We all know that designing an efficient heating system is essential for your clients. So, we wanted to share a recent post from one of our top product lines, Patterson Kelley where they take a stand on the debate between variable primary or primary secondary piping and even offer a third, new option with their NURO® Touch Screen Control System.

 

Hydronic Boilers Piping Arrangements

Just like we would debate over sports, music, or politics, engineers have long held strong opinions about piping arrangements for hydronic heating systems.  Which is better:  Primary-Secondary or Variable Primary?  They each have their benefits, but most boiler manufacturers tend to side with Primary-Secondary.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a different choice?

What is a Variable Primary Piping System?

In Variable Primary piping systems, there is one set of system pumps, generally piped in parallel, that distribute water through the heating equipment and terminal units.  Heat generated by the boilers is sent directly to the terminal units.  A Variable Primary piping arrangement can result in lower initial costs due to the installation of fewer pumps, less piping, less electrical, etc.  Variable Primary systems are generally considered to be more energy efficient. This is based solely on the concept that fewer pumps use less energy.  For any given installation these assumptions may or may not be true, but they are accepted when choosing between Variable Primary and Primary-Secondary piping arrangements.

What is a Primary-Secondary Piping System?

The Primary-Secondary piping arrangement includes two sets of pumps, system pumps and boiler pumps.  The system pumps distribute water to the terminal units and the boiler pumps circulate water through a loop that serves the heating equipment only.  The two piping systems are decoupled through what is commonly referred to as a “zero pressure bridge”, which hydraulically separates the boiler from the system. Traditionally, Primary-Secondary piping arrangements have meant full flow in the boiler loop and variable flow in the system loop.  Manufacturers tend to prefer Primary-Secondary because it ensures proper flow through the boiler.  Although a few manufacturers have boasted “Zero Flow” capabilities for their boilers, engineers know that no flow means no heat transfer; this begs the question, “why is the boiler firing?”  Engineers have begun to shy away from Primary-Secondary due to the perceived excessive pumping energy; but is that really the case?

A Third Option

With the advancement of on-board boiler controls like the NURO® Touch Screen Control System, there is now an additional option: Variable Primary-Variable Secondary.  The NURO® can vary the speed of your boiler pump, equipped with either a VFD or EC motor. As the boiler firing rate varies, the pump speed and flow adjust accordingly.  It’s the best of both worlds; flow rate ensured through the boiler, and energy savings associated with variable flow.  One might argue… “what about installation cost?”  Yes, there is slightly more piping associated with a Variable Primary-Variable Secondary piping arrangement, however, the installation cost is not significantly more.  Variable primary systems require a two-way control valve on each boiler to prohibit flow through an unfired boiler.  A boiler circulator with an EC motor is marginally more expensive than the control valve.

Next Step?

Interested in more information on the Nuro system and how it might help your clients? Give us a call at 800-355-7061 and we’d be happy to answer any questions or help you with the engineering specifications.

We are happy to announce that Pat Tucker has joined the Mechanical Equipment team as a Sales Engineer.

Pat has a long history in the commercial HVAC business. He started with a pipefitter apprenticeship right out of high school and was able to work his way up the ranks quickly in each of his positions. He became the Piping Superintendent at Murphy & Miller in Chicago, supervising apprentices, journeymen and foremen for ten years. He was also recognized as the youngest superintendent in Local 597’s history!

He then went on to become the Piping Manager at Westside Mechanical Inc., which added more responsibility and also allowed him to use his managerial expertise. Pat’s track record of success made him a highly sought-after person, and he was soon hired as a Project Manager/General Superintendent at International Piping Systems. That’s also where Pat met his future wife, June, who is now a Vice President at F.E. Moran, and where he also met Dennis at Mechanical Equipment. Pat also began attending night school at IIT, to obtain his mechanical engineering degree.

Eventually, Pat was offered an opportunity on the supplier side of our industry, becoming a Vice President at Flomech in Downers Grove, IL. Pat was responsible for overseeing estimating, sales, design, installation and start-up for all heating and cooling projects. His experience in contracting, gives him a great perspective of our customer’s needs, helping him offer excellent customer service. Pat’s design and installation background helps assure a smooth and profitable job for our customers.

