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Need help narrowing down a boiler

charlie123
charlie123 Member Posts: 16
Hello, hoping you professionals can help me to narrow down my choice on a new boiler for my ~30 year old, 918 sq ft house on Long Island.

I currently have a Utica OBT-3, and while it still works, and I have a service contract with Petro Oil, I think it might be time to consider replacing. The main motivator is the fact that even in summer, the boiler room is always warm due only to the fact that it's maintaining hot water.
I'm maintaining 50 gallons of hot water for 2 people, and the boiler guys I've met don't think it makes sense to just replace the water heater, and I agree.

A Biasi boiler with Riello burner seems to be a frequent recommendation, the 3-pass design and efficiency being the selling points. I'm told that due to the depth requirements of the Biasi, we might want to orient it sideways and then exhaust out at what I assume would be a 90 degree angle.
Is this ok, or are we losing something in that right angle exhaust?

I'm pretty sure that the Riello burner is what I want, no one seems to dispute that they're very good, but I'm trying to narrow down the boiler to the Biasi, Peerless, or Trio, which is supposed to be similar to Biasi but might be shallower.
I also have to consider the possibility that I might need to put a sleeve into the chimney, which I believe the Peerless will not require.

Other info: Taco panel, circulators, Vaughn 35 water tank.

Can you guys help me to narrow down my boiler choices?
Thanks for any info you can provide.
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Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,983
    I would put one of these in:
    https://energykinetics.com
    steve
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    edited September 2018
    what is the heat loss? If it were me I'd either go Trio or Biasi. 35 gallon tank with a mixing valve and your g2g. I do like system 2 as well but it depends on your installer and what they are comfortable with..
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    edited September 2018
    I'm with @STEVEusaPA about the EK. Great boilers but you'll be hard pressed to find any oil fired boiler small enough to not be grossly oversized for your 918 sq. ft. Even with the lowest firing rates, your looking at about 70 BTU per sq. ft. Not even in Antarctica with the windows open and the top down.
    I might recommend an electric boiler, but our rates here on L.I. would not be very cost effective.
    You would have to do the math, and others here can help with your queries, so consider an LP gas mod con boiler. (I'm assuming you dont have nat gas available.) LP is not exactly cheap on the Island either, but if you connect to other appliances, i.e. range, clothes drier, outdoor grill, the more you use, the lower the rate.
    If LP or nat gas is already there, all the better.
    With a 10:1 turndown ratio and outdoor reset, you should be able do achieve the correct output for the required heat loss, (which is step #1).
    It's not often I recommend gas over fuel oil, but in your case it might be the best way to go.
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Thanks everybody for the replies.
    Just some more info: while the house is only 918 sq ft, I do have a separate zone for the finished basement, but I rarely use that. When I am down there I usually just use a space heater. It is possible that in the future, I will use this zone more regularly, but I haven't so far. I've heard that it's healthier for the house to keep the basement at the same temp as upstairs, but I'm not sure that's true. I could see there being some nice radiant-heat through the floors, so maybe it wouldn't be terrible to keep the heat on downstairs, but it goes down to maybe 60 if I recall correctly, not too cold.

    I do have LP gas for cooking (HVACNUT is correct, no natural gas here).

    I'm trying to draw some conclusions here, so please bear with me:
    It seems that Buderus and Viessmann are 'the best' boilers out there, though expensive, and I'm hoping that the brands I'm looking at are worth the slight? trade off in quality for the much more reasonable price.
    Is there agreement that of the 4 brands discussed, the Peerless is the least-favored, the Trio and Biasi preferred, and perhaps the Energy Kinetics slightly preferred over the Trio/Biasi?

    It appears that to heat my small house, it's a challenge to find a boiler that can work at its maximum efficiency: is the EK Ascent Combi the exception to that?

    Are LP-based systems designed for smaller spaces, and therefore more able to work at max efficiency? Am I correct in thinking that LP boilers are all 'condensing'? Apparently, with my base board fin heaters, this is not a good match.

    It also seems to be a rule that you want to use a system that the installer is familiar with, esp when it comes to the more specialized designs.

    Sorry for the thousand questions, you guys have been really helpful.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,503
    The rule about using a system that the installer is familiar with and comfortable with is rule number 1. The corollary is that the installer is competent and likely to be around for a while.

