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Over the weekend I installed and commissioned the next generation EcoSteam control (dubbed "ES-50") on my Midco LNB burner. The Phidgets-based system that was installed in April 2013 managed the burner control very well last winter, but there were some issues with vendor-supplied software that required the system to be re-started about once a week. I wasn't able to achieve the reliability I'd hoped for, and late last year started looking into a different hardware platform.
For this version, I've migrated the control logic to a TECO SG2-20VR industrial programmable logic relay, which should prove more robust than the Phidgets. Made a few modifications to the control cabinet, installed a new BAPI T10K outdoor temperature transmitter and a Dwyer Magnesense 0-5 inWC differential pressure sensor. Last year I was able to heat the house with the burner modulating to 0.5 ounce of pressure. That's 0.85 inWC on the new sensor. If the pressure setpoint gets any lower I'll have to start measuring it in pascals or millibar.
Fortunately, the original control cabinet came with an extra subpanel, so I was able to mount, wire, and test all of the new hardware on the bench without disturbing the existing controls. Even so, there were 50-some wire ends to terminate once the old subpanel was removed and the new one was in place. ChrisJ stopped by for the big day and lent a hand with the wiring. Thanks Chris!
Many of the features of last year's control made it into this one, though a few compromises were necessary. Most important, the outdoor reset strategy hasn't changed. It still uses the heat loss of the building and the heating capacity of the boiler to calculate burner on-time.
One added feature on the new control is the ability to manually fire the burner and adjust the firing rate from the front of the control panel, which is useful for testing and maintenance activities.
The original user interface was running on Windows XP, and since XP support ended in April I replaced the old Dell PC running XP with a low power, fanless PC from Shuttle running Windows 7. In addition to the EcoSteam software, the Shuttle also controls the Insteon lighting in the house.