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  1. #1
    I have begun the design process for a new house, which will be about 18,000 total heated and cooled square feet -- main house (first and second story) are approximately 11,000 S.F., attached garage 1,000 S.F., finished basement 3,000 S.F., and finished attic (third story) 3,000 S.F.

    The house is in New Jersey. I desire radiant in-floor heat, and central A/C with all supplies on the ceiling. There will be many coffered ceilings, so I'm thinking there will need to be a lot of those "strip-style" diffusers that blend in nicely with the mouldings.

    First question... should I be getting a commercial HVAC contractor in here? I want a top-quality job, nothing that I'm going to have to go back and "revisit" after it's done.

    Second question... I'm confused about whether I entertain the idea of one big air-cooled chiller with several air-handlers for the central A/C, rather than have like 10 individual split-systems. However, with a chiller and air-handlers, can you get the same effect as with a two stage compressor and variable speed blower (for excellent humidity control)? Really good humidity control is really important to me.

    Third question... with the in-floor radiant, I'd like nearly every room to have its own control, BUT, I don't want to have to go around to 30 thermostats when I want the heat on... is there any type of control system out there where, from one "master" thermostat, I can set all the heating zones to, say, 68, and then use the individual stats in each room as an override? And also see what all the stats are set at from the master, and change them from there?

    I know I need to get a really good professional in here to make sure it gets done right, but as the house is still in the planning stages at the moment, I want to make sure I do my homework to make sure I get the right people in here and know what are and aren't good ideas. So I'd really appreciate any feedback. Thanks!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Fort Worth, TX
    18,000 square feet? That's humongous!

    I recommend you hire a competent mechanical engineer for a project this size. There's too much at stake with a structure this size for the HVAC to be done by hacks or "rule of thumb" contractors.

    I visited a very large house under construction in Dallas awhile back. It used a chiller for the HVAC. Multiple air handlers everywhere, one chiller unit on the ground. Complex system, but apparently for the homeowners, budget wasn't a primary issue given the extravagance of the structure.

    That house could easily be gutted and reappropriated for an office's huge!
    Building Physics Rule #1: Hot flows to cold.

    Building Physics Rule #2:
    Higher air pressure moves toward lower air pressure

    Building Physics Rule #3:
    Higher moisture concentration moves toward lower moisture concentration.

  3. #3
    First, you better do a lot of research on the contractor you decide to go with, otherwise you could end up with a complete nightmare!

    Second, multiple systems will insure you have heating or cooling if a system does happen to go down.
    (sure, part of the home is going to be hot or cold, but not the whole house)

    Third, humidity control... variable speed blowers with a thermidistat of your choice.

    Forth, the system can have a 'master' control with several 'remote' stats... it's all in how you want the system designed to function (with money being the only factor). They do make stats that have remote 'temp sensors' so you can adjust the temps from one main location.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    I'm with jultzya. I done one 14000 sq ft two years ago with multiple systems and have heard no complaints so far. If the big chiller fails, no cool ....nowhere

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Austin, TX
    I agree, go multiple systems. I did a 14000 sq ft home
    several years ago, went multiple systems, they have
    been very happy.

    About three months ago, I went with a friend who
    works for a big a/c company in town, to do a pm on
    a large home 27000 sq ft. I had to see a home that
    was that big for my own eyes. They had 16 systems,
    all Rheems, 8 on one side of the home, 8 on the other.

    He said they were installed 5 years ago, and have
    had no problems. Quite a sight (the home).

  6. #6
    If you go multiple systems, how can you avoid having like 10 thermostats? Can one control system control individual systems?


  7. #7
    There are several different ways to accomplish your goals...

    One being to have one stat control close areas and have several remote 'temp sensors' that the stat figures the average temp of all the sensors.

    Having the variable blowers running all the time to help eliminate temp variances (of coarse a properly designed duct system is the key!).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    I cant imagine you are skimping on the builder. Make sure he hires a good competent commercial design and build contractor.

    Chillers will work fine. but I would have one zone run with a standard system such as the master suite. If the chiller fails, you have your haven and if the spliy system fails, I am guessing you will have a spare guest room you can crash in.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Chiller and reheat

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Get humidity control in writing from your contractor. If you want humidity control in your climate without overcooling, dehumidifiers built into your a/c system are the way to go. Get the desired %RH even without any cooling load. I spec. a lot of retro whole house dehumidifiers especially lower levels and basements in deluxe homes in the green grass climates to solve high humidity problems. Include dehumidification or leave some space for adding it on. We also do schools and other commercial buildings. Reheat is effective but a very inefficient solution for removing moisture compared to eff. whole house dehumidifiers. Most energy codes discourage reheat. Your local a/c contractor can supply, install, and service this equipment.

    [Edited by lusker on 07-11-2005 at 11:30 AM]

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    im only a residential tinner and that house is about 10,000 more sq ft then anything ive ever seen. im not sure about residential systems . thats most likey a commercial job. u start getting into commercial controls and they have alot more to offer. variable frequency drives to shut down individual pistons on the compressors. i took 1 yr of commercial work at a trade school 5 yrs ago so my commericial knowledge is very limited. alot more efficient to have 1 or 2 units rather than 10 like usaid.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    PA/DE area
    We do many SUPER homes and always work with an enginner to do design,just to do alot more design than what we have time to do. We use chillers and alot of GEO,if we do not have a place to hide a chiller.I think in NJ they offer rebates on Ground sources. I can get you some names if you wish. What part of Jersey are you in?
    It's NOT the BRAND,it's the company that installs it!!!!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Gold Coast of Connecticut
    Personally I would get the chiller for sure. Why have 15 seperate units to maintain. With the chilled water loop zoning is a breeze and you could have a much lower electric bill than cycling 15 units. Make sure the chiller has multiple compressors and a very good controll system integrated with your home controller.
    Aire Serv of SW Connecticut- Gas heat, dual fuel and central a/c systems installed and serviced

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