Old, noisy transformer(s). What are the newer options for a quieter system?

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Old 02-08-11, 09:05 AM
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Old, noisy transformer(s). What are the newer options for a quieter system?

Hi guys, I have a 8 year old hydronic system(natural gas) that was previously a wood/oil combination hydronic system. There are 5 transformers in a box in the furnace room that power the thermostats and zone valves and all. Do i really need 5 transformers?? It's a mess of wires in there, and from the reading I've been doing, it appears I really only need one transformer. There are only 3 zone valves, 2 thermostats and one aquastat(indirect fired domestic water heater).

My transformers have gotten really loud lately, and this morning are driving me nuts! we can hear them one floor up! Loud!

If I only need one, what's my best choice, today?
 
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Old 02-08-11, 10:11 AM
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I think that in order to offer good suggestions we would need to know a bit more about the system... for this, pictures might be the best place to start.

You can set up a free account at Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket and upload the pics there, come back here and post a link to your PUBLIC album for us to view. Please make sure that the pictures are in focus, well lighted, and large enough for us to see.

Wiring is particularly difficult to trace in a photo, so try your best that we can see the whole scene.

Assuming that these transformers have been installed for years and years, it's sorta strange that they would all of a sudden start making more noise.

Tell us make/model of the boiler, and the zone valves, and any other info you think might help.

I might be inclined to suggest a TACO ZVC 404 ZONE CONTROL PANEL in place of all that other 'stuff'... but let's see first.
 
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Old 02-08-11, 10:32 AM
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When I thought I had a noisy transformer it turned out to be a relay in my Aquastat that was chattering. Transformers usually just hum along until they burn up.
 
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Old 02-08-11, 10:51 AM
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It's definitely the transformers(or likely, one of them). They're nowhere near the boiler or aquastats, and it's clearly they who are loud. They've always been rather loud, but it's now gotten terrible. To me, at least; the wife doesn't hear them...

The boiler's a SlantFin, the zone valves are Honeywell. The installer, who's now retired, did a good job of installing the gas boiler and water heater, but his wiring, well, that was sloppy. It's worked fine for 8+ years, but he tied everything into the old wiring, and it's a mess, really. Each zone valve is wired onto its own transformer, and the box the transformers are on also contains one transformer inside. I'll take a photo in a minute...

Bottom line question is, can't everything run off of one transformer? I could then clean up the wiring tremendously, as well as reduce/isolate the racket. And are there electronic transformers, now? I changed all our fluorescent lights a couple years ago to the new T-8 system with dead-silent electronic ballasts; better lighting, no more hum. I'm wondering if a silent 24v transformer exists?
 
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Old 02-08-11, 11:05 AM
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Here's the box with the transformers.



And just for the sake of showing how sloppy the wiring is, are are the zone valves...



I'm very handy at pretty much anything, and can do everything myself; I just need some instruction at this point. The wiring mess has always bothered me, and now seems like a good time to clean that up while fixing the noise issue.

Links to the photos if you need to see them larger:

http://www.proulxguitars.com/trans.jpg

http://www.proulxguitars.com/wires.jpg
 
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Old 02-08-11, 11:10 AM
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Take a look at the TACO product offerings, specifically the ZVC404 that I mentioned previously. It's a complete, self contained package that will run all your zone valves, terminal strips for your thermostats and aquastat, internal transformer, etc...

And not too terribly pricey...

Taco-Hvac: Zone Controls

ZVC404-2 - Taco ZVC404-2 - 4 Zone Valve Control Module with Priority
 
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Old 02-08-11, 11:21 AM
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Thanks, I'm reading the PDF file on the Taco unit right now; it does appear to be exactly what I'd need. I'm in Northern Ontario, and would like to use something local if I can, as I'd like to fix this pronto. Looking at the first photo, I see some blackening above the upper right transformer; that can't be good!

