Which is a better boiler. Peerless or Burnham

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by questseeker, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. questseeker

    questseeker New Member

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    Peerless or Burnham
  2. dj2

    dj2 Member

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    California
    Which one is better: Chevy or Ford?
  3. questseeker

    questseeker New Member

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    New Jersey
    Chevy
    Do you know anything about either of these two boilers?
  4. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

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    Ahhh you wish to compare crap to garbage
  5. questseeker

    questseeker New Member

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    New Jersey
    Doeas anyone actually know anything about either of these two boilers, for oil heat.
    I thought this was a Heating HVAC forum..
  6. dj2

    dj2 Member

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    407
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    California
    Back to the original question: Both furnaces are rated low. Lennox would be a better choice.
  7. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

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    Well, no. Neither are furnaces. Lennox doesn't make boilers. They are both boilers. For oil my choices are Buderus followed by Biase
  8. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    And the answer is...

    Tesla! :)

    At at $4/gallon with no real price relief in sight, keeping the old beast going as long as you can but heating primarily with a high-efficiency ductless heat pump sized correctly for the heat load is going to be a better expenditure of funds. They have literally half the operating cost of heating with oil (and they air condition at super-efficiency too.)

    Oil is dead as a heating fuel- the "natural" price floor is above $3/gallon due to the high cost of the shale or oil sand extraction necessary to keep world production rates up with current demand at $100/bbl. At $75/bbl all of that new production dries up- they don't break even below that. Even in the most efficient oil fired hydronic boiler $3/gallon heating oil is 1.5x as expensive as heating with a ductless mini-split.
  9. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

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    Oil is not dead or even close to dead. In the northeast regions, natural gas is not available and the price of propane is well higher than number two fuel oil. There are thousands of businesses and homes that rely on fuel oil for heat. The price of electricity in the northeast is the highest in the nation and although a mini-split may indeed operate for marginally less money, its not enough generally to make the ROA worthwhile. Added to that is the discomfort associated with blowing hot or cold air from a single location. Don't misunderstand me, we sell a lot of mini-splits but they are by no means a universal answer to everyone's energy needs.


    http://www.forbes.com/sites/billconerly/2013/05/01/oil-price-forecast-for-2013-2014-falling-prices/


    Oil prices are headed down, and I mean down at least $20 a barrel. The key reason is that prices have been high. It’s not a paradox, but a result of the long time lags in oil production.


    Oil prices were fairly stable from 1986 through 2001, averaging just $20 per barrel. Then prices started rising, spiking to $134 just as the recession began. The price of oil has been above $80 for the past two and a half years. With rising prices has come a dramatic increase in exploration activity. During the era of low prices, the number of drilling rigs in operation around the world was 1,900 on average; now we are at nearly double that pace, and we have been for nearly three years.

    Drilling activity results in oil production, lasting for many years after the drilling is over. Take a look at the accompanying chart of drilling rigs and total production. Drilling jumped up after the oil price hikes of 1973 and 1979. By 1986, increased oil production brought prices crashing down. Oil exploration quickly followed suit.


    Production, however, continued to grow long after new drilling declined. When drilling was high, much of the activity was exploratory—trying to find the oil. When prices fell, the riskiest drilling made no sense. What was left was in-fill. The oil field had been identified, and further wells were needed to best utilize the resource. These wells are fairly low risk, with high rewards compared to the cost of the drilling rig. As a result, even low levels of drilling activity led to substantial increases in global production.

    Today we’ve had moderately strong drilling activity for several years. New fields have been identified and delineated. Now we’ll see fairly mild drilling activity but continually increasing production.




    In the past year production has been soft, barely growing, but that’s a reflection of weak demand. In the short run, production can be dialed back to save more oil for the future. In the long run, though, production capacity rules the roost.

    What of demand? Demand should grow a little slower than the global economy. Unless the world starts to boom—an unlikely scenario, given problems in Europe and the United States—production capacity will grow faster than demand, pulling prices down.

    What of peak oil worries? The concept is often sound when looking at one well—but even a single well will sometimes be re-worked to increase its output. For the world as a whole, the peak oil theory fails to consider that higher prices lead to greater exploration for new oil fields, greater in-fill drilling of established fields, better care of older wells, and development of new technology for all of these functions. The world’s oil production will peak when the cost of finding new oil rises and the development of alternative energy makes the value of oil decline.

