Thermo Products LLC, the North Judson, Ind.-based maker of heating and cooling products, recently introduced a new condensing oil furnace that achieves a 95 percent rating on the AFUE efficiency scale and is Energy Star 4.0 listed.
The Thermo Pride OHC95 furnace is now available to contractors who have received installation and service training from Thermo Products. The company developed the furnace with assistance from the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA).
Thermo Products Director of Engineering Everett James told Oil & Energy that his engineering team has ben working on the design intermittently since about 2008 with several parameters in mind. The furnace had to have a low profile to accommodate larger evaporator coils for high-efficiency air conditioning. It had to operate with negative pressure over the heat exchanger. And it had to be easy to service and maintain.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the design is the combustion flue gas flow, which is driven by an eductor that creates negative pressure over the primary and secondary heat exchangers. James said negative pressure was a design parameter, largely for reasons of safety.
The primary heat exchanger features 2¼-inch serpentine tubing made of aluminized stainless steel, while the secondary heat exchanger features 1¾-inch tubing made of durable stainless steel that resists corrosion. The manufacturer recommends that owners use reduced-sulfur heating oil containing no more than 500 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur. Several states are requiring fuel with no more than 500ppm as of July 1, 2014 or earlier. They are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. (Reduced sulfur fuels might be available in all Oilheat sates this year, depending on how wholesalers manage fuel supplies in response to changing sulfur regulations.)
The OHC95 is a direct vent, sealed combustion system that requires sidewall venting. The vent termination cannot be snorkeled, so it is important to follow the grade level guidelines to keep the outlet above the snow line. Thermo Pride calls for the outlet to be located at least 12 inches above grade plus the anticipated snow line. The design allows for up to 55 feet of vent piping, using 3” PVC for both exhaust and air intake. The vent assembly mounts between the floor joists and terminates on the outside of the home. Flue gases exit the furnace at about 100 degrees Farenheit.
James worked on the design with Design Engineer Mike Sharkozy and Lab Technician Joe Leszek with some consultation assistance from Dr. Thomas Butcher, of Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Making a new system like the OHC95 easy to maintain is essential for Thermo Pride, according to James. “We market directly to contractors, and we talk to them every day. If a heating contractor likes the product, they are more likely to sell it to the consumer,” he said.
Thermo Pride National Sales Manager Rob Paquette said contractors will appreciate how easy the OHC95 is to service. Both the primary and secondary heat exchangers are accessible through removable panels and the heat exchanger assembly is mounted on rollers inside the furnace for easy removal. Annual tune-ups are expected to take approximately 20 to 30 minutes longer than a standard, non-condensing furnace, he said.
Efficient and Safe
The system matches the efficiency of condensing gas furnaces, and the negative pressure heat exchanger makes it safer to own, according to Paquette. The system uses a fixed torque, five-speed ECM blower motor and can handle up to 4 tons of cooling capacity.
Contractors will find most of the OHC95’s components familiar. The furnace uses a Riello BF3 burner and Thermo Pride’s current integrated fan board. Thermo Pride is also pre-setting and test-firing the Riello burner so that the OHC95 ships ready to operate.
Thermo Pride requires contractors to be specially trained and certified to handle the OHC95. “We want to show contractors the difference between the furnace and a conventional furnace,” Paquette explained. “There are not a lot of differences, but there are some, such as how it vents, and we want to make sure that service managers, technicians and salespeople understand those differences.”
THE OHC95 is available now, and Thermo Pride has tested it in the field for a year with no problems, according to Paquette. The unit is priced at only a “slight premium” over conventional Thermo Pride furnaces, he noted.
Contractors who would like to be certified for the OHC95 can contact their local Thermo Pride representative or call Thermo Pride at 574-896-2133.