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High Efficiency Condensing Gas Boilers and Furnaces

If your furnace or boiler is over 10 years old, government guidelines and the entire heating industry, suggest it is probably time to replace it. Changes in technology have improved efficiency. Significant reductions of 30% and often much more, in fuel costs are typical. Newer models also dramatically cut pollution levels.

Efficiency Maine's weatherization program can include new heating equipment so this is a great time for an upgrade. With incentives your fuel saving may pay for the new unit in a matter of a few years. As fuel prices rise, payback time will shorten, and keeping your old unit will become quite expensive.

Natural gas or propane systems are ideal. Typical homeowners with oil heat find switching to gas makes financial sense. Not only is it more efficient, it burns clean, meaning annual cleaning/maintenance may no longer required. While there is additional expense to run gas lines, normally the savings quickly cover the cost.  Natural gas is by far the least expensive option

The USA is behind many other nations that recognize that a modulating/condensing gas boiler is a superior choice. The UK, Europe, and Netherlands have been refining this technology for years, and now some mandate its installation due to the fuel and environmental savings. The majority of products come to us from them.

The truth about efficiency ratings

AFUE ratings tell what percentage of your burning fuel the system turns into usable heat. With older equipment this is only a small part of the story. If the burner is dirty, you will not get the expected output. The heat that is left in the chamber when the system shuts down is lost up the flue. Additional heat is lost through the jacket. If your system has no damper heat is constantly drawn up the chimney. If your technician gave you an efficiency rating but did not use a combustion analyzer, it was only a “best guess” of how well it burns fuel. Heating professionals will tell you systems rated at 85% efficiency are often only turning 65-70% of the fuel into heat.  In the summer, without a storage tank, the constant short cycling means 80% of your fuel dollar is wasted.   Printable information.

High-efficiency heating equipment has solved most of these problems.  Heat is recovered before gasses are vented.  There is no large mass to heat up.  These new boilers are small and wall hung. Since they do not require a chimney, they can be located anywhere. In new construction using no chimney results in great cost savings. High efficiency condensing gas boilers commonly have efficiency ratings about 95%.

What makes this new type of heating equipment so much better

In new equipment the water or air makes multiple passes through the heat exchanger to gather and use all possible heat. The exhaust is about 140 degrees vs. 500+ with an oil boiler. There is little heat left to be lost through the jacket and a damper protects the vent.

Proper installation is very important. Too often we have seen improper installations that cause efficiency to plummet. Often changes need to made to the existing piping to insure the unit will condense the majority of the time.

Modulating - Many older units are either on or off. Running a boiler or furnace at full on is generally not cost effective or necessary to maintain the heat level. A modulating unit will constantly monitor the heat load. When maintaining temperature running at less that full output is cost efficient and creates tight temperature control. It also means a furnace will run quieter.

Condensing – The word "condensing"" is used since the boiler reduces the residual heat temperature so thoroughly that it cools to water vapor or condensation. This means a condensing boiler has transferred all the heat into useful energy.

PH levels – There has been concern about the PH level of the condensation water. All the products we install properly deal with the fact that the remaining water will have a possible PH level issues. Stainless steel and proper plastics are used to reduce corrosion. Some manufactures use buffering agents. Years of operational experience and product refinement along with training to insure proper installation techniques have addressed these problems.

Many of these new style boiler also provide your domestic hot water upon demand.  With these "Combi boilers" there is no tank and thus no stand by losses.  Since water for heating or domestic needs is heated only when needed there are no fuel wasted keeping an 10gl internal reservoir at 180 degrees 24/7/365.  The disadvantage of a combi boiler is that domestic hot water always takes president over space heating.  So should you have many people showering sequentially in the dead of winter the delivery of heat to the home may be delayed.  We work around this problem by installing a highly insulated hot water tank or by using a boiler with a smaller built in tank, but we do not keep these tanks at 180 degrees.  Viessmann's F-222 boiler is a nice product with an 26gl integrated tank. The Triangle Tube Prestige Excellence has a built in 14gl tank.   These are a great fit for large families or high hot water demand applications. 

