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Joined on August 29, 2011

Last Post on January 31, 2014

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Those things rock!!

@ January 31, 2014 11:56 AM in floating, wood fired hot tub

A friend of mine had one on Lake Samish in Bellingham Wash in the mid-eighties. It took a long time to heat up the water but it was worth it.

Nothing like being in a hot tub in the middle of a lake in January whilst snow is falling!

The wood fired one was V 1.

V 2 got propane, a pump, jets, a more streamlined hull and a bigger engine with alternator to run the burner and pump.

What was the Mt. Belvieu spot price last summer?

@ December 11, 2013 9:07 PM in New install: choose propane or oil?

Propane has huge price fluctuations during the year. The spot price at Anacortes, WA ranged from around 0.70 to 1.60 in the past year.

That range is pretty much due to transportation costs. In the summer demand is so low here they have to transport it elsewhere to sell it so they price it at the "elsewhere" price less transportation costs. In the winter we use much more than the refineries produce (refining by product) so we have to ship it in and it's priced at the "elsewhere" price plus shipping.

The key to making propane pay is being able to buy and store all you need in the summer when prices are low and propane delivery trucks don't have a lot to do.

yet another 2 cents...

@ December 11, 2013 7:17 PM in New install: choose propane or oil?

If it was me, I'd go with option 1 and propane and do it this way:

1. Acquire a large (>=2500 gal, enough to last a year) propane storage tank that I owned outright.
2. Have it filled during the summer when prices are lowest. Propane was less than $0.70/gal at the refinery here this summer and when you have a large tank to fill your options for delivery can increase.

The reasons I'd do it this way:

1. Including heat and hot water in the rent gets you a premium on rent. If you can buy your fuel cheaper than the next landlord that includes heat, you have either a price or or profit advantage over him/her.

2. I wouldn't have to worry about a unit running out of fuel and freezing...

3. The overall heating fuel costs for the building would be quite a bit lower and I'd have the choice of pocketing the savings or sharing them with my tenants.

You are correct

@ November 8, 2013 8:50 PM in Gas companies in CT make big push into oil territory

Lower gas prices due to the demand effect won't be large going forward, but imagine what the demand for oil would be if we didn't have plentiful NG...

Europe's fuel usage patterns don't jibe with what you get out of a barrel of crude oil at the refinery so they pretty much have a shortage of #2 fuel oil (diesel) and a glut of gasoline. Good for exports and us gasoline users. I hear gasoline has been under $3 a gallon just south of Seattle due to an actual gas war! That with WTI still over $90/bbl.


@ November 8, 2013 8:43 PM in Gas companies in CT make big push into oil territory

Propane was down to $0.70 wholesale here at the refineries this last summer. I bet if you got yourself a big tank that you owned (think 3,000 gal bobtail tank that can't be used over the road anymore but is just fine for stationary use) you could find someone to deliver you propane from the closest refinery in the summer months for < $0.25 gal delivery cost. Capital costs not withstanding, around here that would put you in the same price/btu as NG delivered via a pipe. I got a quote for just such a tank last spring. All done up, painted nice and delivered was under $6K.

If I were in your shoes in this area, it would be a no-brainer to go this way.

Of Course

@ November 8, 2013 6:24 PM in Gas companies in CT make big push into oil territory

The oil companies are screaming. They're going to lose business. But as everything works out in this zero sum game we call life, gas equipment installers will gain from the oil companies loss.

More importantly, everyone else on this planet will gain as well.

1. At least a 25% reduction in CO2 output from those homes. That's if the homeowner just get's a conversion burner for their oil fired boiler. switching from an 80% conventional boiler to a 95%+ condensing boiler will reduce CO2 output another 15-20%

2. Less oil used in home heating will mean lower demand and therefore lower prices per barrel of oil, meaning lower gasoline prices for everyone.

3. Currently, every barrel of oil not used for home heating means a barrel of oil not imported and that money staying in the USA. A lower trade deficit helps everyone.

I could go on.

Anyone that tries to stop a scheme like this is either crooked or insane and would rather other people lose $10 so they can make $1. Shameful.


