Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.

If you've found help here, check back in to let us know how everything worked out.
It's a great way to thank those who helped you.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Any advise on a brand new from the ground up steam heating system

KCDKCD Member Posts: 3
Hi all, first I cant say enough good things about Dan's book on the lost art of steam heating. I've learned so much already. Bottom line on top, I'm building a new home that's off grid and I decided I wanted standing pilot propane fired steam for heat. rational is no electricity at all to run it. Any feedback or advise would be appreciated.

The building is on a slab with two more floors above it. The slab floor will not be heated with steam. the second floor 26 x 34 and the 3rd floor 16 x 32 will be heated with steam. I'm in heating zone 5 but for insulation I'm planning on R60 in the ceiling and R30 in the walls. that said I plan on a 45 Factor so aprox 62820 BTU's heat load.
I have 10ft ceilings between the slab and the first floor so plenty of room for all the min A and B dimensions and pitching pipes.

I'm planning a one pipe system in which the condensate flows with the steam. I also plan to drip my 3rd floor riser as well as all the risers to each radiator. For venting I'm planning a T at the top of each radiator riser with a vent, vents on the radiators, and a main vent at the end of each main. I am planning on using the tables in Dan's book for sizing the main, branches, and risers ect, but my question comes in when I get to the end of my main feed run if its at the far end of the building from the boiler, can I tie it into the last dripped riser provided I'm using a water seal at the end of the dripped return line or do I need to bring it back separately to the boiler? I think if I seal the dripped returns into a wet return that steam will never go into the dripped return piping. I don't see many drawing examples online of one pipe steam piping that use dripped risers as a standard under each radiator. Is there a reason why? I like the idea of never having condensate run in the opposite direction or even the idea of having condensate flow in the same direction as the steam if it does not have to. Obviously there will be some during start up but I'm talking about steady state running.

Any advise on what to look out for, the better brands steam boilers, standing pilot LP valve, or controls to select? I was hoping for a boiler that had multiple feed taps but I don't know if I will find one that small with two.

Any advise on safety control devices that are mili-volt rated? I looked as some specs on low water cut offs but didn't find any that were approved to run with thermal-pile voltage ratings.

Any advise on brands of piping insulation?

thanks
KCD

Comments

  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 350
    If you're going to drip every riser for every radiator, then you might as well do a two pipe system, in my opinion. Same piping, but with better control.

    I'd also recommend not to buy new modern radiators. Get refurbished old radiators that were originally made for steam. The newer modern radiators have smaller internal spaces and don't heat up as uniformly.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,435
    Go big! Look up vapour systems in the Lost Art. Use steam mains, vent them into your dry returns with crossover traps. Have them slope away from the boiler. Place a drip from both the steam main(s) and the dry return(s) at the far ends into wet return(s) -- which can be copper if that's easier. Feed each radiator with independent risers and returns (you'll need traps on the returns).

    You'll be able to control the radiators with the inlet valves to get just the balance you want.

    Be very careful sizing the boiler. Do NOT oversize. Pressure control -- as well as low water cutoff -- is required. I doubt that you'll find that available for millivolt systems, however with a small battery -- charged from a solar panel, perhaps -- you should be able to run normal 24 volt controls and control the gas valve with a relay.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    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 Member Posts: 6,178
    Of course a heat loss calc for each room would be the first thing.

    I would sure consider the 2 pipe system. Smaller pipe to deal with. (Think of dealing with 1" verses 2" for example) No rad air vents to dance with or worse pass water into your living area. Copper could be used for dry returns. And your concern of counter flow would be lessened. All radiator condensate would be returning in it's own pipe. The main would have to only pass what condensed on it's way to the rads.

    I would consider no rad traps. Standard supply valves with an orifice in the valve union. (think 8 dollar orifice verses 50 dollar trap.) Sized for less than 80% of needed rad edr at low pressure. You enlarge the hole with a drill bit as needed No trap elements to fail. You still have some control with the steam supply valve. CI radiators could be oversized....the orifice would only heat what you need. The rest of the CI rad is simply part of the return system. Smaller rads to match your heat loss may be hard to obtain.
    Old steam systems were often over radiated. (remember leave the windows open for fresh air avoiding the Spanish Flu).
    So you are most likely looking for quite small radiators. That orifice system allows you to physically oversize the rads.

