New technologies spur boiler efficiencies
Brian Fenske shows Navien's new NFB boiler while at AHR Expo 2018. Photo by Steve Arel
Looking for a wider audience for its expanding commercial line of efficient boilers, Navien found considerable interest at AHR Expo 2018.
Perhaps it didn’t hurt that the company spotlighted its latest solution – a shiny, chrome-plated fire-tube heat exchanger – on a pedestal and under a glass case.
“It’s been hard to even get near this,” Brian Fenske, Navien’s specialty channel sales manager who focuses on commercial sales, said of the foot traffic at Navien’s booth during the show at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
The exchanger will be the key component of the NFB boiler that will be available in several sizes – some targeting residential and light commercial applications and some designed for commercial environments.
Fire-tube exchangers are noted for their efficiency. The new Navien exchanger is molded of stainless steel with built-in turbulators that can achieve the “highest efficiencies on the market today,” Fenske said.
As Navien looks to make the boilers with the new heat exchanger available to the market later this year, the company is seeing shifts in the types of systems users want to deploy, most notably in the design of those units.
It used to be that commercial boilers were massive components that chewed up considerable space.
Consumers increasingly are opting for – and demanding – compact systems that can be hung on walls or positioned in ways that requires only small footprints. And for operations that necessitate larger amounts of hot water, businesses are more easily able to combine units to satisfy the need.
“This allows for easier housekeeping, and we can add usable space back into a mechanical room,” Fenske said. “Because of the capabilities of today’s heat exchangers, you’ll see that a lot of compact, wall-hung boilers are being introduced into the market.”
The high-performance sector is where Navien, which features tankless heaters and combination boilers, has focused in recent years. To expand its commercial presence, company the company will target hospitality venues, including hotels and restaurants.
Navien also will work to have its products installed in educational facilities – college dorms and classroom buildings – government structures and churches, Fenske said.
Navien touts the quality of its product lines, the strength of which the company attributes to its production approach and supply chain – managing everything from research and development to engineering and manufacturing. Quality control within the operations is sophisticated, using robotics and photography for product testing.
The company produces and assembles all of the components of its units, unlike many competitors that purchase parts from other producers and assemble them in their plants. That gives Navien an edge, representatives say, in that it can more easily alleviate potential production issues and quickly adjust to market changes and innovations that bolster its products.
“We can react quickly and change anything that we discover that we want to improve or fix,” Fenske said.