Radiant floor heating, with a twist...


Old 01-08-14, 07:50 AM
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Radiant floor heating, with a twist...

Not even sure if this is the right forum for this question, but,... Having run out of propane to run my furnace in the middle of the recent "polar vortex" extreme winter weather outbreak, and not wanting to EVER repeat the experience, I am thinking of alternative/additional ways to heat my home. I would also like to add a heated driveway to eliminate or reduce the need for shoveling snow and chipping ice just to be able to leave. SO, -
The dwelling is a +/- 1600 square foot double-wide mobile on a perimeter block wall and piers in the middle. Not sure what's under the carpet yet, but the plan includes replacing the carpet with hardwood. I figured that would be the perfect time to add radiant floor heat tubing. And since the driveway needs repairs, my thought was to add radiant heating as I pour new sections. To heat the solution, I would like to use passive solar collectors and an outdoor wood-burning furnace for the cloudy days.
I realize it's quite an ambitious project, but my wife and I see this place as the last we will live in (yeah, it's pretty perfect), so the investment will be of direct benefit to us and our kids alone. Any advice on how I should proceed with this job? Or anything I can expect to run into on the way? All input is, as always, greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance - Chris
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Old 01-08-14, 09:02 AM
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The wood burning furnace would probably be your biggest asset - passive solar will probably be inadequate in storms esp since there is likely to be very little sunshine - I wouldn't bother with the solar part. And you wouldn't necessarily need to put the tubing in the floors - that's a big job! You could just use hot water radiant baseboards. I think the solar would even work with the baseboards but you're going to have pumping/control issues to deal with --> lottsa dough involved in thi$ one!
Old 01-08-14, 10:14 AM
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Thanks adonlan. Hadn't considered baseboard units. Although I really don't want to intrude into the floorspace, they could be a reasonable alternative. I was thinking solar to take advantage of the (fuel- and labor-)free energy before the cold weather, with the wood taking over once it's here. I can plan to plumb it in after the fact, since I'm not going steady with it.
I haven't even started crunching numbers yet, except that the area where we plan to replace the carpet with hardwood measures about 650 square feet. I plan to do as much of the labor myself as possible, partly to keep costs down, partly to achieve some pride in ownership. But, yes, this will represent a significant investment.
As for the furnace, does anyone make an outdoor wood-burner specifically for, or adaptable to, this application? What about programmable thermostats? All kinds of stuff to think about... Thanks again - Chris
Old 01-08-14, 10:15 AM
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Agreed... there are so many expensive obstacles to overcome heating hydronically with solar that it's a losing battle from day one until you give up in frustration.

First, you need a place to install HUGE water tanks in order to 'warehouse' the BTUs that you will need.

Next, you need HUGE area to install enough collectors that you will be able to reheat the water in those huge tanks in a timely fashion.

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