• Tag Archives Delta-T ECM
  • “THE HANDY HEADER™” – Building Block to Hydronic Distribution Efficiency

    Boilers On Demand LLC is pleased to announce “The Handy Header™”, entitled “THE COMPACT STEEL HYDRONIC HEADER” in our Patent Submission. It is the first of several proprietary devices that contribute to the documented performance of our first, true Delta-T ECM Hydronic (Forced Hot Water) Heating Appliance (Patents Pending – USA & Canada).

    The “Compact Steel Hydronic Header” is a redefinition of the common welded steel-piped boiler header, but optimized for hydronic performance and utilitarian value. Design compaction reduces the size and material content of current headers by approximately 40 percent while increasing hydronic distribution (flow) efficiency proportionally at minimum.

    Designed specifically to minimally space and orient Taco® “Zone Sentry” Valves, it supersedes the need for a Valve or Circulator Relay Panel on our Delta-T ECM Circulator-based systems. It has similar value on “conventional” heating system installations, however we are initially offering The Handy Header™ System only on our products.

    The “Compact Steel Hydronic Header” is the “building block” for a series of logical derivatives as follow:

    1. The Compact Header – The Base

    2. Zone Valve Assembly (Pre-Built)

    3. Hydronic Distributor (Pre-Built)

    4. Miscellaneous Applications

    The Compact Steel Header System is utilized on both our Modular Supply and Return Assemblies, configured to the Client Application.

    The Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distributor (our naming) is uniquely applicable to our larger, Multi-Boiler Systems. A series of these can be branched off the System Supply Log to suit extended installation requirements.

    Additional device announcements to follow upon prior qualification.

    Refer to our website BoilersOnDemand.com for additional details.


  • USPTO NOTICE OF PATENT PUBLICATION – Paul D. Mercier, Sr.

    Pursuant to United States Patent & Trademark Office Regulations our Patent Submission entitled “ENHANCED CONVECTION, DIFFERENTIAL TEMPERATURE MANAGED, HYDRONIC HEATING APPLIANCE” is now posted for public access and viewing.

    A copy of the published application can be obtained at the following link, http://appft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.html .  Type in the publication number 20170299200.  Click “Search”, a link is presented to the published application, simply click on this link to access the published application html format.  To view the application as published click on the blue “Images” button at the top of the page.  Please note you will need an appropriate TIFF reader in order to view these images.

    We believe this to be the first, truly self-contained Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution enabled Heating APPLIANCE. It dramatically alters the installation of hydronic (FHW) heating systems as a free-standing, modular construction, application specific device. The installation task is reduced to merely positioning our Appliance and extending interconnect piping & wiring as necessary. Skill levels, installation and operational costs are significantly reduced with predictable system performance resulting. Interchangeable gas or oil firing options ….. same appliance!

    The proprietary items that support our claims beyond any contemporary hydronic heating installation are:

    1. Near-boiler piping configuration permitting a “packaged” device, optimizing natural hydronic (gravity) convection enhancement, and de facto Indirect Water Heater service prioritization.
    2. High-mass Boiler and Indirect Water Heater thermal capacities that enable prolonged convection heating continuity under a failed circulator or power burner condition.
    3. Lowered system temperature operation and reduced burner cycling times for increased efficiency, extended system life with lower operating costs.
    4. All high-mass cast iron, steel, brass & bronze construction providing prolonged chemical corrosion resistance vs. all contemporaries.
    5. Proprietary components and assemblies that enhance appliance operation and performance.
    6. A “Design for Manufacture” Appliance for optimum consumer value.

    Within our Patent Submission are references to “derivatives” attendant to our product(s). These are being announced as our testing and sourcing is completed. Check our website for updates.

    Follow these links to our Product Sales Brochure and our website for additional detail.

    Author Note: Updated 08/02/2018


  • WEIL-MCLAIN CASE STUDY SUBMISSION – Our Beta #3 Site Delta-T ECM Heating Appliance™

    A Case Study Submission has been made to Weil-McLain for their publication.

    It details our Beta #3 Site early Delta-T ECM Hydronic Heating Appliance operation with the testimonial of our client. Focus is on the rapid, seamless installation and resulting performance of our system. It is the first, true Hydronic (FHW) Heating Appliance and is currently under Patent Pending in both the USA & Canada.

    Look for it in an upcoming Weil-McLain Newsletter publication.

    Thanks as well for our client’s participation and his resounding endorsement!


