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Garage Heater for Basement/Freeze protection

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We have a vacation home on Cape Cod that we use Spring, Summer & Fall. Heat is electric baseboard, but not enough panels to keep the place comfortable during the coldest winter days (and $$$). We have the pipes blown out/winterized every Fall, but we would like to be able to visit during the winter (and use the bathroom after a two hour drive). There is a wood stove in the basement that keeps the upstairs comfortable while we are there. I'm considering installation of a Modine Hot Dawg in the basement to prevent freezing as an alternative to winterizing.

Basement is unfinished, approx 28'L x 30'W x 7ft high; uninsulated walls and ceiling. Walls are concrete block approx 3' below grade (4ft of exposed block above grade outside). Concrete floor slab stays fairly constant 50 deg all winter. Same dimensions upstairs (single story cape, decent insulation & windows). We have natural gas service (stove and HW).

I don't want to add electric heat in the basement. I don't want to invest in a new central HVAC system to include the basement (e.g. wife doesn't like the look of Mini-Split units inside or outside). I would like to run the Modine unit all winter to keep the house above freezing while we're away, then fire-up the wood stove when we visit. We would turn off the water while we're away (and add antifreeze to the traps?). Also, I can add some insulation to the basement walls/sill.

I'm looking at a vented Modine 30,000 or 45,000 btu garage heater. Would this work? Either unit is 12'' from top to bottom. Could this be hung from a 7ft ceiling? Has anyone done this? What will the inspector say? The other option would be a vented Rinnai heater mounted on the wall, but price is double and less btus.

Thanks,
Leo

Comments

  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,926
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    Will it work? Sure. Is it ideal? Probably not. With that said, I've got that setup in our hunting cabin which gets used 6-8 times in the fall and a few times a winter for snowmobile trips, weekend getaways, etc. The lines always get blown out and traps winterized if we're going to be gone more than a week though, as it's a 4 hour drive and if the alarm were to sound it'd be frozen by the time I got there anyway. It might be manageable for you with a WiFi stat and local technicians if the inspector would buy it. If you're only going to be there once or twice a winter I guess I'd spend the 2 hours winterizing the place and forget about heating it year-round but that's just me
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,622
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    I think that would be a good choice. It could be a bit of a head bumper.

    Possibly you could build some shelves underneath it so no one could walk into it. Just make sure to maintain any clearences shown it the install manual.
  • Leorobt64
    Leorobt64 Member Posts: 8
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    Thanks, Ed:

    The unit would be above a 24'' deep workbench. Installation manual says the bottom of the unit has to be 5' feet from the floor in residential installs. This is my main concern when dealing with the inspector -- that it will be within code at that height (assuming otherwise competent professional install with correct clearances for venting/intake outside).
    • 10. Do not install units below 7' measured from the bottom of
      the unit to the floor in commercial applications (unless
      unit is properly guarded to provide user protection from
      moving parts) and 5' measured from the bottom of the unit
      to the floor in residential application

    http://www.h-mac.com/product-catalogs/modine/Modine-HDS-HDC-Installers-Guide.pdf
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,622
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    Yeah, I don't know why they are looking for that clearance underneath. Probably need to find out why
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,573
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    A direct vent wall furnace would do the trick.
    Many will run even when power goes out.

    http://empirezoneheat.com/products/direct-vent-wall-furnaces/direct-vent-wall-furnaces/
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Leorobt64
    Leorobt64 Member Posts: 8
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    Update:
    I've run into a roadblock with venting the modine unit - the only available location for venting is not desirable: the unit would need to be located on the opposite side of the basement from the plumbing and would be hanging in a workshop where blowing sawdust would be a problem.

    Also, our 11+ year-old water heater is now showing signs of failing.

    I've been working with an installer who has proposed bringing in a Navigen Unit to handle the hot water and connecting a modine hydronic unit that would not require venting and could be placed anywhere.

    Wondering now if, in addition to handling the house hot water and the modine basement heater, would connecting the Navigen to radiant underfloor heating on the basement ceiling be a viable option? Would this heat the entire house better than the current electric heat for less operating cost? Is radiant capable of heating the house through the subfloor and original 3/8 inch wood flooring?

    In keeping with the original theme, I would like to run the modine unit as a separate zone while we're away to keep the pipes from freezing.

    I started out saying I didn't want to invest in a new central heating system, but that might make sense long term. We've spent next to nothing on the mechanicals since we bought the place 11 years ago and it might be time to upgrade. Also, my wife heard this option and can't stop talking about heated floors!

    Thanks,
    Leo

  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,926
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    Definitely a viable option. Not sure what NG prices are out there, but in my area NG and a condensing boiler costs roughly 40% of what electric does to operate. The Navien doesn't turn down nearly as low as some others and would likely cause some short cycling during the unoccupied times. Call me crazy, but I like to size the boiler for the heating load instead of the DHW load and use an indirect water heater when the scenario calls. I find very few instances where a combi can be properly sized for both, so the indirect route is usually preferred for me. With an indirect, you can also utilize that thermal storage for small zones to minimize short cycling (i.e. radiant staple up?) and maximize efficiency.