Rob R. wrote:
NoSmoke wrote:I think as society with a diminishing energy supply, it is best if we use logic to heat our homes instead of sheer size.
Aren't you the guy with an 800 square foot kitchen at 90+ degrees?
All jokes aside...
It is not really a joke because it is true, but here is the thing; while I am getting enough BTU's in my kitchen, what I am not doing is putting that heat into the bedrooms, and that is why I need a better distribution system. There are multiple ways to do that, and pros and cons to those ways, but I sometimes wonder if those people that are having a difficult time with boiler output are really having distribution problems and not boiler output problems. Another whole aspect is heat retention problems.
For example; around here a common problem is old farmhouse that are drafty with limited insulation, and so to save on heating costs people go out and buy an outside wood boiler. What they are doing is getting a massive boiler to over-compensate for heat, when what they really should do is, instead of spending $10,000 to $12,000 on an outside boiler, is to use that same amount of money to put in insulation, better windows and doors, and seal up the cracks in the foundation. In other words retain they heat they make and thus reduce their BTU requirement rather then just pound a pile of BTU's into the home because it is cheap to do so.
My house is a totally different scenario. It is well insulated and incredibly tight, but where I am failing is using two completely different methods to heat my home; hot air from a hand fed stove to heat one part of it, and liquid radiant floor to heat the other. I am convinced that for the best results I need to apply radiant floor heating throughout my home, and use the thermal dynamics of water, and the ease of pumping it evenly across my entire home, to get the comfort level and efficiency that I need.
Now in that case, what boiler I use to heat the water is almost immaterial. Yes my house still needs X-amount of BTU's to keep it warm, but the engineered part of it is what will make it efficient. The sensors in the concrete slab telling the computer the amount of heat I am losing, the temp sensor outside adjusting every minute what the water temperature should be flowing through my slab, and the temp sensor on the return lines telling the metering valve what it needs to inject into the system to keep the infusion of heat to the absolute minimum. All I need to do is provide hot water to that main loop and it does not matter if it comes from my propane boiler, or a coal boiler, or even solar panels...as long as that main loop is fed hot water (100-150 degrees) it will work; the rest of my system does the rest...efficiently.
With the advent of numerous radiant floor choices, radiant floor heat can be applied to almost any dwelling, from over-laying existing concrete to retrofitting under wood floors, and is probably one of the most efficient choices out there. So this is a choice that homeowners have, but it is a choice a lot of homeowners do not want to do. And I don't blame them; it would be inconvenient, obtrusive, messy and most importantly expensive, and inevitably they ask, "Why can't we just use the distribution system we already have", whether it be fin and tube, or forced hot air. So the heating tech is forced to size a boiler for an inefficient distribution system. It is certainly easy, just over-compensate of the boiler and the home will be warm, but it is not the most efficient way. But I don't blame the tech who sized it; his hands are tied. And I do not blame the home owner; its expensive to go with the most efficient system. But I think the majority of the time, the boiler is not actually undersized, it is just tied in to an inferior distribution system system that the homeowner is not willing to (understandably) change.
My house is an example of this; my junk Vogelzang puts out 24 million BTU's for every to of coal I put through it, yet my bedrooms are so cold that the propane boiler kicks on during the night. It produces enough btu's, it just fails to distribute that heat adequately, but an engineered radiant floor heating system will take care of that, and I am in the process of doing just that.
(Great topic by the way)