  • NOW A TRUE DELTA-T ECM HYDRONIC (FHW) HEATING APPLIANCE!

    Hydronic (FHW) heating system installations can be likened to creating something with a giant Erector Set™. As a kid, mine came with an electric motor enabling powered cars, airplanes, ferris wheels, etc. Days, weeks and months of childhood imagination and expression ensued. Great memories!

    Now as “big kids” hydronic heating system installations offer us a similar fulfillment of free expression. Within the limits of ultimate system functionality hydronic “artists” can seemingly paint their own canvas while getting paid for it! The question logically arises however as to where are the cost benefits of our efforts? We argue that heating guys are indeed losing direction, both technically and functionally. The adage “Old Dogs need to learn New Tricks” comes immediately to mind, regretfully also being one. It’s not only our innate trade resistance to change but not to think forward in applying what has preceded us ….. beginning with Physics 101!

    Gravity convection was the means of distributing heating water from the Roman Age onward. From the mid-1800’s to about 1930 it was “Queen” Gravity Hot Water along with “King” Steam. However gravity hot water systems required large boilers, piping and radiation sizes. They were slow to react, single-zoned and fuel hungry, whether burning wool, coal, oil or whatever.

    Introduction of the electric circulating pump changed hot water (hydronic) heating forever. Now multiple zones, rapid response through less intrusive radiation and powered burners do it all very conveniently. Gravity is still there, but we have necessarily learned to control it with flow check valves. Apart from the brief and unsuccessful introduction by American Standard of their “Ash Can” Gravity Boiler System in the late 1950’s (our nickname – we were Am-Std Installers back then) FHW has predominated. Circulators began by being placed on the (cooler) returns with flow checks on the (warmer) supplies to control convection. Then circulators moved to the supplies along with the valves. Boilers are now migrating from two-pass to three-pass or condensing types for greater efficiency. That’s arguably been it ….. until now!

    Enter the Delta-T (differential temperature) sensing and managing, ECM (electronic commutator motor) driven Variable Speed Circulator, specifically the Taco® VT2218-HY1-FC1A01 (Current Model). This latest iteration in Taco® Hydronic Distribution Technology is making its inevitable mark on radiant and other hydronic circuits. Its “smart” capabilities are many however, having five (5) selectable operating modes, but we are focused only upon the “DELTA-T MODE” within its appetizing menu.

    We have been experimenting for some years now with Taco®’s prior Delta-T’s and the current VT2218 ECM as a dedicated system circulator, beyond that denoted in Taco®’s Product Brochure. During this process we discovered and integrated differential temperature management with natural hydronic convection (gravity) for an optimized design with superlative results, again well beyond those claimed by Taco®. Multiple “Beta Site” installations have provided us with sufficient data and results to seek “Provisional” and now subsequent “Non-Provisional Intelligent Property Protection” on our:

    ENHANCED CONVECTION, DIFFERENTIAL TEMPERATURE MANAGED HYDRONIC HEATING APPLIANCE (Patents Pending, USA & Canada)

    Quite a mouthful indeed, but place the emphasis on APPLIANCE. You see, delta-t hydronic technology is not merely a “circulator swap” for radiation and energy efficiency gains. It offers additional opportunities in hydronic process integration and management as yet either unrecognized or underutilized. Our efforts fall on the latter, particularly when cooperating with “Mother Nature” by employing natural hydronic (gravity) convection to an operational advantage.

    Falling back upon and employing the principles of “non-powered” gravity heating we optimized a “contemporary” Delta-T ECM FHW System. Utilizing supply and return iron-piping “stacks” and compacted manifolding minimized distribution head losses. Combine these with the thermal storage capacity of mating to a cast-iron high-mass boiler enables a true, free-standing APPLIANCE. Its profile is contained within the boiler footprint plus about a foot of exhausting & piping space to the rear. Modular construction is a natural for hydronic elements as well as system wiring and controls. Module variations to suit particular site and application requirements logically follow.

    Taco® promotes energy reductions of up to 85% and 15% for electricity and fuel respectively by using their Delta-T ECM Circulator Product. We emphatically agree ….. and even more! Measurements on our multiple “Beta Sites” indicated a deviation that was not anticipated. Namely, upon the dedicated VT2218 system circulator achieving preset “delta-t” and stabilizing, the wattage displayed further deteriorated to approximately half this value along with some further speed reduction! A subsequent “Beta Site” circulator failure confirmed our suspicions. First, that failure event was not noticed for an estimated 2-3 days, and then only with a gradual decay in house temperature. The event was camouflaged by an integral Indirect Water Heater (IWH) based domestic hot water (DHW) delivery that was never affected!

