Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

boiler size recommendations

jimpool
jimpool Member Posts: 10
edited October 2022 in Oil Heating
Hi, all. I'm looking to replace an ancient oil-fired steam boiler in a 9-radiator, 2500-square-foot house in NY state. The home is in great condition. So far I have two estimates, and I'm confused about the discrepancy in their recommendations of boilers based on btu. One guy recommends the Burnham MST 396 at 96,000 btu. The other recommends the Peerless ECT-04 boiler at 210,000 btu. I realize there is some difference in the way these two boilers work, but I don't know if that is why the btu ratings differ so much. Is btu an indication of the right size-boiler, or should I be looking at some other rating?

Also, the first estimate is $k for the boiler. The Peerless is $k, but since the estimate they say they can't get that model and have to substitute a Weil-Mc for $k more. This seems like a pretty straightforward install, with easy access. These prices seem high. What do you think?
«1

Comments

  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 593
    edited October 2022
    A replacement steam boiler should be sized by measuring the radiators and looking over the piping (insulated, or not?). Older radiators were rated in square feet of heating surface, at 240 BTUH each when heated by steam at 1 psig pressure. The rating charts are still available. Boilers show the square footage of radiation they can carry, right on the nameplate.

    Too many heating contractors don’t bother to do this; they just look at the existing boiler and propose the same size or larger.

    At least one of your contractors is wrong. Did either one of them look at the radiators in the house?

    Very few heating contractors these days understand steam heat, and what it takes to do a good job. They often cut corners on the piping near the boiler, ignoring the manufacturer’s minimum requirements, which leads to all kinds of trouble and generally voids  the boiler warranty.

    Have you tried the “find a contractor” link on this site? Those people specialize in steam heat and understand it.

    Also please edit your post to remove the pricing, we cannot discuss that according to the site’s rules.

    Bburd
    STEVEusaPAjimpool
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    edited October 2022
    Bigger is better. MERCIA!!!!!!!
    No, not really. Steam boilers are sized to the amount of connected radiation E.D.R. of the connected radiators. Anything over that will cost you more fuel, and not work as well.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
    Example of a low bid install: The pipes were connected from A to B in a willy-nilly manner. NOT GOOD.
    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/189614/pipes-banging-after-new-steam-boiler-install
    jimpool
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,913
    Can you supply us pictures of the 9 radiators and their approximate dimensions?

    Also, please give us a picture of the current boiler, the piping around it and if possible the size the current boiler is. This should be on a tag somewhere.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    jimpool
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,525
    As has been said, the EDR -- not BTU -- rating of the boiler must match the EDR load of the installed radiation. It's really easy. One of those two -- more likely the bigger one -- is just plain wrong. Did either contractor add up the EDR of the radiators? If not, find another contractor who knows that that's how to do the job.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    jimpool
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    Non-pro here. I don't mind looking up radiator ratings in old trade catalogs. Please take 2 pictures of each of your radiators, 1 front and 1 side. Measure the height (yellow) of each radiator, and the distance from the center of one section to the center of the next (green), as shown below in the first picture. Look for embossed/engraved writing or symbols on all of your radiators, particularly in the green circled areas as shown in the second picture, and if you find any, take a picture of that as well, even if it's not legible. We may still be able to determine the name of the manufacturer, and knowing this is useful. We need all this information to calculate the EDR of your radiators, which as others have mentioned is necessary to size your boiler correctly. The pictures below are of tube-type radiators, but the same would apply to the larger column-type radiators. If you have convectors, remove the enclosure cover and take a picture of what's inside, measure the length of the convector, its thickness, and the internal height of the enclosure. Attach all of the pictures as files  in a single post if possible so everything is organized.






    jimpool
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,913
    @random12345
    Really, templates made in MS Paint? :p
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • BobZmuda
    BobZmuda Member Posts: 23
    I would suspect that if you have single pipe steam that neither boiler is sized correctly. 

    The higher btu boiler was sized based on your current boiler, which is likely oversized. 

    The lower btu boiler was likely sized based on a quick heat loss calculation.  

    If that’s the case then neither is suitable.  You’ll either be cold in some rooms (not enough steam made to fill your system) or have higher heating costs. 

    You _must_ have it sized based on edr.  Like others have said it’s relatively simple.  Just takes a hair of knowledge and some time. 

    Also keep in mind some boilers have the piping figured into their edr and some don’t. 


    jimpool
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    What would you suggest instead @ChrisJ? :D
    jimpool
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,913
    What would you suggest instead @ChrisJ? :D
    There's a reason I was able to tell and it's not because I've never used it .


