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Thoughts on 6-Story Research Facility - Hydronic to Electric Radiator Conversion

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dko
dko Member Posts: 643
edited June 2023 in THE MAIN WALL
Got an e-mail today to quote Runtal electric baseboards.

Background: Multiple flood incidents last year believed to be caused by frozen fin-tube radiator piping. Building commissioned A/E firms for feasibility studies to provide potential solutions and to mitigate future issues. Building opted for the electric baseboard option.

I was not provided the feasibility studies, so no insight on what the other potential solutions were.

Scope of work:
Remove all hydronic radiators, cut and cap existing piping behind wall.

Replace all existing Runtal R2F-2 Radiators 30" Length (Entering/Leaving Water Temperature 200F/170F) Capacity 3,470 BTUH per radiator

With Runtal EBP Radiators 36" Length - 1500 BTUH

There are 420 radiators.

Laid out against the outer perimeter of the building stories like below


They specified the model of the radiator, then wrote the electric baseboards should match the existing heat output of the existing hydronic radiators. Which they do not.

What are your thoughts on a commercial 6-story building converting to full electric baseboards?

This project is cost driven, and the Contractor shall design the new system to minimize costs to the fullest extent possible. This is a 20+-year-old building that was designed
around hydronic fin tube radiators, and we do not want or expect a costly design that attempts to create "new-facility" infrastructure or appearance. We expect a simple, safe, functional, reliable system that provides a professional appearance.


Would going full electric really be minimizing costs?
Radiator piping probably freezing because they turned off loops in areas that weren't occupied but are sitting against the outside wall.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,640
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    Depends on where you are and the electricity rates. In most parts of the country, the electric is going to cost more to run. In some parts (the northeast) it's going to cost a LOT more to run.

    The red flag to me is the idea of replacing the fin tubes with equivalent length electrics. If that came from the consultant, it tells me that they have no clue what they are doing and should find another job.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Mad Dog_2dkoleonzbburd
  • dko
    dko Member Posts: 643
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    Found some info on the building itself
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
    edited June 2023
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    Are they ready to make lots of openings in the walls? (Lead Paint? Asbestos in the plaster, floor tiles?) Ceilings? Are they prepared to totally upgrade the Building's Wiring? The Service, Weatherhead and Panels?  Big big bucks $$$$ Alot of holes to repair too!  Then there's repainting.  What are the Kilowatt per hour rates in the area? Why would one condemn a proven hydronic technique and system JUST because, there were a few leak?  That's an insulation or draft problem...The envelope is too loosy-goosey...Put your $$ in to fixing that first..Otherwise, you'll be heating the outdoors with that electric BB..too..It would save oodles of $$$ adding Glycol to this system to stop freezing 🥶 and broken pipes and thus floods.  I think this is throwing the baby 👶 out with the bath water...Very silly idea....Mad Dog 🐕 
    dko
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    The few times, this has made sense, is in a Municipality the generates its own electricity and rates are extremely well below the National Average.  We have two such towns on Long 🏝 Island.  Only one town over, you will see Electric water heaters and Argo Electric baseboard throughout the town.  Electric BB is also perfect for A remote cabin or Deer 🦌 Camp for quick, trouble free heat the few times a year it gets used.  Public bathrooms 🚻 in a State Park so the pipes don't freeze.  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,105
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    This was new in 2001, the metrics for the building give the heating plant at over 12,000MBTU IIUC.

    They should go for constant circulation of heating water.

    The baseboard heat idea is insane.

    As Jamie said the consultant "has no clue".....is this time for the quote: "Run, Forest, Run"?
    Mad Dog_2
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
    edited June 2023
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    dko said:

    Got an e-mail today to quote Runtal electric baseboards.

    Background: Multiple flood incidents last year believed to be caused by frozen fin-tube radiator piping. Building commissioned A/E firms for feasibility studies to provide potential solutions and to mitigate future issues. Building opted for the electric baseboard option.

    I was not provided the feasibility studies, so no insight on what the other potential solutions were.

    Scope of work:
    Remove all hydronic radiators, cut and cap existing piping behind wall.

    Replace all existing Runtal R2F-2 Radiators 30" Length (Entering/Leaving Water Temperature 200F/170F) Capacity 3,470 BTUH per radiator

    With Runtal EBP Radiators 36" Length - 1500 BTUH

    There are 420 radiators.

    Laid out against the outer perimeter of the building stories like below


    They specified the model of the radiator, then wrote the electric baseboards should match the existing heat output of the existing hydronic radiators. Which they do not.

    What are your thoughts on a commercial 6-story building converting to full electric baseboards?

    This project is cost driven, and the Contractor shall design the new system to minimize costs to the fullest extent possible. This is a 20+-year-old building that was designed
    around hydronic fin tube radiators, and we do not want or expect a costly design that attempts to create "new-facility" infrastructure or appearance. We expect a simple, safe, functional, reliable system that provides a professional appearance.


    Would going full electric really be minimizing costs?
    Radiator piping probably freezing because they turned off loops in areas that weren't occupied but are sitting against the outside wall.

    -================================================================


    AH; the government spending my tax money.

    Speaking solely as a layperson:

    Looking at this buildings overhead view as a "layperson" the building a perfect candidate for overhead single pipe steam heat from top to bottom.





  • FStephenMasek
    FStephenMasek Member Posts: 88
    edited June 2023
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    I see the information referenced above indicates that it was built in 2001. If that is correct (built, not remodeled), asbestos and lead should not be an issue. However, asbestos is still legal in some materials, and lead paint is still legal for industrial uses. If you are to cut and cap pipes behind the walls, you need to demand proper asbestos and lead surveys. They can give them to you ahead of time, or you can hire a consultant after you win the bid, then present them with a change order to deal with any asbestos and lead which needs to be disturbed. Just be sure not to disturb anything before you have proper surveys done by a good consultant. Of course, this will require a great deal of electrical work, so that contractor has the same issues to deal with.

    Of course, cubic money will be spent to run this bizarre new heating system......
    Author of Illustrated Practical Asbestos: For Consultants, Contractors, Property Managers & Regulators
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
    edited June 2023
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    22 years ago.
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
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    https://orf.od.nih.gov/AboutORF/BFM/Pages/50Beth.aspx
    "Building 50, the Louis Stokes Laboratories, is a six-story facility designed specifically around the needs of the NIH intramural research community. It was completed in 2001. The building has research "neighborhoods," open-plan modules that allow workstations to be located in direct proximity to lab benches and next to exterior windows for maximum exposure to natural light. The facility has won awards for its energy efficient design."
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
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    Maybe they plan to have Heat Pumps do the primary space heating (the building must have AC), and the electric BB is just a backup and for really cold days. On very cold days heat pumps are not that much more efficient than electric resistance.