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    Indirect water heaters (34 Posts)

  • AL K. AL K. @ 2:48 PM
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    Woke up this morning to find MY OWN water heater has sprung a leak!("How come if your a plumber our water heater has a leak?" asks my Bride.) Hmm. Any way, it's a nearly 15 yr old Amtrol (Am checking warrantee in the morning). But what do you guys like best? Maybe another Amtrol with a Smart control or a Vaughn for the removable coils, or a SuperStor for the stainless? Any problems with any particular brand? Well at least I'll be able to justify repiping the boiler "the right way"! Thanks, AL K.
  • Bob Bona Bob Bona @ 8:36 PM
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    I'm partial

    to the Phase 3 indirects..no coils/gaskets. Over the years I've learned that the 45-60 gallon units work best with a 0010 Taco, the 75/120 gallon a 0012 circ for flow. Use the full tapping size for your piping. To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • Wayco Wayne Wayco Wayne @ 7:08 AM
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    another phase 3

    user by triangle tube. No coils to foul or clog. I get mine at Re-michels.
  • Boilerpro Boilerpro @ 8:29 AM
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    Phase 3, Triangle tube, WEil Units all the same?

    I understand Weil units and traingle tube units are the same. Tank in tank design. Only problem is that there is in the design there is no inherent way of preventing gravity heat flows into the surrounding piping. Heat traps need to be installed on all the pipes. Boilerpro
  • AL K. AL K. @ 8:44 PM
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    I had mentioned the Phase 3 to my supplier, he mentioned it as the W/M (I think, we talked about many options yesterday). One of his concerns was a lack of a way to flush sediment... so we ruled that one out. Thanks to all for the responses. Education, education, education. Al K.
  • AL K. AL K. @ 8:44 PM
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    I had mentioned the Phase 3 to my supplier, he mentioned it as the W/M (I think, we talked about many options yesterday). One of his concerns was a lack of a way to flush sediment... so we ruled that one out. Thanks to all for the responses. Education, education, education. Al K.
  • Boilerpro Boilerpro @ 9:17 PM
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    How to flush sediment

    If the proper valves are installed on the dom. water lines, it can be easily power flushed through the top. This may even be in the installation instructions. Boilerpro
  • Dana Zaichkin Dana Zaichkin @ 1:04 AM
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    Phase III HM direct-fired units?

    A bit of digression. Has anyone had favorable or unfavorable experiences using the Phase III HM series direct fired units for combined DHW and space heating? Yes I imagine they are not a effecient as a boiler + indirect, but for a relatively small panel (24mbtu) and limited space they seem like a reasonable option. Especially since another alternative, the combicor, has earned a pretty poor reliability reputation. Best Regards DZ
  • Troy Troy @ 9:07 PM
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    indirects

    I use Ergomax or superstor. Forget the Amtrol call. You will be wasting your dime. From my experience you will hear on the other end "Sorry but we will sell you a new one." The guarentee was written with disappearing ink. I wouldn't put a blue tank in if it was dropped off at my door for free. Sorry about the hostility.
  • heatboy heatboy @ 9:11 AM
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    Performance vs. initial costs

    I use two indirects, Viessmann and Crown. Having installed several of both, I know that both are a good value. It all depends what you're looking for. A while back, I had talked about the differences between Viessmann domestic tanks and others. Aside from the quality of the tanks, I said there were performance differences. I looked at the differences between the Viessmann and the Crown/Burnham indirects and came up with the following numbers. I compared the MS-53 or AL53A indirects from Crown/Burnham to the VertiCell 53 which are my default tank selection for basic systems. Both units had roughly the same input 153K to 164K. Mega-Stor: 50f to 140f = 90f delta T Continuous output 2.85GPM Minimum flow through HX 10.9 GPM Head loss at that flow 6.5 ft. HX surface area 9.7 sq/ft VertiCell: 40f to 140f =100f delta T Continuous output 3.06GPM Flow through HX 8.8 GPM Head loss at that flow 1.5 ft. HX surface area 16.1 aq/ft. Results: Viessmann wins pumping away. 1) 7% more output with10f greater delta T. 2) Needs 20% less flow through coil. 3) 77% less pumping head required. 4) the coil has 60% more surface area. 5) just to pump the coil on the Mega-Stor a Grundfos UP15-42 will be maxed out on high speed while the Viessmann can use the same pump set at speed 2 with extra head to spare resulting in 1/3 less electrical consumption. If the Mega-Stor is not relatively close to the heat source, it will probably need 26-99 to attain needed flow rates, not to mention larger piping to accommodate same flows. All in all, there are quite a few considerations aside from initial costs when purchasing something that will probably outlive you. Naturally, these are only my, somewhat, narrow views. hb To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    heatboy

