Heating System Design

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Old 12-26-13, 07:51 AM
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Heating System Design

Hello and thank you for your help in advance.

All I know about heating is what I have read here and around the Internet. I would like to do some design and work myself, and then I might hire a professional to hook the system up.

Project - I am trying to build a baseboard\radiator loop for 650 square feet of my living room. House is on the uninsulated concrete slab (cannot help with it now, 20k to make it right, it will stay uninsulated). I am located on Long Island, NY, zone 4 for heating needs. The walls will be insulated with closed cell foam, 3.5 inch thick, so R21 approximately, there is another floor above the living room. Living room is pretty big and open. I have read a lot on this forum and learnt a bit about pipe sizes, heat loss, and maximum loop size and so…

Slab is an old slab, it has copper, leaking, radiant in it. Fixing it does not make sense, doing from scratch would require to jack hammer the slab, compact the grade, insulate and redo it. It is 20k+ as I mentioned before.

I would like to use PEX for my project and RUNTAL baseboards with fins, model UF-2, 600BTU per feet and some RUNTAL wall horizontal panels as baseboard does not provide all of the required output. I need approximately 26k BTU. I was thinking about running one loop of 14ft baseboard, 3ft baseboard, 14ft baseboard and then two wall panels. However, entire loop length would be too long and this is not correct according to what I have read here… It would be still below 30k BTU though, as per Runtal recommendation.

So here are my concerns:
1. It seems that I should divide my loop into two, and supply water using parallel pipes to both loops so heat loss and loop size is smaller. Is that common practice? Do I need two separate thermostats for this later?
2. Can I use PEX for this project? I was thinking about 180F entering temp, and 160F leaving temp. I will insulate PEX so it helps a little.
3. More about it below, but what size of PEX for this project would be appropriate?
4. Runtal baseboard connector is 1/2”. Does it make sense to use 3/4” pipe size in this case? What maximum linear and BTU loop size would apply in such a situation - the one for 1/2" pipe or 3/4” pipe? Would 1/2” connector become a bottle neck for the entire loop?
5. Can I mix Runtal baseboard and wall panel within the same loop or this is not a good practice?
6. Standard PSI listed on Runtal baseboard is 50. As I am sitting on the concrete slab I am planning to go inside of the walls to the ceiling, run pipes there, and come back to the bottom of baseboard\wall panel through the wall again. Unfortunately, part of it would be in an exterior wall, on the warmer side of it though, right behind the drywall. In this case of going up and down, do I need more pressure or it does not matter? I know that running pipes in exterior walls is a bad practice, but I do not have a choice. Prefer this than cutting my existing slab… Hope that pipes will not freeze being in front of a few inches of closed cell foam.
7. How can you tell how much water is circulating in such system all the time? I have a pretty small tank, about 40 gal, and indirect water heater.

Is there anything else I need to look at? I greatly appreciate any help and input. Thank You in advance.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 08:32 AM
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I am trying to build a baseboard\radiator loop for 650 square feet of my living room...

...I need approximately 26k BTU...
Really? How did you arrive at that number?

I bet no more than 15K is needed.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 03:23 PM
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Hmmm, as far as I found out I should multiply square footage of the area needed to be heated by 40BTU.

For example here:
Radiator Selection - Runtal Radiators

And in many other places I found the same info. 650 square feet multiplied by 40 gives 26000. And yes, amount of heaters I need seemed to be "massive", but this is what the calculation provided... Unless I am missing something here, please correct me if I am wrong.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 03:48 PM
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Yeah... maybe if there was a section of wall missing, or a broken window... 40 BTU / SQ FT is sorta ridiculous actually.

You should probably perform a heat loss estimate calculation to start with. Go here and download the SlantFin program and spend a few hours inputting data and see what you come up with for heat loss.

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...alculator.html

Is there a reason that you've chosen Runtal ? A reason you have dismissed Slant Fin Fine/Line 30 ?
 
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Old 12-26-13, 03:52 PM
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Just as a point of reference... I'm not far from you, in fact I can see your house on a clear day across the bay... (kidding of course, but not much of an exaggeration really!)

My home runs about 23-24 BTU/SQ FT and I never have any trouble heating the place.

I just emailed Runtal and asked for an explanation ... let's see if I get a reply.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 04:14 PM
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Yes, I realized looking at your nick that you are not too far. It is possible Runtal followed others. If you google USA heating zones we are in fourth zone, and nearly each website says that rule of thumb is 40BTU per square feet. I looked at a few and each listed 40BTU. Not saying that there are others which say differently. However, the most important is practice, not theory. That is why I am "here".

