The Fast and the FuriousIn James J. Siegel’s article on ductless splits [“Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Ductless Mini-Splits,” June 18], Bruce Hazen of Fujitsu was quoted saying that it takes “two men three to four hours, and one job is completed.” Where are these two guys? I have a job for them! I think Bruce needs to go put one of these in some day.
San Mateo, CA
Water Heating ProhibitionI read the recent article [“Proper Radiant System Design Aids Troubleshooting,” May 7] by Cheryl Vatcher in The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News describing the use of water heaters in radiant heating operations.
I regret to inform you that the use of water heaters as radiant heating boilers is prohibited in most states that have boiler laws. Building codes usually reference the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section IV. This code specifically prohibits water heaters in a hot water heating use unless the water in the system is also used for potable water. Health regulations prohibit the combination use.
Additionally, the UL rating on water heater assemblies is only for potable water use. The UL rating and any warranty is void when used for a hot water heating application.
The design of water heaters generally has about half the safety factor used in the design of boilers for hot water heating systems. Water heaters are typically designed for a 7- to 10-year life.
In Missouri, we will consider use of water heaters in hot water heating applications only if they are ASME Code constructed with the “HLW” stamping, and the manufacturer of the water heater confirms the use is acceptable. However, two other states have been threatened with restraint of trade suits from boiler manufacturers for permitting water heaters to be used in radiant heating applications. The State of Missouri condemns approximately 30 water heaters per year for use in a hot water heating system. Most are found in car washes and in facilities that have added onto a building. Yes, it is efficient, but it is also potentially dangerous and contrary to all codes I am familiar with.
Darryl K. Peetz
Chief Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspector,
Missouri Department of Public Safety
Jefferson City, MO
Energy Conservation Doesn’t Add UpMark Skaer’s July 2 column [“Conserve Energy? Not in the Good Ol’ U.S.A., it Appears”] raises some interesting points, and further supports those who say you can’t defy the basic rules of economics.
The single largest problem with energy conservation strategies of all kinds is that the value of the avoided energy is too low. As long as we continue to view unreasonably cheap energy (of all kinds) as an entitlement of some sort, people will not see the benefit to conservation. If the people in California had been exposed to the market price of electricity, there would not have been a single minute of a blackout. Supply and demand will always balance in a free market and that is not called profiteering — it is called capitalism. You cannot insist on cheap electricity for consumers, not allow any new generating plants, and expect anything but what happened in California.
We cannot continue to try to “club” the American people into conservation when it is not in their economic interest. Until we either allow energy to sell at true market prices and stop letting one economic group subsidize another, or make the conservation strategies less costly so that the purchaser can receive a competitive return on investment, nothing is going to change. Someone once said, “Self-interest rises above principle in due time.” That statement sums up the issue in a few words.
The industry also has a horrible history of unsubstantiated or unproven performance claims, unscrupulous people making them (and profiting from making them), and inconsistent or unrealistic ratings. (Your 11.5-year water heater life is one example.) The consumer is justifiably suspicious. Even sophisticated commercial owners struggle with the analysis required to evaluate cost-saving alternatives.
By the way, I have had good success selling energy conservation systems and strategies for many years. However, they only sell when they are products or ideas that work and have a competitive return on investment. Competitive means a compounded return that equals other investment uses of the funds when measuring both ROI and opportunity cost.
John J. Kirlin, Inc. Mechanical Services Division
Publication date: 07/16/2001