Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 13 of 16
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    34

    Need advice on a Gas Furnace

    Hello all,

    I am building a second home in a cold climate (in Maine) and I need to decide how to heat it. I will be going there once or twice per month during the winter, mostly for the weekends. I have a propane tank so I am looking for a propane based system.

    My heating contractor recommended a forced air system, so that I can turn the system off without having to drain the water from the pipes every time. I should note that efficiency of the unit is secondary, as I’ll be spending about 10 days per winter in totoal at the house. Reliability, though, is important.

    The heating contractor suggested Thermopride MDA1-100 (100,000 BTU). I am also going to put a 70,000 BTU wood burning stove in the living room.

    Now here’s the problem – if the system supports one thermostat only (i.e. one zone) and if the wood burning stove heats the area where the thermostat is – aren’t the bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. going to get very cold?

    I really need some way to zone the house. My contractor said there are valves that can work off of individual thermostats but these were not very reliable after a few years of operation, in his experience. Can anyone recommend any such system?

    Then, I was thinking, what if instead of the MDA1-100 we put two independent MDA1-50 units (each 50,000 BTU). One will heat the lower level bedroom, the lower level bathroom, the upper level bedroom and the upper level bathroom. The other will heat the living room, the dining room (both have cathedral ceilings) the kitchen and the upper level open loft. Would that work?

    If and when the wood burning stove is on it will heat the open areas – the living room, dining room, kitchen and open loft. So that MDA1-50 unit will cycle rarely or be off for the most time, while the other unit (heating the enclosed bedrooms and bathrooms) will work normally and independently of the first unit.

    Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NW burbs of Detroit
    Posts
    6,058
    Zoning can be configured to heat the bed rooms with a single furnace and a remote sensor hooked up to the main living are T'stat.

    Two dedicated systems one for each floor would be the perfect solution assuming it is ducted properly.

    It would be the most expensive option.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    66,805
    Nothing wrong with 2 systems.
    It also gives you the redundancy of having an auto back up, if one fails on a weekend, you don't have to wait for the contracotr to come out X hours later, if he's busy.


    But, your contractor must have problems installing dampers corectly.
    They are far more reliable to day then 10 or 20 years ago.

    With a zoned system, you could run the fan, and heat all the rooms mostly with the wood stove when its running.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,826
    You could get as many varied opinions on this as there are options available. But since you asked, I'd suggest you answer a couple of questions.
    1. What fuel will I be using for the automatic system?
    2. If the heat is going to be turned off except for 10 days each winter, how are you dealing with the plumbing water pipes and drain traps?

    These answers to these two questions are important, IMO. If you're going to heat with oil. I'd not recommend a furnace in the attic. One oil leak and your home will stink of oil for the next 1,000 years. If you're going to heat with gas, natural or propane, then a leak won't matter because either way if it leaks gas you've got a bomb waiting for ignition. That's more of a consideration with propane than natural, unless the attic isn't vented, in which case it doesn't matter.

    For equipment, have you considered a combination wood/fossil fuel unit? That would allow you to heat the entire home with wood when you're there, then when the wood fire dies out for whatever reason, the fossil fuel unit takes over. The easiest way to get true comfort from such a system is to use hydronics, either radiant of some type (floors, walls, ceilings, panels or cast iron) or baseboard using copper finned products.

    If you're going with a ducted system, you could consider hydro-air and still use the multi-fuel boiler but not have water pipes running all over the home. If you're concerned about freeze-ups, I'd recommend designing a hydronics system for glycol in the system to keep any pipes from bursting. You wouldn't be able to run a solutuion thick enough to prevent slush but at least you wouldn't have burst pipes. If you desire to have a ducted system zoned other than with multiple pieces of equipment, then I'd suggest a high quality zone control system. I don't agree with your contractor that the zoned systems fall apart after a couple of years. If the system is properly designed and installed, it should last as long as any other system with a minimum of problems. The Byrant Evolution or Carrier Infinity are systems designed specifically to go on their high end equipment and it all works like a charm. After market systems includ Arzel and Honeywell. We've had limited problems with each of the latter but not enough to recommend against them. Repair parts should be of paramount importance to your for both the basic system and the zone controls, if used. I've attached a suggestion to help you select a good contractor. Finding the right contractor is worth it's weight. I didn't mention geo-thermal products because you indicated that efficiency wasn't of prime concern, though I'm not sure I'd subscribe to that with a new home in todays volatile fossil fuel world. Good luck.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    34
    Thanks for all the replies!

    This house is going to be unoccupied for extended periods of time, and that’s why I am looking for as much simplicity as possible and as few systems to fail as possible.

    That’s why I like the forced air system – no water to drain, no water to freeze, etc. Having glycol or antifreeze may solve the freezing problem, but if a leak develops it will flood the house, so again not a good solution for a house that is unattended for long periods of time.

    Regarding the regular plumbing – my plumber is designing the system so that everything can be easily drained from the basement. Then I need to put some kind of special solution in the traps, run the dishwasher and the washing machine for one cycle with the same solution and I should be all set. At least that’s my understanding.

    Sorry I didn’t mention earlier – I have a full daylight basement that will be permanently heated to 50 degrees via an Empire direct vent heater (again propane based). The furnace will also be in the basement and vented through a vent. I am pretty much set on using propane, as I already have a 1,000 gallon propane tank and don't want to deal with multiple sources of fuel.

