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Thread: Is a TriangleTube Prestige Trimax Excellence PTE 110 the right one of the job?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexanderNY View Post
    O Yeah, getting the TriangleTube Prestige Trimax Excellence PTE 110 installed around here costs about 10.5K.

    Alexander
    The quoted price explains ignorance of people giving quote. You will see a good installer when he will quote you at least double of that.

  2. #17
    DIY Junior Member AlexanderNY's Avatar
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    Looking at the TT prestige trimax series, there is the 60 with input modulation of 16 to 60K MBH. The next size up is the trimax solo 110, with input modulation of 30 to 100k MBH
    I understand that the 110 unit does not modulate low enough given the size/mass of the fine/tube zones, leading to short cycling, which led to the advice to take a look at the trimax 60.

    What impact does air-sealing and insulation of the house have in all of this? The rooms with the baseboads units are both facing the north side of the house and they are pretty cold
    in the winter. The addition was build about 15 years ago and insulation was part of the building code back then but I am not sure that they really followed it.

    At this point I am looking into a energy home performance audit to get a better understanding of how leaky the house really is.

    AlexanderNY

  3. #18
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    To keep a place warm, you need to match the heat loss with heat from your heating system (basic, but some seem to forget it!). Insulation slows the heat loss, keeping the place warmer longer. The better the insulation, the less heat you need to put in to make up for what is lost. Air leaks are the worst, and sometimes the easiest to fix...they do several (bad) things: they cool the place down, and they can make the insulation less effective. So, if you tighten the house up and add insulation where possible, your heating load becomes smaller since the heat leaks out slower and you need less to maintain the internal temp.

    FWIW, there is no such thing as cold...you can't make cold, you CAN remove heat, which ends up being what we call cold. The heat is ALWAYS trying to distribute itself (i.e., going from a warmer to a colder surface/area). Insulation just slows down that process, it does NOT prevent it!

    If a room is cold, it may be that it needs more heat to make up for that lost (a good room-by-room Manual-J analysis would tell you what you need room-by-room), OR, it could be that there's either a lack of insulation, poorly installed insulation, OR lots of air leaks. Cold air blowing into the wall can make you feel really cold, and may be easy to fix.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #19
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    In addition to Jim's comments regarding air sealing...

    Low density fiberglass insulation is highly air-permeable, and a leaky exterior sheathing will undercut the performance of an R19 batt substantially during cold weather. In the 1990s (and even today) many or even most builders will install low-density R19 batts to meet code min, but even when perfectly installed in air-tight wall cavities performance is R18 at-best. As-installed with leaky sheathing, batts compressed behind wiring/plumbing rather than split to accommodate while maintaining full loft, balling it up behind electrical boxes, cut an inch too short but installed anyway, etc, a "typical" installation is often under R15 in average performance. Which is still way better than nothing, but if the radiation was sized with the expectation of perfect installation, there will be issues.

    Air sealing a house is about the cheapest performance upgrade you can buy, and it IS cheap. Spot-insulating a house to fill in gaps or mis-installed insulation is also pretty cost effective. An energy audit that measures & identifies big leakage points is a start, and infra-red imaging to show up the insulation gaps & compressions is also useful.

    If the "cold" rooms have a lot of window area, that' could easily be the "the problem". Clear-glass U-0.60 double panes still met code 15 years, and are pretty marginal performance-wise, often underperforming a decent single-pane antique with a tight clear-glass storm window. Rather than replacing windows with higher performance versions at huge expense, it's often both better and cheaper to improve window performance with low-E storm windows over clear-glass double-panes. (Both of the big box store chains carry low-E Larsons, which are pretty good. The "Silver" version is considerably more air tight than the Bronze, and usually worth the upcharge, and the Gold series is even tighter still. A low-E storm over a U-0.5 clear double pane improves the net performance to about U0.3-0.32, which is signficant.

    Say you have a 400' addition with with 60' of 9' tall 2x6 exterior wall, and six ten square foot windows. The U-factor of less well insulated (but still insulated) 2x6 wall is about 0.075-0.08 BTU/degree-foot, and you have about (9 x 60=) 540' of gross wall area, less 60' of window area for about 480' of wall. When it's 15F outside and 70F inside (55F delta) the heat loss from the walls is at least:

    U0.075 x 480' x 55F= 1980 BTU/hr.

