Humans have made incredible advances over the last 60 years in technology and communication. In 1957 we saw the launch of Sputnik 1, the first rocked into space. IBM wrote the first programming language and The UK Medical Research Council revealed the first evidence to support tobacco smoking causing lung cancer. Truly revolutionary things happened in 1957 and the rate and magnitude of these discoveries has only increased.
The same is true in the heating world. Things have certainly changed since the days of our fathers and grandfathers. Some have memories of “The Furnace Fighter” going to the cellar to argue with the heater. Back in the 50’s many of the boiler heat and furnace heat systems were still coal and oil fired. The introduction of gas fired boilers and furnaces was relatively new and very expensive therefore less commonly seen. Coal and oil was cheap but required a lot of cleaning and care to keep working right and because of that rarely achieved over 65% efficiency.
Fast forward 60 years to today 2017, if your grandfather were to face todays boilers he may have a hard time figuring out where to start. Even current “simple” design standard efficiency systems achieve 80% efficiency and have electronic controls, gas valves and safety circuits. Look at a +90% efficient gas boiler and there are nearly double the amount of controls and a computer to run it!
Modern 80% Gas Boiler
The average 80% boiler installed in a home today will likely have a powered damper which helps to trap heat in the unit to prevent heat loss during idle times. It also will contain an external low water cutoff to prevent damaging itself if a leak were to occur and an electronic ignition to eliminate a standing gas pilot which avoids wasting fuel when you don’t need heat. These are just a few of the items developed over the years to take us from standard 60% efficiency to our current day standard 80% efficiency. Their only downfall is they still retain the ability to be off when not needed and on 100% when you call for heat. There are draw backs to this.
Modern +90% Condensing Boiler
Looking at a condensing boiler achieving 95% efficiency we see thin and durable stainless steel heat exchangers, electronic ignition, variable speed blower motors and negative pressure gas valves. These units utilize cutting edge technology to give you the correct amount of heat on a 40-degree day and give you even more heat for those 20-degree days. That process is called modulation. Modulation is controlled by the on-board computer which monitor all the systems within the boiler from incoming and outgoing air/water temperatures to amount of gas being burned. Certain manufacturers even can self-diagnose failures. Modern condensing boilers contain more computing power than the computer that guided the Apollo missions to the moon.
Even with all the new controls and electronics and safety equipment tapped into our current day boilers they are relatively low maintenance as compared to the systems of the 1950’s. Don’t be fooled: maintenance is just as important now as it was then.
However, careful consideration must be given especially regarding High Efficiency +90% boilers. Not every company and every technician has the tools, equipment and experience to install, maintain or repair them. Patriot Water Heater technicians possess the necessary tools, test equipment and undergo rigorous ongoing training to ensure being able to tackle any problems that may be encountered in the field.