    The Radiant Whisperer


    "The laws of physics will outweigh the laws of ecomomics every time."
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 9:14 PM
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    Nice narrow...

    well educated opinion, I might add. Beauty dude. Have you ever used one of them mongo copper in a can (ergomax style) of DHW heaters? Interesting concept. I think Everhot has been doing the same thing for about fourty years haven't they? I'm trying to talk Dave Davis into building one of them tanks with the coil on top. That way it (the tank) could be for direct DHW off of the Muncher, and space heat through the immersed coil on top. Perfect for the small to medium heat loads. Small foot print, super high efficiency, true closed loop space heating, excellent solar space heating interface capabilities. What more could you ask for? How about a controller that would do whate ever you tell it to do. Now THAT would be the ticket. Total energy management. But I digress... Dream on dude, dream on. Hey, don't I owe you a beer...:-) Later dude. ME To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • heatboy heatboy @ 6:49 AM
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    Ergomax, etc.

    Mark, I'm hoping we hook up soon for those beers! I haven't used any of the coil in tank designd to date. I don't sell much, if any, low mass boilers and, to me, that is the only real reason to sell tanks like that. The old by a low mass heat source and add mass to them senseless logic. Using them as a buffer tank on a lil' boiler makes sense, but other than that, I see no real value to the tank. The way I see it, the tank would have to maintain some boiler temperature so the potable water can get heated the instant it travels the the coil bundle. It just doesn't sound like a very energy efficient way of making domestic hot water. I'm sure they can make gobs of hot water, but water quality with these units is critical. I know they say they are "self cleaning", but that's just manufacturer's hyperbole and we have all heards yards of that over the years, haven't we? hb To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    heatboy

    The Radiant Whisperer


    "The laws of physics will outweigh the laws of ecomomics every time."
  • Steve Eayrs Steve Eayrs @ 1:52 AM
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    indirect-fired water heaters

    I've had great results with Veissman and have used a lot of the Buderus. I hope I never have to change any of these out since most are the horizonal tanks, w/ boilers stacked on top, but so far so good. Also would have to agree that you best forget Amtrols. I have a graveyard of them behind the shop. The stainless steel ones may make a good fish smoker. I went back to one place 3 times in one year to replace the Amtrol. Bad welds on the coils twice and the tank the third time. Amtrol did pay for the third reinstall labor, and they did honor the warranty, but they were all less than one year old!!! Never seen such bad welds. A question???? Anyone been using the "State" , model name is "Premier Escort". Has a pex lining, lifetime tank warranty, and a very reasonable price. The coil is in the top, making it easy to get at, and the outputs are not too bad. I have been putting a few in lately, but don't have a track record with them yet. Thanks, Steve Eayrs Eayrs P&H Homer, Alaska
  • AL K. AL K. @ 7:02 AM
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    First, thanks to all who have responded so far, I'm getting an education on the "Better" tanks. After spending some time with my supply house's Guru, I think I'm leaning toward a Buderus SU-160(42 gal). I was surprised at how competively priced this tank was as compared to say, Amtrol. I guess that's the education part. Does anybody know the warrantee on the Buderus? I couldn't find it on their website. Thanks, Al K.
  • Scott Scott @ 7:09 AM
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    limited

    A limited lifetime warranty. I guess you have to read the fine print to get to the bottom but still not bad. We use Super-stor for our everyday work, Buderus when installing a whole system, and Viessman when a customer wants the very best in quality. Amtrol got passed on the back side of the race track a few years ago. One inch insulation.. whats up wit dat. Scott To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • heatboy heatboy @ 7:30 AM
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    Amtrol Indirects

    I wonder if Amtrol is getting a bad rep for nothing. Granted, there have been failures with their tanks, but I think it may be just a percentage thing. I saw my first Amtrol Indirect more than 20 years ago. It seems, to me, that they were one of the first to have an indirect as we now know them. Range boilers and side arms not counted. I think by the sheer numbers of Amtrol tanks in the field, (and the sales under other brand names) maybe the failure rate is not that bad. In the early 90's I installed quite a few Storex indirects and virtually everyone of those leaked within 18 months. Not a great record, but Storex is still around, albeit in a different configuration. I don't sell Amtrol indirects because I believe there are better indirects (value & quality) available for the money. hb To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    heatboy

    The Radiant Whisperer


    "The laws of physics will outweigh the laws of ecomomics every time."
  • Scott Scott @ 8:08 AM
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    hb

