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Is a steam system less efficient than hot water?

Comments

  • Reinvent
    Reinvent Member Posts: 43
    Is steam less eficient than hot water?

    A plumber tells me he only installs hot water systems because they are more eficient than steam boilers. He says this is because it takes far more energy to raise the temp of water to the boiling point. But then it ocured to me that a hot water system has a larger volume/mass of water that needs to be brought up to temp. Everything else being equal, is one more eficient than the other?
  • Thad English
    Thad English Member Posts: 152
    true...

    and steam is so elegant in its simplicity.

    Both are better than forced air.
  • Fred Harwood
    Fred Harwood Member Posts: 261
    Efficiency

    Ahhh! But the simplicity, the warmth of those humble cast iron radiators that get mysteriously warmer as winter deepens. No pump, no circulator, no intricate electronic controls, just the burner cycling three or four times an hour. How much does peace of mind, freedom to put the bureau against almost any wall, and comfort cost? Merry Christmas, everyone.
  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317
    Hot water

    While steam can be made to work it still needs to steam and there's a fuel use reason the heating systems by the big V german co. are hot water. How many condensing steam boilers out there? How many steam boilers vented with PVC. If you burn fuel and the stack temp is 92 degrees there is VERY little wasted heat. Oh and did we talk about steam floor warming or steam as a DHW maker? Steam can be made to work pretty well but it's yesterdays technology as far as home heating. Merry Christmass
  • J.C.A._3
    J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981
    Pooh-Pooh them if you want....

    I still have a warm place in my heart and memory for a "nice steamer". Properly piped, as most systems go, they will out perform a conversion and have all the right sounds.

    Depending on the building, (there it is again...Why do they call them buildings ? They're already built!) it could STILL be the least expensive way to heat it, as opposed to the most effecient.

    I guess I'm saying that water is definately the better medium, if your looking for "total effeciency", but depending on how long you plan to live in the BUILT, the cost of conversion and the historic changes to the property, in most cases steam will be the more "cost effective" approach. JMHO....

    Give that plumber a nice Christmas gift. Go to the Books and more" section and start him out slowly. Get him a copy of "We Got Steam". Maybe it'll make him think a bit more. Chris
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    They're pretty close

    assuming the boilers are similar and both systems are in good condition and well insulated. And a steam system won't freeze up like hot-water can.

    Keep your steam. I would.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Darin Cook_3
    Darin Cook_3 Member Posts: 389
    Steam still has its place

    Steam is a "old fashioned" way of heating. Next to nothing being installed in the way of residential steam heat unless you are Mad Dog Sweeney. That being said, if you have a existing steam system it is most definetly cost effective to fix it and maintain it. The best AFUE rating on a new steam boiler you can hope to get is about 82%. I know all about the bogus AFUE rating so don't break my stones. But since most systems and their piping are heavily insulated the systems efficiency is very high. Nothing beats the feel of that hot cast iron radiator on a cold winters day. If you have a properly operating system it will be dead quiet. Keep your steam if you have it. Believe me this advice is coming from a guy who is 100% pro hot water heating.





    Darin
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    \"Next to nothing being installed\"

    "in the way of residential steam heat unless you are Mad Dog Sweeney"?!?

    Try Ed Bratton,

    Or Dan Foley,

    Or Noel Murdough,

    Or Steamhead,

    Or anyone else I forgot who has installed steam from scratch!

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Darin Cook_3
    Darin Cook_3 Member Posts: 389
    Sorry Mr. Steamhead

    I forgot about you other steam freakies. I beg forgiveness.







    Darin
  • Steve_35
    Steve_35 Member Posts: 546
    I would say...it depends.

    Steam systems can be about as efficient as hot water systems when heat is needed pretty much all the time. It should be more costly to operate a steam system in more moderate temperatures (spring and fall) since you always have to make steam to get heat. You do pay for that phase change.
  • Dean_7
    Dean_7 Member Posts: 192
    steam

    I am a homeowner and have steam heat. I restored the system last Feb. Sinc then my gas bills have been about 75% less than last year and Dec. 2004 bill was $50.05.I live in northwest lower Michigan about two blocks away from Lake Michigan and it's been about 8 degrees the last week with about two feet of snow. How much more efficient do you want.Just because it's older technology doesn't mean it's bad technology. Just look at the Wheel.
  • Fred Harwood
    Fred Harwood Member Posts: 261
    Phase change

    But isn't that the point of steam? The phase change of water to steam, and then getting it all back again in the radiators is what makes low-pressure steam a dream. No extensive baseboards, no pumping (away or any way), no failed expansion tank bladders, no sagging B&Gs, no sympathetic rattles from convectors, no velocity noise, just more warmth as the winter comes on. But then I'm a steam junky and in awe of those Dead Men (and of Dan for bringing them back to life).
  • Steve_35
    Steve_35 Member Posts: 546
    I'm not arguing the merits of HW

    > But isn't that the point of steam? The phase

    > change of water to steam, and then getting it all

    > back again in the radiators is what makes

    > low-pressure steam a dream. No extensive

    > baseboards, no pumping (away or any way), no

    > failed expansion tank bladders, no sagging B&Gs,

    > no sympathetic rattles from convectors, no

    > velocity noise, just more warmth as the winter

    > comes on. But then I'm a steam junky and in awe

    > of those Dead Men (and of Dan for bringing them

    > back to life).



  • Steve_35
    Steve_35 Member Posts: 546
    I'm not arguing the merits of HW

    over steam or vice versa. Just saying the phase change uses energy that's not used by a HW system in more moderate termperatures. When the systems are running most of the time a properly installed steam system should be about as efficient as a properly installed HW system.

    BTW, I'm not 100% sure but I think there may be some around that might just possibly argue HW radiant has all of the benefits of steam and then some. :)

    And, FWIW, I just attended Dan's last steam seminar because I want to learn more about working with steam systems. It is truely amazing what the Dead Men did a hundred years ago.
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