    Not all LP boilers are condensing, though most are these days. The trick there is to ensure that your system will be controlled and plumbed so that they will condense most of the time. If they won't, then there's absolutely no point at all in spending the extra money to get a condensing boiler. Your contractor will need to look into the amount of radiation you have vs. the heat loads to determine what temperatures you need to run; that in turn will determine whether there is any advantage to a condensing boiler.

    You mention that you already have LP for cooking. That's fine, you have a dealer -- but the LP tank, piping, and regulator will have to be upgraded to go with an LP boiler. I'd be very surprised if you could reuse much of the existing things.

    With regard to the orientation of the Biasi -- don't worry about the 90 degree bend. Not a problem.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 439
    The Biasi works well with the NX also
    Robert O'Brien
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    edited September 2018
    If space is limited, EK offers the Frontier (oil or gas fired) with a stand so the water heater sits under the boiler.
    As does Buderus.
  • JoeHNJ
    JoeHNJ Member Posts: 18
    Hello, Energy Kinetics has a few products that may suit your needs. Let me know if you need any further information.
    Joe Harazim
    Technical Support
    ENERGY KINETICS
  • Jim Hankinson
    Jim Hankinson Member Posts: 99
    You say you have a service contract with Petro, so unless you've already done so, contact them for a price to install an EK.

    Oversizing is not an issue since it's a cold start, cool finish system meaning that when the last call is satisfied the remaining heat purges to that zone and, optionally, with the new Display manager it will also purge to any zone that was active in the past 20 minutes. That's how their system can save 30% or more on fuel bills compared to other boilers with the same AFUE rating.
    STEVEusaPA
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,474
    They aren't the only ones selling EK! :):):):)
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    I want to again thank you all for the info, I'm looking at spending some serious bucks and I want to have some idea of what I'm doing. I'm kinda down to 3 choices.

    The original plan was for a Biasi, but it seems that the Trio might fit better and might have incorporated some improvements over the Biasi. Having said that, since it seems that the small size of my house is a challenge to (oil-based) efficiency, I think I should look elsewhere.

    The EK website's sizing guide would suggest that the EK1T combi would be more appropriate than the EK1, but my gut tells me that the EK1 would be the one to get. I do have a few dealers in my area, including (I believe) my fuel oil provider.
    Although this is an oil-based burner, is it safe to say that the intelligent manner in which the heating process is handled compensates for the usual limitations of using oil in a small home? Or is this still inefficient, but just a little less so? Also, if this system is as intelligent/revolutionary as it seems, I would think we'd see others copying certain features: is this the case?

    Lastly, I would consider changing over to LP, but I'm assuming that the mod con version is the one to get, and my understanding is that my fin-type baseboard might not allow condensation, which seems to be a large part of the formula. Are LP systems made for smaller spaces such as trailers, RV's, etc, and is that why they would be most efficient?
    i guess I'll need to have a few contractors in to help to rule LP in or out. I estimate that it would cost ~ a grand to setup a 420 lb tank. It was estimated that I'd need a delivery once a month in winter, then 1 in summer: does this sound realistic?

    I'm sure I'm making generalizations here, but that might be the only way I can narrow this down, hopefully I'm on the right path.
    Thanks again for your help with this.
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Just to clarify a few things: the Trio is planned as cold-start with storage tank on priority, and i realize that the EK can run on LP, but I'm assuming if I go to LP, then a condensing boiler would be preferred.
    Bottom line, I'm in my late 50's, I want this to be my last boiler, and I just want it to work dependably. I'm willing to trade a little savings for simplicity and dependability.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    IMO, even at 20 BTU per sq. ft. which is very conservative, its roughly 18K on a design day.
    An oil fired boiler just wont give you that.

    I think you're better off with a small mod con with a wide margin turn down ratio, 2 heat zones + indirect water heater and outdoor reset. Use the 2nd zone. And consider adding emmiters to the whole house.

    Buffer tank needed? That's out of my depth.
  • JoeHNJ
    JoeHNJ Member Posts: 18
    As Jim said above: EK1 Frontier low mass boiler (2.5 gallons of water), with a 40 gallon storage tank. Cold start and cold finish because the Energy Manager purges remaining heat to heat zones in winter and to storage tank on every hot water call.
    Joe Harazim
    Technical Support
    ENERGY KINETICS
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    edited September 2018
    I don't think I've posed this question clearly before, but I think I'm ready :)

    The smallest oil-based heating system requires a certain load/space to work most efficiently: let's say 2000 sq ft.
    Installing this in my ~1000 sq ft home is less than ideal.

