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Best Natural Gas Steam Boiler

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My boiler, though in great shape for being 37 years old is going to be replaced eventually.

For you steam experts, what's the best natural gas boiler?  I'm aware of Peerless, Burnham, and SlantFin's offering but not much else.

Any particular one stand above the rest?

Comments

  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,973
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    Gas or oil?
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 629
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    Gas or oil?
    Natural Gas.  My EDR is 219sqft.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
    edited December 2020
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    You and I have the same EDR. My picks are: Peerless then Weil-McClain

    See my thread about this very question here: https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/167838/best-small-gas-steam-boiler

    The Peerless has lots of taps and lots of iron. My understanding is that it uses metal push nipples between sections where the WM is some kind of composite. I don't know which is better.

    In the thread above I was looking at a lot of oil conversion options, but they are all too big for me, plus I realized I'd have to listen to a power burner, so I went with plain old atmospheric gas burners.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 629
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    @ethicalpaul I think we are on the same page.  I will be doing the install myself so price isn't a huge concern. 

    They all have roughly the same efficiency, it really comes down do which one is the most reliable and rugged enough to last a few decades.
    ethicalpaul
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
    edited December 2020
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    Peerless is the heaviest boiler for almost all applications..... lots of iron) and the push nipple design has proven its longevity (we see old Peerless, Weil Mclains and other push nipple boilers from the 50s and 60s still in good condition) where the EPDM gasket does have a limited life ( we see about 24 years for steam, longer on hot water, normally). The Peerless also produces very high quality steam right from the boiler tapping. Burnham's Independence tends to rot out early ( 14 to 18 years), probably due to the very high casting temperatures at the top of the boiler. Stack temps are significantly higher with the Burnham compared to most other competitors when checked in operation probably because the water line drops significantly when steam is out in the system. The Slant Fins produce very dry steam despite the small tapping. This appears to be due to the very unique internal passage design of the boiler, but are slightly less efficient than the Peerless. However, they are the only company I have dealt with that fully backs their boiler. None of the other manufacturers have ever stepped up and paid for the labor for replacing brand new defective boiler ( never been fired). All of the others are typical corporate operations where they will give the contractor the repair parts, but dump the far greater expense of labor on the contractor. This despicable practice is now just about universal in the industry....Slant Fin has been the only exception I have ever experienced.
    The Dunkirks need to have good piping because they have no steam separation space in the boiler and have errors in the install manuals, but do seem to hold up quite well and have decent efficiency.
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    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
    edited December 2020
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    That is a fantastic summary @The Steam Whisperer !! Now, which one would you put in your house?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
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    My situation is a bit unique. I am installing a new hybrid mini tube steam system sized to the heatloss, so I need a tiny steam boiler. My heat load is only about 50,000 btu/hr at most and there is really no need for a pick up factor. The Dunkirk at 75,000 input is about the closest for sizing. The Peerless only goes down to 88,000 input, so quite a bit too big. The Dunkirk is probably the best choice, however, their pricing seems to have gotten pretty high... approaching Peerless.

    For typical steam boilers under 350,000 btu/hr input, I would go with a Peerless 63. For over 350,000 , the Peerless 63/64 as the less expensive option, or if you are looking for better efficiency, add a stack damper to the Peerless or I use the Weil McLain 80 series....They make steam quite nicely. In some cases the 80 series is about the same cost as the 63/64 boiler when looking at overall installed cost... the 4 inch tappings on the 80 series can simplify piping. For Big boys, I prefer the Peerless TC-II for efficiency. I've used the 211A ( I only installed one of these), where costs need to be a little lower and/or they don't want the noise of a power burner. The 211A can be installed in low venting height locations... The competing Weil McLain LGB requires 3 feet of riser pipe above the boiler before entering the chimney to meet installation requirements so these boilers don't work for most boiler rooms. I've only seen one of LGB last more than 24 years in a steam app, so they aren't a long life boiler.
    We use Carlin burners for the smaller 80 series boiler... they are quieter than Powerflame or Midco and work well. For the big boys we use Industrial Combustion burners for most apps now. Much easier to set up, full mod, and are much quieter than Power flame. Power Flame's lead times are also just plain too long... 6 to 8 weeks minimum. We can get Carlins built and on our doorstep in 7 to 10 days. IC is stocked locally so same day .
    With the direct intake air setup, I understand the IC burner can be even quieter yet.
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    ethicalpaul
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 629
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    Wow, thank you @The Steam Whisperer!!! Great explanation.  

    I'll admit I am a bit partial to the Peerless simply for the reason that I have a a 37 year old one that I've gotten to know and tune to its full potential.

    The 63-03L looks to be sized perfectly for my home being only 9% oversized.

    Of course, the tinkerer in me really wants a dual riser with an oversized header...but as @ethicalpaul has experienced, that's not what the manual says to do.

    In practice it probably makes something already great just a little bit better, but is likely just overkill.  