    Over the coming few years, look for oil prices to decline at least below $80 a barrel and quite possibly more.
  10. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Were oil prices decline by even $30/bbl (settling around say, $70-75/bbl), heating with oil would still be way more than 1.5 as expensive as heating with mini-splits (more than 2x as expensive as heating with the Mitsubishi -FH series cold climate mini-splits in a NJ climate.)

    The 4-year average price has been about $100/bbl- but somewhat volatile. It's running about $107/bbl (WTI)- $113 (Brent) today on axieties about the possibilities of Iraq's 3.3Mbbl/day output possibly disappearing for awhile. The recent relative stability around $100/bbl is not set in stone.

    "Drilling activity results in oil production, lasting for many years after the drilling is over."

    That's old-school.

    Most new production in the US is from tight shale, which takes about two orders of magnitude more drilling for both exploration & production, and shale plays have shorter & sharper depletion edges than traditional oil. Back in the old days when you could poke a few holes in the ground and keep slurping for a few decades was great, but those days are all but gone- the easy stuff is being depleted.

    This is not the 1970s, and not the 1980s. The Bakken shale is NOTHING like Pruhoe Bay! If the price drops to where heating with #2 oil is competitive with mini-splits (about $45-50/bbl), shale & oil sand production stops. Oil sand and shale fracking accounts for about 1/3 of the N.American oil production, that's a bigger hit to the world supply than the 3.3 Mbbl/day that Iraq represents.

    The soda has already pretty much been slurped- what they're doing now is crunching up the ice in the bottom with the straw to get the rest. The ice is deep- you can keep crunching for decades (centuries?) but the prospects of it getting the tight stuff profitably for less than $70-75/bbl are remote- it's a true price floor.

    If crude oil magically hit's $80/bbl, heating oil will be coming in at around $3.25/gallon. Burned at 85% efficiency in a perfect lossless heating system (that uses no electricity too) that delivers about 117,300 BTU/gallon (real systems are looking at more like 110-115,000BTU/gallon), or 8.5 gallons/MMBTU, which at $3.25/gallon costs $27.65/MMBTU.

    In a NJ climate a better-efficiency cold climate mini-split will deliver at LEAST 11,000 BTU/kwh averaged over the season. (A Mitsubishi MSZ-FH12NA can deliver better than that at an outdoor temp of +17F, if it's sized for the heat load at +5F, and dramatically more at NJ winter average temps.) That means it takes less than 91 kwh/MMBTU. To be as expensive as heating with $3.25 heating oil would take an electricity price higher than $27.65/91kwh= 30 cents/kwh.

    But the current average residential retail price of electricity in NJ is about 14 cents, not even half. With the amount of zero-marginal cost power and new smarts going into the post Sandy NJ grid there may be 5% price inflation for a few years as some of that hardware gets built, but at 30 cents/kwh rooftop solar and batteries becomes cost effective competition. The crashing price of solar is bringing that crossover point down every year- it's affecting the viability of the utility in Hawaii this year, but by 2020 Arizona & California will be in the thick of it, at a per kwh retail price well under the crossover point where $80/bbl crude makes heating oil cost competitive with mini-splits, and WAY under today's $107/bbl quote in Cushing.

    Were crude oil were to magically hit a sustained price of $80/bbl, heating with oil would still be a bit more than twice as expensive as heating with a pretty good mini-split like a Fujitsu AOU-12RLS2 or Mitsubishi MSZ-FE12NA, more than 2.5x as expensive as heating with Mitsubishi MSZ-FH12NA.

    Should supply disruptions or booming car sales in China & India take the world price to $200/bbl, oil products still has a market as a transportation fuel. But even at $80/bbl it makes no sense as a space heating fuel.