Pat shared, “Coming from the contractor side to the vendor side, I made a commitment to be the vendor that everyone wanted to deal with. I always give 100% effort. I pride myself on that and I respond to my customers as fast as I can, 24/7 no matter the size of the order or how busy I am. Business is all about relationships and I plan to continue my excellent relationships for years to come.”

Dennis O’Shaughnessy, Mechanical Equipment’s founder, said, “I was excited to bring Pat into the ME team because Pat offers our customers yet another source for our ‘best in the industry’ customer service. His knowledge and design expertise is an invaluable asset in making sure that we are performing and delivering better than anyone else. His pipefitter experience tells him that sometimes what’s shown on a drawing doesn’t necessarily work on the job site. Having known Pat for 20 years, I have seen him grow and succeed in this industry, which makes me realize how fortunate we are to have him.”

Pat said, “I’m excited about working with Dennis and his team of people. He and I have known and respected each other for over 20 years. Mechanical Equipment has a variety of top-notch product lines and more opportunities to serve mechanical contractors. I like being able to help customers from A to Z and help save them money by helping resolve any issues, make changes or assist with the design.”

Pat is an enormously proud father of three children that keep him very busy, he also collects cars for fun, (he’s had over 75 throughout his life!) and if that’s not enough, Pat loves scuba diving.

Pat is available for engineering consultations, equipment specifications or anything at all that you need help with. Feel free to give Pat a call to help make your job easier. Welcome aboard Pat!

We have implemented a new inventory control system at Mechanical Equipment to make it easier for you to track your orders with us.

To make it easier to track your orders, our packing slips will now include the UPS tracking numbers, as well as a hot link, to click and check the status of your order. If you want to received an email copy of the packing list, with the UPS tracking number to track and hotlink to the UPS tracking site, make sure to give us your email address when you order and we’ll send that to you when your order ships.

As you will see on the sample packaging slip here, the hot link will take you directly to the UPS tracking site to see where your shipment is in the process with the estimated delivery date.

 

This is just another way we wanted to save you time and hassle when it comes to tracking your orders. You can always still call us, we love to hear from you, but now you have up to date info at your fingertips.

Let us know if you have any questions at 1-800-355-7061.

Patterson-Kelley will begin shipping their new MACH® condensing boiler with 10:1 Mechanical Turndown starting March 29th, 2019.

MACH® Models C750, C900, C1050

Providing high turndown without sacrificing efficiency or reliability.

Patterson-Kelley continues to push the limits of technology by increasing turndown, with emphasis on system efficiency, reliability, and serviceability. By using a mechanical method to achieve higher turndown, they have eliminated the need to add excess air. Adding excess air can reduce the dewpoint of the flue gas and adversely affect efficiency.

MACH® with 10:1 Mechanical Turndown Capability Benefits:

  • Flexibility to match input to building load
  • Better control over temperature differential between return water and exhaust temperature
  • Perfect for new installation and retrofit projects
  • Simple boiler maintenance
  • Available for natural gas application

The MACH® condensing boiler is now available with 10:1 mechanical turndown capabilities for natural gas models C750, C900, and C1050; perfect for a variety of applications.

If you are interested in including this boiler in your next project bid or reaching out to your existing customers to upgrade their equipment, give us a call for specs, pricing, and delivery dates.

You can also download a MACH® with 10:1 Mechanical Turndown Bundle today to grab literature, spec sheets, submittals, and more and start planning your next upgrade or new installation project today.

 

 

 

Sterlco recently sent us an email with information on why you should choose a Sterlco Boiler Feed unit. We wanted to share their reasons so you can use or adapt them when talking with your customers.

  • Sterlco Boiler Feed Units are reliable and efficient at maintaining proper water levels
  • Units are available in steel, cast iron and stainless steel
  • The 3450 RPM motors assure maximum efficiency while maintaining minimum motor horsepower
  • Sterlco has been serving the commercial & industrial HVAC industry ­for applications such as food, beverage, breweries, distilleries, pharmaceuticals, hospitals & schools

See all of their Boiler Feed Units.

Need more reasons to choose a Sterlco Boiler Feed Unit? Give us a call!

