Unlocking Clean Energy Solutions: The Electric Boiler Advantage

Non-emissions electric boilers

Are you aiming to reduce or eliminate point-of-use emissions from your building? Whether it’s due to compliance requirements like BERDO (Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance) in Boston, corporate sustainability goals, or simply the desire to market your products or services as environmentally friendly, electric boilers offer a compelling solution. Let’s explore why electric boilers are gaining traction and why Cleaver-Brooks stands out in this arena.

Cleaver-Brooks No Emissions Electric Boiler
Model CR Vertical Steam Electric Boiler

Understanding Electric Boilers:

Electric boilers, including both traditional resistance element boilers and innovative electrode boilers, have been a staple in the industry for decades. However, it’s only in recent years, with a heightened focus on green energy and sustainability, that these technologies have seen a surge in popularity. At Frank I. Rounds Company, we affectionately attribute this spike in demand to what we call the “Tesla Effect” – the notion that electric power can revolutionize various industries.

Electricity Rates:

The next critical factor to consider is cost. In some regions, electricity rates are significantly lower than those of gas. For instance, hydropower often offers a more cost-effective option compared to an equivalent quantity of gas in terms of BTU (British Thermal Unit). In such cases, transitioning to electric boilers presents an obvious choice. Not only does it result in a cleaner point-of-use building, but it also reduces operational costs.

Conversely, in areas with higher electricity rates, exploring potential rebates becomes essential to offset expenses. Additionally, residents in BERDO affected zones in Boston must weigh the costs against potential fines. Our team can assist you with a swift cost analysis should you wish to explore further.

It’s worth emphasizing the concept of “point of use” because electric boilers themselves do not emit pollutants at their location. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the electricity grid may be powered by a mix of energy sources, including fossil fuels like gas-fired turbines in cogeneration plants. On the bright side, a portion of the power may come from renewable sources such as solar or wind energy.

Solar Panels and Wind Energy

Many utility companies offer the option to pay a premium for electricity sourced from green sources, although directing power from specific sources can be challenging. Nevertheless, opting for higher-rate green energy often contributes to investments in expanding renewable energy infrastructure.

Considerations and Benefits:

When contemplating a switch to electric boilers, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, assessing whether the electrical grid can support the anticipated power demand is crucial. Additionally, comparing electricity and gas costs, exploring potential rebates, and evaluating the impact on regulatory compliance are essential steps. Electric boilers offer distinct advantages:

  1. Efficiency: Electric boilers operate at near 100% efficiency.  No stack eliminates wasted heat typically lost through stack and the concern for draft conditions like flame failure on a windy day.
  2. Cost Savings: With no need for expensive stainless-steel stacks, fuel delivery systems, gas piping, or fuel storage tanks, electric boilers offer cost-effective solutions.
  3. Simplicity: Installation and maintenance is straightforward with piping systems similar to hot water and steam boilers on the market.

Environmental Considerations:

While electric boilers themselves produce no emissions at the point of use, it’s important to acknowledge that electricity generation may involve fossil fuel technologies. However, by opting for green energy sources and engaging with utility companies to support renewable energy initiatives, users can mitigate environmental impact.

Maintenance:

Electric Element from a Resistance boiler
Electric Element from a Resistance Boiler

Maintaining water quality is crucial for electric boiler performance. While not requiring purified water, maintaining good water quality akin to other commercial and industrial fuel-fired boilers is essential. You want to avoid dissolved solids to prevent any potential coating of the electric elements.  Anything that coats the electric element essentially acts like insulation, which will impede the heat transfer from the hot element into the water. 

Water Quality Recommendations:

The recommended water quality to prevent corrosion and scale is:

pH8.3 – 10.5
Iron0.1 PPM maximum
Alkalinity<600 PPM maximum
Chlorides30 mg/liter maximum
Oxygen0.1 mg/liter maximum
Specific Conductivity4500 mmho/cm
Total Hardness<3 PPM maximum
* These guidelines do not include all dissolved materials. For more information about maintaining water quality, contact the equipment manufacturer.

Key Steps in Electric Boiler Projects:

  • Utility Consultation: Verify grid capacity to support electrical load.  Options may include a hybrid system using gas fuel for the heating season and heat pumps to share the load.  Water-to-water hat pumps are an option that we can provide too.
  • Cost Analysis: Compare gas and electricity costs, assess available rebates, and consider potential penalties and the benefits of using green point-of-use technology.
  • Professional Consultation: Engage with engineering firms to outline project scope and timelines.
  • Vendor Selection: Partner with experienced manufacturers and vendors, ensuring ongoing support and maintenance throughout the equipment’s lifespan.

In Conclusion:

Electric boilers offer a clean, efficient, and cost-effective solution for reducing emissions and meeting sustainability goals. By partnering with industry leaders and carefully evaluating project parameters, businesses can embark on a path toward greener, more efficient operations.

Our team at Frank I. Rounds is available to provide guidance and support in navigating these considerations to make informed decisions aligned with your goals and priorities. Contact us.