    But the heat loss through 60' of U0.50 window is:

    U0.50 x 60' x 55F= 1650 BTU/hr

    ...which is very comparable number. But if you added low-E storms, dropping the U-factor to U0.32 or lower, the window losses would be:

    U0.32 x 60' x 55F= 1056 BTU/hr, making the window losses more like half the wall losses rather than a near-equal.

    And the window improvement is about a 600 BTU/hr, the heating-equivalent of a small 180 W electric space heater (that uses no power), or another 3' of baseboard running at condensing temperatures.

    If you air-sealed the walls and blow cellulose into any thin spots you'd improve the wall U-factor to about U0.7 or less, and the wall losses would be:

    U0.07 x 480' x 55F= 1848 BTU/hr.

    That's better than a 130 BTU/hr on conducted losses alone, but the reduced air leakage losses are likely to be another 100-200 BTU/hr improvement. (It just depends.)

    If you do it all it's like adding another 4-6' of baseboard or more, but because it's more air tight and the interior window temps are higher, it feels less drafty to boot.

    Whenever possible & reasonably economical it's better to attack the load rather than add more radiation to meet the higher load. Comfort is about more than air-temperature- the exterior window & wall surface temps affect the "radiant emperature", which is more important for human comfort than the air temp. Standing outside in full sun on a calm autumn day can be quite comfortable even at 35F air temperature, due to the improved radiant temperature (full sun), whereas standing in 55F shade can feel pretty cold.

  5. #20
    DIY Junior Member AlexanderNY's Avatar
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    Reason that I brought up air-sealing and insulation is that several heating contractors are concerned that the
    TT prestige trimax series 60 (input modulation of 16 to 60K MBH) would not be able to supply enough heat for the whole house.

  6. #21
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexanderNY View Post
    Reason that I brought up air-sealing and insulation is that several heating contractors are concerned that the
    TT prestige trimax series 60 (input modulation of 16 to 60K MBH) would not be able to supply enough heat for the whole house.
    And unless they did a careful fuel-use analysis on the previous system and an honest Manual-J or even an I=B=R spreadsheet calc, their opinions aren't worth the toilet-paper they wrote it on. Fear of undersizing is rampant amongst hacks, but rarely justifiable. The more reasonable fear should be of oversizing.

    Air sealing is almost always cost-effective, as is fixing any gaps in the insulation, and those measures DO lower the heat load. But the notion that an 1800' house in Westchester needs more than 55,000BTU/hr of boiler output (that's 30 BTU/ft-hr!) is just nuts, unless there is literally no insulation in the walls, and all of the windows are single-pane, all of which would be necessary & cost-effective things to rectify on comfort grounds alone. Ratio rules of thumb are pretty lousy gauges of reality, but most 1920s homes won't run more than ~20 BTU/ft-hr , and will often be in the 15BTU/ft-hr range with a bit of air sealing and (usually absent) foundation insulation. At the more likely 20 BTU/ft-hr an 1800' house would only need 36,000 BTU/hr which is barely over the MINIMUM output of the -110.

    As-zoned the -110 is guaranteed to short-cycle at condensing temps- you'd literally be better off with ~100KBTU/hr mid-efficiency cast iron boiler with smarter controls if you're hell-bent on installing a boiler that oversized. You only get the benefits of mod-con efficiency if it's actually modulating and condensing, which is why you HAVE to install the smallest one that actually meets the load, and have small zones of low-mass-low-emittance radiation like fin-tube.

    Run a crude I=B=R spreadsheet on your house on a room-by-room basis. Assume an interior temp of 70F, exterior 12F for a 58F delta. For any double pane windows of unknown U-factor or any single-pane + storm, and exterior doors use 0.5 BTU/degree-ft. For all 2x4 framed wall area with at least some type of insulation use 0.1 BTU/degree-ft, for any 2x6 use 0.08. For an attic with anything better than sloppily installed R19s use 0.07. For uninsulated above-grade foundation down to a foot below grade, use 1BTU/degree-foot.

