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M Lane
M Lane Member Posts: 123
I'm proposing a replacement system to an HOA for 22 condo units. Old buildings, heat load calcs will be heavy. Also, straight baseboard system, domestic hot water is a separate system.

I'm partial to Lochinvar Knights, what are some of your favorites?


  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,546
    Fire Tube

    Nearly all the firetubes on the market today have the same exchanger.

    The knight WHN would be an excellent choice. Why switch from a brand you are familiar with?

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • M Lane
    M Lane Member Posts: 123

    I am a fire-tube only guy. But I am always trying to keep updated on if any 'next big thing' is out there. I think the main factor now is operating controls and reliability.
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    The Next Big Thing

    Out in the market has been around for years. I'll take a Viessmann Vitodens 200 hands down over anything else on the market.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Aaron_in_Maine
    Aaron_in_Maine Member Posts: 315

    I sell my boilers by which supply house is closest. I prefer NTI Firetube boilers. I have also done Utica SSC boilers they are super easy to install the primary loop is in the cabinet. Just put in your headers and go.
    Aaron Hamilton Heating
    ahheating@ yahoo.com
  • I Agree With Aaron

    The Utica SSC is a great boiler with good support from the manufacturer, I wouldn't install anything else.

    Thanks, Bob Gagnon
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • M Lane
    M Lane Member Posts: 123

    I'll check them out. Not even sure who reps them in Denver
  • todd_ecr
    todd_ecr Member Posts: 91

    Our Dunkirk line is represented in the Denver market by Hydronic Systems Inc.  You can reach them at (303)777-8800. 

    The Dunkirk VLT is the cousin of the Utica SSC
  • M Lane
    M Lane Member Posts: 123
    edited May 2014
    Oh, HSI

    Brad and Chris. I know those 2 well. Did not know that Dunkirk was the same thing. However, every time I get a price on these from Kevin they are more than TT's.

    Thanks for the input though.
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884

    Has always been great! Have to say though I really do like the WHN knights. One thing to take into consideration on a condo building like that: All of the tennants are used to turning the heat on and feeling heat come out of the registers. Do your heat load calc and set the OR up correctly and have a beautifully efficient system and then come winter you will have abunch of calls about how the heat must not be working becuase my baseboard is not getting hot.

    I replaced a boiler in a condo building a few years ago (old ajax steel tube replaced with lochinvar knight KBN) and set everything up to the best efficiency that I could. For almost six months once heating season started we would get at least one call every week about the heat not working. actual conversation (or close enough):

    me: "Hello, I recieved a call indicating that your heat is out?"

    owner: "Yeah, I think that new boiler you put in is not working correctly"

    me: "What is your heat doing?"

    owner: "Well my basegboard isn't getting very hot and I turned the thermostat up 15 minutes ago and it is not warming up yet. It used to be really fast with the old boiler"

    me: "This is actually normal. The boiler is sensing the outdoor temperature and since it is about 50 out right now it is only going to heat the water going to your baseboards to about 100 degrees (or whatever the curve was can't remember now). This increases the time it takes for your heat to respond, however it saves you a LOT in gas."

    owner: "So I just have to wait longer and it will heat up?"

    me: "Yes. Just to be sure, did it ever get below the set point of your thermostat? That would indicate a problem."

    owner: "No it has never gotten below the setpoint, but I just wanted to warm it up a little and I remember the old boiler would do it right away."

    me: "I am sure it would but it would use a lot more gas to do it. If you wait a while the temperature will start to rise. This is just how the new system works to save gas."

    owner: "So when are you going to come fix it?"

    I know this has nothing to do with specific boiler selection, however just thought I would share my experience with condo boiler replacements. Sometimes you just can't change people's ideas or expectations so be prepared! eventually they had to post notices in all the hallways explaining that the new boiler did not work like the old etc... and we still got calls after that.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Multi-tenant buildings and ODR

    another example of why on/off zone valves are a poor match for ODR.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Education education education...

    Delta T, I too have had a very similar conversation with numerous residents, and I determined that they needed educated. We always generated a letter explaining the NEW system operations versus the OLD systems operation in as many languages as were necessary (5 in one case) to get the job done.

