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Thread: Radiant Heating

  1. #1
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    Default Radiant Heating

    Been part of the board for over a year, but haven't posted much. Looking to find out if anyone out there has installed radiant heating in their cabin.

    I'm planning on building something along the lines of a 24x24, with slab on grade. Looks fairly straightforward with something of this size. Packed gravel base, 6 mil poly vapor barrier, 2 in blue board, and wire mesh or rebar on top, before laying the PEX tubing. I'll be using propane and a waterless tank heater to run things, and the cabin will be accessible from the road system.

    Looked into a company in Vermont that specializes in this stuff, and their prices seem reasonable. http://www.radiantcompany.com/
    I was wondering if anyone has used someone local here in the state?(would rather keep the money in our economy) If so, any thoughts or suggestions on a company, things to look out for, things to avoid, etc.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
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    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Default

    We did our radiant heat ourselves. It was pretty easy and very cost effective to put it in, but on the adverse side because of the cost of heating oil, it is one darn expensive amenity. Trust me. If you can't afford to have the radiant heat going consistently, then you might want to turn to a more effecient heating source such as wood stove.

    In our area of Alaska, heating oil is costing around $3 per gallon. It takes 10 gallons a day to heat our slab. When you do the math, you could see how it's not all that cost effective.
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  3. #3
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Tie it in

    If you could tie in the boiler to a woodstove, where the woodstove is a possible fuel source then it might be worth it. I know they make a wood/oil fired boiler, saw one back in the 70's. It is even possible to use a baseboard system tied into a woodstove to heat the liquid.

    Myself = multiple systems. I have a Monitor (oil), gas and wood.

    http://mainewoodfurnaces.com/
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 01-04-2008 at 15:19. Reason: Added link

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Radiant heat

    Mikes Welding in Sterling built a camper for his truck over the last two years or so. He put radiant heat in the floor of his camper. He ran the Pex tubing in grooves he cut into 2 inch blue board. he used a router bit so the tubing fit nice and tight. He put aluminum diamond plate over the imbedded tubed floor. He attached the floor tubing to his truck radiator heating system. While he travels down the road, he just opens a valve so the glycol flows thru the floor and back to the engine to be reheated.
    He has a manifold of valves so he can shut it off and control it from the engine. when parked, he has a propane hot water heater that takes over the chore of heating the glycol. he can keep his vehicle engine warm with this process too. He uses this camper in the winter time mostly, and made it into a toy hauler so he can put a snowmobile in the camper part during travel rather than have a tow behind trailer. The whole camper is Aluminum, with sandwich'd blue board for insulation.
    It is quite a creative unit for sure,,
    Fixing something up for your cabin would be no different.. be creative and think outside the box,, when someone says,, " Naw that won't work"
    just smile and go find someone with a little more creative mind for advice.
    I was over at a local HVAC business last year talking about such ideas, and within the group of employees I talked to,,I could see some were creative thinkers, and some were not...
    I bought a propane on demand hot water heater that I was going to use on one of my cabins for radiant heat, and got told "not to do it" by one guy, and then told by anouther that "Yah,, Lets figure something out".
    you gotta just do stuff sometimes..
    Max
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  5. #5

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    I have radiant heat in my house and in my detached garage. Your on demand hot water heater will work fine for a cabin of 24X24. I have seen it done.

    The downside is that radiant heat in a slab like that is supposed to be on all the time. It takes a long time to heat up that slab...it's a big heat sink. But once it's heated it is efficient to keep warm.

    So if you are planning to keep the heat on all the time go for it. If not, you might think of another way to do it.

    I like the idea of running the tubes in the blueboard with very little between the blue board and the floor surface. You would immediately put the heat out into the living area that way.
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    Member rlcofmn's Avatar
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    Default

    my parents house has what is called warm board and the pipes lay in groves right below the flooring and it does have faster recovery the only down side to this type of system is you can hear them expand and contract every time the system is heating. I have installed alot of radiant in floor systems and there is no perfect answer for the recovery time but that is nothing you cant take care of with a fireplace in a cabin and you will have even a conventional system heated back up from your set back temp in no time.

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martyv View Post
    I have radiant heat in my house and in my detached garage. Your on demand hot water heater will work fine for a cabin of 24X24. I have seen it done.

    The downside is that radiant heat in a slab like that is supposed to be on all the time. It takes a long time to heat up that slab...it's a big heat sink. But once it's heated it is efficient to keep warm.

    So if you are planning to keep the heat on all the time go for it. If not, you might think of another way to do it.