    Bill Connerly's $80/bbl price average discussion isn't anything like a credible narrative, since that would require continued slow of economic growth in the rest of the world, and very low drilling rates in the US. His assertion that "Now we’ll see fairly mild drilling activity but continually increasing production." requires real data to back that up- his reliance on the 1973-1990 drilling rate model is just plain ridiculous- that's not how increasing production is being brought on in the post Y2K era. Oil is being produced at only a paltry 271 bbl/day per rig. The rig count has doubled since 2000, even when production was declining, but with only fairly modest increases in production. The real story behind reduction of imports is reduced US demand over the past 8 years, which has been greater than the amount of increased US production:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    And while there were 2x as many rigs operating during the oil-rush of the 1980s as there is today, it barely budged US production. Oil prices in the 1980s were NOT reduced by increased production (particularly not US production), but by a rapid shrinking of demand in the US as people could no longer afford to drive 8-12 mpg cars, and traded most of them in for 15-25mpg cars. In 1980 the US consumed more than 25% of the world's oil supply, and even modest & temporary declines in US demands affected the world price. US oil consumption peaked in 2006 and has been declining ever since (largely due to increased efficiency in the transportation sector, but also by fewer miles being driven), and are now consuming only ~12% of (now much larger) world production. The US alone can no longer shrink consumption fast enough to repeat price-impacting effects the 1980s, nor will we be able to increase production fast enough to keep up with even modest demand growth in the rest of the world.

    Maybe if I were drinking the frack-water I'd be more inclined to believe Bill Connerly's narrative, but I'm still too sober to go there. But even his narrative isn't rosy enough to compete with the economics of ductless air source heat pumps in NJ.

    (Full disclosure: My brother-in-law is a geologist in the oil & gas biz, currently working an oil play in Alberta.)
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  11. BadgerBoilerMN

    BadgerBoilerMN Master Hot Water Mpls,MN

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    And I thought you were the expert in all things worth knowing... I feel better about me, now.

    Master Plumber has it right. Buderus has the three-pass scotch marine you seek and with the right technician sizing and setting up the burner you will get the best system for the money. Mini-splits are the most efficient at converting fuel-to-heat but fuel-to-comfort is another matter and hydronic radiant panels are still king in comfort, more especially in the renovation business where "no insulation in the walls" makes comfort and economy a real challenge. I would be moving away from oil if I could, not much oil heat in MN, but I learned about oil as a boy in IA and in PA at the Buderus school years ago. Burning oil in the NorEast for another 20 years? I think so.

    Back to Dana's other passion, tightening the envelope. This is the direction for many. Don't forget, you want the outdoor reset option with your new boiler. This will lower the fuel bill and make you more comfortable at once.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014
  12. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Yes, they will be burning oil for heat in the northeast for another 20 years, and going broke doing it.

    I personally know a family spending $4000/year to heat a modest 1200' home in southern New England when they could be spending $1500 with heat pumps. That's a $2500/year premium to pay. It's not as if their crummy fin-tube baseboard is providing so much additional comfort that it's a premium worth paying, eh? ;-) The comfort differences between air-delivered vs. radiated heat is real, but there is no real comfort premium to be had with hydronic solutions if the and mini-splits if the heat emitters are fin-tube baseboard.

    Over a 20 year life cycle that's $50,000 extra to pay for heating with oil, and that's betting that oil won't get more expensive.

    Yet there is every indication that oil WILL become more expensive, as a function of increasing motor fuel demand in the developing world. The US demand for oil simply can't fall as fast as that demand is rising elsewhere, and even with a lot more oil exploration and production drilling rigs it's not as if there is a Bakken Shale in everyone's back yard. Note, the drop in US oil demand is the early 1980s was greater than ALL the oil being pumped in Iraq today (!), and 3x the size of net increase in US oil production that began in 2007-2008. That's not repeatable on the same time scale. Like the easy-oil, easy fuel efficiency prospects are drying up fast. The US automotive fleet is getting marginally less oil-thirsty year-on-year, but at nowhere near the velocity of the early 1980s shift.

    The only way to make space heating affordable is to switch to use a cheaper BTU source, or to reduce the BTU requirements. (I'd argue both.)

    Pellet boilers are expensive and hard to find. Air-water heat pumps are even more expensive, and would require low-temp radiation to work. In the short term a mini-split and keeping the old oil boiler as the backup for cold snaps is a more affordable first step away from oil. Ducted air source heat pumps are more expensive, somewhat less efficient than mini-splits, and in most instances, less comfortable to boot.

    Oil will never again be cheap enough to be cheaper than the heat pump alternatives. Investing in another oil-fired boiler is a risky investment- do you really want to be heating with oil when it hits $5-6-7/gallon? That may seem like an insane price, but back in 1994 when the price was running about a buck, nobody was predicting $4/gallon heating oil either. With almost no narrative (short of worldwide economic collapse) of ever seeing heating oil priced below $3/gallon, and many plausible scenarios where it can hit $5 and beyond over the next 20 years, investing in a new oil-fired boiler seems like a risky investment with almost no chance of seeing any up-side.

