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New Home, Which heat source????

LuckyDogLuckyDog Member Posts: 12
First off, this is a great site. Some of you guys have the patience of Job. I have been a long time lurker and this is my first post.

New construction in Freedom NH.

2350 ft² house, 2 story salt box design. VERY open floor design. no cathedral ceilings.

Used Uponor Advanced Design Suite 7.3.0 to do the heat analysis.

27.7 kBTU/Hr heat loss.

Concord NH data: -2°F, 20MPH Wind

Basement: 4 loops of pex in the concrete slab. (850 ft², 12" spacing, 8.5k BTU/Hr loss)

Main Floor: Plan is 4" concrete slab with pex, (850 ft², ?" spacing, 12.6k BTU/Hr loss)

Upper Level: Up in the air, (650 ft², 11.3k BTU/Hr loss)

According to the Uponor software, if I do all the floors in radiant, I don't need more than 100°F water to heat with.

I looked at the FUEL VALUE & POWER CALCULATOR from

Electricity from PSNH is $0.157 kWH

Pellets can be had for just over $210/ton in the summer.

Propane is what it is. And I don't see it getting much cheaper. ($3.70/gal range in Aug.)

The house is sited so I have a large southern exposure. Solar hot water?

So, I am confused.

What am I forgetting? Which heat source should I design in?

I would be open to Air Source HP. Just don't know how to plumb that in. Would like to go radiant (low water temps) but wife also wants AC on the two upper floors. Is there a reasonable multi-split that can do wall units, DHW, and Heat? Or am I asking too much?

Hope this wasn't too long didn't read (TL DR)

Building a house in NH


  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 3,517

    I spent a summer there as a kid. Great place!

    Check out this spread sheet.

    I think it is a bit easier to use.

    Pellets are by far your cheapest heat source. A pellet boiler would work well for your domestic water and infloor heating needs. Solar hot water would also tie in nicely. You could design the solar to handle all your DHW needs in the summer when solar works best and to suppliment the other system in the winter.

    . Another good calculator.

    It is designed for PV, but will give you an idea how much sun is available in you area.

    An ASHP would be better than propane or electric but not as good as pellets.

    You could use a mini or multi split for AC in the summer and heat on cool spring and fall nights. The COP would actually be better than trying to run it all winter.

    Is this a full time residence?

    What kind of budget?


    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • LuckyDogLuckyDog Member Posts: 12
    edited March 2014
    Solar - much WOW

    Thank you for the links.

    So, if I tilt the panels correctly, I can up the winter gain while reducing the summer amount. Neat... (Just FYI, I am and imagineer, I like the term even better than Engineer)

    So, if my heat loss is 27.7 kBTU/hr:

    and an average sunny day in Freedom in February is 3 kWh/m²/day

    1 day = 24hrs, and 1 kWh = 3.412 kBTU

    I calculate about a 195 kWh/day heat loss.

    and could foreseeably make that heat with 60m² (645 ft²) of panel? That is a lot of panels.

    And what would I do with the extra heat on the days that I am not in design conditions?

    At least with pellets, I can turn it off when the tank is hot. I have a 500 PE gallon tank in the attic and have a chance at two 120 gallon electric heaters.  The heaters are old but NIB. If I can get them cheap, I thought they would be good storage tanks.

    What is the opinion on Wirsbo Quick Trak? only 5/16" pex but looks nice to layout on the second story subfloor.


    ETA: rechecked my numbers and I was off by a factor of 10. :( Changed the numbers. Now 60m² of panel req. oof

    Building a house in NH
  • TonySTonyS Member Posts: 849
    Air source Heat Pump

    and PV panels. This is the only way you will gain complete energy independence. New microinverter panels allow you to plug and play panels as you can afford them.

    Wood pellets still keep you at the mercy of pellet makers and they use energy to make them. If all of a sudden China decides to pay double for wood pellets guess what happens to you. Also while your building install a centralized chimney for a wood stove.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,708
    That house

    with a decent southern exposure and a salt box design, if oriented towards the south and properly done, could be 100% solar for space heating.  My father in law and I did several of those, some in your area.  To do that does require some architectural modification, but very little -- nothing most people would notice -- and very little extra expense over any good superinsulated house.  It's mostly a matter of storing the heat effectively and making intelligent use of heat exchangers to maintain indoor air quality (which can be a real problem in superinsulated houses).

