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Baseboard, runtal, buderous??? Switching from forced hot air to hydronic!!! (25 Posts)
Baseboard, runtal, buderus??? Switching from forced hot air to hydronic!!!Hi Folks,
After much deliberation, I believe I am going to switch from my current forced hot air system to hydronic heat! I posted a long time ago here and got a lot of encouragement to do this, but I was reluctant to make such a big change. After a couple weeks now of of waking up with a soar dried out nose and mouth, I think this was the final encouragement! We've only been in the house for a year so, I'm still figuring things out. I have three children and I want all of us to be warm, economical and healthy!!! We plan on being in this house long term. We heat with natural gas.
My issue is the following: my home was built in the 1890s and I have beautiful wooden baseboards and woodwork throughout. I hate to cover these up with baseboard heaters (which my plumber suggested). I like the look of Runtals and hear they work great, but they are SOOOOO expensive. While I don't have tons of money, I will be taking advantage of a 7 year/no interest loan that Massachusetts offers, so that helps. I am wondering if people here have suggestions as to what I can do to keep the beauty and integrity of my home, as well as get good, effective hydronic heat. My home is three stories, a bit over 2000 square feet. I'm wondering approximately how much more I'd pay for Runtals throughout the house versus slat fin baseboards for the whole house. I'm wondering if people have other suggestions. Also, I have been thinking about doing radiant floor for the first floor and doing the install of the pex tubing in the ceiling bays of my basement myself to keep the cost down. If I do that, I will still have two more floors that will need some sort of radiators or baseboards.
My plumber is excellent and gave me a great price on doing the transfer from forced hot air to hydronic, based on using pex and baseboards.
Lastly, while not my main question here, do any of you think I am making a mistake switching over from forced hot air to hydronic? While not getting too into price, I will say that for me to switch over from forced air to hydronic using baseboards will be about $5000 more than for me to move to a high efficiency hot air system with some duct moves/work that I'd need. From what I understand and additional benefit of hydronic heat is that it is more economical and in the long run I will get a return on that $5000 extra.
KennyThis post was edited by an admin on December 20, 2011 10:11 AM.
OptionsAre you using oil or gas? Runtal BB works well, and I'd make sure the rads are trimmed with thermostatic radiator valves. You may also want to consider the Buderus or DiaNorm wall panel radiators. Less expensive, but a different look. I've used the Buderus oil boilers many times, but prefer other Mod-Cons that have stainless steel heat exchangers, rather than aluminum.
I'm heating with gas!I'm heating with gas and I'm in the Boston area (cold, cold, cold!)
Rads not baseboardSounds like your plumber is old skool in recommending Slant Fin baseboard. I would forget about tubing on the first floor if you have enough wall space for the radiators. I'm doing a job now with beautiful wood baseboard and using Dianorm rads and they look great. The mounting brackets holds the rads about an inch from the wall so you don't have to butcher the wood baseboard. I would recommend TRV's like Paul said and running home runs to each rad. Sometimes you can use the existing ductwork to run your home runs through. I also agree with Paul about boiler choice as well. If your plumber isn't up to date with the technology, you might wanna shop around or send him here. And oh yeah! Having a room by room heat loss calc done is very important to size the rads properly so your boiler is in the condensing mode for best efficiency.This post was edited by an admin on December 20, 2011 2:54 PM.
Have you considered hydro-air?If the issue is the furnace sucking out the humidity, (nose bleeds, dry mouth) you can get a boiler and run the piping to air handlers. Since the flame is nowhere near the ducts, the humidity won't get sucked out of the air and it is highly unlikely that flue gasses can get into the ducts.
You can save the look of your walls although using ducts lowers system efficiency.This post was edited by an admin on December 20, 2011 5:01 PM.
radsMyson Select radiators are pretty affordable. Their other lines (some of which are indeed quite beautiful) can get quite expensive. They have a couple of towel warmers (COS85/86) that are affordable and again, other models get quite pricey.