    It's a 20 year bet. Here's what the last 20 years have wrought in NJ. The chances of heating oil quadrupling in the next 20 years the way it did over the past 20 aren't necessarily in the cards, but it's time to wake up and smell the coffee burning- we haven't seen peak oil prices yet, not even close.

    So again, oil really IS dead as a space heating fuel- nobody can really afford to pay the upcharge for using it forever, even though many will continue down that path for another decade or more out of ignorance or apathy (or both) until they simply can't afford it. If you drop in a mini-split or two and spent the $2500/year difference in operating cost on judiciously staged major building performance upgrades you'll buy back the bulk of foregone comfort issues of leaving hydronic heating behind. Biomass boilers may become more affordable & available over time (as they are in Europe), but for now ductless heat pumps are the best bang/buck for those not on the natural gas grid.

    Fortunately, NJ doesn't have the extra-cool 99% design temps of the upper midwest or northern New England, making air-delivery heating more palatable. Indeed, the 99% outside design temperatures in NJ (+2F to +15F) are comparable to mid-winter average daily temps of cooler locations in MN & ME.
  13. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    I owned an oil company for a bit over twenty years and I'm still a member of NORA and the oil dealers association. Dana has some of it right but not all. He fails to acknowledge the thousands of homes in the northeast from Canada through to Washington state. Homes that have no access to natural gas and homes that do not lend themselves to mini split installations. Two story colonials, capes and even split ranches are very difficult to service economically with a mini. The cost of changing to a ducted mini is in most cases way beyond that of swapping out a boiler. Yes, oil is expensive but there are some very good oil fired boilers and control strategies out there including the condensing boiler by firebird and the condensing furnace by thermopride. A whole lot of folks complain about the air blowing out of floor registers. Even more complain about air blowing at them from the top of the wall.
  14. BadgerBoilerMN

    BadgerBoilerMN Master Hot Water Mpls,MN

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    Never a fan of fin-tube radiation. I take them out and install panel radiators, radiant ceilings, walls and floors with design temperatures suitable for condensing boilers and heat pumps (still waiting for reasonable air-water models) but enjoy the my mini-split in this particular application.

    I have one cooling a SIP with condensing water heater driving the radiant ceiling upper and radiant slab basement, but the new SIP HVAC design I am currently working on has too much glass and disparate loads requiring a high velocity AC system.
  15. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    The problem with fin tube is the high water temperature requirement or you have to install miles of it which looks like crap. Even installing miles though causes problems with delta T across the radiation as the 1st few feet are well supplied but by the time the water gets to the end of the loop it has lost its ability to radiate sufficient heat. I too, like panel radiators but, they are expensive. So many homeowners want a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive solution to their high energy bill but unfortunately, most times there is nothing quick, easy and cheap. This is where ROA needs to be carefully calculated. Sure, you throw enough money at any problem and you can most likely solve it but at what cost? We run the numbers on a daily basis and most times, when you figure the total expense of tearing the old system out, major and minor remodeling of the home, including carpentry, sheetrock, painters, masons occasionally and any other trade that may have to get involved it usually winds up being most cost efficient to simply change out the boiler or furnace for a more efficient model like the System 2000, Firebird, Buderus and many others. Again, control strategies are crucial to optimizing performance. I have a problem with pushing natural gas. Natural gas comes from the same place oil comes from and in many areas the delivery piping is a hundred hears old and rapidly failing. At some point the utilities are going to have to start replacing leaking and undersized piping in order to serve the increased demand and that will lead to higher gas prices.
  16. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    You'll note that I never suggested that ductless heat pumps are a universal and complete solution for every particular case.

