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Realistic Guidance needed for hot water radiant

Needing guidance. Need to know what is realistic.
I'm here to learn.

I want radiant hot water heat for a small 600 sq ft house in the country.
I am determined & have time.
I've spent a lot of time & reading here to think about which type I want & why.
I want an easy to maintain system, with easy to find parts.

Meaning: if something breaks down, the old school stubborn hillbilly people I would have access to can fix it without thinking I built a spaceship.
It can't be something they'd refer to as "fancy" .

Yep. I said that. No one in my area even knows what the term hydronics means.
I have to say "boiler heat". I have access to 'heating guys' & plumbers. Much of what I learn here I will be doing myself. I will have a professional install the plumbing & do the important stuff, once I figure everything else out. I will probably have to import that person. Otherwise, there'd be a 100k btu oil boiler installed...because that's what they do here, & there ain't no one changing that.

By hot water radiant, I mean cast iron rads &/or cast iron baseboard.
This much is decided.
In floor would be wonderful, but is not going to happen.

No matter what, I'll be using fossil fuels. There is no way around this fact for me.
The choices are--oil, or electric.
Propane here is too expensive & I don't want a huge tank & the problems associated with propane in my area, like shortages & skyrocketing prices in the winter.
Getting a NG line to this house is not going to happen due to cost & distance & neighboring property.
As for oil, it's not really an option because there does not exist an oil boiler small enough for my house. To be honest, I'd like to get rid of the oil tanks in my basement & the existing chimney, which needs rebuilt anyway & not have that to worry about either one ever again.

Before everyone starts talking me out of electric, please lets 1st explore ways I could do electric without killing me budget-wise. It's a very small house, I have it 1/2 gutted & will be insulating a LOT. I need to explore the possibilities.
House is zone 5, I am guesstimating I will not need more than 30,000btus.
I disconnected an 80k btu forced air thermo-pride that short cycled constantly removed all ductwork.

I'd like help figuring out the potential heat loss calc things you all do on those spreadsheets.
I think, from reading here that this is where I should start.

I'd like to do that part now, mainly so I can learn how my choices & options for insulation & other things like windows affect the size of the system & the energy consumption. I tried playing around with a few that were linked to from here, but I am not sure I am doing it right or understand all of the terms because the #'s don't seem right.

I'd also like the system to be able to be heat pump air-water assisted LATER, but can not budget that pump in right now, & waiting a little longer might get me a better option for zone 5. At some point I will put in a very small wood burning stove probably a moreso squirrel for back up, this will come before a heat pump.

Also, is it realistic for me to consider used cast iron rads?
I need assistance in this area-it seems a lot of people here go the used rad route.
This would keep my costs down tremendously, because there is no shortage of used cast iron rads here-people beg you to take them out of their houses or sell them cheap on CL.
I do not know what to look for to tell the difference between steam & hot water rads so I need to know that. Also need to know what brands to look for that are easier to get parts for if needed.
I don't want the ornate ones, I like the more plain basic ones.

I've taken a couple of steps back from what I originally wanted to do (hydronic radiant in my walls for the whole house) when I realized it could end up too complicated to fix/maintain/if I have a problem. Plus, what I really want is the longer residual radiating time of the cast iron, with it's mass, as opposed to a faster responding system.

I have a medical issue, I have problems maintaining body temperature, despite tons of layers all winter long. It is a struggle. It's a rare issue & I am more sensitive to temperature swings that most people. I'd just like to be comfortable for a change & I think proper guidance on my heating system & insulation & sealing will allow me to have that. That being said, with my current forced air system, to be comfortable, I need to keep the heat at 73 for sedentary activities. I can tell you I seem to be able to go lower 2-3 degrees with radiant of any kind, even with a ceiling fan running, so I don't think it's just the drafts caused by FA heat that makes me so uncomfortable. I LOVE how the cast iron rads stay warm for so long, so cast iron it is :) .









"The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
-Paulo Coelho
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Comments

  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 8,426Member
    All doable options.

    Try this super simple load calc program
    http://www.usboiler.net/heat-loss-calculator.html

    I ran your building as a simple single room, 100 sq feet of glass 4" walls, etc. Fine tune the numbers to get it more accurate. I'd guess the load could be under 20,000 BTU / hr? Maybe way under, we are seeing tight buildings dropping into the single digits in BTU/ sq ft.!

    Invest money in the building first, get that load number down. You may heat the space with lights and the refrigerator :)

    Any type of heat emitter will work, cast iron radiators do take up some space in a small home like that, consider the thin metal panel rads.

