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Selecting Boiler Type/Brand--please help!

jac34 Member Posts: 25
I am new to this site and really need some info on how to select best boiler.

Coming this spring, I will be converting from oil to propane. Currently have a peerless oil fired hot water boiler with indirect DHW 40 gallon tank. This boiler was installed in 1996 and hot water tank is about 12 yrs old.

My home is in eastern PA and primarily made of stone/stucco/. Some parts of the house were built in 1850s so insulation is not there. Roughly 3700 sq. ft. with 3 floors running hot water to cast iron radiators.

I want to go with a high efficiency unit if that really is going to make a difference. I'm starting to get some quotes, but the recommendations have been all over the place and I'm just getting more and more confused.

Some suggestions were Lochnivar, Weil McClain, Navien. I'm also kicking around a combi unit as an option but not sure if that is ideal for my home.

Any help or advice is appreciated. I have until spring so I'm trying to do as much homework as possible.


  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    What’s more important to you comfort or cost?
    So far I see you with a nice American made cast iron boiler,and a properly sized indirect..
    Stay with a local installer,with a good reputation.
  • jac34
    jac34 Member Posts: 25
    Comfort for sure. We plan on being here as long as possible so I want to make sure we are comfortable on all 3 floors.

    Unfortunately, due to the piping, we can't really zone the floors so the thermostat that's in the living room runs almost the whole house except for kitchen/breakfast room which is on it's own thermostat/air handler the boiler runs piping.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,469
    Find a GOOD installer (there aren't many) and go with his recommendation. He's 98% of the equation.

    You don't want a combi.

    If you're system has cast iron rad's and large iron pipes, then it was probably once a gravity flow system that's been converted to forced flow. These type systems can be nicely married to a mod/con boiler by a COMPETENT pro that understands them.

    Try the "Find a Pro" tab above or post your locale and we may be able to recommend someone.

    Here's a helpful article on old gravity systems. If this is what you have, you can learn a lot from it that will help filter out the incompetent contractors.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 927
    Advantage cast iron LP gas boiler chimney vented or sidewall vented with indirect water heater.

    Lochinvar condensing combi boiler or Lochinvar Knight boiler with indirect water heater.
    There are many condensing gas boilers on the market.
    Weil Mclain
    Bradford White
    I work for F W Webb in Allentown PA and we sell all of these different brand of boilers to professional heating contractors only.

    There are many other manufacturers of condensing gas boilers

    All of these boilers are good but you can buy a great boiler but if not installed correctly the boiler life can be short.

    Weil Mclain has a cast iron boiler GV90+ that is 90% AFUE and it can be vented with PVC pipe or polypropylene pipe. You can use a indirect water heater with this boiler.

    Boilers need to be serviced and cleaned every year. Very important to make sure this is done every year to get peak performance out of the boiler year after year. Plus maintenance is needed to maintain the warranty.

    If all of your second floor and third floor pipes supplying the radiators on those floors go to the basement you might be able to do one zone for each floor.

    You need a good heating contractor that can help you to put in a good system that will last for many years.

    Where are you located at I need Eastern PA?
  • jac34
    jac34 Member Posts: 25
    Thanks for the input! That makes a lot of sense.

    I am located in West Chester, PA and would love a recommendation on a contractor.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,469
    Roy Hall with Kiely Associates is the rep for Bosch/Buderus. He's in West Chester. He will know a good hydronic contractor(s).
    [email protected]
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • jac34
    jac34 Member Posts: 25
    Is it possible to rezone these pipes so 2nd and 3rd floor run on separate thermostat than 1st flr? There is one large main that splits off in a few directions so it seems like it would be challenging and expensive.

    I’m having an issue with master brm. It’s consistently 5-6 degrees colder than rooms right across the hallway. I’ve had 4 techs look at it with no fix. Bled radiators, drained down boiler, changed the valves on both radiators, tried to balance system by tweeking other rooms and no result. Some suggested a more powerful circ, but other rooms on this floor are fine and 3rd floor is ok. Could insulating the pipes in basement help? The pipes coming to this room are on opposite side of house so those pipes have a longer run. Still can’t explain why 3rd floor is ok.

    Nobody can help with this and I’m at a loss. It’s not the end of the world, but it is annoying when you have thermostat set to 68 and you go to bed and your room is 62-63. I do have an ecobee smart thermostat with sensors in each of the bedrooms. I can average out the heat this way but essentially I’m just burning more oil to get master brm up to temp. Seems like rad just isn’t fully maxed out.

    Any help is appreciated!
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,602
    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
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,686
    If you can see all the risers in the basement for all the rad in the house then any amount of zoning is possible.

    If you count all the small drops in the basement and they equal the number of rads you have (X 2 pipes each) then they would be all separate.
    bob eck
  • SeymourCates
    SeymourCates Member Posts: 162

    You mention that you have made a decision to convert a perfectly good oil fired CI boiler to propane to provide greater efficiency. While this may be possible, have you compared the cost of propane (per gallon) to the cost of fuel oil (per gallon)? Understand that fuel oil provides 52% more energy per gallon as compared to propane. Sure, you might gain 25% back on increased efficiency with a mod-con but calculate the payback period (if any) based upon the fuel cost and the efficiency improvement. If the fuels are reasonably close in price (typical), converting to propane is a loser right out of the box and you're out all the capital expenditure as well. That' cost is significant for a mod-con properly setup with an indirect and a suitably sized propane tank.

    You might consider a highly efficient oil fired system from Energy Kinetics. They utilize certain technology that is not available from other oil boiler suppliers and have proven to offer significant system efficiency improvement by purging the boiler of all residual heat at the end of each boiler run cycle. You'd need to find a certified installer for EK. Not anyone is permitted to install them.
  • jac34
    jac34 Member Posts: 25
    Thanks all for the input.

    Seymour-good option to check out, thanks. I'm going with a whole home generator which is what prompted the propane switch. I think it will make most sense to switch over to propane for everything. The other incentive is being in a co-op buying group which gets the propane down to about 1.10/gal. Can't beat that!
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Of course with any fossil fuel you can’t beat that now.... its,what tomorrow brings :)