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NG Combi Boiler versus indirect tank and boiler setup



  • CMadatMeCMadatMe Member Posts: 3,066
    Do You Think

    That way when you walk into your favorite car dealer? Do you deduct all the money you spend on oil changes, tires and all other maintenance when you go trade it in? Did you purchase your home based on pay back. I'm sure your deducting all those taxes, water/sewer bill and maintenance from that investment as well. Its funny how our industry is the only one where consumers look for payback in dollars.

    Maintenance is a misrepresentation. All boilers require a yearly maintenance. If your in Mass I'd look at getting the Burnham Alpine. Until Sept boiler comes with a 10 year parts and labor warranty. After that it goes to 5yrs parts and labor but the program may get extended.

    If you want a boiler with a lifetime warranty then look at the Viessmann Vitodens.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    I think I see your point, but...

    Hi Chris,

    I don't have a favorite car dealer - I haven't been in one in 12 years and none were favorites(lol). But to your point, I never expected that with a $4,000 rebate, I would face out of pocket costs of $9,000-12,000 to replace a boiler. I know talking price is not allowed on this forum, but from other forums, I see prices from $7K to 10K for similar sized condensing units and I feel that the rebate program may be causing hungry installers to take advantage of that fact (no offense, but people will be people).

    On top of that, from the comments here and on other forums, the complexity of the condensing boilers seem to lead to higher service calls and annual maintenance fees. I'm simply trying to figure out the best way to improve efficiency without breaking the bank.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Boiler replacement cost

    is quite literally impossible to generalize about.  The condition of the existing piping and venting, the type of boiler being replaced, the type of boiler being installed, site access, required permitting, and more come into play.  It could require anywhere from about four to about sixty hours of technician labor and from $20 to $2,500 worth of parts.  Or more.
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    Agreed SWEI

    So I think I'll first get a cleaning and adjustment of the current boiler and see what the outcome is. It's probably an economical way to approach the current performance and then determine what should be installed in its place if it can't be brought within expectations.

    Any disagreement out there?

  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Cleaning and adjustment

    if (and that's a big if) you get the right technician, is a great start.

    If 01519 is your Zip, you have a couple of trustworthy folks in the area
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    edited August 2013
    Winter tune-up results

    You were right SWEI - I had a contractor come in for an evaluation and tuneup. The tech opened the top and cleaned out the coils but said they weren't very dirty.  He put it all back together and fired it up. When I asked him to check for CO levels, he used a small meter to measure by the draft hood of both the hot water heater and heating boiler. He did not see any CO. I asked him if he was going to check flue gases and adjust, he said he doesn't normally do that because there is nothing to adjust on these burners (Teledyne Laars JN125). He checked the flame, and said it looked fine.  I asked if he would measure the flue gases but since he does not do that very often, he didn't have that meter with him. 

    This is a pretty big contractor in the Worcester, MA area (the link you provided only had eastern MA contractors).  He said that the boiler looked great, was drafting properly and to expect several more years of service. (I do keep the surrounding area pretty clean) . Since it is a copper tube fin model, he said failure would be in the form of a leak where copper meets cast iron fittings, but that there are no gas-air adjustments on it even if he found high CO levels in the flue.   So I'm at a loss what to do next. Why would I want to replace it even with $4,000 in rebates available..?

    Any and all suggestions are appreciated.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Next steps

    would be looking at potential improvements to both efficiency and comfort.  I'm guessing the contractor did not perform a heat loss calculation or other whole system evaluation? 

    Is the house comfortable?  Are your gas bills reasonable?

    Pretty sure there are contractors here who work in Eastern MA, but I am thousands of miles away so I'm hoping that someone else will chime in.
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    No heat loss eval

    Right SWEI.  No heat loss calcs or system eval.  I'm guessing he was just a cleaning tech. 

    Does anyone know if he's right - that there are no adjustments to this JN125 system?  If he says it looks good should I relax?

    Thx to all.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Bob Gagnon is not that far from you

    I'd see if he can help...
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    reliability of HE Combi vs tradidional boilers

    I've been doing some research to replace my 31 yr old copper finned tube boiler. The Teledyne Laars JN-125 has performed flawlessly for 31 years and I was planning to replace it with a high efficiency unit.

