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jim hankinson
Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

It seems odd that someone who accuses me of poisonous invective comes back with some of his/her own. This is the first post I've responded to under any name.

I looked back through some of goldhiller's posts and didn't see anything vicious, etc. I didn't bother to look for dwarfwytch.

It seems that when someone who has not posted before states provable facts that contradict a longtime poster that constitutes vicious invective. I can back up everything I wrote and meant absolutely no disrespect to Jack.

I find it sad that there can't be any honest give and take without being considered a jerk. I am a NORA certified oil burner technician and have been active in oil burner installation and service since 1970. I became an Energy Kinetics dealer in the mid-90's and still service them.

If it requires hundreds of posts to be considered knowledgable in a particular field then this forum is a waste of time.

Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

I have owned a System 2000 for approximately 20 years.
It has performed well and has required very little maintenance.
I replaced the System Manager about 12 years ago.
Today they are replacing the front plate of the firebox because it has some cracks.

All in all we are very pleased with the unit.
Just make sure you get someone who knows it to service it. I have run this boiler on both oil and NG. NG was better in my opinion, but problems with teh Riello gas burner that nobody seemed to be able to correct makde me switch back to oil about two years ago.

Just two cents form a satisfied customer.

Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000
jim hankinson wrote:

2) The only proprietary parts are the system manager and digital temperature sensor. All other components are standard including burner parts. Any higher efficiency system in use today has at least one proprietary component and quite often has to be ordered when it goes bad. The system manager can be bypassed temporarily with an inexpensive service board if it fails. If the sensor fails the manager automatically goes into service board mode so there is no loss of heat or hot water.

I own an Energy Kinetics 2000 Frontier EK1. I was pissed off by the digitial temperature sensor and the system manager.

For severl nights in winter, the system manager showed that there was a freezing event (actually not) and shut down the boiler automatically (not automatically swith to a service mode as the manufacturer claimed). I was frozen and had to manually reset the system to turn on the boiler in the midnight!

I contacted the techical support of the manufacturer. It turned out the message shown by the system manager is misleading (or incorrect). Actually, the digital temperature sensor was broken and needed to be replaced. A broken sensor should show another error message on the system manager, but it doesn't! I spent a couple of hundred dollars to call a furnace service guy and he couldn't figure it out either. The instructions on the manual and the error messages on the manager board are wrong!

So unless you are willing to spend several days or weeks to understand the system, you should choose a conventional boiler. Otherwise I promise you that you will be upset by this "advanced" boiler. And you have to keep on watching it everyday!

jim hankinson
Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

Mrwarm, you had an interesting situation there. I used to install the systems for quite a few years and I actually did witness what you refer to with one of my customers. I wasn't sure what the problem was so I called Tech Support.

Almost always when there is a problem in the temperature path, in other words the sensor and manager aren't speaking to each other, the 100º light starts to flash and the manager will automatically go into service board mode.

However, if a particular component in the sensor breaks it tells the manager that the return temp is 32º and the 120º light will start to flash and take away the call to the burner. This situation seldom occurs.

EK is not alone in using solid state controls in their systems. Most of the heating industry is going to solid state control panels, multi-purpose aquatats with thermistors, etc and are all subject to the same problems. A lot of this comes down to being able to educate the service people and somehow making them realize that solid state electronics aren't going to go away.

The same scenario played out when TV and radio went to solid state. A lot of older technicians refused to work on them. Now, try to find a tech who will work on tube type equipment.

We're on a learning curve here, myself included, since I am still a certified oil burner tech and work in the field. Some of the stuff I've worked on has had no documentation on site and really no contact info to get tech support. At least you had a number to call.

I still recommend EK to anyone who asks for my input. I've had a lot of friends install them and none has regretted the decision.

Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

I first saw a System 2000 about 1988. As a jet engine fuel controls engineer, I was impressed with the design concept, which maximizes efficiency. I will give you the positives I know of, and then the minuses: Positives: The main idea of system 2000 is that it does not constantly cycle on and off to maintain the boiler at a constant temperature 24 hours/day, waiting for radiators or the domestic tank to call for heat. It only heats up when it needs to deliver heat, and then the circulator stays on for a few minutes extra to send the last bits of heat left into the rooms or domestic tank. It can do this because the boiler only holds about 2.5 gallons. Other boilers have varying boiler sizes, but they can be about 15 gallons. A 15 gallon boiler is probably too big to use the system 2000 concept, because 15 gallons is too much to heat and then cool completely each time there is a call for heat - so they are stuck with keeping the boiler hot 24/7 (unless you are heating a gymnasium). That is why the system 2000 stands out in how it operates. From what I can understand, the efficiency rating in use by the government does not factor in the heat lost when the boiler is idle. Most oil boilers, as far as I know from literature have efficiencies around 83-86%, which is driven by a good burner and lots of surface area between the boiler water and hot gases to transfer the heat. But the efficiency for most boilers is much lower when you account for the heat they lose when there is no zone demand. So most appear to be fairly close with respect to getting the heat out of the oil and into the water, but not as good as system 2000 when you include idling. Check the EK website - I can say I do not see anything wrong from a physics or thermodynamics/heat transfer point of view about their claims about efficiency. A condensing boiler can be as much as 90%+ efficient, but from what I have read getting this efficiency is not typical, real installations are more like upper 80's, but maybe they would work for you. I suspect they also have the heat-loss-when-off limitation, but maybe ask about this. My dad also had a system 2000 installed and it has been great. He burns a lot of wood and the sys-2000 is an excellent choice for his case, because when you are burning wood the oil burner is not being used for extended periods of time. If you want to see for yourself, stand next to a system 2000 when it is not providing heat - it will be cool. stand next to any other boiler when it is not sending heat to a zone - you will find various parts of it are warm - sending heat to the room and up the flue. I kept track of my oil use with this system and allowing that the previous year might have been a little different, the savings from my old clunker had to be in the range of 35 to 50%. I can vouch absolutely that most of the components are all standard - Honeywell high temp cutoff, low water shutoff, Honeywell ball type zone valves, check valves, oil filter, Taco circulators, temperature controls, all the plumbing, air bleeders, and of course, the burner itself is completely standard and can be cleaned and serviced by any oil guy. If you want to see for yourself download a picture of a sys-2000 from the website, go to Home depot and compare what you see in the picture to what you see on the shelf. (All the standard parts are on the outside - there isn't anything really inside the unit except for the insulation and boiler) I bought my oil from the guys who were the authorized dealers, but then I switched to my neighbors oil company - he was not a EK dealer - just a mom and pop outfit and they felt ok with it. There is a lot of small-time fraud in any technical industry today (cars, etc) from what I have seen and some oil men will take advantage of what they can to lock you in with high prices - so beware they will tell you all sorts of crap - the sys-2000 is ideal fodder in my opinion for some semi-scrupulous people to scare you into expensive contracts. The sys-2000 I had had only 3 parts that I know of that you will not see on other boilers: 1.the "system manager" (which on mine looked like it was a few LEDs, a few components like resistors, and a digital counting circuit - based on appearance - I don't have an electrical schematic or parts list for this board) 2.the flat plate heat exchanger for domestic hot water 3. the "boiler" itself, which is a type of heat exchanger - mild steel apparently. My setup did not have a digital temp sensor since it was older. The flat plate exchanger is attached with couplings meaning turn a wrench at 4 points and it comes off. Likewise system manager can be replaced quickly. I wasn't scared off by the high-tech appearance of the sys-2000 because it has so many ordinary