    Are the smallest LP-based mod con's designed to work at max efficiency in 1000 sq ft homes, or are they also designed to require roughly the same 2000 sq feet to operate most efficiently?

    Thanks
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    A small mod con will probably never achieve max fire unless it's to heat the indirect.

    With outdoor reset, the boiler water temp will automatically adjust depending on the outdoor temp.
    Again I'm not too familiar with all brands and specs of mod cons but I'm sure there's some that will ramp down to 10K BTU's. And that's probably all you'll need for 10 out of 12 months.
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 439
    I'm heating 1400 sq. ft. with oil on Long Island, I'm using around 600 gallons a year. It's all about the equipment and the setup.
    Canucker
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    I'm using ~535 gals a year, and it's starting to look like any new system will make an improvement, and that on this small scale, the added cost of the EK or mod con might not be worth the added efficiency.

    If this is correct, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on Buderus vs Trio/Biasi. Maybe it's because the Buderus is apparently a high-end product that makes it a target, but it seems to receive more negative criticism that the Biasi/Trio.

    Re: my recent question about mod con's: they don't seem to be designed for a house my size.
    I think the most appropriate plan for heating a house my size would be a mini-split heat pump and electric or heat-pump water heater which was recently suggested to me.
    Problem is, while that might have made sense when the house was first being built, I'm not sure it makes sense now.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    OK, oil it is. I wanted you to choose oil all along but didn't want to lead you on.😁

    First off, typically the added cost of the EK should offset with the labor to install.
    And using the lowest firing rate (which I believe requires side wall venting) you'll lower your fuel bills just from their unparalleled design.

    As far as Buderus, Biasi, and Trio, I dont think you can go wrong with any. My thoughts for you would be the Buderus G115/3 with Riello burner and the 2107 Logamatic.

    I've run into a few Biasi/QHT with the Beckett NX and they've always checked out well with me once they're set up correctly.

    I've never worked on a Trio but have read good things about them here.
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Thanks HVACNUT, are you saying that the EK is rather simple to install and therefore should cost as much as the Buderus?
    And what's with the ~9 gals of water in the Buderus?
    I thought we wanted to get away from that?

    I'll need to get a quote on the Biasi/Trio, but if it's $1-1.5K less than the Buderus as I think it may be, I might be inclined to go that way.

    The quote for the Buderus included the Riello, but I'm not sure about the Logamatic: is that a control system for the burner?
    I've seen '2107' around, it seems to be a topic of much discussion, mainly that you'd better know how to work with it I think.

    And what about the heat pump? It seems a little less graceful than what I have, as if I'll need to install these units in every room of the house?

    thx
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 439
    You're going to be hard pressed to use any less fuel if you're currently at 535 gallons.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,983
    I still say the best boiler for this situation is an EK It will give you the most overall efficiency, super quiet. As long as you have someone qualified install/maintain/service it.
    steve
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    edited September 2018
    Hi R Mannino,
    I'd hate to find out that you're right, but I have to think that my current setup, which is 30-something years old, and which I hear turning on throughout the day in summer, just to maintain 50 gals of hot water (where I could probably get by with 10-20 strictly-speaking), and keeping a room warm in the process, could be improved upon.
    I'd like to think I can trim 100 gals or so off of the 535, which is still more expensive than doing nothing and living with my current system until it dies, but my current system is flawed, and I haven't had to put anything into this house since I moved in ~6 years ago, so I thought it was time to make an investment.
    If you see me back here 30 years from now, looking to replace my system again, then I guess my timing was off...

    And thanks Steve, the thought of a quieter boiler is appealing, but I've lived with it all my life, and would hope that any new system would be distinctly quieter than what I have now.
    I know that the EK is more efficient, but right now, it's ~$3500 more than the Biasi, a good $150 % of the cost of the Biasi, and considering the relatively small amount of oil being used, I'm not sure the added efficiency of the EK is worth ~$3500.
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 439
    My system will cycle around three times a day just to maintain DHW and that is with little draw on the tank.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    Without getting into actual dollar amounts, which is frowned upon here, everyone makes big buck decisions based on needs, options, and budget.

