converting baseboard to radiant

Old 05-24-05, 09:58 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Big Flats New York
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converting baseboard to radiant

Any help I can get on the many questions I am probably going to have would be great!!!
I am getting ready to finish my basement and have been thinking about switching my upstairs heating method (and now would be the time!). The first couple of questions are, how efficiant is radiant heat compared to base board? Second, How do I determine if my boiler is big enough for the job?
I started thinking about using radiant heat since we took out the majority of the baseboard from our kitchen to put in french doors out to our deck, and now the kitchen is a little chilly in the winter time. I was just thinking about doing it in the kitchen but our house is not that big (1144 sq feet) and thought why not try and use it for the whole up stairs? Now that the system is split into 2 zones I thought why not use one zone for the upstairs and one for the down staris and do the whole house in radiant heat?
Thats all for now, I am sure I will have a few more questions if I get any replies. Thanks in advance!!!
Old 05-25-05, 12:17 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Switching to radiant heat is a complex issue; I'm not sure from reading your post if you intend to diy; I would suggest initially you get at least 1 or 2 contractors in to evaluate the building, do a heat loss calculation & recommend several options for you to consider.

Radiant is generally more efficient than baseboard, due to outdoor reset, lower water temps & heating method, but it often depends on much higher retrofit installation costs due to the specialized equipment required; your present boiler may not be able to take the lower water temps used in radiant without condensing; if you can't do "staple-up" under the existing floorboards, you would have to pour gypcrete or do a ceiling installation.

The specialized controls, manifolds, pumps, often a new boiler, & PEX piping arrangement & installation would be difficult for a diy'r if you have no previous experience in these items; the most efficient installations rely on burying the tubing in poured concrete or gypcrete slabs, which require expertise to prevent future problems with freeze-ups, etc.

Nevertheless, radiant is a rapidly growing part of the heating industry, especially in new housing in the colder parts of the U.S. (it has always been popular in Europe).

For more info, visit your public library for the book by John Siegenthaler, "Modern Hydronic Heating", 2nd edition; you can also Google several articles by this author with the titles: "A Little Floor Warming Please", "The Plain Vanilla System", "Underfloor Installation Offers a Retrofit Solution","A Signature System", "Dashed Expectations","Eatherton on Hydronics","Da Fundamentals".

After reading each article, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to access additional related articles on radiant.

Another option in your case would be to consider installing high output baseboard in the kitchen, or cast iron baseboard, which would provide more heating output on a sustained basis.

Below are several sites on radiant.

Last edited by Chimney Cricket; 05-25-05 at 12:50 AM.

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