TRVs and a smart pump and you should be good to go. Look for a boiler with low head loss in the HX so you can direct pump.This post was edited by an admin on December 20, 2011 5:14 PM.
new heating systemdo a heat loss. look at installing cast iron radiators and a condensing boiler like the Triangle Tube prestige series boiler www.triangletube.com if the room calls for 5000 BTU look at installing larger size radiator so you can run the boiler supply water temp as low as possible to keep the boiler condensing most of the time. look at using a radiant header like the legend hydronics www.legendhydronics.com. Look at running VIEGA fostapex 1/2" direct to each cast iron radiator that way you can balance each room. good luck with your new system.
baseboard heatKen, I have aluminum panel baseboard in my home. I think it was from RTI on Long Island , probably no longer available. But I think I found something similar.
It looks like 1X6 pine trim. I did a $600,000 home with it in the mid 90's. I may be able to find pictures. My stuff was only rated for 240 btu pr ft so you did the perimeter. I have done 4 or 5 houses with it.
Sunday morning it was 10°F outside , my house was 69-70 inside with only 145°F water supply temp. With constant circulation and weather responsive control I have no expansion contraction noise.
I also like cast iron baseboard and cast iron radiators but you need a pretty fat wallet or checkbook to afford it these days.This post was edited by an admin on December 20, 2011 11:20 PM.
slimlineis sure slim. but it's very low output and most homes will need high temps to use it without supplemental emitter capacity.
I would almost always choose something that can operate at lower water temps.
Panel rads are good. but if drywall is coming down, consider radiant ceilings! might be cheaper in the end if low temp is the goal.NRT.Rob
I did itI did something very similar in February, our house is old too and had forced air. I was able to use reclaimed cast iron rads for a reasonable price as well as looking very appropriate. We are in Ontario and the place we got the rads from is ironworksradiators.ca (they are in Toronto) and they have been very helpful. There is likely something similar near you.
If you can give up some wall space I would highly recommend the reclaimed route. We did have a heat loss done and then I was able to choose which rads would fit in each room, I tried to add about 25% to the required size to be able to run at a lower temperature. I'm never over 135 which keeps my boiler condensing all the time (at least I think it does).
Great helpThanks for everyone's help!
So, a few more questions:
1) do wall panel radiators such as the Buderus or DiaNorm work better than baseboards (including cast iron baseboards) or is it simply an aesthetic decision? When I say work better, I mean in terms of both functionality, heat production and quality, life expectancy and cost of running.
2) If I do go with such wall panel radiators (which I like the look of), will the price be significantly different than baseboards to outfit my 2000 square foot house? If so, is it a huge difference?
3) Should I at all consider going with big, heavy, old school radiators?
4) Again, any votes for or against my overall plan of switching from forced hot air to hydronic heat? Will it really make a huge difference? Will I be happier overall?
forced air replacementIn short, YES. You will wonder why you waited so long and be amazed by the quietness, cleanliness, and comfort of your house.
panel radiators rockBaseboard operates by convection. Panel radiators are more efficient because you benefit from both radiation and convection. Cost is a bit higher, but as long as you stick to the basic models they don't cost much at all on a per-room basis. They require less wall area - see p.2 of http://www.mysoninc.com/client_images/catalog19787/pages/files/260030_Select_Tech_Spec.pdf for specifics. Myson offers four different heights and 34 different sizes in three different depths - over 100 different radiators in the Select line alone. I'd start by sizing for a lower water temp (140F - 160F) using the derating chart on p.11 of the same PDF, then see how your sizes come out and make adjustments if necessary. Increase your delta-T across the rads (25F is what we usually use) and you will cut your pumping requirements.
Panel radiators also deliver more BTUs per unit area than cast iron rads, cost less, and weigh less. They can be wall hung above the baseboard to reveal the old casework -- this also makes it much easier to vacuum.)
I've done home run manifold systems but for a typical house layout, a reverse return loop around the perimeter is not really any more work (you have to get out to the edge of the crawlspace anyway to pipe each radiator) and gives you less valve interaction by equalizing the pressure drop across the whole system.