    If the load gets small enough maybe just electric panel radiators, why go hydronics? Same comfortable warmth without getting fluid involved. Runtal and Myson have nice electric panel radiators, many other Euro imports.

    Any thoughts about cooling or air quality control, maybe a ventilation recovery unit?

    For very small loads like that sometimes you can find nice equipment on the RV supply sites. I'm looking at a 12" X 12" wood stove for a 112 sq ft RV project.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 4,455Member
    There was a poster here who converted CI rads to electric with element inside. He was on recently.

    Also if you need AC, I would recommend a mini split AC/heat pump.
    This would give you cheap heat in mild temps, then electric rad panels when you really want comfort.

    Where are you located?
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,543Member
    Start with the Slant Fin app for a heat loss. The opinion here seems to be that it ranges from spot on to somewhat strong. It's easy enough that you can figure it out yourself and quick enough that you can run what-ifs.

    Then get a reliable heat loss that includes you planned updates. You should be able to evaluate an electric boiler then. If you find historical data, you can make a pretty good guess how much it will cost you in an average year.

    I'd also check with the power company for any kind of electric-heat programs they may offer, and maybe you can call it medically necessary?

    I'd look into a modulating electric model, or at least several stages; that will give you good turn down (run at less than 100% capacity), much better than a fossil fuel model. There's a Slant Fin model that offers ODR, which you certainly want. [No affiliation, I just looked around when I got the link for the app]

    Repairs for an electric model aren't near as hard to perform yourself, as there is no combustion to deal with.

    Curious why radiant walls were ruled out, they're literally nothing more than pipes on plates under the drywall. The only ongoing problem is putting a nail into a loop.

    There's also solar if you are interested, there is a lot of collected knowledge here.

  • delta Tdelta T Posts: 616Member
    edited February 9
    I am going to guess your heat loss is going to end up being in the neighborhood of 10-12 kbtuh (. I would not do any hydronics at all, but rather use electric radiators as hot rod suggested. will not freeze, no piping to run only wires, and easy zoning as you can place a temp control on every single rad. As much as I love hydronics, I don't really think the expense and time make sense in your case.
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 8,426Member
    If you do want an electric hydronic, here is the boiler I used in a Tiny Home I built, 160 square feet.

    It is a 3KW , about 10,000 BTU/hr. It has a common 4 bolt element so you could downsize even more. I like the multi mount and nice stainless cover.
    http://www.thermo2000.com/pdf/en-US/manu/T2_mini_ULTRA_manual_May_2015.pdf
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,213Member
    I would take a hard look at an electric boiler with either in floor radiant or panel radiators.
    I would size the whole thing to run at low water temps (120 degrees max).
    This approach essentially "future proofs" the system. If you are able to go to natural gas in the future, you are all set. The low temp design also works well if you decide to go with an air source heat pump, geo thermal or solar in the future.
    The infloor is not as hard to install as you might think.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    edited August 2017
    I was on usa boilers this morning before you posted.
    Based upon what I got for the basic insulation I plan on putting in, I'm getting about 18k btu. However, I didn't include basement, crawl spaces or the small attic, just the 1st floor.
    The reason I want cast iron hydronic is for the longer times they stay warm after the boiler shuts off. I know cast iron will take up more space. I have scaled furniture & am planning rooms to accommodate. Also I won't have to do so much extra planning for the electrical outlets.
    If I were FORCED & can't do hydronic, I'd go the electric radiant panel or water/oil filled baseboard route, but I this is not my goal. My goal is to go hydronic cast iron.

    I am curious why this is such an issue for a small house & why every single person keeps trying to talk me into something else other than what I actually want? This really has been exhausting to keep hitting brick walls.
    It seems now we have the technology for smaller systems.
    Is there something I am over looking?

    Edited to add:
    This is a small house, but not tiny. It will be LR/kit/bed/bath on 1st floor-roughly 575sq ft. This will be the main living area.
    There is a usable small attic/loft about 250 sq ft of floor space but with slanted ceiling, so not sure how I should calculate-this space will be conditioned, but separated & used only as an hobby/work type space. I will be insulating the floor between the main space & this loft. It will also be more like a buffer space since I won't be able to insulate the roof as much as I would like to due to framing & lack of head space. I also have a small basement about the same size.
    I do often look to the RV & tiny house communities for for ideas.
    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,543Member
    I think that, here at least, people aren't trying to steer you towards something you don't want so much as offering what they like best & are most familiar with. I certainly am not trying to sell you on the radiant walls, merely curious what about them proved to be too complicated. And you really do want your installer to be familiar & enjoy whatever style of heat you end up going with—the installer has the biggest impact on the quality & reliability of the system.
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 8,426Member
    I have a few old cast iron radiators installed at my place, nice comfortable heat even at 130F operating temperature.