    In my research, I've gotten the sense that the new High Efficiency combi's are less reliable given the multitude of electronics, sensors, etc., and the need to pay attention to condensate.  Also the requirement for annual maintenance (one vendor wants $360/yr) seems to negate the fuel savings.  My current gas bill is between $1500 and $1800 per year so I don't expect to save a lot of money. The HE units seem to have higher installation costs and depending on size, the boiler seems to command premium pricing.

    So what's been the experience out there for service visits on the new equipment vs the old boilers? Higher? Much higher? About the same?

  • earl burnermannearl burnermann Member Posts: 126
    A new can of worms.

    The minimum airflow of your home should be no less than .35 air changes per hour. At 70% of that number mechanical ventilation is reccomended. Below that threshold mechanical ventilation is required. I would have an energy audit conducted on your home before you continue. The federal government is paying energy raters $250 per audit so it is a free service in many areas. A blower door test is part of these audits. They will tell you how tight (and healthy) your home actually is. A house that does not allow enough fresh air will cause health problems down the line. Get an audit and be safe. The audit will also tell you your heat loss/gain, so it's a win-win deal.
    If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    45 miles away

    Thanks SWEI, but Bob Gagnon is a fair distance away. Would you travel 45 miles one way to a residential jobsite?  I was doing whole house audio/video/tech for a few years but I wouldn't travel 45 miles for a job. So I don't expect Gagnon is a good choice for me.But thanks for pointing him out.  
  • Rich_49Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,540

    take offense H O but plumbers and heating technicians , are not audio / video / Tech guys .  Many of them will regularly travel 45 minutes to an hour to help someone  who has a problem . Don't assume , Call .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    No offense taken

    Rich - thanks.  I found a few more locals willing to give estimates for new system.

    Still waiting for combustion analysis to determine how badly I need a new system.  The tech said "as long as the CO is in the flue, it doesn't matter much - that's where it belongs.  I was not comfortable with that.

    Thanks for all the thoughts on this topic.  This forum has helped me to think through the whole issue of needing a new system and what to do about the old.
  • JStarJStar Member Posts: 2,752

    We charge the same to service cast iron or high efficiency. Typically, if a contractor does not understand something, they will charge a lot of money to do it. Maybe it's a safety net, maybe it's a scare tactic. We don't play that game. It's the same amount of maintenance as any boiler. Yes, there are more controls, but that is the price we pay for higher efficiency. We do not install any hot water system in the 80% efficiency range. The payback IS worth it.
  • HO_01519HO_01519 Member Posts: 10
    That makes sense JStar

    I just had a contractor tell me he can install either - the difference would be about $4000, but I still have a separate water heater which needs a flue liner, so standard boiler does not make sense.

    Maintenance, is just another service call each fall and costs as much as any other service call, so they seem to be even except for the big name contractor who sell "maintenance plans" for $30/mo which seems ridiculous.

    Thanks for the feedback and expertise.
  • CMadatMeCMadatMe Member Posts: 3,066
    edited October 2013
    You Need To Clean Up Your Grammar

    Not very professional. Just some advice. What's a heater? I know of a boiler, furnace, tank type water heater, on demand water heater not sure what a heater is..Why would I need one, if I didn't have one?
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • homeowner43homeowner43 Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2013
    cost of High effeciency vs warranty

    hi I am going through the same process and the q. is

    I have water baseboard( 160" liner high trim baseboard ) heating , 4 bdr + 2.5b ;  2250 sq. ft. in CNJ. 2 floors with 2 zones... heat-loss appx 85k-90k?

    Navien and TT PE110 both   ( combi) give only 10yr warranty.  The quoted cost is about ~8k -9k.

    On the other hand weil-mclain cgi -4/alpine cast iron ( direct vent) warranty 25 yr/life time with cost is 6k.

    I know you might say one is combi and anther is not but I want to compare it this way I have crawling space (4') so I don;t have option for indirect set up unless you can suggest horizontal indirect setup.

    if my current monthly heating bill in winter is 200/month..

    after combi installed.. 

    how much saving will I have ?

    how many yrs. will I have to stay in the home to cover the costs?

    if I install weil-mclain cgi-4e, will my heating bill go up ? is cgi-4e end of life? should I not install it ?

    what is better choice for me.

