Zone Control for boilers


Old 04-19-13, 12:04 PM
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Zone Control for boilers

I am in the early stages of planning for building a home and am considering hot water heat. This is going to be "The House", one that we hope to live in the rest of our lives. Our family is still growing, and we need something big enough for hosting holidays in the future. However, 40-50 years from now, we won't need all that space.

I assume certain parts of the house can be shut off from heat if not in use? Or, if certain parts of the house face the sun and need less heat? Let's say 40 years from now I no longer use certain rooms, I assume I can shut the heat off to those rooms indefinitely?

In those situations where I wanted to shut off...say, most of the house and live out of just a couple of rooms, how important will it be, from an energy efficiency standpoint as well as a comfort standpoint, to seal off the heated rooms from the rest of the house. Since it is radiant heat, is it as important as forced air?
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Old 04-19-13, 01:07 PM
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You do like to plan ahead, don't you?

Let's start by saying what you DON'T want to do...

You don't want to break the system up into a myriad of 'too small' zones. In other words, a thermostat in each room. This can lead to the boiler 'short cycling' due to the fact that if only one zone calls for heat, there may not be enough of a heat load to allow for a reasonable minimum 'burn time' of the boiler. Short cycles can be damaging in various ways to the equipment.

You don't want to shut the rooms off completely. Unless you run an anti-freeze solution (which is sometimes done), you would run the risk of freezing the rooms that are turned off.

Remember too that a boiler installed today will probably need replacement in 25 some odd years... so at some point in the future you may be able to re-assess your conditions when choosing a new boiler.

Investigate what are called 'modulating-condensing' boilers, aka 'mod/con'. They are technically more complex, may cost a bit more to maintain, but in the end may end up saving you some fuel money.

Learn about 'outdoor reset', aka 'ODR', which adjusts the boiler water temperature proportional to outdoor temps. When the weather is warmer, one does not need to run the hottest water through the system, saving some money. Mod/con boilers usually have this feature built in.

Understand that insulation and air sealing are the one thing that you do NOT want to skimp on. Air infiltration is the single biggest factor in heat loss from a home, insulation second. The quality of the build is paramount.

There's lots more... for another post...
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