    In this instance I recommended nursing the existing boiler along as backup while heating at least the major portion with a mini-split. At current electricity and heating oil prices using resistance heating to backstop the doored-off rooms while slightly overheating the main zone with a ductless would be cheaper than heating with oil, despite the dramatic hit in operational COP. But if the existing boiler is still operating at over 75% efficiency (probably is) it would be cheaper to use the boiler as the backstop for the other zones that might not be fully treatable with ductless heat pumps. At questseeker's house, it's probably better in the long term to go with an electric boiler and micro-zone the hell out of the place, and heat most of the house with a mini-split or two. At 14 cents/kwh (NJ average residential retail price) an electric boiler is delivering the heat at $41/MMBTU, whereas (an unrealistic best case) 85% oil @ $4/gallon (recent years' average) is $34/MMBTU. The BTUs supplied by the resistance electricity is 20% more expensive than oil at the recent years' average, but the mini-split fraction would be well under half price.

    Curious that you should mention off-the-gas-grid locations in WA, a state where off-peak electricity is cheap enough that an electric boiler at a COP=1 would be dramatically cheaper heat with than $4/gallon oil, and even at residential fixed rate the cost is comparable. (At most Canadian time-of-use rates heating with electricity is usually cheaper than #2 oil, and in some cases it's like the WA scenario).

    In central AK or Yukon where the power grid is oil fired and the design temps are way below the specified operating range of cold climate mini-splits oil heating is still a viable option, and will continue to be for some time. In Quebec & Ontario where the grid is primarily hydro, time-of-use rates are available to most residential customers, and the 99% outside design temps are within 5C of the low-temp specs of ductless it's still far cheaper to heat with 2-4 ductless heat pumps + resistance electricity than with a EK System-2000.

    Ducted mini-splits don't operate at the same efficiency as the wall-blob models, and there are low-temp capacity issues too. In a NJ climate it's probably worth doing the math on what it takes to split the output of a mini-duct cassette vs. the operational cost of resistance heating for those zones.

    Under the NEEA Northwest Ductless Heat Pump program, investigations that included hundreds of occupant surveys, complaints about comfort were rare- something north of 85% reported improved comfort. I'm not buying the "...more complain about air blowing at them from the top of the wall" thesis at all. Of course it makes sense to consider carefully where a ductless head or mini-duct register is placed- blowing in your face at the kitchen table is pretty sub-optimal.

    Since 1980 the fuel economy of the private automotive fleet has nearly tripled, which offsets the out-of-pocket impact of quadrupled fuel pricing signficantly, if not completely. In the same time frame oil heating efficiency has improve less than 10% on average, and even the best-case condensing-heat-purging systems have at best a 15% advantage over the rest of the pack.

    In that same time frame ductless heat pump efficiency has doubled, and the low temp capacity has more than tripled. Retail electricity prices have increased, but have lagged inflation, more subject to the MMBTU/prices of coal & natural gas than oil. In inflation-adjusted dollars than national average price of elecricity has remained pretty flat through the oil price peaks & valleys:

    [​IMG]

    With the current shake-up in the electricity markets with paid-for demand response and low marginal per-kwh cost renewables taking a bite out of the wholesale price of peak power, the pressure on retail electricity pricing is downward, despite upward pressures on natural gas prices for power generators. NY just opened up the whole regulatory framework for reform, looking to turn the ISO-NY grid into an open-market for competing distributed generators. They currently have set a net-metering cap of 15% (as does VT), for small time PV, but that's unlikely to change with the new rule changes. In MA under a recent agreement between utility & PV industry stakeholders it's looking like the 5% cap on net-metering is going to be simply & completely eliminated in exchange for a "minimum billing" provision (the structure of which is still TBD), but those regulatory changes have yet to filter through the state legislature. Bottom line, the surge in cheap renewables has begun, and the net effect on both retail & wholesale power pricing is strongly downward, and will probably cut the service life of all currently operating fossil fired power generators on the ISO-NE grid by decades. Electricity pricing will likely be deflationary beginning around 2025, and possibly as early as 2020 according to the financial sector analysts (the folks who set the lending prices for utility companies and merchant power generators.)

    There is no comparable narrative for reductions or stability in gas & oil pricing, even if you believed those folks who drink the frack-water. If one looks at the lifecycle source fuel & capital costs of upgrading the gas-grid infrastructure to take on further load from both space heating & power sector it's clearly behind that of getting that energy from distributed wind/PV/storage and heat pumps. In the intermediate term if you're on the gas grid there will be a quick payoff in shifting from heating with oil to heating with gas, but in the long term heat pumps will win. From a policy point of view it would be better if at least a significant fraction of that shift gas heating was from heat & power cogenerators, to offset the heating peak power demands on the grid (which was a real problem regionally this fall, when gas fired peakers and even some combined cycle plants could not find sufficient spot-supply during the January cold snap, causing a regional wholesale price spike for natural gas and electricity.)

