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Splitting Steam heat system into 2 zones?

This is probably a fairly simple question and I think the answer is no, but I would just like some confirmation. Is it possible to split a single zone steam heat system into 2 zones?

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,262
    It can be done

    but would involve a lot of piping. What are we trying to accomplish here?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • visonep
    visonep Member Posts: 2
    Splitting Steam heat system into 2 zones?

    Our heating situation is a bit convoluted. We have a small 4 bedroom cape that has one zone steam heat (2 floors) and 2 of the 4 bedrooms have electric heat (an addition was put on the home in the 80s and they went with electric.) We've owned the home since 2003. We recently had mini split air conditioners installed that also put out heat. So far they have been doing a decent job supplementing the heat downstairs, and use about the same amount of electricity as the electric baseboard, but they seem to put out more heat.



    The problem is that when we turn on the mini split heat downstairs where the thermostat for the steam heat is, it heats up the downstairs so the steam heat never comes on. This leads to the 2 upstairs bedrooms being really cold. I was thinking if somehow the 2 bedrooms upstairs that have steam heat could have their own thermostat, I could set the heat up there separately and the rooms and still use the heat on the mini split units downstairs to take the chill out of the air. If it is possible, would it be expensive?
  • zones

    would it help to move the thermostat up to the colder of the steam-heated rooms?

    that would prevent the thermostat from being effected by the heat pumps.--nbc
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,689
    Yes and no

    You can split steam into two zones -- although the valves to do so tend to be expensive, as they are quite large.  Also, one runs into the problem of the boiler being seriously oversized when only one of the two zones is calling.  On the whole, it's not really that great an idea.



    What I would suggest for you would be to move the steam system thermostat upstairs, as you suggest, and set if for a comfortable temperature for those rooms.  Being bedrooms, this might be as low as the low 60s.  Then you can use the mini-spilts downstairs to bring those rooms up to whatever temperature you want in them, when you want it warmer.  This would gain you all of the benefits of a setback, without the problems steam heat has with setbacks, and use the efficiency of the mini-splits where it is best used -- fast recovery.



    Better yet, it would cost almost nothing -- just the cost of moving the thermostat.



    Keep it simple...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,262
    Why not

    run steam into the addition? Any kind of electric heat is way more expensive to run than gas or oil, and those rooms would be much more comfortable too. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
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