A recent Global Market Insights report on the boiler industry predicts strong growth ahead for the commercial and residential boiler market, thanks in part to infrastructure development across the U.S., particularly in education and healthcare facilities as well as in the hospitality sector.
For both commercial and residential markets, rising awareness toward energy-efficient heating systems are one reason for the growth as end users replace heating systems that may still be relatively young with new high-efficiency condensing units, the report finds.
Advancements in controls and operation are also driving growth.
Integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) with boilers, for example, enables end users to use data in more meaningful ways. IoT sensors in boilers continually collect data and send it over a network, enabling real-time monitoring of boiler systems. Customers can control these smart systems from wherever they are and set targets for energy consumption and automatic alerts when there are defects or maintenance needs within the system.
“The IoT is gaining traction in larger applications more than ever,” reports Kal Osman, director of boiler product management for AERCO. “Initially, light commercial applications were the target. Controls and IoT in the commercial boiler market are gaining ground with a focus on maintenance and troubleshooting. This helps facilities keep their equipment operating at peak performance with less manpower.”
Finally, building automation systems (BAS) continue to impact the market.
“The BAS world has also taken off,” Osman says. “Every aspect of a building is now monitored and controlled by the BAS. These computer-based systems are installed within facilities to control and monitor mechanical and electrical equipment and boost energy efficiency. With boilers, these systems allow users to precisely control fuel and combustion air to drive efficiency.”
It all amounts to a major transformation in boiler controls over the past few years due to rapidly changing demands in the market.
“The market now requests units that offer Wi-Fi, touch screen capability and the ability to communicate with building management system such as BACnet, LonWorks and Modbus,” says Shaz Syed, engineering applications and training manager, Bosch Thermotechnology “Consumers also continue to request new ways to control their equipment, for example, through mobile apps.”
What does all of this mean for the boiler industry?
We spoke with a number of manufacturers to gain a better understanding of how the industry is doing, the trends and challenges it faces and where the market is headed in the future.
We started by asking about the most recent news on regulations, and how players in the industry believe these standards will impact the boiler industry in 2019 and beyond.
Three years ago, the Department of Energy finalized new standards for residential boilers that raised minimum efficiency levels to 84 percent and 86 percent for gas-fired and oil-fired boilers, respectively. Though these new standards will not take effect until 2021, most manufacturers are introducing or will soon introduce products meeting these mandates.
For example, Stacey Droogan, vice president of marketing and administrative services for Slant/Fin, reports: “Most manufacturers are jumping on the changes to be compliant by 2021. Slant/Fin immediately started on an upgrade project. Currently most Slant/Fin boilers meet or exceed the 2021 requirements, and we will be fully compliant by the effective date.”
Robert Wiseman, product manager of commercial boilers for Lochinvar, sees the same: “At Lochinvar, we’ve made a concerted effort to lead the charge when it comes to emissions reduction and maximizing efficiency standards. Across North America there are various regulations for NOx reductions and our combustion systems are designed to inherently reduce NOx levels.”
“The DOE-2021 requirements are closer than the calendar suggests,” says David Hansen, product marketing manager for U.S. Boiler Co. “After Jan. 15, 2021, manufacturers will need to meet minimum efficiency and maximum power consumption requirement on all residential boilers manufactured. This is more of a business situation than a technology challenge for our company. Top-selling boilers from many manufacturers will be replaced and repeat business will be a disruption for some and an opportunity for others. U.S. Boiler will defend its current business and earn new customers by offering a lot more than efficiency and power conservation.”
However, the DOE has not released new minimum efficiency regulations and effective dates for U.S. commercial boilers. In a joint email interview, Weil-McClain’s John Miller, senior product manager and Mike Boyd, product manager, report new regulations were originally scheduled to go into effect in 2020, and add “effective dates of any new efficiency standards will include a three-year manufacturer implementation allowance from the publish date of the final regulation.”
Several Canadian regulatory changes are also coming into enforcement. Most important, reports Chuck O’Donnell, director of marketing, LAARS Heating Systems, is that residential gas boilers must have an AFUE of 90 percent or greater in all applications. In addition, commercial gas boilers must meet minimum thermal efficiencies of 90 percent by Jan. 1, 2023.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency opted not to pursue a revision of the Energy Star boiler specification. Instead, John Kopf, boiler product manager for Navien, reports the EPA will continue monitoring future market and technology trends.
“Although, the DOE has finalized a new boiler efficiency standard, which will become effective in 2021, these revised standards are less stringent than the existing Energy Star levels,” he adds. “The revised DOE test methods are not expected to affect the current AFUE ratings. The commercial regulation could potentially increase the minimum efficiency levels, but has been put on hold by the current administration and has not been finalized.”
Mike Thomas, CEO at Evergreen Products International, worries that the EPA’s Energy Star decision might keep older, less efficient, cast-iron product around longer. It also puts less pressure on manufacturers, he says, to improve their products.
All the companies we spoke with are keeping a close eye on these regulations and their impact on the boiler industry.
“These efficiency changes are top of mind to boiler manufacturers and have resulted in many companies deploying energy and resources toward upgrading their product lines,” O’Donnell says. He further reports LAARS continues to work with industry stakeholders and rulemaking bodies in the United States and Canada to help ensure new regulations “not only meet energy efficiency goals, but are also technologically feasible for manufacturers to implement.”
Andrew Tran, marketing manager at Noritz, says the DOE’s regulations and other regulations will “affect end users, manufacturers and contractors as some old products are phased out and installations can be potentially more difficult for certain customers replacing older boilers (i.e. vent/chimney changes).” He adds that Canada’s new ruling for condensing boilers as a minimum baseline efficiency will significantly change the product mix for manufacturers and “has the possibility of stranding homeowners with currently existing non-condensing product with excessively expensive installations of new boilers. There is some discussion on separating out that ruling into new and existing construction to alleviate this issue.”
As the industry moves toward increasing national efficiency standards and trends toward minimum allowable efficiency, Osman reports state regulations are also having an impact.
