Old Crane Heating - what are our choices

Old 04-28-11, 10:09 PM
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Question Old Crane Heating - what are our choices

We bought this house last summer and this was included, our source of heat. Of which we have never used, not once this winter, talk about cold. We do have an insert in the fire place, but the house has no insulation either, so yeah, we can still see our breath these days

Anyways, what are our options at this point. We'd like to rid ourselves of the oil tank in the backyard and our dependency on oil altogether. We're planning on insulating the attic this summer and each room as remodel the rooms and get rid of the lath and plaster.
We were told my a relative we can replace this oil guy with electric or natural gas versions. We do not have gas to our house, but our neighbor does, so I know it wouldn't cost thousands, though there is that expense to keep in mind. In the next five year, we do plan to invest some money in solar panels, so we're liking the idea of an electric boiler to take this old guys place.

Any ideas, suggestions, etc? We have the foot tall baseboards in each of the rooms and I've been told these heat the house amazingly well, though neither of us have ever lived in a house with them. I'm sure you figured that out by now, haha.

Anyways, here are a few pictures. Pardon the mess, we had to move a bunch of stuff to get one of the cars in the garage for the next few days.

Old 04-28-11, 10:39 PM
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There is a lot you can do as far as installing a new unit.

But you need to get a heat loss calculation done to size properly. The issue is that they will calculate with the fact you have no insulation. It will be oversized to keep the home warm. So down the road when you do insulate you will have a oversized boiler. Same thing the otherway. If you size it for a insulated house it will be too small until you finish all the rooms.

Next, the gas companys usually run the gas line to the house for free if your converting. You need to call your local supplier and find out the details.

That said you need to find what souce of fuel you will use in the final application, because that will be it for the ongoing years.

Why would you possibly want electric?

Are your baseboards cast iron? Or what material is the heat emitters?

You could do a wood boiler? Multi fuel gas and wood?

How are you heating hot water?

There are alot of things to consider before you size or even think about brands.

Keep the oil and possibly look at these type systems.

This is a example. There are many manufacturers.

Choice Heating Solutions - Combined Boilers

Mike NJ
Old 04-28-11, 11:09 PM
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I want electric because I don't like being dependent on a source of fuel to keep my house warm. If the gas is gone or the oil is gone, I can't heat my home, if the power goes out, I just fire up the generator or turn on the solar panels. Is there a reason I should NOT go with electric?
Baseboards do appear to be cast iron, I'll snap some pictures after work tomorrow. They're crane as well and most likely original equipment form the house being built in the mid 40's.
A wood boiler is an option, though the pellet boilers look even more appealing for some reason, maybe just the ease of it all..
Water is being heated via standard water heater. Probably could use a little updating to be more efficient, but it works great.

Ideally I want something that is low maint. and just works. We can't afford to spend $5000 on a system either. Maybe filling up the tank for another year or two could be the best route...
Old 04-29-11, 07:49 AM
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There's no way you can operate an electric boiler off a standard residential generator or solar panels. Natural gas is normally a very dependably supplied fuel and it would take a major disruption to stop a natural gas distribution system. Your first step is to get your house insulated, then have a heat load calculation performed. You should also contact a heating company and have them evaluate the condition of your existing system. Perhaps it will suffice for a couple more years until you get more money saved to install a new system.

You mention you have four foot tall baseboards in each room? Are these four foot tall radiators rather than baseboard radiators, which are typically only a few inches tall?

Where do you live that you could go the entire winter without needing to use your heating system? Normally, this type of hot water or steam system is used in the Northern climes rather than the warmer South. Is adding central air conditioning a goal too? That also adds into the equation for selecting a new heating system.
Old 04-29-11, 09:08 AM
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I mean to say a foot tall. They're painted white.
I live in Western Washington and it was cold. Like I mentioned, we do have an insert in our fireplace that we did use as much as possible, but the crane has never been fired up and the electric blanket got some serious usage.
Like I mentioned, the attic will be getting insulated this summer and as we remodel each room, those rooms will get insulation and new drywall done. I'll be doing this all myself too, so it won't be an overnight process by any means.
Air conditioning isn't of much interest for us, so that should make it easier I suppose.

I'll make a call to the local gas company to see what they think and go from there, just to put my feelers out there and know what kind of costs I'm looking at. There is a sticker on the crane of a local company and I will give them a call and see if they can come out to inspect the current system as well...
Old 04-29-11, 09:30 PM
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An electric boiler might be viable option depending on your serving electrical utility. Like Beachboy stated though, no home size generator is going to be large enough to operate an electric boiler or even an electric water heater. On the other hand, if power outages are rare and of short duration when they do occur the electric option may still make sense.

Photovoltaic cells will NEVER produce enough power to operate an electric boiler unless you care to invest a HUGE amount of money and even then they only produce when the sun is actually shining. Now if you meant that you will be installing solar collectors for the hydronic heat then that MIGHT be viable depending on several factors but if this is your desire you will still need a boatload of money to do it in western Washington. Solar for domestic water heating CAN be cost-effective in our state IF you have the proper orientation of the collectors AND have sufficient storage.

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