    Thats my thoughts. I think they were the first ones and after that alot of companys said " great idea, we can make it better" and they did. Thats why I feel they got left behind. Poor r value, bad coil design, that whole difusser cap thing. I spoke to a guy who told me he had a bad time with Super-Stor. To many leakers, who knows, Ive only had one and put in about thirty. Go figure. Scott To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • AL K. AL K. @ 9:00 PM
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    Blue Bomb

    I've had this Amtrol in the house for the past fifteen years and honestly it's served my family well. Just in the last year or so has there been any issue with hot water production, and I've been too busy to investigate it... too busy with other people's problems. I should have seen it coming though as I did notice the outer shell a lot warmer than usual lately (like the hot water had found it's way to the wrong side of the insulation) Thanks, Al K.
  • Steve Eayrs Steve Eayrs @ 11:09 PM
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    Amtrols bad rap

    Maybe I should clarify my problems with Amtrol. I have had very few problems with tanks I put in 7-15 years ago. About 5 or so year ago I had a rash of bad tanks for a couple of years. The story I hear was the son inherited the company and got cheap. I don't know if that is true or not, but there was a very big difference, and everyone in my area feels about the same about it. Its going to take a lot for Amtrol to rebuild any kind of confidence around here. Anyone remember the Ford tanks. Ford is no longer making either the indirect tanks, or boilers. I believe this was a similar story. Son inherited it, then lost it. Of course I could just be full of it. By the time a story gets up here....it sometimes grows. Anyone been using the State indirect tanks, "Premier Escort" is what they call'm ??? thanks, Steve
  • larry larry @ 9:58 AM
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    Buderus warranty

    Limited lifetime with an emphasis on the "limited" part. It's something like 100% for the first 8-ish years and drops down to 25% prorate at around 14-ish years and older.
  • Mad Dog Mad Dog @ 11:14 PM
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    One thing to say

    Phase III............................Mad Dog To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
  • Capeanner Capeanner @ 1:31 PM
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    Vaugh Indirect Stome lined water heaters

    I am not a plumber but am on the net looking for people who have purchased Vaughn indirect stone lined water heaters. I bought two for my two family house about 8 years ago at my plumbers recommendation. I replaced the first leaking one after 4 years and the second one today after about 8 years. I would like to warn anyone who might be considering purchasing them. My plumber says he has had to replace just about every one he's installed. He initially recommended the brand because they made good quality electric heaters in the past. Although the company claims to have rectified the problems my plumber said he recently replaced one that was only 4 years old.
    Even if you buy the lifetime warranty you have to pay for the labor to replace them and they are extremely heavy which makes lifting them out of a basement very difficult.
    Another warning: they cause the water to smell very unpleasantly for some time. I noticed this comment on another site (which I was unable to get on). I also had the same smelly water problem.
    My advice is to STAY AWAY from this water heater.
  • billtwocase billtwocase @ 9:36 PM
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    Amtrol's bad rap

    I always come back to Amtrol as i have tried most of them out there. My own Amtrol is 25 years and still going strong. As for warranty, most are LIMITED lifetime. It all turns out to be the same as the prorating game goes. The biggest problem was the Smart control issues and revisions. I just use the "Z" controlled tanks now. Vaughn/Thermaflo stone lined, worst tank I ever installed. 7 year warranty. On the other side of the coin, how many years are direct fired water heaters lasting? Not even 1/2 the life of an indirect, yet you don't hear much about it. I have always had good results on warranty issues with Amtrol, can't say the same about a few Phase/Plus that didn't seem pan out. Key to Amtrol is to remove the coil, steam clean it if needed, and REPLACE the gasket. Alot of the leakers start there. The lining can be inspected while the coil is out
  • hot rod hot rod @ 8:19 AM
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    hows your water quality?

    hardness, TDS? I like smooth coil tanks best for water that is hard or not treated with a softener. Or magnets :)

    In some areas enamaled steel tanks last longer than stainless. Chloride levels, especially with softened water are a concern with stainless.

    The finned coil tanks are not the best choice for hard water and are usually the cause of diminishing performance as they lime up.

    Reverse indirects are nice if you have enough boiler HP to drive them.

    I have an Ergomax on my solar as a drainback tank and it works nicely.

    Local installers and suppliers generally know which tank performs best with local water. Many sell both steel and stainless versions.

    hr
  • Gordan Gordan @ 10:13 AM
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    Reverse indirects and boiler sizing

    This is something I've been wondering for a long while. You say if you have enough boiler to drive a reverse indirect - what would make a reverse indirect require more boiler input than a plain indirect? Both have thermal storage, albeit on different sides of the exchanger. Would one require more flow (and hence smaller temperature differential) than the other, given a fixed boiler input?