    Even though I personally wouldn't recommend it, a dry base steel boiler with zone valves and a tankless coil would also work.

    If the Biasi works for you, go for it. It's a fine boiler. Make sure the contractor is familiar with correct installation and servicing.
    Which burner?
    Outdoor reset?
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Sorry if I posted something I shouldn't have, or was on the verge of doing so, i think I stopped short of actual prices though.
    I assume your dry base steel suggestion is a bottom-dollar way to replace my system, knowing that ideal efficiency isn't going to happen. I appreciate the validity of both that suggestion, as well as R Mannino's comments, which would seem to suggest that I might want to live with what I've got for a while.

    Ultimately, I'd like to get something of very high quality, that offers great bang for the buck. Inherent inefficiency aside (due to my small house), the Biasi sounds like that might be the answer.
    The burner would be Riello, although there seem to be other options at essentially the same cost.
    I'm looking into the outdoor reset, as well as heat-purging boiler control. I assume that these are cost-effective ways to get the most out of what I've got?

    As far as frequency of cycling, i could swear I get a lot more than 3x a day, I think I get that in an overnight, but I'll try to monitor it more closely.
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Hey all, I just wanted to say that thanks to this great forum I'm in a much better position to make an informed decision when the time comes.
    I appreciate the generous and professional way you all shared your knowledge, and I'm genuinely impressed by the depth of that knowledge.
    Thanks again.
    HVACNUT
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,871
    Post pics when done.
    Will the G.O.A.T. be there?
  • ron
    ron Member Posts: 311
    not a professional, in CT, couple years ago I replaced a burnam oil boiler that was used when house was built in 1987, it was cheap stamped steel construction and when drained one person could almost lift up and carry out. I went with a WGO-3 per recommendations and discussing with my installer who i was not super impressed with but in the end they were good, I wanted the higher end 3-pass high-efficiency model but he was adamant about warranty & service on it saying basically on paper it looks great but in the field they [high-eff 3-pass boilers] were problematic and we could not come to agreement on warranty and him coming back to service and whatever else, so ok WGO-3 was fine; after ~3 years of completely trouble free use I personally think I should have went with a WGO-2 (smaller) my house is colonial style 2 floor, have new windows & house well insulated, have a corresponding indirect 50 gal weil-mclain hot water tank off to the side, just me & wife in house, carlin boiler with I believe a 1.0 gph nozzle doesn't "short cycle" but it never runs for very long either.

    fwiw, I am an engineer & sure I pissed off installer by trying to tell him how to do his job (he commented u f'ing engineers) but looking back i was happy being blunt in saying maybe i don't install these things multiple times a week but you will you (1) put valved flanges when installing circulators, and (2) use a taco viridan variable circulator (i had to go buy he knew nothing about variable circulators), and (3) you will simply not install or use items to make it the easiest and fastest install "for you"... among other things. I had also replaced my oil tank in garage year prior and did my own piping using a double filter setup with one being a gar-ber spin on, so don't overlook your oil tank setup (dirty oil + new furnace = bad). I assume because you are soliciting advice here you are not totally clueless about heating your home.

    my impression is "they" prefer to either oversize because they don't know any better or keep nozzle size at a large 1.0 gph to stay problem free (their benefit), the smaller nozzles (below 0.85 gph ?) are more susceptible to dirt and becoming a problem? i mention this because you said 918 sq foot house, and I think my WGO-3 with 1.0 gph is larger than needs to be for my ~1400 sqft 2-story. I don't thing u can do better than the "heavy" cast iron boilers now (not necessarily the high-eff 3 pass heat exchanger ones). The boiler "shell" is one thing & basic, the oil burner (beckett, carlin, riello, others) is the other thing to be sure to understand and make sure is serviceable & maintainable along with the electronics (aquastat) used now, make sure that's common and any contractor does not say "never heard off or worked on one of those before" before they install it.