@ August 21, 2013 12:08 AM in Combi Boiler/Water Heater choices

My experience with a Navien CH unit has been good as well. No complaints through two full heating seasons.

propane at 3.25/gal

@ April 1, 2013 1:00 PM in Calculating propane for tankless

is probably keeping more than a few people from switching from fuel oil to propane. Instead of bailing out banksters, the feds should be handing out zero or low interest loans to customers like yours and folks who want to switch to propane to purchase tanks. Every gallon of fuel oil replaced by propane reduces our trade imbalance by over $2 at current crude prices. Not to mention the reduction in CO2, SO2, NOx etc. emissions.

of course the distributor

@ April 1, 2013 12:48 PM in Calculating propane for tankless

That's why it's wholesale. I'm just saying there's a lot of room in the price. I personally think 100%+ markup on a product you just have to drop off and don't have to warranty is a tad excessive.

Your propane dealer is probably

@ April 1, 2013 12:07 AM in Calculating propane for tankless

still making an almost 100% markup on you...

another thing to consider

@ March 29, 2013 5:52 PM in Retrofit/upgrade suggestions

I just went through all that on my house. Had the original 1931 coal fired boiler that had been converted to run on oil in 1941.

I tried to sell the house a couple years back and the old boiler and asbestos wrapped gravity pipes hanging down a foot from the basement ceiling were total deal breakers. I didn't get a single offer. It's a really nice house, too. Originally built by Bill Boeing. Yes, the founder of the Boeing airplane company.

One must remember that the number of people willing to buy a house that old in spite of it's charm is pretty low and the number of people willing to buy one with the old gravity set-up still in place is absolutely minuscule. Consider yourself one in a million.

I'd consider it a "hedge" to change it out to a more modern system. You never know if/when you're going to have to get out from a place in a hurry. Having the old system in there can make it nearly impossible.

Also, the modern system will just plain work better. A lot less expansion and contraction noises. Almost no temperature swings etc. For me, it was almost worth it for that alone.

Just my 2 cents.

The thing is,

@ March 28, 2013 2:39 AM in Installing a new hot water system myself

With the type and amount of radiation you're speaking of, Chris is absolutely correct, you'll only get 50K BTU/hr out of the CH-210. He just didn't explain why. I've done that for you above. I think you owe him an apology...

I would encourage the original poster to start a new thread and ask the question again so that it may be answered by pros without the noise of this one.


@ March 28, 2013 2:21 AM in Installing a new hot water system myself

you do understand that the 11 GPM flow rates are through the DHW heat exchanger at a 90 psi pressure drop, right?

The heating system side will not flow any more than 5 GPM through the primary (combustion) side.

I know this to be true because Navien sent me their pressure curves and pressure drop test spreadsheets.

If you truly do need 163k BTU of heat out of that unit, the only way you'll get it with that unit is with a metric crapload of radiation (1 metric crapload = 1.15 standard craploads).

The CH-240 unit won't do you any better as it only burns more fuel than the CH-210. All of the other parts (pump, heat exchangers etc. are the same part numbers).

I seriously hope you haven't started to put this together yet as it just plain will not heat your house properly on a design day unless you have enough radiation that you can heat your house at design temperature with an average emitter temperature of 110*. That pretty much means you'll need to have VERY well designed in floor radiation.

The emitters you've chosen output 740 BTU/hr/ft at a 180* avg temperature. There is no way on God's green earth that the Navien CH-210 will do that for you. Those emitters put out 200 BTU/hr/ft at 110* average temp. Do you have enough space for 4 times the radiation you planned on?

This isn't religion, it's physics. It's not subject to interpretation.

With the system you describe, you'll be sleeping alone in a very a very cold house...

PS, I have a CH-210 and like it very much. It's just that my heat loss is round 60K and I have a metric crapload of cast iron radiation...

Don't forget

@ March 28, 2013 1:31 AM in Customers are confused when it comes to gas conversions...

That every dollar you don't spend on oil is a dollar that doesn't go on the wrong side of our trade balance. It stays right here in the US of A, getting spent over and over again on everything from drilling gear to pork chops. Mmmmm, pork chops!

your approach

@ March 27, 2013 8:30 PM in Calculating Heat Loss Using Past Usage

does account for passive solar heating which sounds to me to be good for overall yearly energy use but will probably skew your actual heat loss numbers down from what they actually are, especially at night.

does it have to be pumped

@ March 27, 2013 5:34 PM in One Rad hydronic system

or would convection/gravity do the trick?

why can't nat gas prices stay this low?