    While it's highly unlikely that space-heating with gas will ever again be more expensive than heating with #2 oil, there is a pretty good chance that in 20 years heating with gas will be more expensive than heating with heat pumps. The price of gas & oil will continue to be volatile, but we're pretty near the price floor for both going forward, at $4/MMBTU well head price for natural gas (shale gas stops being profitable at $3/MMBTU) and $100/bbl for crude oil (shale & sand oil stop being profitable at $75/bbl). The lifecycle cost of on-shore wind is currently at cost parity with combined cycle gas power generators @ $4-5/MMBTU, making wind a safer bet than new cc gas (and the bankers have taken notice). Wind is about 5% getting cheaper and better every year. The lifecycle cost of PV at recent pricing of $4/watt installed cost is currently at parity with the retail residential rates in most of southern New England, and cheaper than the retail residential rates in NY. Most analysts see a clear path to sub-$2/watt for rooftop grid-tied by 2020 (it's cheaper than that in Germany right now), and if the net metering caps go away (as seems imminent in both MA and NY) this is a price point at which the exponential growth takes off even more rapidly. This is good news for all ratepayers, since at $2/watt PV power is at cost-parity with $6/MMBTU combined cycle gas power, and sets a hard upper bound to where electricity pricing can go.

    So, it's a 20 year bet. I'm betting electricity pricing will remain pretty flat or may even fall, while, and both oil & gas pricing will be rising on average, with increasing price volatility. The price floor for electricity is lower than the price floor for gas & oil, since it can be sourced with lower lifecycle & marginal cost power generation. The next time we will see heating oil pricing averaging below $3/gallon is when the transportation sector worldwide becomes predominantly electric, which is still at best still decades away. The operating cost of a combination of electric boiler + mini-splits is cheaper than that right now.
  17. nhmaster3015

    nhmaster3015 Master Plumber

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    The whole problem with that scenario is of course, the cost of making and distributing electricity. The current administration has pretty much put the kybosh on coal generating plants and nobody is building nuke's for use in this country although the rest of the world is keeping Westinghouse busy for the next 40 years or so building reactors. That pretty much leaves hydro, which is a viable contribution but not near enough is produced to meet demand so, we are burning oil and natural gas to make electricity. Nobody in their right mind would even consider an electric boiler in most of the northeast for the same reason that we were pulling electric baseboard out by the mile in the late 80's through the 90's. Again, I have nothing against mini splits but they are impractical for most residential applications for heating. The average two story colonial, of which there are probably millions in this area are near Impossible to heat effectively with a mini-split and so are most capes and dormered capes. You are hearing this from someone that has been there, tried that. The typical scenario is that the homeowner wants it, I explain the limitations, they buy it anyway and then get pissed off when the thing wont deliver heat or AC to the entire home evenly and in most cases not at all. How do you tell the customer that they have to leave all their interior doors open, all the time LOL Even then, heat rises so if you have a two story the heat mostly bales up the stairs and misses most of the 1st floor rooms. So you wind up with hot spots and cold spots and a pissed off customer. How about all the thousands of mobile homes? 14 x 70's with three bedrooms and a bath at the far end. Mobile homes that are not on city gas. Do you really think that an electric furnace is going to cost less to operate than oil fired? Maybe down south but in Maine, NH, VT, MI, Mass, Connecticut and a whole lot more states the electric cost to heat will be staggering. I'm not buying the $4.00 Watt installed cost of PV either. That's under ideal conditions, a new house with a new roof and the right orientation to the sun.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2014
  18. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    You can't even fuel a nuke for the lifecycle cost of PV at the anticipated 2020 installed price, let alone build it. (It's gone from too cheap to meter to to expensive to matter.) Nukes don't ramp either- they are base-load only generators, and require a huge amount of cooling water resource. The financial case is too hard to make in the US, which has many other options, and is currently facing flat to falling demand for electricity.

