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Choosing the right boiler

Unfortunately, Consumer Reports doesn't rate boilers. What makes choosing a boiler even tougher is the fact that a boiler is not a “plug and play” appliance, such as a LCD TV or refrigerator. A heating system consists of the boiler,burner and many more important components that allow for safe,clean and efficient operation. Each system is assembled on-site and custom configured for your home. The selection and installation of all these determine how efficient and reliable your system is for years to come.

You can narrow down the choices fairly quickly by following this process of elimination...

1. Oil or Gas?  What fuel do you use now?  Is natural gas available?  

2. Condensing or Conventional? Condensing boilers are more efficient,as well as more expensive.

3. Venting? Condensing boilers don't use a chimney and can only vent through the wall or roof,conventional atmospheric gas boilers must be vented into a lined chimney. Oil boilers can usually be vented through an existing unlined chimney but may require a liner as well. Direct vent non condensing gas boilers can be side wall vented,saving the cost of a liner.

4. Domestic Hot water? Oil units are available with an integral coil for domestic hot water,this is the cheapest solution but also the least satisfactory for efficient operation,the boiler must maintain a high temperature 24/7/365. This is akin to leaving your car idling because you may want to go somewhere later. The best solution is an indirect water heater or if gas is available, a tankless instantaneous water heater. Indirect water heaters currently have a $300 rebate from National Grid.

5. Space? Do you have the space for an indirect?Do you need a stackable unit?  
 

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