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Jean-David Beyer

Jean-David Beyer

Joined on January 9, 2009

Last Post on May 30, 2014

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Those aren't the switches I was talking about.

@ May 30, 2014 12:21 PM in LP or Oil

OK: that was not clear. But how do I get around my local code that requires the generators to be outside and at least 5 feet from a combustable wall? Even if I built an open-sided "house" around it, it would not protect it from dew. And the box mine is in protects it from heavy rain.

I think most, if not all, the controls in my unit are solid state. There is a normal electromechanical circuit breaker in there in case the unit feels overloaded. Neither my generator (Kohler) or my neighbor's (Generac) are designed to run in enclosed space: air inlet and exhaust outlet go through the louvered ends of the units.

This is a problem, I suppose, if the snow covers the intake and exhaust. Each time it snowed this winter, I had to shovel the snow away and get the finer stuff with a broom. I did not think to have my contractor put it on the top of an 8-foot platform. I doubt I could have gotten a permit for such a thing anyway.

Power vs speed.

@ May 30, 2014 12:13 PM in LP or Oil

"That's because if a 3600 RPM motor is delivering 12HP. it is doing so at
3600 RPM. Technically, it will only be delivering 6 HP at 1800 RPM and
is down rated accordingly.  For a 1800 RPM to be able to deliver 12 HP,
at 1800 RPM. the motor has to be twice as big."

That depends. Power is the product of speed (rpm) and torque. So if a motor is delivering 12 hp at 3600 rpm, and you diddle the carburettor so it runs at only 1800 rpm, the result is that both the speed (and probably the torque) would be reduced. But if you designed a motor to run at 1800 rpm, and double the torque of the other motor, the power would be the same. Whether the second motor was twice as big as the other would depend on other factors (diameter of pistons, length of stroke, number of cylinders, etc.).

Look for a water-cooled 1800 RPM engine if you want quiet.

@ May 29, 2014 10:15 PM in LP or Oil

When I was looking for a backup generator, the only water cooled ones cost about twice as much as the Generac and Kohler units. Kohler units were a little more than the Generacs. I could not afford to go with the water cooled units. Also, I assume they would need anti-freeze in them, and I did not want to deal with that. I do  not remember what speed that ran at, but Kohler and Generac run at 3600 rpm. They would need to wind the generator differently to get 60 cycle power from an 1800 rpm motor. It is not rocket science, but I think such a generator would cost more.

outside units like Genrac only lasted about 5 years

@ May 29, 2014 9:55 PM in LP or Oil

"Where I worked, outside units like Genrac only lasted about 5 years
until the cabinets rotted out and the connections and relay switches
failed. Try to install it in a protected inside location."

It would be difficult to locate my backup generator in a protected inside location because the local fire code requires them to be outside, and at least 5 feet from a wall, unless the fire department considers the wall to be fireproof..

On the other hand, my generator is a Kohler that comes with firm but slightly soft plastic cabinet that should not rot out. The relays are all inside my garage right next to the (formerly) main power panel. There are now 4 metal electrical cabinets. There is one connected to the electric meter from the power company. Inside is a 200 amp main circuit breaker. Next comes the box with the transfer switch and some other little control stuff. Power cones from the box from the meter and also from the generator, and there is a serious DPDT power relay that chooses between the two, and some controls.

From there the power goes to the old main power panel. There is yet another box controlled by the transfer switch box. This is because according to the code, the generator is not big enough to run everything if all the electric loads are on at once, demanding full power. So this last box has a big relay in it that cuts off my electric dryer and my electric stove if the house is running on the generator. There is a circuit breaker in the main power panel that allows me to turn off that relay box and restore power to the two disconnected loads. So I could run one or the other of these if I remember to have the other one off. And if I run the electric stove, I better not to run the self cleaning option on the oven. I propose to not use the oven at all at such times, but I might do a stir-fry or something on the stove top, provided the dryer is off. All this stuff is inside the garage and protected from the weather.

My generator has a carburettor heater on it good down to 0F. There is an optional 12 volt battery heater, but they advise it only for places that go below 0F outside. Here the design temperature is 14F, so I did not get that option.

You can run generators on LP if you down rate them

@ May 20, 2014 5:54 PM in LP or Oil

According to the manual that came with my natural gas fired backup generator, it will put out 12 KVA on natural gas and 14 KVA on LPG. So you can actually up rate the unit a little.

Around here, my next door neighbor has one brand and I have the other popular brand. The units are about the same size, and his is a little noisier than mine. The person across the street had a large portable gasoline generator that was so loud it was difficult to sleep when it was running. I do not know how loud  a large, permanently installed gasoline generator would be.

The MFGas was made by a process of burning Naptha or Hexane, I don't remember which.