    At the current per MMBTU cost of coal & natural gas, a best-in-class ~40% efficiency combined cycle coal gasification generator is roughly the same per kwh operating cost of ~50% efficiency combined cycle gas plant, but more expensive to build and less flexible. It can't ramp up or down nearly as effectively as combined cycle gas. Even though they ramp faster than nukes, they're really a base-load only solution. But they're still far more expensive than the anticipated year 2025 cost of both wind & PV power, and thus financially more risky to build than combined cycle gas, which is itself a risky long term investment, but flexible enough to load-track.

    In the ERCOT grid (Texas) overall demand for electricity is growing, unlike the rest of the US, but growth in cheaper & more flexible wind power is undercutting even the existing baseload generators, not just peakers. They have better wind sources in Texas than New England, but also cheaper power overall. In TX they can count on a ~35% capacity factor out of a wind farm, whereas in the better wind spots in VT and the coastal areas 25-30% is about all you get- but offshore it can match TX grade wind capacity factors (at a higher installed & lifecycle cost). Offshore wind power in the NE has a comparable lifecycle cost to new nukes, but can be built faster. Whether that actually happens in NJ remains to be seen- the financial case for it is about as clear for the financial case for nukes- iffy at best. The financial case for PV at @ $2/watt is a slam dunk. Cheap wind is breaking the paradigm in Texas, and now that the transmission lines have been upgraded, has the potential of putting existing fossil-plants out of business. New records for output are being broken every few months, and the build-out is continuing apace. But PV is also being sold at below coal-fired pricing on a 20 year power purchase agreements in Texas, and PV will probably eclipse wind for new production there before 2020, provided the regulatory environment doesn't move in to protect the incumbent generators.

    The power biz is changing pretty fast- faster than you can build a nuke or a new combine cycle coal gasification plant, and it doesn't take EPA action to make that happen. The recent EPA action is barely more than a greenwashing, taking credit for most of what has already happened (and will happen) due to other economic forces, as long as incumbent generators aren't unduly shielded from competition through lobbying their regulators. Cheap gas and cheap wind (and soon, cheap PV) are what is killing coal, not the EPA. As much as the administration would like to take credit for it, it's the Danish/German/US wind power innovators and gas production innovators that did the job for them. But by claiming that policy "victory" it gives the US a club on which to beat others up with regarding carbon emissions. India is pretty much hitting it's coal power production limits due to lack of available cooling water- I suppose the newly elected prime minister Modi will now claim that victory too, and sign on to reductions, since they pretty much have to in order to have enough potable & agricultural water. China is having to scale back coal for both water resource and breathable air issues, and oh yeah, they've noticed that wind & PV are cheaper than coal for them too, and don't create import cost/supply issues. Then the US administration (whomever is in office when that happens) will crow about how they fixed the problem by browbeating India & China with the EPA/other policies. It's political theater more than it is policy, even though it's an entertaining show, eh? ;-) The bottom line is still financial, and it's rapidly tilting in favor of renewables, independently of the carbon emissions issue.

    On heating colonials & capes with mini-splits:

    There are many existence proofs of colonials & capes in my neighborhood (central MA, design temps between 0F & +5F) where a single mini-split can cut oil consumption by more than half, and 2 mini-splits can cut oil (or resistance electricity) consumption by more than 2/3. The NEEA Northwest Ductless program was solely for homes heated with resistance electricity, and the reduction in heating power use on the many dozens of homes field-monitored was about half, almost all with just a single mini-split, across a range of home styles and climate zones from climate zone 4C to zone 6B- the latter of which is comparable to all but the coldest parts of New England.

    The NEEA doesn't have a thumb on the scale- they are a consortium of electric utility stake holders who need accuracy on how much power use (particularly peak load power) they can anticipate by installing mini-splits in homes heated with resistance electricity. The net result has been to heavily subsidize the first mini-split in most of their service areas, since it's cheaper to buy that capacity with the resulting efficiency than it is to build new generating capacity (any type) or upgrade substation & distribution infrastructure. A single mini-split cuts the total heating power consumption in half, even if it only cuts the peak power loads in those homes by about a quarter. (They and their regulators have determined that it's in the best interest of other ratepayers to subsidize that, at least for the first mini-split, and in some service territories more.)