Reason for Runtal is mainly their look, and that they can run at low temps (maybe solar one day... I realize I would need more radiation then). Runtal's performance is quite standard as for baseboard, and I can pay little bit extra for the look. I also checked Myson. Little cheaper I believe, also looking good, but they provide shorter baseboards. Cost would be probably similar, but same issues with pipe size etc. I would have to probably buy more units, run some dummies or so, as I want to avoid running pipes in walls and ceiling as much as possible and would like to keep them in the baseboard.

Downloading the recommended software now and will work on heat loss calculations. Thanks for helping.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 04:29 PM
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That's good enough reason for choosing... might as well get something you like the looks of!

There would be a definite 'up side' to installing more radiation than you need in that you would be able to run cooler water to heat the home, and this would save some fuel.

I don't think it's really feasible to heat hydronically with solar. At least not 100% ... maybe not even 50% ... but as a SUPPLEMENT, fine. To go 100% solar hydronic heating requires HUGE storage tanks to be able to store enough BTU to get us through these long cold winter nights... and HOPE that the sun comes out tomorrow...

Installing more radiation than needed also would allow one to employ a 'modulating/condensing' boiler to a greater advantage because being able to run cooler water means that the unit will operate in condensing mode for a greater portion of the heating season.

Are you replacing ALL of the slabbed radiant with baseboard? Or just in the one room?

Reason for this question is that if you aren't, you should strive to match the 'ratio' of heat emitter to heat loss in all of the rooms. If you don't, you could end up with the LR being a lot warmer than the rest of the home. Severe imbalance.

If you over-radiate one room, you need to over-radiate ALL of the rooms in equal proportion to the heat loss.

Next post I'm going to back up and try to cover some of your original questions...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 04:37 PM
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1. It seems that I should divide my loop into two, and supply water using parallel pipes to both loops so heat loss and loop size is smaller. Is that common practice? Do I need two separate thermostats for this later?
Some 'rules of thumb' based on real world.

One should design hydronic systems with a water velocity between 2 & 4 feet per second. This is fast enough to keep air bubbles moving, cause no objectionable water running noise, not erode the interior of the piping...

This velocity means you will flow 'around' 4 GPM in 3/4" pipe, and 1.5 GPM in 1/2" pipe.

Speaking of COPPER here... the ID of PEX is somewhat smaller, so slightly less flow.

Remember: 10,000 BTU per GPM

When designing for a typical 'standard' Delta T across a heating loop, the flows above mean that one can use 3/4" pipe for attached loads up to 40,000 BTUH and 1/2" pipe for loads up to 15,000 BTUH.

40,000 BTUH divided by (typical) 600 BTUH / FT of baseboard = appx 66' of baseboard on a 3/4" loop.

I doubt you will have to split your loops.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 04:40 PM
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2. Can I use PEX for this project? I was thinking about 180F entering temp, and 160F leaving temp. I will insulate PEX so it helps a little.
Yes. It MUST be PEX with an OXYGEN BARRIER made for heating purposes. Standard PEX for potable use is NOT acceptable.

In most cases is isn't necessary to insulate the PEX unless it runs through unheated spaces. The heat radiated from the nekkid PEX won't be 'lost' if it's inside the heated envelope of the building.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 04:56 PM
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Forget about the solar, I just mentioned it. This is not happening any time soon, many more pressing things to do. I like Runtal look and it is the main reason to get them.

I ran heat loss software. Screenshot attached, not sure if it makes sense. I set outside temp to 0 and inside 70. Does it mean I need 20000BTU?

I have also kitchen 12x10 and about same size room on the same floor, I did not include them in above calc. I would like to make them separate zones. Same for a small bathroom.

I own the house for a few months only, my first winter here, radiant was abandoned by the previous owner after it leaked twice. House has forced air, however this is another topic... In shortcut it is expanded cape... second floor was built in 2008 and is insulated R15 walls, R30-40 attic. According to plans... Bottom floor is from 1950, poorly insulated, BAD air drafts by doors and so. Freezing! Running forced air I can keep upstairs at 65 or so and at the same time downstairs stays at 58... Running forced air for three hours barely changes temp downstairs. First due to insulation, second I think entire system is not designed properly. 650 sq feet room has TWO vents 10x10 inches! I do not know much about it, but it seems like a joke and works like a joke. Ahh, I have also gas fire place, but this is a joke too, as long as you are within three feet from it you are warm.

