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Please help me decide between traditional or mod-con replacement boiler
Hi all, I’m a homeowner seeking advice on whether to purchase a replacement ‘traditional’ boiler or a high-efficiency for my home in New Jersey.
It’s a contemporary home built in the early 80’s and is 3400 SF, 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths. There are about 90 windows and the large living room and kitchen have two story ceilings. The current boiler is a propane Utica M-300-AGB 21 rated at 300,000 BTUH input, and 236,000 D.O.E. heating capacity. This serves 3 zones with a total of 287 linear feet of exposed finned baseboard. This boiler was installed in the late 80’s as part of an oil-to-propane conversion.
I have lived in the home for 4.5 years and I average using 1800 gallons of propane each year, and I keep it on the cool side in the winter (to everyone in the family’s dismay) in order to save some money.
DHW is provided by a 75 gallon propane Bradford White that is about 7 years old. I have not experienced any DHW issues so far, and when I turn off the boiler after the heating season has ended the use of propane drops considerably.
It is obvious even to me that the boiler is too big for the application, outdated and wasteful. So I have been doing my research and so far I have had about 10 different local contractors come in for estimates. Almost every one has suggested a ‘mod-con’ replacement of the Utica and the Bradford, sealing up the flue and venting to the exterior (which I don’t really want to do for aesthetic reasons). The quotes for mod-cons have exceeded my budget by a large margin. I also understand they may have yearly maintenance costs.
One vendor’s suggestions was refreshing – he said keep the Bradford because it works, was expensive to install, has life left, and is not wasteful. He suggested I replace the Utica with a ‘traditional’ boiler, a Buderus Logano G234X/55 and keep the flue. This was more in-line with my budget. I thought that made sense so I received a similar style quote for Burnham x205, 175,000 BTU. These are about 84% efficiency.
The last vendor come listened to my request for a traditional but suggested I go with a Navien NCB 240 at 94% which he could vent out the existing flue using PVC. He was about 40% higher. I am skeptical that the Navien can provide for all the heat and DHW water needs of the house and family. I also need to test my water for hardness, and would need to install an acid-reducer so as not to destroy my pipes.
I like the concept and elegance of the Navien but I feel that the Buderus or Burnham will be more reliable, and the 10% efficiency difference will take many years to recoup and could even be lost due to maintenance and shorter life span.
After having so many vendors in I like these three the best. They are not salesmen, but rather the owners of each company and would oversee the installs. They are local and have been in business for a long time with great reputations to uphold.
I would appreciate your opinions on my choices and let me know if further information is needed.