    I supposed I could just pipe it like the manual says, get it inspected....then after some time passes upgrade it to the dual riser with oversized header just for the fun of it.
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 629
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    Oh....one last question.  How does a vent damper improve effeciency?  It seems intuitive that it would help, but I'm wondering exactly how.  Thanks!
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
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    A single 3 inch riser can handle a boiler up to 200,000 btu/hr input and still stay under the carry over velocity so water can drain directly back into the boiler. I'd pipe a single 3 inch up out of the boiler and then just drop to 2 1/2 for the header. Anything more probably wont make any difference on performance.

    Stack dampers reduce the standby loss of a boiler. While much of the heat during the off time will dump into the boiler room, at least that provides some benefit. Otherwise that heat, and the heat in the boiler room gets pulled up the chimney. I've also found that the boiler stays warmer between cycles so the boiler starts producing steam quicker on a proceeding on cycle.
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  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    The Peerless 63 comes from the factory with an electric damper all wired in.

    @AdmiralYoda you can still use both tappings and I'm sure you won't have trouble. My particular situation was the inspector didn't like the drop header. He said nothing about using both tappings.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 629
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    @ethicalpaul good to know!  I have plenty of clearance for a standard header.  I'm going to be shooting for about 36" above the waterline.
  • Neild5
    Neild5 Member Posts: 167
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    That is a fantastic summary @The Steam Whisperer !! Now, which one would you put in your house?
    Dave just put a Peerless in my building.  The castings were massive and way better insulation than the Dunkirk he removed. 
    ethicalpaul
  • New England SteamWorks
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    We think the Peerless 63 and the Weil EG are equivalent. Major difference is controls are on opposite sides, which is often important. 

    Weil technical support is better. 

    And for us, our Weil distributor is 1st class, and our Peerless distributor is the worst on the planet. 
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,215
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    We are fortunate to have good distributers for Weil, Peerless and Burnham residential. I've just seen too many failed gaskets and cracks at the top of the legs on the Weil EG's to feel comfortable with them. The Weil CG's on the other hand seem to last forever. The number of EG's I see seems to be steadily dwindling here in Chicago... lots of Crowns going in (Burnham block, but much cheaper to buy) and Dunkirks.....complete with the "standard equipment) 2 1/2 x 2 reducing bushings for the the outlets. There are lots of 1960 and 1970's Utica Steamers still cranking along, but they seem to have disappeared from the Chicago market.

    ("Head shaking")
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  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,973
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    Don't really see many Peerless boilers in my travels. Shame because I love the Peerless 63 boilers. The WM EG's that I see seem to last 30-40 years. When did they make the switch away from the push nipples? I see lots of burnham In boilers with their notoriously short lifespans. I don't see lots of Slant Fin galaxy. The ones that I do see, seem to have a short life span. 15 years on average. 
  • Dave0176
    Dave0176 Member Posts: 1,177
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    We are fortunate to have good distributers for Weil, Peerless and Burnham residential. I've just seen too many failed gaskets and cracks at the top of the legs on the Weil EG's to feel comfortable with them. The Weil CG's on the other hand seem to last forever. The number of EG's I see seems to be steadily dwindling here in Chicago... lots of Crowns going in (Burnham block, but much cheaper to buy) and Dunkirks.....complete with the "standard equipment) 2 1/2 x 2 reducing bushings for the the outlets. There are lots of 1960 and 1970's Utica Steamers still cranking along, but they seem to have disappeared from the Chicago market.

    ("Head shaking")

    I’ve installed more Weil-McLain boilers than I can count, that being said we’ve seen failures in the EGH and LGB series of boilers where the contractor is responsible for putting the block together and hydrotesting which they don’t seem to do. I’ve pulled EG series boilers out at 40 years old I’ve also pulled them at 15-20 years old. I know the early 90s had some casting issues because I’ve pulled the most of those years however given al the years they haven’t changed in almost 45 years. Peerless makes the beautiful 63 series atmospheric boiler. However Weil is the only game in town for a tankless coil on an atmospheric boiler, I like some the tappings they give up high, I like the universal gas inlet location, either side, and I like the 1-1/2” skim tapping in the steam chamber they have.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 732-266-5386
    NJ Master HVACR Lic# 4630
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving the residents of New Jersey
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    https://m.facebook.com/DL-Mechanical-LLC-315309995326627/?ref=content_filter

    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 629
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    Wow guys, thanks for all the helpful comments!
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    Hands down peerless I ve have been installing them for at least 20 years when sized and installed properly no issues . The same can be said for Weil and the other basically it’s the near boiler piping that’s the deal breaker . The issue being proper piping I would maybe say 1 out of 10 boilers I see are piped correctly I attribute this to public school system and the lack of ensuring the students can read and have some type of understanding of what they have read which from all the install I see is far and few between and or just a cheap contractor who is not really have any steam knowledge but has to earn a living also . The other fact is most are cheap and cannot see the difference aside from price until it doe not meet there exception extremely common . Best of luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating