Why Use Steam?
In the last 10 years we are seeing a «boom» for high efficiency condensing boilers. Many buildings and facilities are going through replacing steam systems for building heat and convert to a hot water loop.
In this article, we want to point out some reasons that might make you consider keeping a steam heating system and why using steam.
Safety factor: Have you ever thought how quick we fix water leaks from a heating loop compared to a leak on a steam line? If you don’t fix your water leak you will probably end up with a big mess in your mechanical room. Or worst, if you install mutliple hot water boiler in your building, one day you will end up with a natural gas leak, this repair will be done on emergency call no matter the cost. However, we can observe the same steam leak for years before thinking fixing it. Just look at steam venting downtown cities like New-York, Philadelphia, Boston and many others. It never occurs to be an emergency repair, don’t you think?
Reliability factor: We know that some of you are experiencing all kind of troubleshooting with steam like water hammer, temperature overshooting, freezing coil and others. But let’s assume that your steam piping design is A1, meaning you don’t run in any steam process issues. Your boiler and heat exchangers will have a much better life longevity than most of high efficiency hydronic boilers.
Maxi-Therm factor: We have no choice of putting this factor in number 3. Because let’s be honest, by avoiding pressure reducing stations, condensate pump stations, big control valve stations and the need of steam safety valves for our heat exchangers we can cut the normal budget on maintenance compared to a conventional steam system, in most cases, for more than 75% over the next 20 years. Plus all our equipment are easy to install. To know more about our vertical steam-to-liquid heat exchanger design, simply click here!.
Efficiency and Turndown: If you optimize your boiler room by adding a stack economizer, a heat recovery system for you blow-downs and a vent condenser for your deaerator, your boiler room will give you 83-87% efficiency plus a turndown ratio between 5 to 15:1 depending of your burner. Compared to a maximum 3:1 on high efficiency hot water boiler. Using Maxi-Therm Steam to Building Heat System, you will achieve 50:1 turndown on your glycol or hot water loop.
Important point to remember is that the condensate temperature coming out of Maxi-Therm’s system is under 212F so you don’t produce any flash lost increasing your efficiency factor close to 90%. All this with a control set point of your glycol or hot water loop between 160F and 180F.
Fuel Back-up: Hospitals are used to have a dual fuel burner in case of a shortage of natural gas. But let’s assume that you don’t need dual fuel, our question is: will you rely on natural gas for the next 15 years? If one day it’s preferable to use another fuel by having a central plant, even if it’s for only 5 MMBTU/HR, you will have the option of changing the burner or the boiler and keep the same steam network system.
We are not saying to use steam for building heat if you do not have any other steam applications (process, humidification and/or sterilization). But if you do need steam, you should consider using it on building heat especially if you can use steam from a central steam distribution from a city or other.
District central steam heating system
We want to point out the fact that, if you have the opportunity to buy steam energy for building heat from a district central steam heating plant or other, you should take a look at our systems.
99% of those type of agreement between the steam provider and user is that you are billed for your steam consumption and there is no credit on the condensate that you can return. In most cases, they don’t even provide a condensate return distribution system.
With our units we can cool down the condensate up to 10F difference of your liquid inlet. Lets’ say you want to create domestic hot water with steam. The water inlet in winter time will be around 40F, so our condensate will come out around 50F. Therefore, we are able to consume up to 20% less steam to do the same job. So not only we are efficient but we are also definitely more reliable and less maintenance cost than the majority of high efficiency boiler on natural gas.
Steam is simply safer and more cost effective than most people think.