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Steve EbelsSteve Ebels Member Posts: 1,287
    Rough numbers

    Cost per million btu with an air source heat pump would be around $19.

    With a good pellet boiler running radiant floor (much higher comfort level than ASHP) you would be looking at about $13 so about 40% less cost with the pellet boiler system plus much better "feel" in the home.

    We have installed 15 Windhager BioWin pellet boilers to date, beginning November of 2012, and found them to be an excellent product. There have been no issues or problems of any kind with them and two of the installations are heavy duty commercial use with multiple boilers.

    One pair which was fired up in September of 2013 now has over 30 tons of pellets consumed between them. 0 problems. Just clean them every 600-800 operating hours and keep them filled. They are a fantastic product.
  • LuckyDogLuckyDog Member Posts: 12
    edited March 2014
    Thats the idea....

    The house is super insulated (3 sides are 12" thick walls)

    More of an envelope house than standard house. The front south side is all glass. 27 3'x6' windows on three levels. The south wall is standard 2x4 construction and 6' back from the glass.

    I also plan on an HRV for air quality. I don't know if the ADS software knew that when it added the infiltration load. I used an ACH of 0.3 in the heat loss calc.

    Building a house in NH
  • hot rodhot rod Member Posts: 7,090
    edited March 2014
    compare the installed cost

    once you have a load calc number. The plus side of heat pumps is you can get heat, AC, and DHW. With rebates and incentives both the HP and PV to offset it pencils out nicely.

    Solar thermal is one of my favorite energy choices. it does require a large array and some sizeable insulated storage to get high solar fractions. Less winter sun and cold ambient temperatures drive down the energy harvest.

    Pellets and wood are great, but they do take some owner up keep. I clean my wood boiler every two weeks. A lot depends on the wood or pellets you burn.

    I'd start with a tight passive design.

    I like a wood fire, on my next home I would install a high efficiency gasification parlor stove in the great room, regardless of what HVAC system I use.

    It's nice to have a non electric heating device, during power outages. also they are great for shoulder season or a quick warm up. Most can have a water loop added for DHW or small radiant loads.

    A pellet or wood cook stove would be fun also.

    Check out some of the cool wood and pellet products Marc sells at

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • LuckyDogLuckyDog Member Posts: 12
    Where do you find Windhager in the US?

    I looked at the Windhager units. LOVE the Firewin. Wife wants a fire place/stove in the living room. I want direct vent high efficiency.

    This is going to be our retirement home, full time. We love snow, and if she can stay warm she will stay with me. :)

    Can still cut and split wood, but I know my days are numbered there.

    So, the FireWIN is exactly what I would want in this house. Were can I get one? What are the prices?

    Are there any other units like that on the market?

    I didn't answer Carl's question on budget because I am such a cheap skate. I always think I am going to get more for less. So, first I need to see what out there at what cost, then I sort of work backwards from that.

    Appreciate everyone's input so far. Any ? for me?

    Building a house in NH
  • LuckyDogLuckyDog Member Posts: 12
    edited March 2014
    Link is broken...

    I would check out Marc's stuff, but that link is broke.

    edited to add;

    figured out the link:


    Building a house in NH
  • hot rodhot rod Member Posts: 7,090
    Froling is another

    top brand. I believe Marc sells the Windhager. Might be worth a trip to see him.

    Lots of wood and pellet burners, and install pics at, in the Boiler Room
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • TonySTonyS Member Posts: 849
    When I said air source hp I meant air to water

    Also although you can use a tank type water heater with the altherma. Its hard to beat a tankless that never runs out of hot water. When it comes to the comfort of domestic hot water then go with comfort first and economy second.
  • RichRich Member Posts: 2,247

    up Cocoon Tanks .  These are what you will need and I belive will become the preferred tank moving forward
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC 732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey , Eastern Pa .
    Consultation , Design & Installation
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
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