View Full Version : Heat loss test AND Burnham vs Burnham?
08-04-2009, 12:37 PM
We just purchased a new home in Salem NH, and the home inspection showed some problems with the current boiler. We are getting ready to replace it, along with the water storage tank.
We expect to be here for a long time, so are looking at what is best for us for many years. We considered switching to propane (natural gas is not available.) We have talked with two LP installers and two oil installers, and have determined that it looks like we should stick with oil.
No one has offered to do a heat loss test. Question 1: Do we need one? Should we be worried that it has not been mentioned by any of the installers we have met with? If we need one, how do we get one?
One of the LP installers measured our radiators (175 feet); no one else has asked for that info. Question 2: Should we be worried about that???
We are in southern New Hampshire, on the Mass line. Our home is almost 3700 SF with 3 stories living space (plus attic.) 5 zones, including 1 for hot water.
We are still exploring our options, but at present the the recommendations are a Burnham V85, with a Crown Mega-Store MS-39 tank or a Burnham MPO 147 a Burnham AL50-SL. Both include an outdoor reset.
Question 3: Are there any pros or cons of the V85 vs. the MPO 147?
Question 4: How about the stainless MS-39 vs. the stone-lined AL50?
Question 5: Are there other options we should be considering that will, over the next, say, 20 years, give us more bang for our buck?
08-04-2009, 01:34 PM
Somebody should do a heat loss calc. That's how you accurately size a hot water boiler. I usually measure the baseboard too just to see how it compares to the heat loss. Too many size based on what is there and often older units are oversized. We did a job taking out 2 boilers with total 575,000 BTU input and replaced with 1 at 175K input and the house heated better than ever. Took my Aunt's house from 335K (some quoted 2 200K) to 210K and it survived the -34° they had this winter. Bigger is not better. Bigger costs more to buy & run and can cause condensation in the flue.
08-04-2009, 01:49 PM
Somebody should do a heat loss calc.
Thank you for this information. How do we FIND someone to do a heat loss calc? Is that something an installer would do? The oil company? Arg! Where do we start? Do we just keep interviewing installers until someone is knowledgeable enough to recommend this?
Thank goodness the system is not dead (yet!) and it's not winter! We have a little time to explore our options ...
As far as the boilers go: We have been doing a little research on the two Burnham models, and users of both models (and any Burnham product) seem to be fairly unhappy, so we will be continuing to look anyway ...
08-04-2009, 02:06 PM
If this is a big job which it sounds like it is, you should ask them to include it as part of there job or tell them if they do not want to do a heat load calc then move on to the next guy who is willing to size the equipment properly and win the job ultimately. I would suspect there's no way to guess and to get the size of the equipment right by either rule of thumb, or guessing especially with 3 floors and a attic.
You on the other hand might want to hold off on upgrading and have your home checked for air leakage with a blower door test and do some air sealing, insulation work if necessary prior to making a big purchase which after you have done all you can do to lower the heat loss/gain for the home will lower your initial cost of equipment and lower utility bills per month for the next 20 years will give you a faster return on your investment.
08-04-2009, 03:00 PM
You ... might want to ... have your home checked for air leakage with a blower door test ... Eureka! I was looking up heat loss calculator, and found a home energy audit company. They are coming Friday! Thanks for confirming this direction.
Should we ASK the installers to do a heat loss calc, or is that something that THEY should suggest??? (We keep asking: "How do you know what size we need?" and they keep looking at our square footage, and the existing 20-year-old boiler.)
We've been dealing with guys who have great BBB ratings, lots of great recommendations ... Getting a little discouraging that not one has brought this up!
08-04-2009, 04:42 PM
You might want to call your local utility company most if not some of them offer a blower door test along with a home energy audit on your home and will cost next to nothing in most cases depending on the house hold income and again depending on where you fall in the income level it might be free, plus they will airseal, insulate, and it might cost you maybe 10% of the total cost to them for materials or free. When all the work is done they will come back anddo another blower door test to check there work, kinda like a before and after snap shot of the home.
It's worth the time if your utility company offers this service, I had one done on my home and it didn't cost anything to have done, unless I needed windows replaced which then it cost 50% of the cost to the HO's.
08-07-2009, 09:33 AM
Thanks to BaldLoonie and DanW13 for their answers.
It took 5 installers before one offered to do a heat loss calculation. (It only took 15 or 20 minutes to measure, draw a house outline, and do the calculations.) The guy with the heat loss calc is a little more expensive, but certainly caught our attention with his professionalism. We like it that his company does a FIVE year warranty on parts AND labor, too. He also quoted on the Burnham MPO, but sized it one step larger than the earlier installer. We wouldn't have been happy with the other quote, but wouldn't have known until too late, had it not been for the heat loss calc.
We had contemplated switching from oil to gas. Since my last post we found a link to an Excel spreadsheet where you can enter the price of fuel, the efficiency of the unit, and it gives you the cost per million BTU's. It covers propane, natural gas, oil, coal, pellet, etc., etc. Also has links to sites which has the current fuel prices. Thanks, US Government!!! This was good for our purpose (we'll stick with oil), but also in comparing two units with different efficiency ratings. (It's easy to use, so don't let a spreadsheet scare you off. Don't have a spreadsheet? There used to be free ones you can download.) http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/experts/heatcalc.xls
As we interview different installers, we find it is a learning experience. One told us that he could have had 6 appointments in the time he spent with us ... and he was #5! It's a big investment ... surprising that people don't research it more. If they won't answer all our questions, we don't want them. The shortest interview was an hour, and ended because he had no answers. One installer was here 3.5 hours. Again, #5. And his time will probably be worth it, as they will probably get the job. (We have one more appointment.)
Like everything else, buyer beware!!!
08-09-2009, 02:39 AM
Good help from BaldLoonie and DanW13. I agree with that.
Wow BaldLoonie, that is some of the most extreme oversizing I have ever heard of! Even the 'after' of 210 mbh at your aunt's house is a lot. We get super cold here and that would be big enough for a palace. Perhaps we have more insulated houses here? So all this confirms the good advice you guys have given. Size the boiler to the newly improved house.
As for choice of boilers I think the Burnham MPO is much more up to date with the latest style of more efficient modulating boilers. I am new at the modulating style boilers, having been a long time low mass guy (Energy Kinetics dealer before). Correct me if I am wrong guys, but I have heard that the MPO is designed similar to the Buderus cast modulating boilers. Both are very good and durable and and popular with the service men.
I am installing a Burnham MPO 115 now which will keep them warm at -60 below!
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