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Unauthorized Testing Equipment

Yesterday I went to work in a house where I installed a Utica high efficiency boiler a couple of years ago, and there was Hobo energy logger boxes inside the boiler. There is a strap on temp sensor attached to the supply and one to the return, and an amp reader clamped around the power wire. What bothers me is this equipment was installed without the owners knowledge or consent. A handicapped tenant let someone in a couple of weeks ago to inspect the boiler. I'm concerned this could affect the electronics on this mod con. Kema energy consultation and testing has a sticker on the equipment with a phone number, but they didn't return my calls all day yesterday. National Grid says they know nothing about this. My only guess is that the really big, really old boiler consumed three or four times as much energy as the new one, so maybe they think the homeowner is messing with the gas meter? But that's just a guess. Any ideas??

Thanks, Bob Gagnon
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  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    if it were me...

    I'd call Kema again, tell them if they cant call you back, you're yanking all their unauthorized crap off the boiler, and tossing it out for the next trash pick-up.

    I personally don't think the data logger will effect the electronics, but I do think your assumption is right about usage.  But any reasonable person wouldve seen the new equipment and formed the logical conclusion.

    I do find it funny, the when you have a big usuage spike, in any utility, they never seem to want to know why.....hmmmmmmm......
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    No effect on electronics...

    Bob, I deploy the same equipment all the time, and have never had any "issues" with them. I suspect that the utility's the one who set the loggers. It's just a matter of the left hand not having met the right hand yet...

    I would check their protocal for sure tho. The owners SHOULD have been made aware of the logging equipment.

    Was there any rebates associated with the original installation?

    I know the organizations I work for (State and Federal) have begun looking backwards to see what is happening in the way of reductions in the field, but that generally doesn't require monitoring the boiler. It usually entails a fuel bill audit, and a report from the property about the number of people being served by the system.

    Monitoring supply, return and amperage isn't really going to give a good indication of loads/demands. It would see the electrical side, but unless this is the only appliance on the gas meter, those numbers would be skewed.

    Let us know what you find.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Worries

    Mark, I would have no problem with you or another qualified installer putting this equipment in, but I often run into people who know nothing about mod cons and I'm worried they might mess around and cross a wire, or change parameters. There is a big bundle of wires stuffed into the bottom of the boiler. The Utica has a high limit aqua-stat and that was turned down to 180, from 200, and the boiler was going into soft lockout when the domestic water was calling. There were utility and fed rebates for this boiler and I would have no problem with someone tracking energy savings, especially on this job, just let me know beforehand and return my damn calls.   Thanks.
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  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Kema Energy

    Runs the rebate program for New Mexico Gas, and claims similar arrangements in other states.  It may be some kind of validation required as part of a rebate program.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,621
    I have in the past year

    been involved in several meetings with utility persons and in particular "systems analyst" from those companies. They were concerned that installations of high efficiency equipment with rebates involved were not showing the expected reduction in usage based on bills and internal calculations by the utilities. My involvement was from a technical position as to what my opinion on this might be. I made it very clear without going into a lot of detail here that most of it I am sure was related to poor installation, failure to install ODR, high temps settings for baseboard systems etc. We all know what should be done on these installs but it has been pretty much get the boiler or furnace install and walk away.

    In many cases no determination as to radiation measurements or a heat loss was conducted. The other thing that I offered based on my observation is that even when a heat loss was done and the equipment matched up to the heat loss, the equipment in my estimation was over-sized. We need new criteria for determining sizing for these units. I feel sometimes they may be over-sized by as much as 30 to 50% based on actual heat loss calculations versus actual operation after installation and proper adjustment of all the parameters.

    With that in mind when people want to know they start putting things on the equipment that they think will tell them what they want to know instead of offering proper training to installers. A one hour class with a lunch and a few beers does not qualify an installer as I was quick to point out to the utility people. Many of these jobs never have a pre or post inspection by anyone who is concerned about cost of operation. Inspection of the mechanics by the local mechanical or gas inspector is all they get.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    I hear you Bob...

    The hair would probably stand up on the back of my neck if I found someone hanging data loggers on my equipment. There was probably a rider in the small print of accepting subsidies that guarantees access after the fact.

    Looks like that's what these people do. After the fact auditing.

