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Just bouncing an idea around..

Anyone have any thoughts about building a house today, utilizing a steam system for primary heat? I've searched a little, but not come up with anyone building a house and installing a steam heat system. Is there a good reason for this? I've come to like steam systems, and it appears a lot of others do as well, but aside from the complications of installation compared to forced air, is there a real reason not to?


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,436

    I were to build a new house today (which, God forbid!) it would be mostly passive solar -- but the boost would probably be steam (up here in the north country -- further south it would be a heat pump).  Why don't people?  My guess would be unfamiliarity with steam on all parts -- home owners, architects, and trades people -- and money.  I don't think one could build a new steam system for less than a scorched air system; in fact it might be a good bit more.  Might be competitive with hydronic, though.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Chris M_2
    Chris M_2 Member Posts: 67

    Let's face it.  Builders are going to build new homes for people the fastest and easiest way they know how. Soldering copper pipes, PEX, baseboard, is way easier than cutting, joining, pitching and adjusting steam systems. So is everything involved with a forced air system.
  • Big-Al_2
    Big-Al_2 Member Posts: 263
    Component Cost and Flexibility

    Have you tried pricing brand new radiators these days?  A medium-sized one might cost you $1000.  So price out a boiler, a half a dozen radiators, valves, vents, controls, and installation . . . and I think you could easily double or triple the cost of a forced air system . . . and then, if you wanted central air, you'd need to start over and install a complete second system.   

    I'm having fun tinkering with my steam system, and it has a certain "retro-coolness" factor, and I do enjoy the even heat . . .but despite the drawbacks, If I could afford to do it, I'd trade it for a modern high-efficiency forced air system in a heartbeat.
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