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New to oil heat. Looking to replace/upgrade boiler in new house

I am in the process of purchasing my first home and the current boiler is 31 years old, mfg unknown and covered in corrosion. Home inspector cited that it could go any day. I would like to replace the unit and upgrade with an indirect hot water tank (30-40g). The boiler is located centrally in the home next to the existing chimney so direct vent is out of the question. The size of the house is just over 16k sq ft. I have been researching "top high efficiency oil boilers" for some time now and I keep seeing the same names (System 2k, Peerless Pinnacle/WB90, higher end Buderus wall mount models etc.) I don't want to go middle road, but I don't want to spend a small fortune either. I feel like 90% AFUE is nice and all, but I think can accept something 86%+ just fine so save a few thousand dollars. Some of the larger known installers and service companies in the area push Burnham, EG, Thermo Pride, Peerless, WM, Sys2000, Crown, and Williamson Thermo Flo. Any recommendations for good combinations? Any brands/models I should avoid entirely? Do the peripheral modules like burners, aquastats, burner controls, etc make a huge difference to the AFUE rating?

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,322
    Ek, or almost any triple pass boiler with indirect.
    steve
    SuperTechszwedj
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 365
    Did you really mean 1600 sq ft?   16000 sq ft is quite a house. :)

    They all work well if installed properly, but the traditional pin boilers use more fuel.  EK System 2000 is a great product, and one of the first I think you should look at. 
    szwedj
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,691
    Energy Kinetics would be my top choice.  EK-1 Frontier (system 2000) or Resolute. Second choice would be any 3 pass boiler such as a Buderus with an indirect tank for hot water.  Just remember that the installer makes or breaks the quality and reliability of any system. 
    szwedj
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    Robert_25 said:

    Did you really mean 1600 sq ft?   16000 sq ft is quite a house. :)

    They all work well if installed properly, but the traditional pin boilers use more fuel.  EK System 2000 is a great product, and one of the first I think you should look at. 

    Yes that was a mis-type. 1660sq. ft. to be precise. I calculated that would require around 80k BTUs but I may be wrong on that.

    I have seen that the EKs are quite pricey and I don't think there's a local Buderus servicer. Are the Burnham MPO-IQs worth a look? I haven't researched the specs yet. Still very new to all of the terminology and options.
    ronbugg
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,132
    Burnhams are fine, too. Don't get too hung up on specs. Condensing boilers and existing chimneys don't play well together -- although it can be done -- as the chimney would have to be lined to handle the condensate.

    I'd suggest looking at the Burnhams, also Weil-McClain or whatever local folks like and service. As I said before, the specs are all very fine -- but the boiler output needs to be sized to the heat loss, and the installation must be done correctly. The best boiler in the world is a poor quality boat anchor if not installed properly; any of the major brand boilers will work well and efficiently if they are installed properly. If not, none of them will come even close to the advertised specs.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    I appreciate all the input. Any tips on the modules? Are there some mfgs that don't play well together?

    I completely understand the servicer familiarity with specific mfgs. i.e. I've heard Carlin burners are fantastic, but Beckett seems to be the most common. I've been steering towards the Buderus G115WS, but I don't know if any local companies are fluent with Buderus.

    Overall better to have a Honda in top running condition than a Cadillac that was installed and maintained by a potato.
    CRW
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,369
    I appreciate all the input. Any tips on the modules? Are there some mfgs that don't play well together? I completely understand the servicer familiarity with specific mfgs. i.e. I've heard Carlin burners are fantastic, but Beckett seems to be the most common. I've been steering towards the Buderus G115WS, but I don't know if any local companies are fluent with Buderus. Overall better to have a Honda in top running condition than a Cadillac that was installed and maintained by a potato.
    That has got to be the line of the year!
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,209
    How large is the equipment room? With a 3 pass, everything comes off the back of the boiler so you need 24-30 inches between the back of the boiler and the wall. Left and right side access?
    Tight spots are made for the EK-1 Frontier on the stand with their 40 gallon water heater underneath. 
    STEVEusaPA
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    HVACNUT said:

    How large is the equipment room?  