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    jimpool
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    @bburd, thank you for the reminder about prices—I should know better.
    You guys have given me a lot to think about.
    Oil and steam are very common in lower upstate NY. Each of these guys works for one of the oil suppliers that also installs and services furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. I wanted to get their estimates and then get estimates from a couple independents. I was there when the high-BTU guy was there. He counted fins and measured at least one room, but I didn't shadow him. I was not there when the low-BTU guy came.
    I am not at the house now and don't have the numbers just yet. These are the taller radiators. I’d guess about 3 have about 15 fins, and 3 have about 8 fins. Then there are three shorter rads of another type/era—1 in each of 2 bathrooms, and one in the kitchen. I will be there in a few weeks and can count them and photograph them then, and post photos and measure according to @random12345’s instructions.
    I don’t have good pictures of the radiators, just these from the listing:


    Here is a pic of the boiler that’s there now. Not sure if the tag in front is of any help when the pic is magnified.

    The listing in “Find a contractor" closest to me is 80 miles away. Would you guys travel that far to provide an estimate or do an installation?
    Many thanks for the education!


  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    Given our proximity to November, I was going to suggest trying to get one more winter out of it. To allow you time to find the right contractor. That was before you posted the boiler photo. How can I say this politely? Your boiler has a face for radio. It will not win a trophy at the old boiler show and shine competition. That is AWESOME in a Mad Max post industrial wasteland land kind of way. I don't think a hollywood set designer could even do that. Your boiler has a certain presence that commands attention.
    Does it currently work?
    jimpoolMikeAmann
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 713
    WOW, Way to hurt a boiler. let her know how you really feel. And she thought she was prom queen lol
    jimpoolMikeAmann
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 593
    edited October 2022
    Those Smiths were well made and last a long time. 

    Bburd
    jimpool
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    NOT THE OPs TAG


    I did find an old thread on Heating Help with another Smith Boiller. Not the same model, but the tags appear to have a similar layout.
    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/149623/oil-to-gas-conversion-of-hbsmith-boiler
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    Jim, besides the EDR, we need to determine what type of steam pipe layout you have. One pipe, two pipe, vapor, there are a bunch of different pipe layouts. I realize you are not at the site. Next time, if you could get some photos from farther back that might help. Did you learn anything about your current system from the estimators?
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    I wonder if those white tags on the left and right sides that say SMITH and MILLS came off of a larger boiler?
    "The legendary Mills boiler was invented my (typo from Smith site) John Mills and was found in almost every large commercial building throughout the Northeast and Midwest including schools, universities, hospitals, churches and other large manufacturing facilities requiring substantial heating BTUs. "
    https://www.smithboiler.com/Smith-about
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    A face for radio... :D It looks like it might eat children alive. However, it seems to work well. The previous owners lived in the home for 28 years. The tags indicate that it's been serviced pretty much yearly. I had it running in September, and it fires on and turns off without drama, doesn't make any strange sounds, and gets most of the radiators super hot. (A couple of the radiators did not warm up, but I assume that may be an issue with air or valves.) I can't imagine it's super-efficient, but it does work.
    In his report the home inspector suggested we replace the tank because it looks old. It's not leaking anywhere and shows no condensation. But the missus is paranoid, so we were hoping to get things going before winter. It is taking longer than we anticipated, and there is a lot to learn. Also, we won't be there between Dec 1 and March, and won't be cranking the thing. So we are leaning toward arming ourselves with knowledge and finding the right contractor to do the work in the Spring. Meanwhile, I will post better photos when I get back there so you can see the pipe layout and the whole works.
    Thanks again; you guys are awesome.
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    edited November 2022
    Hi, Folks. I've been back in New York for a few days now. I measured the radiators and took pics (to follow). The boiler fires right up and runs quietly. The second floor radiators get hot all the way through. The first floor radiators heat up partially--if the boiler runs long enough some of them heat up all the way through. I am cleaning up the vents on all of the radiators and will attempt to balance the system. Meanwhile, these are the measurements I got:

    H = Floor to top
    Section widths are all 2.5 except the bath, which is 2.75.

