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Burnham Opus Boiler

I agreed to install and beta-test an Opus gas-fired prototype boiler. It was an interesting unit and the R&D folks visited on several occasions. The low temp limitation was a handicap for our domestic hot water production, but it worked quite well. The size was an issue we discussed at length.

Its operation reminded me of an old add-on unit I had purchased and installed on our furnace in 79. That consisted of an open resevoir attached to the upper-side of any furnace with a 6" SS injection flue tube that held a downward-looking SS nozzle. A similarly sized plastic exhaust thimble permitted the passage of "scrubbed" flue-gas products - now cool to the touch. A pump circulated water up to and sprayed from the nozzle to create a venturi affect that drew in the exhaust from a T at the flue outlet on the furnace. The other side of the T remained connected to the chimney. On a call for heat, the pump kicked on, scrubbed the flue gases, circulated through a hydro-coil in the RA and back to the nozzle. Very simple concept & raised my efficiency from 78% to 90+. My neighbors thought I was nuts! Its only drawback was the noise as nothing was insulated to deaden sound. The Opus took the same concept and greatly improved the operation.

As Glenn noted, today's hi-eff boilers demand closer attention to external details. We will be visiting a hi-e boiler install on Monday per the request of the mfgr to determine why its not performing properly. At this point we know it was purchased by a builder and installed by a buddy. Feels a bit like stepping into a hornet's nest, but it'll be interesting to see, first-hand, what's going on or went wrong.


  • What ever happened....

    What ever happened to the Burnham Opus boiler? I remember reading about it a few years ago. Seemed like an interesting but pretty radical concept. Just saw someone on ebay with 20 of them for sale, but no buyers!!
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    Looks like it was introduced in 2002 and discontinued in 2004 due to "lack of demand".

    Found this old message at boilerroom.com

    Posted by Seth on September 17, 2004 at 09:15:31:

    In Reply to: Burnham OPUS boiler posted by Mike R on February 18, 2004 at 09:16:13:

    : Has anyone purchased a new Burnham OPUS boiler and what do they think about the OPUS series?

    We owned an Opus boiler for one year of hell. It was extremely unreliable, failed pumps, software coding errors, poorly designed boards, switches, valves, the list goes on and on. The engineer who designed it made two all day trips to our house to remedy the various problems all to no avail. Burnham eventually refunded not only the cost of the unit but the labor for rip out and replace. Ended up buying a Viessmann Vitodens 200 which was a little more money but vastly superior. The thing just did not work, that simple.
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    The gas-fired Opus

    was the one they had so much trouble with. There was also an oil-fired Opus and I seem to remember it worked rather nicely.

    That eBay merchant is Surplus City Liquidators, formerly known as USA Manufacturing. Firedragon turned a few of us on to them some time ago.

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  • Opus Boiler

    The models that are on E-Bay are the Gas Fired models and were discontinued early on in the time frame they were out. I was on the job that you have posted about and there were external issues that developed with this job that caused problems with the Bronze B&G pump and contributed to nuisance lockouts. These boilers were actually a very good concept in that the vessel held an initial charge of water which submerged stainless burner tubes. That vessel water was pumped by means of a B&G high head bronze pump through a flat plate heat exchanger and then up to the top of the flue section of the vessel where it was misted through the flue passageways to extract even more temperature. All condensation from the heat exchanger and flue passes and pipe was used to keep the vessel water replenished. Problems were that due to the condensate based water quality being too aggressive in some cases, we encountered pump failure. Use of LP gas for firing and applications where 180°F water was needed for everything based on system design encountered a lesser ability to replenish the vessel water with condensate. The open vessel had a remote probe LWCO to protect against a low water condition.

    The bottom line was that in applications with good initial water quality and systems that were conducive to condensing they performed well. The job you posted the comments about was a high temperature application that kept running low on vessel water and shutting off. The contractor tried putting in a water feeder which introduced more and more very aggressive well water which kept killing the pumps. It was simply a misapplication of a very good concept boiler that caused the homeowner and us some pretty significant headaches. There are many of them out there still purring away beautifully on "condensing type" jobs that require cooler water temperatures such as radiant floor heating applications.

    The oil-fired model was pretty much discontinued last year or so. It performed flawlessly and there are many out there that continue to do so. Problem was that they were very tall and very heavy and for those two reasons alone, did not sell as we would have hoped they would. There really were no problems with the built-in control systems other than what I described above.

    Glenn Stanton

    Manager of Technical Development

    Burnham Hydronics

    U.S. Boiler Co., Inc.
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
    We have one left

    Oil, going fast. Make me an offer... Cash & Carry only. Hudson Valley Area. Hello Glenn, how you doing?
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405

    I thought the OPUS oil unit was a great design, but WAY too big to realistically used in mass quanities.

    They should have made a small version.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,952
    Atleast Burnham had the guts to market it and give it whirl

    I'm sure the big manufacturers all learned a ton from it. No guts....no glory. Mad Dog

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Hey, Glenn

    You used to sign your posts "Manager of Training", now I see "Manager of Technical Development".

    Was this a promotion? If so, congratulations!

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  • Jimnh
    Jimnh Member Posts: 1
    Advice on purchase

    I am in need of a new oil fired boiler for my home (about 3,000 sq ft). The hot water heater is fed off the boiler and there are 3 zones. I have an opportunity to purchase an OPUS-01 boiler from a clearing house distributor at a very good price. However, the item is packed and the only information that I can obtain is a model # 610891950 and a serial # 64568326. I can not find any info on line. Can anyone shed some light on this and direct me to some tech help, if still available. Any help would be greatly appreciated!



    p.s. this URL may bring you the to photo available on the distributor's site: http://web6.naeir.org/item.cfm
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