    If you buy used ones make sure they are hot water, not steam radiators. It's best have two connection points for HW systems. Pressure test them before you clean or refinish them, at least 15 psi.

    Pipe them as a home run and install a TRV thermostatic radiator valve so each one can be dialed to the temperature you decide. they can be piped with 1/2 pex tubing, very simple.

    Here is an example with a ECM pump for optimum control and lowest energy use. all the pump manufacturers offer these Delta P circulators. This schematic shows panel radiators, same applies to cast iron type.

    If you chose an electric boiler that modulates based on outdoor temperature, and a pump that modulates based on heat demand, you will have a nice system.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    Did not see all of the responses when I posted my reply.

    Sorry, I'm not meaning anyone here is trying to talk me out of what I want. What I am getting here is a ton of different options to consider, & am thankful for this.
    My issue is outside of here, in the real world around me, my specific region, and the lack of knowledgeable, open minded professionals.
    There is a mind-set in this region, & I'm not going to change it. I could tell you horror stories about it, but I am sure you all have seen that on nightmare jobs you all have had to fix. It's just more the norm in this area of SW PA.
    Let me also add, luckily I have survived, albeit I suffered traumatic brain injury, and I mean that literally.


    On radiant walls-meaning inside of the walls-not panels:

    I have a few concerns: Note: this was my 1st choice when I started posting here, last year, but have taken a step back, due to the reality of my location, & what I have to work with as far as heating 'professionals'.

    #1 is that I may have issues finding anyone in my area able to adjust/balance/maintain/trouble shoot the system if I have a problem & need something adjusted/fixed.
    #2 While the response is faster than cast iron, I would not have as much residual heat when the boiler kicks off.
    #3 Not finding info on anyone using this as their PRIMARY heat source-for their entire house. There info on supplementary heat in bathrooms etc, but really not much of anything else, so not a lot of real world info.
    #4 Economy of the system as a whole. While I trust I would be able to install, there are a LOT of separate components & good emitters are expensive, & I'd need lots. While I can install it, I doubt I could find anyone to balance & do proper calcs for anything else.
    Also, in some ways, while I love pex, it almost seems as if pex works against you, for a heat system, there's just so much more work involved getting the heat out of pex pipe, even the pex-al for heating- heat transfer with copper seems so much better, but just not cost efficient.

    Onto cast iron hot water radiant radiators:
    I believe I may be able to achieve what I want using a more simple appearing system. One that won't make it seem I have re-invented the wheel, or built a fancy spaceship.
    Plus, I REALLY LOVE the way they continue to give off heat. I want that residual heat. Since there are now small electric boilers with outdoor reset etc, I think it is do-able & not too complicated to maintain.

    I recently learned about Ecorad-electric cast iron radiators. I'm very interested in learning how that type of system would work-and finding calculations on how much electric they'd consume & how they are hooked up-aside from being hard wired electrically. Their website doesn't give much technical info & there's not much here either. It appears they'd work the same as individual radiant electric panels, but in a cast iron radiator. I'd not need a boiler, or pumps, each room can be controlled individually. They've certainly got my attention.

    I do understand that electric is more expensive to run.
    I'm looking to simplify & also remove expensive to maintain things.
    I do not have the ability to not use fossil fuels at this time.

    I figured it will end up costing me about the same over the long haul, because I will no longer need to maintain oil tanks, which I own outright, or be tied to an oil provider & all of their crazy programs & charges, & do not need to rebuild this old chimney.
    In fact, I could remove this old chimney completely, giving me a little bit more usable space, more space than the CI rads would take up. The cost of fixing the deteriorating chimney exceeds just starting new.
    When I finally put in the small wood stove, I'd use the proper pipe, which is still cheaper than trying to fix & maintain this old chimney, & safer too.

    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Posts: 716Member
    You should contact Harvey Ramer of Ramer mechanical. He is in the South Pa area and may be able to help you out. His info is on the "find a contractor" button at the top of this page.
    Rick
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,213Member
    @catia1313
    I think you are approaching this puzzle perfectly.

    The attached spread sheet will help you evaluate your energy costs with the different options. Your ballpark assumptions sound pretty close.