    Entry
    H:38
    W:27
    D:8
    SectionW:2.5





    Dining Room
    H:23
    W:37
    D:9
    SectionW:2.5





    LR 1
    H:38
    W:36
    D:8
    SectionW:2.5





    LR 2
    H:38
    W:36
    D:8
    SectionW:2.5





    Kitchen
    H:22
    W:42
    D:9
    SectionW:2.5





    Bath (second floor)
    H:26
    W:22
    D:7
    SectionW:2.75





    Small bedroom
    H:38
    W:14
    D:8
    SectionW:2.5





    Bedroom 1
    H:38
    W:27
    D:8
    SectionW:2.5





    Bedroom 2
    H:38
    W:28
    D:8
    SectionW:2.5



  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    I will need to see the pictures before I can start working on this. Please include the section thickness as well the way I indicated in my earlier post. Measure from the center of one section (what you earlier called a "fin") to the center of the next. My guess is that it will be 2.5" but it also could be 3" or 1.75" or 1.5". In your most recent post, I assume "Fin" actually means columns?
    jimpool
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    edited November 2022
    Thanks for clarifying--I misunderstood the section measurement but have corrected that post and have added the pictures.
    A few weeks back I asked both contractors who gave quotes about EDR. One replied "EDR? I got 402sq ft of steam." The other hasn't replied but did tell me that the price has gone up since the original quote.
    Random, I'm grateful for your work. I don't mean to come off as lazy and am capable of basic math if that's what this requires.

  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    edited November 2022
    Entry: American Radiator Co. Rococo Two-Column, 4 sq ft/section x 12 = 48
    Dining Room: Are you sure the height is not actually 22"? American Radiator Co. Rococo Three-Column, 3 sq ft/section x 15 = 45
    LR1: American Radiator Co. Rococo Two-Column, 4 sq ft/section x 15 = 60
    LR2: American Radiator Co. Rococo Two-Column, 4 sq ft/section x 15 = 60
    Kitchen: Are you sure the height is not actually 21"? Gurney Heater Manufacturing Co., either a Gurney Three-Column or Gurney Tremont Three-Column, 3 sq ft/section or 3.25 sq ft/section x 17 = 51 or 55.25
    Bath (second floor): Section width is actually 2.5". This is a strange one. High likelihood it's an American Radiator Co. Peerless Two-Column but the legs are different. I think it was originally hung on brackets on the wall and the legs were welded on later. 2 2/3 sq ft/section x 9 = 24
    Small bedroom: American Radiator Co. Rococo Two-Column, 4 sq ft/section x 6 = 24
    Bedroom 1: American Radiator Co. Rococo Two-Column, 4 sq ft/section x 11 = 44
    Bedroom 2: American Radiator Co. Rococo Two-Column, 4 sq ft/section x 11 = 44

    Total = 400 or 404.25

    American Radiator catalogues I used are from 1897, 1908, 1910, 1925. The first three have the Rococo line, but the 1925 does not, so it stopped being produced sometime between 1910-1925. Your steam system may or may not be original to your house. It could have been added after the house was built.

    1897: https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/1897-american-radiator-company-catalog/
    1908: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t92806p7g&view=2up&seq=56&size=150
    1910: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t83j3bp53&view=2up&seq=63&size=175
    1925: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015038749530&view=2up&seq=98

    The Gurney catalogs are from 1905 and 1919, but I also used an entry in a 1934 reference book. However, the Gurney rad you have looks a little different from all of those. It seems to be missing the bulge at the top, although I can't see the other side in that picture.

    1905: https://heatinghelp.com/assets/documents/GurneyHeaterMfg.Company-1905.pdf
    1919: https://archive.org/details/GurneyHeaterMFGCo.NEEDSUPLOADING/page/n45/mode/2up
    1934 Pape-Swift: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112047386849&view=1up&seq=106&skin=2021



  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,913
    edited November 2022
    So..
    You probably want a boiler with a DOE output of 106,000 minimum to 116,000 btu/h.

    130,000 btu/h would be the absolute maximum in my opinion. Anything over that is asinine.

    I have 392 sqft connected to a WM EG40 which has a DOE output of 104,000 and it's wonderful.

    A Peerless ECT-3 with a 1 GPH nozzle looks about perfect.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    MikeAmann
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    Wow, thanks! The dining room and kitchen (short radiators) looked to be between whole numbers, so I rounded up. My 23 could be 22 in the catalog, etc...

    Thanks, Chrisj, for the recommendation for boiler size. This is all going to help a lot.

    Any other advice, please keep it coming!

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,359
    jimpool said:


    Any other advice, please keep it coming!

    I'm a pessimist from hanging around here so long, but I think there is some justification in getting very specific verbiage in the contract.