    I believe you can obtain millivolt/powerpile gas valves and tstats.
    And I think the old school float type LWCO has electric switches that would handle millivolts.
    Your factory boiler will come with 24 volt componets you would have to change over to the millivolt/powerpile system. Unless you wanted to provide battery/UPS power for this.

    Somewhere here someone has come up with a "mini-steam" system using copper tubing for supply. Runs at a higher pressure. Was part of a somewhat experiment.
    Hopefully some Wallie will chime in with that source.

    Where are you located?



  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,351
    JUGHNE said:

    Of course a heat loss calc for each room would be the first thing.


    This!
    JUGHNE said:

    Somewhere here someone has come up with a "mini-steam" system using copper tubing for supply. Runs at a higher pressure. Was part of a somewhat experiment.
    Hopefully some Wallie will chime in with that source.

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/131555/new-steam-mini-tube-system-installed-in-my-own-house-iron-fireman-style

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/151994/new-steam-mini-tube-installation-in-ohio
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Larry WeingartenLarry Weingarten Member Posts: 1,608
    Hello, Not to sidetrack things here, but I built off grid and made a gravity hot water system that uses no power as I wanted to keep electrical demand low. The emitters are finned copper tube in the walls. It's driven by solar. If you start with an exceptionally snug envelope, it would help a lot. Still, it depends on where you are. what I did works in California, but likely wouldn't fly in Alaska.

    Yours, Larry
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    2 pipe vapor system. Insulated the pipe well and only allow 10-15 pickup or go with a 2 stage gas valve. Size radiators for 10-20%!above design heat loss.

    Radiators act as thermal mass storage so you want just a little extra so they still heat well between cycles but not so big it overshoots. Size a little bigger on rooms with exterior doors. Or even better place a panel wall radiator in a mud room or next to the door.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 10,239
    I've always wanted to build a 100% brazed copper and brass steam system and pull a vacuum on it to remove all air. Then add water to get the desired performance. Treat it like a refrigeration system.

    I've always pictured such a thing working like multiple heat pipes.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pipe


    I don't know if it's ever been done, but I figured I'd throw it on the table.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    > @ChrisJ said:
    > I've always wanted to build a 100% brazed copper and brass steam system and pull a vacuum on it to remove all air. Then add water to get the desired performance. Treat it like a refrigeration system.
    >
    > I've always pictured such a thing working like multiple heat pipes.
    > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pipe
    >
    >
    > I don't know if it's ever been done, but I figured I'd throw it on the table.

    I thought about that, but just like a low pressure chiller like Trane centrifugal on R123, any leaks cause non condensables (air). You’d also want to possibly use orifices to meter in water and boil at the radiator. Could work. But any leaks and like a refrigeration system, it’s done. Every union or valve is a potential leak.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 10,239
    mikeg2015 said:

    > @ChrisJ said:

    > I've always wanted to build a 100% brazed copper and brass steam system and pull a vacuum on it to remove all air. Then add water to get the desired performance. Treat it like a refrigeration system.

    >

    > I've always pictured such a thing working like multiple heat pipes.

    > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pipe

    >

    >

    > I don't know if it's ever been done, but I figured I'd throw it on the table.



    I thought about that, but just like a low pressure chiller like Trane centrifugal on R123, any leaks cause non condensables (air). You’d also want to possibly use orifices to meter in water and boil at the radiator. Could work. But any leaks and like a refrigeration system, it’s done. Every union or valve is a potential leak.

    It's all brazed, so no unions.
    I had not considered any valves either. I always imagined it being 100% hermetic.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,133
    At that point, would you have your discussions in Strictly Steam, or A-C, Heat Pumps & Refrigeration?
  • KCDKCD Member Posts: 3
    thanks for all the responses. I do appreciate everyone's input. I'm located in Central Maine, about an hour North of Bangor. I've already acquired a lot of american radiator ornament radiators that I collected for this project. I like the idea of using orifices but I don't think all of my rads have bungs on both sides so if I go two pipe i'll need some different rads. My big concern with using steam was that I didn't want the noise that can be associated with steam systems that are problematic. that's why I leaned toward dripping all the radiator risers. I know they don't have to be noisy if put together correctly.
    I also have not yet acquired the boiler and yes I agree I'm going to need to re-outfit it with earlier style controls. I do have a solar system on site already. So I could use some of the power i make. The issue is if I'm away for any time (week or more) and the system needs power it will tax the battery bank to the point of murdering them if I'm not there to get the snow off the solar panels. With that in mind my only choice is standing pilot which I think means no option for a two stage valve. I've looked around and have not found one, if anyone knows of a two stage standing pilot valve please send the link along. I am going to kick around the idea of a two pipe system using orifices. thanks again
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 10,239
    KCD said:

