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New bioler install, quotes, etc

Shepp Member Posts: 1

We are in the market to have a new gas fired boiler and a seperate water tank for potable water installed in the coming month or so.  I've had two plumbing and heating contractors come out so far and both want to sell me different boilers and I suspect the next set of contractors will do the same.

So far I have been presented with a quote that includes a Burnham Alpine modulating boiler, and the seperate water tank, with all the plumbing (nice manifold, shut off vales at each zone, spiral thingy instead of the air vents, and so on - pictures of other jobs show good quality workmanship and equipment used (e.g. Taco).

Second company all the salesperson could talk about was Viessmann.  I get a quote today and there is no Veissmann, instead there is a quote for a Lochnivar Knight system and a Munchkin contender.  This company seems to do the  same quality plumbing work, with qualty materials as well based on photos of other jobs.

Both quotes are around the same price point, so now I am confused.  Who makes the better boiler?  What happens when the next contractor suggests yet another brand?

The Burnham Alpine guy did seem to do a better job looking around hte house, measuring stuff, etc. to get a handle on our heating needs (we are currently using only a water heater to heat the baseboard (copper tube w/aluminum fins), and of course a water heater alone doesn't cut it in the Winters of NH.

Any suggestions, ideas, thoughts are all welcome...




  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    We all have our favorites.

    We are all often asked, "Who makes the best boiler?"

    The answer is that it depends.  There are great boilers for high temp, low temp, radiant, high mass, the list goes on and on. 

    We all have a list that we prefer to use for whatever reason.  We are all more likely to respond with a dud if there is a particular boiler that we have had a lot of trouble out of.

    IMHO, the Knight, the Munchkin and Viessmann are good boilers.  I have not installed an Alpine, so I cannot say.  It appears that the boiler choices are all good.  The next thing you need to do is decide, which is the best contractor.  Because a bad contractor can make the best boiler run like crap.

    Check references.  Talk to current and former customers.  Any good contractor will be glad to give you the name of a few references.  Take the time to check them.

    Good Luck.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,506
    The contractor is what matters

    Make sure that a heat loss has been done and a determination as to adaptability to your emitters (baseboard, radiators, convectors).

    Make sure that ODR (Outdoor reset) is offered.

    All the boiler mentioned are good boilers. One of the things when you choose a boiler now days is to learn what maintenance is required on a yearly basis. Some require annual cleaning others do not. So service after purchase is a big factor.

    Make sure the contractor is able to do a combustion analysis on the boiler.
  • SpeyFitter
    SpeyFitter Member Posts: 422
    Boiler is important but....

    First things first:

    You can have THE BEST boiler in the world, and it can have a 99.9% AFUE even with high temp loads, but if the person installing it does not have intimate knowledge of how to install it, or paying attention to important installation details, it doesn't matter how good the boiler is, it will not perform as advertised, or last as long, etc.

    One of the most important things I believe about boilers is having the right boiler for the right job; this means it must be sized correctly. If you have a 100,000 BTUH heat loss, it's better to have a boiler that has a max input rate of say 105,000 or 120,000 BTUh that modulates down to say 25,000-30,000 BTUH, then it is to pick a 200,000 BTUH boiler that only modulates down to 40,000 BTUH. What about domestic recovery? Well that can be beat with a larger indirect tank (if you intend to use an indirect tank with your boiler, which I think you should, it would be rediculous not to in your situation).

    Now I think the most important thing you need to look at is having a heat loss done if you haven't already done it. Talk to your contractors and see if you can get one of them to do a proper heat loss. Tell them you will buy the heat loss information from them so you have a proper heat loss and it is sized to your existing radiation.

    You need to ask your contractors some pointed questions - they will be rather direct, but a good contractor will appreciate the oppurtunity and the challenge in answering your questions. They will appreciate doing your homework if you're good because it'll make them look better.

    The questions you'll want to ask are related to a few subjects

    1) References they can supply whom you can personally talk to and potentially go and see. How do they like their system? Has the conctractor offered a service agreement of some sort? Have they done a professional job and answered all their questions and resolved all their issues? What about quality of workmanship? Do they feel the contractor supports their product?

    2) Their relationship with the wholesaler and manufacturer of the products they sell. Do they provide annual service? Do they carry parts or have easy access to parts? How many units do they sell per year? Do they only represent/sell one line of boilers, or two lines of boilers. If more than one, why so? Do they or would they put one in their own home? What is the success rate? What is the manufacturer support network like? Do they have a good relationship with the local rep for any issues? What made them select this line of boilers over another? etc. etc.

    Now all things being equal, if you could run into 2 contractors, one who favoured one boiler, the other who favoured another, and they seemed to answer some of the above suggested questions or directions rather well, then you got some thinking to do. The truth is not a lot of guys who sell and install boilers take that much pride or put that much thought into the line of products they choose to base their reputation on. They also don't take the time to learn the ins and outs and the little details that really enhance the performance of the boilers. There ARE guys who do this, but my opinion is many don't give it as much thought as they could. But there are some gems out there who may surprise you.  And generally speaking a lot of hydronic customers tend to be more conscientious I find personally.

    Anyways, best of luck and let us know.

    But again - the bottom line is having a contractor who truly takes pride in what they choose to base their name on. If you can ask pointed questions along those lines I'm sure you can weed the BS from the truth.
    Class 'A' Gas Fitter - Certified Hydronic Systems Designer - Journeyman Plumber
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