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Thread: new boiler

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Default new boiler

    Natural gas is coming to my area and I am considering converting from oil heat to natural gas. I have contacted 6 local contractors for quotes for a new gas efficency bolier. To date I have 2 quotes. One for $6800. and another for$9500. The cheaper quote is for a Peerless Pinnacle 80k BTU and the other is for a Weil McLain 155k BTU. Other contractors are going to quote a Munchkin brand. I have told all contractors that I want to have circulating pumps for the two zones in my house. Here is my concern: I feel that the 155 is overkill since my current 45 year old boiler is rated at 90k BTU. I think the 80k BTU gas boiler would do the job. The contractor who quoted the lesser price did a heat loss evaluation last year when I was considering central air. He is quoting a 80k BTU boiler. One contractor told me to "stay away from Munchkin! They are junk!" His quote will be for a Weil McLain 105K BTU boiler.

    My delima is, I don't have any experience in trying to determine which of these boilers would be better. Would I be happy no matter which one I chose when the price would not be a consideration? In some research on the internet I find there is only about $400.00 difference between the Weil McLain 155 vs 105. I simply can't justify the difference in the two quotes I currently have.

    Thanks for any help or advice regarding the rating of these three boilers. I live in Pennsylvania about 80 miles south of Erie.

    New gas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    443

    Default Re: new boiler

    new heat:

    You need to get more quotes---not only that, expand the source of your quotes from what you have now---include fuel oil dealers, who are also licensed to install gas equipment & often charge less for the job (Yellow Pages Oils-Fuel, Fuel Oil)---the quotes & choice of equipment will vary widely--try to find someone who is interested in doing a good install & does a heat loss calculation & knows the different boiler mfgs in your area.

    Also Yellow Pages under "Heating Equipment--Parts, Equipment"---talk to the parts counterman about recommending the best installers in your area--the countermen know them all.

    You happen to live right in the middle of the boiler capital of America---Penn. is the home of the top boiler mfgs in the world---so the wholesalers & installers should have access to Peerless, Dunkirk, Utica, Slant/Fin, Burnham, Triangle Tube, New Yorker, & Crown.

    Peerless Pinnacle is a great unit---this is a stainless steel condensing boiler & it sounds like 80k would be enough for your building.

    Any new install should include an indirect hot water heater & preferably an outdoor reset.

    You can do your own heat loss calculation at the Slant/Fin site below---for a rough estimate take the total square footage of the building space to be heated & multiply by a heat factor between 30 & 60 (30= very tight house with lots of insulation & good windows, 60 is very drafty house with little insulation & lots of glass/loose windows/no storms).

    Thus, a 2000 sq.ft. house with ok insulation & good windows = 2000 X 40 = 80,000 btu/hr---this is the amount of heat escaping per hour from the house & the size boiler needed, in this case, for a 2000 sq.ft. building.

    The Slant/Fin HLC below is much more comprehensive in the factors it considers.

    The Weil-McLain Ultras you mention have aluminum heat exchangers, which are less desireable than the Peerless stainless steel---especially if you have hard water, which can corrode the aluminum.

    Read the previous post by ThereseC ("Any Experience with a Beckett Heat Manager") to get my past posts---they talk about basic less expensive cast iron boilers, 3-pass boilers, & condensing boilers---you will spend much less for a CI or 3-pass & the AFUE on these is not that much different (86% AFUE as opposed to 95% AFUE)---this is especially true if you intend to move in the near future.

    An Outdoor Reset package often comes with many of these boilers---and is a good idea to have included.


    http://www.slantfin.com/heat-loss-software.html
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 06-09-2008 at 09:58 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    3

    Default Re: new boiler

    Thanks for the help and advise JacktheShack. I did the ballpark heat loss as you suggested. My square footage = 1375 x 60 = 82,500 BTU. This is the worse calculation. Using a factor of 45 I would need 61,875 BTU, so it looks like a 80k btu boiler will do the job.

    Since gas isn't here yet I still have a month or so to make a decission on a boiler. Getting the contractors here is the problem.

    The last contractor has been working on a quote for over a week. I wonder if it takes this long for a quote, how long will he be with instaluation.

    I've looked in the yellow pages per your advise but the oil distributors ads only specfy oils and their related products or lp gas. Nothing about new instaluations.

    Question for you: what is a outdoor reset package and how does this work? I'm not sure I understand your post to ThereseC. None of the contractors have mentioned or suggested this option.