parts that I have seen in home depot. My oil guy said he could service the sys-2000, and yours should be able to also, easily. If the 4 unique parts fail he needs to order them from EK. I liked the way it pipes in supply air from outside rather than the room and does not need the flapper on the stack - both heat wasters. Also, with less oil consumption the burner will run less often and should last longer. The system-2000 can give you high efficiency without a recuperator, which is a thing on the exhaust that lowers the exhaust temp. I am told these can leave a lot of condensation in the chimney. Now for the minuses! #1 Mild steel probably isn't as good as cast iron. You can get a cheap boiler like a Columbia boiler made of welded steel, and it probably won't last as long as cast iron from what I have been told - don't know this for a fact, but I have seen a couple cast iron boilers that are 50 years old and they haven't leaked. Don't know about welded steel, but my only experience was that the warranty is not as long it seems so that should tell you something maybe. However cast iron boilers are made in sections, and they have rope or silicone elastomeric (like rubber) seals, and cast or steel nipples connecting the sections, so that potentially could be an issue. #2 the system manager looks kinda hoaky - even though mine and my dad's did not fail, it doesn't look robust. I didn't see any type of surge protector on it, so maybe that is an issue. Also, in dirty/humid environments the circuit board solder joints on the parts looked like they are exposed, and who knows, maybe a little vibration and temperature cycling might make the odd one fail. This might benefit from a protective acrylic coating commonly used in the electronics industry, And maybe better power supply and filtering #3 It's believable the flat plate heat exchanger might clog up with the wrong water conditions. Mine and my dad's did not - but remember it changes out in a few minutes - four couplings. #4 (big one) My dad's friend had a sys-2000 go bad - apparently the boiler itself corroded and/or clogged up after about 8 years. Note the "boiler" has tight clearances because it looks like a jelly roll where the jelly is the water and the cake is the exhaust, which is good for lowering your heating bill but this maybe makes it a little more prone to this type of problem. EK has goofed up big time in my opinion by not making this part easily changeable. If they had, the whole system could be maintained indefinitely - there would be nothing that could go wrong without being able to replace it. My dad's friend apparently had water that was very inappropriate for a sys-2000 . #5 The system 2000 probably will cost a bit more to install if they are really trying to gouge you, but it shouldn't need to, but since the dealers handle a region, it's harder to get competing quotes - but maybe call the factory and gripe or look around. #6 Burnham had a competing model - I don't know if they have it still - best of both worlds maybe - cast iron mini-boiler with the same principle of operation as sys-2000, but when I went to buy one recently a heating guy said some Burnham customers were complaining of leaks - (I have this third party - so I have no proof of this). So maybe investigate this yourself. #7 sounds like the system manager is just different enough to fool some maintainers if it fails - try to get an oil guy who is smart enough to call the factory help line and/or use the internet, but if you are unlucky enough to have a bad manager, heat exchanger, or digital temp sensor problem, you will not be able to get these from Home depot, so it's a risk - however I don't know if all other boilers are completely absent of unique parts - maybe check into this. Summary: If you have a big enough house in a cold climate and your water is either not bad or conditioned if it is ( watch out for acid water with this or any welded boiler), and you have a good oil guy, this might save you so much money it will be worth changing the system manager, temp sensor, etc, once in a while hopefully not more than many years apart -check the warranty. And call the factory if you get a raw deal - they will likely come down on the abusers. And note the government efficiency rating does not appear to show the benefits of system 2000 over others. If the methods eventually change (based on the government or more consumers that pick up on the issue) I would expect improvements from many companies to try to compete with system-2000, so the consumer will benefit eventually from having more choices. lastly, everyone gets a little enthusiastic once in a while, so sometimes people have the facts a little wrong, that's why it helps to discuss things - but if we strive for the facts we will be better off - thanks

