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Looking for book recommendations!

I'll be designing and installing a hydronic wall radiator heating system for my home. I've got considerable experience in the construction trades, with a solid plumbing skills. My weakness is in system design and this is where I'm looking for a book or 2 that would educate me on design (and installation).

I've purchased Hydronic Radiant Heating by Holohan and found it a waste of money.

Modern Hydronic Heating: For Residential and Light Commercial Buildings by John Siegenthaler gets excellent reviews on Amazon, and may be the best book for what I need. It's $160 but that's cheap if it teaches me how to design my system. Any thoughts on those that have purchased this book?

Any other books worth looking at?

Thank you.


  • Hilly
    Hilly Member Posts: 421
    5 book combo

    You should buy Dan's combo package of 'hot water' books. Will give you a solid base, if you need more info past those reads then John's book is fantastic... But my personal opinion is that going through Dan's books first will allow a layman to navigate John's book with much better efficiency. Just my opinion.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 19,282

    Has some good training materials. Most radiant manufacturers have great design books. Uponor, Viega, Watts, mr Pex, Roth, Heatlink, etc. Caleffi I-dronics design journals cover many topics available as a free download www.caleffi.us
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,132
    I dont doubt your skills..

    But I don't think a 'book or two' is going to give you all the information you need.  You would be better off taking advantage of a hydronics expert to design your system--from proper heat load/loss, piping, emitters, controls, equipment, etc. 

    They already know what works and what doesn't, and can provide you with many options you many not even be aware exist.

    Then with a proper plan, you can install away...
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,293
    Might be a waste of time,

    but can't be a waste of money. If you're not happy, send it back for a full refund. I'll even pay the shipping charges - both ways.

    Thanks for giving it a try.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Book

    Great. I just insulted the site administrator.

    I purchased the book several years ago and found it inadequate to the task of calculating heat loss and designing a hydronic wall radiator system. I'm looking for algorithms, tables, and technical detail; the book I read was more of a survey and not what I'm looking for.

    Thank you for offering a refund but I given that I bought it so long ago I don't think accepting a refund at this point would be appropriate.
  • bill_105
    bill_105 Member Posts: 429
    edited February 2014
    Just curios Dan

    Has anyone ever returned your books? I have 3 of yours laying around the house and people that have nothing to do with heating will browse through them.
  • Not looking for a contractor to design the system

    "But I don't think a 'book or two' is going to give you all the information you need. You would be better off taking advantage of a hydronics expert to design your system--from proper heat load/loss, piping, emitters, controls, equipment, etc.

    They already know what works and what doesn't, and can provide you with many options you many not even be aware exist.

    Then with a proper plan, you can install away..."

    I've discussed my project with 2 local hydronics "experts". Neither contractor bothered to discuss heat loss calculations, and said the best approach is to estimate based on the cubic footage and type of construction, and then over-shoot by a factor of 20-30% for "buffer". Great. In other words, these guys don't know how to calculate heat loss. When I asked about pipe size, I got 2 different answers. One guys said I could absolutely not run pipes over the roof and drop in and out of different rooms without causing trapped air problems; the other guy said no problem he does it all the time. One guy said he would do a single series loop for all 7 rooms (yeah, right), the other guy suggested parallel return piping (better answer). Neither contractor seemed to know what I was talking about when I asked about reverse return...just blank looks. It was at that point that I decided that I probably already knew more than they and could do this myself, probably better and definitely cheaper. I live in a very small house with an existing functional boiler, this is a relatively simple project. I'm mainly looking for help with return pipe planning, pipe sizing, and accurate heat loss calculations. I can purchase Runtal at wholesale pricing.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,293
    Seriously! Not insulted.

    Really. I've written 17 books and hundreds and hundreds of magazine articles. I'm an old man. I learned long ago that I can't possibly please everyone. My policy has always been to give a full refund to anyone who isn't happy. It's the right way to live.

    Send it back and I'll send you a check. No problem at all. The address is in the book. We haven't moved. Thanks for giving it a try.
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,293
    Now and then, but it's rare.

    I always give back the money.

    Thanks for letting me hang around the house!
    Retired and loving it.
  • Any opinions on the Siegenthaler book?

    This thread seems to be drifting off course from the original question.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,804
    Siggy's book...

    Is great but I also think every one of Dan's books are great too, so what do I know?
    Steve Minnich
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,293

    He's a great engineer and his book is worth every penny. Lots of diagrams, math, formulas, explanations. We sell many of his books and I'm proud to call him a friend. If you buy his book through us you'll get that same guarantee. Money back if you're not delighted. Thanks.
    Retired and loving it.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,132
    You put experts in quotes....