    We also made a letter up for the rental office to hand out to new incoming residents, or confused existing people for the same reason. We also trained the maintenance department on how to handle these alleged cold calls. After that, we had no complaints.

    We once did a condo building and used non electric TRV's. Talk about problems. It took three face to face meetings with the residents before our message finally soaked in and they understood the operations of the system. In all cases, you must instruct the consumers to set it and forget it, and quit cranking the heat up and down. Also have to tell them to not block the convectors with their mattresses, place computer beneath the thermostat, and close the freaking windows…

    Do it in advance, and save yourself a LOT of baseless trouble calls.

    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.
  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503
    Individual or Building

    Are you putting in individual boilers per apartment, or a plant for the building?

    If the former, its a poor investment. The landlord owns the problems (there will be many from experience) and sees no roi. If its proposed for a building heating plant, go for a cascade system and have any critical parts on site ready to be replaced when the time comes.

    Depending what the cost of electric is, and out door temps, look into ductless heat pumps. They just seem to be less problematic and easier for tenants to understand how to set temperatures.
  • M Lane
    M Lane Member Posts: 123

    Those comments about how folks will respond just saved me a ton of heartache.

    What this place is is a central boiler room/laundry room building with 3 outlying buildings, built somewhere in the 30's. They are like Army barracks, single row units, one story. They are condo only in the way someone devised a plan to trick people into buying single units of what should be rentals only.

    Because they are unsure of being able to assess the capital to pay for this job, I am only giving them a 'drive-by' budget quote. Here's the kicker: each unit has hot water radiators, they open valves when they want that room hot. Which seems really problematic to me with modulated water temps, especially here in Denver where we have tons of nice days in the Winter.

    What they have are a couple of old Cranes converted from coal to gas that just run on 180* setpoint. They are both functioning with occasional component repairs; they don't have any leaks, original gravity expansion tanks are still functioning without constant flooding. They just want to upgrade efficiency, albeit without spending too much money. I think I will advice them to slowly build a fund for a more significant mechanical remodel.
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    Education is a wonderful thing.

    I learned my lesson on that one for sure. Any time I do a new boiler system now, whether it be for a small house or a large commercial job, I make up a binder that contains all of MY expectations of how the system will perfom, important differences in the system, and the most economical way to operate the system. we have a meeting with the property manger expaining everything in it and what to expect as far as operation of the system goes and what tennants (if a larger job) need to understand. At that point it is on the management company to explain things to the tennants should the need arise. We also make sure the management sends out flyers or mailers or whatever to explain things before, during and after the changover.
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    edited May 2014
    Keep in mind

    "Tennants" will behave differently than "owners", at least in my experience. I have seen tennants in older college rentals with old converted gravity systems just open the windows for two years if the felt too hot. Never once did they mention anything to the landlord about having a problem with the heat, and since they were new tennants, they just assumed that a 450 dollar gas bill was just what the house used. On the other hand the landlord never indicated to the tennant that the little valve on the botton of the radiator could control how much heat entered the room. Owners will generally try to solve problems if it makes sense to them (both economicall and intelectually). So yes as ME said Education, Education, Education...

    From your description it sounds like they would be MUCH better off waiting for a more substantial budget to perform more comprehensive improvements to the system and replace the boiler at that point

    That being said, what about a stand alone ODR controller for the boilers? You wouldn't be able to go too low on the curve obviiously but at least setting back to 145 or so in warm weather would save some energy. would be a relatively low cost upgrade to stem the heating bills a bit until they have the budget for comprehensive repairs. Also maybe replace existing pumps with ECM to cut down on electrical usage. Just a thought, I have done some small upgrades like this on older systems and been able to show a decent 5-6 or even 2-3 year ROI in some cases. Sometimes the little things can count for a lot, and the willingness to explore the smaller options can land you the bigger job in the future.

    *This would definitely be a situation where the "education of the masses" would be needed to get people to stop opening and closing valves all the time. And I will say I have not seen the system, this may not be practical at all and if not please disregard!
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 839
    2 ways

    I would offer them TRVs. Or as alternative just pipe p/s existing boiler with odr controller to control mixed water temperature to system. Just implement the minimum return temperature entering boiler to prevent condensation.