This is some interesting information provided by Taco, concerning the VRF industry’s efficiency negotiations at the DOE:

The VRF industry has started another round of efficiency negotiations at the Department of Energy (DOE). Fireworks erupted during the October 15-16 meeting when PG&E presented two reports (links below) from the California Investor Owned Utilities (CA IOUs) claiming that the VRF manufacturers have been publishing unrepresentative equipment ratings that hurt their ability to cost-effectively serve their customers!

They then went on to present two analyses they conducted which evaluated system ratings and published performance data versus field data they collected and laboratory measurements they undertook through the Applied Technology Services (ATS) lab in San Ramon. They also performed sensitivity analysis on the IEER metric. The key take-a-way was that in both test the measured cooling IEER of the systems was approximately 50% that of the published IEER of the equipment. Stated another way, the published IEER’s are approximately 2X the measured IEER’s. This data corroborates what we have been seeing in the field, had documented at the ASHRAE headquarters building in Atlanta, Georgia, and have been touting at VRFrejected.org.

The testing and rating standards noted at the DOE working group meetings are governed by AHRI, Standard 1230. This standard is also currently under review and open for public comment. On November 19, the Hydronic Industry Alliance-Commercial (HIA-C) submitted comments in regards to the performance rating of VRF equipment [LINK]. Key areas of concern addressed the shortcomings of the standard as it is based on a residential unitary DX standard, which is not suitable for commercial application, highlighted by the testing being based on a maximum of 25 feet of piping, something rarely found in the field. The submitted comments also addressed the importance of accurate comparisons of operating efficiency in the heating mode, recommending that refrigerant piping length correction factors for Heating Capacity, COP, and HSPF must be developed along with adequately addressing what speed the compressor is to be tested at in heating mode.

PG&E VRF DOE Test Report 1

PG&E VRF DOE Test Report 2

Give us a call if you have any questions on this.

We are beyond excited to be celebrating our 20-year anniversary this month. We want to thank all of our customers and employees who have supported us in our growth thus far. We are honored to have earned your business and loyalty.

We interviewed our founder, Dennis O’Shaughnessy on what has changed over the past 20 years and where the company is going from here.

 

What prompted you to start Mechanical Equipment?

I was working as a Regional Sales Manager for Perma-Pipe (a company which we now represent). It was a great job and I learned a tremendous amount from my supervisor who later became the President of the company. But after twelve years of hotel beds and airplane meals (three and a half million miles), I wanted new challenges.

The company was extremely good to me and I hated to leave but I needed something else. I had done very well for Perma-Pipe and increased sales significantly in my region, so they really didn’t want to lose me either. So, my boss suggested that I become a manufacturer’s representative for their product! I loved the idea of getting back to direct customer sales, rather than management, and it seemed like an ideal solution for both Perma-Pipe and myself. It checked all the boxes I needed to have some new and exciting challenges. I left on the best of terms and will be forever grateful.

 

What’s the most satisfying achievement for Mechanical Equipment in the last 20 years?

I would have to say the positive impact that our company has had on the lives of our employees and our customers. Like most business owners, your colleagues become a personal responsibility for you. I really do feel like the people I work with inside our company, and those that I’ve been fortunate to get to know on a personal level outside the company, are like my work family. I don’t want to let anyone down or disappoint them. Of course, that isn’t always possible, but when it does happen, I can’t help but take it personally, even though I try to tell myself it’s just business. I’m happy that Mechanical Equipment has had a positive effect on their lives, and hopefully they feel like their lives are better for having worked here. I think they’d agree that Mechanical Equipment is a fun place to work!

 

What was a major turning point for the company where you grew, changed direction, or offered new services?

When I started Mechanical Equipment (there was no we then, just me) I only had two lines: Perma-Pipe and Advanced Thermal Systems expansion joints. I had a 10’ x 10’ office that Perma-Pipe let me use in exchange for training my replacement. Unfortunately, my two products were only on a small percentage of all the jobs that bid each year so I needed to find other product lines to represent, so I could generate a more even cashflow. Through help from customer suggestions and other rep firms that I had relationships with from my days at Perma-Pipe, we were able to generate interest from some manufacturers that wanted new or better representation in this marketplace. That was the significant turning point.