“Some states, such as California and Washington, are increasing their ultra low NOx requirement,” he says. “This is primarily designed to eliminate atmospheric boiler products in the market.”
Mike Shrigley, Harsco vice president of sales and marketing, agrees, cautioning that “aside from the industry standards and regulations, we must also stay on top of federal, state and county codes that impact the applications of commercial boilers.” He lists three to pay attention to in particular:
• ASHRAE 90.1, a new energy standard for new buildings, which mandates 90 percent or better system efficiency.
• The testing standard 155P, which will be testing part load efficiencies for equipment. This is oncoming, but something we are looking at on the horizon, he says.
• Hydrogenation of natural gas in distribution pipelines to make the energy more sustainable like what we are seeing in Europe, he notes.
Paying attention to local and state initiatives promoting energy efficiency enables end users to participate in various programs at the local level, Kopf adds, noting that all Navien products have 95 percent AFUE ratings and qualify for federal, state and local utility rebates.
“Boiler regulations are regional and affect different markets accordingly,” Syed says. “One of the main regulations that a majority of boiler manufacturers must adhere to is the low NOx requirement, which is an initiative to create cleaner air quality by eliminating the biggest factors that cause air pollutions, especially on the West Coast. Many manufacturers have applied this requirement to all of their equipment given that the West Coast is a major market in North America.”
Another requirement, he adds, is for a CSD1 (controlled safety device), which requires additional safety for automatic fired boilers.
“Manufacturers often comply with the CSD1 regulation by providing a retrofit kit with their existing boiler models at an additional cost,” Syed adds. “Bosch redesigned its boilers to include the CSD1 kit to adhere to the regulation.”
As boiler efficiency and emissions become the largest driving force in today’s boiler market, venting is another key area to watch.
“There has been a lot of discussion over the use of PVC, CPVC and polypropylene for venting of flue gases,” says David Walsh, vice president of sale of NTI-USA Inc. “Some local municipalities have enacted legislation to address the issue and several others have actions pending.”
Keith Muhlmeister, product manager at Slant/Fin, agrees venting is a critical consideration.
“There are codes being enacted that prohibit the use of PVC for boiler venting and this is good,” he adds. “PVC is cheap and available, and, therefore, is often an installer’s first choice to vent high-efficiency, gas-fired boilers. But we would like to see a national code enacted covering materials used to vent high-efficiency boilers. This would protect the consumer, installer and manufacturer.”
Matt Kieszczynski, director of marketing for Mestek, reports many changes in the regulatory arena are impacting manufacturers’ offerings as well as their internal resources.
“With recent changes to the AHRI efficiency test procedures,” he adds, “we had a lot of projects running simultaneously to ensure that all our products were in full compliance. As a manufacturer, we are always cognizant to produce the most efficient products possible, which carries over to all of our modern designs and is considered standard protocol here at Mestek.”
Though not exactly a regulation, Joe Langlois, marketing manager, ECR International Inc., warns of continued impact from tariffs. In 2018, the Trump administration’s initial steel and aluminum tariffs caused raw material prices to rise, and the impact of those tariffs was quickly felt by U.S. HVAC equipment manufacturers, who called the tariffs detrimental to their competitiveness. With President Trump reporting earlier that he will not exempt Canada and Mexico from metals tariffs as part of a deal to get the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Trade through Congress, Langlois fears the tariffs will continue to increase costs.
Negative outlooks aside, most agree the move to more stringent regulations makes for an attractive market outlook.
“The condensing boiler market is growing at a steady rate,” Osman says. “With new regulations addressing efficiency and emissions, the growth rate should accelerate even further.”
Thomas agrees with Osman’s outlook.
“We are at the point where the next big step is for the consumer to go fully condensing,” he states. “There’s not much of a difference anymore between condensing and non-condensing products, but it’s better overall for the environment and the consumer in the long run to move to a condensing-type product.”
We asked which trends from last year are still around and what everyone predicts will be the biggest trends of 2019. Three trends quickly rose to the top: Condensing boilers, energy efficiency and connectivity.
Trend No. 1: The trend topping nearly everyone’s list is the move toward condensing boilers. All respondents reported a continuation in sales growth for condensing boilers in the residential and commercial markets.
“The continued growth in the condensing segment is perhaps the biggest in our industry,” Walsh says. “The industry is trending away from atmospheric-fired boilers to condensing in both residential and commercial applications.”
Osman echoes Walsh’s sentiments, “The HVAC industry is moving toward higher-efficiency boilers faster than last year.”
According to Tran, there continues to be an uptick of boilers sold in the >90 percent AFUE category, and he adds that with “Canada pushing regulation to make new construction baseline include condensing technology, we forecast this trend will continue and possibly accelerate in the future.”
The industry is also trending toward taking a systems approach to condensing boiler applications. Walsh reports product selection, piping, water quality, proper combustion and air/venting all play a critical role in providing a proper installation and ultimate value to the end user.
In addition, Miller and Boyd see a trend toward hybrid boiler applications – a non-condensing boiler for lead operation in the core heating season months and a condensing boiler design for lead operation in the heating season shoulder months – as the industry recognizes their design benefits for building owners.
Meanwhile, O’Donnell predicts continued interest in high-efficiency condensing lines in both the residential and commercial markets.
“New home construction and residential replacements are showing growth in the use of condensing units, especially combi units,” he states. “We’re also seeing commercial construction expansion where high-efficiency products are being specified as building owners look to reduce operational costs. However, there also continues to be a strong demand for near-condensing, fan-assisted commercial products due to the overall value offered.”
Trend No. 2: The second trend for higher efficiency pairs well with the move toward more efficient condensing boilers. New regulations and a boost in consumer demand for greater energy efficiency continue to propel this trend forward.
Miller and Boyd anticipate a continued shift toward highly efficient products for applications that can match and take advantage of the technology.
“With many boiler applications and much industry experience with high efficiency and other new technologies, we see an emerging trend toward optimizing the system design for each specific application,” they report. “Weil-McLain has a comprehensive line of products available to meet the needs of any application.”