    The circulator failure not only quantified the now measurable convection (gravity) heating effect witnessed, but qualified our overall near-boiler piping configuration, purposely designed with a de facto priority circuit for the IWH Option. The latter eliminates the need for that particular optional control feature. Further witnessed on our “Beta” circulator failure was boiler temperature operating near maximum. The Hydrolevel® 3250-Plus Aquastat on our Weil-McLain® UO Boiler logically incremented system temperature upward, attempting to satisfy prolonged zone demand(s). The higher supply/return temperatures and differentials further enhanced convection. The effective 700 pound plus thermal storage mass of our “appliance” also served to dampen the close-coupled IWH zone demands! It is reasonable to presume that the IWH thermal storage would also be “pumped down” during a burner failure, passively prolonging thermal decay.

    Radiation configuration and piping integrity are paramount to convection (gravity) heating effectiveness however. Drawing from over 40 years operation of our personal dual-fuel, fully no-power emergency capable hydronic heating system, we can attest to radiation attribute importance. Simple, well designed serial and split baseboard loops work best. De-aeration is absolutely necessary and system water pressure must be present. Taco® Zone Sentry Valves utilized in our design have a manual open-close feature that can be utilized to regain a heating level upon an actuator failure, as do current flow check valves. (NOTE: You can replace a failed Taco® actuator head on our appliance in 20 seconds – if ever a need!)

    Complimenting hydronic performance is our “Compact Steel Hydronic Header” (Patents Pending) that positions, orients and provides flexibility in both zone and return valve mounting with expansion capability. Placing Taco® Zone Sentries at their minimum (2-3/4″) spacing with wired harnessing eliminates the need of a significant valve or circulator relay expense ….. and with greater diagnostic and system functionality!

    Currently applying our manufacturing process expertise we are projecting the “economies of scale” provided in our construction. The physical modules of boiler, supply and return are configured for capacity/fuel and zone complement and inventoried. A natural and complimentary option of an Indirect Water Heater (IWH) for domestic hot water (DHW) generation falls into this methodology as well. Adding assembly fixtures, applied tools, wiring assy’s, etc. further contribute to appliance value.

    A Hydronic Heating “Appliance” changes everything. The historical loose-piece “process” of hydronic (FHW) installation now becomes a “product” installation of lesser content with higher, predictable system performance and costs. Not just having a stock product that readily configures to the specific requirement, but being available on demand to fulfill both routine and seasonal emergency failures is a valuable resource indeed. Appliance costs and performance are also guaranteed, with all components warranted by their U.S. Manufacturer(s) as with any contemporary installation.

    Our motto: “Simple, Durable and Efficient FHW Heating ….. Period!” sums it all up. Technology has finally caught up with hydronic heating, and it’s about time! The end game after all is providing real value to the consumer, is it not?

    Author’s Note: Updated 01/20/2018


  • DELTA-T ECM HYDRONICS – Redefining “The Plumber’s Playground”

    Hydronic heating comprises warming water as a medium, moving and expending its energy to warm an environment. Thus we have boilers as heat generators and radiation to convert heated water into warmth. Between these we must distribute our medium via pipes, pumps, valves and controls to meet heating demands.

    Basic hydronic system design rules of course must apply, but by and large the final product interpretation has been left to the tradesman/installer. This individualization provides a very attractive latitude of self-expression. Like an artist painting on a new canvas individual skills, styling and practice all comprise the final “picture”, with the author’s “signature” applied. Based upon our field observations we have come to refer to hydronic distribution in particular as “The Plumber’s Playground”, and with no apologies offered.

    Unfortunately the Laws of Physics apply equally to hydronic system installations as to any other enterprise. Therefore that maze of pipes, valves, circulators, controls and wiring evidenced in a “plumbers playground”, no matter how pretty, daunting or impressive is unnecessarily complex, costly and under-performs. In fact any system installed within the past three years or more not employing Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution Technology specifically is woefully under-performing!

    The Heating Game has changed, led by the Taco® Delta-T ECM VT2218 Hydronic Circulator and its supporting Taco® Zone Sentry Valves. We refer to it as “The Hydronic Revolution”, as it truly is! These two (2) devices, properly applied, can and do dramatically simplify the complexity and content of a conventional hydronic heating system. Again, properly applied and supported by contemporary control systems provided by an “Intelligent” System Aquastat with idealized piping (plumbing) can further enhance performance, as our work has evidenced. Our development efforts and observations are reflected within the remainder of this presentation.

