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    High efficiency gas boilers (23 Posts)

  • Lori3 Lori3 @ 11:38 PM
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    High efficiency gas boilers

    Hi...I'm currently in the market for a new gas boiler (forced hot water) in MA.  I have a 50+ year boiler and qualify for an early replacement boiler rebate which is why I'm in the market.  I have received three quotes, and three different boilers were recommened:  Lohinvar Knight, HTP Elite, and Buderus.  I was told by one plumber to stay away from Buderus high efficiency because it is made with cast aluminum and not all stainless steel.  My hesitancy is that these boilers only have a 12 year limited, pro-rated warranty, and while the plumbers I have spoken with each have 5+ years experience installing them, two of the three acknowledge the risk with these boilers given there are no long term results here in the US.  My concern is the maintenance of these boilers over the first 15 years and the cost of repairs etc.  I really don't want to replace an expensive boiler in 15 years. If it weren't for the generous rebate I would probably opt for a conventional boiler with a limited 25 year or life time warranty with less efficiency, which as one plumber said is a simpler way to go with less worries and headaches.  I am looking for any information and experience you have had with these boilers, and any insights you can provide.
    Thanks, Lori
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 6:50 AM
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    A boiler for forever?

    Viessman boilers have the best warranties-lifetime.
    So much depends on the installer who sizes, installs, and SERVICES the boiler. Some localities have problems with trace chemicals in their local water which can contribute to a shorter boiler life. Unfortunately, the contractors with whom you spoke have had only 5 years to have seen the effects of water problems.--NBC
  • HDE HDE @ 12:57 PM
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    Read the fine print

    That would be limited lifetime

    Heat exchanger only, and if that failed its 40% of of list price in the 12th year. And it goes down fast from there. So if they can pass and prove all the restrictions such as proving maintenance and be original owners, single residence and a few other stipulations, they can chase the limited lifetime warranty.

    Any sensible consumer faced with partial heat exchanger mark up cost, all the additional materials and labor would likely be smart and choose a new boiler.

    Lifetime warranty? I think not
    This post was edited by an admin on September 6, 2013 1:01 PM.
  • Rich Rich @ 8:22 AM
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    My question before advising or speaking on your contractors' recommendations is , what type of emitters are in the house ? Baseboard , radiators , other ?  Second would be , did any of these men perform a heat loss and do the calculations to determine if your water temperatures for the existing emitters could be brought down low enough to ACTUALLY give you the benefit of the rated AFUE ? This is probably the most important question for you to have answered .  While all the boilers named are top of the line equipment they all have one thing in common , that would be that if you cannot heat your home with low enough temps to make them condense they are not much more efficient than a conventional cast iron boiler , there are ways to make them play nice with high temp emitters but I would be wary that a 5 year man possesses that knowledge . 
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would
    This post was edited by an admin on September 6, 2013 8:29 AM.
  • Zman Zman @ 8:33 AM
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    First off, I agree that aluminum boilers are not a good plan with the water in many areas.
    Also, many of the high efficiency models on the market are using a Giovanni heat  (HTP) exchanger. This design has served the industry fairly well, I feel it is a dated design  and should be avoided.
    The Lochinvar's with the firetube exchangers is a great unit as are the Triangle tubes.
    I really do not understand the obsession people have with warranties. It only applies to the exchanger and not the electronics and other parts. I see people buying inefficient heating products that cost them extra money every month. They use the logic that they will last longer, Why would you want an inefficient product to last longer? It will just cost you more money,
    I have a Triangle tube boiler in my house and have installed many for customers. In my case it is 30% more efficient than the previous boiler. I have had zero issues with it in 5 years and expect to have it for 15 to 20 years.
  • NRT_Rob NRT_Rob @ 11:11 AM
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    generally speaking

    you'll save enough to buy a new boiler in most cases in significantly less than 15 years.

    Cast iron boilers can fail in 15 years too. we aren't living in the 60's anymore. manufacturing got lean all around.

    I will second the enthusiasm for "firetube" series boilers.
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 3:04 PM
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    I will second the enthusiasm for "firetube" series boilers.

    Firetube boilers worked fine in railroad steam locomotives. I believe the PRR built one watertube locomotive boiler and it did not work out well.

    On the other hand, it seems most power plants with fire in them (I do not know about nuclear) use watertube boilers. I assume they would not build those if fire tube boilers were more efficient.