    A typical 1800' house will have about 270' of window, and assuming a couple of exterior doors, call it 40' of door for 310 square feet of window + door:

    U0.5 x 310' x 58F= 8990 BTU/hr

    A typical 1800' 2-story will have 900' of attic floor:

    U0.07 x 900' x 58F= 3654 BTU/hr

    Assuming a perimeter of say 180' and 2' of above/near grade foundation for 360' of U 1.0), and a basement 15F colder than the upstairs when it's +12 F outside you're looking at.

    U 1 x 360 x 43F= 15,480 BTU/hr

    Assuming 10' per story and 180' of perimeter you have 1800' of gross wall area, less 310' of window & door leaves 1490' of U0.1:

    U0.1 x 1490 x 58F= 8642 BTU/hr.

    For 900' of U 0.07 attic you get:

    U0.07 x 900' x 58F= 3654 BTU/hr.

    Add it all up and you're at 40,420 BTU/hr. Add 30% 'cuz you live in the absolute DRAFTIEST house in Westchester (or always sleep with the windows open, even when it's +12 F outside) and you're still only at 52,546 BTU/hr, a load still covered by the -60 running with 160F output.

    And those U-factors presume some pretty crummy & poorly installed insulation- reality is almost always better than that (or could be made better than that at very low cost). You'll note the biggest single number is usually an uninsulated unheated basement, which is an upgrade needed by more than half the homes in Westchester county NY. It's not super-cheap to retrofit foundation insulation, but there are lower cost and higher cost ways to get there. Using even intermediate-cost methods (say, 2" of closed cell spray foam + intumescent paint, at ~$3 per square foot) it's worth it, even at buck-a-therm gas.

    Seriously- take the time to measure up your house on a room by room basis and use a spreadsheet tool to come up with the numbers- they're a lot lower than your bidding contractors think. Buy some low-E storms to retrofit on those colder rooms, or install more radiation in those rooms, and buy some air-sealing & insulation if you think it's still too drafty.

  7. #22
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The last thing a contractor wants is to put in a new system and then you tell them it can't keep the house warm. So, the easy thing is to put on one bigger than needed. It also gets them more money, since the bigger it is, the more it costs. But, if you want it done right, you have to be smarter, especially if you want to maximize your investment. Contractors don't like to argue with people when they are taking out a 150K BTU unit, and replacing it with a 60K unit, people just assume they need the same size as what was there originally. Well, energy costs are way higher now, and the technology is better...you really NEED to match your load with the properly sized supply.

    What people here have been trying to tell you is that those contractors are taking the easy way out, and it will NOT end up in saving you money. WHen it comes to things like heating appliances, they work much more efficiently when they run long burns. That can ONLY happen when it is sized properly. On/off cycles kill efficiency and can hurt longevity...things work better, longer, when they don't turn on/off a lot. A boiler that is too big will need to turn on/off LOTS!

    If you take a weird situation where you have the coldest week in 100-years and your system was typically just able to keep up normally, the house might cool off a degree or two - it won't immediately (or ever!) turn into a refrigerator! It might take longer to reheat if you turned the heat way down while on vacation, but then, again, only on that really cold day...you're somewhat limited by the radiators in the house, they can only output so much heat, regardless of what type of supply you have.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #23
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Thing is, his real heat load probably IS no more than about 36-40K, even as-is, with no building improvements, which means even with the -60 he would be good down well into negative double digit temps from a boiler output point of view. The hacks recommending the bigger boilers are just that, hacks.

    Anybody who has bothered to work through more than a couple of real heat load calcs would be able to tell you that at a 99% outside design temp 30BTU/foot is an insane number for an 1800' house that has glass in the windows, and doors that shut. Move the same house to Fairbanks and sure, it could be 30BTU/ft. But that is STILL a heat load that could be delivered by the -60(!).

    So why would anybody even consider installing a -110 in that house?

    Ignorance & apathy would be my best guess, but there could be other reasons I s'pose.

    But if they're not even willing to do a heat load calc it leaves me wondering what other critical system design aspects they're missing? They clearly missed the boat on the short fin-tube zone short-cycling problem, and that's dead obvious even on the napkin-math model. (Any real mod-con system designer/installer would have flagged that as a high-potential problem for the -110 without even breaking out the crayons.)