    That advice did not come from any expert. No expert foregoes a heat loss calc. No expert oversizes. There are many truly amazing experts here on this site. One of them wrote about 17 books :).

    Siggy's book is good, but it won't give you all the answers you are looking for.

    My best advice is to check this site for someone close to you, then check their posts to get a better feel for their expertise.

    All the books & diagrams can't possibly account for your exact situation. A competent pro can answer these questions accurately, and quickly. You can buy a few hours of his/her time and end up with a complete blueprint--heat loss, piping diagram, list of materials.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,447

    You are looking for Modern Hydronic Heating. It has enough formulas to make your eyes glaze over.  If you want to take it one step further, John is doing a 10 week online course that follows the book.

    I would also second the recommendation on Ihydronics.

    John Barba at Taco's "Flow Pro University" has some great free courses.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,721
    edited February 2014
    MHH 3rd edition

    Buy the book , Hope you have plenty of time to read , it has grown substantially in it's latest incarnation. A real good scientific calculator is a good idea also .

    Shame you talked to 2 guys that both don't have a clue .  There are many panel rads out there and most have very detailed sizing and performance specs , you should easily be able to appropriately size each and every rooms emitters using these resources . My suggestion probably won't differ from John S's much , and that would be to use these panel rads with TRVs , constant circulation , home run piping from a manifold . This provides good room control , comfort that is stellar , same temp water to ALL radiators , wire to water efficiency , optimal boiler efficiency . 

    Would you mind telling me what type of boiler , heat source you would like to use ?  Oversizing is never a good idea , in all actuality heat losses all have fudge in them already . If it were not for lawyers I would probably decrease my boilers by 10 - 15 % . Damn lawyers . 

    The 2 contractors you spoke with only had 1 intelligent idea . Buffer was that idea , except not in the form of oversizing because as everyone here can tell you that would be an anti buffer . What you will probably need (TBD) is a small buffer tank because loads can get pretty small at many periods using a Panel Rad TRV strategy .  
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 19,282
    edited February 2014
    Two skill sets

    Modern Hydronic Heating is a text book built to go along with the classes Siggy and others teach at MVCC. With some basic math skills it will take you from zero to a knowledgable designer. Be sure to do the exercises at every chapters end to assure the concepts stick.

    As important are practical skills, these are not so easily learned from the pages. It you have good mechanical skills and proper tools, you can pipe a system.

    We have seen plenty of top notch installations here on The Wall, installed by mechanics, welders, electricians, carpenters, and other trade skills.

    Consider a pro for venting and fuel piping to assure it is correct, safe, and meets local codes
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • J Van Lund
    J Van Lund Member Posts: 19
    John Siegenthaler's 3rd Edition is Excellent

    Hi Scott:  Twelve years ago, with only simple reading and arithmetic skills and John Siegenthaler's 1st ed , I designed a simple hydronic heating system using pencil and paper for a new house (Pacific Northwest) using a 40 gallon electric water heater. Since I didn't know anything and it seemed too simple, I sent the sketch with UA and total heat loss for all loops to John, Tom Tesmar, and Bill Clinton (not the President) and asked if it would work. Tom replied with data identical to my calculations and said he also wired the water heater's elements in series (two 5.5 kw elements=11.0 kw).  Tom also said no one calls it a "hot" water heater as that would mean it was probably stolen.  So I sent Tom a check and told John I'd buy his book.  During construction and since I was working 150 miles away and couldn't be on site, my heating professional installed a larger circulator than specified (larger is better) and placed it before the expansion tank, and failed to install a return temperature/pressure gauge so I could check Delta T vs. design calc's.  I called him back to fix it.  He also did not install ball valves at the circulator for future changeout and a purge boiler drain valve at the high point, which I let slide.  Since it was so much fun and satisfaction in designing the system, I bought John's 3rd edition to see what has changed in twelve years.  This summer, I am planning to take the air separator apart to see how gummed up it is, adding Webstone isolator/drain valves on each side of the circulator, adding a Webstone Pro-Pal ball/purge valve at the high point, a pressure gauge at the circulator outlet, and obtaining a Grundfos 15-55 since it looks to match the flow and head requirements.  So as not to scare the boss of 46 years and upper management (Siamese cat), I'll do most of the sweating out in the garage.  That way, if the air turns blue, management and the boss won't know.  So if you have the will and time (like the wee hours when everyone is sound asleep - no point dying in bed....), you can do anything.  Pay attention to the details and ask the experts.