@ March 27, 2013 4:14 PM in Customers are confused when it comes to gas conversions...

Look at the price they're getting for it at the well head, ~ $3.50 MM BTU.

Check out this chart for residential oil and propane prices,

All this with a huge reduction in nat gas rigs over the last couple of years.

The extraction technology is getting better every year and the "extractors" are figuring out better ways to maximize gas production from each well every month.

The nat gas prices you'll be paying in Jan of 2015 have probably already been set by futures contracts. I fully expect to be paying less in 2015 than i'm paying now. My rates have gone down in the last 2 years.

The price is 50% higher on the east coast because of pipeline capacity issues, not abundance issues. Those pipeline capacity issues are being rectified right now.

You go ahead and go long on nat gas prices and you'll be in the poor house before you know it...

my CH-210

@ March 25, 2013 6:34 PM in Navien Combi Boilers

Continues to work very well after 2 heating seasons. Not a single issue not involving the biological interface :)

I figure over those two heating seasons I've saved 3-4 times the cost of the "combination heating unit" itself in fuel cost and efficiency (changed from oil to gas). Not a bad ROI...

Yet another view...

@ February 25, 2013 4:17 PM in The elegance of simplicity has it been lost?

How about the fact that mod/cons can make an 80+ year old high mass system work like the dead men designed it to work while polluting 99.9% less than when originally used?

Those systems were designed to have a coal fire lit at the beginning of the heating season and kept burning until the end of the heating season. Modulation was done by the size of the fire. Fine tuning the temperature was accomplished with windows. The flue gas contained all sorts of nasty components like SO2, CO, UHCs, particulates, NOx, LOTS of CO2, etc.

Along came oil with a fixed nozzle and burn rate causing what I consider to be one of the most annoying "system working fine" issues: radiator and piping expansion noises. I believe that's called "setting it up bang-bang"? However, along with the "Bang-Bang" we got stop stoking coal fires, much less SO2, UHCs, particulates, CO, and about 20% less CO2. NOx emissions are about the same with oil as coal.

Now natural gas is the primary heating fuel and with that we get further pollution reductions: 30% in CO2, 80% NOx, and essentially a 100% reduction in SO2 and particulates.

With all the "new fangled" technology, we now have components available at an unbelievably low cost that will replicate the heat flow of those earlier coal boilers.

I recently replaced an original coal boiler which had been converted to oil to a new mod/con. I now no longer have radiator and piping expansion noises and I saved well over 100% of the cost of the new mod/con in fuel the first heating season. Even if I'd had someone else install it my payback would have been 3-4 years.

I think it's also wise to remember that every BTU not burned is a BTU not imported. Every molecule of CO2 not emitted is one that doesn't have to be dealt with in the future. Every bit of SO2 and NOx not emitted doesn't end up coming back as acid rain.

It could very well be that we're just trading dollars, i.e., fuel cost for maintenance, but in my book that's just fine. I'd much rather give one of the pros on this board $1000 than to middle eastern states. Keeping the money here means it multiplies and helps our overall economy.

Also, there's always fear, doubt and ignorance whenever new technology "invades" an industry.

I owned an auto repair business when electronic carburetors and electronic fuel injection became common in automobiles. There was a lot of resistance at first from both automobile owners and mechanics. It was perceived as unnecessary by most people but pollution regulators and environmentalists. To the average person their really wasn't any difference except that performance was reduced. Fuel mileage nor efficiency increased. But that wasn't the design goal. Pollution reduction was.

Now fast forward 35 years. Overall efficiency is much better and automobile pollution is drastically reduced. True there were a lot of teething pains to get here but we got here none the less.