The Taco unit does use only one transformer; I imagine I could use a similar rated transformer(40va), and use the existing wiring block on my box to make all the connections, correct? Or am I missing something?

Thanks for the help!
 
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Old 02-08-11, 12:20 PM
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A little more information. A search of the transformers' part number reveals that each one is a 40va unit(24V output).

It also appears the transformer inside the box is connected to nothing at all, and seems to have run to the previous water heater(an oil fired unit that's no longer here). The bottom right transformer is also not doing anything, and is marked as "spare", yet it, too is powered.

To be fair to the installer, his wiring is indeed nice and tidy, up until his reaches the existing wiring; it's the old wiring that is very rough and sloppy, but he simply tied into the mess and made it work, instead of stripping away everything and re-wiring the whole of it. A lot of old, obsolete "stuff" was left behind, some still connected. some just cut off and left in place. I guess I'll begin by removing all the obsolete 'stuff' and maybe try the spare transformer in place of the upper right one where I see the blackening. that's also the main floor zone, and the one that sees the most demand, so it would make sense that if one is failing, that would be the one.
 
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Old 02-08-11, 12:47 PM
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Got her beat! It was indeed the transformer inside the box that was the noise maker! Took all of 5 minutes to properly remove and disconnect it, and when I flipped the breaker back-on... silence! I had to try really hard to hear the soft hum of the other 4 transformers. the basement was asking for heat, so I'll let it cycle, then shut it down and disconnect the 'spare' one, too. It's making heat, therefor, it's also using electricity for nothing...

I guess that noisy one had failed completely, but since it wasn't powering anything(grrr!), we didn't 'see' any problem. But what a racket it was making!

I'll leave well enough alone until spring(it's minus 4F right now!), then consider a Taco or Honeywell control panel and re-do all the wiring nice and proper-like. who knows what else I may find that just there, asking for trouble... If nothing else, getting to know my system now, before I have trouble on a -40 degree night, is a good thing.

Thanks for the help! Just knowing someone was here to help me out if I messed it up big time gave me the confidence to just dive-in. Much appreciated.
 
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Old 02-08-11, 03:24 PM
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I see some blackening above the upper right transformer; that can't be good!
Yeah, it don't look good from here either! It looks like that transformer (or perhaps a deceased predecessor?) got MIGHTILY HOT!

Check the temp on that transformer after the zone has been calling for a while...
 
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Old 02-09-11, 11:47 AM
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Good idea to check if it gets hot under load; it didn't.

The blackening is soot, which the furnace room has plenty of, from 20+ years of wood burning. I guess that they previous owner 'blew' the walls to clean them but missed this spot. Or perhaps the heat from the fried internal transformer created a chimney that carried some of the soot left behind the box, upward. But for sure, it's not charring.

Loving the silence!

Say, off topic, but not really... When I found this forum it was via a thread that discussed a way to run a wood fired boiler alongside a gas or oil boiler. Can't find that thread any more... Can someone point me towards it?
 
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Old 02-09-11, 03:50 PM
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I see that the inside of the box is pretty sooty too!

Can't find that thread any more... Can someone point me towards it?
There have been several... not sure which in particular you were looking for...

Didja try the 'search forum' box? NOT the one in the upper right that uses the Google app, but the one in the bar directly above the message list...

Nice GN by the way! Nothin' like Wires, Wood, and HORSEPOWER!
 

Last edited by NJT; 02-17-11 at 05:22 PM. Reason: I did mean GN!
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Old 02-17-11, 04:33 PM
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Yessir, I tried multiple forum searches, but I haven't found the exact thread i was reading when I found this forum. I've found others that are similar, but not the exact one.

Basically, I'm interested in seeing if I could "tie-in" a wood fired boiler into my system on the cheap, and that thread had some interesting ideas by some who've apparently done so.

Thanks for the good words! The Grand National ain't of much use at this time of year, though. It's kinda squirrely on dry pavement, much less on snow-pack roads
 
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