Long story short I want to heat downstairs hydronically, upstairs at some point too, but it make take years... and forced air also provides central AC... will see how this will perform in the summer... For know I want to rip all of the walls, spray closed cell foam, redo window and door frames, and finish with hydronic heat.... Trying to budget for all of that and see what I can afford...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 05:00 PM
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So 1/2" entrance and 1/2" exit from baseboard will not negatively affect 3/4" pipe velocity shrinking it in practice to 1.5 GPM suitable for 1/2" pipe?

My total loop would be over 66', maybe by 10', would have to check the details...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 05:01 PM
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3. More about it below, but what size of PEX for this project would be appropriate?
4. Runtal baseboard connector is 1/2”. Does it make sense to use 3/4” pipe size in this case? What maximum linear and BTU loop size would apply in such a situation - the one for 1/2" pipe or 3/4” pipe? Would 1/2” connector become a bottle neck for the entire loop?
The answers here are partially covered in #1...

If you are designing for a 20F ∆T, I would think that you want to limit the length of baseboard on a given loop to about 25 feet of element. Note that this is the ELEMENT ONLY, and does NOT include the connecting pipe.

Particularly if the connecting pipe to and from the boiler is on the 'longish' side, you would benefit from using 3/4" tubing to limit the 'head losses' (aka friction loss, pressure loss) in the system.

If the runs are not that long, 5/8" PEX would be fine.

Centrifugal circulator pumps are selected based on the amount of 'head loss' that exists in the system they will be connected to. You don't want to design a restrictive system because this means that you would need a larger, more expensive to purchase, and more expensive to run because of higher electricity consumption. Always design with an eye toward minimizing head loss so you can minimize your lifetime pumping costs.

I mentioned earlier that PEX ID is slightly smaller than copper...

1/2" PEX is closer to 3/8" copper than it is to 1/2" copper. If substituting pex for 1/2" copper I would suggest using 5/8 PEX. Ditto with 3/4" copper to PEX... consider using 1" PEX .

There are tables available on the net that show the ID of the various sizes... lookemup if you are interested...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 05:06 PM
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So 1/2" entrance and 1/2" exit from baseboard will not negatively affect 3/4" pipe velocity shrinking it in practice to 1.5 GPM suitable for 1/2" pipe?

My total loop would be over 66', maybe by 10', would have to check the details...
1/2" copper is actually a bit closer to 1.7 GPM... FYI...

You would only need to use the 3/4" if you had long runs, but if you did that, the flow in the entire loop would still need to be that which is appropriate for the smallest tubing.

No, you wouldn't want to run 4 GPM in 3/4 and then 'smash it down' into 1/2"... too much flow for the 1/2".

TOTAL loop includes any connecting pipe/tubing. 66' is the max ELEMENT ONLY.

I wouldn't be too concerned about 10' extra. But you can't do 66' on 1/2" ... only 28' or so.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 05:20 PM
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So I need to split. My external walls are 60 feet all together. As far as I understand I will not be able to connect enough baseboards\radiators on 30' span, also due to space and preference issues. My splitting question is relevant then.

I also added heat loss response with the screenshot above. Going forward I will respond to the thread.
 
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Old 12-26-13, 06:19 PM
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Troopers post #12 did not post... I approved it for whatever reason it did not show... You should see it now....

Note": Troop even though we see it you need to check that your posts are not moderated... It happens, and appears to be a glitch...
 
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Old 12-26-13, 06:25 PM
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I know why...

I used a 'delta' symbol.

Same thing happened the other day when those 'up' and 'down' arrows were in someone else's post.
 
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Old 12-27-13, 08:07 AM
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Ahh, so the KEY point is that the loop limit applies just to heating elements, and does not include pipes. That is great!

I might change my idea by a little and go with Runtal radiators, VLX models. Radiators have Ύ” connector. You can also get them in the same size as baseboards, only difference is the connector. This way I will also
benefit from using 3/4" tubing to limit the 'head losses' (aka friction loss, pressure loss) in the system.
1. Is there any disadvantage to going up to the ceiling, and then go down to the floor and up again and so within the same loop? This relates to my earlier PSI question... As you can see at the attached picture this is what I am trying to heat... A lot of pipes there (in red), height of the room is 24', and width 17'... A is where the boiler is, then I have to go up to the ceiling, then reach the wall at the bottom, then go down in the wall to R1 (which is a radiator), then again up to ceiling, and quickly down again to V1 (vertically mounted radiator), then to R2 (horizontal radiator again), and then V2 and V3 (vertical panels). Every time I enter and leave a heating unit I need to come down in the wall to the floor (vertical panels may help here a bit as I can supply and remove water at the top), and then back up to the ceiling. Is this a bad practice? Any disadvantages?

