20/20 Vision

Many of you may remember my articles about adjusting oil burners by eye, a cad-cell eye that is using my ‘Lanthier Scale” and even how to apply these procedures to burners like the RIELLO.  

Many people who have used the procedure swear by it and many still struggle to properly set up burners swearing at them instead of correctly adjusting them.

Forgive me, but I also need to make one thing very clear before we proceed and find it sad that many still don’t get the very first essential element to adjusting an oil burner. This golden rule is not only for proper operation, but for the most reliable and clean operation that you can achieve you MUST have proper draft setup.

I’m either getting smarter in my old age or maybe senility is finally closing in, but why are so many struggling with something so simple? Look, in my opinion, draft is probably the worse word to ever have been used around oil and gas burners unless you’re going out for a few after work.

Forget draft, think air, it’s all about airflow and if it’s wrong, well, it’s wrong. Keep in mind the essential quote on burner adjustment: ‘Faulty draft conditions cause more flame and combustion problems than any other single factor.”

Draft is air, air is draft, and if it’s not right and set correctly to begin with you can spend a day working on the freaking thing and it still won’t work right, FACT! I think much of the language we use is confusing to a lot of us.

I keep making it simple for myself and I’ve even stopped using the term ‘draft regulator.” In reality, it really isn’t a regulator, it’s a draft reducer. The ‘reducer” will only reduce the airflow; it just can’t make draft and most are too small or in the wrong place to begin with.

I keep hearing these stories about OEMs testing burners to perfect conditions, that’s just pure fantasy! The burner and appliance companies demand that you set the draft correctly. Making it, lowering it, whatever it takes to get to those so called ‘perfect conditions,” parameters or boundaries is your problem, not theirs. It’s not a ‘perfect condition.” It’s where it will work correctly, got it?

If your flow of air from start to finish isn’t right, pump pressures, nozzle selections and burner adjustments just don’t count. Manufacturers test their equipment under conditions you will probably never see the both extremes of, but you must make it run right and if you set it where they want it, it will!

Anyway, let’s say that you’ve adjusted the burner for the ideal draft condition and now want to set the burner to do the same using a cad-cell. Well, it’s become easier than ever thanks to two new controls, the Beckett GeniSys, and the Honeywell R7284.

In this article I’m going to use the GeniSys and its companion Contractor Tool, simply because I’m more familiar with them and have spent lots of time experimenting with them.  

By using the Contractor Tool and GeniSys, setting up a burner can be very easy and can go a lot faster with confirmation using combustion test equipment as great tools to verify everything. If you have an electronic analyzer and really know how to use it, that’s the way to go, but there are still a lot of people carrying wet-kits and this is for them. By the way if you don’t know everything that analyzer will do and how to interpret the readings, come spend some time with me in a seminar and I’ll show you what it all means.

As we’ve done with multi-meters in the past and using the ‘Lanthier Scale,” adjust the burner air settings for the lowest readings you can obtain by moving the air gate open and close. Using the following pictures, we can see what will happen as the air gate is adjusted.

In Figure 5 we show our starting point.

Figure 6 shows closing the air gate too much.


And in Figure 7 we are back where we started.


In Figure 8 we show where we ended up, a much lower place than where we began and notice the time readings and input voltage readings.


With adjustable head burners, further fine-tuning using the combustion head and the Contractor Tool can get that cad-cell ohms reading even lower and the lower the resistance, the better the fire. I’ve done several of these setups with contractors in the field and also in our school laboratory environment and so far the results have been very good.

Go try these procedures for yourself and let me know what you think and if you want further information on this subject, see my books: Advanced Residential Oilburners, The Riello Handbook and my WIRING & Fuel Burning Equipment Series, specifically Volume Two and Volume Four.

I’m going to keep this short because you need to try this yourself and there are a lot of pictures.

See ya!


*George Lanthier is the owner of Firedragon Enterprises, a teaching, publishing and consulting firm. He is the author of over 25 books on oilheat and HVAC subjects and can be reached at 608 Moose Hill Road, Leicester, MA 01524. His phone is 508-421-3490, fax at 508-421-3477 and his website can be found at www.FiredragonEnt.com

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