    I'm trying to figure out what to use with a mod-con in a situation where my design space heating load is 40kBTU/hr...
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 11:30 AM
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    direct vs reverse-indirect water heaters.

    Some people here champion reverse-indirect hot water heaters. Most seem to agree that any indirect is probably better than other (direct?) hot water heaters. Now in general terms, I think I understand which is which. Both seem to have a coil inside a larger tank. If the boiler water goes through the coil, that is considered indirect; if the boiler water is in the tank, and the domestic water goes through the coil, that is reverse-indirect. Am I right about that?

    Of course, that opens up the question of my W-M indirect that is a tank within a tank unit with the water in the outer tank (that holds about 6 gallons) and the domestic in the inside tank that holds about 38 gallons. So which is mine? Is the dividing line where the volume of the boiler water part exceeds the volume of the domestic part? Thus my W-M is indirect, whereas something like the ErgoMax is reverse-indirect?

    In other fields of engineering, there are sometimes hotly-debated questions that go on for years without resolution. This often is because there is no fundamental difference between two points of view. I am beginning to think that that may be the case here. In either case, it seems to me that if the total volume of the heater (domestic part and boiler part added together) is sufficient, the system should work well. If the total volume is inadequate, it probably does not matter which volume is greater, it will not work well.
    This assumes that the efficiency of the heat exchange mechanism is comparable, and that the boiler can supply sufficient boiler water to supply the needed heat load.

    In my case, I have a mod|con that has 80K BTU/hr input and my heat load is around 35K BTU/hr when it is 0F outside (and design day is 14F). My domestic hot water needs are low, so I have always been able to recover the hot water heater in 10 minutes or less. Since in a 24-hour period, my boiler spends perhaps 30 minutes heating hot water (probably less), I doubt it matters much how much flow I need. My guess is that the total area of the heat exchanger is great enough, and the boiler is adequate, it does not matter which direction the heat flows to get from the boiler to the domestic part.

    I tend to think in terms of a low volume boiler (mine holds about 3 quarts) that runs cold start. So once the water heater demands heat, it gets it very quickly. But even were this not the case, it is still a question of whether the total volume of the indirect is enough, and that does not seem to depend on whether it is indirect or reverse indirect.

    Since I am not a professioinal, I would be glad to have any misunderstanding I have pointed out.
  • Gordan Gordan @ 12:50 PM
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    Well...

    Heat exchange efficiency is a tricky matter. In the case of regular boiler-coil-in-domestic-tank indirects, where all the stored energy except for a negligible part is all on the DHW side, all that matters is the heat efficiency when the boiler is trying to recover the tank. In the case of reverse indirects, where the stored energy except for a negligible part is all on the boiler side, you worry how well that energy is transferred even when the boiler is off, and there's no flow on the boiler (tank) side of the coil. A tank-in-tank, like yours, would be somewhere in between.

    If there's no (forced) flow, then heat transfer would depend almost entirely on natural convection currents within the tank, and it would matter not only how large the heat transfer surface is but also where/how well it is distributed within the tank.
  • homeowner911 homeowner911 @ 9:27 PM
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    Vaughn Top Performer smells with cement debris

    Just wanted to put in my two cents on the hot water heater choices.... Those darn Vaughn indirect hot water heaters absolutely provide a poor quality water.  Heats great, but no one wants to take a bath, and it damaged our dishes.  No trouble before the Vaughn.   Our city water supply is excellent.  We have actually had TWO different Vaughn hot water tanks (Top Performer) added to our natural gas boiler. (Indirecdt).      BOTH of them exhibited the same poor water quality.   It is true that the problem "settles down" somewhat after a long period of time, but if you are not warned about it you can do some serious damage.   We ruined some beautiful glasses because the first few runs of the dishwater scratched the dishware due to the cement debris that comes off the new lining.   We had the debris totally clog up a faucet screen to the point no water came out.   There were NO problems before with two different brands of ceramic lined standard hot water heaters.  I think what is happening here is the difference between the opinions of the engineers and the plumbers who ALL agree those Vaughns are efficient and perform well, but if you ask their WIVES who take the baths in this water I bet you will find some scaly skin, red patches, musty dried out hair, and very very unhappy customers.  It did get better, but never totally as nice quality of water as our previous ceramic lined ones.  We only have the second one because the first one failed under warranty and got a free replacement.   It leaked at 8 years.   Had already decided to get a new different ceramic one, then the leak, and actually said "DARN" getting a free new one.  That's how BAD this water quality issue is . . . keep in mind this is not a water problem caused by our home or area since the other styles (non-cement) were fine, and this is city water.  The part I love though is when both Vaughn and the plumbers all say "gee, never ever heard of this problem before" (i.e. you must be picky and hallucinating) but many people report these same problems on the web.    Maybe we just have sensitive skin, but any one who can still smell    can smell the cement scent in the room.   So, just a word to the wise.   Vaughn:  yes, engineering marvel,   NO if you want to maintain your wonderful bath experience.  On the up side,  the hot water does get very hot,  and cycles fairly quickly (although no where near the 6 minutes promised by the plumber !
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 11:10 PM
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    OK, who brought back the 11 year old thread, lol...