    I like the idea of running the tubes in the blueboard with very little between the blue board and the floor surface. You would immediately put the heat out into the living area that way.
    I have a 48 x 32 pole building w 14 ft ceilings that is now unheated I'm thinking of using radiant as well would you recommend it if I'm not using the building everyday?

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    Default

    Thanks for all the replies guys' I appreciate it! I probably forgot to mention that this will be my primary residence, until I can build a bigger house, or add on, in future years, hence the heat will be on all the time. I got a good deal on the land, so I want to set up a cabin/house of minimal size that I can deal with, so I won't be paying rent anymore.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    If you could tie in the boiler to a woodstove, where the woodstove is a possible fuel source then it might be worth it. I know they make a wood/oil fired boiler, saw one back in the 70's. It is even possible to use a baseboard system tied into a woodstove to heat the liquid.

    Myself = multiple systems. I have a Monitor (oil), gas and wood.

    http://mainewoodfurnaces.com/
    Thanks for the info Dave. I do plan on having a wood stove also, so I agree, multiple systems/options is a good thing.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Thomas Jefferson

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default wood stove?

    I can't remember who posted it but someone posted a picture of their hotwater tank being heated by their stove. Why couldn't you put the system in and use your wood stove to heat the system? If you are there I'm sure that you are going to keep the wood burning all the time so why could you just add the floor system in as well? I'm not the greatest at manufacturing things but I would think that it could be that hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskacanoe View Post
    Mikes Welding in Sterling built a camper for his truck over the last two years or so. He put radiant heat in the floor of his camper. He ran the Pex tubing in grooves he cut into 2 inch blue board. he used a router bit so the tubing fit nice and tight. He put aluminum diamond plate over the imbedded tubed floor. He attached the floor tubing to his truck radiator heating system. While he travels down the road, he just opens a valve so the glycol flows thru the floor and back to the engine to be reheated.
    He has a manifold of valves so he can shut it off and control it from the engine. when parked, he has a propane hot water heater that takes over the chore of heating the glycol. he can keep his vehicle engine warm with this process too. He uses this camper in the winter time mostly, and made it into a toy hauler so he can put a snowmobile in the camper part during travel rather than have a tow behind trailer. The whole camper is Aluminum, with sandwich'd blue board for insulation.
    It is quite a creative unit for sure,,
    Fixing something up for your cabin would be no different.. be creative and think outside the box,, when someone says,, " Naw that won't work"
    just smile and go find someone with a little more creative mind for advice.
    I was over at a local HVAC business last year talking about such ideas, and within the group of employees I talked to,,I could see some were creative thinkers, and some were not...
    I bought a propane on demand hot water heater that I was going to use on one of my cabins for radiant heat, and got told "not to do it" by one guy, and then told by anouther that "Yah,, Lets figure something out".
    you gotta just do stuff sometimes..
    Max
    I've talked to a couple people already who seem like they are thinking outside the box as well, just have to get together to figure something out. I usually like to do things different anyway, normal is boring. Whether that's good or bad sometimes is another thing, but it sure makes life interesting.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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    Quote Originally Posted by tboehm View Post
    I can't remember who posted it but someone posted a picture of their hotwater tank being heated by their stove. Why couldn't you put the system in and use your wood stove to heat the system? If you are there I'm sure that you are going to keep the wood burning all the time so why could you just add the floor system in as well? I'm not the greatest at manufacturing things but I would think that it could be that hard.

    I've been looking into this as well. Basically the wood stove would be used to heat the water and in-floor heat. When the temperature drops below the desired setting, the propane would kick in. I'm always hot as it is, so it would have to be one of those outdoor wood burners. Just trying to minimize cost as best I can right now, while still being able to add/change things in the future.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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    Member Xanfly's Avatar
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    Cool Think Heat Exchanger

    Thinking outside of the box, I would set my system up with the On Demand water heater with as main heat source. I would then make a heat exchanger by coiling soft copper tubing around the first 2' section of stove pipe on the wood stove. Set that up so you could isolate either the water heater or heat exchanger depending on outside temp's, if i was at home or what ever the situation might be.

    Make sure you use a mixing valve to feed your heat loop to control water temp.

    I haven't seen a system like this before but I have seen it used to feed a hot water storage tank for domestic hot water.

    You could take it one step further and put an actual Plate Heat exchanger in to seperate the heating loop from the hot water loop. Then you could use the wood stove for you Domestic Hot Water.

    I am sure you could come up with a few more ways to tweak it to make it better. Any ideas on that guys?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by jkb View Post
    I have a 48 x 32 pole building w 14 ft ceilings that is now unheated I'm thinking of using radiant as well would you recommend it if I'm not using the building everyday?
    Sure, I think it would work fine as long as you don't mind leaving the heat on constantly.