However, Droogan also adds that “many customers are still looking for the long-term dependability of cast iron. When you really factor in everything from the cost of the boiler, installation cost, maintenance costs and life expectancies, cast iron is still a very sound choice.”
Trend No. 3: The third trend topping respondents’ lists is that of connectivity. Products that can connect to a smart device and be monitored remotely is a heightened demand in the boiler industry. Consumers and installers want to be able to monitor and control equipment from a distance, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. O’Donnell sums it up, saying, end users want “advanced controls that are intuitive and easy to use.”
Langlois states, “Homeowners expect new boilers with smart system integration and remote-control capability.” He notes ECR has provided intelligence integration within the boiler’s control system for a few years. It’s A.I. (artificial intelligence) boilers have advanced features with self-monitoring, self-adjusting and automatic commissioning. The products, Langlois adds, are popular with installing contractors, who appreciate their onboard communication capabilities and their ability to send out service notices via an optional smart thermostat/gateway interface. This enables the installing contractor and homeowner to view what is occurring within the boiler and make setting changes remotely.
“In terms of remote connectivity, engineers and end users prefer all of their equipment connects together, so it can be controlled through the main building management system,” Syed says. “Bosch simplifies this by providing equipment that communicates through the building management system. Additionally, Bosch has taken on the initiative to make all of its products connect with each other by 2025.”
The trend toward greater connectivity enables the collection of performance data, which O’Donnell says can be interpreted into a prescriptive action.
“For example, such data can indicate when a boiler should have maintenance conducted or tracking of anomalies in operation that may point to installation issues that require investigation,” he says. “Whether this is done via an IoT connection or by using building automation systems, the end goal is to obtain actionable information rather than gathering data that is hard to interpret or not useful to the end user, engineer or contractor.”
Technology development and the use of BAS has forced boiler manufacturers to accelerate their research and development efforts in improving and expanding the capabilities of the controls platform to meet the growing expectations and specifications of the commercial market.
“We see a trend toward controls innovation,” reports Peachie Maher Hytowitz, product manager, commercial products for Raypak. “Consumers seek boilers that can be integrated with other smart home devices.”
The industry is delivering on these demands as it continues to invest in technology for the controls package. The trends for 2019 will continue to lead down this path with more products offering remote connectivity using mobile applications, new and improved smart thermostats, color touchscreens, voice and Wi-Fi capabilities.
“Controls continue to become more capable, enabling a boiler control panel to run multiple boilers, across multiple locations and temperature zones, optimizing boiler rotation to balance the load across each boiler,” according to Miller and Boyd. “More controls are able to integrate easily with the smart home environment and commercial BAS, including products with embedded communication technology to enable connectivity for remote monitoring/alerts and analytics for predictive maintenance.”
Shrigley reports: “With our NURO control package, its status is constantly in ‘continuous improvement’ to meet these demands. Our platform operates and analyzes our appliances and increases our position for the IoT future. In addition, to being able to more accurately control our own technology, it helps with adaptability to new industry trends in engineering and allows building owners to track how their system is running.”
Integrating the IoT into boiler systems is becoming the focus in controls development.
“The IoT continues to become more relevant within the industry,” Wiseman adds. “Our CON-X-US Remote Connect technology offers contractors and facility managers an easy way to diagnose and manage units from any smart device with internet access.”
The IoT’s relevance in the industry is easy to understand, adds Thomas, when one considers that integrating the IoT into product makes it easier for people to control it.
“Some subsystems,” he says, “will give you a lot of information about what’s wrong with a boiler, diagnosing what a problem is prior to a mechanic going to the site, so he shows up with the right parts. In addition, occupants can adjust temperatures and turn off zones that are not in use to save energy.”
As IoT use increases, a concern for system security also emerges, reports Kleszczynski.
“We are, and have been, ahead of the curve in all facets of the IoT revolution and are constantly developing features to incorporate into our HeatNet integrated control platform to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry,” he says. “Our HeatNet Online feature in our control platform allows for remote monitoring and much more. Data security is very important to us as our platform is secured though a layered approach. Proprietary Serial ATA encryption technology, direct data transmission and no third-party integration is required for HeatNet Online. Operational safety is a concern not only from the personal injury perspective, but also from a system perspective. Certain parameters must be adhered to in the functionality of a boiler or water heater to protect the equipment from possible catastrophic failures.”
Osman says AERCO integrates all common protocols into its condensing boilers, including the Benchmark Platinum, reducing the need for a gateway and other third-party device requirements. This makes it easier for contractors to choose the appropriate protocol for the job.
With the move to the IoT, also comes the trend to make boiler control panels more user-friendly.
“The boiler panels also have been improving,” Kopf says, “featuring large color screens and touch-screen capabilities to make them more user friendly.”
WiFi control continues to be an emerging trend, and Navien is offering innovative Wi-Fi controls on all its products. The NaviLink Wi-Fi controller can be used on a single boiler or cascaded system, allowing end users to remotely access data, monitor current boiler operating status, adjust settings, obtain error notifications and view past usage data. The NaviLink is compatible with both Android and iOS operating mobile devices.
Even with technology adoption and connectivity on the rise, O’Donnell cautions not to expect remote connectivity to take over completely—at least not this year.
“Adoption of new technology takes longer in the heating industry than in many other industries so this transition is happening at a slower rate than initial interest may have suggested,” he says.
Trend No. 4: Other trends that came up during our discussion included fire tube boilers, compact boilers, the use of stainless-steel and the labor shortage.
ECR International, for example, sees compact boiler designs, that take up less space, weigh less and offer high-capacity DHW capabilities, becoming popular as well as the use of different materials in the heat exchanger.
But larger sizes are also trending, reports Harsco, as the demand for the 8 million-12 million BTU segment heats up.
Kopf reports: “The fire tube, stainless-steel-type heat exchanger seems to be dominating the boiler market and has become the preferred choice for most specifying engineers and contractors. The main reason is ease of service and lower pressure drop resulting in smaller and less expansive to operate pumps. The stainless-steel type of material is also perceived as superior to other types, such as copper or aluminum.”
