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  1. #1

    Who's on my side?

    Hi again, guys. I'm still trying to figure out the best solution for my tiny 440 sq ft house. I want to get a HVAC guy in there and do a complete test and calculate the loads etc. (if that's how you describe it) I have been told here and by others that I should get someone that will look out for me and that doesn't have something they are trying to sell me.
    Well....where do I FIND such an expert??? Seems that all the experts are working for a HVAC company that sells and installs. I don't know WHERE I would find a guy that just does the calcs for homes? I've asked around, looked in the phone book and looked online. There is a local company that I have worked with in the past and they seem to know what they are doing. They have one guy there that specifically just does customer service and designs systems. Should I just use him to figure out what this little house needs?
    I know that I THINK I would like to have radiant floor heat of some kind because of the slab problem but I really need someone to go into that house that knows what they are doing to figure up the numbers and discuss different solutions and their rationale with me. ARE there any independent HVAC guys around that JUST do the home tests? Or...should I just trust the local guys to do it? I'm not sure the local guys even sell radiant systems and in dealing with the radiant companies online...I can tell you....they are interested in selling you a system but not interested in addressing the cost efficiencies of running them...ie: uninsulated slab. Some say build up the floor and install hydronic while other's say there's no need to build up the floor...just put down Zmesh or Danfoss right on the slab. Man....I think if I did that latter idea I would be heating the world and it would cost me tons of money per month to operate.
    So...where do I find a guy on my side?
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    2,801
    what area of the world do you live in?

    440 ft/sq ?

    Shouldn't take much to heat or cool it.

    You can do a load calculation yourself too with the proper software.
    ___________________________________________


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    9,548
    Use hvac-calc off of this site.......
    If everything was always done "by the book"....the book would never change.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    108
    Radiant floor is just starting to catch on here in California. I put it in our master bath during construction, love the result. The vendor I used was www.buyfloorheat.com for an all electric grid type mat, custom sized to my application. Floor tile guy integrated it into the thinset. Works very well, and doesn't seem to draw much juice, a pleasant surprise. Honeywell makes a nice line voltage, programmable tstat to control it.

    Regarding load calc for a small structure - do you have cooling now? I ask because the s.f. seems like you might be $$ ahead looking at a thru the wall type unit, something on the order of 1.5 tons?

  5. #5
    LOL....yeah, DPSwitch...I know. I'm told it started out as a garage. I have the whole house info in another thread or 2. I want to retire in this little place and will probably build on but not much more sq ft. I need to know how to keep that slab warm as efficiently as possible with no big surprises when the January heating bill shows up. The foor is my biggest issue because I am sure it is NOT insulated underneath. I will insulate the edges and the foudation walls down to the frost line but am unable to get anything under the slab. The house is in the country a little Nothwest of Richland Center, Wisconsin.
    silverfox

  6. #6
    dopugvhvac....I'm not concerned about cooling. The house sits up on a small hill and there is a breeze most of the time. Also, I have poor circulation because of vascular disease so I'm usually cold when other's are warm. As far as through the wall...I really think I will need to heat that slab in the Wisconsin winter. Or get heat on TOP of the slab. Besides...I HATE cold floors. I don't mind spending the front end costs for radiant if the system works and operates reasonably cheap on a monthly basis in the heating season. The electric matts on the floor would be a nice and easy install but I think it would break me to run it that way without a thermal break from the concrete.
    silverfox

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Grundy Co. IL
    Posts
    773
    Richland Center? nice area, I'm hoping to get back there to visit the wifes aunt and uncles dairy soon.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    2,677
    even i you can only lay down a 1/2" certifoam barrier on top of the slab and pour gypcrete it will keep the heat coming to right way. put a 2" barrier of certifoam around the footings on the outside and your good to go. I can't help you with cost of operation online (kinda hard to see the operation. But guessing its propane, you may want to check into your electric coop/company to see what kind of programs they provide for using an electric boiler for your heating system. I would shy away from using a water heater for the heat source(not very efficient and most areas not code).

    Could also install a small minisplit heat pump, then in mild weather you can heat without having to fire up the slab, plus when it gets sticky out you can fire it up and suck out the humidity, you might like it 80 inside but I would guess the humidity still makes you uncomfortable.
    You can't fix stupid

  9. #9
    Yes...some good points, cmajerus. I'm going with 3" around the perimeter. I don't mind building up the floor and, yes, I will have to get propane installed if I want to go with gas. With this small place I, frankly, think a condensing water heater may be the answer. However, if I put a separate meter in I can get the local co-op's .059 heat rate. This last winter that would have been cheaper to buy than propane. And electric heat is already in the house but will have to be replaced. It's really old baseboard units that are either just on or off. I love the concept of the electric matt heat that they have now days. But I disagree with the companies that are telling me that I can put it right on that uninsulated slab. They say that the difference between an uninsulated slab and an insulated slab is minimal. They are supposedly the experts but I doubt they have lived through a Wisconsin winter.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Round Rock
    Posts
    3,518
    It seems like you'll be putting a lot of time and money into something that is so small and won't cost a lot to heat or cool no matter what you do. I would put in a mini-split or a ptac unit. Less hassle and probably less money or at least the same amount of money.

  11. #11
    That's true, bmathews....BUT...this is the place I will retire and there are two major problems. I do NOT want to live in a cold house with cold floors. With my vascular disease I freeze in the winter and with a forced air system I have to have it set really high to be warm. A forced air system will have to fight the cold floor. The room will get warm and the system will shut off but my feet will still be cold. I would still have to build up the floor with a forced air system or...ANY system for that matter. Might as well spend the bucks for radiant and be comfortable in my waning years. Secondly, I want to super insulate the place so I will have cheap heating bills. I will be living on a fixed income and the monthly heat bill is an extremely important factor. The reason I need a pro to help me is that I need to know which system would be cheapest to operate...hydronic or electric (with the co-op's reduced rate) and how to prepare the floor for each system for the greatest efficiency.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Round Rock
    Posts
    3,518
    Maybe I missed it. Where do you live where it gets so cold? I would use throw rugs and thick socks unless its Alaska. But its your money and comfort you have to deal with.

  13. #13
    Yes, you missed it bmathews...I llive in Wisconsin. But, more importantly, I do understand that people that aren't 69 years old with atherosclerosis can't be expected to realize what a problem it is to have very little circulation. I know that when I was younger I sure didn't understand that. It is 72 degrees outside right now and I am sitting here at my puter with a T-shirt and flannel shirt on and I am not warm. The most important factor when I move into this little house will be to have radiant heat at the best possible monthly cost.

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