    The Delta-T ECM Variable Speed, Intelligent, Multi-Temperature-Sensing Circulator is a marvel of applied technology. Its ability to sense, measure and maintain a preset temperature differential in a hydronic circuit virtually optimizes heat transfer efficiency in a single, automatic step. Further being able to accommodate varying demands from multiple zones (circuits) virtually seamlessly as we have evidenced places it as the heart of any hydronic system. Using an automotive analogy we slogan that we are putting an ‘Automatic Transmission’ on a Boiler, but doing it hydronically.

    Now pair this Taco® Delta-T ECM Circulator with a compliment of their Zone Sentry® Zone Valves and you dramatically reduce energy consumption while gaining some further fuel efficiency. As Taco® promotes we are seeing distribution power consumption drops to 11-13 watts and in another instance to 8 watts during normal operation! Compare these with 80 watts for a single Taco® 007 and 21 watts each  for a Heat Motor Zone Valve. (The Zone Sentry® uses 11 watts, and then only in a brief actuator “charging cycle”.) Hydronic heating system power consumption is virtually never considered in design, but it should and furthermore must be!

    Piping is the pride of any plumber (ourselves included) yet in so being can become a detriment to system performance. To this point we offer that hydronic convection (the natural attribute of heated water to rise, and cooler fall) is not considered as a positive contribution to system performance, but an attribute to be controlled. As we have witnessed in our design effort however, natural convection is a measurable asset, particularly when configuring piping and placement to maximize its effect. Near-boiler piping, to employ the trade term, is crucial to maximizing hydronic performance. Compacted packaging of correct pipe sizing and layout close to the boiler displays great natural (non-powered) circulation that may not only supplement but also heat at reduced levels. We had an early Delta-T Circulator failure on one of our “beta” installations that was not discovered for an estimated 2-3 days! How’s that for convection — like “paddling your canoe with the current”.

    When you fully integrate the “intelligent” Delta-T ECM Circulator, Zone Valves and Aquastat with idealized convection you come to the conclusion that hydronic system installation is no longer a process, but functionally becomes an Appliance. Our resultant “package” is contained within its boiler footprint plus minimal rear piping space. A designer need only define system capacity, number of zones, fuel type and exhausting to define the “appliance”. Further, the application lends itself to modularization, and thus to versatility by default. Not only do we significantly reduce the material content of a system, but its labor content and installation time as well.

    Now there is both a trade and consumer option, a virtual Hydronic Heating Appliance with a fixed cost and defined, superlative performance. Our work to date has been developing a “Package Delta-T ECM Hydronic (Oil) Heating System” that achieves its higher performance by incorporating Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution Technology with a high-mass, lower operating temperature boiler for optimized performance. But also recognize that Delta-T ECM Circulation will work on any fueled hydronic application, putting an “automatic transmission” on ANY boiler. This obviously reduces the size, content and complexity of the “Plumber’s Playground”, but to a net performance advantage in doing so.

    To summarize, a “Hydronic Heating Appliance” is in our near future, defined by technology and necessitated by the market, like it or not. Its Performance Specification will virtually determine system performance, unlike the potpourri of present practice. Our publicized contributions are documented on our website www.BoilersOnDemand.com.  Please note that our current and following product offerings are under Intelligent Property Protection (Patent Pending). We look forward to “Boilers On Demand” in the new “Plumber’s Playground”.


  • SIMPLE, DURABLE, EFFICIENT FHW HEATING ….. PERIOD!

    Our Motto is “Simple, Durable, Efficient FHW Heating ….. Period!”. Boilers On Demand LLC has achieved this seemingly noble objective by fully integrating Advanced Taco Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution Technology into Forced Hot Water (FHW) Heating . The unstated result of our “Convection Enhanced Delta-T ECM Hydronic Heating Appliance” (Patents Pending – USA & Canada) development is it being highly cost-effective as well. Can we “have it all”, so to speak? Let’s look at our effort in further detail …..

    Hydronic (FHW) Heating to the layman and consumer has always had a certain mystique, evidenced by witnessing a tradesman or plumber configuring a system, piece-by-piece into a seeming maze of piping and components. The results vary from the mundane to aesthetically impressive, but we must realistically note in fact that the hydronic performance of any system is less than ideal. The residential and light commercial heating markets in particular have not had the tools nor the general expertise to optimize a hydronic heating installation. Consequently the end user has suffered with an over-installed, under-performing, energy-consumptive system over its lifetime ….. knowingly or not!