    All the contractors/installers seem knowledgeable with a lot of experience but they differ in their opinion.
  • JacksonJason2JacksonJason2 Member Posts: 3
    Combi Choice

    We are planning to switch form oil to natural gas when it becomes available this summer.  My contractor has recommended a Navien NCB 240 combi unit.  I've read most of this thread and looked for reviews including those on Amazon, YouTube, and other sites.  YouTube had a 3 part "tutorial" by a guy who runs  The Navien seems to have more than its fair share of negative reviews ranging form cramped cabinet to bad circuit boards to crappy customer service. 

    Another contractor recommend Bosch Combi 151, and another a Viessmann Vitodens combi.  The prices installed range from $7,900 for Naien to $9,300 for the Bosch to $14,400 for the Viessmann Vitodens . 

    Can anyone suggest a good way to make a comparison as to quality and reliability?  Does anyone have experience with using these units that might be a basis for comparison?


  • Rich_49Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,540

    is it that you are replacing and what are your requirements ?
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    More info needed

    have any of your contractors performed a heat loss? What is there now, what emitter does the house have?
  • JacksonJason2JacksonJason2 Member Posts: 3
    combi Choice

    The contractors do not appear capable of performing the analysis.  None have offered it.  All have looked at the 25 year old oil fired boiler and 40 gallon storage tank and said that their recommended units will do the trick.  At this point I am interested in the reputation of the brands for reliability.
  • Robert O'BrienRobert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,191

    We install both and both are excellent products. The boiler is only a component  of the job and while no one wants to deal with a lemon,the installation is at least as important. As an analogy,you could buy the greatest aged porterhouse around but if the chef sucks,you won't be happy with dinner! 
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • JacksonJason2JacksonJason2 Member Posts: 3
    Combi Choice

    Thanks.  Anyone have experience with Navien.  Amazon sells their DHW heaters.  Lots of comments both + and -. 
  • HDE_2HDE_2 Member Posts: 140
    No warranties

    Per Naviens warranty and most other gas-fired equipment. If you buy online as there is no factory authorized online seller or retailer, the product warranty is voided.

    Shows up broken, not working or have issues with install you lose and on your own.

    Not worth it, go to a professional installer that stands behind the product.  
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited March 2014
    Triangle Tube

    I really like the triangle tube prestige excellence for a combi, but prefer separate units, something like a properly sized prestige solo with a properly sized rinnai tankless water heater....

    I have done this a lot and have great results...

    PS- I wouldn't hire a contractor that doesn't perform a heat loss to help them choose boiler output... If they don't have the time and patience to perform that fundamental step, then how can they be trusted to take in account all the other important aspects of a boiler install?

    Keep looking for a contractor, post you location you may find a prince on here to tackle your project...
  • tennis1970tennis1970 Member Posts: 1
    Rinnai & Viessmann both

    My plumber installed both a tankless Rinnai tank for my hot water in the house, but he also installed a Viessmann Vitodens boiler to heat my house (radiant heat).

    Recently I called Viessmann and one of the reps told me that he probably installed two boilers because he received "2" separate rebates!

    I haven't approached my plumber, but I suspect he'll have some kind of reasoning for this like "what if one tank goes down, at least you have the other."

    Any comments?

  • CMadatMeCMadatMe Member Posts: 3,066

    Utility rebates are for the consumer not the trade contractor. The Rinnai is a domestic on demand water heater the Viessmann is a boiler. So you have two different products not the same type of product.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Paul48Paul48 Member Posts: 4,492

    Isn't this the person that argues so adamantly for Navien? And those arguments were after not even going through a heating season? This winter has tested the best heating systems. How did it fair HomeOwner1?
  • HomeOwner1HomeOwner1 Member Posts: 134

    The system is working fine. No issues.
  • WCDWCD Member Posts: 1
    Oil to gas conversion

    I am looking to convert my 30 year old McClain oil burner with indirect water heater to a gas-fired system. The living area of my house is about 3500 square feet. Would it make sense to use a tankless system to heat my house and provide domestic hot water? If not, what would be a recommended system.
  • gennadygennady Member Posts: 781
    edited July 2014
    old tread

    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 5,831
    New Thread

    You will get better answers if you start a new thread...
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
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