Oil/Steam radiator conversion to gas/hot water baseboard

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Old 10-04-11, 10:16 AM
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Oil/Steam radiator conversion to gas/hot water baseboard

Hi All - My husband and I are considering a conversion of our oil fired steam furnace with a gas system using hot water and baseboard. We have a two story house with a finished attic that is currently unheated. The first and second floor are heated with steam radiators.

Pros (in my mind):
- regaining space taken up by the radiators
- 3 zone system with heat in the attic space

Cons
- cost. This will cost more than double that of a simple gas conversion using the existing steam radiators (we already have gas in the house)
- aesthetics. I'm not in love with the look of baseboard units and they'll run along every exterior wall
- disruption to the household. A lot more work involved and we'll need to repair a lot of walls and hardwood floor boards

Can anyone offer an insight on such a conversion? This is a 1932 colonial of about 2100 s.f. including the attic space. Its now well insulated thanks to new windows and blown in insulation in the walls. Are there factors that I haven't considered? I would appreciate any and all help with this decision. Thank you!
 
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Old 10-04-11, 03:50 PM
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If you go water, you need to do a heat loss calculation on your home to properly size the unit. If you decide steam replacement, it is sized based on the sq. ft. of EDR of the radiators.

Do you have one pipe or two pipe steam? It's possible to convert your steam radiators to water. That will save quite a bit on the conversion cost. Can you take pictures of a radiator or two and show them to us?
 
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Old 10-04-11, 05:34 PM
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Thanks - we have one pipe steam. We considered converting the radiators but I worry that running a second pipe to each radiator would be more work than the baseboard system. I believe the contractor was going to do the heat loss assessment before starting the job if we decide to do it. I definitely don't want to wind up with the wrong size unit.
 
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Old 10-04-11, 08:31 PM
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IMHO, giving up the awesome heating of good radiators for fin-tube baseboard is a huge step backward. (Speaking as one with a house full of fin-tube....)

A well-installed steam system, gas or oil, can be very efficient and very, very comfortable. For oil, check out the Burnham Megasteam. Very well regarded. 86% AFUE.

If you are really set on hot water and existing radiator conversion is not an option, you might look at steel panel radiators. They cost more than baseboard, but they come in many shapes and sizes and can be piped in a 'home-run' arrangement and could probably run both supply and return where the existing steam pipes go. That would save a bundle on labor and tearing up the place to snake a bunch of piping for baseboard. Check out Runtal, Myson, and Buderus panel radiators to get an idea.
 
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Old 10-05-11, 06:11 PM
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I think the pipe work to convert the steam rads would be the same as replacing with panels rads. Did you get a quote for converting the existing rads from steam to water? I would try to do that as best you can. They are way better than baseboard.

How many radiators are on the second floor? If your basement is unfinished, that would make running a second pipe to your radiators easy.
 
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Old 11-01-11, 06:52 PM
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steam to hot water

Stay with you existing heating system a new boiler fired with gas is cheaper to run than oil although the number of B.T.U. is not guaranteed like oil . Up grade the system with an outdoor reset control . An accurate way to size your new boiler is to use past fuel consumption records to calculate how many Btu were used on the coldest days .
 
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Old 11-01-11, 07:42 PM
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Up grade the system with an outdoor reset control
Tell us how to connect ODR to a STEAM system please...

An accurate way to size your new boiler
is to do a proper heat loss calculation.

Very very few people keep the kind of records that would be needed to do the type of calculation that you are suggesting.
 
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Old 11-01-11, 07:46 PM
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I agree that keeping what you have is best (steam) and if you decide to convert I would also choose to keep the old radiators. One reason is they are more radiant heat then convection which helps save fuel. Baseboard fin & tube is all convection which raises the heat loss slightly but decreases comfort and can be noisy dependent on design temps.
If you decide to keep the steam system you can use a heat exchanger for the third floor heat off the boiler and utilize hot water baseboard.
Look at this link for hints on improving steam system efficiency.
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