    Given your sensitivity to temperature, I think you would get a lot out out studying the effect of MRT on comfort. Robert Bean is all over this. http://www.healthyheating.com/Definitions/Mean Radiant.htm#.WZnhyMZunIU

    You should be able to put together a nice simple electric boiler system with outdoor reset. Hopefully you could get someone local who can follow a simple plan. If not, someone on here might be willing to fabricate and ship you the manifold and boiler piping.

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 8,426Member
    There certainly are "boiler and hydronic guys, and gals". in PA. Are you near Erie? Often times a report wholesaler knows who is knowledgable and dependable in an area.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • EastmanEastman Posts: 833Member
    catia1313 said:


    I figured it will end up costing me about the same over the long haul, because I will no longer need to maintain oil tanks, which I own outright, or be tied to an oil provider & all of their crazy programs & charges, & do not need to rebuild this old chimney.
    In fact, I could remove this old chimney completely, giving me a little bit more usable space, more space than the CI rads would take up. The cost of fixing the deteriorating chimney exceeds just starting new.
    When I finally put in the small wood stove, I'd use the proper pipe, which is still cheaper than trying to fix & maintain this old chimney, & safer too.

    The masonry of the chimney buffers the output from the stove just like a cast iron radiator evens out the heat from an oversized on/off heat source. The chimney may not be suitable anymore for hot flue gasses, but one can often simply line the inside with the appropriate pipe. That's probably cheaper and safer than a complete teardown and replacement with exposed stove pipe. If it's falling apart above the roof line, perhaps the masonry could be torn down far enough to encapsulate it within the structure. Line the chimney with uninsulated pipe up until this point, and then transition to an insulated variety for the final segment. A chimney top damper can be used to trap heat in the flue.
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    Zman-I will be reading that study tomorrow. I'm really curious about what they found.

    Hotrod--I'm about 45 min south of PGH-nothing came up when I used the find a contractor option. I have noted the name.

    Any word/thoughts on the Ecorad electric cast iron rads???

    Thanks Eastman, but I want that chimney out. LOL
    Don't want to reline it--it wasn't done right & it's had too many improper repairs. And it's cheaper to pull it out, cuz it's DIY. I might as well get it done now while the rest is pulled apart.
    I don't know how they didn't burn the place down when they burnt coal or die of CO poisoning. The issues are beyond the normal above the roof issues.
    When I finally do put in the VERY small wood stove, I will only need a 4-6" flue depending on which stove I purchase. I'm between the moreso squirrel & the Hobbit or similar. I will use the proper pipe & probably some soapstone slabs below & behind for mass, after properly fireproofing. Have plenty of hepa masks & a sledge. It's not very big, but it is ugly & dangerous.
    The woman who owned the house previously lived til past 97. She lived in this little house for 70+ years. She was a widow, with kids. I swear every repair done to the house after her husband died was to kill her.
    The HVAC & plumbers were the worst. I've had to fully redo 17 joists because they were hacked through. The FA was backwards, the furnace 3x bigger than it needed to be, ductwork to no where, cold air returns in dirt crawl. Cold air return without cut out in floor above & enough ductwork in the basement for a 2000 sq ft house that supplied only 6 take-offs The house was cold, and she used more than 550 gal of oil per season. Of course they also installed 2 - 275 gallon oil tanks for her, ripping out a supporting wall to shove them in a damp dirt crawl, but they were nice enough to level them using scraps of drywall that have deteriorated to mush. This is just the highlights.

    Sorry for the rant-but if I ranted about it anywhere else, no one would know what I was talking about. Been holding it in for a while ---Whew!


    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • Larry WeingartenLarry Weingarten Posts: 1,326Member
    Hello, I don't know if you already have this aspect covered, but finding and sealing air leaks is the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency. it's best done before insulating and it sounds like your project is in the perfect place for doing this. I've seen it make dramatic improvement to the comfort of living spaces. Normally a "blower door" is used for this, but just putting a box fan in a window or door and sealing around it, then walking around with an incense stick will find the leaks. There is a site http://homeenergypros.lbl.gov/ where you'll find much more on this and other things relating to energy and indoor air quality. Once the leaks are sealed, insulation can be happily installed. That way you'll get the most even temperatures around the house and find it easier to keep warm. And, here is a pdf on air sealing! https://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/building_america/ba_airsealing_report.pdf :)

    Yours, Larry
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    edited August 2017
    Zman,
    I read the study & followed/read several of the links. All great stuff. I'm thankful someone does that type of research & is teaching it to others.