    New Heat

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    443

    Default Re: new boiler

    new heat:

    I mentioned ThereseC only to direct you to the links at the end of my posts---there's no need to buy a Beckett Heat Manager.

    Outdoor Reset is a kind of thermostat system that constantly samples the outdoor temp during the heating season.

    It's based on the idea that during the heating season there are a lot of "not so cold" days---since boilers ordinarily heat the boiler water to 180 degrees (often unnecessarily) the ODR tells the boiler to heat the water to 140 degrees on milder days---this is still hot enough to heat the house on mild days & saves quite a bit of fuel over the heating season.

    Check your calc of 1375 sq.ft. for your building---include any utility rooms, boiler room, etc.

    Nearly all fuel oil dealers also install gas & oil-fired heating equipment, even though they don't list it in their Yellow Pages ad.

    Take the full month you have to get additional quotes---try to get a new install that costs closer to $4,000 or $5,000---the more quotes you get, the less you'll pay for the same equipment.

    Remember, each boiler mfgr & installer sells all 3 levels of gas-fired boiler: a) the basic level is a tried & true cast iron boiler for ~$1500 & 85% AFUE (older technology); b) the middle level is a 3-pass cast iron boiler for ~$3,000 & 89% AFUE; c) the top level is a stainless steel condensing boiler for ~$6,000 & 95% AFUE (newest technology)---add $2k to each quote for indirect water heater, outdoor reset & installation costs.

    You'll do well if you buy any one of these levels of boiler--the cast iron boilers tend to be tougher & last 30 years---the condensing boilers save fuel but need periodic adjustment & have more complicated controls---and probably won't last for decades, as will the cast iron units.

    Don't be afraid to bargain & negotiate with the installers who give you a quote--if the installer you are talking to knows his equipment & is interested in doing a good job, he/she will explain why they recommend putting in a particular boiler at a particular asking price---after talking to 6 or more prospective installers you'll get a good sense of which one to hire.

    Post back & let us know what you finally have installed & your level of satisfaction.

    http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=3820
    http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=1639
    http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=5571
    http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=5085
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 06-10-2008 at 02:12 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    3

    Default Re: new boiler

    Sure is difficult to get contractors to quote new systems in my area. I have contacted 8 heating installers. I have 3 quotes. Three contacts never got back to me and 2 contacts came and looked but never returned a quote.

    So...of the three quotes I currently have, 2 are for a condensing boiler and 1 for a cast iron boiler. The condensing boilers are a Peerless Pinnacle and a Munchkin. From the brochures they both seem to be the same with the exception of price. The Peerless is quoted at $6,825 and the Munchkin at $4,348. The cast iron at $3,672. The efficiencies are 92% for the condensing and 84% for the CI. The CI boiler literature does not state anything about 3 stage as you mentioned above. My neighbor has a Peerless Series DEo4 boiler that he is satified with but when I look at the brochure it does not state anything about a 3 stage system

    Is there a formula to determine how much energy would be saved with the 92% vs 84% boilers. Seems to me that 8% may not be that much. Also considering the additional maintenance you mentioned above with the condensing boiler it may make better sense to me to go with the CI boiler.

    I may go back to the Peerless contractor and request a quote for a 3 stage CI bolier and see what kind of number they come up with.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: new boiler

    If its not too late in the process, have you thought about ground loop heat pumps? These use the near constant temperature of the ground to reduce both your heating and cooling costs. With the cost of energy rising almost daily, the free energy from the ground is looking better and better.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    443

    Default Re: new boiler

    new heat:

    No I don't think there is much difference between 84% and 92%--the three pass CI units are closer to 88%--there would be a savings over a 10 year time span, but I agree, a cast iron 3-pass makes a lot of sense, or even a basic CI unit @ 85%.

    Don't ignore the countermen at the plumbing & heating supply companies in your area---they can hook you up with a good installer.

    Condensing boilers are relatively new to the industry & they're still ironing the bugs out of them---the cast iron units have been around for decades & are tried & true.

    To get a run down on the specifications of each boiler/model number, Google the mfgr's name to get their website--they usually have all the info on their products at the website.

    For example, Google "peerless boilers" to get the Peerless website, etc.

    The other poster mentioned geothermal, which is an excellent technology, but the big downside is the $30k installation cost for one of these systems.

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