Osman adds that more manufacturers are now offering condensing boilers that are stainless steel, but adds that AERCO boilers have been designed with highly reliable, stainless steel, fire tube heat exchangers for decades.
Simplified installation is also a trend expected to continue as the industry wrestles with a shortage of skilled labor.
“It doesn’t matter where I travel to, everyone is having trouble finding staff. The quicker and easier our product is installed, the better it is for contractors,” he says. “Contractors are moving toward these products because they have a smaller labor force, too.”
Training has always been a key element of U.S. Boiler’s relationship with its contracting professionals, says Mike Hook, marketing communications manager, U.S. Boiler Co.
“To that end, we have opted to exponentially increase the number of training events both here at our facility and at locations throughout the country,” he adds. “Acting in conjunction with our sales, distribution, and vendor partners, our goal is to equip our contracting professionals with practical information that will make their installation and service calls go as smoothly as possible. In addition, we are continually adding topics to our series of short instructional ‘how to’ online videos which cover frequently requested product-specific topics.”
Innovations and product introductions
We asked manufacturers what innovations and advances in production timing, energy efficiency and product performance they had brought to market, and what technologies they had introduced or planned to introduce in the next year.
“Since lab conditions are not real-life scenarios, a major factor that AERCO is addressing is the entire system’s efficiency when integrated with other system components. The focus on only individual boilers or a boiler plant operating efficiency needs to consider the entire system’s efficiency to get a true determination.
“We’ve also increased connectivity. AERCO introduced condensing and full-modulating boilers to the U.S. market 30 years ago. Now, our Benchmark Platinum boiler offers onAER, a connected, cloud-based predictive analytics tool, as well as our new Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled Edge Controller, and mobile app. These tools include many industry-first features that help customers save money, simplify startups and maintenance, and strengthen system performance.” – Kal Osman, director of boiler product management, AERCO
“Every market has different trends, and they tend to change based on applications.
“The boiler market is moving towards more compact footprint equipment, which takes up as minimal space as possible. For example, in warmer climates, consumers want equipment to be installed outdoors, on a rooftop, or somewhere where it will not occupy living space. Manufacturers need to consider this and develop equipment that is outdoor compatible.”
“Bosch is responding to the end user’s demands by providing a pre-packaged unit, like the Bosch SSB unit.”
Shaz Syed, engineering applications and training manager, Bosch Thermotechnology
“Within the ECR boiler family, we released larger capacity MAC and MAH high-efficiency boilers, from Utica Boilers, that features a control system called A.I. (artificial intelligence). The A.I. control can determine the fuel being supplied to the boiler, LP or natural gas, and automatically commissions the boiler. The control continuously calibrates combustion by adjusting air/fuel ratios. The proper gas air mixture optimizes combustion resulting in fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs. The combi model, MAC-205, features an industry leading flow rate of 5 gpm at 70-degree temperature rise.
“ECR has also released a companion zoning control system from Argo. This new universal Argo control is fully programmable, and can be used on a zone valve system, a zone pump system or a heating system with a combination of zone valves and pumps. The control is the perfect companion for high-efficiency condensing boilers, with a dedicated boiler loop pump electrical connection and three separate end switches for systems with multiple temperature requirements.” – Joe Langlois, marketing manager, ECR International Inc.
“We incorporate the ability to communicate with our product remotely so that from a serviceability standpoint we can tell what’s going on with the product and can offer a remote tech service. We feel that’s a very important future. We also have been trying to pack as much into our products as we can to raise the installation time and make them quicker and easier to install. Our ACC system allows for automatic setup of the combustion on the boiler. We enable remote access so that you can see the status of the boilers and can diagnose error codes remotely. We can tell you what part needs to be replaced so that home owners do not pay for two service calls because the contractor already knows what part he needs to replace before he gets there. Our parts are also thermal polymer so they don’t rust or corrode. Our parts are tested to the newest standards. We have several new technologies set to release, so stay tuned for further announcements.”
– Mike Thomas, CEO, Evergreen Products International
“We offer greater turndown without sacrificing boiler efficiency, larger water ways producing lower pressure drop, streamlined manufacturing/production cells, selective stocking of components to provide rapid delivery of our appliances, and our NURO connected devices also allow for more in-building optimization once our units are placed into a system. We will be offering increased turndown (10:1) on our aluminum boiler models to allow us to better optimize the performance of our equipment in a variety of spaces. This technology allows for increased mechanical turndown without sacrificing our condensing efficiencies, as you would by introducing excess air into the fired system electronically.” – Mike Shrigley, vice president of sales and marketing, Harsco
“The LAARS Vari-Prime control functionality balances boiler combustion, air flow and water flow to optimize boiler efficiency per a building’s heating demand profile and outside atmospheric conditions. The result is a large reduction in the total gas and electrical energy consumption from a boiler installation and therefore a smaller bill for the building owner. Vari-Prime is currently available on the LAARS MagnaTherm and NeoTherm lines. The LAARS MagnaTherm HTD commercial condensing boiler and volume water heater will be released later this year with 20:1 turndown and real-time O2 monitoring. Oxygen levels produced by the combustion process are monitored and actively managed by LAARS proprietary algorithms to produce unparalleled operation. Just like a high-performance automobile, the MagnaTherm HTD O2 monitoring system adjusts air to fuel mixture to maintain ideal performance. At any point along the entire 20:1 turndown the ideal balance between efficiency and clean emission levels is maintained.” – Chuck O’Donnell, director of marketing, LAARS Heating Systems
“We had a tremendous year of growth in 2018, we expanded the CREST Condensing Boiler family to achieve peak commercial savings, hitting a milestone 96 percent thermal efficiency in six models ranging from 2.5 million to 6 million Btu/hour. The units feature an upgraded combustion system and updated stainless-steel heat exchanger. We also recently partnered with EC POWER to launch the Micro CHP cogeneration system in North America. We’re already seeing fantastic results and savings from installations. Our customers can see energy cost-savings on their very first utility bill. We continue to make user and service friendliness a top priority, with interface upgrades across most of our units allows our customers to have access to our most intuitive software and hardware yet.