    -Piped according to manufacturers spec (or better) Do not assume this one, we've seen it all around here.
    -Pipe size to match specifications from manufacturer
    -All piping above the water line to be threaded steel pipe and fittings
    -Boiler to be skimmed according to manufacturers instructions (unless you plan on doing it yourself) This can be a long process on several different occasions.

    Those are the few that come to mind that seem to be ignored on the regular.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    MikeAmann
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    edited November 2022
    A good way to double check that the EDR calculation is correct is to look at the radiator dimensions in the catalogs and re-measure. Things like section width, thickness, height, distance from center of top tapping to center of bottom tapping, distance of top tapping to floor, etc. You might have to flip through a few pages to get there. Everything should match up but if it doesn't, it's worth looking into. If it's not too much trouble, would you mind taking a picture of the other side of the Gurney rad? I'd like to see if it looks different on that side.

    The other thing no one here has mentioned is you should switch to gas if it's available. Did you know that in Massachusetts where I am, heating oil is being rationed? I can tell you it's not fun having to pay close to $6.50/gallon when gas is $2.698/therm (gallon equivalent is $3.71 since 1 therm = 100,000 btu and 1 gallon oil = 137381 btu).

    Did you try the Find a Contractor page? https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    Good advice with the verbiage, thank you. And I will have a closer look at the catalogs that I downloaded and verify measurements.

    I'm hoping to switch to propane. I'm waiting on a bid for a gas boiler and tank and am trying to get others. I did not realize oil was being rationed in Massachusetts. Good grief. The rest of us might not be far behind.

    The closest contractors on find-a-contractor are 75 miles away. Seems far, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to call.

    Geothermal is picking up in the upper Hudson Valley, where I am, and there are all kinds of incentives for conversions to heat pumps in 2023. Considering my wife seems to hate this house that we just sunk all of our savings into, I don't know if I want to commit to the added expense and complication just yet.

  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    edited November 2022
    Is natural gas not available in your area? I thought for sure lower upstate NY would have it. Isn't gas significantly cheaper than propane where you are?
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    edited November 2022
    Here are a couple pics of the Guerney. Tough angle, as it's close to a cabinet. Let me know if you're looking for something specific and I'll try to capture it.
    Edit: The kitchen was an add on in the 1920s or 1930s.


  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    Interesting. The one-pipe steam rads must have been sold with tappings at the bottom only. In the Gurney catalogue pictures, there is a solid tapping at top and open at bottom. I'm guessing those must be for two-pipe steam. I think you may missed my earlier question in the previous post concerning gas availability. Reason I ask is because where I am in the Boston area, National Grid will install a gas connection and meter for free. Only thing you'd have to pay for is running a gas line from the meter to the boiler. How do you get your hot water? A gas tank water heater would probably be your cheapest option, although heat pump water heaters aren't so bad now either.
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    I did miss your post. Believe me, were natural gas available, I'd be all over it. Hudson has it, about 10 miles away. Based on the flurry of oil trucks around here after it snowed last night, everyone around me appears to be on oil. Lots of propane tanks outside of the village (Germantown). Some heat pumps as well, but from what I hear homes with heat pumps have backup fossil fuel systems for the cold weather.

    The water is heated with oil. If we go with a new oil system, we need a boiler and a tank. If we go with propane, we need a boiler, a tank (maybe rent that), and a water heater. Also a hole in the ground for the tank. Don't know about a heat pump yet, but I'd say two pumps and a bunch of splits or else ducting in the basement and attic. Definitely a project. The Boston area is great!
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    edited November 2022
    I was doing a little research on this, and according to Argonne National Labs, propane has a HHV of 91420 BTU/gallon. NY state is apparently requiring 5% biodiesel in all heating oil starting July 1, 2022. Biodiesel has HHV of 127960 BTU/gallon, and ultra low sulfur diesel which is chemically identical to ULS heating oil is 138490 BTU/gallon. So 1 gallon of ULS heating oil is 137963.5 BTU/gallon. 1 gallon of ULSHO is 1.51 gallons of propane.

    https://greet.es.anl.gov/greet_1_series

    Germantown is in Columbia county, which is in the Capital District: https://esd.ny.gov/regions. According to NYSERDA, the current average price of heating oil in your district is $5.84/gallon, and propane is $3.12: https://nyserda.ny.gov/researchers-and-policymakers/energy-prices/home-heating-oil/average-home-heating-oil-prices. So right now propane is $4.71 on an energy-equivalent basis, but as recently as the end of February of this year, heating oil was actually cheaper, and historically that seems to have been the case going back over 10 years. The other consideration is that a gas/propane boiler will only run at about 82% efficiency, whereas the oil Megasteam (which I have in my house) runs at 87% efficiency. I am not sure what I would do in your position...With propane, you're essentially betting that oil prices will not ever come back down to historical norms relative to propane, and you have to invest in all that new equipment, and pay to remove the oil tank, and the boiler will be less efficient. It's a tough call.