    Where is the dividing line where one is more efficient than the other?
  • NRT_Rob NRT_Rob @ 3:14 PM
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    it's not about efficiency

    I think the ratings with firetubes vs others are the same. I like them because they are stainless steel, low pressure drop for water pumping, higher water content to reduce cycling, wider passages that won't plug, and generally simpler to service. I.E. they are robust.
  • Gordy Gordy @ 10:13 PM
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    Has fire tube boilers the elite series.
  • Lori3 Lori3 @ 8:37 PM
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    Reply to high efficiency gas boilers

    Thanks for all the comments.
    Rich....I have baseboard heating in a 2 family home, 3 zone heating as I also have heat in my basement.  To my knowledge, none of the plumbers have done a heat loss calculation.  At this point, whatever boiler I get is going to be more efficient than the one I have, which is an American Standard oil burner with a gas converter.  With the early replacement rebate for high efficiency boilers it is less expensive than a conventional boiler (which is also less efficient).
  • Rich Rich @ 10:31 AM
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    First Off

    you must locate and contact someone to do a complete heat loss of the house . You can probably find one in the Find a contractor section here . This will determine what the house requires and also what kind of boilers are a GOOD MATCH for this particular home .
      As far as staying away from Buderus GB units . Hogwash . Now I will be the first to admit that I am no Metallurgist but I have actually talked to several that concurred on a simple fact .  The Buderus aluminum is cast , which means it is solid , Stainless steel on the other hand according to the REAL metal experts  is almost always in sheet form and must then be bent or formed to shape , when this bending and manipulating of the metal takes place it leaves points that may be compromised or weaker than if left in original shape and form .   I have many Buderus GB142 & 162's in service and have had zero problems with their heat exchangers in many varying water quality areas . The Buderus is the most service friendly unit there is of those mentioned .  HTP also has some very nice units , not all of them low mass like the ones so far discussed . Not all with a Gianonni HX either .  The Pioneer boiler has plenty of mass and any sytem using one would be hard pressed to short cycle , need a quarter of the maintenance and is efficient as all the others . No Primary / secondary piping required , HX is CuproNickel , not aluminum or stainless , and in my opinion is the easiest unit to replace medium efficiency units and not get into installer trouble . By the way the Elite also comes in a configuration other than the infamous Gianonni HX , it is the Elite FT (firetube) . Just in case wall hung install is a must .
     First off though , have that heat loss done     
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would
    This post was edited by an admin on September 8, 2013 10:36 AM.
  • Zman Zman @ 4:07 PM
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    Firetube HX

    It is good to hear that HTP is using the firetube exchanger. That sounds like a good option.
    I have personally had horrible experiences with the Buderous aluminum boiler. I do not know anyone in my area that would install one.Maybe it is a local water issue.
    As much as it is good to hear that Rich has had success with them, I really don 't understand why he chooses to attack people with differing opinions and experiences. I am not a REAL metallurgist but I have seen a GB142 with a leaky corroded exchanger. I have also seen the manufacture not honor the warrantee. I personally would not buy one.
    I believe that the original poster is asking for peoples opinions based on experience.

    Rule One "Please be nice"
  • Rich Rich @ 8:12 PM
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    Did I

    attack someone Carl ? I re read my last response several times and fail to see an attack or condemnation of anyones' opinion . Possibly these are local water issues that some experience but not in my area . Sorry to hear that you and some others have had a bad experience .  Now , I will say that if anybody asked for an endorsement on the S120 indirect I will say with venom , NO WAY ! Only Buderus product I have had an issue with .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would
    This post was edited by an admin on September 8, 2013 8:18 PM.
  • Gordy Gordy @ 9:00 PM
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    To Lori3

    It can be a bit over whelming in selecting a new boiler.

    A bit about efficiency. One thing you need to understand is that a modulating condensing boiler has the ability to modulate the burner to the heat load where a Cast iron boiler does not. So in other words with a cast iron boiler its like driving your car full throttle to get to 30 mph. Verses a condensing boiler being more like a car in that it ramps up to meet the load.

    The condensing part of the equation is more icing on the efficiency cake.

    Every day of the heating season does not require the full output of the boiler. So example being on a 40* day you do not need the same btu output as on a 10* day. The mid efficiency boiler gives full output no matter what. There are some add ons like outdoor reset that helps a cast iron boiler be a little more efficient.

    Lets move to emitter types. You have base board which it's output is rated at a certain supply water temp usually 180*. IF your home has had insulation up grades since the heating system was installed,and/or you have more base board than is necessary to meet the load you can use lower supply temps, and still meet the load. This is an added plus in selecting a modulating condensing boiler. This can only be determined by a comprehensive room by room heat loss calculation. The installer needs to determine what the heat loss is in each room, and determine if the base board is enough, or bigger than necessary to meet the load.

    Why should I spend the extra money for a higher efficiency boiler that comes with higher installation costs, and costs more to maintain? Even if your your ROI is break even people have to think past what is in it for me, and instead think about what is in it for everyone. That is lowering each homes carbon foot print, and fuel consumption. What may seem like small savings in fuel with one boiler adds up to a lot when you think about all the heating systems out there collectively. It boils down to future generations having an atmosphere, and a fuel to keep warm in the future. Europe is on this page why can't North America be also.

    As far,as,your quotes. They all recommend good boilers. The lack of a heat loss has me concerned I would demand one! Or else how will they know what size boiler to install this is part of the efficiency gain chances are high the old boiler is way bigger than it needs to be especially if there has been upgrades to your insulation after it was installed. Which ever installer you chose needs to be comfortable with the product he/she is installing, and servicing. That's why you have three different brands from three different people.