    Radiant heat is not something that you turn down and up again. It can take days to heat up the slab, and also takes days to cool it down. So you set the thermostat where you want it and leave it.

    If you already have a slab in your garage, you will have to pour another one over the top...
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    Forum Sponsor BHMStaff's Avatar
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    Post

    This article might have some information you can use:

    Radiant Floor Heating by Michael Hackleman


    Oliver

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for the link Oliver.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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    Water is 1600 times more effective at delivering heat than air. The biggest reason is mass/density. Laying in the manner described for the truck/camper would not work as well for for a home. Install into your slab on grade to take advantage of it's mass.

    There have been discussions about efficency. There are 2 types mechanical and cost. Mechanicaly the radiant heat is superrior to most other types of heat. The cost comes in in how creative you are for heating the water. I think a combo of the on demand hot water and a heat exchanger built into the chimny of a wood stove would probably work well. One method I have not seen here is to run a coil system through a 55 galon drum giving the water in the tubing maximum exposure while also allowing more heat exchange from the stove to the air.
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    Default Bring this back to Earth

    " Water is 1600 times more effective at delivering heat than air".

    This is an ambiguous statement if not put in a context. I cetainly don't find it anywhere in my Engineering manuals. I am not going to participate in any back and forth argument here. But I will throw out some points for concideration. First off-- go around and visit any residential or commercial jobsite and observe what type of heating unit is supplying the "temporary heat" to the structure while the mechanical workers are performing their tasks. It is never a water based system. If water is so famously effective as a medium for heat, why is this? The answer is: simplicity; the ol' K.I.S.S. principle. We live in " air ", not water, so in order to be warm we need the air around us to be warm. The simplist way is to directly warm the air around us by passing it across a hot surface. Heat exchange will take place up to a point of equilibrium. "Construction" heaters do this with either a direct energy exchange whereby the air is drawn directly over a hot flame & heat is passed onto the airstream, or indirectly by heating an exchange surface ( metal, usually) and this heats the air as it passes over the surface. This is the simplist form of heat. When we utilize water in a heating system, we actually add 1 additional medium to the equation. We use a flame to heat the metal surface ( heat exchange section ) which then heats the water, which then heats another surface ( either aluminum fin baseboard, or perhaps floors- i.e. radiant floor) which finally heats OUR air. Does adding an additional medium into the equation make it "better" heat? The answer: Yes. And No. It depends. "Comfort" has more to its equation than merely temperature.
    What is the heat actually being used to do?
    Everytime you add addtional medium into the equation, all the heat that has been generated doesn't necessarily reach the end point. That doesn't necessarily make it bad. But it needs to be concidered into the final result.
    Anyone making blanket statements about one form of heat vs. another is either not very knowledgeable on the subject, or has a built in bias with a possible axe to grind.
    Now that I've put everyone to sleep, I will state that Radiant heat is an excellent form of heat. It is a very comfortable form of heat. But as someone stated before, you better keep it on, and you better know what you're doing with it.
    I will also recommend that you NEVER use anything that will insert into your woodstove chimney pipe and utilize the heat in the flue gases, as an earlier auther aluded to, unless you consult someone who is very knowledgeable on this subject. You need to keep the flue gas temperature well above the dew point ( 212 deg ) so that water , which is a byproduct of combusting ANY fossil fuel, stays in its vapor state ( steam when above the boiling point ) and does not change back into its liquid state ( below 212 deg ) as this liquid is very acidic and will literally comsume your chimney from the inside out. Lower "stack" temperatures in wood burning appliances will produce large amounts of creosote, and if you don't know this specific threshhold, you are best to simply steer clear of this option.
    I apologize -- this turned into a lecture.
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    Thanks for your input Mr. Bill. I have been looking into another option which would require a little more investment in the short term, but have long term benefit. An outside wood furnace, made by Central Boiler, sold by a company right here in the Valley.

    I have a nice big wooded lot, that's why I'm considering it. Basically, you burn wood in an outdoor wood furnace, which is more efficient than a woodstove inside your house. It has several different settings, one of which includes a back up for another fuel. Since I've decided to go with propane(appliances and such), the furnace works on wood, until such timne the temperature drops below the desired setting, and the propane, or secondary fuels kicks in.

    I like this setup, because if you are short on wood, or go away for several days or longer, there is a backup system in place to keep the heat on while your away.

    Any thoughts on this idea? Has anyone used/has an outdoor wood furnace? Any information would be very helpful, thanks.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Thomas Jefferson

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    Default Link

    Forgot to post the link in the previous rsponse.

    http://www.frontierheatingconcepts.com/index.htm
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Thomas Jefferson

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