– Robert Wiseman, product manager, commercial boilers, Lochinvar
“Navien has launched a couple of exciting new products, the NFB residential boiler and NFC residential and light commercial combi-boiler. These two products feature advanced patented fire tube heat exchanger, intuitive controls allowing remote access to boiler, flexibility of venting, high efficiency, wide operating range, quiet operation, compact design for space saving, cascading capability up to 16 units and common venting up to eight units. Both products are backed by industry leading warranties for both, residential and commercial installations. Navien also plans on introducing a couple of new boiler sizes, which will extend the existing NFB residential line into commercial applications. These new NFB boilers will have same great features as the existing units. The commercial NFB boiler will come with a larger touch screen designed to help installers configure the boiler, monitor its performance and perform troubleshooting. The new BMS controller will allow the NFB boiler communicate with the BMS using BACnet or Modbus communication protocols.” – John Kopf, boiler product manager, Navien
“We have always been a leader in manufacturing. It’s what we do and is the cornerstone of how we have become one of the largest manufacturers in North America. All our boiler facilities are ISO certified and are constantly evolving to become safer, environmentally friendly and ultimately more efficient without sacrificing quality. We can build and ship equipment within a day or two if necessary, to meet the needs of our customers but our standard lead-times are some of the best in the industry regardless.
“In the last few years we have introduced our FlexCore Symmetrical Fire Tube boiler with capacities up to 9 million Btu/hour. It was one of the most design-intensive projects we’ve had in recent history but it meets the needs of today’s highly-efficient variable volume systems. Everything on the FlexCore was designed and engineered by Mestek. We see a lot of manufacturers today buying ‘technology’ from others and assembling equipment but we are still very focused on every aspect of engineering and manufacturing. Our HeatNet control platform is constantly evolving to meet the needs of today’s applications. We have several projects in the works to continue to meet the demands of the marketplace.” – Matt Kieszczynski, director of marketing, Mestek
“The Noritz NRCB is a product that we released very recently, which brought a brand-new spin on product performance for residential combination boilers. Combination boilers allow for the functionality of both a space heater and water heater in a single product, which can significantly reduce installation time and cost as well as increase efficiency. However, one of the major drawbacks of a combination boiler is that you can only use one of the functions at a time, which can cause potentially uncomfortable situations for a homeowner. Our NRCB, however, has a revolutionary design that allows for true simultaneous domestic and heating functionality, meaning that customers can get continuous hot water and space heat at the same time.
“Noritz is looking to add to our IoT platform to allow for interactivity between our boiler and an app. This functionality will allow for customers to remotely control and monitor their boiler to increase overall system efficiency and be able to receive alerts in cases where there are problems detected and need immediate attention. We have also spent time researching easier and more flexible methods for contractors to install the venting of the boiler, with a recent addition to use flexible polypropylene venting through existing chimneys or B-vent. This gives contractors even more flexibility to find a safe and efficient way to remove the combustion byproducts from the home safely.”
– Andrew Tran, marketing manager, Noritz
“NTI is continually improving our production cycles and performance. From capital investment to improved flow and efficiencies in the manufacturing process allows us to provide our customers with the product when they need it. Many of the suggestions for improvement come right from the factory floor. It is great when employees get to have their ideas listened and, even better implemented. NTI was the first company to introduce a modulating condensing boiler in Canada and among the first in the United States at the beginning of this century. From the beginning NTI took pride in the fact that we created products that were installer and service friendly and are dependable by design.
“Although this is a boiler edition, one of the most unique products we have introduced a few years ago was the GF200 Combi Furnace. Everyone knows what a combi boiler is, well NTI has applied combi technology to a 97 percent AFUE Combi Furnace. This has been a true game changer in our industry. Later this year we will introduce our new TRX boiler to the market. NTI will continue its role as a leader in the condensing market by featuring a unique new large waterway water tube heat exchanger, Wi-Fi connectivity and many other features. The waterways will be 140 percent larger than other water tube heat exchangers. We are very excited about the launch of the new TRX. It will continue to add to the large breadth of the NTI condensing product offering.” – Dave Walsh, vice president of sales, NTI-USA Inc.
“This year we are introducing our HO2T O2 trim system for the XVers platform. The O2 trim system continuously monitors the flue gas oxygen levels and self-adjusts the unit to maintain optimal performance and to maximize efficiency.” – Peachie Maher Hytowitz, product manager, commercial products, Raypak Inc.
“Slant/Fin will continue to introduce higher technology boilers, such as our new VGH series, with the goal of energy savings with a reliable product. We also have an ongoing project to improve heating outputs for our residential and commercial baseboard and finned tube products at lower water temperatures. This makes them a better match to use with high-efficiency gas fired boilers. Slant/Fin was the first major manufacturer to publish output ratings down to 110-degree water temperatures in order to optimize use of high-efficiency boilers the entire heating system.” – Keith Muhlmeister, commercial product manager, Slant/Fin
“As appliance efficiencies approach theoretical limits, Weil-McLain seeks to enable customers to design the optimal system for their application needs, empowered by capable controls to manage the application design. In addition, we seek to reduce the cost and effort required for installation and make it easier, and less costly, to service and maintain these high-tech boiler systems. Our latest product innovation is our Stainless Vertical Fire Tube SVF 750-1100 high-efficiency commercial boiler line. This recently launched next-generation boiler features industry-leading thermal efficiencies up to 97.1 percent, unrivaled ease of installation and maintenance, the intuitive, user-friendly, system-enabling Unity control system, and Weil-McLain reliability and longevity. The unit is designed to match market-driven bid specifications and is available in 750,000, 1 million and 1.1 million Btu/hour models. The SVF 750-1100 line features a clover-shaped stainless-steel fire tube design for corrosion resistance and operating efficiency, ease of installation and service features including a hinged cover-plate, integrated roller castors and leveling legs, and a replaceable condensate tray to provide reliable condensate management, all with a bold, new exterior look.