    The ability to apply that info, especially to people in old existing structures, is the bigger challenge, & I am sure all of the professionals here face that challenge daily, because majority of the population is in older existing structures & forced to make a choice based upon their budget, circumstance & time.

    I know for myself, I was often forced to deal with imperfect systems because I could only work with what I had. If it's February & the furnace breaks down, you can't just tear apart the house to properly insulate for a better heating system.

    Add to that the constant arguments even within the building science communities, then you have outdated codes & insulation & vapor barriers, & no one ever agreeing, & the small body of research into certain products & methods of installation, because they are newer, it becomes overwhelming.

    Most days I am just overwhelmed. Just making the decisions on what type of insulation to use & which method to apply it is exhausting.
    It's not just as simple as insulating. It's all in the fine details.

    I'm trying to strike a balance, because we have imperfect/incompatible building materials that we try to make work as a 'system', in an unnatural man made structure (our homes), dependent upon every other system within it, all against mother nature. And we know who wins that battle!

    I love new technology & products, but now, as I get older, I want simplicity & reliability. I now have the gift of experience.
    The least amount of mechanical gadgets to get the job done, means less room for human error or breakdown.

    Edited to add: I have a coworker who teases me about being a luddite.
    I'm not of course, but I am sick of having to accept inferior products just because there is technology to make them in abundance. Cell phones are a perfect example. We give up quality of landline phone service to be wireless for convenience. It's just a glorified CB that costs a whole bunch of money & is not as reliable.
    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,388Member
    Southwest Pennsylvania is a bit off the beaten track... but it is lovely country.

    That said. My suggestion would be the cast iron radiators you have mentioned, piped -- as has also been mentioned -- in a home run setup or at least in parallel, preferably reverse flow (that is to say, the first radiator off the feed line is the last radiator on the return). That will give you the best option for controlling the heat from the various radiators. Then the heat source -- while self contained radiators do have their points, if you have a number of them it is probably better to have one boiler, even though that does mean that you need a pump. The reasoning there is that it can be electric now (and will be small enough so that energy expense isn't that big a deal) but could be changed to gas later, if you wanted to. Or as has been suggested, geothermal or solar if you wanted to get fancy.

    On insulation. Do you have the interior walls off? Or, better, the exterior siding? If so, you would do well to wrap the house in Tyvek or some similar draught (not vapour!) barrier on the outside, paying careful attention to where it joins the windows and doors -- and in the attic or loft and also the foundation. That will help a lot on draughts. So will paying close, patient attention to the actual windows and doors themselves (no need to change them out for something new and fancy, unless you want to) so that they fit well and are weather sealed. If you do have the interior walls off, then the next is plain old fiberglass insulation. It's easy to put up, and does just as well as some of the fancier oddments. Then, on the inside, place a vapour barrier -- and make sure that it, too, is well sealed. Electricians, in particular, just love to punch holes in the interior vapour barrier for outlets and switchboxes and the like, never mind cable runs.

    And take your time.
    Jamie



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



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 4,455Member
    I would usually never recommend straight resistance electric heat, I consider myself somewhat of a hydronic guy. BUT.......

    A kilowatt is a kilowatt once it goes thru your meter.
    IIWM, for 600 sq ft, I would go with individual electric heaters in the rooms. You would have better and simpler temp control.
    If nothing else, you have a redundancy of heating emitters.
    An electric boiler, no matter how small, has several components that if anyone of them eventually gives up could cause the entire system to fail.
    Plus you have the pump, air tank, air separator and fill valve...etc.

    I would consider the electric panel heaters mentioned above or look at getting the Ecorad electric CI rads. Has anyone here tried them?
  • Harvey RamerHarvey Ramer Posts: 2,154Member
    There are many Electric COOPs in PA. I am served by one. Mine has a "you shift you save" program. Where you install a submeter that the utility company can automatically disconnect during peak loads. All the electricity that passes through the submeter is billed at basically half rate. Around $.05 per kilowatt. If that is an option for you, do it. Then you could install a minisplit that feeds off of your normal meter for redundancy during controlled off times.