    Thanks for the suggestion to look at Arzel and Honeywell after market zone systems. I’ll talk to my heating contractor and see if he has any experience with any of them. Do you guys think these vents/dampers are reliable?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    66,805
    Yes, they are very reliable.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    34
    Thanks, the Arzel system looks very interesting. I checked their web site and the say they use a patented technology without any motors in the valves. I will talk to my contractor to see if he can install this system.

    My other option is to have them install two independent systems. I have a question though. Someone mentioned I can have one system for the first floor and one for the second. I wonder if this is the best setup in my case. I have cathedral ceilings over the dining room and living room. So those two basically span two floors. Then I have a kitchen on the lower level and an open loft on the second floor. All four of these are open and connected with each other. So I am thinking one system can serve those four. Also the wood stove will be there too. The other system can serve a bathroom and bedroom on the first floor and a bathroom and bedroom on the second floor.

    So in effect the zones will be the "left" part of the house and the"right" part of the house, not first florr and second floor.

    Will that work?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Wadsworth, OH
    Posts
    316
    Quote Originally Posted by sgrd0q View Post
    Thanks, the Arzel system looks very interesting. I checked their web site and the say they use a patented technology without any motors in the valves. I will talk to my contractor to see if he can install this system.

    My other option is to have them install two independent systems. I have a question though. Someone mentioned I can have one system for the first floor and one for the second. I wonder if this is the best setup in my case. I have cathedral ceilings over the dining room and living room. So those two basically span two floors. Then I have a kitchen on the lower level and an open loft on the second floor. All four of these are open and connected with each other. So I am thinking one system can serve those four. Also the wood stove will be there too. The other system can serve a bathroom and bedroom on the first floor and a bathroom and bedroom on the second floor.

    So in effect the zones will be the "left" part of the house and the"right" part of the house, not first florr and second floor.

    Will that work?
    My recommendation is to also control up and down, so I would recommending a four zone system for your application.

    This will allow you to turn the bedroom and kitchen zones to constant fan circulation while the wood burner is hot. Doing this will pull the warmer air from the common open area and push it into the bedroom/kitchen zones.

    I would also recommend a two stage, variable speed furnace. If you go with Arzel, use the HPP-4 zone panel. This panel will control the staging and blower speed based on the percentage of the home it is serving.

    One zoned system is truly a more effective use of equipment considering how seldom you will actually be in the home and that typically most of the cooling is down on the upper level and most of the heating is done on the lower level.

    So to install a 2nd furnace on the 2nd fl is as waist full as a 2nd a/c on the 1st floor.

    jr
    "When you perceive zoning not as a bandage but as an enhancement, you truly understand the dynamics and limitations of forced air heating and cooling"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    66,805
    If your doing it with 2 units, 21 bathrooms and 2 bedrooms, don't have much of a load by themselves.

    You have to be carefull of small zones. They can present a challege using 2 units, or zoning.

    Equipment selection becomes a little more important yet if your going to create small zones.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    34
    What if instead of installing a central forced air system I install direct vent gas fireplaces/stoves/heaters in every room. I am probably not going to go that way but I was wondering if this is an acceptable solution. What do you think? I'd hate to drill holes in my new log home for the vents by I understand these heaters can also be vented through the roof.

    Any ideas or suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    66,805
    I think you'll be fine with a zoned system. As long as proper zoning methods are used.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    24
    My question is: Is a zoned system really that much more efficient to justify the cost in this case? Unless it's a truly huge house with most rooms unoccupied most of the time I have a hard time to see the payback. That said, I've never owned a zoned system.

    Would using a furnace in fan-only mode circulate enough warm air from the wood stove through the rest of the house?

    I also feel that now is the time to put in a nice efficient unit. I really like my Rheem modulating furnace. Fuel costs will continue to be high, and in the future the house may be occupied full time.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Wadsworth, OH
    Posts
    316
    Quote Originally Posted by larryb View Post
    My question is: Is a zoned system really that much more efficient to justify the cost in this case? Unless it's a truly huge house with most rooms unoccupied most of the time I have a hard time to see the payback.

    Would using a furnace in fan-only mode circulate enough warm air from the wood stove through the rest of the house?

    I also feel that now is the time to put in a nice efficient unit. I really like my Rheem modulating furnace. Fuel costs will continue to be high, and in the future the house may be occupied full time.
    Zoning is more about comfort control than efficiency. If compared to the cost of adding a 2nd system the cost savings can be significant. The up front cost of a 2nd unit is typically at least 150% of a zoning system plus the maintenance and servicing of a 2nd system over the next 15 years.

    Pulling the warmer air from the wood stove area and pushing it into the perimeter rooms on a continuous basis will be very effective if the returns are sufficient in the main area.

    Zoning does not take the place of a high efficient furnace, it enhances it's ability to maintain uniform comfort in the whole house. It can also save energy by only heating/cooling the areas that are occupied.

    jr
    "When you perceive zoning not as a bandage but as an enhancement, you truly understand the dynamics and limitations of forced air heating and cooling"

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Comfortech Show Promo Image

Related Forums

Plumbing Talks | Contractor Magazine
Forums | Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
Comfortech365 Virtual Event