The argument that automobiles don't really get any better mileage is really a non sequitor. We're comparing apples to oranges. The current Honda Civic is actually much bigger, faster, safer etc. than the 80's Civic. The only thing remotely similar is the name and the fact that it's an automobile. One has to understand that cars have greatly increased in weight relative to the size. 99.99999% don't realize that a 1955 Chevy 2-dr weighed in at 3055 lbs while a 2012 Toyota Prius weighs in at 3042 lbs. The Prius gets 45 MPG in town while the Chevy could get maybe 15 MPG in town and the Prius is much, much safer. I'd say that's an enormous improvement. If anyone here thinks it's not, I'd love to hear your argument.

My point is that technology marches on. While there may be periods of "teething pains", fear and doubt, in the end technology usually proves to be very beneficial. I think one notable exception may be social media... ;)

I'm guessing this industry is somewhere near the state the auto industry was in 30 years ago. Buckle up ya'll, you're in for a bit of a ride...

I have to

@ February 25, 2013 3:28 PM in The elegance of simplicity has it been lost?

respectfully disagree that your analogy is appropriate.

The primary goal of a bomber is to be able to get to a target and avoid being shot down before it can drop it's payload.

The flying wing is a more efficient layout than a convention design, therefore giving the bomber more range to get to it's target. This is made possible by computer control of the wing control surfaces.

The sharp, irregular shapes give it it's stealthiness, therefore making the bomber less susceptible to being shot down before reaching it's target. This is also made possible by computer control of the wing control surfaces.

The point I'm making here is there was a design goal that could only be met with complex computer control. The human body just plain can't react quickly enough to control such an aerodynamically unstable design.

Your argument is akin to saying that we shouldn't use levers to lift objects that are heavier than a man can lift.

While many homeowners may be intimidated by complex systems, the same can be said with other technology that get's used every day such as tablet computers. You may be fine with a tablet computer but others may not.

There was also a time when most white males were absolutely terrified of blacks and women voting...

heat loss

@ February 24, 2013 2:57 PM in Ch240 remote install

I'd be pretty confident in betting your guy never did a heat loss.

The normal order in a proper design would be to do a heat loss calculation and then measure the amount of radiation to determine what kind of water temps you need to run. This will determine what kind of equipment you can run.

On this board, you'll read over and over again that the main ingredient in a successful install is the installer himself. I couldn't agree more.

I'm curious, why don't you have the original installer dial in the system to your satisfaction? That really should be part of the original install deal. I guess that's the difference between the lowest bid and the other bids...

The union joints at the meter do commonly leak. Here in Seattle the gas company has crews that go around and actually check meters for leaks once a year. They just fixed a leak in mine a few months ago.

A gas leak outside will not affect the flue (exhaust) gas composition unless the leak is so big the unit doesn't get enough gas to run.

Order the sensor today and you'll get it this week. Outdoor reset can give you up to 20% more efficiency. It pays for itself VERY quickly.


@ February 23, 2013 8:05 PM in Ch240 remote install

There is no way that unit should have any issues heating a 2200 sq ft house built in the 80's unless the temp got to -75*F. It should have at least twice the needed capacity. I have a built in 1930, 3,000 sq ft poorly insulated house in a fairly mild climate (Seattle) and my CH-210 never has any difficulties. I don't think it's ever run at over 40% fire to heat the house (23*F outside temp with 73* inside temp). It should be noted that i have about a ton or so of cast iron radiators. Definitely a high mass system.

What kind of emitters do you have? Baseboard? Flat panel? Floor heat? Sizes?

Was a heat loss calculation ever done?

If your pro didn't install the remote control and insist you get the outdoor sensor, he may not be very experienced with radiant systems. Any plumber or heating contractor can screw together parts, however, it takes someone with deep understanding to make a newer system like this work optimally.

Did you find the connectors to install the remote control yet? Have you ordered the outdoor temp sensor yet? Those items really help overall efficiency. The sensor is just over fifty dollars with a few dollars of wire needed to install it. You'll save that $50 in fuel in a month or two and have better comfort.


As to the exhaust and gas smell, that could be a very dangerous situation. I'm guessing your guy never checked the flue gas composition to make sure it was running right. My advice here would be to get someone else in asap with the proper leak detection equipment to get to the bottom of the smells.

Also, to your dhw time lag issue, I handled that by putting a small 10 gallon electric water heater inline as a buffer.
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