High Altitude Boilers


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Old 02-09-07, 10:22 PM
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Question High Altitude Boilers

I am in the process of constructing a new modestly sized, highly insulated home that is located @ around 9000 ft. I had originally wanted to use a wall hung boiler like a Takagi as the heat source for simple hydronic baseboard heat, but I was told that it would not work well at that altitude. Price and ease of installation are, of course, very important. Any suggestions?
--Jay
 
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Old 02-10-07, 08:56 AM
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I do not have any suggestions but know (living at 8300) that heating units are sometimes not rated for those of us in the thin air. For example Rinnai makes one of the few tankess hot water heaters that will still be warrantied at our elevation.

I suggest talking to a heating store or rep in your area who can recommend something that will work at 9k ft. Be sure to talk to someone who knows high altitude concerns, hopefully in your community; up here talking to someone in Denver (5300ft, 30 minutes away) does not mean they know about altitude concerns at higher elevations.
 
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Old 02-10-07, 05:37 PM
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High Altitude

Yeah, I'm in Colorado also. building at the base of Pikes Peak.
I'll look into the Rinnai Tankless. I'm curious of what did you go with in your home?
--Jerry
 
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Old 02-10-07, 06:15 PM
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Takagi makes boilers?
 
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Old 02-10-07, 07:30 PM
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Who,
Takagi makes those Wall hung Flash boiler units. They are usually used as water heaters, but are often used as a heat source for hydronic heat.
--Jerry
 

Last edited by jgmullins; 02-10-07 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 02-10-07, 07:55 PM
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Why would you want to use an instant water heater to heat your home?

Wouldn't a modulating condensing boiler be far more reliable, far safer and far more economical to run, not to mention already have good built in controls for heating?
 
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Old 02-10-07, 08:06 PM
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I'm not a plumber, You tell me. As it stands the wall hung unit, as I understand it, is: modulating, takes up no floor space, requires no storage tank and costs around 1000.00
--JERRY
 
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Old 02-11-07, 01:17 AM
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There are a couple of good reasons not to use a water heater for a space heating boiler. The first is that most manufacturers do not warrant (guarantee) their water heaters for use in space heating applications and the second reason is that the water heater is not listed (by UL or some other recognized listing agency) for use in space heating applications.

If the first two reasons don't stop you then I suggest checking with your local Building Official. Many local building, plumbing or mechanical codes specifically prohibit the use of water heaters for space heating purposes. I strongly suspect that insurance companies would also take a dim view of this practice.


There is one way that water heaters sometimes may be used for space heating and that is when the water heater is piped in such a way that the domestic water is also used directly in the heating system. Yup, your hot water faucet will draw from the heating system.
 
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Old 02-11-07, 12:24 PM
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"I'm not a plumber, You tell me. As it stands the wall hung unit, as I understand it, is: modulating, takes up no floor space, requires no storage tank and costs around 1000.00"

********************************

For under $3K you could get a Prestige that has proper controls, hangs on a wall, has a small low wattage adjustable circ built-in, has a self-cleaning heat exchanger and extracts much more heat from the gas it burns.

Few instant water heaters can do 85% efficiency without severe risk of corrosion from condensation. The instant water heaters also have highly restrictive heat exchangers (not normally an issue with them because they are designed for the flow of a high pressure domestic systems), which means you'll need a large expensive circulator to keep water flowing through it. They'll also need to be cleaned on an annual basis and will lose some of theri already lower efficiency between cleanings.

Then the big question is, how do you control the instant water heater in a home heating role? I'm not sure, but you'll have to spend some money here. You're already using more fuel than you need to, way way more electricity than you need to and you had to buy a large expensive noisier pump and now you still have to pay more for controls.

That $3K boiler has full controls, designed not only for optimal space heating but also for controlling an indirect fired water heater. That water heater would also gain from having the same higher efficiency.

I just wanted you to think about the whole picture - I hope I didn't offend.

It's approx. 2% per 1000' on a Prestige that you would need to de-rate it.
 
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Old 02-11-07, 06:50 PM
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Who,
No offense at all. I really appreciate all of feedback I am getting. Just trying to make heads or tales of all the info thats available on the web. It's hard to find two plumbers who seem to agree on the best way to skin the cat. I will definitely look into the Prestige and try to weigh the costs. At $3k I would definitely need to take the radiant floor option off the table and stick to baseboard only.
I do have a question. Could you elaborate a little more on:
"That $3K boiler has full controls, designed not only for optimal space heating but also for controlling an indirect fired water heater. That water heater would also gain from having the same higher efficiency." What Kinda controls?
Do you mean it controls a separate water heater or it handles DHW itself through priority control?
Thanks
 
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Old 02-11-07, 07:02 PM
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Furd,
Thanks for the post. I actually got the idea of using a flash boiler from a schematic provided by Takagi Flash Boilers themselves so I am assuming they would warrantee it. I will definitely need to check into the local Building Official thing.
Thanks
 
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Old 02-11-07, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jgmullins View Post
Who,
I do have a question. Could you elaborate a little more on:
"That $3K boiler has full controls, designed not only for optimal space heating but also for controlling an indirect fired water heater. That water heater would also gain from having the same higher efficiency." What Kinda controls?
Do you mean it controls a separate water heater or it handles DHW itself through priority control?
I'm not sure on the exact pricing, I was just trying to point out the different things that can be overlooked in a simple comparison.

It would control a separate water heater. A well insulated tank and a modulating condensing boiler is by far the most efficient way to heat domestic water.