“In addition, we introduced the AquaBalance Series 2 with 95 percent AFUE. This unit is available in combi and heat only versions in three sizes: 80K, 120K and 155K Btu/hour. The AquaBalance Series 2 features a 1-inch diameter ASME certified 316L stainless-steel single tube heat exchanger with low pressure drop, making it a great combi for cold weather markets. Its compact design increases placement options while the heavy gauge insulated jacket provides quiet operation. The pre-wired, plug-in ready electrical design features a Honeywell control with digital display, while a three-in-one vent adapter offers multiple vent material and vent orientation options, including direct vent (two pipes or concentric through roof or sidewall) and direct exhaust.
“Targeted for July 2019 product availability, Weil-McLain is expanding its stainless-steel vertical fire tube SVF line with the addition of the SVF 1500-3000 products. These units are designed to match market-driven bid specifications and are available in 1.5 million, 2 million, 2.5 million and 3 million BTU/hour models. A complement to the SVF 750-1100 high-efficiency commercial boiler design, this boiler platform also features industry-leading thermal efficiencies (up to 96.8 percent), unrivaled ease of installation and maintenance, the intuitive, user-friendly Unity system-enabling control system, and Weil-McLain reliability and longevity. The SVF 1500-3000 sizes feature a stainless-steel, alternating-opposed indentation fire tube design for corrosion resistance and operating efficiency, ease of installation and service features including a hinged cover-plate, and a replaceable condensate tray to provide reliable condensate management, all with a bold, new exterior look.” – John Miller, senior product manager and Mike Boyd, product manager, Weil-McLain
We asked in what ways have costs, time and maintenance been addressed?
“Saving money and time on installation and maintenance of units is a major concern for owners and contractors. AERCO’s boilers address these concerns through compact, innovative designs, as well as automating and simplifying many manual installation and maintenance tasks so they take a fraction of the original time to perform.” – Kal Osman, director of boiler product management, AERCO
“The majority of Bosch equipment is designed to make the installation cost, time and maintenance process as easy as possible. Specifically, with the SSB boiler, Bosch sells the unit as a pre-packaged system that includes boiler piping built into the cabinet and built-in boiler pumps for each heat exchanger. This can save the end user six to eight thousand dollars per boiler. – Shaz Syed, engineering applications and training manager, Bosch Thermotechnology
“The MAC and UCS, from Utica Boiler’s high-efficiency condensing boiler line, will feature a LABOR SAVER primary/secondary manifold and a built-in boiler loop pump. In addition, LWCO is standard. These features simplify the installation for the contractor by reducing piping as well as electrical wiring requirements. The A.I. control system simplifies start up with a simple push of two buttons and the control system takes over calibrating the boiler’s combustion.” – Joe Langlois, marketing manager, ECR International Inc.
“On the cost side, we have components prebuilt within the factory. That’s something that’s done with repetition, it’s done with accuracy and it’s done in volumes so the pricing on individual parts that are included in the product versus the contractor purchasing them one-off leaves the manufacturer with the advantage. This also saves time on the installation side and being able to communicate remotely with a boiler at any time from a cellphone, tablet or computer saves time and makes repairs more efficient.”
– Mike Thomas, CEO, Evergreen Products International
“The products we’ve brought to the marketplace are a direct result of feedback, consultation and our own investigation from the engineering, contractor and end user communities. While they share many of the same objectives, they tend to rank those objectives based on the role they play in the interaction with the equipment. It’s our job to do the very best we can to provide the necessary solutions to those needs in product form.” – Mike Shrigley, vice president of sales and marketing, Harsco
“Hybrid Installations continue to be specified as a value-engineered solution to meet two goals of building owners: high operational efficiency and minimal first-time installation cost. This is accomplished by using condensing lead boilers and near-condensing lag boilers in a cascaded system. LAARS offers both condensing and near-condensing boilers with easy-to-integrate hybrid controls for complete value-engineered system solutions.” – Chuck O’Donnell, director of marketing, LAARS Heating Systems
“At Lochinvar, we pride ourselves on being a one-stop-shop for many of our customers, so package systems continue to be a key way for our customers to cut down on installation time and cost. Emphasis on the most sophisticated IoT offerings continues to be a huge area of focus for us. From plug-and-play systems to remote controls, we are constantly working to address customer needs. Installation and maintenance should be simple and easy allowing our contractors and customers the most seamless experience possible. The Lochinvar U portal provides 24-hour access to technical information that allows your team to save time on maintenance.” – Robert Wiseman, product manager, commercial boilers, Lochinvar
“The installation costs have been reduced by lowering the initial cost of the boiler, making units lighter, adding intuitive controls with an enhanced start-up wizard, flexibility of venting materials, ability to common vent multiple boilers, and using smaller pipe diameters contributed to lower first cost. The improvements in boiler design, i.e. easy access to internal components, parts standardization across all manufacturer lines, intuitive controls, and providing parts and labor warranty all contribute to reduction in operational costs. Navien offers racking systems allowing contractors to quickly install the boilers. Navien also provides a wide range of accessories, many included with the boiler, to further speed up the installation process. Another important factor is factory training for the contractors to make them more comfortable in installing, doing annual maintenance and troubleshooting the boilers.” – John Kopf, boiler product manager, Navien
“All our equipment focuses on reliability and efficiency but we spend a lot of time making sure everything is service friendly and easy to install. We also have a team of dedicated internal and external personnel dedicated to making the user experience as seamless as possible.”
