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A. O. Smith Cyclone Xi Field Performance

I'm looking for any feedback, good or bad, on this water heater:

<a href="http://www.wallingfordsales.com/proddetail.asp?prod=42289&cat=47">http://www.wallingfordsales.com/proddetail.asp?prod=42289&cat=47</a>



It's for a small apartment building, and seems almost too good to be true.
Superinsulated Passive solar house, Buderus in floor backup heat by Mark Eatherton, 3KW grid-tied PV system, various solar thermal experiments

Comments

  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 979
    Cyclone Xi

    Since they came out in early 2007, here in Canada, we have had installed everything from a BT199 to BT500. We have had only one with issues at a car dealership where we put two BT199. One would eat air switches every few months until it stopped working. It took a week even with the field rep to figure it out. I sent a different tech who on site contacted A.O.Smith. One hour later, he discovered that the combustion chamber was blocked. The tank was picking up debris from the nearby body-shop exhaust. He shop vacuumed the combustion chamber and relocated the air inlet.

    That was the only hiccup of all the ones we installed.
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 922
    Cyclone water heater

    This is a great water heater. If you have hard water and do not use a water softener this unit has the burner on top and the flue goes down and comes out the side of the tank at the bottom. So when it makes hot water any build up of hardness will end up on the bottom of the tank and not effect the efficiency of this water heater. Regular water heaters with the burner on the bottom and as hardness builds on the bottom of the tank the unit will use more energy to heat the water lowering the efficiency of this type of water heater. Plus the more heat on the bottom of the tank the more stress on the steel and the water heater will fail sooner. Take a look at using Delta 52665 low flow shower heads 1.5 GPM they work great.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    edited April 2012
    Lime scale accumulation...

    occurs at the area of greatest temperature differential. It does not discriminate based on height. If the heat exchange process is higher at the top of the tank than at the bottom of the tank, i.e. Cyclone burner, then THAT is where the precipitants will come out of suspension and accumulate on the heated OR cooled surface (think shell and tube or flat plate heat exchanger. Have you ever seen an upper element on an electric water heater that was running in hard water conditions that DIDN'T have lime scale on it? Less, yes, but that is due to less run time, but scaled up nonetheless.



    As it breaks off, it will obviously pile up on the bottom, but it will grow on the top if thats where the heat is being introduced. I think that the piling up is what you are talking about Bob.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Kevin_in_Denver_2
    Kevin_in_Denver_2 Member Posts: 588
    Two anode rods

    I think that having two anode rods and the fact that sediment and loose scale don't cause problems could definitely increase the life expectancy of this tank.



    96% efficiency is a big bonus too.
    Superinsulated Passive solar house, Buderus in floor backup heat by Mark Eatherton, 3KW grid-tied PV system, various solar thermal experiments
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Anodes and such...

    Anodes are there to protect the uncoated portions of mild steel. It gives the incoming oxygen something that is much more palletable to eat than the mild steel. Once the anode is gone, then it turns to the steel for lunch.



    THe thing that really concerns me about this technology, is that this manufacturer is still depending upon a glass lined mild steel flue pipe to move the exhaust products through the appliance. Granted, it is glass coated on the inside and the outside, but we all know what happens to glass lining over time, especially where it is seeing big temperature differentials. I am surprised that the flue gas channel isn't a stainless steel flue tube instead of mild steel. No one else (other than The RAY boiler) uses a ferrous component in the flue gas passage way, and that one is a very thick item.



    My son in law used this in his restaurant in Denver, and the mother board crapped out on him a little past the 1 year warranty. It cost him about $2,000 to get it fixed, and there were NONE in town. Had to shut his restaurant down for 36 hours... Had to Red Label one in.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Kevin_in_Denver_2
    Kevin_in_Denver_2 Member Posts: 588
    Availability

    You make a very good point that explains why the uptake of innovation can be slow.



    No one replaces their water heater unless it is an emergency.  When that happens, they are forced to use something that is in stock in town.  They just can't wait 2 weeks, period.



    So the only way these heaters will gain market share is:

    1.  Convince property managers that they will save money and (maybe) last longer.

    2.   Convince someone to prepurchase a few to have in stock.
    Superinsulated Passive solar house, Buderus in floor backup heat by Mark Eatherton, 3KW grid-tied PV system, various solar thermal experiments
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 979
    edited April 2012
    HWT

    The problem of not having readily available parts for a HWT is not the manufacturers problem. It is a distributor problem, most of the time. The distributor is mandated to have spares in stock. Some of them cheat and are not willing to provide the proper customer service. I know of only one tank manufacturer that has a problem with this in our area. It is the major competitor to A.O. Smith who copied one of my patents unsuccessfully! They did not have a replacement part in Canada. We replaced the unit with a Cyclone XI.

    As the largest mechanical firm in our area, we have replaced every other brand of condensing hot water tank except A.O. Smith! Every single problem we have seen with Cyclone installs were due to the installers failure to follow the manufacturers instructions. Most of the time, it is a venting problem or improper piping.

