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Heating dilemma: Recessed radiator vs cast iron baseboard

MT626MT626 Member Posts: 7
I'm in a jam. I just bought a 1930's tudor 2000 sf in Long Island, NY with oil powered steam heat and recessed cast iron radiators. The home has single pane windows which I don't want to upgrade due to cost and loss of aesthetics.

My dilemma is that I let my contractor convince me to change the system to an HVAC to get forced air heating and cooling. However, before the project began (and unfortunately after the old pipes and radiators were removed and probably sold) I started to see the planned invasiveness of HVAC in this old home (vents cut in the original floors, duct work taking over the basement, 2 furnace unts and 2 condensors, vents cut through plaster walls, no vents in the cement floor sunroom etc.) it didn't look like a solid plan.

I can live without cooling but absolutely need heat (and lots of it being from Florida originally). Since the old radiators are out, it will cost me a pretty penny to restore. But my thought was to now consider options like gas powered hot water heating, baseboard heating etc.

The old radiators were recessed so basically in the wall so not really an eyesore. it didn't bother me. What I can't figure out is whether cast iron baseboard heating by hot water would be better than hot water recessed cast iron radiators. I assume hot water is better than steam (so no need to go back to steam heating).  The radiator space is already there and recessed in the wall so it seems that it would be easiest to put back radiators assuming radiators are cheaper than cast iron baseboards. However, does cast iron baseboard result in much more warmth? (I assume it does because it covers more surface area that 1-2 radiators recessed in the wall).

Any advice would be appreciated. Right now I have no heating so I'm anxious to get this resolved considering both cost and what's will provide the best warmth.



  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    What radiators

    I have seen steam heat in old Florida hotels, such as the Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande.

    In your house, you could see if the insulation could be upgrades in the walls and ceiling, and leave the windows in original, but restored condition.

    For a given room and it's heat loss, steam radiators can be smaller, as a result of the higher temperature of the steam, compared with hot water. So first priority is to do a room-by-room heat loss survey, using the App from the SlantFin website. This will tell you what length of baseboard rads will be needed, so you know whether they will fit into the recesses already in place.

    Hot water heating will give you some options which are not available with steam, although it is not necessarily "better" than steam. Outdoor reset which is the ability to vary automatically the hot water temperature with the outdoor temperature is one feature, and less obtrusive piping in the basement is another.--NBC
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Room-by-room heat loss calc first

    then measure all the recesses.  If the original system was hot water, you should be able to size modern plate radiators to fit.  They are surprisingly affordable and quite unobtrusive.
  • Danny ScullyDanny Scully Member Posts: 599
    Where on LI

    Where on LI are you? I'd love to offer a helping hand!
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