– Matt Kieszczynski, director of marketing, Mestek
“Noritz has recently added an allowance for the use of flexible polypropylene venting to increase the amount of options a contractor has to vent the product. Venting is the No. 1 concern for proper installation and the conversion between a lower-efficiency, non-condensing boiler and a higher-efficiency condensing boiler. In cases where there are not easy solutions to change the venting system already in place in the home, the economic feasibility of switching to a higher-efficiency product, which will save operating costs, may not be there. By constantly providing new solutions to contractors, Noritz aims to ease that burden and make installations easier and more time efficient, making the switch to higher-efficiency products more palatable to the end user so they are able to enjoy many years of energy savings in the future.” – Andrew Tran, marketing manager, Noritz
“NTI engineers create products that are dependable by design. As boiler footprints gets smaller, it is imperative to design our products with the installer and serviceman in mind. Components should be easy to access and required maintenance should be able to be done in a timely manner, thus ensuring the product will have a long life.”
– Dave Walsh, vice president of sales, NTI-USA Inc.
“Our focus in product design is not just product performance, but also ease of installation and ease of maintenance. Our latest products all offer features to maximize installation versatility and ease of maintenance.” – Peachie Maher Hytowitz, product manager, commercial products, Raypak Inc.
“U.S. Boiler has been introducing new and innovative support tools to help contractors complete all work more quickly and accurately. Our new Quick Start Guides speed setup for new techs. Web-based infrastructure and quick turn service provide instant access to parts and information and updates.” – David Hansen, product marketing manager, U.S. Boiler Co.
“Weil-McLain has a full line of boiler options for all applications and for various site installation challenges. Our new Stainless Steel Vertical Fire Tube (SVF) commercial boiler is designed with time-saving installation features including heavy-duty roller castors for ease of installation and improved maneuverability in confined spaces, industrial-grade leveling legs, an end-shot burner design requiring only 18 inches overhead space, and the advanced Unity control set-up wizard. For ease of service, the SVF also features a hinged cover plate with quick access to the burner and fire tube for simple heat exchanger wash-down with no need for additional disassembly, and an open back panel design with no side access required for service. The unit also features a removable and replaceable condensate base to provide reliable condensate management. Our Evergreen boilers are ready “out of the box” floor-standing or wall-hung capable, with preset control set-up options, and can operate with a multitude of venting orientations and vent pipe materials. The Unity control spans our Evergreen, SlimFit and SVF lines to provide a system-enabling intuitive, easy-to-use control that is capable of controlling up to eight boilers, across multiple applications and temperature zones, including lead-lag rotation and many other application-driven support features.” – John Miller, senior product manager and Mike Boyd, product manager, Weil-McLain
We were curious how manufacturers thought about the different customers they serve. We asked them what message they had for the engineer, the contractor, the wholesaler and the end user.
“We try to address all the pain points and aspects that matter most to each type of customer (engineer, contractor, facility manager, end user). We strive to make our equipment reliable, compact, easy-to-install, and easy-to-service, while delivering superior energy savings for significant ROI.” – Kal Osman, director of boiler product management for AERCO
“The message we want to deliver to Utica Boilers customers is one of quality and reliability. These two key attributes are a main component of Utica Boilers’ success. For engineers, our products offer a simplified installation process. We offer our engineer partners factory support and training that qualifies for continuing education credits. Our contractor partners are offered after-sales support, training and resources to give them the information they need, when they need it. Utica Boilers condensing products feature more advanced controls to simplify the commissioning process. We support our wholesale channel with technical and sales training, customer service and promotions. Our staff of in-house tech support and our outside field team is readily available. Utica Boilers offers homeowners a full-line of reliable quality products at various price points and features to meet their specific needs. We provide a free peace-of-mind extended warranty on our condensing boiler line. We have several Energy Star rated models to assist in reducing utility bills.” – Joe Langlois, marketing manager, ECR International Inc.
“The message that we have for the engineers is that we provide an entire product range. Our positioning in the market is a product of value. So, we have a lot of products that save them in the long run with regards to labor and an overall expense of the job. We provide great techniques for any of the engineering teams.
“For the wholesaler, in our boiler product range, we don't have a pile of parts. Residential product can either be used on propane or natural gas. They don't stock one part for a propane boiler and one for a natural gas boiler, they stock one boiler component that can run both systems, which is kind of unique in most cases. Sometimes there are conversions that must take place. There are no conversions with our product. The same product is used on natural gas and propane. So, it’s a lighter inventory that's easier to service customers and wholesalers are very conscious of their inventory these days and be able to service their customers.
“From the contractor’s side, our product sets up its own combustion. It has the ability for remote control and there are several warranties that their customers can choose from.
“From the end user side, the self-diagnostics system has wireless connectivity so they know exactly what's wrong with the boiler before the service technician arrives. It saves them money in the long run, the system sets itself up and monitors the combustion efficiency throughout the life of the product. – Mike Thomas, CEO, Evergreen Products International
“While we don’t sell into the wholesale channel, we have made every attempt to satisfy the others by providing the solutions and support necessary to grow our business and share of market. For engineers, we’ve tried to create a breadth of products that are easy to spec and size for a wide range of applications. For the contractor, it’s all about availability, installation and communication. We believe we have the best lead time in the industry, the ease of installation and setup is second to none, and our NURO control package is a very interactive and intuitive part of our boilers. As for the end-user, it’s more of a financial decision. So, initial cost, efficiencies gained, reliability and ROI are among the most important factors to them.” – Mike Shrigley, vice president of sales and marketing, Harsco
“We consider each of our customers’ needs when designing a boiler to ensure that the right balance is struck in the final product. For example, our products are designed with replacement challenges in mind including such features as reversible piping and back or top venting on our Pennant line or the knock down feature on the LAARS MagnaTherm so that it can fit into the tightest of boiler rooms. We also know that engineers, contractors and building owners alike are applying a comprehensive system review to boiler installations. Their goal is to optimize the combined operation of boilers, pumps, control algorithms, etc. with a given building’s heating profile. LAAS is committed to supporting that effort with products that are highly efficient and equipped with advanced and intuitive control systems.” – Chuck O’Donnell, director of marketing, LAARS Heating Systems
“We aim to listen to our contractors and customers as part of our research and development efforts. Through our conversations with contractors, we know that the longer it takes to set-up a boiler or system, the more money it takes out of their pockets, so the easier, the better. Strong technology allows our contractors to decrease installation time and diagnose problems in a snap. We have noticed a large population of contractors are starting to reach retirement age and a much younger group is starting to enter the field. Providing training and development support through classes here at Lochinvar University or online at LochinvarU.com helps bridge the educational gap and ensure contractors and installers are armed with all the best information. We know each audience has specific needs and challenges, so it’s crucial that we incorporate their feedback in everything we do.” – Robert Wiseman, product manager, commercial boilers, Lochinvar
“They are all important to us. We are entrenched in every segment. For the boiler segment, we deal mostly with engineers and mechanical contractors. We have resources here to help all segments in any way possible. Our factory representative network is second to none and our internal resources are always available to help layout out a boiler room, troubleshoot a unit or system and answer any venting and layout questions that may arise.” – Matt Kieszczynski, director of marketing, Mestek
“The following are just a few of the many benefits of the NFB boiler:
• Contractors benefit from ease of installation and service.