    thanks for all the responses. I do appreciate everyone's input. I'm located in Central Maine, about an hour North of Bangor. I've already acquired a lot of american radiator ornament radiators that I collected for this project. I like the idea of using orifices but I don't think all of my rads have bungs on both sides so if I go two pipe i'll need some different rads. My big concern with using steam was that I didn't want the noise that can be associated with steam systems that are problematic. that's why I leaned toward dripping all the radiator risers. I know they don't have to be noisy if put together correctly.
    I also have not yet acquired the boiler and yes I agree I'm going to need to re-outfit it with earlier style controls. I do have a solar system on site already. So I could use some of the power i make. The issue is if I'm away for any time (week or more) and the system needs power it will tax the battery bank to the point of murdering them if I'm not there to get the snow off the solar panels. With that in mind my only choice is standing pilot which I think means no option for a two stage valve. I've looked around and have not found one, if anyone knows of a two stage standing pilot valve please send the link along. I am going to kick around the idea of a two pipe system using orifices. thanks again

    If it makes you feel any better, I have a typical single pipe system and the only noise anyone ever hears is the gas valve clicking.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    My one pipe is silent. Only noise is a couple short, fat universal radiators that heat too fast across the top and the vents whistle sometimes. The steam only radiator work much better and are silent.

    My system is 112 years old and a vapor system. 3” header with only a 200k boiler, and runs at (0.5oz). I need to hook up a manometer some time to get an actual reading. Probably run at 0.1” or less.

    Could do a Paul Air line system and allow a natural vacuum. Will get more complete radiator heating, no vents and can use copper tubing for the vent lines. System runs on a natural vacuum after each cycle. They still sell Paul vents.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,041
    Again, my main concern is that modern insulation means that 2 or 3 historic radiators could make enough heat for a very large area. You need small radiators for it to work well. Or ugh.... hot water.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 389
    Maybe if you contact MeilMclain or someone like that you can special order a boiler with a milivolt valve and thermopile. They aren't used on modern central boilers or furnaces anymore but are still common on unite heaters, console heaters, and wall and floor furnaces.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 389
    edited November 26
    There are ways you can add staging with a second simple valve after the combination valve so that is an option for a milivolt system with 2 stage fire.

    Also, the voltage and current of a 24vac system has some cleaning and arcing action that keeps contacts making good contact, you might want to look for controls where the contacts are accessible so you can clean the contacts with a business card and some contact cleaner to knock off the surface corrosion that might be a problem at the voltages the thremopile puts out.
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 463
    Another type of steam system you should consider is a single pipe with air lines.
    Instead of air vents on all the radiators, you run copper tubing to a common vent line.
    It's less expensive then running a full sized condensate return with steam traps and you get all the benefits of a 2 pipe vapor system.
    Radiators can be balanced with ball valves where you would connect vent line to radiator. They work by restricting the air leaving the radiator and that slows the steam entering the radiator.
    Only need 1 main vent.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,103
    I am not too sure about millivolt gas valves being available so that would be the first issue I would check out.

    Putting in a milli volt gas valve would probably void the boilers warranty.

    The other advise above is all good
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 427
    And you'll need a millivolt LWCO.... These have sliding contacts to keep them clean,,I've been told.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,103
    @The Steam Whisperer

    I think the MM #67 can be bought with a switch for millivolt.
  • The Steam WhispererThe Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 427
    That's right... it has its own part number
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • coelcanthcoelcanth Member Posts: 74
    will you be running the boiler on propane ?
  • KCDKCD Member Posts: 3
    yes, because of my remote location natural gas is not available. so propane is my top choice as i use it for the fridge, stove, dryer and backup lights. from the posts I've read and people I've been talking with I'm starting to lean back toward a one pipe system just to keep things simplified and they are proven to work quietly if installed right. thanks again.

Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!