Q's about converting from electric baseboard to hydronic floor heat.

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Old 10-23-12, 11:29 AM
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Q's about converting from electric baseboard to hydronic floor heat.

So I bought a home (near Denver, Co) and it currently uses 3 types of heating. Electric baseboard, wood fire, and pellet stove. There is no gas going to the house (I'll be looking into the cost of running a gas line). 95% of the heating comes from my pellet stove, I only use the wood fireplace when I want to sit by a fire. The electric baseboards are set to 45f just in case my pellet stove happens to go out when it's cold enough out to freeze pipes... so they never actually run.
I'm thinking about installing hydronic heating throughout the whole house and just using the pellet stove as supplemental heating. My main issue is that I'd have to use an electric boiler, and I'm wondering how efficient it might be. The main reason for this consideration is that sufficiently heating the upstairs bedrooms and formal living room/kitchen is iffy. I have to get the main living room up to about 80 in order to get the bedrooms up to about 70. And it take quite a while to do that. Plus when I decide to sell the home, electric baseboard heat is a turn off (I almost didn't buy the house because of it).

The layout of my house is a tri-level. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath upstairs. Formal living room and kitchen with vaulted ceilings and wood fireplace on entrance level. Main living room, 1 bed, and 1 bath on lower (split level) with pellet fire place. The insulation is really good and all windows are triple pane, I haven't done a heat loss calc yet though. 1600sqft with 550sqft basement. Sitting on slab. All carpeted besides the formal living room/kitchen, which is hardwood. If I go hydronic, i'll be hardwood flooring the rest of the house.

Does this sound like a bad idea? Any other thoughts?
 
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Old 10-23-12, 03:36 PM
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My main issue is that I'd have to use an electric boiler, and I'm wondering how efficient it might be.
An electric boiler is 100% efficient (there is no chimney for exhaust heat to go up). But the cost of electricity is normally the highest on a Btu basis (3414 Btu = 1 kWhr).
 
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Old 10-23-12, 03:43 PM
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My main issue is that I'd have to use an electric boiler, and I'm wondering how efficient it might be.
Electric heat is for all intents 100% efficient. You get all the BTUs that you pay for to heat the home. What you should really ask is how EXPENSIVE it will be to run! Depending on the electric rates in your area and the fuel they use to generate that electricity, you might be looking at something that's very expensive to run, and gets more exspendive every year.

electric baseboard heat is a turn off
And you don't think an electric boiler would be the same?

We normally refer to 'hydronic floor heat' as 'radiant heating'... and make sure you understand the limitations of radiant floor heat before you commit to a project! You may, or may not, be able to match the heat loss of the home with the heat output achievable by a radiant floor system.

Please do ALL of the homework before you start!

Do you have access to the bottom of all the floors? or are you planning some other installation strategy? Radiant floor is not that easy to retrofit into an existing home.
 
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Old 10-24-12, 07:25 AM
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Thanks for the replies.
Normal rate for electricity around here is just under 10 cents per kwh and off peak hours is just under 5 cents per kwh. I referred to it as hydronic so that it wouldn't be confused with laying electric mat under the floors, which is also radiant heating... but considering I'm talking about using a boiler, I guess it's implied. I do have access to the bottom of all of the floors except for the downstairs living room/bedroom which are on a slab.
I guess I was thinking that while both are converting 100% of the energy into heat, that the distribution of the heat would be better with radiant floor heating vs the baseboards and thus be more efficient (considering the vaulted ceiling). Now that I'm thinking about it, electric mat would be just as efficient as hydronic or baseboard. So really I'm talking about spending a ton of money for no upgrade in heating quality at all.
I really didn't take into consideration that an electric boiler would also be a negative on resale... and you're absolutely right. I'm guessing (no heat calcs yet) that I'm looking at 36,000 btu's to heat my house (that's what my pellet stove puts out). So that works out to around 1 dollar an hour for normal and 50 cents an hour off peak to heat using electricity. That is gonna be one crazy electric bill. I guess I'm going to look into getting gas to my house first.
Thanks again for the replies, got my brain to actually fire a bit and think.
 
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