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Pros / Cons of Indirect Water Heater

NVNV Member Posts: 4
Hi all,

I am looking into an oil-to-gas conversion in a relatively small 2 bath (1 full, 1 half) split level home on Long Island with baseboard heat.  Currently we have a tankless boiler that heats our home just fine, but doesn't produce enough hot water to fill even half a bathtub with moderately warm water.  Due to this, and the price of oil, I am interested in switching soon, before the available rebates are phased out.

Anyway, the contractors I have spoken to have all suggested that a smaller cast iron gas boiler is the best bet for my needs, considering how HE boilers (Burnham Alpine, for example) tend to require costly maintenance, and will not provide the efficiency they claim in my old single-zone baseboard system. At least this was my understanding. I am comfortable with going with the standard cast iron boiler (Burnham Series 2), assuming this information is correct. The cast iron unit is far cheaper, there is a substantial rebate, and I already have a new chimney liner, so utilizing a chimney-vented boiler would probably save me some cash in installation costs, too.

However, they have also discouraged an indirect water heater, but I am not sure why. These seem like solid products that would certainly provide added efficiency, unless I am missing something about how they work.

Is there a reason why an indirect wouldn't work for my home?

Thanks in advance for any help!


  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited April 2013
    heat loss?

    Sounds like you have a smaller house and the heatloss will most likely be sub 40K..

    Where are you on budget?

    afor an indirect you need a certain amount of btus to satisfy it, and your heat loss may be under what the dhw needs, should be easy enough to figure out if you get us a heat loss number...

    I recommend a properly sized gas boiler weil mclain{ cga if you want chimney vent cgs for direct vent }{I prefer direct vent for energy savings} with a tankless water heat {rinnai ru80i should be plenty for your home} to my customers that have lower heatlosses, For energy savings you can have your contractor install an ODR aquastat and delta t circulators...
  • NVNV Member Posts: 4
    Some Info

    Budget is 8-10K.  The combo I've been pitched twice is a Burnham Series 2 boiler (96000) and a 40 gallon Rheem Fury DWH.  This seems economical enough, and they're probably tried-and-true units, but I wonder if I can be more efficient while staying within budget.

    As far as the boiler is concerned, I am somewhat limited to Burnham, since National Grid is offering substantial rebates on this brand for converting to gas.  Hopefully, whichever unit I choose will prove to be reliable enough.

    I will see about having a heat loss calc done ASAP, but in the meantime I would love to hear further suggestions.  I am so confused when it comes to selecting the right type of water heater.
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056
    edited April 2013
    If You Go Cast Iron

    Suggest you go with the ES2 not the Series 2. As HeatPro has said have a heat loss calculation done before making any decision. Also make sure they measure the baseboard and compare it's capable btu/hr out put with 180 degree water and get the optional out door reset card for the ES2.

    I'd go for the indirect. My friend HeatPro would sell you an on demand gas water heater :). You have the energy in the boiler no need for another piece of equipment to create more energy. The Burnham Alliance (Vaughan Top Down) is a real nice indirect.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited April 2013
    I use

    phase 3 indirects, good luck so far, nice units..

    With that budget you should get everything you want..
  • R ManninoR Mannino Member Posts: 422
    No Reason

    why an indirect wouldn't work. Give us a call or an email we're on the island.
  • NVNV Member Posts: 4
    edited April 2013
    So far...

    I have narrowed it down to the Burnham ES2 for the boiler (good suggestion, Chris), and the best proposal I've seen so far is offering a SuperStor 35 indirect, which seems like a good choice based on what I've read so far. Just wondering if anyone has had experience with those particular units.
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Call Bob

    at technical heating, he will get you on the rite track... Ive seen pictures of that same equipment installed on his website...
  • HenryHenry Member Posts: 704

    We use a lot of Superstore on our smaller commercial installs. No problems and they work as advertised. We have even installed a SSU119C in a very large mansion and it met all expectations.
  • JasonJason Member Posts: 293
    ES2and Burnham Alliance

    I have used these together with much success. I have also used the Burnham Series 3 with the Alliance with no problems. Just size them correctly.
  • NVNV Member Posts: 4

    So after hearing opinions from multiple sources, including this very thread, I decided to go with a Burnham ES2 with outdoor reset, Superstor Contender indirect water heater, and I will back up my system with a simple transfer switch that can be hooked up to a portable generator, in case another Sandy comes our way.  Best of all, thanks to the usual rebates, plus a home performance audit which will net us hundreds more in rebates from the state, we are still at the low end of our budget, with more efficient equipment than I was originally offered by multiple contractors.

    You guys were a great help.  Thanks alot!
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056
    Strongly Suggest

    You install surge protection/line conditioner on the boiler.The control is no different then your PC and doesn't like dirty voltage and surge.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991

    which one do you use? power conditioner.... I use surgex sa15, but they cost me around $200 and they are nothing fancy... Triangle tube rep told me they have one built in, so I havent been pushing them, but still offer it...
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056

    Model M4T-EX. That Triangle rep has you knee deep in you know what. Has a fuse that might blow but no surge protection.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Thanks Chris

    What do you think about UPS systems, like the APC BR1500G ? I install them on Rinnai units once and a while, mine seems to last around a day if the power goes out, you still have hot water... May last longer it depends how much you use it... I have nothing on my solo 175 at my own home, but I can easily plug it onto the apc since its 20 inches away...
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    edited April 2013
    Proper Power Conditioning of an AC line

    Requires quantities iron and copper that are simply not present in surge strips.   The so-called power conditioning which is added to them uses small series inductors, which have the effect of increasing the source impedance of the AC line.  Give me an hour with a dual trace scope and I can show you the negative impact this has on power quality.

    A surge protector is only as good as its ground connection.  Installing a properly rated device at the service entrance is by far the best protection you can buy.  Secondary surge point of use protection (like a surge strip) is beneficial for damping internally originated surges (compressors starting, tools and welders, etc.) and for limiting the rise of whatever might make it past the service entry device, but increased capacity there will not buy much due to the increased ground impedance.  Good power supply design includes MOVs or avalanche diodes as part of the input circuitry anyway.

    Low cost UPSes running on battery put out truly horrific waveforms.  These should properly be called "modified squarewave" and cause known issues with certain power supplies (the Honeywell MCBA comes to mind here.)  Other designs don't have any problem with them.
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