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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Northern West Virginia
    Posts
    6

    Need advice on purchasing a "secondary" heating unit..

    Hey all.. well, I've been registered for a whole 5 minutes and need to post a question already lol... (*edit* hopefully I got this posted in the right forum/area, if not I apologize in advance)

    First of all, a little info on my 'situation'.. I live in northern WV, where our summer months are hot (avg. 85-90*F) and our winters can be cruel at times..avg. I would say hi's in the 20's-30's F, and lows 10-15* and typically we get a run of maybe 5-6 days a month where temps will be 5* or lower... For the past 4yrs. we have been heating with nothing other than a hotblast 1557M wood/coal furnace, with the primary fuel being wood (free supply, I just have to cut/split/haul). We live in a run-of-the-mill ranch style home. Approx. 1300 sq. ft. with open, uninsulated basement/2-car garage. The insulation in the living area seems to be fairly good, however we do have some slight drafts as we live on the top of a big hill and typically have 20-30mph sustained winds in the winter.

    Now on to my question. I have finally decided to purchase another furnace to use a secondary heat source (I know, a little late to make this decision now). This furnace's primary purpose would be to use at times when temps are warm during the day but chilly at night, and also in the event that for whatever reason I may not have a fire going in the hotblast. I already plan on purchasing a heat-pump unit next spring/summer to add-on, so my question is this:

    I'm looking for some advice/opinions on whether I should purchase/install an electric furnace/air handler with a 15kW strip and built-in cooling coil, or should I purchase a nat. gas furnace? A couple key factors.. If I go with the electric, I can install it myself, with the exception of having to have someone build me a new plenum... We do have nat. gas available to us, however the gas company would have to come out and install a junction, meter and any line needed as the main is on the opposite side of my lane and this house has never had gas. Also with this, I would have to have the entire install done by a cert. HVAC tech as I really don't know anything about installing a gas appliance.

    Please keep in mind that whichever furnace I purchase, it will not be run very often (thinking maybe, on average, 10-15hrs per month if that) and that, as I mentioned earlier, I will be purchasing a HP unit and having it professionally installed next year. Thanks in advance for any advice/help that you can/will give.

    *edit #2* Sorry forgot to add something... I do realize that there are already tons of questions/answers out there about gas vs. electric, however given my specific set-up, I wanted to get my own feedback. Pretty much everything I've read about this topic is with the standard residential 1-furnace set-up.
    Last edited by countryboy26047; 09-25-2012 at 11:56 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    7,777
    I would go with heat pump, depending on your electric vs ng rates it may be better to go with ng. I would not install it yourself bc the indoor section has to be a match with the outdoor heat pump. You could also put in a nat gas furnace then when you install the heat pump you can use the ng furnace as your auxiliary and emergency heat for the heat pump. Equipment selection is matched so you have to get a matched furnace, coil, heat pump to get rated efficiency of equipment per ahri ratings

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Northern West Virginia
    Posts
    6
    Thanks for the quick reply jtrammel... I do plan on getting the hp unit, however due to money restrictions, I will be purchasing them at seperate times. Out of my options, the only one I would install myself (with the exception of the plenum) would be the electric furnace/air-handler. I don't want to ask brand opinions as I'm sure diff. people have contracts with diff. companies, but I will throw this out there.. if I go with electric, I plan on getting a rheem/ruud unit, which would get it's matching hp unit next year which I would have a professional install for me. As for the rates, I can tell you that our electric is $0.09/kwh... not quite sure on the ng rates but could find out fairly easy... I guess you could say that is the part I am concerned with after reading some of the horror stories of folks that have electric furnaces and some of the bills they've gotten... however, at the same time, I'm not AS concerned as most would/should be considering I won't be running it constantly.

    My idea is this: use the hotblast for our main heating needs as I've done for the last 4yrs. Set the t-stat on the new furnace I get at maybe 66-68* so that if A) for whatever reason I have to shut down the hotblast (chimney cleaning, out of town, etc.) or B) The wife has a tendency to 'forget' to check/add wood to it while I'm working lol

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Moore, Oklahoma, United States
    Posts
    4,508
    Investigate the cost to hook gas to the house and the amount of the monthly fee just to have the meter sit there. If you don't use the heat much I'd go with a heat pump/electric strips. The heat pump is nice on those not so cold days when you want some warmth but not wanting to crank up the hotblast.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Northern West Virginia
    Posts
    6
    Well, I ended up making some phone calls today to local contractors. One came out about an hour after I called, and another is supposed to stop by tomorrow evening. I'm pretty happy with the estimate I got today, but unsure about the unit/s he wants to order/install... looking at Armstrong, 15kw air handler, and 2.5 ton HP unit if I go with him... however a 'new' issue arose today as he looked into my load center/breaker box... I have one of the old pushmatic systems, and only have 1 double open, and 1 single.. judging by the prices I'm finding online for duplex breakers to combine a couple, and for 2 60amp double pole's, it's going to be cheaper if I just buy a whole new load center to install... uggh, never ending with me and this house!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Moore, Oklahoma, United States
    Posts
    4,508
    Do a 10KW heat and that will save you a double breaker slot. If you are installing the 15kw and need two double breakers you my need to upgrade electrical service anyways.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    7,777
    Quote Originally Posted by 54regcab View Post
    Do a 10KW heat and that will save you a double breaker slot. If you are installing the 15kw and need two double breakers you my need to upgrade electrical service anyways.
    X2

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    10kw shold be plenty for 1300sqft even with a uninsulated basement garage in your climate f you have descent attic insualtion and only moderate air leaks. Just get a insulated garage door and keep it closed. Amazing how much heat you get just from warm car engines. I have a 3 car garage under my home and it's definity colder in my dining room that over it compared to my living room that over the basement portion.

    On smaller homes it doesn't make sense to pay to have gas installed an then have the meter fee.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Beatrice, NE
    Posts
    2,519
    something you need to think about is how you are going ot stop backdraft in the equipment that is not running ie when the hotblast isn't running how do you keep the air from going down through the hotblast and back into the return on the furnace/air handler or visa versa. This type of short cycle is hard on equipment, can kill a heat pump and will cause the house not to heat well. There are several option to use but they all have thier drawbacks.

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