmental Protection Agency, nitrogen oxides are “a family of poisonous, highly reactive gases”. Multiple EPA research reports reveal that NOx is a key contributor to ozone, which manifests as smog. Smog is not just ugly to see – it can cause serious breathing problems, and has a long-term impact on the environment.

You might correlate vehicles and high volumes to traffic. It’s true that cars are a big contributor to smog. That’s because cars – just like furnaces – combust fuel in order to work. That means cars create the NOx compound too. For many years, there have been regulations on car manufacturers to reduce the emissions of vehicles. Now, these regulations are being translated to other machines.

Low NOx Furnace Requirements in Los Angeles

Here in LA, we fall under the regulations of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). Because of the long-standing problems our city has had with smog, the requirements are especially stringent.

As of October 1, 2019, any furnace must meet the new ultra low NOx requirement. Furnaces offered for sale, supplied, sold, or installed must emit less than 14 nanograms per Joule of NOx.

What Ultra Low NOx means for LA Homeowners Looking to Purchase a Furnace

If it’s about time to replace your furnace, then it’s essential you are aware of these new regulations. The main point to remember, is that homeowners in LA can only purchase an Ultra-Low-NOx furnace.

First, when furnace shopping ensure you’re looking for the words ultra low NOx. Many manufacturers found it challenging to develop a furnace with such low fuel emissions and some don’t even produce a compliant unit.

Luckily, Brody Pennell partners with a world leader in heating and cooling, Carrier. Carrier has developed the Infinity Ultra Low-NOx furnace. Besides meeting the requirements of the new emissions standard, this heater has several other innovative enhancements like noise reduction. Plus, this unit is covered by a 10-year parts limited warranty and lifetime heat exchanger limited warranty upon timely registration. 

Beware of scams! Look for a reputable HVAC dealer like Brody Pennell

As always, make sure you are working with a service provider you can trust.

Some HVAC installers may be left with extra inventory of furnaces they are unable to sell because of the new requirements. These scam artists may try to offer you a great deal on a furnace in exchange for not reporting them to the AQMD.  If a contractor is trying to sell you a furnace that does not meet these requirements, they are in violation of the law. Start looking for a more trustworthy partner immediately!

Call Brody Pennell and ask about your options for a new Low NOx furnace. Our team understands the details of the regulation, and can help answer your questions. Allow us to put your mind at ease with a visit from one of our expert comfort specialists. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

About The Author

Brody Pennell

Since 1945, Brody Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning is the committed to helping homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area experience total home comfort. In 2021, the readers of the Los Angeles Times voted Brody Pennell the Best HVAC Company in the area.

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