@ May 12, 2014 3:05 PM in Galvanized pipng for gas

I suppose it could be done that way. But when I lived in Buffalo, N.Y., from 1942 onward, the gas supplied as manufactured gas was made in the steel mill coking ovens. They need the coke that they made by heating coal in an oxygen deprived furnace. The coke was the desired product, but they got coal tar used in the chemical industry (now mostly replaced by petroleum derivitives) and carbon monoxide, methane, etc. Instead of burning off the gasses, they purified them slightly, pressurized them and distributed it throughout the city. After World War II, natural gas became more plentiful and the steel manufacturing business started its decline in the Buffalo area, and later the whole country. So less manufactured gas was available, and more natural gas was plentiful. In fact, about the same time, coal declined greatly as a fuel for residential heating, replaced mainly by natural gas. By 1950 or so, the city refused to pick up the ashes anymore, so people had no choice but to convert to natural gas. I suppose heating oil was an option, but I cannot remember anyone in the city using it. Perhaps in the suburbs.

Why the large disparity in recommended BTUs?

@ May 9, 2014 1:26 PM in BTU's Needed?

Because at most one of those contractors did a heat loss calculation?

Squirrel pie being my favorite.

@ April 13, 2014 10:24 PM in But he's SO cute

Just avoid eating anything contaminated by their brains. It may be caught from them.

trust the homeowner is smart enough to turn a valve

@ April 7, 2014 7:54 AM in Install electric tank

I know a married couple who do not even know how to operate an old round Honeywell thermostat. A simple on-off switch would work as well. They think the higher they set it, the faster it will heat their house, and the lower they set it, the faster it will cool down. They do not have a modulating boiler, and they do not have a proportional thermostat. Same for their air conditioners. I tried to get them to just leave it alone, but they think it saves energy to have the heat completely off during the day when they are at work, and on in the evening, and off at night. Well, if it gets really cold during the day, and their pipes freeze up (not likely, but not impossible here in New Jersey), fixing that will probably cost more than 12 hours a day saved on heating oil. For them, I would take the handles off the valves. But they would lose them, and that would annoy anyone who needed to operate them.

I have no idea what happens when they inherit my house with a mod-con with outdoor reset. The reset curve is set so tight that I maintain 69F. But when I turned up the thermostat up to 70F, it never made it because the reset did not deliver hot enough water to deliver it. They will probably replace the boiler because it is too small. Actually, it is about twice the size needed, but was the smallest one available at the time. (May 2009) I have a fancy programmable thermostat with 28 different temperature settings possible. I bought that when I thought it would save energy. But most of the house is radiant slab at grade, and unless I want to change the temperature for a week or more, I just leave it alone at constant temperature. I could put in a simple thermostat there but why bother?

puts water back in the air so it's not dry.

@ April 2, 2014 5:48 PM in Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

"For allergy reason this is the best system out there it puts water back in the air so it's not dry."

I used to work in an extremely large building that was heated internally by two duct systems coming in, and a plenum for the return air. One duct had cold air (about 45F, IIRC) and the other had hot air (perhaps 90F), and each room had a pneumatic thermostat that operated a mixing box in the room. All around the outside of the building were the only windows (a "glass box" building) that had steam baseboard heating elements.

To humidify the space in winter, they used steam from the main boilers. When the humidity was too low, they just shot steam from the boilers into some mixing boxes in the hot air line to raise the humidity. Nothing else would serve the moisture demand.

I cannot imagine the steam that leaks from the vent valve on a steam radiator could do enough humidity recovery in any realistic situation. My grandparents had steam heat (converted to oil a little after WW-II), and every radiator had a water pot at one end and a thin chamber with a wick in it that ran between the elements of the radiators. My grandmother had to refill them every day. Their system must not have been knuckleheaded as  was silent except for a little hiss as the boiler started up. I remember when a brand new GE steam boiler was installed one summer to replace the old boiler.Theirs was one of these: I do not know which one, but it was a large three story house that had three fireplaces that were not much used.

The dishwasher requires hot water settings of at least 130 degrees for the detergent to work properly.

@ April 2, 2014 11:57 AM in Hot Water Tanks and Sizes

I wondered about this, so I looked at the installation manual of my dishwasher. It did not really matter since the water piping is buried in my concrete slab along with the radiant heating tubing, and there is no separate water pipe for the dishwasher, so I could not supply water over 120F anyway. The water leaves my indirect at about 125F and the most I can get from the nearest tap is 120F. The dishwasher is some distance farther away, so it gets a little less.

My dishwasher's owner's manual says:
"Inlet Water Temperature: 120ᵒF (40ᵒC)"

The installation manual says:
"1. This dishwasher may be connected to either hot or cold water. If the water can not be maintained below 149ᵒF (65ᵒC), the dishwasher must be connected to cold water."