By controls I mean that it has an outdoor reset controller on the boiler. When it's mild out, you might only need to heat your heating water up to 98 but in the deepest part of the winter you may need 150 water. It all depends on how you do your design. If a boiler has a set temp and then just fires off on on to reach it, you'll hear the baseboard pinging and you'll also be wasting fuel.

Have you done a heatloss calculation for the building? What do you figure your total budget is for doing the heating? I'd still try and insulate and run PEX in the slab. You can never go back later and do that.
 
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Old 02-11-07, 08:34 PM
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Red face

Who,
I have done a heat loss calc. I will have to dig it out from somewhere. Hey, Iwas just looking for info on the Premier when I got your post. Could not find much. I did come across the NTI Trinity though. It is a modulating/condensing wall hung boiler w/ 93% AFUE. It also comes with a domestic hot water coil option which means no water storage tank! I'm kinda averse to tanks. I would hate to go to all the trouble of building a "green" home with ultra insulated SIPs, all energy star appliances and the like and then end up wasting energy by heating water when I'm not using it. Tell me what you think.
 
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Old 02-11-07, 09:43 PM
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I have a Prestige so I'm very biased...

http://www.triangletube.com/CondensingBoilers/PrestigeOverview.htm

The Prestige is much nicer and has a much better layout. With the Trinity the piping comes off the side, the exhaust is out the top and the air intake comes in from below. The Prestige also requires more pumping power through the heat exchanger than the Prestige which has the self-cleaning design. The Prestige has built-in low water protection that is optional on the Trinity.

If you piped direct to a manifold and just used the internal circ, your electric consumption would be 14watts at idle, and under 100 watts when heating. With the Trinity and the optional low water protection you'll be using 160 to 200 watts just for the the boiler loop when operating. The Trinity would have to be set up P/S - the Prestige works great direct. It's not in their manual, but you can contact the company to verify that.

The company that makes the boiler also makes a great indirect tank. These tanks are very green. The standby loss is extremely low. They are super insulated. Tanks simply work better than other methods. In Europe, space is tight so you see more combis but people don't choose them they get stuck with them. Do you want your boiler firing just so that you can wash your hands? The combi units have small heat exchangers in them that can get crudded up with the various things that come out of your tap. They also mean that you will become aware that they have a minimum and maximum flow. Anyway... it's late - these tanks are extremely green. What fraction of heat escapes is only an issue in the non-heating months. Their biggest downside is space. The do have small tanks that mount on walls in Europe. They even have a version of the Prestige, that has a small tank inside (Prestige Excellence).

Anyway food for thought.

9,000' Do you have any idea how many athletes would want to sleep there and then train closer to sea level every day? ;-)
 
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Old 02-12-07, 06:19 AM
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Jerry:

We are only using the Rinnai for hot water; we heat with a wood stove (primary) and a gas forced air furnace (secondary). Can't say much for how I like the Rinnai yet, it's being installed this week.

You live in a lovely area of our state! Are you in the Manitou Springs area?
 
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Old 02-12-07, 07:35 AM
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Logcabincook,
We are a little higher up near Woodland Park next to Mueller State Park. And You?
 
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Old 02-12-07, 11:33 AM
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Oh, my cousin lives up there. Lovely area. We are in Conifer/Evergreen (sometimes the PO isn't even sure which town we live in!)
 
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Old 02-12-07, 11:44 AM
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Logcabincook,
Not too shabby of an area your self! Let me know how the Rinnai turns out for you.
 
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Old 03-22-07, 09:47 PM
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jgmullins, who are you talking to about the boilers in the Pikes Peak area. I live out in Falcon and we have the Trinity T150 by NTI. The system was installed about 6 months before we bought the house which is now about 3 years ago and we have had nothing but problems with it. I have had to constantly reset the darn thing (about once a month) and I have had to replace the low water module on it and now we are getting a ASO fault on it. I believe that it is actually the fan motor as the continuity of the switches all check out.

When we first started having trouble, I could not find any information on who installed the system so I called their "rep" in Denver, Philip Woods, who stated they really didn't have anything to do with the systems but he gave me a few phone numbers to try. I was only able to reach one guy who was in Denver and said he did not service anyone in the Springs area and did not know anyone else. Now Phillip Woods no longer works for the company and I got some lady who was just totally worthless and had no idea what I was talking about. To be honest, I don't even know what the company IDC Associates even do.

I am thinking about replacing the hole thing and starting over. I dont know if I want to put any more of my time in this system.
 
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Old 03-23-07, 05:34 AM
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This reminds me to reply about the Rinnai. It works great. I love not running out of hot water and only heating water when it's needed, which for us is maybe 20 - 30 minutes a day. 30 minutes vs a tank heater running 24 hours is a big difference!

We found a couple gotchas for our install: our well water is so cold in winter that when you turn on the tub faucet (not other faucets) there is a drop in water pressure since the water heater is working so hard to heat up that frigid water. Shallow well line I guess. We are also noticing a foghorn like sound on cold days when we turn on the hot water at the tub faucet (not other faucets) when running full blast. The plumber thinks it's a rush of warm air exiting the vent pipe. The basement is wide open right now in the remodel making the noise reverberate, so we will insulate against the noise. We also initially noticed the minor temp fluxuations when the well pump kicked on or other water demand happened elsewhere in the house and the Rinnai had to adjust, but now I don't notice it at all. Not biggies, just learning the system.
 
 

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