    An electric furnace or boiler in NJ is only 20% more expensive to operate than $4 oil, and is at-parity with $5 oil. It's not rocket science, it's napkin-math. Without the heat pump and JUST the electric boiler it's 20% more expensive (for now), but with the mini-split it's 20% cheaper. (The NEEA has tons of data available online, if you're looking for verification- and that's with 5-6 year old ductless technology- the newer versions are more than 10% more efficient. ) In MA where power is more expensive than NJ the electric boiler + single mini-split solution would be at parity with $4 oil.

    NJ is mostly in zone 4A, the colder parts are in zone 5A, so performance will be comparable or better than the NEEA average. Assuming it tracks the NEEA experience an electric boiler supplying half the BTUs with 14 cent elecricity at 1.2x the cost of 85%/$4 oil, with the other half is from a mini-split averaging a COP of 3.0 (though 3.5 is more realistic), at less than 0.4 x the cost of 85% oil, the net cost is going to come in around (1.2 x 0.5) + (0.4 x 0.5)= 0.8x the cost of heating with oil. That's a 20% savings at current market rates.

    Without the heat pump and JUST the electric boiler it's 20% more expensive (for now), but with the addition of mini-split it's 20% cheaper. With 2 mini-splits it would be quite a bit cheaper, if the layout of the house made that workable.

    Betting on new oil heating boiler is betting that over the next 20 years depletion rates of the easy oil fields won't steepen (in the face of hard evidence that suggests otherwise), and that growth in world demand for oil as a transportation fuel will remain at it's fairly tepid recent-year's rates (plausible at the margins, if not compelling), and that PV & wind won't out-compete all other grid sources on price by 2025. When the likes of Barclays, Sanford Bernstein, and CitiGroup (investment bankers are not exactly green-tech cheerleaders, they're in it for the green-cash) are all taking the other side of that grid-source bet, how firm can your confidence be that they are all wrong?

    And what makes you think that it isn't as likely that #2 oil won't average $5 or higher over the next 20 years, as more and more Indian & Chinese drivers are hitting the road? Demand can ramp a lot faster than production, since almost all new production is from tight sources, which require an order of magnitude more drilling. Liquids have a lot more value as transportation fuels, an application with fewer alternatives, and will support a higher price than as space heating fuels. Electricity sources have many competitors, and don't require liquid forms or high energy density to be effective. The potential is much more likely for oil pricing to trend higher than it is to fall, and it can really only fall about 25% before a large fraction of the new- sources have to dry up.
  19. questseeker

    questseeker New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Another question for Burners Carlin or Beckett?
    burnham pv8h3 or Peeress wbv4?
    Not switching to gas
  20. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Messages:
    2,804
    Location:
    01609
    Unless you live in an uninsulated 5000' house either one of those is going to be way oversized for your heating loads, which will lead to lower as-used efficiency, and possibly even short-cycling if it's cut up into zones.

    The PV8H3 has a D.0.E. output of 125,000 BTU/hr.

    The WBV-4 delivers 117,000 BTU/hr.

    The "average" home in NJ probably has a heat load of about 30,000-35,000 BTU/hr.

    A typically insulated 2500' 2x4 framed house pluse full basement with clear single-panes & storms with at least R19 in the attic will have a heat load at 0F less than 40,000 BTU/hr if it's reasonably tight, and less than 50,000 BTU/hr even if it leaks quite a bit of air. If you oversize the boiler by 3x-4x for the load it can't come close to hitting it's AFUE rated numbers without buffer tanks + heat-purge controls. (AFUE tested numbers assume 1.7x oversizing, and having the boiler fully inside of conditioned space. Even the smallest-of-the-line oil boilers are often 2x oversized for typical loads, which takes an efficiency hit from being oversized, but not nearly as severe as 3x+ oversizing.

    If you have a fuel use history on the thing it's possible to put a hard upper-bound on your whole house heat load. If you have regular fill-up service they usually stamp a "K-factor" on the billing slip. The K-factor on a mid to late winter fill-up and your zip code (for outside design temperature estimation purposes) is enough to ball-park it for you, using your existing boiler as the measuring instrument.

    If your heat load is under 30,000 BTU/hr you may be better off using an oil-fired water heater as the boiler, since it's inherently self-buffering. (A reasonably insulated 1200' house with low-E windows will often have a heat load under 25,000 BTU/hr @ 0F, sometimes less than 20,000 BTU/hr.) Another advantage to using a water heater is that it can't short-cycle, on zone calls even if you cut it up into a gazillion teeny-tiny zones.
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