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Choosing a boiler

New to this forum...I have just gutted a house and ripped out the old natural gas forced air furnace.

I'm planning on refurbed hot water rads + wood stove heat. I like the idea of going all electric, but I am assuming natural gas boilers are more efficient...I also like the idea of the gas working during a power outage in winter (which we get a lot in nova scotia).

I'm trying to choose a boiler. No clue where to start. I'll need approx 38,000 btu output between 2 floor and 11 rads.

I have a hot water heater at the moment. Should/could a new boiler provide hot water for the house and the rads ? Or should they be separate ? Do they make gas/electric option ?

Thanks in advance.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,594
    You have already calculated the heat requirement? Bravo! That's step one, often missed, essential.

    There are a number of different hot water boilers made. Since you already know your heat loss, it will be a matter of finding a boiler which satisfies three criteria: first, it's the right size -- it needs to cover your heat loss or, perhaps a little more, but not much more. Second, it uses the fuel you want -- presumably LP and has good efficiency doing it. If you size it correctly, and size your radiation so that it can heat most of the time at low temperature, you can get a condensing boiler (several good makes) which will run happily at very close to the advertised 95% or so. Third, and really important: get a boiler which will be installed and serviced by a competent local person or firm. You don't say where in Nova Scotia, but in Sydney or Halifax this may not be a problem. In Cheticamp or Mabou it might be...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 2,904
    edited August 3
    IBC offers great boilers. Made in Canada, too!

    They have combi boilers if you don't have a large DHW demand, but if you have more than two people in the house, you can go with an indirect water heater with many sizes to choose from.

    Best to find some local contractors with good reputations and see what they recommend.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    What is your design day temperature there, and your average lows in the coldest months? If you like electric (and I don't blame you), you might explore an air heat pump, or even better would be a ground-source (geothermal) system.

    Depending on the various rates, it can be less expensive to run, and a lot less maintenance.

    Regarding gas working without power, what is your thinking there?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,594
    Depending on just where @novascotiaweatherman is in the Province, @ethicalpaul , electricity may -- or may not -- be particularly reliable. LP gas, however, can be powered for a long time with even a relatively small generator. Which has its points...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    novascotiaweathermannicholas bonham-carter
  • novascotiaweatherman
    novascotiaweatherman Member Posts: 6
    @Jamie Hall THanks for the info. Do they make combi - condensing boilers ? Or would i be wise to leave my hot water heater set up and plumbed up as is, and add the new boiler to the system to run the rads ?

    I'm having some great plumbers with some radiant heat experience do the work. It will be cheap and efficient. I could use someone to install and spec the boiler...Any recommendations ?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,594
    As @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes says, IBC makes a very good boiler, and they also make combis which are very good. There are two people in Halifax and two in Dartmouth who handle them; I regret that I do not know any of them personally so cannot comment on that. I don't see any on Cape Breton, nor down Yarmouth way, but I dare say they could come pretty much anywhere. Whether a combi or a straight mod/con would suit you better depends more than anything on your hot water demand. A combi would be really hard pressed to run more than one shower at a time...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Retired_guy
    Retired_guy Member Posts: 6
    Personally, I have serviced a few boilers in the day. I'm building a new house and the boiler I'm installing is a NTI, also called Trinity, Fire Tube boiler MN TFT 85, 85 being 85,000 btu and it comes setup to also do domestic water heating if you want to. Having serviced this boiler, I was so impressed with the design and serviceability that it was my personal choice for my new house. No, I am not getting paid for sharing my opinion. It was a very good product that deserves a shout out. Be sure to look at the TFT, I have no experience on their other boilers.