Why buy your heating system from Solaris?

We are energy geeks.  Our goal is to cost effectively help you cut your energy costs and environmental impact.  

What we are not is a heating service company.  Sure we service what we sell and because of that we sell only the models that are most reliable.   We have no desire to make our profits by selling service contracts and running fleets of trucks with technicians making endless repair calls all night long. Our clients will tell your their Triangle tube and Viessmann systems run with seldom a problem and they have no need for a service contract.  We think repairs calls should be disappointments not profit centers.  

We will look at your homes energy use as a whole.   When we come out to do a site survey you can expect we will talk about energy efficiency and weatherization.   The reason is simple.  An investment in weatherization cuts your heating needs allowing you to purchase a smaller less expensive boiler and you need less fuel in the future.  We will explain other options for hot water, discuss mini split heat pumps, that also do A/C, and often are less expensive than a new boiler.  We only do propane or natural gas, not oil, as we have yet to see any oil burner that can come close the the performance of a modulating condensing gas burner.   We will install the systems correctly so they the boiler condenses as it should and it will be properly programmed to operate at peak efficiency

We will make sure you know about all the incentive programs.  We will handle the paperwork and we know how to combine the Efficiency Maine incentive programs to maximize your rebates.

Right now we are not installing Pellet or wood boilers but we do think they are a good choice for some families.  If you are looking for a wood stove we would recommend you visit one of the local stove shops that have plenty of units on display or ideally purchase an high efficiency unit such as those carried by Maine Green Building Supply

Natural Gas Conversion

If you are in the Falmouth, Cumberland, or Yarmouth areas Summit Natural Gas may be coming to your neighborhood.   The average family removes an inefficient oil boiler and replaces it with a modulating condensing gas boiler and can sees savings of 50-70% due to efficiency and the lower fuel cost.  If you will not be getting gas for a few years switching to a high efficiency modulating condensing propane boiler now may save you a great deal of money and then a simple nozzle change is all that is needed to move to natural gas.  Be aware Summit offers significant incentives on boilers and if you purchase the boiler in advance of installing the natural gas you may not be eligible for these rebates unless you have signed a contract with them first.  Call us for more information or go to Efficiency Maine.

We are happy to come out for a free site survey where we will explain your options, review your current equipment and make suggestions.  Visit our natural gas conversion page for a list of things to consider as you try to make the decision if natural gas is the right choice for you. 

NG is expected to be less expensive than oil and propane far into the future.  NG is the primary heating fuel throughout the US and has been for decades.  Maine is the only state that relies primarily on expensive heating oil.  Nationally NG has always been less expensive than oil and there is no logical reason to think it would be any different in Maine. 

What about Fracking and environmental damage from natural gas?

Everyone has an opinion and here is ours:

          Natural Gas is better than oil even considering what we know about fracking concerns. 

Plus, they are now starting to use fracking to pull oil.  Fracking is not the only way to remove NG.  We need to keep up the pressure to stop this method of harvesting fossil fuels.  The other environmental concern is from leaks coming from older gas transmission lines.  Again, the gas is not the problem.  The utilities need to increase the maintenance and replacement schedules.  

Better yet install mini split air source heat pumps.  When the budget allows add solar photovoltaic panels to provide the electricity and let the sun heat your home for free with zero pollution.    In the mean time Maine's electricity is about 50% hydro which is better than burning fossil fuels.  And of course you can always buy GreenPower

viesmann vitodens 200-w

   Viessmann boiler                                                       Prestige Boiler Prestige triangle tube boiler

 Frigidaire Furnace


   Frigidaire modulating furnace 97+ AFUE rating                                                                                       


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Portland ME 04103

(207) 797-0979

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