Since it can run on cold water, I infer it has an electric heater in it. It must be on a dedicated circuit with a 15Amp circuit breaker. Well, the rest of it does not need 15 amp, so that must be for its internal water heater. Mine is hooked up to the hot water to minimize electrical cost.

As a homeowner...

@ March 26, 2014 12:05 PM in Billing format

I would like to see an itemized bill in fair detail. Not down to the last inch of teflon tape and a bunch of nipples. I do not realistically expect a contractor to present me with what I want, and I would not even presume to ask for such a thing, considering the competitive pressures contractors are exposed to.

But if the list included:

Cost of major items; e.g., anything over 5% or 10% of the total job cost. It could be the contractor's cost, or the retail price of the stuff. Because some customers will look these things up on the Internet anyway and will object to being charged more for the items than the Internet price, ignoring that the contractor gets stuck with a lot of the warranty expense, and may also keep a lot of it in stock. When my PRV quits on new year's eve, I do not want to wait a few days to get a replacement on the Internet...

Labor. I bet some customers would be astounded at what that actually costs, because they cannot imagine paying for time between shop and the home, etc. Or the time to rush off to a distributor for an unexpectedly needed part not carried on the truck (electronic control board, for example).

Overhead including trucks, test equipment, special tools...
Office Expense
Warranty contingencies
Continuing Education of owner and employees.

Perhaps a few of these could be combined, or subdivided.

Because I do want to see enough profit in there. If the contractor does not make enough profit, he may hang it up and not be there when I need him later. And I will need him later.

  1. So for me, profit is not a dirty word, but a sign of a well-run business. Remember, the owner could have invested that money on the stock market instead, and raked in the money without actually working. Since the owner generally has to do some of the work, he deserves a salary for the work and the profit at least as much as he would have made investing it in something other than the contracting business.

So lets say you have Mr skilled labor tear it out.

@ March 23, 2014 6:23 PM in are asbestos risks overblown?

I read about a case where Mr. skilled labor worked with asbestos at his job.
He went home and Mrs. skilled labor washed his clothes and she got Mesothelioma.


@ March 18, 2014 2:28 PM in ? for Tim .Condensate in gas line/or sabotage

In my neighborhood, they replaced the 60 year old iron (or steel) piping that had a nominal 15 PSI pressure (actually closer to 8 PSI if I remember correctly) that looked about 3" to 4" diameter with plastic piping at least an inch bigger in diameter and had 50 PSI in it. On my short street (a dead end one short block long) they had already removed the iron pipe and replaced it with about 2 1/2-inch plastic pipe, and to my house was 1-inch plastic just up to where the pipe came out of the ground, where it was steel. That went into a pressure regulator and into the meter. After the meter it is 1-inch black pipe, 1-inch CSST (damn) and then back to black pipe down to the boiler.

Many many people on my street are running gas boilers now.

They did the changeover both because the demand went way up since just after WW-II, but also because they were spending a fortune digging up the streets every few weeks to fix leaks. I think that it was probably cheaper to replace all that old pipe than to come out all the time to fix leaks.

CH4 + O2 --> CO2 + H2O

@ March 15, 2014 12:55 PM in Propane and condensate

CH4 + 2O2 --> CO2 + 2H2O

That's a little harsh,

@ March 11, 2014 10:39 PM in Gas ignitor only lasts one heating system

I did not mean to imply that they were deliberately breaking the ignitors, just that they did not realize how fragile they were once they had been used for a year. And that was only the least of the reasons for switching contractors.

It was just as the contractor's business expanded, they could not (or did not) increase the number of qualified technicians and they could not manage their business as well as when they were smaller.. When I, as a homeowner, find out that I know more than the contractor, it is time to find a better contractor.

I have no idea if the original poster here has a contractor problem. But he might take it up with the boss of the contracting outfit. I did not mean to imply that it was being done deliberately.

I have the third edition of John Siegenthaler's big book.

@ March 11, 2014 6:06 PM in Anyone familiar with "Heat Load Pro" software?

It comes with a CD with a educational version of his programs. They are stripped down. They are good enough to practice with, for example doing the examples in the text. But several things may make you judge his professional programs too harshly.

1.) You cannot save your work (you can in the full version), so you have to do the whole thing at one sitting.

2.) I think you can do only two zones.

3.) I think you can have only one room per zone.

That was good enough for me (a homeowner), but it is pretty clear that a heating professional would want the complete version. From what I see of it, it is really good.

What else can I have looked at?

@ March 11, 2014 6:01 PM in Gas ignitor only lasts one heating system

I am responsible for two 125,000 BTU/hour forced hot air furnaces. They were installed by what was (formerly) a good contractor. Time passed and they became more successful and started buying up some of the competition. Then ignitors started failing during each service call. After a few seasons of this, we replaced contractors, and we have not replaced ignitors in over 3 years.