    The room is about 5'x5' with the chimney occupying roughly 25% of the space leaving an L shaped footprint to work in.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,322
    You'll also need to bring in combustion air.
    steve
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    One of the walls has 2 slotted vents which allows ambient air to flow into the space.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,322
    Yeah, probably not enough. How big are the vents? What's the cubic feet of the room it's drawing it's air?
    steve
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    2 vents (one pictured here). The space where the air is pulling from is not an enclosed space.
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 365
    Did you really mean 1600 sq ft?   16000 sq ft is quite a house. :)

    They all work well if installed properly, but the traditional pin boilers use more fuel.  EK System 2000 is a great product, and one of the first I think you should look at. 
    Yes that was a mis-type. 1660sq. ft. to be precise. I calculated that would require around 80k BTUs but I may be wrong on that. I have seen that the EKs are quite pricey and I don't think there's a local Buderus servicer. Are the Burnham MPO-IQs worth a look? I haven't researched the specs yet. Still very new to all of the terminology and options.
    Cost to buy is one thing, cost to run is another.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,691
    If you have an EK boiler you will be glad you paid the price for it after its installed. Every customer who I have talked to rave about fuel savings with the EK boilers, especially the ones who had a boiler with a tankless coil previously.  
    I'm not a fan of Burnham boilers due to the numerous early failures of the V7 and V8 boilers but it seems like their 3 pass boilers are better quality. 
    szwedjRobert O'Brien
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    I have read that EK boilers are great, but develop some issues 10 years down the line. Is there any truth to this?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,356
    EK would be my first choice.

    And don't get too hung up on specific efficiency numbers. If the boiler is not sized or installed right you will lose more efficiency than you will gain.

    And high efficiency equipment will not deliver high efficiency with out low temperatur e heat emitters. An EK with efficiency in the mid 80s is your best bet
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    UPDATE!!
    I had an estimate done today on replacing/upgrading our current boiler. I was hoping for an indirect water heater but I also entertained the idea of a new combi unit.
    The tech recommended 2 options:

    #1 Peerless WBV boiler with a Bradford White (annode rod) or Burnham (limestone lined) indirect water heater. Due to space limitations in the utility closet space, the indirect may have to be installed in the garage (just off the utility closet) which would entail some more piping and crash posts. We do have very hard water which has me worried about the indirect buried in the back of the closet. Our water softener is not currently functional.

    #2 EK Ascent combi unit. This would take up more space in the utility closet but it would be way more quiet. We would lose the benefit of the indirect 35g hot water reserve, but he said we wouldn't really notice any temp fluctuations with the EK. The only drawback he mentioned was routine maintenance; changing the filter before the heat exchange every 3 mo.

    I'm looking for more insight on the positives and negatives of each option.

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,322
    #2.
    Changing what filter before the heat exchanger every 3 months?
    steve
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13

    #2.
    Changing what filter before the heat exchanger every 3 months?

    It's an in-line scale stopper filter
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    Are there any drawbacks of the EK1T combi unit?
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 187
    1. Would you ever add AC/does the house have AC?
    2. Oil for DHW isn't cheap on an energy-basis and an indirect/Combi is an expensive add-on. What's your electricity cost per kwh?
  • Roger
    Roger Member Posts: 207
    Thank you to everyone for sharing our experiences and for such kind comments about Energy Kinetics and our boilers!

    @mightytikigod , for reference, the Scale Stopper cartridge typically lasts for a long time and can be replaced during annual service. Since your original post, we have introduced non-stick Sealix (silicon dioxide) coated heat exchangers that help prevent mineral build up. The combination of a Scale Stopper and Sealix heat exchanger is very effective for long term reliability in hard water applications.

    The Ascent Combi produces much more hot water than a tankless coil boiler, although if you have drain down tubs or need hot water for multiple simultaneous showers, a boiler with a tank would be a better option. If that is the case, you may also want to consider our stackable version with the System 2000 Frontier on top of a 40 gallon lowboy tank. You can find information here: https://energykinetics.com/productgallery-boilers/#section-ek1

    Regarding your question about controls, for a typical house with up to 4 zones, System 2000 comes with all of the integrated heat and hot water controls needed to deliver the best efficiency and performance. The Ascent boiler Hydrostat handles both heat and hot water needs, and does not need any additional controls (although it integrates easily with most zone controllers if desired).

    If you have additional questions, please post or PM me. Our territory manager or your dealer are can also help out.

    Best,
    Roger
    President
    Energy Kinetics, Inc.
    Hot_water_fanRobert O'Brienrick in Alaska
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13

    1. Would you ever add AC/does the house have AC?
    2. Oil for DHW isn't cheap on an energy-basis and an indirect/Combi is an expensive add-on. What's your electricity cost per kwh?

    The house does not have central AC. We would be relying on window units for AC. No current plan to add a central unit any time soon.

    Our rate per KWH is .109
    We currently only have 100amp service so I would need to upgrade the panel to run all electric utilities.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,322
    An EK, using oil for domestic hot water would be cheaper than any electric heater.
    steve
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 187
    edited May 21
    Our rate per KWH is .109

    That's on the lower end - probably worth pricing out a plain electric water heater, you might end up saving a lot on installation at not a large energy penalty (or savings). A lot more installers can install this as well. Just spitballing some estimated DHW costs, there are pros and cons to all options.

