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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    rockland county new york

    Default GSH/Hydronic/Forced Air

    We made it through last winter without heat. It really brought out the pioneer in the both of us. We’d love to be well under way with the installation of something, but as of this writing we still can’t decide on the best course of action. We are hoping someone will be able to shed some heat on the subject.

    A year ago we bought a 1,600 sq. ft. house whose original footprint is from 1857. Over the next one hundred years chunks of house were added but the heating system was one of the many things in complete disrepair when we bought the house.

    I am really excited by and pushing for ground source heat. As all of the defunct steam radiators are sitting out on our front porch and all of the walls have been torn down to the studs, we are in an excellent position to run duct work or piping inside the house.

    As you know, with ground source heat the usual delivery system is forced air, running heat and then a/c through the same ductwork. Here’s the rub; the husband is adamant that he does not want forced air heat and you’d be surprised how many people you can find who will tell you how much they hate forced air. Can GSH be used with hot water radiators?

    Could you please weigh in on the pros and cons of forced air vs. hydronic system with baseboard radiators for heat and a Split System for cooling (the system our plumber/neighbor would have us install).

    Once we heat the place, we will move on to fixing the chimney, the rotten sill, the electricity, the ancient plumbing, the windows and doors, the draft, the porch that is falling off the house, and finding all the spider nests. Did I mention “complete disrepair”?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: GSH/Hydronic/Forced Air


    After spending 30 years in the heating business, I remain a strong supporter of hydronic heating systems.

    This is not to say other types of heat have no merit, but for someone like yourself, who lives in Rockland County, I would strongly recommend it---hydronic comes in 4 or 5 different configurations (which is good), and has as many as 5 to 10 different price ranges that you can spend for reliable equipment (which is VERY good to know).

    Your part of the country can get very cold in winter---and another advantage of hydronic is the power of hydronic boilers to put out all the heat you need to not only heat the house, but to provide all the domestic hot tap water you will need for laundry, dishwashing, baths, etc.----yet because of lots of engineering advances in boiler design & efficiency, modern high output hydronic boilers these days are no larger than a large suitcase.

    Even an entry level boiler such as a $1500 Slant/Fin, Crown, Dunkirk, Utica, Peerless or Burnham at 85% AFUE (85% of the fuel is burned, 15% goes up the chimney) will provide 70,000 btu/hour that you will need, plus a 40 gallon $700 indirect hot water heater by Triangle Tube, Crown Megastor, Lochinvar Squire, TFI Everhot, NTP Superstor and an adequate amount of baseboard (115 feet of baseboard estimated, $700 approx.) with outdoor rset, will get you in business for approx. $3k plus labor---these "entry level" boilers have pin-type combustion chambers, which can be hard to clean---I strongly recommend buying a 3-pass boiler by one of the mfgrs mentioned which get 87%-89% AFUE efficiency for an additional $1k.

    There are HIGH END condensing/modulating boilers that operate at 92% efficiency that burn much less fuel that would cost double the above estimate---these are mostly gas-fired/propane-fired units---you may not have gas available in your area???

    There are oil-fired condensing boilers like a Peerless Pinnacle that have much promise of performing as well as the gas-fired ones.

    Another configuration of hydronic is RADIANT HEAT where instead of baseboard, PEX plastic tubing is run under all the floorboards from the cellar (if there is cellar access)---radiant systems are also very fuel efficient & provide comfortable heat, but the cost is double or triple that of an entry level system.

    Geothermal systems also come in a hydronic configuration where water is run thru the ground piping to heat it up, then fed thru a heat exchanger to circulate hot water thru baseboard or radiant tubing---the cost of these systems is quite high---$30k.

    More and more states are increasing their federal/state tax incentive programs to make these systems more attractive---call your local state energy office.

    In conjunction with a hydronic heating system, if you wanted AC, you would have to install a mini-split AC unit by Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Friedrich which would cost in the neighborhood of $4k---these systems do a great job of cooling the home & no duct work is required, which is a great savings.

    Please click onto my name (Nashua Tech) to get my past posts on selection & choice of boilers & other heating equipment.

    A heat loss calculation would have to be done to estimate how many btu/hour in heat you would need to heat your home--a rough estimate can be obtained by multiplying the sq.footage of your home (1600 sq.ft.) by a number between 30 and 60---if you have a very tight home with tight windows, heavy insulation in walls & attic, multiply by 30 or 40---if you have little insulation & loose windows, experience sub-zero weather, etc., multiply by 50 or 60 to get a ballpark figure---any installer of heating/cooling equipment HAS to do a HLC on professional computer equipment (Manual J calculation) to get a more accurate estimate of the house's heating/cooling needs

    Consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating Contractors" & get at least 4-6 estimates from contractors in your area so you can get a good cross-section of the heating equipment and price range they will recommend---only after getting 4 to 6 estimates will you be able to get an accurate idea of which way to go & at what price.

    Thus, 1600 X 40 = 64,000 btu/hour needed to heat the house---perhaps another 10,000 btu/hr for an indirect hot water heater = 74,000 btu/hour would be the size of the boiler needed.
    Last edited by NashuaTech; 09-05-2009 at 03:28 PM.

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