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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    6

    Hydrokinetix heating system

    I purchased a home with a hydrokinetic heat storage system and have not been able to find any technicians who know aynthing about the unit. The unit is at least 20 yrs old. It has functioned efficiently for the last 7 years. I noticed the unit thermostat reading 100f today. It's usually at 140 especially on cold days like today. I normally keep my house at 65 and found it was only registering 63 degrees. I ran it manually for a short period and it seemed to function properly but temp did not increase. I added some water. The sight guage in the expansion tank is black and useless so I am unable to tell how much water is in there. At one time I was advised to tap the tank with the back of a screwdriver but I can't determine if that's accurate. Any advice or referral to a tecnician in the Central NY area (between Binghamton and Oneonta) would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,759
    Kind of hard to "tap" the tank, without removing its jacket. Which is a PITA to put back on at times.

    It has a low water sensor that will shut it off if the water gets too low. And it can't be over ridden by pushing the manual button.

    Considering that the smallest tank is 400 gallons. 20 minutes won't make much of a difference, since they won't have alot of elements in it. Probably only 10 to 12.5 KWs worth. Which will only raise your tank temp by 13 degrees in an hour.

    What your describing could be a very simple fix. Or a very involved repair.

    Do a search for off peak storage on the internet. And you should find the company that still works on them, and has parts. I think they are out of NY.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    6
    Hi BT - Thanks. I found a website for Steffes and they list a service tech in Honesdale, Pa and so I left a msg. Hope he gets back to me. In the mean time, can I pick your brain a little more? I think I mentioned I added water. Not sure when system normally charges at night (unit's in basement, bedroom is on 2nd flr so I never hear it overnight. I waited until 12a and then used the override switch to turn it on. Let it run until 7a when temp finally reached 140. Plan to see if it goes on automatically tonight. Is it possible it could have shut down due to low water and reset itself after adding water?
    Are you familiar with the Steffes home systems? I'm considering replacing the Hydrokinetix.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,759
    Adding water could have reset it. Usually takes a lot of water to reset it though.

    Not familiar with their systems.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    6
    BT - Thanks again. Added more water last evening and system seems to be functioning normally now - except unit temp only went to 145 or so and I seem to remember it hit 160 in past winters during cold spells. Had a little more than a gallon overflow this morning so we're confident the tank is full enough. Still trying to get a tech here to give it a check. This site has been invaluable!!! Happy Holidays!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    6
    As it turned out, we were never able to find anyone who could service our Hydrokinetix Thermal Storage System. The techs that did come to look at the unit (it was functioning as intended at those visits) were not familiar with the unit and were not anxious to learn. Like many others who've posted here - we knew more about it than they did- they promised to "do some research" but we never heard back. Now we find ourselves with another problem.
    Weather here (Masonville - Southern Tier, central NY between Binghamton and Oneonta) has been mild. We noticed the house was cooler yesterday am. Thermostat was set at 67, temp was 64. Temp gauge on tank showed about 65 degrees. We used the manual override switch to charge the system beginning just after 8am. We also added water periodically until the overflow pipe began to drip. (It is impossible to determine water level in storage tank - no gauge. Site glass on overflow is not visible.) The unit stopped charging on it's own as water temp reached 125 degrees - outside temp was in the 30's. We switched toggle from manual back to auto and hoped unit would function normally over nite. Outside temps dropped to 24, we monitored unit over nite. It did NOT charge at all. Water temp dropped a few degrees back to 120. We increased heat thermostat to 67. Circulator's activated but it seemed to take a longer time to raise temp from over nite setting of 65 to 67. So thermostat was set back to 65 and we will use supplemental heat until we can get this corrected.
    The Hydrokinetix system was in home when we purchased. The only "paperwork" we have is the installation manual which does not give any operating or trouble shooting info. This message board has been a GREAT resource for us. The system is nearing 25 yrs old and we are willing to replace it but would like to do so with a similar system. We have found this system to be extremely efficient and economical - taking advantage of "off peak" rates.
    Is it possible the system did not charge last night because it was not cold enough outside? Could our exterior thermostat be the problem? ANY advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    25,920

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    For the cost of replacing it, you might be able to instal la geothermal heat pump that uses even less energy overall, and you could simply disable aux heat durign peak periods.

    Otherwise, there are ways to do the same thing. You install a big tank, use a clock programmable thermostat in series with an aquastat, and have whatever water ehating soruce come on to heat the water durign off peak. The hydrokenetix it sounds like goes one step further and uses outdoor tmep it seems to set the storage temeprature, just like and outdoor reset. The challenge is making sure you have enough storage. Beyond that, its' jsut a hydronic air handler. I've toyed with the idea of doing something similar with a water to water geothermal heat pump, but in the end, the savings vs cost of such a large storage tank seemed to rule it out.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    43
    The Hydrokinetix systems were huge in our area in the late 80s and 90s while PPL was offering the off peak rates. When they stopped offering the off peak, and w/ the advent of geothermal, Hydrokinetics basically went out of business. The earlier generations of the systems were fairly simple. Later versions became very complex w/ various boards and electronics. In the late 90s with electronics failures and no access to replacement parts the company I worked for reconfigured several systems using simple mechanical controls, relays, and timers. The systems worked as intended and the customers kept their off peak rates.

    The system (basically a large electric hot water heater) is designed to charge during off peak hours, usually between 5pm and 6am (not positive of times) using outdoor reset. The colder it gets at night, the warmer the tank will be. In our area and climate they were used in place of electric resistance back up heat in a heat pump. The tanks were sized for the heat load of the house during peak energy demand hours. Enough heat was stored off peak to supplement the heat pump during peak times in cold weather without using extra electricity. I've never seen one used as a primary source of heat.

    If your house was cold during mild weather, is it possible you have a problem w/ your heat pump. (assuming you have one) Beyond that it could be several things. As Beenthere said it could be a simple fix or a very involved repair. If you're lucky enough to have the electronic version and it's a control problem, you may end up replacing the unit.
    Make it fool proof and someone will make a better fool!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    6

    Hydrokinetix heating system

    Thanks for the responses.. I was able to make an appointment with a local hvac professional and I was able to speak with another professional in Pa. Pa professional will talk (by phone) with local tech when he arrives this afternoon and hopefully determine what the problem is and how to fix it. I think it is probably time to replace the system. Would love to go the "geothermal" route but we don't think if would be cost effective. Thanks again!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,759
    Could be a problem with the meter 's clock.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    6
    Hello again. Our hydrokinetix system is operating as intended for the time being. The local tech was able to make repairs after speaking with the expert in Pa. We ordered $$$ worth of replacement parts and have not been able to get the local guy back to install them. We are now considering replacing the system and are looking for options. Any suggestions?




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    Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 02-14-2013 at 08:35 PM.

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