    i never looked into the efficiency of an indirect water heater setup vs a separate oil fired water heater, but i believe it is somewhat accepted now regarding heating efficiency to NOT get a boiler with an internal domestic hot water tank (i.e. WGO vs WTGO) unless other things force you to go that route for good reason.
    HVACNUT
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Hello again, I see it's almost been a year, and I'm back with an update.
    No, I haven't done anything, but I do now have something much closer to 'a plan'.
    I wasn't sure if i should start a new thread, but figured continuing here made the most sense.
    The most pressing thing right now, and one I'm hoping you guys can help with, is I'm trying to find someone experienced with HPWH to replace my current aqua booster.
    I've gotten one price from a local guy (near Miller Place), and no feedback yet from some other places.
    While I'm not seeing too many people very experienced with these, it seems that the bugs have been worked out and they should be pretty reliable.
    My boiler room is big enough and the condensate can run into the septic trap.
    I'm hoping to narrow down a brand, determine if I need a boiler guy or a plumber (this will probably be plumbed so that should the controls die, it can be used as an aqua booster in the meantime), and find someone good and experienced.

    The next step would be to have a heat purge control put on my old boiler, maybe some other tweaks if possible, and leave things like this for a while.

    I'll probably look into a 1- or 2- ton mini-split by the spring, whether to provide only AC or to ultimately replace my boiler is TBD.

    And true to the spirit of over-selling, in getting quotes for mini-splits, I was given a quote for 5 tons from one guy, and then 3 tons from another.
    I'm looking at only Mitsu/ Fujitsu or Daikin.
    After working through a heat-loss calc, it seems that a 1.5-2 ton will heat my 918 sq foot house.

    I know that many question using electric on LI, but the info I've gotten shows that oil at $2.50 (relatively low, and I've paid much more) is equivalent to electric at 25 cents per KWH, which is ~where I am now.

    If anyone can refer me to someone in my area experienced with HPWH's, I'd appreciate that, and thanks again.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,096
    ask the 3 and 5 ton contractors how they got to those figures, and for their heat load calcs,
    then find a third that comes closer to your 1.5 or 2,
    this assuming your true to ac only,
    and that you did your calcs correctly
    remember, oversizing will affect humidity comfort and leave you cold and clammy.
    how large is the house ? sq ft?
    known to beat dead horses
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Hi neilc, the house is 918 sq feet, and they didn't do much to come up with those figures. At least the 2nd guy broke out a ruler.
    Knowing nothing, I worked with a very (extremely) patient individual who walked me through the calculations.
    Please note that we came up with (less than) 2 tons to heat, 1 to cool. He personally thinks 1.5 would cover the heat load.
    I'd entertain paying someone to provide the load-calc service, but I think that there were even guys on here who wouldn't think I need more than 2 tons to heat my small house. Basement is 70% below grade with insulated walls.
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    I should note that as stated, my focus at this time is to get thoughts and recommendations on Heat Pump Water Heaters and who might install one for me.
    These are supposed to be dramatically more efficient than traditional electric, and somewhat more efficient than an indirect. Plus it would allow me to entertain going with mini-splits in the future.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,503

    I should note that as stated, my focus at this time is to get thoughts and recommendations on Heat Pump Water Heaters and who might install one for me.
    These are supposed to be dramatically more efficient than traditional electric, and somewhat more efficient than an indirect. Plus it would allow me to entertain going with mini-splits in the future.

    Well... they are much more efficient, in terms of electricity usage, than traditional electric. Some of the best of them are even more efficient in terms of total fuel use than fuel fired heaters -- but that's another discussion.

    They are pretty reliable now. They are not as reliable as any conventional unit, so be sure that whoever installs it for you is ready, willing, and able to service it down the road. It's going to need it.

    The one area where they can be a problem -- and send your electric bill right into traditional territory -- is in recovery. If your hot water loads are such that the contents of the tank can supply what you need, OK -- but if you use up the tank volume, bear in mind that their recovery is slower than conventional electric (unless they have resistance backup units engaged) and much slower than fuel fired units.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • charlie123
    charlie123 Member Posts: 16
    Yes, I understand that recovery is slow, and if you ask for more than what's stored the electric element is used, which is undesirable.
    I was looking at 30-40 gals in an indirect, so a 50 in a HPWH should be ok (2 people).
    The brands so far are Rheem and Bradford White AeroTherm.
    The latter is from a local plumber who admits this would be his 1st: I appreciate his honesty but based on what you said, sounds like I need someone with some experience. I can't imagine what these were like 5 years ago.