  9. #24
    Master Hot Water Mpls,MN BadgerBoilerMN's Avatar
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    Before we install buffer tanks (generally expensive, if properly sized, installed and controlled) we try to specify more radiation in the form of sub-floor radiation, radiant ceilings or real wall-hung panel radiators sized for low temperature. This is a long-term investment in comfort and economy.

    Sizing a micro-zone may be as simple as tying it to another (not letting it call the boiler) or knowing from your room-by-room heat load analysis, that the micro-zone will never, or rarely, call by itself.

    All residential high efficiency condensing boilers modulate flame and feature on-board outdoor reset.

    Buffer tanks must be sized by an experienced designer, no WAGS will work.

  10. #25
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    As previously discussed, even if he tied his 30' & 34' sticks of fin tube together operating in condensing mode would be a serious problem for the -110, but you might be able to deal with it on the -60. As separate zones they'll still be problematic even with the -60.

    CLEARLY this system needs a real designer, not a hack-installer to run it on a mod-con. If he's leaving the zones alone and there's a dearth of design talent available, a tiniest in class 2-3 plate mid-efficiency cast iron boiler with heat-purge controls would come pretty close to hitting it's AFUE numbers, leaving some cash on the table to spend on the building envelope to reduce the load in his colder zones. If this place has no foundation insulation and leaks a lot of air, fixing those issues + tiny cast iron are probably more cost effective than adding sufficient radiation (or mass) to deal with a mod-con.

    I wonder what fraction of already-installed mod-con boilers are as ridiculously oversized for their loads as the -110 would be for this one? (I'm guessing it's more than 30%, maybe even 50%, based solely on how common threads like this are.)

  11. #26
    DIY Junior Member AlexanderNY's Avatar
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    What companies are selling 2-3 plate mid-efficiency cast iron boilers?

    Regards,

    AlexanderNY

  12. #27
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Lots of 'em.

    The smallest Burnham ES2 might be a good prospect, only ~1.5-2x oversized for the likely load, plenty of smart-control options for both comfort & efficiency. Less than $2K for the hardware @ internet pricing. It tolerates 110F return water without exterior plumbing, and has hooks for quickly integrating outdoor reset with an add-on card. Even a hack of an installer should be able to handle it, and would have to get creative to really screw it up.

    The smallest Buderus GC124 or GA124 would be in that class, but usually for more money. The GA124 is designed with smart controls in mind, the GC not so much.

    The smallest Biasi B10 , the B-3 is a 3 plate boiler, but retrofit heat purge controls would be necessary to get the most out of it.

    The smallest Weil McLain CGi-25 is a 2-plater with 42K of output, as is the Utica MGB50HID

    The three-plate Burnham ES2-3 with the smarter controls seem like a better product and easier to deal with than those that would require some smarts on the installer's part to get the efficiency out of it without ruining it from excessive condensation. But it's really a matter of how much support there is from the distributors & installers in your area. Just don't let some idiot installer tell you that it's not enough boiler without doing the heat load math.

  13. #28
    DIY Junior Member AlexanderNY's Avatar
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    One reason for my interest in a high efficiency mod-con boiler (besides the efficiency) is the fact that they use direct venting.
    Previous estimates for mid efficiency cast iron boilers came with the notion that we needed a chimney liner.
    Installing a chimney liner turned out to be expensive in our neck of the woods, $1700 dollars was the cheapest.

    Adding the cost of a chimney liner to the cost of installing a mid efficiency boiler almost equals the installation cost for
    a high efficiency unit.

    If only, I could find a contractor that would know how to deal with the two baseboad micro zones and would be willing
    to install a correct sized boiler ..... That's not too much to ask, is it?

  14. #29
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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    Replace those crummy baseboards on the micro-zones with low-temp panel radiators capable of delivering the min-mod output of a more appropriately sized mod-con at 120F AWT. Most of the smaller mod-cons can modulate down to ~ 15KBTU/hr.

    The there are direct vented versions of these cast iron boilers out there too, such as the Burnham ESC3 for only a couple hundred more than the ES2.

    There others.

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    DIY Junior Member AlexanderNY's Avatar
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    Regarding the suggestion for the Burnham ESC3, is there any risk of short cycling if I kept the basenoards on the micro zones?

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