Everything changed as we started signing up other products. After we demonstrated that we could be successful with them, other manufacturers took notice and reached out to us to represent them. Our ability to sell a better product and more importantly service our customer’s needs with those products really took the company up to the next several levels. At times, it felt like I was hanging onto the tail of a runaway animal, but it was also very exciting! Now we have offices as well as 6,500 square feet of warehouse with a million dollars’ worth of inventory.

 

How has the industry changed since you started?

This is going to make me sound old but when I started at Perma-Pipe in 1987 the internet and email didn’t exist! Cell phones were just coming into the business world and were super expensive because you paid by the minute, so they were mostly used by upper management. I had a pager and would return calls from the airport when I got off the plane or from my local rep’s office wherever I happened to be that week.

So, most of our communications and business was conducted by phone and then confirmed in a letter that we mailed at the post office and received 3-5 days later. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of advantages with the rapid way that we communicate now, but nobody can deny that business and business relationships have become less personal.

 

Has there been anyone or any company who helped you most along the way?

I definitely need to recognize hundreds of people that made Mechanical Equipment possible. I really don’t want to name people because I’d be afraid that if I left someone out, they’d have hurt feelings. However, I do want to thank a few key people that were responsible making Mechanical Equipment possible.

My former boss Fati Elgendy. Fati took the raw talent in me, and taught me how to be a successful sales person, sales manager, and business man. He also taught me a great deal about life, during many long discussions after hours, and about any subject you could imagine. I learned the most in my professional career from him and I will be eternally grateful to him. Without a doubt, he is the smartest person I have ever spoken to, the finest “pure” salesman that I’ve ever worked with, and he was also the person that came up with the idea of putting me in business as a rep and created a flexible plan to enable my success.

I owe a huge thank you to my late parents, Bernie and Midge O’Shaughnessy. They loaned me money in order to establish credit with factories, banks, etc. I was very confident that I could and would succeed, however nobody provides the unwavering support like a parent. They talked me up when I got down, encouraged me when I got discouraged, and provided constant reinforcement whenever I had doubt. They kept me grounded by always reminding me that life can change on a dime, so never, ever take your good fortune for granted. To this day, I say thank you to every customer, for every order, no matter the amount, I am truly grateful.

Thank you to the factories that we represent. Without their belief and trust in Mechanical Equipment, we’d have a hard time growing the business and in turn our lives. I am humbled that they have allowed us to share their name on our letterhead, and for the support and good fortune they have brought to our company.

Thank you to our customers! None of this is even possible without them! When I first interviewed for my job at Perma-Pipe, I met with the owner of the company, Mr. David Unger. A wonderful, generous and unbelievably kind man that treated me like family. During my interview, he asked me “as a salesman, do you think you represent your company to your customer, or your customer to your company?” After thinking about the question for a moment, I told him that I felt that I represent my customer to the company, because without the customer, the company doesn’t need me! That truly is how I feel and how any successful sales person in any industry feels. Everything starts with a customer! You can’t make a sale, process an order, employ people to support the transaction or create a financial transaction, without a customer!

Finally, thank you from the bottom of my heart, to all of our employees! These people treat Mechanical Equipment as if it was their own company, and frankly, they have made it so. All of them bust their butts’ day in and day out for me and they’re the ones that deserve all of the credit. From estimating (putting out what I believe are the most detailed, complete and consistent quotations in the industry), to the inside sales support staff making sure your orders get shipped correctly and on time, to our inside sales team taking care of all the parts orders, and to the warehouse staying late for last minute emergency orders and deliveries. Everyone that touches a part of our business at Mechanical Equipment, does so with passion, dedication, and pride to do the best they can do every day. I am so fortunate to have assembled such a great team! As Leo Burnett, the founder of the greatest advertising agency in the world once said when he started his business, “Reach for the stars. You may not always catch one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either!”

 

What do you see for the company looking ahead? What should/could customers get excited about?