    A.O. Smith owns the chemical company that produces the glass lining for most tank manufacturers. The one that they use is a proprietary product that is less brittle and flexes. Therefore there is less of a chance of having cracks.

    Some five years ago, we provided the Natural Gas Technology Center with a number of perforated commercial hot water tanks for a study that the center was doing for the local gas utility. In our area, commercial hot water tanks usually fail a year or two after warranty. They discovered that due to sediment in the tank, the welds of the flue pipes would fail causing the leaks. It was not perforation due to a glass lining failure. It was stress cracks due to the sediment collecting and insulating the weld from the water.

    Here are two pictures of an improper install. One had the tanks sucking in wood dust and an improper vent termination causing much noise. The installer took the cheaper solution of sidewall venting instead of going to the roof.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    I agree, kind of...

    Henry, thanks for information on the failure mode of conventional tanks. Good to know, although I've not installed a self contained gas fired tank in so long that I honestly can't tell you when my last was done.



    As for AOS distributors not carrying the right repair parts, I view that as a corporate problem because their managers are not doing a good job of making sure those parts are available. My s.i.l. Will never buy another one due to the problem, and he now has 6 restaurants,and intends to double the count in the next 2 years... Their loss. He lost a big chunk of revenue by having to close his doors due to their lack of follow thru. He's since moved on to their closest competitor.



    In the outside picture you posted, under the lean (sag) to structure, are one of those vents an intake, or both exhausts, and if both exhaust where do the appliances draw their fresh air from?



    Was this job permitted and inspected by the AHJ?



    Thanks as always for your valid input and frankness.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,341
    edited April 2012
    Henry, your quote is spot-on

    "They discovered that due to sediment in the tank, the welds of the flue pipes would fail causing the leaks. It was not perforation due to a glass lining failure. It was stress cracks due to the sediment collecting and insulating the weld from the water."



    The sediment comes from the water lines in the street. In older cities these can be over 100 years old. Most customers don't blow the sediment out of the tanks. Not only does this shorten their life, but also reduces their efficiency.



    When we replace a water heater, we recommend a sediment filter (minimum size 4-1/2x10) and install it on the water service just after the main valve (and PRV if used). Once the pipes are flushed out, they stay clean and so does the heater- unless the owner doesn't change the filter or have us do it, but that's another issue. And it's easier to change a filter than to get a couple inches of sediment out of a heater.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Kevin_in_Denver_2
    Kevin_in_Denver_2 Member Posts: 588
    Top-Down

    And if you pretend that no one will maintain the water filters, then a water heater that has a flame that travels from the top down is a more foolproof solution.



    An equally good solution is a condensing boiler tied to an indirect water heater, but that will cost two to three times as much.
    Superinsulated Passive solar house, Buderus in floor backup heat by Mark Eatherton, 3KW grid-tied PV system, various solar thermal experiments
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 979
    Thanks

    Thanks Mark! But, the manufacturers have no control over their distributors stocking of spares. They don't know what the inventory is. They only know what they have sold them.

    They are both exhaust vents. The local utility had inspected the install before a number of changes were done. The building is a large old condo unit. They vented in the rear of the building which has a U courtyard. The units had "hard starts" as they were not properly started up and the burners were partially blocked by the sawdust. The combustion air is taken in the boiler room. Of course, the hard starts woke everyone who had a bedroom in the courtyard. So they added a 90 on each vent , thus increasing the noise. Then they built the insulated shed. The plumber is suing for his balance. They are counter suing to have the vents go to the roof. This is possible as there is an old incinerator chimney.

    If I call the AHJ, they will shut it down even if it is not a dangerous situation. Meanwhile, I just keep my meter running and billing for interpreting an inexperienced in the field and who cannot read the instruction manual nor gas code, engineer's report and  then detailing all of his errors. $$$ Litigation is so much fun!
  • Kevin_in_Denver_2
    Kevin_in_Denver_2 Member Posts: 588
    Mufflers available ?

    I heard that an OEM muffler will reduce the noise in an "echo chamber" like that.



    Noisy venting can be an issue, can you run the PVC vent outside and then up to the roof?
    Superinsulated Passive solar house, Buderus in floor backup heat by Mark Eatherton, 3KW grid-tied PV system, various solar thermal experiments
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 979
    Muffler

    The muffler was used on the first version of the Cyclone. The new Cyclone XI are not any noisier than any other condensing tank. You cannot run the vent up on an outside wall. One advantage of the Cyclone XI, is that you can increase the diameter of the vent as per the I&O manual, to increase the developed lenht.
  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503
    Boiled water

    From what I know, heating water causes solution to fall from the water. In that case, the filter wouldn't work all that much. In areas of hard water, the problem is magnified.



    Another issue, more prevalent on commercial high btuh tanks is that the high amount of lime and scale hardened on the bottom of the tank, A - insulates as mentioned previously, B - expands and contracts at a different rate than the metal it is attached to, causing more stress to welds.
    :NYplumber:
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