• Homeowners enjoy uninterrupted operation, increased comfort level, lower operating costs and longer lifecycle. The non-metallic condensate drain pan prevents corrosion caused by acidic condensate and further extends the expected lifecycle of the boiler.
• Engineers have their preferred fire tube heat exchanger design, advanced controls, flexibility of venting, high efficiency, quite operation, compact design for space saving, cascading up to 16 units and common venting up to eight units. – John Kopf, boiler product manager, Navien
“Engineers usually love specs and the technical details. We really like to get across the point that we are proud of our high-grade materials and our quality of craftsmanship in addition to having a wide product line to meet all their spec needs. For contractors we want them to know that we have an innovative product in our EZ Series that they can install in a variety of venting applications of by using our proprietary flex venting and top mount connections. For the wholesaler, our wide product selection includes a product for every customer and every need. We stand behind our product quality of the EZ Series by now offering an industry first 25-year warranty.” – Andrew Tran, marketing manager, Noritz
“Throughout our industry many have different preferences when it comes to condensing equipment. NTI offers the widest line of condensing boilers. Whether water tube or fire tube, simple and straight forward or with built in primary/secondary piping and elaborate features, NTI has a boiler to fit the application. We work closely with the engineering community to assist them with the right product selection for their project. Those choices filter down to the contractor. They know they have one source to turn to for their condensing boiler needs, backed by NTI’s legendary technical support. The breadth of the NTI line allows our distribution partners the ability to compete in every segment of the condensing boiler market.” – Dave Walsh, vice president of sales, NTI-USA Inc.
“Each of the four customer bases has a different product focus, but in the end all of these groups want a product that is cost effective, reliable and efficient, and this is what we design for.” – Peachie Maher Hytowitz, product manager, commercial products, Raypak Inc.
“We understand engineers want you available when needed, have trust in you, your products and company and need the tools to enable them to apply and specify your product. We are always working to improve the tools we have and we are willing to listen to ideas and suggestions. We welcome feedback, and value our customers opinions. Contractors want a competitive price, quality product and good product availability. They also want to have help available if needed. Slant/Fin’s Hydro-Master Program remains a benchmark in the industry. Our unique program offers the certified contractor a five-year parts and labor on every cast iron boiler they install. Our tech service dept. is known leader throughout the industry. Wholesalers want competitive prices, good service and product availability. Slant/Fin has always valued the wholesalers place in the distribution chain. For the most part we are the only manufacturer still selling commercial radiation though wholesalers. We continue to work with wholesalers in training so they provide that value-added service to their customers. The end user wants good value. This includes a competitive price, efficient operation, performance and durability as well as an attractive appearance. Slant/Fin has always been No. 1 in the industry for service and processing of warranties. Our commitment of good service goes down to the homeowner and we work with our distributors and contractors to help them in any way possible. Slant/Fin may still be the “only” boiler manufacturer whose warranty is company backed so there is no third-party involvement.” – Keith Muhlmeister and Stacey B. Droogan, Slant/Fin
“Our wholesale partners remain a key component of our business. As such, we continually strive to optimize our business in order to streamline the sales channel as much as possible. At the request of several of our wholesale partners, we have several projects ongoing in support their e-marketing initiatives.
“The relationship with our contracting professionals remains as one of our highest priorities. By mid 2019, we will launch a new feature on our website, which will further highlight the importance of this relationship by harnessing and channeling sales resources directly to them.
“Today’s homeowners are engaged in the sales process like never before. To that end, we have initiated a series of blogs, called “boiler basics”, which inform homeowners about the principles hydronic heat as a whole. With an understanding of some of these principles, a homeowner is better equipped to talk to their contractor and make informed decisions about their home heating system.”
– Mike Hook, marketing communications manager,
U.S. Boiler Co.
“For the engineer, the Weil-McLain product portfolio offers one of the broadest ranges of boiler solutions in the industry to meet all the engineer’s application challenges. Our legacy cast iron lines have set the standard for performance and longevity with our high-efficiency lines continuing to lead the industry in innovation, operating fuel efficiency and ease of installation and maintenance. Our boiler products meet all common specification requirements and our operating efficiencies enable energy rebates (where available) across the spectrum of residential and commercial applications. Weil-McLain boiler control systems integrate seamlessly into smart home environments and commercial building management systems and are intuitive and user-friendly with our Unity controls sharing a common software platform across the 70,000-3 million BTU/hour performance range.
“For the contractor, every Weil-McLain boiler product line has been designed with the ultimate boiler install and maintenance service interval in mind. We work with a broad network of contractors that provide invaluable feedback that shapes every new boiler program scope. Weil-McLain has a team of technical specialists on call and ready to provide fast, responsive technical assistance for boiler installation and service questions.
“For the wholesaler, being a distributor of the Weil-McLain brand has the primary advantage of access to one of the most comprehensive residential and commercial boiler/accessory lines in the industry and the legacy of Weil-McLain’s durability and longevity. – John Miller, senior product manager and Mike Boyd, product manager, Weil-McLain