    EDIT: played with that NYSERDA data some more, propane in Mid-Hudson region right next door to you is $3.84/gallon, but there's no data on heating oil. Upper Hudson heating oil price is $6.09/gallon, so the propane is $5.80 on an energy equivalent basis, taking into account the lower boiler efficiency, propane is more expensive.

    EDIT 2: Actually heating oil has been cheaper than propane since 9/8/1997. Looking at the graph this is the first time in recorded history that propane has been less expensive on an energy-equivalent basis than heating oil.
  • jimpool
    jimpool Member Posts: 10
    Yes, that is exactly what we're playing with. I just paid 5.60/gal for oil this week, which seems like a bargain considering when I called a couple days before they said 5.90. Were I to bet I'd bet oil will come down again like it always has. And as you said, accounting for efficiency, do you maybe pay a little more for a slightly cleaner fuel of which you burn at 1.5 the rate of oil, at a price that seems at least a little less reactive to the market? It really is a lot to consider.
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    I actually got the regions wrong in that data tool. Columbia county is in the Upper Hudson region for heating oil, but in the Mid-Hudson region for propane. https://nyserda.ny.gov/researchers-and-policymakers/energy-prices/home-heating-oil/average-home-heating-oil-prices. If you go to "Retail Price Comparison" it tells you the price history going back to September 1997. Propane has been much more expensive than heating oil historically. In January of this year they were roughly the same price per gallon ($3.62 oil vs $3.58 propane), so on an energy equivalent basis, propane was $5.41, adding in the boiler efficiency difference and comparing to oil, the Megasteam delivers 120028.245 BTU/gallon, and to get the same amount of heat delivered by a gas boiler you need 1.601 gallons of propane, so it's actually $5.73. If you go through 800 gallons of oil a year, that's a difference of $1700/yr at those prices. Price stability does not seem significantly different for propane, and from a cleanliness standpoint, there's very little difference between ULS heating oil and propane on the air quality side of things. From a greenhouse gas standpoint, oil is probably higher:

    https://oci.carnegieendowment.org/#total-emissions

    For gas, you probably need to add 20-25% to the combustion emissions to get some idea of total emissions.

    https://nrel.gov/analysis/life-cycle-assessment.html
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,913
    edited November 2022

    I actually got the regions wrong in that data tool. Columbia county is in the Upper Hudson region for heating oil, but in the Mid-Hudson region for propane. https://nyserda.ny.gov/researchers-and-policymakers/energy-prices/home-heating-oil/average-home-heating-oil-prices. If you go to "Retail Price Comparison" it tells you the price history going back to September 1997. Propane has been much more expensive than heating oil historically. In January of this year they were roughly the same price per gallon ($3.62 oil vs $3.58 propane), so on an energy equivalent basis, propane was $5.41, adding in the boiler efficiency difference and comparing to oil, the Megasteam delivers 120028.245 BTU/gallon, and to get the same amount of heat delivered by a gas boiler you need 1.601 gallons of propane, so it's actually $5.73. If you go through 800 gallons of oil a year, that's a difference of $1700/yr at those prices. Price stability does not seem significantly different for propane, and from a cleanliness standpoint, there's very little difference between ULS heating oil and propane on the air quality side of things. From a greenhouse gas standpoint, oil is probably higher:

    https://oci.carnegieendowment.org/#total-emissions

    For gas, you probably need to add 20-25% to the combustion emissions to get some idea of total emissions.

    https://nrel.gov/analysis/life-cycle-assessment.html


    Are you taking into consideration how often oil burners are actually properly maintained and tuned vs the LPG ones that simply "just work" and keep working?

    I personally know of no less than 3 that were so bad they plugged the boilers up solid with soot and only then did someone actually do something.

    If there's 3 I know of, there's probably thousands running fairly bad in reality. Meanwhile most LPG burners are running fairly good to great for their lifespan.

    This isn't the fault of the technology, but it is reality.