It’s hard for me to say, simply because even in my wildest imagination, I honestly never dreamed we’d be where we are today! I think the sky is the limit for Mechanical Equipment as long as we stay on our current path, and maintain the positive and grateful attitude we have now. Well known factory names continue to contact us, requesting representation in the Illinois market and that means continued growth. What business doesn’t want positive, controlled growth, right?

But we’re selective. We want to rep the best product lines and in turn do a great job for them. My strategy has always been to have no more than a dozen main product lines, and to become the industry leaders in product and system knowledge for those brands. Hopefully, we will continue to enjoy the relationships that we’ve developed with our customers over the last 20 years and continue to add more customers to the list!

 

We received the following announcement from Taco Comfort Solutions about their commercial pumps and wanted to pass it along.

New and Improved Commercial Pump Nameplates Are On Their Way!

We are excited to introduce you to our newly designed nameplates. We’ve tried to incorporate as much of the relevant data you need in the field into our new design including a location for the PEI value of each pump. The new design also provides a more accessible location for our Taco Tag, giving you all of the digital support you may need.

You can see the difference in layout between the old and new design below. Fields to note are the DOE Basic Model No., PEIcl, and Taco Tag placement.

The DOE Basic Model No. is provided for easy cross reference of your qualifying Taco pump with the DOE energy rating data base at er.pumps.org.

As PEI values are uploaded into the Hydraulic Institute database, we’ll begin to include the HI Energy Rating Label in the document package shipped with each pump.

Pumps have already started shipping with the new nameplate!

If you have any questions about the new nameplates or how it might impact you, please reach out to us at sales@buymeinc.com or call us at 800-355-7061.

One of our most trusted brands, Patterson-Kelley, provided us with this great explanation breaking down turndown in commercial boilers.

Boilers are rated on thermal efficiency, which is simply the chemical energy added to the boiler, divided by the energy added to the boiler water. As more energy is transferred from the hot gas into the boiler water, the thermal efficiency increases and the temperature of the hot gas decreases. Turndown ratio plays a key role in this energy transfer. Many engineers and owners have been intentionally mislead regarding turn-down ratio’s and this article will dispense with the misleading information and down right nonsense about turn-down ratios and efficiencies!

Almost all boilers are tuned to add excess air, which ensures ideal combustion of the fuel for proper air-fuel mixing. The excess air can also prevent the burner from overheating by “pushing” the combustion flames off the burner.

When energy from the hot gasses is transferred to the boiler water, the gas temperature dips below the dew point, which causes vapor to become liquid. The energy released from the conversion is picked up by the boiler water and results in a significant boost in efficiency.  Every pound of condensate from flue gases condensing adds approximately 1000 btu’s to the boiler water. However, dry flue losses and loss of vapor can result in energy loss.

Energy loss can be readily calculated if the amount of CO2 and O2 in the flue gas and the stack temperature is known.

 With the evolution of boiler technology, manufacturers have found a way to offer units with multiple firing rates, and units that can modulate seamlessly between fixed low fire rates and fixed high fire rates. The fixed fire rates are defined as the boiler turndown capacities, and modulation is accomplished by reducing the air and gas flow into the boiler.

The benefit of this modulation is threefold; it reduces cycle losses, it reduces the wear on the components, and it can potentially lead to higher thermal efficiencies.

Impact of Turndown

This begs the fundamental question – wouldn’t a boiler with extreme turndowns be much more efficient than one with 5:1 turndown?  The answer to that is ‘NO’! And the proof of that is a simple engineering calculation that anyone can verify for themselves (shown below).

To achieve high turndowns the boilers are tuned to deliver greater amounts of excess air at low firing rates to keep the burner from overheating. The additional excess air will significantly reduce the dew point of the water in the flue gas and alter the losses in the dry gas.  To illustrate this effect, the example used in Figure A is updated to reflect a 20:1 turn down where the O2 is set to 11% (corresponding to a CO2 of 5.6% and 97% excess air).  The results are highlighted in Figure B below.

Note that the dew point has been lowered from 130.6° F to 117° F  and the boiler is no longer in the condensing range.  This represents a 3.7% DECREASE in overall efficiency and this is just the beginning of the bad news! 

When excess air well above 50% is used in the boiler, it impacts the stability of the combustion flame which can lead to excessive flame failures, nuisance trips and cycle losses.