    Note: We can’t excuse our like personal participation for now sixty (60) years in hydronic heating. Our guilt is shared ….. but no longer!

    Now a true “hydronic revolution” is upon us, not yet generally known and even less appreciated, nor applied. Hydronics have thankfully been somewhat forgiving to all of us applying it, but now there’s a new day, and a new benchmark.

    By explanation, there are three (3) basic elements to hydronic heating: Energy Creation, Distribution and Radiation. Put more simply:

    1. A Hydronic Boiler to create energy by burning a fuel, as efficiently as possible.
    2. Moving (distributing) heated water to points of use with “pipes and pumps” (circulators).
    3. Warming an environment by passing air over hot piping, as simply and effectively as possible.

    We have progressed quite well in creating and utilizing energy via boilers and radiation, but that is where it has stagnated far too long. Given the limitations of fixed or selectable speed circulators and valving we have managed without addressing the true potential of improving hydronic distribution efficiency to complete the heating equation. The intelligent, variable speed Delta-T (ΔT) ECM VT2218 00e Series Circulator by Taco Comfort Solutions® has changed it all ….. and none too soon!

    We have been experimenting with Taco® Variable Speed Delta-T VDT’s, “BumbleBees”, Viridians and now 00eSiries ECM Circulators for years, utilizing them as direct substitutes for their fixed-speed predecessors. They have worked particularly well as radiant zone circulators as our fellow tradesmen have also discovered. The Taco BumbleBee® in particular has gained trade notoriety both by its appearance and performance. However, our personal technical efforts have gone well beyond the obvious in pursuing a dedicated boiler system circulator application. It has neither been promoted nor seeming anticipated, yet its implications are very significant when achieved.

    Utilizing a Delta-T, and in particular an ECM (Electronically Commutated Motor) based circulator as a single, dedicated system hydronic “distributor” offers near-ideal efficiency potential. We slogan it as “putting an ‘Automatic Transmission’ on a boiler”. It greatly simplifies both near-boiler piping and control complexity, but must necessarily possess several operational attributes:

    1. First and foremost is reliability! A dedicated (single) system circulator failure is a potential “show-stopper” after all.
    2. Performance Flexibility. It must adapt to and accommodate all system energy demand patterns with minimal, if any effect.
    3. Accommodate an Indirect Water Heater as a prioritized and an incrementally higher energy demand accessory.
    4. Significantly improve system efficiency and performance while reducing energy requirements, both fuel and electric.

    Zone Valves are a necessary compliment to manage individual zone demands when using a single circulator. New generation valving and in particular the Taco Zone Sentry® Valve provide outstanding performance and value with self-diagnostics. The “Zone Sentry” in fact delivers three times the heating capacity of its popular “Heat Motor” predecessor, and uses dramatically less power. Combine these with its physical packaging attributes the “Zone Sentry” provides a unique configuration opportunity further addressed in this writing.

    The hydronic distribution function is composed of two elements:

    1. “Near-boiler piping” as generally referred includes circulators, valves, air elimination and expansion devices that prepare and present heated water or “hydronic energy” to points-of-use.
    2. Distribution piping that extends and presents this heated water energy to radiation components.

    We offer that considering these two distribution tasks without differentiation or distinction is fundamentally flawed, and yet is standard trade practice. As initially stated, Delta-T Distribution Technology changes this assumption, and dramatically! Consolidating hydronic flow within a single, intelligent system level circulator packaged with complimentary, intelligent zone valves packages into a true, efficient FHW Heating Appliance. Further, “hydronic convection” (gravity heating), the natural attribute of heated water to rise and convect within distribution piping is idealized as well. Witness the need to install “flow-check” valves in conventional systems piping, into circulators or using properly sited zone valves to control convection (gravity) heating. By incorporating natural convection total circulation energy is measurably reduced beyond that of Delta-T. A simple analogy would be “like paddling your canoe with the current, rather than against it”.

    Hydronic convection performance is at the core of our Proprietary Near Boiler Piping System. Included as a standard, recommended option for idealized system and DHW (domestic hot water) creation efficiency is an Indirect Water Heater (the HTP SuperStor Ultra Series). Close-coupled within our near-boiler piping, its integrated supply architecture becomes a physical, gravity flowing extension of boiler capacity, particularly in circulator fail-mode operation. Yes, we had a “fluke” 1st Generation Taco Viridian® VT2218 failure on our “Beta #3” site that was not discovered for an estimated 2-3 days of heating operation. DHW generation was never affected!