    You could get cast iron rads and thread electric elements directly into the bottom port. The head of the element has a temp setting knob and plugs directly into an electrical outlet. You fill the rad 3/4 or a little better, full of water and leave an air space at the top for expansion. Plug the top port and you are done!
    Individual room control and a lot of thermal mass.
    I'm not positive, but I believe you can also get those elements with triac controls, that modulate the element/rad temp, based on room temperature.
    Ramer Mechanical
    ramermechanical.com
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    edited August 2017
    Well, everyone here is basically on the same page, which is such a relief.
    The suggestions are things already on the table. I do know what I want to do with air sealing & insulation as far as products go. I'm still working out some details with the method I will use for some odd spaces. I'm determined to do the insulation myself because I want to know exactly what is where & don't want any missing spaces.
    I wanted to state this-not sure how it will factor in with heat, my guess is pretty good--certainly shouldn't be a loss.
    My goal is to have EVERYTHING inside of the building envelope's conditioned space-including wiring/plumbing. I want to make it so that the only holes in my exterior walls are the windows & doors. This may take a little more wire & planning, but the house is small enough that it won't make much difference $$ wise. Also, all systems will be accessible for inspection/future repairs/upgrades without having to open up a wall, & there will be space to work.
    (I have a pet peeve with builders/remodelers shoving things that require maintenance into inaccessible spaces that will not allow space to work, or that you have to rip out drywall--& I am very petite-if I can't get into a space, no way a man is gonna fit)

    I'm still waiting on a response from EcoRad. I requested information about a few models & the sizes & btu output for both traditional & the electric cast iron rads so I can compare the info & ask your opinions here. So far, I like what they appear to offer-because I'm going cast iron rads either way & they fully recondition & have stock of ones ready to go for either one.

    There is so little information on EcoRad here, but apparently one of their reps is a member here. On the web- what is available is old info & marketing from 2010. No real life install info or reviews. Everything out there is mostly just the same brochures over & over. Their website completely lacks the technical data for me to be able to compare & weigh my options between a traditional piped hot water set up & electric discreet units.
    They are the only ones doing the cast iron electric conversion in the USA & Canada & they do have a USA base office now.

    If they don't provide the info I am requesting, that will just force me to choose the traditional route without the ability to compare.

    I really am curious to compare how much electric amps I'd need for those discreet units combined, based on their btu output (it might be less btu's per unit than the piped is my guess)-versus how much I would need for a small electric boiler/circulator/pumps I'd need to meet the same btus.

    I also need to know things like what kind of freedom will I have for choosing thermostats & outdoor reset if I chose the electric CI rads.
    I don't know what's compatable & what isn't.
    Maybe one of you already knows that answer? I would like a user friendly programmable thermostat, & I want outdoor reset.

    While their guarantee states 10 yrs, further reading reveals that guarantee is actually 10 years ONLY on the heating element for the electric rads. The guarantee is 1 year on the cast iron rad itself.

    What is the standard acceptable guarantee for CI rads?

    Since their product is novel, I can't pull any #'s from a similar product, closest I can come is fluid filled electric baseboard.

    What other companies are a good source for completely rebuilt/reconditioned/tested cast iron radiators for traditional install incase Ecorad doesn't respond?

    There's no shortage of CI rads locally around me CHEAP even free. They're just not broken down & rebuilt with all new components & already pressure tested, stripped & painted. For me, that's a great selling point, & that's their main thing, so they've got to have QC.

    Ya, I'll gut a house, rip down a chimney, insulate myself, but I don't wanna piss with stripping & refinishing cast iron rads if I don't have to. It's 1 less thing, know what I mean?!
    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    Ugh.
    Good news is that EcoRad responded.

    Bad news is that they sent me the same form I could not complete because I do not have MS word.
    They also sent me to the same link that is just the same as their brochure, & I asked for info on specific models in my initial email.
    I also asked them not to send me any sales links or brochures, that I just wanted the data.

    I specifically stated that I wanted technical info to compare the traditional rads btu output vs electric rad output & amps.
    but they are requesting I put it on one of their forms. UGH!

    Even though she said they have over 5,000 rads stocked & ready to go-they keep no data sheets & every rad has to be calculated individually. Really? cuz where does that info come from? Oh, wait, the data sheets.

    I asked direct, clear questions.
    Not one was answered.
    I abhor filling out forms.
    I did not ask them to calculate anything for me, I asked for the data so I can do it myself.
    Ya, I have no patience. I know.
    I work with the public & I am burnt out from repeating myself ALL day long.
    This feels like work.
    I just want the damn data-not a song & dance.
    I'm cranky & just wanted to crunch numbers, not interact with a human & exchange pleasantries or read a sales pitch for the product.