I've never found a problem system with a expansion tank that was too big.

@ March 11, 2014 1:47 PM in What is the safety zone in PSI for boiler pressure (and temp if important) for hot water Boiler heating system?

Other than the waste of money, what is the problem with too big an expansion tank? Is it like having too much venting on a steam main?

the boilers modulate down

@ March 8, 2014 5:07 PM in Sizing a boiler in Watertown, MA

"Everyone told me not to worry about the apparently large size because
the boilers modulate down"

I am a homeowner, not a heating contractor. My installing contractor did the same thing. But I read John Seigenthaler's big book (second edition) and the installation manual for the boiler the contractor recommended. So, since the contractor did not do a heat loss, I did one three different ways. The easiest was to look at the nozzle of the old oil burner and calculate 70,000 BTU/hour (input) that not only ALWAYS gave enough heat, but rapid cycled its entire life. It never leaked and never died. So I insisted on getting the smallest boiler in the product line. And that turns out to be about twice the size I calculated for my house in this location.

It is true that a mod-con can modulate down, but based on only one boiler, the smallest in the product line, it does not modulate down anywhere near enough. In my small zone, it will not modulate down enough even when it is 14F below design temperature outside. Even the large zone, that is about 5 times greater heat load, it cycles more rapidly than I prefer when it gets somewhat over 50F outside. So I suggest getting the smallest mod-con you can find that is any good. I cannot say what boiler that would be.

"And each told me that the DHW tank is the one
that is driving their higher calculations."

Perhaps. I just calculated what size DHW tank (an indirect) I thought I would need using the manufacturer's  little charts. And I have never run out of hot water. THe thing is that the boiler is set up to give priority to the domestic hot water, so if there is hot water demand, it shuts off the house and puts the entire output of the boiler into the indirect. And that runs about 10 minutes at a time, two or three times a day. That makes no difference. If I had 6 teen age daughters, and a wife who runs a coin-up laundry in the garage, that would not work out, but I do not have a giant hot water demand. And if I had such a demand, depending on what its profile is during the day, perhaps a larger tank would work. Say if I ran the dishwasher, the washing machine on sanitary cycle, and washing my car with hot water in the wintertime, Only the shower and the washing the car would draw water for a long time.  But how long is a shower? 72,000 BTU/hour going into the indirect and 2 gpm coming out the shower head for 15 minutes? A few gallons at the start for the washing machine. A couple of gallons for the dishwasher? I do not usually do that, and I have never washed my car with hot water. And my indirect is nominally 40 gallons, but 6 gallons are in the outer tank and 34 or so are the domestic hot water. Sometimes I do the dishes or take a shower and the indirect does not even call for heat.

trying to do the same thing

@ March 6, 2014 1:13 PM in TT PE110 longer run times

"I am trying to do the same thing
but not only are you tweaking outdoor reset but you also have to factor
in the boiler pump vs system pumps for my system at least.  So even if
your tstat is still calling, you may reach set point quickly."

If you reach the set point quickly, your supply temperature is too high. You want it to be just a tiny bit higher than what is required to maintain the temperature. So you adjust the reset curve accordingly. If you cannot do that, it is likely that your boiler is oversized.

"If all of my zones are calling, the boiler is fine but if one tstat gets
satisfied, the burner can not modulate down fast enough and hits its
setpoint and shuts down.  "

How long does it take to modulate down? Mine will do that in well under two minutes. Is it a question as to how fast it will modulate? Or a question of whether it will modulate down far enough no matter how much time it is given?

"I also have pulse width modulating tstat for my radiant heated slabs
that also can affect burn times, the closer to the setting, the shorter
the burn times like 10-12 minutes."

For radiant slabs, it seems to me the best thermostat is a simple on-off one like the old round mercury-filled Honeywell ones. but they are not the only ones.

"How long are your burn times and how much delay are you running for your burner?"

Today, and is is not terribly cold outside (25F), my radiant slab zone has been calling for heat for 9 hours 24 minutes since midnight. Chances are it fired continuously for that time, but I did not go out to the garage, where the boiler is, to watch it the whole time. When I do watch it, it tends to run continuously when the zone is calling for heat. (It is a different story when only my small baseboard zone calls for heat, because the boiler will modulate down only to 16,000 BTU/hr and that zone needs only 6250 BTU/ hour when it is 14F below the design temperature. So my boiler is way oversized for that one zone. Even in that zone, though, it promptly modulates down to the lower limit and wanders up to the upper limit, about 4 to 6 cycles per hour, depending on outside temperature.

How many BTU's does a human give off while sitting in this room?

@ March 6, 2014 12:57 PM in computer room heat gain question

I do not know about when sitting, but when working about as hard as he can, a human can put out about 1/7 horsepower. I do not know if he can do that hour after hour or not. But that should get you into the ballpark.
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