    I use triangle tube smart tanks, not many exceptions, I think they got it figured out, I have had COUNTESS amtrol, super store, Bock, ect failures over the years, but these phase 3 units very rarely need replacement, 15 year indirect water heater...
  • heatboy heatboy @ 9:10 AM
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    Performance vs. initial costs

    I use two indirects, Viessmann and Crown. Both are good value. All depends what your looking for. A while ago I had talked about the differences between Viessmann domestic tanks and others. Aside from the quality of the tanks, I said there were performance differences. I looked at the differences between the VertiCell and the Crown/Burnham indirects and came up with the following numbers. I hope someone checks up in me cause the last time I checked there was nobody named Einstein up there in my family tree. I compared the MS-53 or AL53A indirects from Crown/Burnham to the VertiCell 53. Both units had roughly the same input 153K to 164K. Mega-Stor: 50f to 140f = 90f delta T Continuous output 2.85GPM Minimum flow through HX 10.9 GPM Head loss at that flow 6.5 ft. HX surface area 9.7 sq/ft VertiCell: 40f to 140f =100f delta T Continuous output 3.06GPM Flow through HX 8.8 GPM Head loss at that flow 1.5 ft. HX surface area 16.1 aq/ft. Results: VertiCell wins pumping away. 1) 7% more output with10f greater delta T. 2) Needs 20% less flow through coil. 3) 77% less pumping head required. 4) the coil has 60% more surface area. 5) just to pump the coil on the Mega-Stor a Grundfos UP15-42 will be maxed out on high speed while the VertiCell can use the same pump set at speed 2 with extra head to spare resulting in 1/3 less amps used. If the Mega-Stor is not close to the heat source will probably need 26-99 to attain needed flow rates, not to mention larger piping to accommodate same flows. All in all, there are quite a few considerations aside from initial costs when purchasing something that will probably outlive you. My views only. hb To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    heatboy

    The Radiant Whisperer


    "The laws of physics will outweigh the laws of ecomomics every time."
  • kevin kevin @ 9:32 PM
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    I am

    in the process of doing the whole thing for my house now too.The Top Performer is a good value but you had better have a walkout basement (ouch!)The super stor ultra is great and "lightwieght". If I could get anything the Burnham Alliance or Crown Mega Stor would be it.(superlight and a lifetime warranty) It all depends on how much Hot water you need and how much you want to pay for it.Good luck. Let me know how you make out. Kevin C.
  • AL K. AL K. @ 9:16 PM
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    Kevin

    I ordered the Buderus today. I had been looking at the Top Performer (yes, I do have a walkout basement:)). If you haven't done anything yet, take a look at the Buderus. Thanks, Al K.
  • Bill NTSG Bill NTSG @ 8:47 PM
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    If

    I could choose anything I wanted........ My first choice would be Viessmann followed by Buderus a close second then phase III or mega -stor tied for third. I really liked bock but the recovery wasn't that great I felt. Couldn't push enough heat through the coil. Had enough boiler,couldn't give up the heat. I've done a few vaughn top performers. They worked ok but the extra labor to install the coil and the weight [ my back ain't so good any more] is a factor. Amtrols are ok I guess, sure would be a bitch to change out a coil and the Smart control is ok unless you have other electronics bucking heads with it.Like tekmar and other electronic controls. The fuzzy logic got a little fuzzy. I would have tried a Ergomax but had trouble locating one and gave up.
  • tim smith tim smith @ 10:13 PM
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    I directs

    My go to's are superstor and lochinvar squire. Out of Appx 30 or so superstor's I have had one with weld failure, no other type of failures. Been a solid product. Viessmann a real good product but just not sure extra cost warranted. Just my take.
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