By Thomas J. Legutko
UTICA, N.Y. — In response to Mark Eatherton's Industry Education column "A matter of thermal efficiency," (March, pg. 22), ECR International would like to provide the following comments.
ECR International does agree with Mr. Eatherton's general premise that contractors need to embrace condensing boiler technology and thought it would be beneficial to provide some historical insights regarding the North American condensing boiler market.
Mr. Eatherton refers to a "new class of hydronic heat made an appearance on our shores" and "this new technology has actually been in service and proving itself in Europe for almost 20 years."
Mr. Eatherton did not recognize that condensing boiler technology has been offered in the North American market for nearly as long as his stated availability in Europe. Since 1996, ECR International, under the Dunkirk brand name, has been providing condensing boilers to the North American market. The Quantum series was designed by ECR's engineering-department for the North American market, and the product continues to be manufactured and tested at our facilities.
Further, the European residential market differs in application when compared to the North American market. In the European market the predominant boiler application is in "flats" or apartment living spaces that are entirely different than the North American single-family home market. Unlike the imports that Mr. Eatherton refers to, which are tailored for the flats market, ECR's designs incorporate traditional American application approaches; low pressure drop heat exchangers that eliminate the need for primary/secondary piping and high head pumps.
Mr. Eatherton also notes, "I refer to these efficient beauties as heating appliances, not boilers." Mr. Eatherton is partially correct with his assertion. With respect to the offshore designs, some of the products are not certified to ASME and/or IBR standards, and hence do not have an AFUE rating nor can they be recognized as a boiler. ECR International's products have always been certified to IBR, CSA and ASME standards, and have always been classified as boilers.
Later in the column, Mr. Eatherton reinforces his statement about non-certified products by mentioning thermal efficiencies. The hydronics industry does not recognize thermal efficiency when certifying residential boilers. Whether we agree or disagree that boiler AFUE is the best indicator of performance, it is the standard measurement criterion recognized as a means of comparing product efficiency. ECR International's condensing products are certified to 90% and 95% AFUE. The Quantum 95M and UB95M (advertised in CONTRACTOR's March issue, pg. 20) were the first boilers to qualify for the 95% AFUE tax credit and are still among the highest efficiency products in the industry.
ECR International has taken this opportunity for the sole purpose of pointing out that there are alternatives to offshore designs which have been fully qualified and in service in the North American market for well over 10 years.