    What's the efficiency and emissions of an oil burner running bad enough to belch smoke and soot? What's the overall efficiency of the system with such a burner, that's almost completely blocked by soot? I've got a feeling it's not 85-87%.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 670
    jimpool said:

    It really is a lot to consider.

    Yes it is. I suggest you split this up into phases. The Propane vs Oil decision can be made down the road. Some boilers can be converted from oil to propane.
    Phase 1 - determine correct boiler size for your EDR.
    Phase 2 - find contractor
    Phase 3 - sign contract to have new boiler installed
    You might want to hire a contractor to come out, tune up your oil burner, and do a combustion analysis. Tell them you expect a printed report of the combustion analysis. Think of it as a paid internship. If they can't successfully do that, they should not be in consideration to install your new boiler.
    The fuel oil futures market is predicting 70 cents LESS per gallon a year from today. I think the current New England region problems will also be also partially resolved next winter. I estimate home heating oil will be one dollar per gallon cheaper in the Northeast this time next year.


    jimpool
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    Added maintenance cost is a good point. So that's an additional $150/yr probably. Well-maintained oil burners do not generate soot. It's almost a thing of the past with ULS heating oil. Where is the soot going to come from? The 15 ppm of sulfur? I've had oil nearly my whole life. Full-service oil companies will not let a burner get plugged up. If you go discount oil providers and do zero maintenance for years on end...different story. Actually this study found you may be able to go 5-7 years without maintenance. I've never heard of a full-service oil company not doing maintenance every year. It's probably unnecessary now.

    https://bnl.gov/isd/documents/89253.pdf

    You can also add in heating oil spill insurance to your home insurance policy. That'll be an extra $70-80/yr probably. Although with propane you have a tank too, which can explode. Not sure if coverage for that costs extra.
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    WMno57 said:

    The Propane vs Oil decision can be made down the road. Some boilers can be converted from oil to propane. The fuel oil futures market is predicting 70 cents LESS per gallon a year from today. I think the current New England region problems will also be also partially resolved next winter. I estimate home heating oil will be one dollar per gallon cheaper in the Northeast this time next year.

    Which steam oil boilers can be converted to propane? Hot water boilers there are many. Burnham adamantly refuses to allow Megasteam gas conversion. I've corresponded with them about that many times now. Voids the warranty, plumbing and gas inspector might not approve a permit, and home insurance company may not cover damages in the event of a fire. The other way around converting from propane to oil is even less plausible. I'm seeing possibly Weil-Mclain SGO, Peerless WBV or EC. There might be a few others where gas conversion doesn't void the warranty.

    Interesting about the oil futures price. If that's true, one more reason to stick with oil then.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,913
    edited November 2022

    Added maintenance cost is a good point. So that's an additional $150/yr probably. Well-maintained oil burners do not generate soot. It's almost a thing of the past with ULS heating oil. Where is the soot going to come from? The 15 ppm of sulfur? I've had oil nearly my whole life. Full-service oil companies will not let a burner get plugged up. If you go discount oil providers and do zero maintenance for years on end...different story. Actually this study found you may be able to go 5-7 years without maintenance. I've never heard of a full-service oil company not doing maintenance every year. It's probably unnecessary now.

    https://bnl.gov/isd/documents/89253.pdf

    You can also add in heating oil spill insurance to your home insurance policy. That'll be an extra $70-80/yr probably. Although with propane you have a tank too, which can explode. Not sure if coverage for that costs extra.


    I think you missed my point.
    And the soot is coming from the fuel.............. soot can come from anything including natural gas, LPG etc.


    There was also a study that claimed washing condensers was a waste of time.
    The study was ridiculous.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 299
    edited November 2022
    @ChrisJ No. I got your point and acknowledged it. Who's being argumentative now? Are you really suggesting to the OP that he should go with propane simply because you've seen 3 plugged up oil burners in your whole life and "there's probably thousands running fairly bad in reality"? All due respect man, but that's nonsense. A well-tuned, well-maintained oil burner produces very little soot, and almost none at all when burning ULSHO, which is all that's available in NY now. Brookhaven National Laboratory in 2009 found it was around 50% more PM2.5 than natural gas. But 50% of almost nothing is also almost nothing:


    https://bnl.gov/isd/documents/71376.pdf


    I show you a multi-year field study from 2015 conducted by BNL again and sponsored by the State of New York and not only do you not bother reading it, but you dismiss it anyway and hint that it's ridiculous. If you don't have anything useful to say...insert thumbs down emoji here.