Current Condensing Boilers on Review
Let me start off by saying all condensing boilers have their issues. I have had on occasion seen installations that have gone flawless without incident. But a majority of them have had minor issues as well as major ones. Here are some common problems on a few of the different brands, along with my opinion on their value to you, the end user.
Hydrotherm KN Series- The first cast iron condensing hot water boiler. You would think the two would not work together “cast iron/ condensing?” Hydrotherm came up with a great design in that the condensate washes itself of the heat exchanger. So no moisture is left to sit on the heat exchanger. That being said the boiler has had its share of problems mainly with the VFD drives. The original VFD manufacturer used on these boilers made a bad batch for hydrotherm. The problems ranged from VFD errors to blower wheels coming apart. Hydrotherm has since changed manufacturer and has had no further issues. What sets the KN miles above the rest is their customer support. Warranty issues are fully honored with little to no hesitation to send parts and cover labor as needed. In my opinion the KN series are top choice in the mid to upper BTU range condensing boilers.
Lochinvar KBN Series– Ignition problems from the start, most range from cracked igniter to loose connections, to a mystery? Each encounter seems to be a little different. Once you get past the nuisance trips they are a pretty solid boiler. Reasonably priced for the market, Lochinvar has stepped up their reputation. It used to be if someone would say Lochinvar my first response was “not again”! The Knight boiler is a solid choice for the mid range BTU condensing boiler.
Camus Hydronics Dynamax Series- The Yugo of condensing boilers. If price is your main concern, these are the cheaper condensing option. Poor design on condensate removal has lead to issues with internal cabinet corrosion of all the electrical components. They used an open trap design which left all the electrical components exposed to the acidic properties of the condensate. In addition the control interface has a faceplate type of push buttons which over a short period of time wear out and make it very hard to interface. My opinion is you get what you pay for!
AERCO Benchmark Series- I’ve had very limited exsposure to these boilers. That being said I’ve not had a lot of issues with them either. They are on the higher end price wise but worth it. Easy to use interface offers a smooth set-up and commissioning process. The down side is the physical size; they are a tall boiler and can pose some challenges with space and rigging. The AERCO Benchmark is an overall a good choice, if you have the room.
-Paul Perkins Service Manager, Owens Companies