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Radiant Floor Heating/new home radiant heat and hot water


QUESTION: First off thanks for answering my question:
I plan on building next June in southwestern WI.
the house main floor will be ~1800 sq. ft. with a 640 sq. ft. loft and of course a full basement.
I am not knowledgeable with the extensive reading so far thus I need your help!
My first question is it efficient to use radiant floor heat as the main source using a boiler or a tankless heater? We would like to have a fireplace insert for additional heating do to the large amount of wood on the property on the main floor. Would one place radiant heat in the basement and main floor? I have yet to see what it would cost in websites visited (estimated). Does one use the metal strip subfloor to direct heat up? They say furnaces are cheaper with how many year payback. With the past hot summer is there anything to do with cooling the house by running cold water thru the pipes vs. air conditioning?
In some boiler they say a 6 to 1 turn down ratio, what does this mean?

Badger Radiant Designs
Badger Radiant Designs  
ANSWER: First, no HVAC system can be seriously considered until you have a proper Manual 'J' heat load finished by an experienced designer. Send your CAD drawings and we will give you a design estimate for the various options available for your particular application.

Radiant floor heating should be included in nearly every concrete slab poured in cold country.
Radiant floor heating for upper floors is nearly always a good idea but because of the extra cost relative to radiant slabs and more especially forced-air (the same thing they put in trailer homes) people get the idea that they can't afford it.

To heat upper floor various radiant panel systems are available from aluminum sub-floor heat transfer plates to "sandwich" systems, which are installed between sub and finished floors. We also design radiant ceiling systems and use wall-hung European-Style panel radiators on many projects.

For your short list I would lean toward a tank-type high efficiency condensing water heater with a sub-assembly to separate potable from space-heating water. We design and install many hybrid wood burning systems integrating wood boilers with backup from electric or propane.

As you can see there are more options than answers. Also note that a tank-less water heater is not one of them.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thanks for the advice, it has helped.
I will not have a CAD program of the house but I could send paper drawings in the future. Do you just need floor plans with room dimensions and ceiling heights?
Are their some pictures of your discussions below on the short list?
What type of wood boilers with propane backup for if weekend trips are made that we need to maintain house temperatures?

For your short list I would lean toward a tank-type high efficiency condensing water heater with a sub-assembly to separate potable from space-heating water. We design and install many hybrid wood burning systems integrating wood boilers with backup from electric or propane.


When design radiant floor heating systems for new homes using wood boilers with back up systems, we accept any clear and accurate drawings, which should include:

* exact location
* outside dimensions and individual room dimensions
* window location, quality and size
* insulation at all areas
* final choice for floor covering in all areas
* fuel available and cost per therm

No one can intelligently advise you on a heat source until a proper heat load has been performed.

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Morgan M. Audetat


Radiant panel heating design, including floors and ceilings, European wall panels and snow melting for residential and light commercial buildings..............................................................-Master of Steam and Hot Water,City of Minneapolis....................................................--- Master Plumber, State of Minnesota...........


30 years..... Charter Board Member - Radiant Panel Association, former manufacturer of condensing boilers, former national distributor of radiant floor products, son and apprentice of mechanical & plumbing contractor. Current mechanical/plumbing contractor specializing in hydronic based, integrated HVAC systems. Radiant floor heating/cooling. Snow Melting. Condensing Boilers. Indirect water heaters. System design, consulting and technical training world-wide. Licensed contractor, designer, installer and consultant.

B.S. University WI 1981 CONTINUING EDUCATION: Viessmann Condensing boiler and Solar water heating certification 2010, N.D.S.U. Lead Worker RRP certification 2010, Knight condensing boiler certification 2009, Wrightsoft Manual J CAD certification 2009, RPA Designer & Installer Certification 2008, Nate Hydronic/Forced Air Certification 2008, Uponor/Wirsbo advanced design school certification 2007, Buderus Wall-hung certification 2007, Power Limited License (low voltage controls) 40 CE credits 2005, Basic Hydronic Certification IPEX & Northern Alberta Institute of Technology 1998, Charter Board Member - Radiant Panel Association 1994, Residential Off-Electric to Hydronic Conversion Heating School Canadian Hydronics Council 1994, B&G Little Red School House 1993, Rood Utilities (now Auburn Technical Institute) Oil Burner School 1993 ,Tekmar Controls residential and commercial 1993, Division Manager and Advanced Hydronic Seminar Instructor for the first Exclusively Hydronic Radiant Floor Distributor in the USA 1990, Hydronic Radiant Heating Association Workshop participant with Richard c. Bourne, PE spring 1988, Master Plumbing, Hydronic, Solar Course Red Rocks Community College 1987.

Awards and Honors
2009 System Showcase Award - Radiant Panel Association

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