    Ideally complimenting our hydronic system is the highest-mass boiler for its rated output (the Weil-McLain UO Series), extending system energy storage capacity and potential fail-mode convection performance. Its supply and return rear porting compliment near-boiler piping by compactly and efficiently packaging all hydronics within its footprint plus an approximate 1 ft. rear piping and exhausting space. Adding the Indirect Water Heater uses under 12 sq. ft. of combined space, up to 2/3 less than a typical currently installed system while reducing system valving and near-boiler piping by up to 1/2. Integrating with domestic all-steel piping, malleable fittings and brass/bronze valving compose a free-standing system architecture of innately superb strength, chemical resistance and field proven longevity.

    Now applying our paralleled “High-Tech” Manufacturing Process expertise to Hydronic Heating, we have modularized, value engineered, methodized and tooled our Delta-T ECM Hydronic Heating Appliance to include several additional components in our Intellectual Property Protection (Patent Pending) Submission. Our cooperating customers on multiple “Beta Sites” are also providing us valuable data to optimize our system design and performance with the goal of providing an unbeatable cost-performance product.

    Taco Comfort Solutions® publishes that its Delta-T ECM VT2218 00e Series Circulator provides up to 15% fuel and 85% electrical power reductions in applications. We certainly concur! Our dedicated VT2218 system circulators are using 8-13 Watts in heating maintenance mode. Cold system warmups begin at 25-35 Watts (half the rated power) then reducing toward acclimation temperatures.

    At the extreme of our experience is our “Beta #1″ Site upgrade, badly mis-piped with three hidden, seriously undersized 1/2” radiation zone supplies & returns that exhibit high head pressures (obviously). A pre-existing integral IWH is also under-sized piped, adding to delivery issues. Yet, this system cold starts @ 65 Watts, decreases rapidly to 35 Watts, then slowly acclimates to 22-25 Watts running. (A single Taco® 007 draws up to 80 Watts by comparison. It had four operating three heating and the IWH zones.)

    Additionally by using the High-Mass Weil-McLain UO Series (Oil) Boiler(s) we see system operating temperatures lowering to 132-140º F, regulated by its integral Hydrolevel “Fuel Smart” HydroStat® 3250-Plus Aquastat. System demands are readily “cushioned” by the thermal mass provided in the total system architecture. It responded very positively to the prior noted prototype system circulator failure, ramping up system temperature toward maximum with zone duty cycle duration detection & response, maintaining radiation heating in degree. Boiler burner cycles are infrequent and brief, further reducing equipment maintenance levels while extending system operating life.

    We have more recently offered the appliance-specific Carlin EZ-PRO Gas (NG&LP) vs. the Beckett NX Oil Burner in the Weil-McLain UO Boiler. Now it’s a Universal Hydronic (FHW) Heating Appliance! Change fuels ….. swap the burner only!

    Total Hydronic  (FHW) Heating System Efficiency is  the AGGREGATE  of Boiler AFUE, Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution & Radiation Efficiency Gains! We further claim that the reduced operating system temperatures and hence stand-by losses of the very high mass Weil-McLain UO Boiler further increase overall efficiency. Thus we can confidently claim the highest efficiency heating system available!

    System Comparison

    “Conventional” FHW Heating System         vs.         The Delta-T ECM Hydronic System

     

    Identically Specified 100KBTUH, 2-Heating Zone + IWH, Oil-Fired Systems

     

    Attribute"Conventional" System"Delta-T" SystemComments
    Boiler TypeWelded Steel Plate (Example Unit)Cast Iron "Triple-Pass"15 years +/- vs. 30 Years +
    Boiler Weight270 Lbs.625 Lbs.Very High Mass - Durability
    Oil Burner TypeVarious OfferedBeckett NX (Pressure-Fired)Flexible, stable operation
    Gas Burner TypeFixed, Appliance-SpecificCarlin EZ-PRO (NG/LP) (Pressure-Fired)Appliance-Specific Interchange
    CirculationMultiple Fixed Speed Circulators onlyA Delta-T Variable Circulator w/ Intelligent Zone Valves>/ 15% Fuel Savings
    >/ 85% Electrical Savings
    Piping/FittingsCopper (Typically)All Iron & Cast ConstructionSuperior Strength/Durability
    Indirect Water HeaterVarious Mfrs. & TypesAll Stainless Steel OnlyA Lifetime of Service
    Floor Space UtilizationInstaller-dependentOptimized Package DesignMinimum Space Requirement
    Energy PerformanceInstaller-dependentOptimized Energy DesignPeaked Hydronic Efficiency
    Component SourcesU.S./Foreign Mix (Typical)"All-American" (US/Canada)Quality and Serviceability
    Installed Cost (Oil example shown)"Over $10,000" (Oil, as shown)$7,000 (Oil, as shown)Price, Performance, Value