2. Alternative solution would be to run baseboard with 3/4" connector around the room and do not make many ceiling\floor travels. On a downside is a furniture placement and so... Now I am leaning towards wall panels...

3. Are R1 and V1 too close? Should I consider adding something between V1 and R2?

4. Can I mix horizontal and vertical panels freely?

5. As far as I understand the heat loss calculation software I need 20BTU. Depending on cost I will try to provide some extra radiation so I can compensate for TEMP loss, as well as maybe heat with lower TEMP if system turns out to be efficient. How much extra radiation would you add in terms of BTU?

Thanks a lot again, I understand that I have a lot of questions, and appreciate help again.
 
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Old 12-27-13, 09:12 AM
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so the KEY point is that the loop limit applies just to heating elements, and does not include pipes.
Yes... as far as BTU load goes...

There is always the issue of PUMPING though. You don't want to design a system that is so restrictive that your pump can't move enough water through the loop.

This is USUALLY not a big issue. The inexpensive and reliable Taco 007 pump is generally capable of pumping pretty much any heating loop WITHIN REASON.

In looking over the Runtal site (keep in mind that I've never used their products and am as unfamiliar with them as you are!) I found this... and I then realized that EACH TUBE of the radiator is 1/2"... but if there are MULTIPLE TUBES in each radiator, of course the entire system can flow more as they will be piped in parallel... or series... depending on how you design the system. The point you need to remember is that it's EACH TUBE of a single radiator can be 1.5 GPM

As for a maximum flow rate for Runtal radiators, we recommend no more that 1.5 GPM per water tube. For our R-4 example above, this would mean a maximum flow rate of 6 GPM for an opposite end piped radiator, or 3 GPM for a same end piped radiator
 
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Old 12-27-13, 09:24 AM
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1. Is there any disadvantage to going up to the ceiling, and then go down to the floor and up again and so within the same loop? This relates to my earlier PSI question...
In doing so it is possible to create high loops in which air can be trapped and create problems with flow. It is not an issue with pressure... but that's a whole other conversation...

So if you did this, you would need to create a way in which this air can be vented upon initial filling, and then design the piping system from the boiler in such a way that air will not be allowed to collect in any high loops.

This article gives an overview of a piping system called 'pumping away'.

http://www.fiainc.com/documents/4-09...treallmean.pdf

The important points here are that the circulating pumps need to 'pump away' from the point at which the expansion tank is connected to the system piping.

There's also some good info here:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...pump-away.html
 
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Old 12-27-13, 09:31 AM
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Is there a boiler still in place and usable for the system you propose?

It appears to be stuck into a small closet... is there room to work around it?
 
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Old 12-27-13, 09:33 AM
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height of the room is 24'
Do you mean that LENGTH of the room is 24' ? I generally think of HEIGHT as from floor to ceiling, which I believe in your heat loss you specified 10' ?
 
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Old 12-27-13, 09:41 AM
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4. Can I mix horizontal and vertical panels freely?
Out of order... sorry...

I believe that the horizontal and vertical are the same type of construction and the 'response' time of each will be similar. In that case, I don't see a problem with mixing them. Problems with mixing heating types occur when one is using, as example, some cast iron radiators and some fin tube baseboards. The response time in which they give off heat is drastically different, therefore they don't play well together.

This might be something that you want to ask Runtal tech support.
 
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Old 12-27-13, 10:03 AM
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Have you considered using the taller 4-tube baseboard?

I can't really tell in the diagram clearly... I see the fireplace, so that would be an obstacle if you were to go around the perimeter of the room with baseboard, but are there other obstacles as well?

In general you should strive to have baseboard under each window. This helps to combat drafts because the cold air that pours off a window is combatted by the warm air rising from the baseboard.
 
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Old 12-27-13, 03:22 PM
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Do you mean that LENGTH of the room is 24' ? I generally think of HEIGHT as from floor to ceiling, which I believe in your heat loss you specified 10' ?
I was not clear about the dimensions... room width is 17', and length 25', height 10'. It comes to 408 sq feet, but plus some hallway area or so I would assume about 500 square feet. I was wrong initially saying that it is 650, my bad.

