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Single Boiler vs. Multiple Boilers for Your Multi Unit Building

by Tod Althoff | Sep 19, 2018 | 0 Comments
single or double boiler for chicago building

If you are thinking about upgrading the boiler system in your condo, co-op or apartment complex, you may be having a tough time deciding between one large boiler or several slightly smaller boilers. Here are some great tips to help you find a heating solution that meets your needs, your installation budget and your anticipated long-term cost of ownership goals. The following information on various types of boiler systems can guide your decision to replacing this importance piece of mechanical equipment.

Single Boilers

When you choose a single boiler installation, one large boiler provides all your winter heating needs and potentially all of your hot water, depending on how your boiler is retrofitted. Prior to the installation of the single boiler, two calculations must be performed, including a maximum heating load calculation and a building heat loss calculation, in order to estimate your building's maximum heating needs and hot water needs. If your goal is to provide maximum heat on the coldest day of the year, your single boiler will need to be over-sized for your average heating needs. This means that your current boiler may be inefficient due to frequent cycling. The main benefit is that installing one boiler is typically less expensive up-front. However, if it breaks, you could be leaving your residents without hot water or heat until it can be repaired.

Single Boiler Pros

  • Less Expensive to Install

  • Can Provide Heat and Hot Water

  • Only Need to Service and Maintain One Large Boiler

Single Boiler Cons

  • Higher Operating Costs

  • May Be Inefficient Most of the Winter

  • No Redundancy

Multiple Boilers

If you have a slightly higher installation budget, it may be more beneficial to install multiple smaller boilers instead of one large boiler, and you can choose between two different configurations. The first configuration is to install two boilers. The first boiler provides heat to the building, and the second boiler provides hot water. This can be advantageous because if one boiler malfunction, your residents are only left without heat or hot water, not both.

However, installing one boiler for heat and one for hot water does not provide complete redundancy. In order to ensure a completely redundant system, you’ll want to install multiple boilers connected together that provide both heat and hot water. When multiple boilers are installed and connected together, the maximum heating and hot water provided are more easily controlled because unneeded boilers can be turned-off. However, installation is typically more complex because more piping is needed.

Multiple boiler systems require primary and secondary piping. This design involves having individual pipes and a water circulator for each boiler. The hot water from each individual operating boiler is then fed into a primary loop, which is connected to all the radiators and applicable hot water using appliances. When an individual boiler is off, hot water does not flow through it, which increases energy efficiency.

Multiple Boiler Pros

  • Can be Sized for Minimum and Maximum Heat Output

  • Unneeded Boilers Can Be Turned Off

  • More Energy Efficient Than a Single Boiler

  • Has Redundancy in the Event that One Boiler Fails

Multiple Boiler Cons

  • More Expensive to Install

  • More Piping Is Required

  • Increased Preventative Maintenance Costs

  • Residents May Still Be Left Without Hot Water or Heat if the System is not Completely Redundant

Boiler Installation with Althoff

If you are considering replacing your old boiler with a new model, we can help you. Our boiler installation technicians can calculate your building’s heating and hot water needs and provide you with multiple estimates for boiler systems that will meet your needs, including single and multiple boiler options so that you can make an informed decision. Once you choose your boiler system, we can custom design for energy efficiency, and install the new boiler in a timely manner

For help determining which boiler system to install and to schedule an estimate for the replacement of your Chicago building’s boiler, call us at 800-225-2443.

 althoff property manager

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