jim hankinson
Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

I installed quite a few System 2000 over the period of about 15 years starting in the early 90's. There were quite a few improvements over that time to make a great system even better.

Mild steel is much more appropriate for the boiler design than cast iron for several reasons. Steel is much more flexible in a boiler that heats and cools frequently. It does not suffer from shock when cold water returns to it from the heating zones as cast iron can. A heating system that does not leak will have no oxygen in the water so there will be no corrosion from the inside.

The system managers are very durable and relatively trouble free. Over half of those replaced are misdiagnosed. Surge protection has been part of the plugin relay board that's used with the digital manager since about 2000 or 2001.

The plate heat exchanger can clog from excessive minerals in the domestic water but this is easily prevented by the use of what's called a Scale Stopper. It's a product from Cuno/AquaPure that injects small amounts of polyphosphate into the cold water that supplies the dhomestic hot water tank. The polyphosphate prevents minerals from adhering to the plate exchanger walls and from each other. The Scale Stopper is also very good at preventing scale buildup inside tankless coils.

I'm not sure what you mean when referring to the boiler plugging up and not being able to change it out readily. If any boiler is properly set up and maintained it should never get to the point that it needs to be replaced.

I did have to replace one quite a few years ago that sprung a leak, not through any fault of the system itsel but because of the way it was installed. Two of us had the boiler completely changed out in three hours.

All in all I have been quite happy with the System 2000 and have had one in my home for just over 12 years.

As far as warranty, the boiler itself has a limited lifetime warranty and the manager has an initial five year warranty then afterwards a manufacturer supported rebuild program that provides a replacement at minimal cost with return of the old one.

Dealers don't have exclusive areas such as you might see with franchised products where the dealer pays for exclusive rights. Most areas have at least a couple of dealers available. The company also has tech support that's available to anyone who is a legitimate service person, HVAC contractor, oil company, etc. Parts are also available for those in the business.

If I were still in the business I would still be installing and servicing them. They are by far the easiest to maintain of all the dozens of different systems I've worked on over the years. However, everyone reaches the age where they retire and move on and so I have.

Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

thanks for the additional info. Good points about the advantages of steel. Now that you mention it, maybe people talking about cast iron boilers lasting for 50 years may not be a good thing - I would probably want to update my system to take advantage of newer better technology a lot sooner. I was trying to sell my brother on a sys-2000, but he is going with a Utica boiler trifire with an indirect domestic setup. It looks pretty nicely designed. In all the brochures I can't tell whether it is set up to cool down completely when there is no demand like the sys-2000 or could it be configured this way. Any idea?Apparently it has a small boiler capacity, like 4 gallons?

jim hankinson
Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

There are a couple of control systems that perform a purge at the end of a cycle. Honeywell has one but since I don't do much service anymore I haven't really looked into them.

Wile E Coyote
Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

Sorry to interrupt the bickering, but I felt compelled to sign up and inject some commentary based on my first-hand experience.

I bought a System 2000 boiler with a SuperStor Ultra indirect water heater in Sept '08, and I'm completely thrilled with it. It's clean, super quiet and, compensating for degree days, uses about 45% less oil than our previous setup (1994 New Yorker steel boiler & SuperStor aquabooster). Interestingly, the old boiler measured 83% AFUE, and the new one is 85%. Go figure.

The installer I chose had installed & serviced hundreds of these boilers, some dating back to the early 1980s that were still running strong. They said these were by far the best choice for oil heat (which I'm stuck with), although they would recommend something else for natural gas. Not sure what or why.

He recommended the SuperStor Ultra water heater based on the potential clogging issue with the plate exchanger and SuperStor's non-prorated lifetime warranty. He set the tank temp at 150 degrees, added a mixing valve, and we've never run out of hot water.

As previously stated, nearly 100% of the parts are standard, off-the-shelf items, and the controller can be forced into conventional (always hot) mode by shorting two terminals with a paper clip. The pressure vessel & controller have lifetime warranties, anyway.

According to my installer, one potential problem is that technicians sometimes crack the high-tech ceramic combustion chambers trying to clean them with a brush, so just make sure the service person thoroughly understands this boiler.

I could go on forever (my neighbors are sick of hearing about this), but suffice to say I'm extremely pleased so far. I'll try to post a follow up someday if that changes.

Re: Experience With Energy Kinetics System 2000

Going on fourth winter, with oil fired ek 1........nice unit very fast quiet and efficient////////had problems with lighning strikes on hilltop house.....blew out computer on furnace,3x. AS for longevity who knows? energy kinetics has good tech help and decent proration on pressure vessel..........alot of guys don't like them because they are non traditional and have not learned how they function. I burn 750 gallons in 2800 square foot house ,mega foam insulation, with radiant heat , we keep thermostats at 65 degrees and we live in nh pretty good!.....by the way the digital energy managers that popped were under five year warranty.......I like mine.


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