    To Summarize:

    Taco® Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution changes everything! The “Plumber’s Playground” of conventional, inefficient hydronic distribution piping “free expression” is gone as well! We must now look at Hydronic (FHW) Heating in totality, no longer as a an aggregation and assemblage of parts by personal preference. Technology has provided we heating guys with some new working tools. Let’s learn how to use and apply them well!

     Author’s Note: Updated 10/01/2018


  • Our Feature Article “BEYOND AFUE TOWARD HYDRONIC HEATING SYSTEM EFFICIENCY” Published In Plumbing Engineer, May 2016

    We are both humbled and pleased to confirm that our Feature Article “BEYOND AFUE TOWARD HYDRONIC HEATING SYSTEM EFFICIENCY” has been published in the eminent Trade Journal “Plumbing Engineer” in its May 2016 Issue.

    It documents our efforts to apply Delta-T ECM Circulators as Dedicated System Circulators in Hydronic Systems. Mercier Engineering is the INDUSTRY FIRST to do so, culminating a three (3) year development and field testing effort.

    We aspire that the Hydronics Industry and ultimately the Heating Consumer may benefit from our work.


  • HIGH-MASS VS. LOW-MASS BOILERS – THE ARGUMENTS

    Updated: 10/01/2018 PDM, Sr.

    It comes down to economics, as do most things. The current trend is to market low-mass (lighter weight) boilers against the traditional heavier, high-mass cast-iron boilers. However, there are risks involved that must be assessed and quantified.

    New gas-fired appliances have a technological efficiency milepost that must be considered, specifically the traditional tube/ribbon burner “dry base” boilers vs. the new condensing technology low-mass boilers. They have a significant efficiency increase of 10+% in AFUE Efficiency Rating. Along with this however is a marked increase in appliance costs and operational risks — both quite important, yet never publicized!

    Stainless steel heat exchanger condensing gas units have been generally doing well service-wise. Cast aluminum heat exchanger units where supply water pH (acidity) has not been addressed at installation and at further maintenance points have had issues, to which we can personally attest. Given this reservation they have also performed reasonably well. Being quite sophisticated control-wise, one has to admire the engineered system integrity of these condensing gas systems. They certainly do flag service and maintenance issues with their sophisticated sensor systems!

    However a disturbing pattern is emerging and the alarms are sounding in the trade journals and forums. Premature welded stainless heat exchanger leakage failures are being reported, some “out-of-the-box” or within weeks of installation. A reduced anticipated installed system operating life of 15 years or less is also reported. The common cause for all should be water condition issues, but it’s also become manufacturing process integrity in some cases. Regardless, manufacturers are countering with stringent water condition qualification requirements within their typically 10-Year Pro-Rated Warranties. Not only do water conditions have to be measured and recorded at installation, but subsequent annual service procedures must re-qualify and record these values. Violate your water control guidelines and void your warranties!

    Oil-fired appliances on the other hand are a different animal, with combustion containment and management issues paramount in their design. Heating oil has over 60% more energy content per gallon than gases and can’t be technologically “modulated” (vary the firing rate) as with a gas appliance. Adjusting the output of an oil boiler is done by managing system temperature and/or by utilizing multiple boilers (MBS Systems) in larger installations. Therefore the oil boiler must be designed to perform at its maximum firing rate and within its design parameters. This is typically accomplished by using a cast-iron heat exchanger, and has been for the last two hundred years!

    Let us first disqualify any “dry base” welded-steel-fabrication oil boiler from this discussion. Their overall field performance history in both thermal efficiency and longevity are well documented and recognized. They are sold on price alone. If you have one, you won’t have it for long — unless you were born under a lucky star! (They barely meet D.O.E. Energy Star Ratings now as well, and we hope for not too much longer.) Particularly disturbing to us is the poor field history of a nameless, highly publicized “high efficiency” gas-or-oil welded plate construction boiler. Their factory service record as emoted both directly to us and through our trade service collaborators by their customers is damnable! Independent servicemen hate to touch them. Parts are product-specific, pricey and their eventual structural fate is predictable. We regard them as a “black eye” upon our industry. Beware of the sales pitch and do your homework! Get customer referrals at a minimum (including for ourselves).