Is there a boiler still in place and usable for the system you propose?
It appears to be stuck into a small closet... is there room to work around it?
I do have a furnace 95000BTU, if I take efficiency into consideration furnace can supply 85000BTU. Not much space... not sure how much is needed, will provide a pic later... It is located under "standard" steps.

Problems with mixing heating types occur when one is using, as example, some cast iron radiators and some fin tube baseboards.
I will find out if vertical and horizontal panels have the same construction... I think so... at the bottom I added the link for VLX, this is Vertical
http://www.runtalnorthamerica.com/re...ical-specs.pdf

Have you considered using the taller 4-tube baseboard?
Very bad look to do this around the house... No problem under windows, but not that many of them... That is why i started thinking about more powerful radiators under windows and a few powerful vertical wall panels... but then I run to air problems.

I see the fireplace, so that would be an obstacle if you were to go around the perimeter of the room with baseboard, but are there other obstacles as well?
Yes there is a fireplace, I would have to stop here, and move to the pipe under the fireplace (there is a space) and then go with baseboard again. Also on the top of the diagram are sliding doors to the backyard, I would have to go around them somehow as well.

1. Just to end the topic of the loop length, if I use 3/4" pipe I can go ahead and have nearly 70' in piping plus radiators? I would use Runtal VLX with 3/4" connector so I do not have to worry about double piping and so. Again, they look exactly the same as UF:
http://www.runtalnorthamerica.com/re...oard-specs.pdf

2. As per trapped air problem, if you were me, would you rather deal with it or baseboard around the house and its "issues" with furniture?

3. Do you think I could start at the bottom of a diagram with 4-5 tube high VLX under the window, then just continue with two tube, turn (left bottom corner), continue with two until fireplace, switch to pipe, continue with two again and finally add some wall panel by backyard door? Does it make sense? All with VLX 3/4", single pipe, plus vertical panels at the end. It should help avoiding some air problems.
Or you would rather try with radiators and going up and down between ceiling and floor?

Thanks a lot!
 
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Old 12-27-13, 05:14 PM
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seba83,
I'm not sure what other projects or items are being done at the same time. To help with the slab I know I read some threads here and on the net with people using Barricade flooring especially in basements and on slabs.

I watched some of Holmes on Homes in Canada where they ran full 2" ridged board and then plywood over it. If your spray foaming the walls is subfloor an option with foam sprayed in? My old neighbor did that when he converted his garage to kitchen. You could run pex pipes in the flooring and spray in place.
 
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Old 12-28-13, 03:00 PM
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I watched some of Holmes on Homes in Canada where they ran full 2" ridged board and then plywood over it. If your spray foaming the walls is subfloor an option with foam sprayed in? My old neighbor did that when he converted his garage to kitchen. You could run pex pipes in the flooring and spray in place.
Thanks a lot. I will look into that option, however my ceilings are low already... Will also ask on insulation forum as this is separate topic. Still braking my head over the heating. Appreciate the suggestion though!
 
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Old 12-29-13, 06:32 AM
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OK,
I saw the info saying 10' ceilings so if a bunch of work was being done the extra couple inches might be possible. If not the Barricade is not too high (1.25") which is not high R value but better than none and makes thermal break.

I don't know on a full R value but I'm planning to put cork from warmyourfloors under the tiles in my new bathroom which is also on slab (on Long Island). Trying to get father-in-law to get the radiant mat but he doesn't want to spend the $$.

I know the look isn't exactly what you want but what about slantfin multipak 80. BTU is 840 at same temp as runtal (180). There was a thread last year (somebody old school house or something in Canada) and they had a link to baseboard that actually had double elements in each piece so really high output.
 

Last edited by sequoiasoon; 12-29-13 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 01-02-14, 08:51 AM
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I am terrible, of course my bad, ceilings are 8' not 10'. Anyway, I am in the process of exploring options for the slab. Will see what happens, would love to do it right way, but cost is high, and not much benefit (at least visually)...

As per double output Mason does it too. They look more like Runtal. Of course this is just personal preference... And obviously Mason double models stick out more, like 7" or so. I think I settled for Runtal wall panels...

As per radiant and slab for your in-laws great idea. Try to insulate it a bit, as I read in multiple places that if you do not, most of your heat is taken by ground... Good luck
 
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