    Warranties so long as the installer does the install correctly there should be no issues with coverage to warranties parts. If you want top of the line with a warranty to Match ask about viessmann the Vitodens 200 in particular.
  • Scott Scott @ 6:45 AM
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    Hi Lori

    I live in mass and if we are close I would be more than happy to discuss a new heating system with you.
    I have been involved in installing heat and boilers for 30 years now.
    I have installed Numerous high efficiency boilers and service many installed by others. I have yet to see a catastrophic failure simply due to the boilers design.
  • Lori3 Lori3 @ 11:09 PM
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    Repy to high efficiency gas boilers

    Thanks all for your helpful comments. 
    Rich, I didn't find that your comment came across as attacking anyone either.  Based on what I've been told and read though, I would prefer staying away from a Buderus. I'm leaning toward a HTP, elite or munchkin, or a Lochinvar knight.
    Zman, you're right, I'm looking for people;s personal experiences (either as a homeowner or installer) and advice from knowledgeable professionals.
    I find searching for a plumber to install these things is like searching for good autho mechanic or computer technician.  Its a matter of trust. The average consumer like myself doesn't have a good foundational understanding of boilers, thus seeking out opinions on a forum like this and doing other research to make a semi educated decision.  I learn something new from every plumber I have spoken with.
    Gordy your car analogy was helpful as was the other information. Go green seems to be part of the message.
    Scott, thanks for your offer..I may call you.  I need to have the boiler installed this month to qualify for the rebate.
    As far as how the plumbers have calcuated what size boiler to install, one plumber did ask for the measurement of my baseboard coils ( I previously measured this myself and gave him the figure...177 feet).  the other two plumbers didn't ask and I believe just guestimated based on the square footage of the home.  I did ask one plumber this question and he said, I've installed other boilers in homes just like yours, so I know.   I am meeting with the 3rd plumber in a couple days and plan to ask him this question too.
    What are your thoughts about having a 4th zone to the boiler for a water heater but waiting until my current water heater goes before I replace it.  Do you see any issues with this? My current water heater was replaced 2 yrs ago so i probably have another 3-5 years of life with it.
    thanks again. Lori
  • Rich Rich @ 6:27 AM
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    NO Munchkin

    Elite Ft would be a good choice , I believe the munchkin is discontinued .  Don't even take one if there is some in the pipeline for cheap , there is a reason for this .
      Measuring your existing baseboard radiation is not a substitute for a proper heat loss and may end up giving you a too large boiler . After having a heat loss performed however you may find out that there is too much baseboard and be able to lower your water temps .
    Contacting Scott may be just the solution to your problem . 
    I would certainly have whomever does this job leave provision for the addition of the indirect heater later . Although your water heater is only 2 years old you may still want to sacrifice it for the indirect now . Making your Domestic hot water will certainly be less expensive and will immediately start toward recouping the cost of this work . Just a thought .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would
  • markg markg @ 11:19 PM
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    Munchkin issues?

    Hey Rich...  what's the issue with the munchkin?...   I can get one for over $1000 less than the same size Elite and AFUE is close.  I'd appreciate any experience you've got on this.  thanks
  • SWEI SWEI @ 8:14 PM
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    Lochinvar Knight

    Has fantastic controls.  The WH series also has a fantastic heat exchanger.  The KB series not so much.
  • Roland Roland @ 8:23 AM
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    New Boiler.........

    Gordy wrote:
    "Why should I spend the extra money for a higher efficiency boiler that comes with higher installation costs, and costs more to maintain? Even if your your ROI is break even people have to think past what is in it for me, and instead think about what is in it for everyone. That is lowering each homes carbon foot print, and fuel consumption. What may seem like small savings in fuel with one boiler adds up to a lot when you think about all the heating systems out there collectively. It boils down to future generations having an atmosphere, and a fuel to keep warm in the future. Europe is on this page why can't North America be also."

    Finally, sombody saw the big picture! Yes you will save some money on fuel and hopefully break even on the equipment costs. You will also do something pro-active about reducing your carbon footprint.
    Good for you Gordy. Lori, there is sage advice to be had from these intelligent and generous people. Ask more questions and find yourself the most informed heating person in your area.
  • MartyG MartyG @ 5:13 PM
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    My newly installed gas boiler is venting a lot of water vapor

    I just had a HTP Elite FT gas boiler installed. I noticed that when the boiler is on it seems to be venting a lot of what I assume is water vapor (it looks like steam). Is this normal, or does this indicate a problem with the adjustment of the boiler? The outside temperature  was in the low 40s or high 30s, and the humidity felt high.

  • SWEI SWEI @ 6:51 PM
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    Start a new thread with a description of your problem -- along with photos of the boiler, nearby piping, and pumps.
  • Jim Godbout Jim Godbout @ 7:23 PM
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    Comfort level

    I believe it is best to purchase a product line that your installer has best knowledge and confidence in no matter which boiler he or she advocates.
    Warranty I take with grain of salt, track record and support from manufacturer and wholesaler means much more.
    We install Viessmann and have for about thirty years with tremendous success, I believe because we are well educated and have great support from them.
    Good luck in decision and follow your conscience.
    Jim Godbout
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