Most oil furnaces and boilers prior to 1980 were installed with cast-iron head burners that had an efficiency rating of only about 60 percent. The efficiency of these cast-iron head burners can be increased by reducing the firing rate. This can be accomplished by reducing the burner nozzle size, but the size reduction is controlled by the minimum firing rate for the appliance.
Never reduce the nozzle size below the minimum firing rate listed on the manufacturer’s rating plate. As a rule, it is a good idea not to reduce the nozzle more than one size if the conventional ironhead burner is retained.
Many conventional oil furnaces and boilers are being retrofitted with flame-retention head oil burners. A flame-retention head oil burner is designed to mix the air and fuel more efficiently than the traditional iron-head units. As a result, the amount of excess air required for good combustion is significantly reduced, resulting in a hotter and cleaner flame. In these units, the nozzle size can be reduced more than one size to achieve the maximum firing rate for the burner. The lower limit of the firing rate of a flame-retention head burner is governed by the flue gas temperature leaving the furnace or boiler.