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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    4
    I just purchased a second home in the western Maine mountains, the house is curently heated with oil but has propane for cooking and the dryer. The house has 1,800 sq. ft. above grade and about a 1,000 sq. ft. basement that we will probably finish.

    Right now the house has a poorly designed baseboard system; the radiator placement is terrible. I'd like to switch to forced air and ductwork so I can have central AC (it gets hotter up there than people think) and get humdification and air cleaning in. The hot water does come off the boiler, if I go to a furnace I guess I'd need a different method for heating the water.

    My house in NY is much bigger, 4,400 sq. ft. above grade with 1,000 sq. ft. finished basement. I have 5 Rheem units for five zones, four of which are the super efficient modulating models and one regular 90 for the basement. Other than the fact that I can't use computer controllable thermostats (although we came up with a solution for that with relays, but that's a whole different subject), I like the comfort that we get (constant temperature, very quiet, etc.)

    I have no experience with oil and am trying to figure out the best way to heat/air condition this house with three zones, one per floor.

    Would one use three small oil furnaces (one for each floor)? I see that Trane and Thermo Pride have variable speed fans which should get me close to the temperature control of the Rheem modulating units. The zones would be about 1,000 sq. ft. for the first floor and basement (which is a walk-out) and about 800 sq. ft. for the second floor. 20% of the first floor has a vaulted ceiling the rest is 8 foot. The second floor is a small 800 sq. ft. as some of the rooms have sloped ceilings (cape style construction).

    Would it make sense to get a super efficient modulating boiler and then some sort of air-handlers to push the air? Can you regulate the air speed in that situation so they are quiet and you can run the fan at a lower speed to get constant air flow? Is that idea a kludge or is it reguarly done? I want to be able to use either the HAI or Aprilaire controllable stats so I can handle the temperatures remotely (right now I'm using a FreezeAlarm, but that's not the best system).

    I want to do this right but don't want to do something so complex that I run into problems and/or its difficult to maintain.

    What are some of the good brands for oil equipment. Although we won't be there full time, we are going to keep it heated at around 50 all winter (and it gets real cold up there), so efficiency is pretty important.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    1,996
    A 2 or 3 zone hydroair system is very common. You just have to worry about freezing if the power ever dies. You'll probably have to run glycol. But I would consider repiping the baseboard or use some panel rads. Especially upstairs so you can keep the piping in conditioned space. Only get an attic AC system for upstairs. By staying with seperate systems it would be easier to zone durring the winter and ou then have smaller AC air handlers to put in a closet, etc. In Maine, you could probably get away with a 2 or 3 zone ductless minisplit system.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    4
    I'll probably have a generator by next year so power outage would be an issue.

    How does a HydroAir system work? Reading stuff online, but want to hear it explained by someone who installs them. Can you control air flow?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    7,680
    It sounds as though you arent trying to skimp. If it were me, I would consider tearing out the radiators and installing floor heat. I would install sperate a/c units. If you wanted to add a HW coil to the air handlers you could but the floor heat uses a lower water temp.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    4
    Not trying to skimp at all, I want to rip out the radiators and go with forced air since I'm going to install ductwork. Don't want to rip out the new wood floors, however.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    1,996
    Hydro-air is simply a hot water coil usually placed in front of the AC air handler. On a call for heat a zone valve or circulator will open/start and the blower will start when an aquastat on the coil says it's reached a min temp (usally 120 min) Several air handlers can be piped to one boiler rather then running individual furnaces. Quieter also, since your just circulating water. The air hanlders just need a supply and return of copper tubing or PEX tubing. In general, air handler placement is easier since the coil is smaller then a furnace and no extra exhaust venting is required.

    Bad point are chances of leaks. But with hydro air, you can vary the boiler water temp against outdoor temp changes. Keep the blower speeds lower, which will run longer but gives you more even heat/humidiy distribution and better air filtering.

    I think running one boiler is more efficent then 3 furnaces.The boiler should also heat an indirect water heater, so you have less stand-by loss then a regular water heater.




  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Marco Island, Fl
    Posts
    729
    Originally posted by jgmaine
    Not trying to skimp at all, I want to rip out the radiators and go with forced air since I'm going to install ductwork. Don't want to rip out the new wood floors, however.
    A properly designed and installed Carrier Infinity System would fit your needs well.

    One two-stage furnace and two-stage heat pump can provide up to 8 zones of cooling or heating. It has all the features you want with the added ability for you to check on and change the conditions of the home via internet (skytel wireless). It will also alert you and your service provider of any problems if you choose.

    The modulating fan and dampers will give you the precise comfort you are used to. Two stage compressors control the cooling capacity for precise cooling comfort as well, along with great humidity control.

    Add the Infinity air cleaner, and you have a complete system.

    I don't think an oil model is available, so it would probably have to be propane. This may be a negative for you depending on your oil/propane costs.

    [Edited by davo on 12-13-2006 at 02:05 PM]

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