The P-K Analysis

Realistic boiler modulation rates have helped improve the overall boiler system efficiency from reduced cycle losses and increased thermal effi­ciencies. Extreme turndown produces the opposite effect. Boil­er plant designs must factor in actual (not extrap­olated) boiler efficiencies through the firing range of the equipment and matching the expected plant loads with the right boiler size selections.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to us at sales@buymeinc.com

Going to be at the 2019 AHR Expo?

Dave Connors, Patterson-Kelley’s Trainer and National Accounts Manager will be giving an exclusive presentation at the 2019 AHR Expo. Be part of his “The Dirty Little Secret Associated with High Turndown” presentation to get a new perspective on the controversial topic.

Join Dave Connors on Wednesday, January 16th between 1:45 PM and 2:05 PM at Theater A – Room C101 of the Georgia World Congress Center. 

As an owner or as a design engineer, you want to be sure that your boiler selection will operate at peak efficiency, under all conditions. Thermal efficiency is simply the chemical energy added to the boiler, divided by the energy added to the boiler water. As more energy is transferred from the hot gas into the boiler water, the thermal efficiency increases and the temperature of the hot gas decreases. Turndown ratio plays a key role in this energy transfer. Many engineers and owners have been intentionally misled regarding turndown ratio’s and this article will dispense with the misleading information and down right nonsense about turndown ratios and efficiencies!

Patterson-Kelley, one of our most trusted brands of boilers, has published a blog post on the advantages and disadvantages of high turndown. We are sharing that post below as well as their explanation of how Patterson-Kelley will introduce 10:1 turndown without sacrificing system efficiency.

Commercial Boiler Efficiency

Placing system efficiency at the forefront of commercial boiler acquisition continues to be a trend in the heating and water heating industry. Manufacturers are racing ahead to push the limits of technology by offering aggressive turndown capabilities approaching, and even exceeding 20:1, at the detriment of system efficiency.

In an age where energy conservation is important and condensing boilers are increasingly being adopted, the dewpoint plays an important role in system efficiency because it determines whether the boiler will condense or not, as well as how much condensation will occur. The dewpoint is the atmospheric condition below which water droplets condense and dew can form, releasing heat that can then be absorbed back into the system. Condensation can occur at up to 130º F depending on pressure and humidity. The returning water in the heating system is used as the cooling medium; as the temperature of the returning water drops, the amount of condensate increases.  The potential amount of condensate estimated at 100,000 BTU’s per hour is one gallon, if the boiler is operating at reduce temperatures.

Heating System Flexibility

Although heating systems are designed to meet peak loads, they spend most of their run-time hours off peak. Along with efficiency, flexibility is an important factor in boiler operation. As the building loads change, the heating system must be flexible enough to change with it. In the instance where the heating system is sized at a higher capability than is required, the flexibility of a boiler could accommodate the imbalance by turning down the input to match the load. This has become the key driving factor in the high turndown story.

Traditionally, turndown has been the limiter of efficiency. To maintain stable flames, excess air is introduced which depresses the dewpoint of natural gas. The dirty little secret associated with high turndown is that, in most cases, the boiler is no longer condensing.

Aggressive turndown capabilities usually lower the dewpoint and reduce the window of opportunity to condense due to excess air. The 970 BTU/lb. of condensate that engineers expect to get from the system, will continue to go straight up the flue.

Excess air to achieve highest possible efficiency:

  • 5 – 10% for natural gas
  • 5 – 20% for fuel oil
  • 15 – 60% for coal


A Patterson-Kelley Solution

Due to technology improvements, Patterson-Kelley will introduce 10:1 turndown capabilities for the first time during 2019. Patterson-Kelley has achieved higher turndown with a unique process that allows the gas valves to reliably turn down without adding large amounts of excess air, resulting in flexibility and efficiency. This method delivers a 10:1 turndown rate while preserving the dewpoint of a 5:1 turndown rate, which helps maintain high condensation levels. This higher turndown capability will provide designers the ability to match input to building loads without sacrificing reliability. No more nuisance flame failures that have traditionally plagued high turndown boilers.

You can see the original post here.

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