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Best way to add cooling to existing hydronic

Bambamvan Member Posts: 2
I have a 30 year old house with a hydronic baseboard heaters on 3 levels. I have a high efficiency (96%) boiler which I installed about 7 years ago. Now I want to add cooling as it gets very hot on the top 2 floors and summers are getting hotter. We live in Vancouver so winter's are mild. Should I get a mini split air con or just spend a little more for mini-split heat pump and just not use the baseboards? Are there any other options to retrofit my system?

Thanks for any advice.


  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,027
    Minisplit is a very confusing term nowadays, so I like to clarify. I assume you’re asking about ductless AC vs ductless HP. There’s sometimes a small difference in cost between AC and HP equipment cost, but it’s usually lost in the noise. You can replace with ductless HP. I’d recommend trying to duct as much of the house as possible though - much better long term in terms of filters, replacement, backup heat, etc. What happens often in old houses is a mix - some ducted and some ductless units. They can be attached to the same outdoor unit or have multiple, smaller outdoor units. A good pro can make the right equipment selection and sizing decisions. Connecting a bunch of ductless heads to one outdoor unit should be the last resort as they’re almost certain to be oversized which leads to poor performance. 
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,170
    Ductless heat pump(s)

    You can cool with them and use them for heat in the spring and fall. Use the boiler in the winter when the heat pumps can't keep up. Below 25-30 degrees
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,915
    I suggest air handler/evaporator in attic if you have one.
    In Vancouver you do not need A/C often so you do not need particularly effective A/C.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,027
    @EBEBRATT-Ed ha come on now. Mine works well below 25. Coldest I’ve seen was 10 f, no issues. 
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 713
    I'm with jumper on this one. separate air handler in attic for cooling. No ugly heads on the wall. Nice hydronic warm heat in the winter. Not cool dry air across your body.
  • Bambamvan
    Bambamvan Member Posts: 2
    edited August 2022
    Thanks for all the comments! Yes I was considering ductless AC or HP. This summer (which is a typical summer) temperatures reached 30C/86F on my top floor and last year during the heat dome they hit 35C/95F. Even with heating off in the winter the house won't go below 15C so I'm not too worried about it getting cold (though it can get to -10C/14F outside).

    It sounds like it is more cost effective to use a HP and stop using the hydronic altogether. I think it would be very difficult to add ducts through the house without taking walls apart so this doesn't appeal unless I am missing something.

    I have attic space which just has blown insulation in it. I am not familiar with air handler/evaporator performance and if it would work on it's own? How do the costs compare? Must I have to have an AH with a HP?

    I've also considered buying 2 x 14000 BTU portable AC units for the top 2 floors, as it may be the cheapest and quickest option...