Hydronic heater

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John ÖÖÖ.you asked in another thread what we were going to use for our hydronic heat source. Short answer: Donít know.

Longer answer: had first planned on interior masonry heater, but my allergies made that a forgone conclusion. Then looked into Hahsa outside wood furnace Ė way too big for our house (too expensive too). I was considering a large Aquastar propane tankless with an addition of a small tank for the heating season, but Nick wants to continue cutting wood as long as heís able. He enjoys that activity, and so do I. But I was looking at us getting older, too. So now Iím down to a combo propane/wood boiler that Iíll put in the greenhouse/airlock, but most I find are too big. This house is only 1000 sq. ft. (just perfect by my standards - who wants to clean anymore than that? I have in the past, and no thank you!). I had found one that was used to heat a hot tub, but canít locate the info. My in house spare brain not only didnít know where the info was, but he had no idea what I was even talking about, so Iím on my own here!

You got any suggestions? Iím all ears...er...eyes!

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2002


Geosource heat? I don't know your set up, so don't know if it's feasible. But it works like this: Plastic tubing loops through the ground (horizontally, about 8 feet down, or vertically if you don't have the horizontal room). Water or propylene glycol runs through the tubing, and goes through a heat pump in the house. Can produce hydronic (baseboard OR in-floor) or forced hot air heat (in which case, you also have the ductwork for cool air in the summer). It DOES use some electricity. You might be able to use solar panels to provide that electricity, if that is one of your goals. Water Furnace (search on the web) is one brand.

Disadvantage is the upfront cost of the system. Possibly $8000 more for installation. Payback is supposed to be rapid, however. I've met two couples who have it, and both couples LOVE it. One has hydronic in-floor; the other, forced hot air.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2002

Since you wanna continue to burn wood, at least to some degree, I'd suggest looking into one of the smaller outdoor boilers. I don't know of any that also use propane tho. There's an outdoor boiler called a Hardy I've heard some good things about. I hear they don't burn alot of wood and they're relatively cheap compared to some of the others.

As to the propane personally I'd consider one of the "turbo" tank type hot water heaters. They're alot cheaper than the tankless types and the retrofit wouldn't be too big a deal.

I really like hydronic heat. Are you already set up for it with baseboards or an air handler? What kind of heat distribution do you have now in your house?

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2002

Simple answer,John, none.This house has never had running water or central heat. Cool,huh? I almost hate to put any in after this long (close to 100 yrs). I'll have to ask permission of the resident ghost before I do, of course. Or they'll be heck to pay!

Joy,Geo too expensive. Happen to have an extra well that I could use,the old handdug one, but the equipment is too costly and still uses electric. Solar power questionable but maybe not impossible.I'm giving it some thought.House is in a holler(I'm speaking southernese while I smoke baccer so my okry grows sucessfully this year) so not much solar oportunity early and late in the day. Great place to be in summer,tho. Shady.

We'll be putting in a concrete slab in the back half, since we had to rip out the rotted floor anyway and will use tubing imbedded,there. In the oldest half, we'll prob go with baseboad.

Nick had found a small combo unit, so we'll see what it has to say when the info comes in. That's where it stands so far.I think I'll like having a warm floor too. Toasty feet!

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2002

Hey, Sharon, If you can use the dug well, the geothermal (e.g. water furnace) will be less expensive to install than if you have to have all the trench work done. I've got the "off brand" of Water Furnace, which cost me $6700, with the contractor doing everything except laying in the lateral ducts and floor/ceiling vents. He supplied all parts, and the rest of the labor.

This system costs but 18 cents per hour to run at .055 cents per kilowatt hour (though our rates just went way up a couple of months ago). It's almost 400% efficient, which means that for every dollar you spend on electricity, you get almost four dollars worth of heat. I love it, though I only use it to warm the house in the morning before we wake up; then I build a fire. (our wood is free)

Although I am totally supportive of using solar to power your heat pump, it will cost you WAY more to do a large enough photovoltaic system than the cost of the geothermal heat pump.

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

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