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Steam vs Hot Water Heating Comfort

nj6964 Member Posts: 20
edited November 2016 in Gas Heating
I just completed my switch from one pipe steam to hot water heating. Thanks to everyone on here for the advice. My wife and I have noticed that the house feels cooler in general, even when standing by the thermostat that says the temp is the same, 70 degrees. I know this seems like a silly question but has anyone else experienced this comfort difference after the switch? The humidity may be slightly lower, but not bone dry, ~30-35%. We removed the steam rads and replaced with baseboard in most rooms and panel rads in dining room and living room. For what it's worth, tstat is in living room, which has the panel rad (on opposite wall ~14' away). Thanks for any insight into this situation.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,114
    At a guess -- and mind you, it's just a guess! -- I'd suspect that it may be that you are missing the radiant heat from the old radiators. That radiant heat is not trivial -- it's a good chunk of the heat from a steam radiator -- and the baseboards won't provide any at all, and the panel rads (which are much cooler than the old steam radiators) much less.

    Purely empirical experience -- but I can be nice and comfortable in an environment at 66, if there is a nice steam radiator in sight, or even colder with a good fire on the hearth -- but need a sweatshirt in a forced air house at 75.

    Turn up the thermostat.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,409
    I agree with Jamie on this. Losing the cast iron sacrificed some amount of comfort. If I was to switch to hot water I would never lose the cast iron, it adds a lot of comfort. Since my rads are steam only I will never convert.

    I always tell people think of the sun on a cold winter day. Outside it's bright and sunny, 30° air temperature. You look up at the sun and feel all that nice warmth on your face, that is radiant heat and I can't think of anything that is better at that than cast iron.

    I am sure the pros will chime in, but my best guess is you should try and do ODR and try and keep the boiler firing as much as you possibly can to keep those baseboards warm. It still won't replicate the radiant from those rads, but it might improve comfort. Or just do as Jaime said and turn the thermostat up.

    What size boiler did you end up installing? The larger the boiler the more difficult it is to keep it firing on a regular basis.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,991
    Now you see one of many reasons why I don't recommend trashing a steam system.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    KoanNew England SteamWorks
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,058
    Another possible reason why high temperature radiant (steam heated radiators) produces more comfort is that radiation heats up the walls. I suspect that those panels work even better because more of the heat produced is radiant rather than convection. Some people put a shelf on radiators. That impairs convection so more radiant heat is produced.

    I remember ski lodges in the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec. Within minutes of steam reaching radiator the room felt warm.