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Thread: System recommendation?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member steve2278's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
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    Default System recommendation?

    Hi everyone.

    I'm going to be putting a 1,600 sq. ft. 1st floor addition to my (very small) existing ranch home and I was wondering if anyone could recommend one heating/cooling system over another? My current home is fed by electric forced hot air and the system is antiquated and expensive, and I have a few window units for my air conditioning.

    The industry has changed so much within the past few years its hard to keep up with the latest technologies. I leave in central Virginia and the climate is relatively comfortable and I don't experiece real harsh weather of either extreme on either side. But it does get very hot and quite cold at times. I know I want to stay clear away from oil and electric, and natural gas is not available in my area. That leaves either propane, solar or geothermal. And I'd prefer to stay away from solar as I'm in a heavily wooded area plus, like geothermal, it appears very costly to install.

    I'm a mason by trade and I was planning on building 2 unvented fireplaces, each on opposite sides of the house to burn gas logs and I was going to run coiled piping in the firebox which would then supply hotwater baseboard, and as the hot water traveled to the far end of the home it would be re-heated by the second fireplace and then travel in a continuous loop to heat the entire house.

    I was also planning on buying a propane oven, dryer and hot water heater, and I found out years ago that the key to making propane cost effective is to buy your own 1,000 gallon tank and buy the propane in bulk. And by doing so one tank full has lasted me over 2 years.

    Unfortunately, my plan doesn't address the issue of my cooling system.

    I've been looking into Lennox, Carrier, Bryant and various other manufactures and the dual heating/cooling systems with the heat pumps/exchangers seem to be very cost-effective, but I don't know anything about them or which one is best for my needs.

    Could any of you recommend a system and manufacturer that would suit my needs based on your experience? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance,
    Steve

  2. #2
    DIY Junior Member katzaw's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
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    Northern, NJ
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    Default Are you using ICF it will save you many HVAC$$

    Hi Steve:
    I can't help with the HVAC system but wanted to know if you were going to use ICF ( insulated concrete forms) to build your addition? You state that you are a mason by trade so you should be able to do the ICF walls yourself. This will give you great HVAC savings regardless of the systems you use due to the very high R value. I'm pretty sure that Polysteel bought Arxx so they're probably the largest but google will give you lots more to choose from.

    Good Luck,

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Default

    Geothermal would depend a lot on what your soil is like. You either have to go down a long ways, or out a long ways. If you end up hitting a lot of rock or the soil depth isn't good enough, or you can't or don't want to excavate that much area, that leaves you going down. Where I live, that would mean drilling through a lot of granite! not cheap.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4

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  5. #5
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Default

    1 Therm of energy can be had from approx. 0.71 gal of fuel oil, 0.77 gal of gasoline, 100 cubic feet of natural gas, 1.1 gal of propane, 29 kwh of elec heat, 8.4 kwh of heat pump heat, 14 pounds of wood, sunlight falling (insolation) on 5 sq. meters of absorbent surface for one day in CA or 14,000 gal/min of water falling 10' for one hour.

    You could also use 12 billionths of a pound of radioactive material decaying.

    http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/DOE/TECH/geo.pdf

  6. #6
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    Default

    A lot of people on forums could give you general ideas, here's mine:

    Get someone to run load calculations on your house. Can be done around here for ~$100 or so. Load calcs would take into account your location, orientation, construction and even your lighting. Good load calculations will also tell you load for time on a space. This would tell you total heating/cooling needed as well as how much you need in each room. Just for example, in S. Florida, the same room on the west side of the house may need as much as twice as much cooling than on the east side of the house.

    If you have trouble finding an HVAC contractor who can run loads (and show you the loads so you can interpret as well) you may be able to call engineers around to see if they can point you to someone or some company.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

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