    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 4,455Member
    The typical 20 amp 120 volt circuit can safely handle 16 amps continuously. 120 V X 16 Amps is 1920 watts, which X 3.413 is 6553 BTUH.
    However the largest plug in space heater is usually rated for 1500watts max. 1500 X 3.413 is 5120 BTUH.
    I am not recommending space heaters as such, but just to show you how little heat you may need.

    You have 2 pretty well educated guesses above that believe you may only need 10 to 12,000 BTUH for your house.
    The advantage to individual heaters/thermostats is that they will cycle unnoticed as needed. Unlike your old furnace.
    You can oversize within reason and cycling will actually put less strain on the elements and wiring.

    If you had the controlled meter as Harvey mentioned, and if you had plug in heaters, you could have a full time always on outlet next to the controlled outlet. Just move the cord if power is cut off.

    Bear in mind that all outlets for a heater will most likely have to be on a dedicated circuit.
    My toaster draws 820 watts, so if I plugged in a space heater with it, it may eventually trip the circuit breaker.....for example.
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,213Member
    catia1313 said:

    Ugh.
    Good news is that EcoRad responded.

    Bad news is that they sent me the same form I could not complete because I do not have MS word.
    They also sent me to the same link that is just the same as their brochure, & I asked for info on specific models in my initial email.
    I also asked them not to send me any sales links or brochures, that I just wanted the data.

    I specifically stated that I wanted technical info to compare the traditional rads btu output vs electric rad output & amps.
    but they are requesting I put it on one of their forms. UGH!

    Even though she said they have over 5,000 rads stocked & ready to go-they keep no data sheets & every rad has to be calculated individually. Really? cuz where does that info come from? Oh, wait, the data sheets.

    I asked direct, clear questions.
    Not one was answered.
    I abhor filling out forms.
    I did not ask them to calculate anything for me, I asked for the data so I can do it myself.
    Ya, I have no patience. I know.
    I work with the public & I am burnt out from repeating myself ALL day long.
    This feels like work.
    I just want the damn data-not a song & dance.
    I'm cranky & just wanted to crunch numbers, not interact with a human & exchange pleasantries or read a sales pitch for the product.



    You might try posting the doc they sent you. Someone could decipher it or convert to another format.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    edited August 2017
    Jughne comes in with some #'s for me to play with for ball park guesstimates to cheer me up :smiley:
    Thank you!!!

    While I would love to believe the 12,000btu 's, I doubt it is that low.
    I'm betting 25k. My calcs using the one site came up 18,000btus just for the 600 sq ft.
    600sq ft is the main living space, I did not count the attic or bsmt & crawls.
    we'll see what I get when I calc the #'s for the insulation I will be installing.

    I do have this to compare in real life:
    Without insulation, and gutted to the studs, at 32 degrees F with leaky single pane windows & doors:
    3 -- 10,000 btu radiant (the rectangular ones) kerosene heaters can do the entire 1st floor to a comfortable working temperature, 2 if I use the blowers. So, no way should I need more than 30k btu's for the entire place with insulation--Anything/Everything less is GRAVY as far as I am concerned!!!

    Note: the controlled meter makes me feel 'controlled'. Meaning big brother like. I don't think I am ready for that.
    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    Ok, Ecorad responded with some of the information.
    But it is inaccurate at best.

    From what they have sent me-it appears that the radiators have the same BTU's whether electric or hot water?
    That can't be right in my opinion.
    BTU's would change based on water temp right?.
    They do not list the water temp.
    It appears she converted ONLY the electric CI rads watts to BTU's is what I think-but it is anyone's guess.

    I would post it, but it has what might be pricing on it--but it is written wrong because I know it is not 750,000 for a radiator unless it's made of gold.

    There is no way for me to blank out the pricing.

    There is a serious communication error going on here.
    Language barrier.
    I'm trying, but not getting anywhere.
    I do not speak French, and I do not believe this person is interpreting my English properly. My answers are coming from Montreal not USA.

    Am I asking for something unrealistic from a company that specializes in CI rads to provide btu data for specific rads?

    I chose a few models of rads, told them to pick any size & provide the wattage/amps for the electric, & the BTU's for the hot water.

    WHAT AM I DOING WRONG???

    I cannot do this when I am at work so am at the mercy of email during non-work hours.
    WHY IS THIS SO MUCH OF A HASSEL?
    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,213Member
    edited August 2017
    I think you should be able to get 2 specifications from the manufacture.
    They should be able to give you the BTU rating for hot water at a given supply temp (usually 180 degrees).
    They should also provide the wattage of the radiators with electric element installed. My guess is that that number will be a bit lower because they want to assure the element will not overheat the radiator.
    To convert watts to BTU, just multiply by 3.412.