    Let us know what you found.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • No Return Calls

    Still no return call. I left messages and actually talked to a person at KEMA, but no one called me back yesterday either.
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  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    this is why

    Performance-based rebates make so much sense.  Unfortunately, the utility industry seems stuck in Carter-era program models that have no direct connection to results. 
  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503
    edited March 2012

    That's why so many 90%+ boilers get installed, yet still have customers unhappy with the high utility costs. If rebates were given as per the actual savings, things would be different.....

    On a side note, someone entered a boiler room of a customer of mine that I installed, decided some pump wires were "too long" & started cutting, splicing & readjusting wires. Apon a follow up visit I noticed the system in high fire, which was odd for a mild day. A little poking around, and found the pipe/water temp sensor hanging mid air (it was strapped well to begin with). A bunch of zip ties later, and a talk to the ho, i was on my way. Think about how that would look with high utility bills had that sensor not been found. Boilers were chugging along like a freight train. Go figure.....
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Test equipment and performance:

    I think that there would be a lot of blow-back if this idea of checking efficiency was in effect. Someone (like us) installs equipment that is supposed to be 95%+ and no matter how you try, it won't get over 90%, and you had replaced it for 85% because you installed equipment that was rated under lab. conditions. I'm tired of doing the selling of mis rated equipment.

    It's like the MPG on vehicles. Of all the vehicles I have EVER owned, only one came even close to the MPG on the window when I bought it. The only vehicle ever bought that that met that  ratings is my 2001 BMW 325XL wagon. It is rated for 24 MPG Highway miles and actually gets 28 MPG at 70 MPH on the highway even after 130,000 miles. My 2000 Ford E-150 van with the 4.6 L V-8 is supposed to get 18 MPG, highway and if I'm REALLY careful, I can get a good 15 MPG.

    They won't some back on the manufacturers over overinflated ratings, the manufacturers will blame us.

    Be careful what someone wishes on us.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,621
    You will not get

    much above 88 to 90% combustion efficiency on any Mod/Con that I know about. The efficiencies they advertise are not combustion efficiencies but AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) which is another animal all together. The last 15 Mod/Cons I combustion tested had efficiencies ranging from 77% to 86%, all of them had been running for a year or more and none of them had been cleaned or serviced since they were installed. Two have since been serviced and cleaned and readjusted and the figures the techs who serviced them gave me was 87%(previous 82%) on one and 86%( previous 85%) on the other.

    I would be interested to hear if others are getting higher efficiencies? I would then like to hear what you are doing to get those combustion numbers?
  • PeterNH
    PeterNH Member Posts: 88
    edited March 2012

    Hello Tim,

    How on earth can they claim 95%+ AFUE if the gas only bruns n the high 80's?

    I found this from the government.:

    "Specifically, AFUE is the ratio of heat output of the furnace or boiler compared to the total energy consumed by a furnace or boiler. An AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy in the fuel becomes heat for the home and the other 10% escapes up the chimney and elsewhere."


    It does say the energy in the fuel, not the energy in the flame.


    This is some extremely intersting and eye opening info you have provided.....

    I hope you don't have a bullseye on your back.

  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,621
    I am not the AFUE expert

    so I do not really talk about it as a realistic measure of the real efficiency of a system (boiler or furnace plus the system itself) I try to talk combustion efficiency to the students I teach along with thermal efficiency. AFUE was tested and determined by using a temperature of 140 degrees F which is fine for warm air furnaces but really does not do to well when talking about boilers.

    In the final analysis with customers the real measure of efficiency is what do the fuel bills look like after conversion, retrofit or replacement. Here locally I usually connect people up with not only a good contractor for their heating system but someone to replace windows and someone to increase their insulation. In the end the overall ROI is many times mind blowing.

    This AFUE thing can get you in trouble if you do not prepare your customer ahead of time about the difference between a chemical analysis of their flue gases (combustion test) and AFUE. When the tech hands the customer a print out from the final combustion test and it reads 88% efficiency they are immediately going to ask what did you do to my equipment it is supposed to be 95% efficient? The truth is I do not even talk efficiency as far as what the analyzer gives you I talk three things the O2 reading, net stack temperature, and air free CO, those long with draft make up the real world efficiency of the package. CO2 and the efficiency reading are calculated electronically and are not actual sensor readings.

    It is like the old oil men who only used a CO2 wet kit bottle along with a stack temp and then went to the fire finder slide to get efficiency. That and zero smoke and they were happy, No O2 readings taken or CO readings so they never really gave correct information and may have left a system making high levels of CO, Hmmm maybe that is why they had to do so much cleaning!
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