    The “wet base” fully internal combustion-containment cast iron oil boiler is the industry standard, with a solid performance history. They differ however by both manufacturer and specific model design attributes that may affect life performance. If your oil boiler does not last at a minimum 30 years or more, something is very wrong. We have replaced 100+ year old cast iron boilers with still beautiful castings, but you just couldn’t afford to feed them! You are more likely to see a cast-iron boiler section seal corrosion failure in particularly older units or hard-freeze icing fracture neglect than a “worn-out” boiler. Either situation is economically catastrophic though, requiring unit replacement.

    The high-mass vs. low-mass oil boiler argument ultimately comes down to design parameters related to cast-iron material selection, application integrity and its performance under field conditions. The design safety factor of a boiler can be readily extended by simply providing more cast-iron and more water capacity. Works every time, but potentially adds cost to the boiler — or it should. All materials age in use, whether it’s polymerization in plastics, embrittlement in metals, et al to a future point of failure.

    We must now extend the preceding arguments to contemporary oil & gas appliance issues. There are three emerging problems documented in Heating Trade Publications that must be addressed:

    1. “COLD-SHOTTING”. A trade term that describes the condition where cold water is introduced into a hot boiler and thermally “shocks” the heat exchanger metallurgy. Single or cumulative events can result in catastrophic metal fracturing, seal and/or weld joinery failures. The “solution” is the additional piping and installation of a Boiler Return Water Temperature Control Valve to any condensing or low-mass boiler system. This is not an issue with a high-mass cast-iron boiler, nor has it ever been. Please note that Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution Technology properly applied negates this issue altogether. (See further.)
    2. MAGNETITE ALLEVIATION. Magnetite is a magnetic, accumulating ferrous (iron) oxide (rust) present in boiler and supply water and attaches itself to internal boiler components, reducing particularly circulation efficiency. It has virtually never been an issue in a cast-iron (naturally magnetite scavenging material) boiler, but here it is in very low iron condensing systems. It can only be addressed with an integral, full-time Magnetite Filtration System – a significant cost and maintenance cost adder.
    3. HYDRONIC DISTRIBUTION. Contemporary practices of near-boiler and distribution (to radiation) piping are excessive, unwarranted and inefficient. The seemingly excessive piping and controls witnessed in new installations are so, REDUCING system efficiency and increasing operating costs. Low-mass and condensing boiler systems are disproportionately affected. Correctly applied Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution Technology is a must for overall system efficiency. (See further.)

    If you’ve also read from our “Heating Blog Library” you would certainly qualify us as “High-Mass Boiler” advocates. We have additionally optimized our system performance by fully incorporating “Delta-T ECM Hydronic Distribution Technology” into our designs. They smooth hydronic system thermal demands while significantly reducing operating costs. In fairness this technology would certainly be very beneficial when applied to any low-mass boiler! In fact we consider it a prerequisite in a low-mass boiler installation. Please refer to our new Packaged ΔT ECM Hydronic (FHW) Heating Appliance™ (Patents Pending – USA & Canada) on this site.

    Considering the aforementioned, we much prefer high-mass boilers with their “thermal damping” and reduced cycling characteristics. More iron mass and water capacity equals less burner cycling and ultimately longer component life. We have noted in fact (although we don’t advocate it) that ultimately the maintenance cycle is now more dictated by the quality and amount of fuel oil passed through our Weil-McLain Ultra Series Triple-Pass Boilers than calendar cycles. Their heat exchanger passages are very open compared to prior generation two-pass units. Combined with the combustion quality of the Beckett NX Burner you generate very little ash and accumulation. The same cannot be said of a nameless foreign boiler that seems to have high ash generation and more frequent maintenance calls. (We refuse to service them, by the way — hire the mechanic with that “Mercedes”.)

    Summarizing, weigh the operating characteristics of your particular hydronic system application before you select any boiler. In particular look at an intelligent hydronic distribution option such as the Taco® Delta-T ECM Distribution System. Just “plugging and playing” a low-mass boiler into your system may not play too long, nor too well.

    (Please refer to our other blogs and appropriate external sources for detail related to this discussion.)