Make informed decision!Radiant heat is hard to beat for comfort but don't switch because of humidity. Forced air doesn't dry out the air. Check out this article and you can find many more to debunk the myth. Best wishes whatever you decide.
thanks and a three more things...Thanks again for the great responses!
I'm getting closer to knowing what I want to do.
I believe my plumber gave me an estimate with slant fin so as to keep the price down as low as possible. From what I can tell from your responses, it won't be a lot more expensive to go with radiator wall panels, and seems like a much better move. So, is there any reason that my plumber would charge me more (or less) to install wall panel radiators vs. slant fin baseboards? He's retrofitting the hydronic heating system, so again, would there in any way be more challenges/obstacles in using the wall panel rads over baseboards (and thus perhaps upping his price). He's using pex and will have to run it from the basement to first, second and third floors.
Also, I've had some people suggest that I use old school large heavy radiators to keep with the aesthetic of my 1890's house. Other than these taking up more space, how well do they work in comparison to the modern wall panel rads?
Lastly, a number of people have suggested over sizing my radiators by about 25% so that I can go with a cooler water temp. Can someone explain this to me, what it does, how it helps, how it affects operation cost, etc.? Should my plumber be familiar with this?
costCorrect - panel radiators will cost a bit more than baseboard, but the difference is not going to be that significant when you get to the bottom line. Like everything else, first cost is only part of the equation. Panel radiator performance degrades less quickly than baseboard does as fluid temp drops, so again, I urge you to have someone do the room-by-room sizing using a lower water temp and the manufacturer's derating charts for both and see what you get.
Installation costs should not vary significantly between the two types of emitters, but you really need to ask your contractor for an opinion there because every house is different and we haven't been there.
The lower the supply temp and the greater the drop in temperature across the emitters, the lower temperature of the water returning to to the boiler will get. Lower returning water temps allow a condensing boiler to condense, which raises its efficiency and lowers your gas bill. When you combine this with an outdoor reset control, your system will burn gas far more efficiently than a high temp baseboard system will.
mixing forms of heating?can you integrate panel radiators in a circuit/zone that consists of hot water baseboard tube/fin?
I have a living room that I'm redoing and was contemplating swapping in a shorter SlantFin MultiPak 80 baseboard in place of the much older (20-30+ year old) tube/fin piece.- Dan G.
mixing radiationWill work relatively well if both are sized for the same water temp.
180My Munchkin boiler is currently set to turn off at 180*F- Dan G.
design tempAre you running outdoor reset? How is your indoor temp at design conditions?
munchkinno, my Munchkin 80M R1 doesn't have the Vision control (outdoor temp) system. I don't fully understand how that works or helps.
I set my t-stat for my 1st-floor zone, and the system doesn't seem to have trouble holding a 64*F setting when the outside temps are in the 30*s. I'm in NJ, we're oddly in the 40-50*s at the moment.
I just had a combustion analysis performed on the boiler and it was eating a bit more gas than needed, but has been adjusted to be in the middle of its spec'ed range.
I'm not sure how to figure out what the designed conditions are.- Dan G.
Outdoor ResetWill improve both comfort and efficiency. At 180F your expensive condensing boiler is not condensing, but with Outdoor Reset it will condense for much of the season. Design temp for most of NJ is around 10-11F, but you should get the number for your specific location. With Outdoor Reset, the boiler delivers its highest temperature (might be 180F, but might be lower - you'd have to do a heat loss calc or just experiment a bit) when the outside temp is at those conditions, but lowers the water temp as the outside air warms up. Lower water temps = longer boiler run times and more condensation.
design tempaccording to:
My coastal area is close to Atlantic City.
4.812 Heating Degree Days
Design Temperature: Winter 97.5% = 13- Dan G.
panel radsgive Hydronic Alternatives a look see. WWW.Hydronicalternatives.com
good luck with you choice.
RadiantPanel205 BTU/hr/ft @180F