    I prefer the hot water option because it allows you to vary the water temp based on outdoor temp.
    Given your limited local talent pool in heating contractors, it may be simpler to just install the electric ones.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    edited August 2017
    Here it is -I don't know why it did not post opened up.
    I do understand how to convert watts to btus, & my thought was the same that the HW rads would be higher than the electric.


    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,543Member
    Zman said:

    To convert watts to BTU, just multiply by 3.412.

  • flat_twinflat_twin Posts: 136Member
    Paulo, I found this helpful when I was calculating EDR for my radiators.

    http://www.columbiaheatingsupply.com/page_images/Sizing Cast Iron Radiator Heating Capacity Guide.pdf
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    Some thoughts:
    I can do the conversions without issue.
    The issue is, I doubt the elect & the HW are the same BTUs, because the btu's w/HW would be based upon water temp.

    What I am trying to say is that I think the information I did finally receive is not correct, or incomplete at best, and this has been my 2nd try.

    Honestly, I am hesitant to try again for the correct info from Ecorad.
    From an informed consumer's standpoint:
    This may be the foreshadowing of what's to come, should I have an issue later. This already feels like a hassle & I have not even started yet.

    However, I do want to know the answer to my questions for curiosity sake. I just don't know how I could better word my inquiry to obtain the answers I seek. You can't tell me no one asks the questions I have asked-it is just basic information. I am stumped at how to proceed. ????

    Thoughts?

    Zman-yes, the conundrum is local talent pool vs ease of install.
    Add to that the difficulty I am experiencing now just to get the most basic of information boggles my mind. The good news is that many CI rad websites offer the info for the BTU's of their CI rads without needing to even ask.
    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    edited August 2017
    Pics for some used rads I am curious about.
    Are these hot water rads? I'm thinking they are just want to make sure.

    There is a lot of old steam rads in PA & I gotta find a better way to tell the difference between the two because the people ripping these out are usually new home owners/ flippers who do not know & just want them out to put in FA.











    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,213Member
    I think that the person you are talking to just doesn't understand it. They are probably just sending you the info they have in front of them.
    I don't see the harm in sizing the radiators based on the electrical ratings and moving on.
    The other way to figure it out would be to determine the surface area (EDR rating) and reverse engineer it from there.
    It is safe to assume that the hot water rating at 180 will be higher than the electrical.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • GordyGordy Posts: 7,989Member
    A btu is a btu. Don't over think this. Most rads have output charts for a given water temp. What you need to determine is if you convert a hw rad to electric element. What water temp can be reached with the electric element conversion. My best guess would be 140 degrees. @hot rod has done this he would have more specifics.
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Posts: 716Member
    Just remember, if you decide to convert a radiator by installing a heating element in it, you WILL need a relief valve installed on it also.
    Rick
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,213Member

    Just remember, if you decide to convert a radiator by installing a heating element in it, you WILL need a relief valve installed on it also.
    Rick

    I believe EcoRad does this. Good point though Rick
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • catia1313catia1313 Posts: 35Member
    I'm not building hydronic bombs-not to worry, not gonna risk my HOI or life.
    I was talking about purchasing Ecorad's electric converted cast iron units.

    I think I'm probably over that idea now anyway, for the time being.

    Anyway, please look at the pics I posted above-are those HW rads or steam rads--I need to know! Cuz I might just buy them if they are HW.
    "The Universe Always Conspires to Help the Dreamer"
    -Paulo Coelho
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Posts: 716Member
    There are no steam systems here, so I am not sure. But I believe from looking at them that they would work for hot water. But as I said, not positive about them.
    Rick
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 8,426Member
    edited August 2017
    It's possible to build your own electric element conversion.

    Although not pretty Chromolox, Wattco, Hatco and others sell all sorts of immersion element assemblies. Chose a thread size, wattage and voltage. Screw it in and wire it up.

    If you don't mind shopping from the UK online, there are all sorts of conversion elements, some even are dual fuel. You may need to do some thread adaption, most stuff like this is metric.

    I've electrified a few cast type and custom radiators with a screw in element and setpoint control, depends on how comfortable you are with DIYer projects :)

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • GordyGordy Posts: 7,989Member
    Expansion should not be a problem if you fill the rad 3/4 full as @Harvey Ramer noted. There were some hot water systems of old that did not have an expansion tank, and used the rads as the expansion tank in that way.
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