    An EK, using oil for domestic hot water would be cheaper than any electric heater.

    Agreed! But at what cost.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,322
    In this case the OP is replacing the boiler, so best to get the most efficient.
    Don't forget on electric (and gas) there are other charges on top of that, like generation, distribution and the ridiculous (in my area) 'monthly customer charge'-that also need to be included when calculating.
    steve
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 187
    edited May 21
    If this was natural gas, it would be an easy call to combine in one appliance. But with annual maintenance, high (relative to gas) operating cost, and the upfront indirect/combi incremental cost make the evaluation worth looking at. Definitely more factors than just the cost anyway.

    Don't forget on electric (and gas) there are other charges on top of that, like generation, distribution and the ridiculous (in my area) 'monthly customer charge'-that also need to be included when calculating.

    I mean OP is going to use electricity if he wants to use a boiler, so we can ignore the monthly charge. I assume the $.11/kwh is all in, but worth double checking.
  • Roger
    Roger Member Posts: 207
    It's always good to compare rates; here are statewide rates for this application (in NJ) - 16.37 cents/kWh, or the equivalent of $6.65/gal of oil.
    President
    Energy Kinetics, Inc.
    STEVEusaPARobert O'Brien
  • 426hemi
    426hemi Member Posts: 64
    edited May 22
    I personally prefer Weil McClain cast iron boilers but the most  important thing is to get a boiler burner combo that is serviced by a reputable company in your area a boiler or a burner that no one carrys parts for in your area is going to be a huge headache for you in the long run if you live in a big city it’s not as big a deal but if you live 100 miles from the nearest city it’s a huge problem find out who your neighbors use for a service provider and if they’re happy with them ask as many people as possible then call the oil company or HVAC company or local Plumber that people in your area are happy with and ask them what they recommend and service they probably carry multiple brands get there list and there recommendations and I recommend not getting something that’s not on there list as you could be without heat for the weekend if parts have to be ordered no one can stock every part for every brand 
  • mightytikigod
    mightytikigod Member Posts: 13
    426hemi said:

    I personally prefer Weil McClain cast iron boilers but the most  important thing is to get a boiler burner combo that is serviced by a reputable company in your area a boiler or a burner that no one carrys parts for in your area is going to be a huge headache for you in the long run if you live in a big city it’s not as big a deal but if you live 100 miles from the nearest city it’s a huge problem find out who your neighbors use for a service provider and if they’re happy with them ask as many people as possible then call the oil company or HVAC company or local Plumber that people in your area are happy with and ask them what they recommend and service they probably carry multiple brands get there list and there recommendations and I recommend not getting something that’s not on there list as you could be without heat for the weekend if parts have to be ordered no one can stock every part for every brand 

    I asked the tech this very question when he performed the estimate. I believe the service company has a deal with EK (also a NJ based company). He assured me the service techs were well equipped and trained to work on EK units and Carlin burners.
    HydroNiCK
  • Roger
    Roger Member Posts: 207
    We also hear this question from time to time.
    Energy Kinetics boilers use industry standard components from thermostats, circulators, zone valves, relief valves, burners and burner components, to pressure reducing valves and backflow preventers. These are the same components used on most residential and commercial boilers and are typically available through local supply houses and are often stocked on most heating professional’s service vehicles. In the unlikely event where a control is not available, heating professionals can make simple wiring changes to provide emergency heat without bypassing any safety controls.
    For reference, we have a large market share in rural Alaska, including areas of the Bush with Native populations not connected to the North American road network. That's as cold and remote as we get in the United States.
    Roger
    President
    Energy Kinetics, Inc.
    STEVEusaPARobert O'Brien
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,388

    UPDATE!!
    I had an estimate done today on replacing/upgrading our current boiler. I was hoping for an indirect water heater but I also entertained the idea of a new combi unit.
    The tech recommended 2 options:

    #1 Peerless WBV boiler with a Bradford White (annode rod) or Burnham (limestone lined) indirect water heater. Due to space limitations in the utility closet space, the indirect may have to be installed in the garage (just off the utility closet) which would entail some more piping and crash posts. We do have very hard water which has me worried about the indirect buried in the back of the closet. Our water softener is not currently functional.

    #2 EK Ascent combi unit. This would take up more space in the utility closet but it would be way more quiet. We would lose the benefit of the indirect 35g hot water reserve, but he said we wouldn't really notice any temp fluctuations with the EK. The only drawback he mentioned was routine maintenance; changing the filter before the heat exchange every 3 mo.

    I'm looking for more insight on the positives and negatives of each option.

    Not even close, the EK is in a different league efficiency wise.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    Roger